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WEST INDIES – ST. CHRISTOPHER (ST. KITTS) / ARCHIVE

7,500.00

Nevis / Anguilla

British Virgin Islands

Original Manuscript Archive

Post-Slavery Era

Medical History / Legal History

Political History / Natural Disasters

Additional information

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1 in stock

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ARCHIVE OF 4 PARTS:

PART I.

  1. CHRISTOPHER LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY.

“Minutes of the Honorable House of Assembly. Commencing 20th December [and concluding 6th December 1860]”.

Folio (38 x 26.5 cm) [1p., printed title], 682 pp., in a neat secretarial hand with pre-printed date headers to corners and lines ruled in red, on laid watermarked paper, followed by numerous blank pages, and 2 identical copies of a St. Kitts-printed broadside bound-in, Saint Christopher. Speech of Lieutenant Governor Pine on the Prorogation of the Houses of Legislature, August 31st, 1865 (Very Good, overall clean and clear, just some areas of light to moderate toning).

 

[and:]

 

PART II.

Archibald Paull BURT (1810 – 1879) and Francis Spencer WIGLEY (1805 – 1872).

[Attorney General of St. Christopher’s Letter & Ordnance Book, 1860 – 1870].

Manuscript, St. Christopher, 1860-1870.

Folio (31.5 x 32.5 cm): Manuscript in pen, [286 pp., first leaf seemingly mis-bound from another work, text followed by numerous blank pp.], with many entries appearing to be written in the hand of the authors and signed, with come contemporary mss. corrections, on blue laid paper, with ‘Britannia’ watermark, bound in modern green library cloth (Good, first leaf heavily corroded on margins with notable loss to text, ink on many pages markedly oxidized and faded but still legible, final leaves corroded along edges with very minor loss to text).

 

[and:]

 

PART III.

  1. CHRISTOPHER, NEVIS and ANGUILLA EXECUTIVE COUNCIL.

[Minute Book of the Executive Council of St. Christopher, etc., 1871 to 1882].

Manuscript, St. Christopher, 1871-1882.

Folio (21.5 x 32.5 cm): Manuscript in pen in a neat secretarial hand, [297 pp., seemingly extracted from a larger volume as work begins with an incomplete entry, but continuing run complete, interspersed with 6 blank pp. and followed by numerous blank pp.], on greyish laid paper, with ‘Britannia’ watermark, with a St. Kitts-printed broadside concerning banning of the importation of livestock from Nevis bound-in (between pp. 144 and 145), and a portion of a ‘wanted poster’ pasted over p. 166, bound in modern green library cloth (Very Good, some areas of browning but overall cleanly legible).

 

[and:]

 

PART IV.

[Likely Francis Spencer WIGLEY II (1844 -1911) and W.G. WIGLEY].

[Rough Legal Notebook, Leeward Islands].

[Manuscript, St. Christopher, early 20th Century].

Folio (21 x 33 cm): Manuscript in pen and pencil, [50 pp., followed by dozens of blanks, and then by 79 pp. bound upside down], on blue ruled notebook paper, some inserts bound-in, bound in modern green library cloth (Fair, severely damp stained in many areas but pretty much entirely legible).

 

A stellar and voluminous original manuscript archive primarily concerning St. Christopher, but also touching upon Nevis, Anguilla, and the British Virgin Islands, from the period spanning 1855 to 1882, in the post-slavery area, a time of tumultuous transition; featuring the manuscript ‘Minute Book’ of the St. Kitts Legislative Assembly (1855-62), the private Ordnance and Letter Book of the St. Kitts Attorney General (1860-70), the manuscript ‘Minute Book’ of the Executive Council of St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla (1870-82), as well as a book of legal notes, with the archive featuring a few unrecorded locally-printed broadsides; authentic artefacts featuring unique and valuable insights into diverse subjects, including the rights of free people of colour, the encouragement of immigration, public health and epidemics, the building of infrastructure and communications networks, economic development and taxation and responses to natural disasters; collectively a great resource worthy of further academic study; with an august provenance, being variously written or collected by Francis Spencer Wigley, the Attorney General and President of St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla, and his eponymous son who later served as the Acting President of the islands.

 

St. Christopher, popularly known as ‘St. Kitts’, while a small West Indian island (with an area of 174 km sq.), possesses an outsized role in history.  It was first settled by English planters in 1624, and by the French the following year.  The centre part of the island was controlled by England, whole both ends were French zones.  While St. Kitts was continually fought over between France and England, and was tormented by frequent piratical raids, earthquakes and hurricanes, the settlers persisted, as the island possessed some of the world’s most fertile agrarian lands, perfect for supporting a slave-sugar economy.

Britain assumed full control of St. Kitts in 1713, and over the succeeding decades created the world’s most proportionately productive agrarian powerhouse.  Many historians believe that by 1776 the island’s small planter community (a class barely numbering 1,500) were per capita the wealthiest people in the world!  Until the Napoleonic Wars, St. Kitts planters possessed profound political and economic power in the greater British Empire.  However, events would soon reveal this prosperity to be fragile.

St. Kitts’s wealth was built upon the ignoble, and increasingly controversial, institution of slavery, and was dangerously reliant upon a single industry.  In 1807, Britain banned the global slave trade, preventing West Indian planters from replenishing their labour force, while ever more restrictions on slavery were imposed until in 1833, when Whitehall ordered the abolition of slavery throughout the empire.  As in all the other British colonies, slavery was phased out in St. Kitts from 1834 to 1838.  On the island, 19,780 people gained their freedom from bondage, accounting for about 80% of the island’s population.

By this time, virtually all British West Indian planters had fallen into dire financial straits.  Since the Napoleonic Wars, sugar prices dramatically declined, as the global market was deluged with a glut of product from the East.  While the crown awarded ‘compensation’ to former slave owners, these funds were nowhere near adequate to make up for their losses.  Moreover, the newly liberated former slaves (understandably) showed an unwillingness to work their former captors’ lands, at least not terms that were commercially viable for the planters, causing a severe labour shortage.

St. Kitts also suffered what can almost be called a succession of tragedies of Biblical proportions.  The island was ravaged by a hurricane in 1835, suffered a severe drought in 1836-7, while an earthquake stuck in 1843.  If that was not enough, in 1853-4, St. Kitts was struck by a cholera epidemic which carried away almost 4,000 people, or around 18% of its population.  Moreover, many people decided to emigrate, exacerbating the existing labour crisis.  The island’s population declined from 23,177, in 1844, to 20,741 in 1855.

The present archive picks up the story in 1855, when St. Kitts was in a state of crisis.  The island was viewed as a nearly bankrupt incubus of disease, damned by natural disasters, and it seemed that virtually anyone industrious wanted nothing to do with the place.  The present archive documents the best efforts of the island’s legislators and administrators to implement polices to halt the society’s freefall, and to rebuild it in the context of a modern world that was, at least initially, unkind.

In response, the colonial government attempted to enact policies to encourage immigration, advance the living conditions of labourers and former slaves, improving public health and education, developing communications and infrastructure, managing taxation, as well as alleviating the effects of the natural disasters.

 

The Political History of St. Kitts and Related Islands

To better understand the present archive, something must be said of the systems of political administration of St. Christopher during the period in question.  In 1671, St. Kitts became part of the Colony of the Leeward Islands, which included several neighbouring English possessions.  In 1816, in the immediate wake of the Napoleonic Wars, Whitehall decided to divide the colony into two parts, with one part including St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands, and the other embracing Antigua, Barbuda and Monserrat.  In 1833, all these islands were reunited into single colonial entity, under the Governor of Antigua, although the new system was to be semi-federal, with each island having measure of autonomy.

St. Kitts was to be directly overseen by a Lieutenant Governor, and its own Executive Council (a cabinet appointed by the Crown).  Under this, was the Legislative Assembly, which was elected by limited suffrage by the white landowning class (such that there were maybe no more than a few hundred voters on the entire island).  The Legislative Assembly had the power to propose policies and the island’s budget, although any bill could be disallowed by Whitehall, which was represented by the Lieutenant Governor and the Executive Council.  While London do not agree with all the St. Kitts’s Assembly’s decisions, the legislature and the Crown generally maintained cordial relations, in sharp contrast to the situation on some other islands, such as Jamaica, where there was always severe friction between the local assembly and the crown.  As such, the St. Kitts Assembly exercised a great deal of power over the island’s affairs, as the executive and Whitehall generally consented to its measures.

In response to the failed 1866 Rebellion in Jamaica, Whitehall decided to clamp down on the autonomy of its West Indian colonies.  In 1870, it created the Federal Colony of the Leeward Islands, whereby the

Legislative Assembly was to be appointed, as opposed to elected, and St. Kitts was to be run by a ‘President’, or ‘Administrator’, who held executive authority, under the auspices of a Governor resident in Antigua.

In 1883, the colonial system was reformed again, with St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla being united into a single colony, overseen by a President, and with a restored elected assembly.  This system prevailed until virtually all the British possessions in the greater region joined the ill-fated West Indies Federation, in 1958.  St. Kitts & Nevis became a fully independent nation in 1983.

 

A Note on the Archives’ Rarity / Uniqueness

 

Importantly, the great majority of the information present in this archive was never published, and in many cases likely does not survive anywhere else, even in manuscript form.

Regarding Part I, the Minute Book of the Legislative Assembly (1855-60), we are not aware of the location of another example in any form.  However, there may be snippets of information from the minutes in various documents held by the National Archives U.K. and in local archives in St. Kitts, as well as in printed works such as The Statutes of the Islands of Saint Christopher and Anguilla (London: Wm. Clowes & Sons, 1857), as well as some rare locally printed broadsides.

As for Part II, the St. Kitts Attorney General’s Ordnance & Letter Book (1860-70), it is almost certainly a unique item, and while some of the Attorney General’s outgoing letters may exist somewhere, this is likely the only surviving work detailing the inner workings of the office of the chief crown law officer of St. Kitts from its era.

Regarding Part III, the Executive Council Minute Book of St. Kitts (1871-82), we cannot trace another example.  As the deliberations of the council were held in camera, very little of the information contained within can be located anywhere else, although excerpts perhaps may be found in various letters sent to Whitehall preserved in the National Archives U.K.

Part IV, being a collection of rough legal notes, is a unique item, being from the private papers of Francis Spencer Wigley II and W.G. Wigley, two of the Leeward Islands’ leading barristers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

 

Provenance: The Wigley Political Dynasty of St. Kitts

The present archive was variously in the possession of three generations of the Wigley family, prominent attorneys and politicians on St. Christopher for almost a century.

The dynasty was founded by Francis Spencer Wigley (1805 – 1872), usually known as ‘F. Spencer Wigley’, was a native of London who was trained as a barrister.  In London, he formed a legal partnership with Archibald Paull Burt (1810 – 1879), who hailed from a wealthy St. Kitts planter family.  Wigley and Burt pooled their money and invested in land and other assets in St. Kitts.  In 1834, Wigley married Burt’s sister, Eliza, and moved to St. Kitts, with Burt returning to his home island around the same time.

Wigley became a leading attorney on the island and held great political influence through the Burt family.  Archibald Burt became the Speaker of the St. Kitts Assembly, and from 1848 to 1860 served as the Attorney General of the island.  In late 1860, Burt moved ‘Down Under’ to become the Chief Justice of Western Australia, leaving Wigley to succeed him as Attorney General, whereupon he served for a decade.

From late 1870 until his death in March 1872, Wigley served as the Administrator, or President, of St. Kitts.  Curiously, in 1873, Archibald Burt visited St., Kitts to assess the status of the estates he had jointly owned with Wigley but was shocked to find that these assets were “bankrupt”.

Part I of the present archive, the Minutes of the Assembly, was acquired by Wigley in the process of his official duties (he is noted as attending a meeting of Legislative Assembly on July 19, 1860) while he was the author of most of the contents of Part II, the Attorney General’s letter book, which bears many examples of his original signature.

Wigley’s son, Francis Spencer Wigley II (1844 – 1911), was in his own right was a prominent attorney and political figure, serving as the Acting President of St. Kitts from 1888 to 1889.  Part III, of the archive, the Executive Council Minute Book of St. Christopher, Nevis and Anguilla, may had been commenced under the administration of Francis Spencer Wigley I, but seems to have come into the possession of his son, as it runs until 1882.

Francis Spencer Wigley II’s son, W.G. Wigley, served as the Crown Attorney of St. Kitts and the Acting Attorney General of St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla up into the 1920s.  Part IV of the archive, a rough legal notebook, has parts that were likely written by Francis Spencer Wigley II and W.G. Wigley, as it had entries dating from 1902 to 1919.

It seems that all the archive’s contents eventually came into the possession of W.G. Wigley.

In addition, the Wigley connection is supported by the fact the archive was found accompanied by a few books that bear the manuscript names of “Wigley” and “W.R. Wigley”.

 

THE ARCHIVES IN FOCUS

 

PART I:

“Minutes of the Honorable House of Assembly. Commencing 20th December [and concluding 6th December 1860]”.

 

This is an original manuscript book of the Minutes of the House of Assembly of St. Christopher, running from December 1855 to December 1860 inclusive.  The minutes were the official record of the assembly’s proceedings and recorded attendance, procedures, the tabling of legislation and budgets, with votes and resolutions, as well as the reading of various submissions (letters and reports).  The minute book would have been copied by the clerk of assembly, or, one of his deputies, and is written in a careful secretarial hand on red-ruled paper, with printed date headings, along with a printed title page.  Such copies would have been made in only a handful of examples to be deposited in archives and given to a few key crown officers and members of the legislature.  For the most part, most of the information was never brought to print.

The Assembly was comprised of 24 members elected from constituencies across the island, by limited suffrage for a term lasting one year (December to December) thus the present manuscript encompasses the Assembly’s proceedings for five full terms.  The members elected their own speaker, and each annual session commenced with a speech by the Governor (akin to a House of Commons ‘throne speech’), setting out the colony’s legislative proprietors for the new year, of which a response (usually entirely complimentary) was given be the Assembly.  Generally, the St. Kitts Assembly was a collegial ‘family compact’ of interrelated clans of the plantocracy, and ‘divisions’ (votes) only occurred occasionally, as there was often unanimous agreement.  The Assembly also tended to get along well with the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and the ‘Executive Council.

After reading through these minutes, one gains the impression that while the members of the assembly were certainly elitists, they were nevertheless conscientious in their responsibilities and tried their best to develop legislation that would arrest St. Kitts’s decline and improve the lot of its people, including its Black majority.  There efforts had mixed results, but overall, their actions probably ensured that St. Kitts’s problems were nowhere near as bad as they could have been (neighbouring Nevis suffered far more).  It is worth noting that, in part due to the government’s policies, St. Kitt’s population recovered over the coming decades, reaching 30,876 in 1891.

The minutes provide a critical and unappareled insight into the inner workings of a colonial government during a time of great tumult and transition, providing much valuable information found nowhere else.  Subjects include the rights of freed former slaves and labourers, encouraging immigration, public health, public buildings and transport, communications infrastructure, economy and taxation and relief from natural disasters.

The Minute Book commences with the swearing in of a new assembly on December 20, 1855.  The initial subjects discussed include police, furniture for Government House; appointment of a crown geologist; and the employment of other personnel, followed by the Quarterly Public Accounts, of the Budget (pp. 13-4), which itemized salaries of crown employees and officers and listed even the fees for printing (paid to the island’s two printers, the Gazette and Advetizer, totalling £54 and change).  This is followed by a ‘Petition of Retailers of Rum’ and a discussion on the improvements to the Brimstone Hill Fort (pp. 20-21).

On March 18, 1856, the assembly heard the annual speech by the Governor of St. Kitts, Nevis, Anguilla, Antigua, Barbuda and Dominica, being Ker Baillie-Hamilton (1804-89, in office 1855-62) (pp. 31-4).

The Assembly then received a proposal from the London architect William Salter for rebuilding the island’s main Anglican place of worship (a pro-cathedral), the Church of St. George’s Basseterre (pp. 38-41, passim.), which had been destroyed by an earthquake in 1842, followed by a hurricane in 1843.  The description of the new church is amazingly detailed and is valuable to the island’s architectural history.  As it would turn out, the assembly authorized the crown to fund the rebuilding of the church, which commenced in 1856 and was completed in 1859 (sadly the church would again be destroyed by a great fire that swept Basseterre in 1867).

Other issues tackled by the 1855-6 session included the ‘Report Surveyor of Roads’ (pp. 48-51); Report of Immigration Committee (April 17, 1856, p. 55), that was formed to attract agrarian workers to St. Kitts to relieve the labour shortage; the Assembly authorized a bounty of £574 to be paid to for facilitating the arrival of 58 adults and 48 children from Madeira.

In the summer of 1856, the Assembly took up matters related to medical services for agrarian labourers (p. 69).  It also ensured the appointment of new standing parliamentary committees for privileges, public accounts, public budlings, public roads, public records, house assessment, immigration and public land assessment (p. 90).  Next came the Quarterly Public Accounts, with the entire budget amounting to £646 and change (pp. 109-11); followed by a discussion on salt production in Anguilla (p. 132).

In September 1856, the legislature received a great deal of correspondence related to a proposal to facilitate the immigration of agrarian labourers from the Cape Verde Islands to the British West Indies, including, potentially, St. Kitts (p. 133).  As background, the Cape Verdes had recently suffered terrible droughts and famine and people there were looking to emigrate.  The enquiry includes a submission by the Governor of British Guiana, Philip Wodehouse, and a letter from Lord Clarendon, the British Consul at Cape Verde, who noted that “The Inhabitants of these islands (Cape Verdes) are a rare people of a class somewhat similar to the Negroes of the Coast of Africa but much more intelligent, more laborious, docile – this inclination to agrarian pursuits, and industrious habits, will doubtless render them as Free Labourers, a most a valuable acquisition for the Free Estates of British Guiana and the West India colonies” (p. 134).

Later the house deliberated on an ‘Act for the Immigration of Agrarian Labourers’, centring jupon the rights of former slaves and bettering their lot to discourage their emigration from St. Kitts (p.156); the house consented to this act, following up to “To remove doubts as the rights of Liberated Africans” (December 6, 1856, p. 185, passim.)

The house also authorized that the ‘Laws of the Islands’ be printed, which would lead to the publication of The Statutes of the Islands of Saint Christopher and Anguilla (London: Printed by Wm. Clowes & Sons, 1857).   It them authorized the construction of the New Treasury building (p. 260).

Importantly, the Assembly received a letter from the ‘Incumbered Estates Commission’ (December 3, 1857, p. 367), a special crown body in London that was created to arrange the sale, by auction, of the many bankrupt plantations in the West Indies.  This was proposed as a solution to the financial troubles that many creditors faced with regards to their loans in St. Kitts.

The Assembly took up further Immigration measures, including a bill to give the Governor-in-Council license to “declare the Ports from whence immigrants may be obtained”.  This was followed by measures to prevent the “Clandestine departure from this island of immigrants after they enter into contract” (pp. 380, 388, 405).

The planter class felt common cause with the British regime in India, which recently had to put down the Indian Uprising of 1857; they voted to send £100 to the (British) “Victims” of the rebellion (p. 385).

 

Notably, the house received reports and lengthy correspondence with regards to a proposal to run a branch of the ‘West Indies & Pacific Telegraph’ through St. Kitts (pp. 395-9), so linking the island by rapid communication to the outside world for the first time.  These measures received full support, although such a connection would not be completed until 1872.

The Assembly consented to the ‘Establishment of the Board of Health’ (April 15, 1858, p. 425), which occurred in the wake of the island’s horrific cholera epidemic of 1854-5.

In a sign that the Assembly ran a ‘tight ship’, sessions were cancelled if quorum was not met, and in the summer of 1858 a member was fined for non-attendance.

The house voted to authorize funds for a vessel to “communicate with Antigua due the recent riots” which affected the island (June 15, 1858, p. 434).  This hit close to home, as the planter class pf St. Kitts always lived in fear of unrest on the part of the island’s Black majority.

Other subjects dealt with later in 1858 include the Quarterly Public Accounts (July 22, 1858, pp. 441-3); the Local Militia (pp. 445-9); the Police Force (p. 451); and Support for Roman Catholics (p. 456).

In the New Session of 1858-9, the Assembly passed the ‘Bill to Encourage the Immigration of Agricultural Labourers’ (p. 524); and considered measures on Quarantine (p. 541); the Representation of the Board of Health (May 5, 1859, pp. 558-60); read a letter from Edward Eyre, then Lieutenant Governor of Antigua (May 2, 1859, p. 566), who would later prove himself to be a sadistic villain during his tenue as the Governor of Jamaica; detailed measures to keep the island’s “Protective Forces…in an effective state”, so as to quell any sense of rebellion (p. 568, 593-601); and debated a bill to renderer the work of the West Indies Incumbered Estates Commission “operational” (p. 602); while considering measures for the relief of the poor (p. 602).

During the New Session of 1860, which commenced on January 26, 1860, the Assembly read

a ‘Report on the Protective Forces of St. Kitts’ (March 22, 1860, p. 632); authorized the island’s financial estimates to be printed (632); agreed to pay further bounties for immigrants (p. 638); debated bills to establish a post office, ice hose, and grammar school on St. Kitts (October 11, 1860, p. 659); issues regarding the Immigration Fund; and a Poor & Lunatics Bill (November 29, 1860, p. 679).  The Minutes end with the last entry dated December 6, 1860 (p. 682).

Notably, following the written text are two identical bound-in copies of an unrecorded locally printed broadside: Saint Christopher. Speech of Lieutenant Governor Pine on the Prorogation of the Houses of Legislature, August 31st, 1865 (37 x 23.6 cm).

PART II:

[Attorney General of St. Christopher’s Ordnance & Letter Book, 1860 – 1870].

 

This is the private legislation & letter book of the Attorney General of St. Christopher, running from March 1860 to December 1870.  The book features manuscript ‘Summaries’ of legislation under the Attorney General’s review, plus, any related attachments, as well as notes on his opinions on the matters, plus, copies of outgoing letters that he wrote to major stakeholders.  All considered, it is a highly valuable artefact of legal history of the islands, providing unique insights into the thoughts and actions of the colony’s chief legal officer.

The first entries were collected or written by Archibald Paull Burt, who served as Attorney General until July 1860, while the rest of the entries concern Francis Spencer Wigley I, who assumed the office from that time until December 1870, when he was elevated to become the Administrator of St. Kitts.  Many of Burt and Wigley’s entries appear to be written in their own hand (as opposed to a secretarial hand) and are signed.

Unlike Part I, which is very St. Kitts focused, the present book features much material on the British Virgin Islands, Nevis and Anguilla, as well as St. Kitts.

The early entries, under Burt’s tenure mainly concern the Virgin Islands.  Burt made an official visit to Tortola, and here is provided information on bills regarding the island’s police, militia and agriculture (pp. 3 -15).

Wigley’s entries commence on July 11, 1860 (p. 16) and initially regard laws concerning the Virgin Islands (September 27, 1860, p. 26).  This followed by several entries relating to St. Kitts, such as establishing a Post Office (p. 28); creating a corporation for the Town of Basseterre (p. 32); establishing a Grammar School on St. Kitts (November 16, 1860, p. 389); police (p. 42); a Poor & Destitute Bill (p. 45); animal welfare (June 15, 1861, p. 56); murder and manslaughter prosecutions (p. 61); vaccinations (October 12, 1861, p. 61); military & protection forces (p. 68); Support of the Immigration Fund of St. Kitts (July 10, 1862, p. 72); Roman Catholic rights (p. 73); Measures against persons who desert their wives & children (p. 78); medical services for infants of agrarian labourers (p. 86); Highways & Streets (p. 94); establishing a Fire Company on St. Kitts (July 15, 1864, p. 114); establishing schools for the children of labourers (p. 115); taking revenues for Immigration Fund from export taxes (March 16, 1865, p. 159); and an enquiry into shipwrecks (p. 160).

This is followed by several bills that relate to increasing the judicial autonomy of Nevis (August 1865, pp. 168 – 178).

Next is material concerning protecting the legal rights of masters and servants in Anguilla (October 15, 1865, p. 181), followed by measures regarding Nevis, concerning family welfare (p. 184) and the establishment of a post office (p. 189).

There is then material concerning amending the Quarantine Law with regards to St. Kitts and Anguilla (December 9, 1865, p. 197).

Next is on deck, were measures to better audit the public finances (p. 200); roads (p. 202); land management in Anguilla (p.218); committing £990 and change for the St. Kitts Immigration Fund – a large sum! (August 9, 1866, p. 220); establishing ‘Road Bay’ as the official port of entry for trade on Anguilla (p. 222); the Militia on St. Kitts (p.226); support for the Cunningham Hospital (p. 227); matters concerning

 

 

‘Escheated Estates’ (October 28, 1867, p. 235); and better protecting HM’s Naval & Victualling Stores (p. 240).

Importantly, Basseterre suffered a terrible fire in 1867 which destroyed much of the centre of the town.  Here Wigley considers a bill to raise a loan of £50,000 – a colossal sum – to rebuild Basseterre (March 5, 1868, p. 241).

Other matters reviewed include Abolishing Imprisonment for Debts (p. 254); treasonable offences (p. 257); the prevention of fires in Basseterre (p. 259); Capital Punishment in prisons (March 13, 1869, p. 264); the supply of water to Basseterre – important for fire prevention (p. 265); the safe storage of gun powder on St. Kitts (p. 266); and the sale of “disused” highroads on St. Kitts (p. 268).  The final entry is dated December 12, 1870.

 

PART III.

[Minute Book of the Executive Council of St. Christopher, etc., 1871 to 1882].

 

The Executive Council of St. Christopher, Nevis and Anguilla essentially functioned as the cabinet of the colonial government, and regularly included the President (Administrator), Attorney General, Auditor General, the Archdeacon (covering religious affairs) and the Secretary of the Colony.  It was the supreme authority present on the islands, and its mandate was to enforce the pleasures of Whitehall (which appointed the Council members), as opposed to the will of the islands’ residents.  However, the Council tended to have a light touch in St. Kitts and related islands, unlike the authoritarian role played by similar bodies in colonies such as Jamaica.

Present here are the minutes of all the meetings of the Execute Council from March 5, 1871 until December 30, 1882.  The Council’s deliberations were in camera, such that these minutes contain what could be regarded as confidential information.

The detailed minutes, written in a neat secretarial hand, generally concern the same subjects dealt with in Part I and Part II above, including the rights of labourers, public health, communications and infrastructure, public finances, and other key matters of state.  During this period, the Council oversaw a modest revival in St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla’s fortunes, seeing economic improvements and the end to the mass emigration that sapped it manpower.

Relating to the Council’s deliberations is an example of an unrecorded broadside, clearly printed in Basseterre, being St. Kitts President Alexander Moir’s A Proclamation…an Infectious Disease broke out on the neighboring Presidency of Nevis… (dated August 18, 1877), regarding an epidemic that affected livestock on Nevis, with the President’s order banning the import of meats from that island into St. Kitts.

 

 

PART IV.

[Rough Legal Notebook, Leeward Islands].

This is a consolidation of disparate manuscript legal papers, being rough notes likely drafted variously by Francis Spencer Wigley II and W.G. Wigley, dating from between 1902 and 1919.  They include notes on current court cases and legislation in the Leeward Islands, as well as a lengthy series of re-copied records on historical legislation from the times of the Napoleonic Wars (circa 1802 -1806).  Together the notes offer intriguing insights into the interests and processes of senior barristers working in the Leeward Islands.

Curiously, the first page is a mis-bound, stray leaf from the Minute Book of the Executive Council of St. Christopher, from a point earlier than that covered in Part III above, dating from January 16, 1871.

 

References: N / A – Archive elements seemingly not recorded.

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