Indentures, Property Transactions and Wills Registered with the Central District Court
In 2016 I spent several days reviewing the Volumes of registers of the Central District Court that are in the collection of the Registry of Deeds in St. John’s. These Volumes cover a period from approximately 1824 to 1890 or a little earlier. After that time all land transactions were recorded directly at the Registry of Deeds rather than in the District Courts (Southern, Central and Northern) which then ceased to exist as such, and Wills were recorded at the Supreme Court Probate Office. A separate Registry of Crown Grants has been held at the Provincial Lands Directorate, a part of the Provincial Department of Municipal Affairs and its predecessors. This registry originally contained the original grants given dating back to the 1830s, though a large number of the early grants were lost in the Great Fire of 1892. Just why these Grants are kept separate from those that exist at Registry of Deeds is a question only a provincial bureaucrat can answer, though not to the satisfaction of anyone other than another provincial bureaucrat. For the public it just adds confusion and inconvenience to a system already fraught with confusion and inconvenience.
I checked the Central District Court records only for records pertinent to my maternal ancestry, the Wheeler line. I had already scoured the Southern District Court records for entries pertinent to my paternal ancestry (Morrys, Carters, Windsors, etc.) but, since many of the family gradually moved to St. John’s and nearby areas, which were covered by the Central District Court, there is a good chance that I will find entries of interest in that system as well, but that is a task for another year.
In the course of my visits to the Registry of Deeds, I noted down from the indexes of these volumes any entries that might be of interest to my maternal lineage. I only made copies of a small number of these documents using the self-serve photocopy machine or in some instances cameras and hand held digitiser (both of which are forbidden in the Registry). The ones copied are those of greatest interest to the family history. The others noted may be copied later on as time permits.
Apparently there is a plan afoot to have all of these older documents scanned professionally so that they can be accessed by computer, as is the case for modern land registers already. I have only obtained one officially scanned copy of such a document from Steve Barnable at the Lands Directorate and it is head and shoulders better than a photocopy or even my own non-professional scans, so the day when all of these have been rendered in this fashion cannot come too soon for researchers and those concerned about the preservation of these historical documents.
In total, I have made copies of 7 documents dating from 1847 to 1887 from all the Volumes of the Central District Court. After the latter date, all subsequent transactions involving Wheelers are found in the regular volumes of the Registry since the Central Court system ceased to exist at that time. Copies of later land transactions are found on the page referred to as “Registry of Deeds 1885 to Present”.
Documents photocopied or scanned at the Registry of Deeds in St. John’s in 2016
The list that follows is a short form index of all documents at the Registry of Deeds in the Volumes of the Central District Court (CDC) that I have copied and that are available in PDF form. I will transcribe all of these and make them into MS Word files as time allows.
The entries indicate the source (CDC Volume), the pages (referred to as Folios) on which those documents appear in the Volume, the names of the principals involved, and the date in the form dd-mm-yyyy. In many cases there are several dates on each document as it passed through various stages of being prepared, registered and approved by the court. The date given is therefore approximate. The names shown are as they appear in the document in question, though I have abbreviated some longer names by using initials and though in many cases the spelling in the document is incorrect as we know it.
Note that I have ordered the documents by Volume and Folio. Almost all documents occupied more than one page (Fol) but in a very few instances they took up only a single page and, in those cases, FOL will be followed by a single page number.
Finally, I can only apologise for the poor quality of some of these copies. I did the best that I could considering the primitive copying conditions and rules that presently exist at the Registry of Deeds. The transcripts, when I make them, will reflect the poor quality of the photocopies in some instances, with gaps or question marks where words were either cut off or undecipherable.