12 Court Cases from the Danish West Indies 1822-1844
The Danish school network under UNRSCO's Associated Schools Project, which works with the Transatlantic Slave Trade, has digitalized 12 court cases from archives penned in German longhand which all show various aspects of life as a slave in the Danish West Indies.
All the cases can be found on this page in pdf-format.
Each case can be found in its original digital form, in a modern Danish version, and in an English version. Besides there are biographies of the indicted slaves, in each case produced by George F. Tyson.
Producing the material has been supported by Tips og Lotto midlerne (the Danish lottery).
The translation of the Danish files into English has been done by Sten Stenbæk, Fjerritslev Gymnasium
I gratefully acknowledge that this project has been carried out in collaboration with the Virgin Islands Social History Associates (VISHA) of St. Croix. The biographical data has been compiled by George F. Tyson using VISHA's "St. Croix Population Database 1734-1917".
Morning Star Estate
The case is one of Obeah, traditional African herbal medicine, which the slaves brought with them from Africa.
Obeah also has elements of magic and superstition (voodoo), and the practice of it was forbidden by the slave owners. Nonetheless it was fairly widely used (and is still found in the Virgin Islands).
Estate Morning Star - nudansk version
Morning Star Estate - English version
Estate Morning Star - oprindelig version
Betzy's Juvel og Strawberry Hill
This case – like the case form Estate Morning Star – is one of Obeah.
Cane Bay Estate
The case is about 8 slaves who have run away from their plantation to come to the aid of a female slave, Caroline. They meant to bring the case before the Governor-General and ask him for a more lenient punishment – they feared that the punishment would be harder if it was executed at the plantation.
Daniel – Runaway slave form Hope Estate
The case is about the slave Daniel who has repeatedly run maroon (i.e. has run away from his plantation) because he allegedly gets too little to eat and has not been able to get more even after asking the overseer. He is captured by a slave hunter and is put in prison to await his trail - but runs off again.
Martin – Runway slave
The case is about the slave Martin from Boetzberg, who repeatedly run maroon (runs away from his plantation and his owner). During his escape he has killed a sheep and the overseer is asking for permission from the court to shackle him at the plantation.
Nurse Sucky på Beeston Hill
The case is brought before the court by overseer Finlay with a complaint of disobedience. During the case it becomes apparent that said Finley has a very violent temper. The court must find out what has in fact taken place at the plantation – and if the case should have been brought before the police court.
Peggy og Maria
The case is about Peggy and Maria who have allegedly broken into a desk with an unauthorized key. The missing gold pieces they have spent on dresses, scarves and other items. The court must decide if they are indeed guilty and, if that is the case, what kind of punishment they must have.
Golden Grove Estate – Rebellion
The case is about a group of slaves at Golden Grove Plantation who consider themselves to have been abused by overseer Finlay. They have decided not to put up with it anymore and they are taken directly from their work in the field to the court. The court must determine what really happened at the plantation.
Plot to run away from St. Croix
The case is about a group of 8 slaves owned by different owners/plantations. They have allegedly conspired to run away from St. Croix. The court must clear up the case and determine who are the ringleaders and if the accused are to be punished, and, if that is the case, what kind of punishment.
John, Jim and William accused of attempted escape
John McKay and Jim form Shoy Estate and William form Reeston Hill are accused of plotting to escape their owners and their plantations. . The court must decide on the nature of their transgression and, if they are found guilty, mete out the punishment
John, Jim og William anklages for flugtforsøg - nudansk version
John, Jim and William accused of attempted escape - English version
John, Jim og William anklages for flugtforsøg - oprindelig version
A group of female slave complains about abuse
The slaves Calisto, Agnes, Mary, Rosette and Venus tried to interfere with the driver Salomon. The alleged attack took place when the driver, on orders from overseer Bernard Connerty, was about the punish the Negro Addo for negligence. The court must decide on the matter.
En gruppe kvindelige slaver protesterer mod dårlig behandling - nudansk version
A group of female slaves complains about abuse - English version
En gruppe kvindelige slaver protesterer mod dårlig behandling - oprindelig version
The Court Transcript of Frederiksted 1828
Overview of the cases which have been before the court in Frederiksted between July 7 and July 20, 1828