Editor and Translator Arnold R. Highfield with Kristoffer F. Bøegh
The Government official and writer Georg Hjersing Høst arrived on the island of St. Thomas in the Danish West Indies in 1769 and took a post in the colonial government. That position plus his marriage to the daughter of Governor J. N. Kragh (1766-1773) afforded him complete access to the archives of both the DWI Company and of the colonial government, and Høst took full advantage of the opportunity. From 1769 until 1776, he scoured the archives of St. Thomas and retrieved the numerous documents, letters, ordinances, placats, and other materials that provide an essential key to the writing and understanding of the early history of the Virgin Islands. Høst’s contribution to that history has been considerable, taking form in the publication of his book in 1791. The structure of the book is an uncomplicated chronology of all the governors and commandants and their achievements—or lack thereof—from 1671 to 1776. Most prominent among them were men such as Jørgen Iversen, Johan Lorentz, Frederik Moth, Phillip Gardelin, Erik Bredal, Peter Clausen and others, with focus on their executive actions and their consequences. In addition, certain central topics and themes emerge in the narrative, such as the acquisition of St. Croix; the attempt to colonize Vieques; the acquisition of and subsequent revolt on St. John; the issuance of the Charter of 1734; customs duties; regulations concerning slaves and Free Negroes; regulations about vessels and shipping; the office of the Governor General; and government salaries, perquisites, and fines. In the present translation, the editor has made an effort to render this English edition and translation straightforward and clear while at the same time remaining as faithful to the original Danish text as possible.
ARNOLD R. HIGHFIELD, a retired Scholar-in-Residence and Emeritus Professor at the University of the Virgin Islands, has published some twenty plus books on the Virgin Islands, Including: Vanderbourg’s Report to Ernst Schimmelmann; The Cultural History of the American Virgin Islands and the Danish West Indies: A Companion Guide; St. Croix: 1493, An Encounter of Two Worlds; Time Longa’ Dan Twine; St. Croix 1650-1733: A Plantation Society in the French Antilles; Sea Grades and Kennips; and Crucian Recollectionsto mention only a few of the more recent volumes.
KRISOFFER FRIIS BØEGHis a linguist working at Aarhus University, Denmark. He has conducted fieldwork in the Virgin Islands and is currently writing his PhD dissertation on the history and grammar of Crucian, The English-based creole language of St. Croix.