The Danish West India company established their first post on St. Thomas, in what was to become the Danish West Indies, in 1657. The Danish West India and Guinea Company, chartered in 1671 by King Christian V of Denmark, established control over St Thomas by 1672 and controlled the island until 1754. This period was described in the landmark book, “The Danish West Indies under Company Rule (1671-1754)” by Waldemar Westergaard in 1917. The book is public domain and can be found online and is very interesting reading. It is the standard reference for the earliest days of the Danish West Indies. On page 38, Westergaard describes the earliest colonists on St Thomas [emphasis mine]:
The new masters had scarcely begun settlement, before colonists of various sorts began to seep in. The greater number of them belonged to the Dutch nation, and were seeking the protection of a state that they supposed to be on friendly terms with the English, who were harrying the Dutch wherever they dared. Some of these, as John von Beverhoudt, became planters of distinction and even founded influential families; others, like Carl Baggaert, an absconder from Middelburg, became trouble makers who soured the life of the governor and those in authority with him. Although French, Germans, English, and Jews were among these early settlers, Dutch became the prevailing language from the beginning.Who, exactly Westergaard was referring to as "John von Beverhoudt" is unknown (there were several Johannes van Beverhoudts), but it is known that the Beverhoudts were among the earliest families on St Thomas.
While no van Beverhoudts are recorded in the Census of 1688, they showed up shortly thereafter. Svend Holsoe’s compilation on vifamilies.org identifies four members of the van Beverhoudt family that settled in the 1690s. These were, Lucas, Maria, Claudi and Johannes. They each produced lines of descendents (which cross at times). No one knows exactly where they came from, but there is some evidence that they may have been from Saba, a Dutch island nearby. Holsoe states:
Although there is no evidence to prove it, it would appear that they probably were siblings. There are instances of interconnectedness by joint residence and standing as godparents for each other’s children, to give some weight to this assumption.Lucas, the earliest, was a plantation owner in 1691. He married Margaretha Runnels (b. 1673). His grandson, also Lucas (1728-1796), bought land and founded Beverwyck, New Jersey in 1772. He was a very colorful individual and was visited at Beverwyck by George Washington several times.
Maria (Anna Maria) (c 1676-1728) was listed as “a girl from the island of Saba” at the time of her engagement to Joachim Melchior von Holten in 1692. Maria later married Jacob Jorgensen Magens.
Johannes lived on St Thomas around 1700 and married Sara Mooy in 1701. His son Engel may have been the father of the Royal Bookkeeper on St Croix around 1800, Johannes van Beverhoudt, Engelzoon.
|Page from St Thomas Lutheran Church Book showing |
Marriage of Claudi van Beverhoudt and Anna Martens, 4 Oct 1703
He appears to have been born around 1670, possibly in Saba or St Eustatius (Statia). According to the St. Thomas Landlister, he appears, for the first time, in 1693, living with Lucas on his plantation on St Thomas. He took an oath of allegiance to the Company in 1695 as a planter in his own right on St Thomas.
He became engaged to Anna Martens, daughter of planter Frans Martens, on 1 Sep 1703 in the St. Thomas Lutheran Church and was married on 4 Oct of that same year. Claudius and Anna had at least one child, Anna van Beverhoudt (b. 1705) who married Lucas Volkers.
|Page from the St. Thomas Lutheran Churchbook showing Marriage of |
Claudi Beverhodut and Elizabeth de Windt, 22 Aug 1708
The date of Claudi’s death is not known specifically, but it appears to have been around 1713 since Elizabeth, his widow, was married in Feb 1714 to Gerrit (Gerhard) Moll. Only one child is known to have resulted from Claudi’s and Elizabeth’s marriage: Johannes van Beverhoudt Claudizoon.
Johannes van Beverhoudt Claudizoon was my 6th great grandfather. He was baptized 9 Feb 1711 in the Lutheran Church. He eventually inherited an estate on St. John, in Little and Large Cruz Bay. Van Beverhoudts continued to occupy Cruz Bay for then next hundred years; I found a van Beverhoudt family in the 1855 St Thomas Census there, although I have not traced their lineage yet.
|Baptism Record of Johannes van Beverhoudt Claudizoon, 9 February 1711 from the St Thomas Lutheran Churchbook|