Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The First van Beverhoudts in the Danish West Indies

The van Beverhoudts were among the earliest families in the Danish West Indies.  They were Dutch planters that settled the island and made it their home.  This post discusses the earliest known Beverhoudts to live there and some of my oldest ancestors from the islands.

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
The fourth member of the Beverhoudt clan, Claudi (also Glaudi, Gloudi, Claudius) was my 7th great grandfather. 

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. 

1708-Marriage-Claudius Beverhoudt-Eliz de Windt-IMG_4583
Page from the St. Thomas Lutheran Churchbook showing Marriage of
Claudi Beverhodut and Elizabeth de Windt, 22 Aug 1708
Anna (Martens) van Beverhoudt died on 18 Jan 1708.  Claudius remarried a mere six months later, on 22 Aug to Elizabeth de Windt, daughter of Pieter de Windt and widow of Pieter Runnels (d. 1707) of St Thomas.
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.

IMG_5938 (Medium)
Baptism Record of Johannes van Beverhoudt Claudizoon, 9 February 1711 from the St Thomas Lutheran Churchbook
As I have written before, he eventually left St Thomas and moved to Manhattan, New York (The van Beverhoudts Take Manhattan).  His son, another Claudius, returned to St Thomas and eventually moved to St Croix.


  1. Arnold van Beverhoudt Jr.August 16, 2012 at 10:37 AM

    Great info, David. I shared your blog post on my Facebook page. Hopefully it will generate some new readers for you.


  2. Dave,
    Here's an obituary for a more recent van Beverhoudt who immigrated to NY from the Virgin Islands. James van Beverhoudt (brother of Ernest) came to NY in 1901 and worked for a Wall Street firm for 40 years until his death in 1947. He's related by marriage to the Bornn and Teytaud families of St. Croix:

  3. Arnold van Beverhoudt Jr.August 17, 2012 at 12:19 PM


    Thanks for that link. James would have been my great uncle (I think). Ernest was my grandfather.


  4. Here's an interesting question: if old James van Beverhoudt were alive today, would he be for or against the Wall Street Protesters, or would he be a member of the evil 1%?

  5. Thanks Rachel. I didn't have that info. Yes, Arnold, This was James Esli van Beverhoudt Jr (1875-1947). He was the son of James Esli van Beverhoudt (1843-1890).

  6. Are you related to the van Beverhoudt's from around the field in St.Thomas.

  7. Each and every time I see the Beverhoudt name, my mind goes back to your heritage. Lol. While I was sorting, and going over some of my genealogical resources; I came across a brief description on Estate Coakley Bay, St. Croix. Quite a few years ago, I went on a tour of the ruins of Estate Coakley Bay. This was conducted by George Tyson our leading historian on St. Croix. Mr. Tyson always provides a narrative on the Ruins. In the narrative there is mention of Lucas v Beverhoudt as an owner of the estate bet 1760-1761. I wondered if your Lucas who founded Beverwyck, New Jersey, is one of the same or is this person of another connection. But mostly whether you were aware of this information.

  8. I'm not sure, but I do believe it was the same person. I know Lucas left St Croix in the early 1770's and sold all his holdings. Lucas isn't in my direct lineage, but his branch appears to be connected to Lucas van Beverhoudt from St Thomas in the 1690's. My ancestor, Claudi, was apparently living at Lucas' estate in the late 1690's. It is thought that they were brothers.

    Thanks for the info! And thanks for keeping us in mind.

  9. hey Rachel, great to find your post. I've come back to it a few times. I am from New Zealand and a descendent of Lucas and Margaretha Runnels. I have only recently made the connection to the West Indies, as my 5th g grandmother was born in St Croix but married in Edinburgh. Her parents died when she was just a child, so now trying to figure out why she and her brother ended up in Edinburgh.

  10. Yo soy vinieto de Elvira van Beverhoudt ella era de san Thomas

  11. Soy Santo Domingo Republica Dominicana

  12. En la actualidad estoy en Filaderfia donde mis hijos

  13. Senor Arnold yo soy Rafael Jimenez soy Capitan contable retirado de Las Armadas,de Republica Dominicana, soy nieto de Elvira van Beverhoudt ella era de San Thomas, y estoy interesa en saber cuales fueron los Padres de Elvira van Beverhoudt por favor