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History of Frederiksted

English / Dutch - 17th Century

The Dutch and English were among the first to establish themselves on St. Croix; both powers had a presence on the island by 1625. The Dutch shared their settlement with a handful of French Huguenots from nearby St. Kitts. The two colonies coexisted without major incident until 1645, when the island's Dutch governor killed his English counterpart. A skirmish ensued between the two colonies during which the Dutch governor was mortally wounded. The English colonists extended a conciliatory invitation to his successor; however, upon his arrival at the colony, the Dutch official was arrested and publicly executed. The Dutch were forced to abandon their colony and retire to St. Eustatius and St. Maarten, while their French neighbors relocated to Guadeloupe. The English solidified their claim on St. Croix and remained unchallenged for the next four years.

In 1650, the English settlement was overrun by 1,200 Spanish colonists from Puerto Rico. Dutch forces from St. Eustatius tried unsuccessfully to recapture St. Croix. Later that year, Philippe de Lonvilliers Poincy, Governor of the French West Indies, claimed possession of St. Croix in the name of the French Crown. DePoincy, the leader of the Knights of Malta, then purchased the island from the French king in 1651 and directed a group of his fellow knights to colonize St. Croix. In 1653, he bestowed his private holdings in the West Indies to the order and sent one Chevalier de la Mothe to St. Croix with supplies. The unfortunate emissary met with a rather ignoble fate as he was apprehended and shackled by some 200 rebellious French colonists, who made off with his ship.

Two years later, a new governor was sent to restore order to the colony. The knights, however, unaccustomed to the rigors of managing plantations, failed to establish a viable economy on St. Croix. In 1665, the French West India Company bought all the islands owned by the Knights of Malta, and in 1674, the French king paid the company's debts, assuming ownership of all its holdings. Unable to turn the colony around, the king ordered its residents to relocate to Santo Domingo. Although still a French possession, St. Croix was abandoned save for a few squatters until well into the next century.

Columbus Late 15th Century
English / Dutch 17th Century
Danish 18th Century
19th and 20th Century