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Probate Court Transaction on Estate of Rachel Lavien, [19 February 1768]

Probate Court Transaction on Estate of
Rachel Lavien1

[St. Croix, February 19, 1768]

Skifte brev no. XXIX.

Som udi Skifte-Sessions Protocollen er behandlet under No. XXIV sc: efter afgangne

Rachael Lewine

James Towers Hands kongelige Majestæts til Danmark og Norge pp. bestalter Skifte-Forvalter ved Christianstæds Jurisdiction paa Eylandet St Croix udj America og Jvar Hofman Sevel bestalter Byefoged ved samme Jurisdiction samt med Skifte-Forvalter Laurence Bladwil og Jsaac Hartman tillige med Johan Henric Dietrichs bestalter Bye- og Skifte-Skriver sammesteds, giøre witterligt


Anno 1768 dend 19de Februarij om Aftenen Klokken 10 slet indfandt sig Skifte-Rætten udj et Huus her i Byen Thomas Dipnall tilhørende, hvor der for en Time siden et Fruentimmer Rachael Lewine ved Døden afgangen for at forseigle hendes Effecter til videre Registrering. Tilstæde ved Forretningen som Vidner vare bemelte Thomas Dipnall og Friderich Wilhl Larsen, hvor da blev forseiglet et Kammer, hvor udj var hendes Effecter, samt Koffert etc., derefter blev forseiglet et Pulterkammer og 2de Magaziner i Gaarden og da der var intet andet at forseigle undtagen Gryder og andre smaa Ting som blev uforseiglet til Ligets Brug, hvor udj er includeret 6 Stoele, 2de Borde og 2de Porcelains-Kummer. Saa blev Forretningen sluttet.

Saaledes passeret testerer

James Towers Johan Henric Dietrichs
Som Vidner:
Thomas Dipnall Friderich Wilhm Larsen

Anno 1768 den 22. Februarij indfandt sig Skifte-Rætten der blev administreret af mig James Towers som constitueret Skifte-Forvalter og af mig Johan Henric Dietrichs som kongl. bestalter Bye- og Skifteskriver ved Christianstæds Jurisdiction paa Eylandet St Croix udj America sig udj Thomas Dipnalls Huus her i Byen hvor Madme Rachael Lewine ved Døden dend 19 hujus er afgangen og hvis Effecter blev forseiglet strax ved Dødsfaldet, for nu samme Afdødes Efterladenskab at registrere og vurdere til en paafølgende Skifte og Deeling imellem dend Afdødes efterladte Børn, som ere 3de Sønner navnlig Peter Lewine2 født i dend Afdødes Egteskab med John Michael Lewine,3 som siden skal have været skildt fra hende for gyldige Aarsager (efter hvad Skifte-Rætten derom har underrettet sig) af Høyeste Øvrighed, item 2de Sønner nemlig James Hammilton4 og Alexander Hamilton, den ene 15ten og den anden 13 Aar gl. og ere samme Slifrigbørn sc. siden den Afdødes Skilsmisse med bemelte Lewine. Bemelte Søn Peter Lewine haver og endnu opholder sig i Syd Carolina og efter Underretning er ungefæhr 22 Aar gammel.

Christianssted Byfogedarkiv Skifteprotokol 1766 12/4–1770 15/2 Fol. 386 v (Gl. Nr. 41), Rigsarkivet, Copenhagen.

1The translation reads as follows:

Probate court transaction no. XXIX

“Which in the Probate court protocol is recorded as No. XXIV sc. the case of the deceased Rachael Lewine

“James Towers, by His Royal Majesty of Denmark and Norway duly appointed administrator of estates in the Christiansted jurisdiction on the Island of St. Croix in America, and Ivar Hofman Sevel, appointed bailiff in the same jurisdiction, together with Laurence Bladwil, administrator of estates, Isaac Hartman, and Johan Henric Dietrichs, appointed town and probate court recorder in the aforesaid jurisdiction, make known that

“In the year 1768 on the 19th day of February in the evening at 10 o’clock sharp the probate court met in a house here in town belonging to Thomas Dipnal, where an hour earlier a woman, Rachael Lewine, died, in order to seal up her effects for subsequent recording. Present at this transaction were the aforesaid Thomas Dipnal and Friedrich Wilhl Larsen as witnesses to the sealing up of a chamber containing her effects together with a trunk etc., thereafter were sealed an attic storage room and two storage rooms in the yard, after which there was nothing more to seal up, except some pots and other small things which remained unsealed for use in preparing the body for burial, among them being 6 chairs, 2 tables, and 2 wash-bowls. The transaction was then closed.

“In witness thereof

James Towers Johan Henric Dietrichs
As Witnesses
Thomas Dipnal Friedrich Wilhm Larsen

“In the year 1768 on the 22 of February the probate court administered by me, James Towers, as acting administrator of estates, and by me, Johan Henric Dietrichs, duly appointed by the King as town and probate court recorder in the Christiansted jurisdiction on the Island of St. Croix in America, met in Thomas Dipnal’s house here in town, where on the 19th of this month Madam Rachael Lewine died, and whose effects were forthwith sealed up, in order now to take an inventory of them for subsequent distribution among the decedent’s surviving children, who are 3 sons, namely, Peter Lewine, born in the marriage of the decedent with John Michael Lewine who, later, is said for valid reasons to have obtained from the highest authorities a divorce from her (according to what the probate court has been able to ascertain), also 2 other sons, namely, James Hamilton and Alexander Hamilton, the one 15 and the other 13 years old, who are the same illegitimate children sc. born after the decedent’s separation from the aforesaid Lewine. The above mentioned Peter Lewine has resided and still resides in South Carolina and according to reports is about 22 years old.”

The above translation was made by Mr. Carl J. Kulsrud, archivist in charge of Agriculture and General Services Branch, Natural Resources Records Division, National Archives.

Although this is not strictly an H document, it is printed here because it is the first extant document in which H is mentioned. Both Bancroft (George Bancroft, History of the United States [Boston, 1858], VII, 79) and Lodge (Henry Cabot Lodge, Alexander Hamilton [Boston, 1899], 283–85) refer to an earlier document dated 1766. Bancroft states: “The first written trace of his [Hamilton’s] existence is in 1766, when his name appears as witness to a legal paper executed in the Danish island of Santa Cruz.” Lodge elaborates on this statement as follows: “I have carefully examined an exact tracing of this signature. The handwriting is obviously Hamilton’s.” This document has not been found.

Rachel Lavien, H’s mother, was the daughter of John Faucett, a doctor and planter, and his wife Mary, both of the English island Nevis. Either in 1745 or somewhat earlier, Rachel Faucett went to St. Croix where she married the merchant John (Johann) Michael Lavien. In 1746, Peter Lavien was born. The marriage was not a happy one, and in 1750 Rachel left her son, Peter, and her husband and ran away from the island. In 1759, Lavien obtained a divorce from Rachel. Shortly after leaving her husband, Rachel Lavien had met James Hamilton, who was the fourth son of Alexander Hamilton, Laird of Grange in Stevenston Parish in Ayrshire, Scotland. They lived together on St. Kitts as man and wife and had two sons, James and Alexander. In 1765, James Hamilton moved his family to St. Croix. Soon after he returned to St. Kitts, leaving his family on St. Croix. He never saw them again. In February, 1768, Rachel Lavien was taken ill with a fever and died shortly afterwards. For a detailed account of H’s parentage and boyhood, see Ramsing, “Alexander Hamilton,” Personalhistorisk tidsskrift description begins Holger Utke Ramsing, “Alexander Hamilton og hans mødrene stoegt Tidsbilleder fra Dansk Vestindiens barndom,” Personalhistorisk tidsskrift, 24 cm., 10 Raekke, 6bd. (Copenhagen, 1939). description ends , 225–70.

2H’s half brother, who was the sole heir of his father. In 1764, he went to South Carolina and was living there at the time of his mother’s death.

3Rachel Lavien’s former husband and Peter Lavien’s father.

4H’s brother. After his mother’s death he was apprenticed to a carpenter on the island of St. Croix. Nothing is definitely known concerning the remainder of his life. According to Ramsing, he died in 1786.

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