Water Island

Water Island provides a very interesting story about an early St. Thomas Danish Governor of somewhat doubtful integrity who was accustomed to selling Letters of Marquee to the pirates, authorizing them to prey on Spanish shipping. One of these pirate ships bought such a letter and went to the Isthmus of Panama and crossed over to the Pacific Ocean on foot. There they captured a vessel and went up that coast looting Spanish towns.

They made their way back across the Isthmus and got in their own vessel and sailed away. Later, they were captured and tried for piracy before an English Court in London. Their defense was that they were operating under a Letter of Marquee from the Danish Governor of St. Thomas.

They produced the document, but as no one could read Danish, so it was necessary to secure an interpreter. When translated the document was found to say that it “gave pirates permission to hunt goats on Water Island.”

According to the story the pirates were duly hanged. That there were white persons living on Water Island from an early time is indicated by the names on early maps such as Deruyter Bay, etc. Evidence of early habitation includes old Danish pottery and crockery, Dutch liquor bottles, and other remnants of European habitation.