Book on Emigration

Leela Gujadhur Sarup


Leela Gujadhur Sarup is a historical researcher and author on colonial emigration. Her works are based on hard-to-find documents as they originally appeared in the records of the British Empire. We reproduce an extract of a contract engagement between an agent for the Danish West India colony of Saint Croix and an Indian native

Draft of a Contract of Engagement between N. N. Agent for the Danish West India Colony, St. Croix, and N. N. Native of __________:-

1. N. N. engages himself to embark, on the first requisition, in the Vessel to be taken to the Danish Island of St. Croix, for the purpose of fulfilling the engagement of labor herein specified, for the benefit of the employer for whom he may be intended by the Authorities of said Island on his arrival there.

2. The said N. N. engages himself to perform all kind of work connected with cultivation and fabrication of sugar, as well as all other work performed by the Native laborers on such Estate.

3. The present engagement is for five consecutive years from the date of N.N.’s arrival in St. Croix. The working hours are nine and a half hours on the six days of the week. For those days during the five years on which he is duly proved to have

Colonial Emigration 19th-20th Century
Proceedings 1863 – 1869 Vol. 4

been absent from work without lawful cause he shall be bound, after the expiration of his original term of service, to serve an additional number of days equal to the time during which, in this manner, he has not fulfilled his contract.

4. He is to have, without charge, on the Estate where he is employed, suitable lodging, medical attendance and medicines, and a piece of provision ground at least thirty feet square.

5. The Immigrants can claim a daily allowance consisting of ½ lb flour, ¾ lb. Rice, 2 oz. dhole or peas, 1 oz. ghee or lard, 1 dr. coriander seed, 1 dr. black pepper, 2 drs. Turmerick, for which allowance (1/2 for a non-adult) will be deducted 10 cts. In the daily wages. Extra labor to be paid for at the customary rate of the Island.
Advances on wages made before entering into service are to be deducted for re-payment at the rate of $ 1 for adults and 50 cts. for non-adults per month; the recoverable amount of such advances, however, not to exceed in any case $ 12 for any laborer.

6. When the engagement for five years is fulfilled N.N. is at liberty to remain in St. Croix, but he has a right to claim a free return passage to the place from where he emigrated, which will include his wife, his children, who quitted India under the age of ten years, and those born in the Colony. If he is willing to contract a new engagement for five years he is entitled to a bounty of $ 40, and still when this engagement is fulfilled retains his right to a free return passage. The return passage must, however, in all cases, be claimed within eighteen months from the time when it is due.

7. The Immigrant is, during his passage to St. Croix and on his return passage, entitled to such accommodation and treatment as fixed by the English Government for Emigrants from the East Indies to the British possessions in the West Indies.


June 2010

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