David Hamilton Jackson’s family

David Hamilton Jackson was an enterprising pioneer fighting for better conditions for workers in the West Indies. He founded a newspaper and a trade union and had considerable influence. He came from humble circumstances in a family of teachers and former slaves.
Schoolkids in front of their school on Estate Diamond on St. Croix in 1888.
Schoolkids in front of their school on Estate Diamond on St. Croix in 1888. (Royal Library).

David Hamilton Jackson was born on 28 September, 1884 at East Hill Country School on the eastern end of St. Croix. His parents were Mr and Mrs Eliza Hamilton McIntosh and Wilford Jackson. They were both teachers at the school. Like both his parents, Jackson was baptized in the Moravian Church.

His mother Eliza

Eliza was born on 7 October as the daughter of Maria and James Hamilton McIntosh. Eliza was a teacher, but both as a young woman and after Wilford’s death in 1898 she also worked as a seamstress.

Maternal grandmother and grandfather Maria and James

Eliza’s father, James, was also a teacher. He worked in the public school in Friedensfeld, and the family lived at Estate Little Mount Peasant. Later he was a teacher at the schools at La Vallee and Peter’s Rest on St. Croix. When they were young, on 3 March 1841 Maria and James had come to St. Croix from the nearby island of Antigua as James had got a job at the rural schools on the Danish island. They had six children.

His father Wilford

Wilford was born on 19 April 1845 as the son of two slaves, Beata and Peter Jackson, on the plantation of Castle Coakley. As an adult, he was first an inspector at the mission station of Friedensthal and later a teacher. He was employed as a teacher at East Hill Country School in 1882 and the following year at the Free School in Christiansted, where he taught until his death following some months of illness.

Paternal grandmother and grandfather Beata and Peter

When Wilford was born, his parents, who were in their early twenties, were slaves. Peter was a carpenter and Beata was a field worker on the plantation. After the abolition of slavery in 1848, according to the sources Beata was ”a first-class worker”. The couple moved to a house in the western outskirts of Christiansted in 1870, and Beata worked as a saleswoman. In 1890, Peter was a widower and lived on the Richmond plantation. He died in 1892.

Jackson also became a teacher

With a family background dominated by teachers, it is no surprise that David Hamilton Jackson also became a teacher. He began his teaching career at East Hill Country School as early as 16 years of age, and later taught in Frederiksted.


Drawing of a school for children of slaves.
Seventeen schools were built 1839-1841 according to this design for the children of the slaves. Some of the buildings are still in existence. (Danish National Archives).