2.1 Cuba

=> In 1815, Heinrich Escher (1776-1853), member of the Escher family from Zurich and father of industrialist, politician and railway tycoon Alfred Escher (1819-1882), bought the coffee plantation Buen Retiro southwest of Havanna, including 87 slaves, for his brothers Friedrich Ludwig und Ferdinand Escher, who operated it. Friedrich Ludwig Escher died in 1845, and in 1847, Heinrich Escher inherited the plantation, the slaves and the infrastructure with a total worth of 40,000 pesos, about 800,000 Swiss francs in today’s worth. As has been argued by German historian Michael Zeuske, one of the authorities on slavery in general and Caribbean and Cuban slavery in particular, Federico (Friedrich Ludwig Escher) begat a child with his enslaved washer-woman Serafina, which means that Alfred Escher, the great champion of politics and industry, had a little Afro-Cuban cousin born into slavery.

=> Heinrich Studer (1779-1831) from Winterthur in the Canton of Zurich lived in Matanzas as a plantation owner.

=> Johannes Köhli‏‎ (1773–1814) from Biel in the Canton of Berne worked in Cuba as a merchant and died there.

=> Karl Wilhelm Scherb (1780–1827) from Bischofszell in the Canton of Thurgau emigrated to the USA and then to Cuba, where he lived as a merchant and a manufacturer. He died in Havanna.‏‎

=> Johann Ulrich Zellweger (1804–1871) from the village of Trogen (Canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden, NE Switzerland) migrated to Cuba in 1831, where he was intended to take over the Studer plantation. But Studer had died, and Zellweger started to work for a number of merchant houses founded and owned by members of the Drake family. The original family firm had been founded by James Drake (1763-1838), a shrewd trader from England, who had married into the Cuban aristocracy and become a sugar-plantation owner. In 1840, Zellweger became a member of the executive quartet of Drake Brothers & Co., together with James Drake’s son Charles, proprietor of a sugar plantation with 400 slaves, Alexander Friedrich, Charles Respinger, and José Morales. In 1842, a new partnership was formed with Johann Ulrich Zellweger, Louis Morales, and two other sons of James Drake’s. In the summer of 1845, Zellweger retired from the company and returned to Europe a very wealthy man. Based on his fortune acquired in Cuba, he founded two banks: in 1848 «Zellweger & Cie» (with business partner Charles Respinger) in Paris and in 1866 the private «Bank für Appenzell A.Rh», which in 1906 merged with the «Schweizerische Bankverein» (which in turn merged with the «Schweizerische Bankgesellschaft» in 1997 to become today’s UBS). In 1859, he founded the «Basel Mission Trading Company» and became its first president in 1864. Basel Mission workshops and factories existed on the Gold Coast and in southern India to produce cocoa, palm oil cotton, textiles and bricks on a large scale.

=> In 1850, Jacob Jakob (born 1822) from the village of Trogen (Canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden, E Switzerland)worked as a plantation overseer in Cuba.

=> Around 1850, Philippe Robert-Tissot from Neuchâtel, who had been living in Santiago for a long time, was the owner of a coffee plantation. Until around 1865, the directors of the plantation were Charles Jeanneret (1824–1869), son of a Neuchâtel watchmaker established in Cuba, and his brother-in-law Reymond Robert-Tissot.

=> In his autobiography «Eine Selbstschau», the German-Swiss educationalist and writer Heinrich Zschokke (1771-1848) relates how in 1830, he accompanied the boy Thomas James Emanuel Spengler from Unterseen BE to Le Havre, from where he was to start his voyage to Cuba. That boy was the son of Swiss planter Spengler on Cuba and of a «beautiful negro woman» and had been sent to Switzerland for his early education, where his finances had been laid into Zschokke’s hands. Now his father wanted him back on Cuba, and Zschokke had agreed to organise his trip and his embarkment. Zschokke also mentions the vicious racism with which the «mulatto boy» met on his way to Le Havre. The famous historian of the City of Havanna Eusebio Leal Spengler (1942–2020) is most probably a descendant the Swiss planters via the family of his mother.

=> Jean-Théodore Rivier (1750–1821) from Geneva, as the company «Rivier et Cie.», invested in the slave-ship «Conquérant» (1791/92, Le Havre => West Central Africa => St.Helena => Malembo => Havana, 428/361 slaves)

=> In 1825/26, the Swiss indiennes company «Favre et Cie.», family from Couvet, Canton of Neuchâtel, invested in the slave-ship «L’Arthur» (1825/26, Nantes => Africa => Santiago de Cuba, 183/160 slaves).

=> In 1822, the Neuchâtel company of Charles Rossel, «Rossel et Boudet», owned and fitted out the slave-ship «Dauphin», which sailed from Nantes via Africa to Santiago de Cuba (234/192 slaves), and the slave-ship «L’Elise» (Nantes => Africa => Havana, 234/192 slaves)

=> In the 1780s, Louis d’lllens (1749-1819) from Lausanne and «Louis d’Illens et Cie», in association with Jacob van Berchem (1736–1794) and Augustin Roguin (1768–1827), imported coffee, indigo, and cotton directly from Martinique. They owned and fitted out the slave-ship «L’Helvétie» (1791/92, Marseille => Indian Ocean => Moçambique => Cape of Good Hope => Havana, 550/414 slaves).

=> In 1791, the slave-ship «Conquérant» sailed with 428 slaves from Le Havre to West Central Africa and via Malembo in Angola to Havana, where 362 slaves were disembarked. One of the Burckhardt companies from Bâle had invested 9,700 pounds in the expedition. Because of the Haitian revolution, the slaves could not be sold in Saint-Domingue, but were taken to Havana.

2.2 Netherlands Antilles (colonies «Aruba», «Bonaire», «Curaçao», «St. Eustacius», «St. Martin»)

=> Bankers from Geneva helped to finance the Dutch West India Company.

=> Isaak Faesch (1687–1758) from Bâle was a merchant active in the textile trade and a speculator in shares of the French «Compagnie d’Occident». He commanded the Dutch islands of St. Eustacius, Saba, and St. Martin for three years (1737-1740). He was governor of the Netherlands Antilles (Curaçao, Aruba and Bonaire) from 1740 to 1758. In 1745, he reintroduced flogging, branding with red-hot irons and banning to the Bonaire salt facilities as corporal punishment in order to maintain public order. Neveretheless, in 1750, the slaves on the West India Company estate Hato, which Faesch managed, rebelled. The rebellion was defeated, the rebels treated harshly, and 47 Blacks were beheaded. In 1761, Faesch’s plenipotentiary sold the plantation Rustenburg.

=> Johann Rudolf Lauffer (1753-1833) from the town of Zofingen (Canton of Berne/Aargau, N Switzerland), whose mother was from the Chaillet family from Neuchâtel (see 1.7), entered the services of the «Dutch West India Company» (WIC) and arrived in Curaçao in 1776. In 1786, he married Petronella Rojer, who died childless in 1800. In 1796, he became governor of Curaçao, and in 1799 governor of Curaçao, Aruba and Bonaire. In 1800, Lauffer bought the plantation Bleinheim. In 1803, he travelled to Europe, accompanied by a young black slave called Theodorus, whom he had manumitted «out of affection». In 1804, he withdrew from public life, and in 1805 returned to Switzerland. In 1806, he returned to Curaçao, where he bought the plantation Eenzaamheid. In 1830, he married again, his second wife being his long time concubine, the coloured Hermina Corpus (van Groot) Davelaar (born 1777), sole heir of her aunt Maria Beatrix Gayde, from whom she had inherited plantation Vredenberg in 1828. He died in 1833, one of the richest inhabitants of the colony, having made his fortune by trade and investments. He left his wife and children (who kept their Swiss citizenships and were active in the trading company «Gebrüder Lauffer», in the army, and in the banking business) the plantations and the slaves of Bleinheim, Eenzaamheid, and Nooitgedacht (aka Heintje Kool, inherited by Lauffer’s second wife). In 1834, the Lauffer Brothers bought the plantation Damasco. Lauffer’s youngest child was called Willem Tell Lauffer (born 1817). His son Rudolph Adriaan Lauffer (born 1801) together with his wife Dorothea Josephina da Costa (1820–1884) owned the plantation Sukasa. Willem Tell Lauffer administered the salt plantation Damasco (or Jan Thiel) of 400 acres with many slaves. His daughter Hermina Geertruida Maria Lauffer later owned Damasco. In 1847, the slave Maria Victorina Duchatel, born in 1828 as daugher of slave Anica Antonia and a white sergeant, was manumitted by the Lauffer Brothers. Shortly afterwards, in 1848, Maria Victorina Duchatel gave birth to Marie Louise. In 1848, Jacob Lauffer (1810-1883) wrote a petition for the abolition of slavery. In 1863, Johann Rudolf Lauffer’s widow and the six Lauffer sons owned 81 slaves. After Jacob Lauffer’s death, Marie Louise and all the children born after her (Samuel Johannes, 1851, and Jacob Jr., 1861, were recognised as his legitimate children. The widowed Hermina Geertruida Maria Lauffer is documented on the list of slave owners with 16 slaves, for whom she was compensated with 3000 guilders. There were close ties between the Lauffer and the Marugg families.

=> Johann Heinrich (Jan Hendrik) Hottinger (1751– 1823) from Zurich became a military engineer and cartographer in the service of the Dutch in 1777 and a captain in 1788. He sojourned in Suriname from November 1786 to March 1787 and made several maps, especially of the Comewyne and the Suriname River. He went on to Curaçao the same year and depicted the fortifications of Willemstad, and he also worked on Sint Eustatius. He retired from Dutch service in 1795 to enter the service of the British, but he must have returned in the service of the Kingdom of The Netherlands in 1814, where he retired with the rank of Major General in July 1817.

=> Edouard Caliste Cusin (originally a surgeon in Suriname) was a member of the court on St. Eustatius 1835–1837. He died back in Suriname in 1838.

=> In 1915, Casper Arturo Perret Gentil (1887–1980) from a family of Caribbean plantation owners (originally from Le Locle) bought Damasco plantation, where he grew and exported oranges, mangos, coconuts, bananas, and other agricultural products to France, Venezuela and Santo Domingo. He also kept cattle and expanded the salt production, which was sold to Cuba and Santo Domingo. Shell was also a major buyer: the company used the salt for refining crude oil from Venezuela.

=> Johann Heinrich Sutermeister (1768–1847) from Zofingen, Canton of Berne/Aargau, was a merchant in Curaçao, later in New York. He followed his uncle Johann Rudolf Lauffer to Curaçao, where in 1800 he first married Johanna Gijsbertha Römer, daughter of a slave-trade commissioner and slave-auctioneer.

=> In 1774, Abraham Perret Gentil (1747–1824) from Le Locle in the Canton of Neuchâtel (then part of Prussia) joined the Dutch military, became captain of the marine regiment Bentinck and soon left for Suriname. He got married in 1776 in Paramaribo. In 1793, he took over the command of the garrison of Curaçao. In 1797, he was stationed in Saint Domingue for a short time, probably because the Dutch cooperated with the French. At the end of his career, he was brigadier general of the French army. He died in Lyon.

=> Johann Jakob Hoffmann (died ca. 1778) from Bâle, together with Isaak Faesch (1687–1758), traded cocoa, sugar, coffee, tobacco, silver, and gold on Curaçao. They were active in the brokerage and insurance business, insuring both regular inter-Caribbean trade and smuggling ventures by Curaçaoan and French West Indian vessels. The crops they traded in included sugar from Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Saint-Domingue, tobacco from Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, and St. Vincent, coffee from Guadeloupe and Martinique, and cacao from Venezuela. Hoffmann, secretary of the Dutch colony of St.Martin, was also a slave-trader on Curaçao, which has been called a hub of the global slave trade. He purchased slaves from the British islands (like St. Christopher) and had them transported to the coast of Venezuela, where they were exchanged with cocoa. Once he planned to evade tax on slaves who arrived in Willemstad by dressing them up as sailors. Hoffmann advised his human-trafficking partners to buy «only young and strong negroes with handsome faces». He was buried in Sissach BL.

=> Isaac Debrot (1771-1854) from Neuchâtel came to Curaçao 1793 as a soldier in Dutch service. He was commander of Bonaire from 1817-1827, i.e. he held the highest job in the administration of the island. In 1863, when slavery was abolished there, five Debrot families owned 71 slaves.

=> Martinus Marugg (1784-1823) was born in Amsterdam to a family originally from Klosters (Canton of Graubünden). His father Caspar Marugg (born 1759) had served the Dutch in the 2nd Battalion of the Grisons Infantry Regiment, had emigrated to Amsterdam and married there in 1782. Martinus reached Curaçao as a naval surgeon in 1802 and was assigned to the 28th Battalion of Westindian Light Infantry. Some years later, he was –by the colonial administration – appointed military surgeon in charge of plantation owners and slaves in the «Westdivisie», an administrative region of Curaçao. As such he was based on the plantation Buitenbosch.

=> In 1781, the commercial agents Hogguer & De Galz made a plan for an illegal slave voyage via Angola to Saint-Domingue. It was the time of the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War (1780-1784), and they proposed in a letter from Curaçao to shipowners in Holland to transport 450 to 500 slaves. False voyage papers were supposed to state that the ship was on its way from Holland to Curaçao, and it was then supposed to miss a port so that it could sail to Port-au-Prince without being noticed. The profits anticipated from the sale of human merchandise and sugar in particular were exorbitantly high: All in all, both gentlemen would gain 110,000 Livres Tournois from this trip. The trading agents took the loss of life into account in advance. They assumed a 20% loss of life. The insurance premium for sailing to Africa was set at 12%, that for sailing to Europe was estimated at 25%. It is not clear whether the trip ever materialised and which member of the Hogguer family (originally from St.Gallen) was involved. Around 1780, several Hogguers held diplomatic posts in Denmark and Portugal in the service of the Dutch government, such as Jacob Christoph (1758-1793), working in Sweden, Jan Willem Hogguer (1755) working in Portugal and Russia, or Jan Jacob Hogguer in 1782 appointed commissioner general of commerce in Paris. In 1782, merchants Hogguer and De Galz from Curaçao decreed manumission of mulatto («sambose») Sara and paid 350 peso for her.

=> In his travelogue «Bericht des Grafen Karl von Zinzendorf über seine handelspolitische Studienreise durch die Schweiz 1764», the Austrian count describes the commercial activities of the Ammann banking and merchant company from Schaffhausen (N Switzerland), which traded in cotton, indigo, sugar, and tobacco. The first quality cotton came from Curaçao and Berbice, but from the latter there were no more imports because «the colony has been ruined». From that cotton, the Toggenburg textile industry (today Canton of St.Gallen) produced muslin fabrics. Curaçao cotton was very rare: a ship that transported 60 bales from Saint Domingue only carried 6 from Curaçao. The second quality variety came from Martinique and Saint-Domingue and was transported to Switzerland via Marseilles, Lyon, Belfort and Basel. The third (and worst) quality cotton came from Barbados. Nearly 1000 bags of cotton were imported by Ammann every year and were processed in the Toggenburg and Glarus area. In the second half of the 18th century, 35% of the cotton it delivered into the Zurich, Berne/Aargau, Toggenburg, and Appenzell areas were from Berbice or Essequibo.

2.3 French West Indies (colonies «Guiana», «Guadeloupe», «Martinique»)

=> Sebastian Högger (1686-1737) from St.Gallen was in the service of the Swedish navy from 1710 on, probably because one of his brothers was a banker in Paris with close ties to Sweden. Sebastian passed the captain’s exam in Brest and published a treatise on the tides («De fluxu et refluxu maris»). On behalf of King Charles XII. of Sweden, he travelled to Martinique and to the Americas in 1716. In 1717, he was promoted to Swedish sea captain and to the Swedish nobility. In 1718, he undertook voyages to the African coast, among others to Ceuta and Tunis. In 1723, he was commander of a squadron in the rank of a general, and the same year he was raised to the rank of a «Reichsfreiherr», changing his name to Hogguèr de Thurberg. He ended his life as the Swedish envoy to Paris. Because he was childless, the «Fideicommissum» Höggersberg (a little castle on the Rosenberg Hill, demolished in 1848) went to his brother Laurenz.  

=> In 1791, the slave-ship «Intrépide» with an investment of 194,000 livres by Burkhardt family company from Bâle sailed from Nantes via Vieux Calabar to Cayenne.

=> In 1826, the Swiss indiennes company «Favre et Cie.» from Neuchâtel invested in the slave-ship «Auguste» (1826, Nantes => Africa => Cayenne, 535/440 slaves).

=> Hans-Ulrich Pelloutier from Bâle owned ands fitted out two slaving vessels: «Astrée» (1817, Nantes => Saint Louis => Basse-Terre (Guadeloupe), 183/160 slaves); «Circée» (1818, Nantes => Africa => Basse-Terre (Guadelopue), 234/192 slaves).

=> In 1789, Joseph Fribourg from Fribourg in Switzerland, grenadier in the Guadeloupe regiment, died in the military hospital in Basse-Terre.

=> Pierre Penotte from the City of Berne in the Canton of Berne, soldier on Guadeloupe, died in the military hospital of Basse-Terre in 1787.

=> Antoine Legros from Saint-Saphorin in the Canton pf Berne/Vaud was a fusilier in the Swiss Regiment of Guadeloupe. He died in the military hospital in Point-à-Pitre 1789.

=> Pierre François Guez from Saint-Légier-La Chiésaz in the Canton of Berne/Vaud wrote his last will and testament in Bordeaux, at the age of 37, before departing for Guadeloupe. Among others, he named Jean Rudolph Guez from La Chiésaz as executer of his last will. He designated his brother Jean Baptiste Guez, who was staying at the Cape in Saint-Domingue, as his sole heir. Pierre François Guez died in Point-à-Pitre in 1769.

=> In 1750, Jacques Christophe Ammann from the Swiss village of Underwald was unit-commander in the Swiss Regiment de Karrer, which was at the service of the French navy in the Martinique garrison. He had been an officer for 40 years and had been appointed «Chevalier de l’Ordre de Saint-Louis» in 1729.

=> Maurice Hug had served France since the age of 17 and for 30 years as an officer in the now reformed Swiss Regiment de Hallwyl (reformed in 1762). From a marriage made in Martinique, where he had served 26 years, he had a son Joseph Hug, who had been a cadet in the Regiment and about to be promoted to officer. He was now a grenadier in the Regiment de Lochmann and was known for his misbehaviour and debts. In 1770, Maurice Hug asked for his son, who was presently in prison in the Garrison Mauberger, to be transferred to a suitable port from where he should be transported to those islands intended for the correction of children of families. He would there serve his king until he proves himself worthy of returning.

=> Jean Raude from Berne died a «pauvre bourgeois» (a poor inhabitant) in the military hospital of Fort Royal on Martinique in 1789.

=> Charles Daniel De Meuron (1738-1806) from Saint-Sulpice in the Canton of Neuchâtel gave up his apprenticeship in Strasbourg to enlist in the Hallwyl regiment at the age of 17 and fought in the West Indies during the Seven Years› War. He then served in the Regiment Hallwyl 1755–1763, and after the Hallwyl Regiment disbanded in 1765, he served a further 16 years in the Swiss Guards of the Regiment Erlach. The «Musée d’ethnographie de Neuchâtel» received from him rare objects from Guyana, dated 1756–1758. In 1779, he received from the French king a licence to exploit the land between the rivers Approuague and Oyapock in Guiana with the help of soldier-colonists and slaves. The project, for which he had offered to raise a Swiss Regiment, did not materialise, and although he was a decorated officer, his prospects of military promotion were restricted because he was a Protestant. His fortunes changed in 1781, when the French minister in Holland, Comte d’Affry, recommended him to the Dutch East India Company, which was in search of a mercenary regiment to protect the Dutch colonies from invasion by the British. De Meuron raised a regiment for the Dutch East India Company and was stationed at the Cape of Good Hope in 1783. After a long military career, de Meuron returned to Neuchâtel a very wealthy man.

=> Jean Baptiste Hudry from La Cluse Evèche in Geneva entered the services of the Swiss Regiment d›Hallwyl in 1757 and was stationed in Martinique, where he served as a soldier for 57 months. During the siege of Fort Royal, his arm was burnt while manipulating with a canon. In 1762, an army surgeon in Rochefort certified that his left hand was severely crippled.

=> In 1747, one Chalon, having lived in Martinique and formerly Swiss sergeant in the company of the Regiment de Karrer, wanted to return to the Windward Islands in order to take up an inheritance and then to establish himself on Saint-Domingue.

=> Franz Xaver Rickli from Schwyz was a soldier in the 2nd Company of the Swiss Regiment de Hallwyl and was 28 years old. In 1752 he joined the Regiment and was sent to Martinique. He served for 121 months. The infirmities he had contracted made further service impossible. He demanded to be pensioned off in Huningue (Alsace).

=> In 1740, an officer of a Swiss regiment named Sauvage was killed in a duel by one Durand, officer of the troops stationed in Martinique.

=> Antoine Laurent Enecker from Vendlincourt (Canton of Berne, today Jura) was captain-lieutenant in the Regiment de Karrer and stationed in Fort Royal on Martinique. He had joined the regiment in 1719, been promoted to ensign in 1724, to lieutenant in 1726 and to captain in 1734. In 1743 he applied for leave in order to regain his health in his home country. He boarded the vessel «Le Diamant». In 1750, he returned to Martinique.

=> Ludwig Rudolf Stürler (1760–1797) from Berne was an officer in Austrian, Prussian and British services and died in St. Pierre, Martinique.‏‎

=> Captain Henri le Chambrier from Neuchâtel died in Martinique.

=> Sir Georges Prévost (1767–1816), son of Augustin Prévost from Geneva, was made British Governor of St. Vincent in 1794, became Governor of St. Lucia in 1799 and Governor of Dominica in 1802. His amiable ways and the fact that a British governor spoke French won him the respect of the French planters.

=> One Heinrich Hagenbuch (1801–1858) and his brother Karl Samuel Hagenbuch (1808–1859)‏‎ from Aarau died in Martinique.‏‎

=> The Hünerwadel family from Lenzburg contributed to the wealth of this provincial town in the Canton of Aargau/Berne. In 1732, Marcus Hünerwadel (1725–1805) was granted permission to turn his fulling mill into an indiennes production center. In 1764, it employed 200 workers. Lenzburg became the areas’s leading staple town for raw cotton, which first came from the Levante and then from Martinique. In 1759/60, Marcus Hünerwadel and his son (also called Marcus) had the «Hünerwadelhaus» built, a trading center located on the Freischarenplatz. Gottlieb Hünerwadel (1744–1820) became immensely rich by trading cotton. In 1765, he married Susanna Elisabeth Hunziker (1741–1767), who also came from a family of indiennes producers. A member of the Hunziker family was also found among the investors of the slave-trading company «Solier, Martin et Salavy».

=> In 1815, the slave-ship «Petite Louise» with an investment of 20,000 livres by a Burkhardt family company (copper sheet and indiennes textiles) sailed from Nantes via Cap Lopez (Gabon) to Cayenne. Of the 319 slaves embarked 263 survived the Middle Passage.

=> The company «Simon & Roques», originally from Bâle, fitted out the slave ship «Demoiselle» in Nantes (1791/92, Nantes => Ouidah => Basse Terre => Suriname => Guadeloupe, 238/203).

=> Heinrich «Henri Bourcard» Burckhardt (1817–1887) of the branch of the Bâle family established since 1770 in Nantes/La Rochelle is noted as «consul» in Martinique.‏‎

=> In 1785, the slave-ship «Bonne Sophie» with an unknown investment by a Burkhardt family company sailed from Honfleur via the Guinea Coast to Guadeloupe.

=> Jean Gressier (ca. 1705-1785) lived in Guadeloupe 1738-1747. The French Gressier family (André father, André son, Jean) had been wealthy sugar plantation owners in the Trois-Rivières area, producing 34,000 lb of sugar p.a. In 1749, Jean Gressier acquired the citizenship of La-Tour-de-Peilz in the Canton of Berne/Vaud (W Switzerland) and bought the local castle.

=> Gaspar-Joël Monod (1717–1783) from Geneva was appointed protestant minister in 1741. The British, who had taken control of the island in 1759 sent him there in the function of chaplain of the governor and minister of the reformed French church. After three and a half years, the French took control again and he had to leave the island for Europe.

=> Jean Platener (Hans Plattner), a pauper from Chur in the Canton of Grisons Switzerland, died in Guadeloupe in 1791.

=> Pierre François Guez lived in Guadeloupe 1767–1782.

=> In 1764, «M. Tronchin», a merchant residing in Saint-Eustache, relative of the famous medical doctor Théodore Tronchin from Geneva, demanded to establish himself on Guadeloupe and to be naturalised. When his demand was refused by the governor, he moved to Saint-Martin, where he worked as an interpreter and was well-known and often seen in public. In 1787, one Bernard Tronchin and children are registered by the commander of Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthélémy. In 1814, in the cosmopolitan city of Gustavia, Bernard Tronchin announced the establishment of a school for children «of both colours and both sexes».

=> The following Swiss military personnel were stationed on Guadeloupe:

Pierre Penotte from Berne, soldier, died in 1787

Joseph Fribourg from Fribourg, soldier in the Guadeloupe Regiment, died in Basse-Terre 1789

Antoine Legros, fusilier in the Guadeloupe Regiment, died in Basse-Terre in 1789

=> In 1790, the slave-ship «Alexandrine» with an investment of 10,000 livres by a Burkhardt family company sailed from Nantes via Angola to Martinique.

=> 1815–1817, the slave-ship «Cultivateur» with an investment of 5,000 livres by a Burkhardt family and an investment from the Neuchâtel company of Charles Rossel, «Rossel et Boudet», sailed from Nantes via Bonny (Niger Delta) and Rio Dande (Angola) to Martinique (519/507 slaves).

=> Hans-Ulrich Pelloutier of the merchant house Pelloutier, Bourcard & Cie. (originally from Basel, with a Nantes branch) is recorded with two slaving vessels: «Astrée» (1817, Nantes => Saint Louis => Basse-Terre (Guadeloupe), 183/160 slaves); «Circée» (1818, Nantes => Africa => Basse-Terre, 234/192 slaves).

=> Charles Louis de Meuron from Neuchâtel, father of Auguste-Fréderic de Meuron («de Bahia»), was an important indiennes manufacturer, whose commercial activities extended as far as Martinique.

=> The following Swiss military personnel were stationed on Martinique as part of the Regiment (de) Karrer (853 Swiss military personnel between 1721 and 1759)

Jacques Christophe Amman, commander of a unit of the Swiss Regiment Karrer, stationed in the Martinique garrison in 1750. In Martinique, the second company of the Swiss Regiment Karrer was stationed.

Sergeant Chalon, inhabitant of Martinique, serving in a company of the Swiss Regiment Karrer, garrisoned on the Îles du Vent in 1747

Jacob Klaine, fusilier in a regiment on Martinique, died in 1789 in Sainte-Lucie

Jacques Raymond de Mazoulière, from Coppet (Canton of Berne/Vaud) was an officer in Martinique 1728–1751.

• Johannes von Hallwyl (1688-1753) from a family active in the silk industry in the Canton of Aargau started his military career in 1708 in Holland, where he fought in a Swiss regiment for the Spanish Netherlands. In 1719, when his regiment was disbanded, he entered the services of the French and sailed to Martinique. In 1720, he became lieutenant of the 1st company of the Regiment de Karrer, stationed in Fort Royal. In 1724, he was captain-lieutenant and commander of the company of Swiss in Petit Goâve in Saint-Domingue. From his military wages, he bought indigo, sugar and tobacco plantations in Saint Domingue and made good money by exporting colonial goods and importing cotton cloths, stockings and cheese. He went on leave to Europe in 1725, 1729, and 1734. In 1735, he was promoted to captain. In 1736, news of the death of his brother reached him, whereupon he decided to return to Switzerland as soon as possible. He was only partly able to liquidate his plantation property, and he left Saint-Domingue in January 1737 on the vessel «Labaleine» to arrive in Europe in May. He later managed to buy back the Swiss family castle by the shores of Lake Hallwil, where he took up residence in 1743 and had three children with Bernhardine von Diesbach (1728–1779), daughter of Franz Ludwig von Diesbach (1684– 1739), captain in Dutch services, and Johanna Dorothea Stürler (1697–1767), from a Bernese family linked to Holland and its East Indies. Until his death in 1753, Johannes von Hallwyl dealt in colonial goods from Saint-Domingue.

=> In his travelogue «Bericht des Grafen Karl von Zinzendorf über seine handelspolitische Studienreise durch die Schweiz 1764», the Austrian count describes the commercial activities of the Ammann banking and merchant company from Schaffhausen (N Switzerland), which traded in cotton, indigo, sugar, and tobacco. The first quality cotton came from Curaçao and Berbice, but from the latter there were no more imports because «the colony has been ruined». From that cotton, the Toggenburg textile industry (today Canton of St.Gallen) produced muslin fabrics. Curaçao cotton was very rare: a ship that transported 60 bales from Saint Domingue only carried 6 from Curaçao. The second quality variety came from Martinique and Saint-Domingue and was transported to Switzerland via Marseilles, Lyon, Belfort and Basel. The third (and worst) quality cotton came from Barbados. Nearly 1000 bags of cotton were imported by Ammann every year and were processed in the Toggenburg and Glarus area. In the second half of the 18th century, 35% of the cotton it delivered into the Zurich, Berne/Aargau, Toggenburg, and Appenzell areas were from Berbice or Essequibo.

=> In the second half of the 18th century, Jacques Solier (1749-1815) from Vevey (Canton of Berne/Vaud, W Switzerland) was first a merchant in Marseille and then part of the profitable enterprise «Cayla, Solier, Cabanes, Jugla et Cie» in Cadiz. He organised triangular expeditions towards the East and the West Indies, among them the slave-ship «La Naz». In 1814, he bought the sugar plantation Clairefontaine on Guadeloupe and in 1833 sold it to his nephew Alfred d’Alaret Solier.

=> Jean Samuel Guisan (1740-1801) from Avenches (Canton of Berne/Vaud, see also 1.7), a direct ancestor of the Swiss WW II general Henri Guisan (1874-1960), after his stay in Suriname, moved to Cayenne, and from 1777-1791 was chief engineer responsible for hydraulic and agricultural projects. With the techniques of polderisation and canal-digging, realized with an enslaved workforce, he aimed at developing the Approuague estuary area. In 1780, he was called back to Paris and travelled via Suriname and Amsterdam «with his mulatto boy Leander» (which he calls «his servant» in his Traité sur les terres noyées de la Guyane). He administered the spices plantation La Gabrielle, which belonged to the King of France. He owned two plantations, Trio and L’Esperance, and for the latter signed a treaty for the «delivery» of 110 slaves per annum from Angola and the Gold Coast. The village of Guisanbourgh on the Approuague River (abandoned today) bears testimony to his presence. He returned to Switzerland in 1791 to become «inspector general for roads and bridges» of the short-lived Helvetian Republic.

=> In 1810, the cantonal authorities of Zurich dealt with a number of complaints from local trading houses on account of the conflict between France and Britain («continental blockade») which led to sequestrations. The goods concerned were, among others, long fiber cotton from Guyana and precious woods («bois satiné») from Cayenne.

=> In 1896, Swiss neuroanatomist, psychiatrist and eugenicist Auguste Forel (1848–1931) took a trip through the Caribbean on the private yacht of a French count. In Martinique he visited the «cruel negro king of Dahomey» (Béhanzin, the eleventh King of Dahomey, ca. 1845–1906), who was held prisoner there by the French. Forel gave Béhanzin, whom he described as «the fat and somewhat daft looking king», cigars and noticed that the «the fallen ruler from tropical West Africa was accompanied by two very pretty looking negro women».

2.4 Danish West Indies (colonies «St. John
», «St. Croix», «St. Eustaches», and «St. Thomas»)

=> The Swiss bank «Leu» from Zurich, which was half private and half statal (it managed the finances of the city state of Zurich) held shares of the French «Compagnie des Indes». In 1760, together with Geneva investors, «Leu» participated in a Danish bond issue which was meant to finance the acquisition of the islands of St. John, St. Croix and St. Thomas. In 1769, «Leu» participated in a plantation business on St. Croix: Reinhard Iselin brokered a loan of 42,000 guilders from the Swiss bank «Leu» from Zurich for the Brown brothers (John and David), for which a plantation was used as collateral. In 1768, 1772, and 1780, Bank Leu gave credits to «Jacob Ambrosius Pool et Compagnie» in Amsterdam.

=> Reinhard Iselin (1714-1781), Swiss-born Danish merchant originally from Bâle and a customer of the Swiss bank «Leu» from Zurich, was a ship-owner and an arms and indiennes manufacturer. In 1749, he founded «Reinhard Iselin & Co.» in Copenhagen. The company completed 65 expeditions to the Danish West Indies, where he operated a large sugar refinery. He was also active in the Danish Africa Company which was founded at the initiative of Count Johann Hartwig Ernst von Bernstorff. He belonged to the circle of merchants that Bernstorff relied on for state loans. His successor was Caspar Hauser (1741–1824), also from Bâle, who became director of the «Danish West India Company».

=> According to the Royal Danish State Archive in Copenhagen, the following Swiss at one time lived in the Danish Virgin Islands: A. Allegrin (citizenship, census 1850); Gerhard Henr. (born Switzerland 1736, died 1813 St. Croix); Christopher Liebesberg (born Switzerland 1688, St. Thomas); Hans Ulrich Passavant (St. Croix); Reinhard Iselin (baron).

=> In 1757, Urbain Roger (1726–1791) from a Huguenot family, became a citizen of Geneva. In 1760, as a banker, he arranged a loan of 1,500,000 pound for the Danish crown (King Frederick V) for the acquisition of the West Indian islands and colonies St. Thomas (best known for its slave market), St. John, and St. Croix. In 1780, he arranged another loan, this time with money chiefly from Zurich and Berne, for the Danish fleet, which was supposed to escort to slave ships. In his 1762 publication «The Present State of Denmark», co-authored with his cousin Élie-Salomon-François Reverdil (1732–1808), who was from Nyon in the Canton of Berne/Vaud, Urbain Roger mentioned «cloths, linen, spices and other merchandise wanted in Africa from Europe» and he praised the commerce of the West Indies as being «extremely advantageous to the Danes».

=> In the 1770s, Reinhard Iselin motivated Salomon Kitt (1744-1825), merchant from Zurich, to establish on St. Thomas and St. Eustaches a company for the import of silk from Zurich and other European textiles. Kitt went to St. Eustaches in 1779, a hub under the Dutch ideology of free trade (textiles, indiennes, hats, pots, coffee, sugar, tobacco, slaves), where in 1780, he founded a company together with Friedrich Rheinwald. The company did business with merchants in Zurich (Trachsler), St.Gallen (Zollikofer), Aarau and Basel (Herzog, Hunziker und Hagenbach). Kitt&Rheinwald exported coffee from Marie-Galante and sugar from Saint-Domingue. In 1781, when the British occupied the island, he moved to St. Thomas, where he cooperated with Johannes Iselin as «KittIselin & Co.». St.Thomas became the next free-trade hub under Dutch control. Their trading partners in Saint-Domingue, Armand et Raynaud Fils recommended them to trade in slaves. In 1783, Salomon Kitt left the Caribbean for New England where he tried his hand as a real estate agent and large landowner on the frontier.

=> In 1805, Hans Conrad von Orelli, merchant from Zurich, undertook a trip from Livorno to St. Martin, St. Barthélemy, and St. Thomas to explore the possibilities of the silk and indiennes trade.

=> The Moravian missionaries settled in the Danish West Indies starting in 1732, and established the stations New Herrnhut and Niesky on St. Thomas; Friedensberg, Friedensthal, and Friedensfield on St. Croix; and Bethany and Emmaus on St. John. They became planters and slave owners, based on the biblical words that everyone in the pyramid of society should subject themselves to their masters. On St. Thomas, they obtained a plantation with 9 slaves in 1738. In a register of the Danish Westindian Islands (the Virgin Islands) of 1650– ca. 1825, one Hans Ulrich Passavant is noted as having been married to Louise Dupuget, with children Johannes Paulus (1777), Maria (1780), and Lucas (1782). Hans Ulrich Passvant worked for Frederik Christian Moth, governor of the Danish West Indies from 1770–1772 and son of Frederick Moth (1694–1746), Dano-Norwegian merchant, governor-general of several Danish colonies, governor of the Danish West India Company, and plantation-owner.

=> In 1733, approximately 150 Akwamu slaves staged a rebellion on the island of St. John. The slaves, who outnumbered the colonists at a rate of nearly 5:1, took control of the fort at St. John’s Coral Bay and proceeded to take possession of the plantations. The Danes called the French for help, and among the troops that arrived from Martinique and brutally put down the rebellion were Swiss mercenary soldiers, too.

=> In 1842, Swiss merchant Robert Lutz (1823-1843), Jakob Laurenz Gsell’s uncle, owned a domestic slave in St. Thomas.

2.5 Venezuela

=> In 1528, Hieronymus Sailer (1495-1559) from St.Gallen (E Switzerland), together with Ulrich Ehinger from Konstanz, was contractor of the second «asiento do negros» , i.e. a royal charter authorising the transportation of slaves directly from Africa to the Americas for the sum of 20,000 ducats. The contract with King Charles V of Spain gave him the right to «export» 4000 slaves from Portuguese Guinea to Venezuela, which was to be colonized by the Welser company from Augsburg. The 4000 enslaved humans were to be deported from the port of Sao Tomé y Príncipe to the port of Santo Domingo on Hispaniola and used for mining and plantation work on Caribbean islands and in the South American mainland. Sailer and Ehinger had already been subcontractors over 4000 licenes  in the first ever «asiento», that of 1518 granting a Flemish favourite of Charles, Laurent de Gouvenot, a monopoly on importing enslaved Africans for eight years with a maximum of 4,000. Hernan Cortez, the conquistador of Mexico, communicated with King Charles V via his European correspondent Hieronymus Sailer.

=> Melchior Grübel, (ca. 1500–1561) merchant and linen textile trader from St.Gallen, became a conquistador in Venezuela. In 1534, he left his hometown for the newly-founded colonial settlement of Coro in Venezuela. He lived there with his son Leonardo and took part in several «entradas», armed expeditions into the interior against the indigenous inhabitant, who were either massacred or enslaved and sold to slave-traders. Melchior Grübel and his son Leonardo Grübel were among the founders of the two colonial towns of El Tocuyo (1545) and Nueva Segovia de Barquisimeto (1552). Melchior Grübel was at the service of the Welser company in Augsburg and travelled from the South American mainland to Santo Domingo several times. In the 1550s, he and his son become owners of six «encomiendas», territories with around 200 indigenous workers or slaves each. Grübel died in Venezuela in 1561.

2.6 Bermudas

=> Friedrich Ludwig Im Thurn‏‎ (1779-1831) from a Schaffhausen family was in the service of the British in the rank of a major. From 1821 on, he was was deputy commander of the royal garrison in Bermuda. His daughter Mary Catherine Ellen Im Thurn (1823-1895) was born in Bermuda. Commander of the Bermuda garrison from 1821-1824 was Jean Pierre Galiffe (1767-1847) from a Geneva family of Huguenots