agre [Danish]

On St. Croix in the Danish West Indies, 1751 – 1917, a unit of land area = 200 fod by 200 fod = 40,000 square fod, about 0.394 hectare. Also spelled ager. After Denmark purchased St. Croix from France in 1733, the island was administered by a trading company. The company ordered the island be surveyed into 2000 fod by 3000 fod parcels, which was thought to be the right size for a sugar cane plantation. This amount of land came to be called a fuldkommen. In addition, land area was measured in square fod.

Most of the original planters, however, were British, and they referred to their holdings in acres and bought and sold land in acres, which had no connection to the survey, square fod or fuldkommen. To avoid confusion, in 1751 the St. Croix Burgher Council proposed the agre. A fuldkommen would contain exactly 150 agres. It would also contain about 146.21 English statute acres, near enough to 150 for the purposes of the time.

The unit was not much seen in the rest of the 18th century, but in 1802 a reform of all Danish tax laws taxed cultivated land in the Danish West Indies by the agre. Thereafter it was in regular official use until 1917, when the United States purchased the islands from Denmark.

Daniel Hopkins.
The eighteenth-century invention of a measure in the Caribbean: the Danish acre of St Croix.
Journal of Historical Geography, vol 18, no. 2, pages 158-173 (1992).

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