Accounting and Auditing

All public accounts had to be audited. Auditing was typically an annual occurrence. This scrutiny used to take place in the Chamber of Revenue in older times, and in the Ministry of Finance after 1848. The Danish National Archives have placed a very large number of accounts in special series of audited accounts: one series covering the period from 1660 to approximately 1848, the other series covering the period after 1848.

The registration of the preserved accounts is inconsistent and inadequate, which makes it difficult to obtain an overall view and to use certain groups. Many of the audited accounts are filed with the auditing authority’s audit opinion and the reporting authority’s responses to the auditors’ questions and comments. The voluminous accounting material has been culled extensively, and vouchers, invoices, and receipts are most frequently missing.

It should be noted that there are also many accounts or draft accounts in the archives left by the reporting authorities. The West Indian local archives contain a great deal of material of this kind and, for the period after 1848, much of this material is also to be found in the Central Directorate for the Colonies.

However, the largest relevant collection – approximately 148 linear metres – is the group of audited accounts from West Indian authorities. They stem from the entire Danish era, but primarily from the period 1755-1917. These West Indian accounts were recently recatalogued and repacked, and they will be described in a detailed catalogue in the sequel to this guide.

Accounts 1660-1848

Regnskaber 1660-1848

General Remarks

The collection of accounts 1660-1848 is a record group created by archivists; it is sorted into more than one hundred subgroups.

The West Indies

The group of what are called industrial accounts, inter alia those of various royal manufacturing concerns, includes a box of cash accounts, audit materials, and vouchers, etc. for the royal plantations on St. Croix 1737-1739.

The accounts and receipts of the Judiciary Fund include material concerning the Danish West Indies 1816-1839, but the material is inadequately catalogued and difficult to use. The Fund was established in 1814; its revenue came from court fees, and it paid bonuses, pensions, etc. to government officials and others.

The probate designations, i.e. lists of taxable probate cases, include a separate group of designations of probate cases in the West Indies 1808-1917. The designations comprise, year by year, lists of probate cases conducted in each jurisdiction, on St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. They contain summary information about deceased persons, beneficiaries, inheritance, etc. The material, which comprises 32 boxes, is most detailed at the beginning of the period. It should also be noted that the West Indian local archives, especially the sheriffs’ archives, contain a great deal of probate material from the islands.

By far the most important group of audited accounts is, as mentioned above, the many West Indian accounts. These extend from 1755 to beyond 1848, the closing date for this group as a whole, to 1917. This group – like the Guinean accounts from 1817 to 1850 – has been grouped, treated, and catalogued in detail together with the West Indian local archives 

Finding Aids and Literature

See the brief surveys in Kristian Erslev, Rigsarkivet og Hjælpemidlerne til dets Benyttelse, Copenhagen 1923, pp. 80-82 and 97-109, and in Wilhelm von Rosen, ed., Rigsarkivet og hjælpemidlerne til dets benyttelse, vol. II:4, Copenhagen 1991, pp. 686-728.

Accounts 1848-(1917)

Regnskaber 1848-(1917)

The group of audited accounts after 1848 has no separate section of West Indian accounts. The relevant accounts are instead to be found among other, more general accounts and especially in the archives of the Central Directorate for the Colonies and the Colonial Auditing Office, and among the many audited West Indian accounts for the whole period from 1755 to 1917.

Finding Aids and Literature

The very voluminous collection of audited accounts after 1848 is briefly presented in Wilhelm von Rosen, ed., Rigsarkivet og hjælpemidlerne til dets benyttelse, vol. II:4, Copenhagen 1991, pp. 1818-1826.

The Colonial Auditing Office 1848-1871

Kolonialrevisionskontoret 1848-1871

General Remarks

In 1840, the auditing of accounts from the Danish West Indies was split off from the Chamber of Customs’ general administration of the colony and, upon the administrative reform of 1848, colonial audits were assigned to a separate office in the central financial administration, under the General Committee for the Indirect Tax System. In 1871, the Colonial Auditing Office was merged with the Central Directorate for the Colonies, in whose archives some of its files are located (see Chapters 2 and 25). From 1871, the colonial director had the final administrative word on the accounts.

The only exemption from the rule that all West Indian accounts must be audited by the Colonial Auditing Office was that the accounts of the West Indian Upper Guardians’ Administrations were audited by the Audit Department of Denmark, called the First Audit Department from 1872 on. The West Indian accounts include quite voluminous accounts of Upper Guardians’ Administrations for the period 1815-1917. They are the accounts of court officers in their capacity of upper guardians, in their respective districts, of minors and incapable persons.

The West Indies

The Colonial Auditing Office’s archives comprise 21 archival units, which primarily consist of letter copybooks and journals with related journal files.

Finding Aids and Literature

See the detailed archival catalogue and the introductory text in Koloniernes Centralbestyrelse, Vejledende Arkivregistraturer, vol. 20, Copenhagen 1975, pp. 92-93. See also the survey in Wilhelm von Rosen, ed., Rigsarkivet og hjælpemidlerne til dets benyttelse, vol. II:4, Copenhagen 1991, p. 1898.

The Ministry of Finance’s Supervisor of the Danish Colonial Lottery 1904-1933

Finansministeriets Tilsynshavende med Det Danske Koloniallotteri 1904-1933

General Remarks

From 1877 there had, for a short period, been a lottery on St. Thomas. In 1904, a statutory basis was provided for a new public lottery, which was launched two years later. A supervisor was appointed in Copenhagen, where the drawings took place. The lottery tickets were primarily sold in the Danish West Indies and abroad. The Danish Colonial Lottery was abolished in 1933.

The West Indies

The archives of the Ministry of Finance’s Supervisor of the Danish Colonial Lottery consist of 17 archival units, i.e. primarily letter copybooks, journals, and journal files from all the years until 1936.

Finding Aids and Literature

See the archival catalogue and the introductory text in Koloniernes Centralbestyrelse, Vejledende Arkivregistraturer 20, Copenhagen 1975, p. 103. See also the survey in Wilhelm von Rosen, ed., Rigsarkivet og hjælpemidlerne til dets benyttelse, vol. II:4, Copenhagen 1991, p. 1731.

 

 

   Danish National Archives