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VOL. I. 

.\ :• ; ;•• .-. :•. ;.. I 









In dedicating the following imperfect sketch of the 
history of a colony over which your Excellency has so 
ably presided for several years, I am actuated solely by 
the conviction that I could not have addressed myself to 
one who has a higher appreciation of the capabilities of 
the country, a more sincere interest in its progress and 
welfare, or a more thorough knowledge of its resources, 
than your Excellency. 

It would be unbecoming in me to attempt to trace the 
vast amount of good your Excellency's administration 
has conferred on the colony, or the many benefits which 
have resulted from your statesmanUke and judicious 
measures. The good result may be traced in the im- 
pulse given to agriculture, in the steady if not flourishing 
condition of the commercial interests, and in the general 
advancement of our legal, political, and social institu- 


I may, however, be permitted to observe, that the 
administration of your Excellency has been fully appre 
ciated by the intelligent and respectable classes of the 
community, who by a late testimonial presented to your 
Excellency have given a convincing proof of their sin- 
cerity. As regards myself, I feel that it is chiefly 
through your Excellency's encouragement and support 
I have been enabled to complete the present work ; and, 
while I regret that it is not more worthy of your con- 
sideration, and of the subject of which it treats, I beg to 
inscribe it to your Excellency as an inadequate testi- 
mony of the gratitude and respect with which 
I have the honour to be. 

Your Excellency's 
Most obedient, humble Servant, 



In submitting the following work to the notice of th'e 
public, and to that of my fellow-colonists in particular, 
I feel myself called upon to offer some explanation as ta 
its appearance. 

Shortly after my arrival in this colony in 1842 — a 
colony in which I was deeply interested by the ties of 
birth and family connexions — I felt a great desire to be- 
come acquainted with the history of the country in which 
I was about to reside, and I naturally looked around for 
any work which would enlighten me on this subject. 

To my surprise and regret, however, I found that no 
connected history of British Guiana had ever been pub- 

Interesting and numerous as were the facts connected 
with the rise and progress of the colony, and its general 
and natural history, no attempt to collect them had been 
made for many years. For want of such a record, the 
valuable discoveries of naturalists and travellers, the 
praiseworthy labours of Himiboldt, the two Schom- 
burgks, Hillhouse, Hancock, and others, were inacces* 
sible and unavailing. A description of the colony sixty 
years ago, written in Dutch, a sketch by Bolingbroke 


and Montgomery Martin, a short account by the Cheva- 
lier Schomburgk in 1840, with his Reports to the Royal 
Geographical Society, and a recent publication in German 
by his brother, constituted nearly all the information 
which had been gathered with regard to the colony. 

Sir Robert Schomburgk had done more than any 
other individual in making us acquainted with the 
capabilities, resources, and natural productions of this 
country; but although he acquired for himself an honour- 
able fame for his interesting and successful explorations 
of the interior of British Guiana, he did not, unfortu- 
nately for the public, devote his talents, knowledge, and 
industry to the completion of a work comprising a gene- 
ral account of the province in which he had spent so 
many years of his life. 

Disappointed at not finding any authentic source from 
whence I could obtain the information I desired, I de- 
termined to seek it for myself, and for several years 
devoted as much leisure to the arduous task as the 
harassing nature of my professional pursuits would admit. 

In the course of my researches I found that my mate- 
rials had accumulated to such an extent as to interest 
others as well as myself, and at length I entertained the 
idea of arranging them in some definite shape, with a 
view to publication. 

I make no pretension to write a complete history of 
this important colony — the attempt would be beyond 
my capabihty or opportunities — but simply to give a 
general sketch of the history of British Guiana from the 
earliest discovery and exploration to the present time, 
including the eventful periods of slavery, apprenticeship, 


and emancipation, together with a description of the 
surface, and some notices of the natural history of the 

In the prosecution of my imdertaking I have encoun- 
tered more labour and difficulty than I had anticipated ; 
for although I was incidentally indebted to the pre- 
ceding authors who had severally illustrated different 
l^anches of the subject, I yet foimd that I was entering 
upon, for the most part, a new and entangled field, where 
I had to seek much for myself. 

Whatever information I have derived from others I 
have honestly acknowledged ; for the rest I hold myself 
responsible, and bespeak indulgence. 

" He who first undertakes to bring into form the 
scattered elements of any subject, can only accomplish 
his task imperfectly ; but the attempt has its value if it is 
based on a right principle." I have made the attempt, 
and it will be for the reader to decide upon the result. 
If I have succeeded in producing a work calculated to 
interest, amuse, or instruct, and to excite attention to the 
invaluable resources and vast capabilities of this magnifi- 
cent province, I shall be amply repaid for the toil, 
anxiety, and care I have expended upon its production. 

With respect to the chapters on the natural history of 
the colony, it is proper I should say that I do not aspire 
to be able to treat such a variety of subjects with the 
scientific acciuucy they demand. The information I have 
collected has been derived exclusively fi:om my own re- 
searches and personal observation, without being able to 
'command any of those collateral aids which such inquiries, 
above all others, stand most in need of. These circum- 



stances will, I hope, extenuate any imperfections wlii(.:h 
may be found in this part of the work. In compiling it, 
I have derived much important information from a work 
lately published by Herr Richard Schomburgk in Ger- 
man,* which gives a comprehensive and scientific a<xK)unt 
of the Fauna and Flora of British Guiana. 

To those who have kindly assisted me in procuring 
information, to his Excellency Governor Barkly, to the 
members of the Combined Court, and to others who 
have encouraged me in this laborious undertaking, I 
tender my grateful acknowledgments. 

Finally, I trust that the defects of the writer may not 
be permitted to prejudice the object he has had in view, 
which is to rescue a valuable colony fi:om neglect, and 
to attract towards it the notice and consideration its 
history and resources will be found amply to repay. 

• <* Beisen in British Guiana." 




Description of British Guiana—Its Extent — ^Alluvial Land — Sand Dis- 
tricts — Mountains — The Savannahs — The Forests — Description of 
the Rivers : the River Demerara, the Essequebo, the Corentyn, the 
Berbice, the Warina, the Barima, the Pomeroon — Cataracts — Natural 
Curiosities : Ataraipu Rock, Pur^-Piapa, Mara-Etshiba, Granite Piles, 
Comuti Rock, Picture-writing or Tehmehri, Rock Crystals, Agate, 
Gold Regions, Precious Stones — ^Retrospect 1 



The Aborigines of British Guiana — Traditions — ^Physical Description — 
Origin of word " Bucks " — Dress and Ornaments— The Five Principal 
Tribes : 1. The Arrawaks ; 2. The Accawais ; 3. The Warrows ; 4. The 
Macusis; 5. The Caribs — ^Probable Oriental Origin — Variety of Lan- 
guages — ^Indian Vocabulary — Weapons and Hunting Instruments — 
Mode of Living — ^Architecture of Huts — Inquiry into the Origm and 
Descent of the Natives — ^Feelings of Revenge — Government — Bap- 
tisms — Burials — Marriages — Conjurors, or Priests — Religion . 50 


Spirit of Adventure in the Fifteenth Century — The probable Discovery 
of Guiana by Columbus on his Third Voyage in 1498~£xpedition of 
Alonzo de Ojcda in 1499 ; of Vincent Janez Pinzon in 1500 ; and of 
Diego de Nicuessa in 1509 — Rumours and Fabulous Accounts of the 
El Dorado— Expeditions of Diego de Ordas in 1530 ; of Herrera in 
]533; of Antonio Sidermo and Augustin Delgado in 1536; and of 
Gonzalo Pizarro and Orellana in 1540-45 — The French attempt to 
Trade with Brazil and Guiana in 1550-55 — ^Expeditions of Pedro de 
Osua, Juan Corteso, Caspar Sylva, Juan Gonzales, Philip de Vren, 
Pedro Sylva, Father Gala^ Pedro de Limpias, Geronimo Ortol, Pedro 
Hemandes Serpa, Gonzales Casada, Diego Vargas, Caceres, Alonzo 
Herrera, and Diego Logardo — The Dutch visit Guiana in 1580 — Expe- 
dition of Antonio Berreo or Berrejo— Domingo Vera takes formal Pos- 



session of Guiana in 1593 — Sir Walter Baleigb visits Guiana in 1595 ; 
Adventures and Eetum ; sends Captain Keymis in 1596, and visits it 
again in 1597, giving a detailed Account of the Country on his return 
to Europe ; his final Expedition to Guiana in 1617, and its unsuc- 
cessful Eesult — ^Reflections on the earlier Adventurers .88 

CHAPTER m. ^-^ 

Age of Chivalry passed away — Settlements of the Dutch, 1580 — ^Trading 
Company to Guiana in 1602 — ^English attempts at Colonisation in 
1604-5, 6, and 8 — Origin of French Guiana — Origin of Dutch GKiiana 
-^Settlements at Kyk-over-al, 1613 — ^Posts on the River Essequebo, 
1614 — ^The Seven United Provinces — Establishment of the Dutch 
West India Company, 1621 — ^Introduction of Slaves — Origin of. the 
Slave-Trade—Settlement on the River Berbice, 1626 — Appointment of 
Dutch Commissioners — Settlements attacked by English and French — 
First Commanders on the Essequebo — ^Boundaries of Districts settled 
^Establishment of the New General Dutch West India Company — 
Transfer of Settlements on the River Berbice to A. Van Peere, 1678 — 
Success of the Dutch— Mode of Life of the Early Planters . .127 

The African Negro, his Character, Ignorance, Superstition, Employment, 
Amusements, Food, low Moral Condition — ^Importation of Slaves — 
Account of the several Tribes— Slave Markets— Bush Negroes — 
Habits and Mode of Life — Expeditions against them — Concubinage — 
Mixture of Races — Character of Mulatto 152 


Attacks of the French in 1689, 1709, and 1712, on the Settlements of 
Berbice and Essequebo Rivers — ^Bombardment of Fort Nassau — 
Capitulation and Ransom of Berbice — Transfer of Berbice, 1714 — 
Articles of Agreement about Slaves— Berbice Company, 1720— Inven- 
tory of the Effects of the Colony — Articles of Agreement— Intro- 
duction of Coffee Cultivation — Origin of Paper Money — The Coast 
Trade— Memorial of the Directors of Berbice to the States of Holland, 
1730 — Origin of the System of Colonial Administration, 1732 — Raising 
of Taxes — Appointment of Governor, Pre3ikant,"ahd other OflScers — 
Origin of Militia Force — Of- the Orphan Chamber — Progress of the 
Plantations 177 


Insurrection in Berbice — Insubordination of Troops — Partial instances 
of Rebellion among the Slaves — Commencement of the Insurrection 
of 1763 — Governor Van Hogenheim's Measures to suppress it — 
Failure of his Plans — Progress of the Insurrection — Abandonment of 
Fort Nassau— Resistance of Settlers against the Negroes- Arrival of 



Troops from Surinam — Governor's Proclamation — Military and Naval 
Expedition prepared in Holland — Instructions given to Colonel de 
Salve — His Anival in Berbice — Fort Nassau re-occupied — Eebels 
Attacked, Captured, Tried, and Executed—- Troops return to Holland 
— Governor resigns— Condition of the Oolony after the Insurrection . ^04 


Settlements projected on the River Demerara, 1739 — Settlement of the 
Island of Waakenaam; of the East and West Coasts of Demerara; 
and of the Banks of the River Demerara, 1745 — Grant of Land to 
A. Pieters — Laying out of Plantations — Complaint of the Settlers, 
1750— Regulations about selling Slaves, 1768— Canab projected, and 
the Banks laid out in Estates— Courts of Policy and Justice, 1773— 
Seat of Government at Borselen removed to Stabroek, 1774— Origin 
of Stabroek — ^Plan of the Town — ^Introduction of Slaves, from 1745 
to 1786— Colony taken by British, 1781— Captured by the French in 
1782— Restored to the Dutch at the Peace of Paris, 1783— Union of 
the Courts of Demerara and Essequebo, 1784 — ^Memorial of Colonists 
to States-General— Provisional Plim of Redress, 1788— Demerara and 
Essequebo united — British Expedition against the Colonies, 1796— 
Terms of Surrender — ^Value of Conquest — ^Price of Land — Spaniards 
attack Outposts, but are repulsed, 1797 — State of the Colony when 
taken possession of by the British 223 


Opening of the Nineteenth Century — General State of the Colony under 
the Dutch, 1796 — Colonies ceded to the Batavian Republic at the 
Treaty of Amiens, 1802 — ^Injurious Consequences — Impaired Condition 
of the Colony under the Batavian RepubUo — ^Mortality of Troops- 
Mutiny of Ditto in Berbice — Amicable Relations between the Dutch 
and the Indians — ^Rules respecting Postholders — ^British Force in the 
West Indies, 1803 — Surrender of Demerara and Essequebo— -Capitu- 
lation of Berbice — ^Political Analysis— Court of Policy — College of 
Keizers — Financial Representatives — Combined Court — Courts of 
Civil and Criminal Justice — ^Dutch Code of Law — ^Duties of Fiscaal— 
Burgher Districts and Officers— State of the Colony, 1805 . . 251 


Governor Beaujon succeeds Colonel Nicholson, 1804 — ^Return of Slaves 
called for — Colonial Agents appointed in England — Some Account of 
Berbice — Differences respecting the Acre-money, 1805 — Death of 
Governor Beaujon — ^Public Acts passed in 1806 — ^Arrival of Governor 
Bentinck — Scarcity of Silver Coin; Issue of Paper Money — Governor 
Bentinck returns to England — Demerara and Berbice exchange Go- . ' 
vemors — AboUtion of Slave Trade, 1808 — Introduction of English ^ 
Missionanes~rth6i]rInfluence--Lreutenant-tk>lonel Ross^ Actisg-Go- 



vemor — New Silver Coin issued, 1809 — Berbice Paper Money — 
Return of Governor Bentinck — Bush Expedition — ^Memorial of the 
Financial Representatives, 1810 — Disputes between Governor and 
Fiscaal — Governor Bentinck superseded, 1812 — Major-General Car- 
^michael, Acting-Governor — Demerara and Essequebo united — Death 
of Acting-Governor Cannichael, 1813 — Brigadier-General Murray, 
Acting-Governor — Character of Colonial Scotch — Introduction of 
European Women — Prejudices of Class and Colour — Character of 
Creoles . . . . 277 


" The Golden Age" of the Colony — Prosperity of Planters — Considerations 
on Negro Slavery — Moral Wants — Working of Missionaries, and the 
^ect on the Slaves— Final Abolition of Slave Trade, 1814 — Formal 
Cession of these Colonies to Great Britain, 1814 — Slave Registration 
Act, 1816— Decline of Cotton Estates — ^Life of an Overseer — Militia 
Force — Arrival of President Rough — Unjust Monopoly of OflBces — 
Disputes about the Administration of Justice — Suspension of President 
Rough — ^Arrival of President Wray, 182 1 — Feelings of Slaves about 
^reedpinrj^,.Canning*a AfldagS^-ita- Eflfect or the Slaves— Mis- 
sionary Smith — Secret Meetings of Slaves — Insurrection, 1823 — Plot 
disclosed — Measures to suppress it — Proclamation of Martial Law — 
Arming of the Slaves— Encounter with the Military— Suppression of 
the Insurrection — General Court-Martial ; Trial, Sentence, and Exe- 
cution of the Prisoners — Court-Martial on Missionary Smith ; his Con- 
demnation and Death — Reflections suggested by these Events . .317 


Rejoicing after the Insurrection of 1824 — ^Rewards to the Officers — ^Ex- 
penses of the Insurrection — ^Public Feeling against the Missionaries- 
Change of Governors — Retirement of Brigadier-General Murray- 
Review of his Character — Arrival of Sir Benjamin D' Urban as Lieu- 
tenant-Governor — Commission of Inquiry into the Administration of 
Justice, 1825 — ^Protector of Slaves appointed — Demerara and Esse- 
quebo divided into Parishes — Church and Poor Fund — Monetary 
Changes — ^Eager Speculations in Property— Anticipation of Emanci- 
pation — Opinions on the Subject — The Three Colonies united under 
one Government, 1831 — Review of Events in Berbice — ^Alteration of 
Civil and Criminal Courts — Separation of Financial Representatives 
from Coll^ of Keizers — Consolidated Slave Ordinances, 1832 — In- 
ferior Courts established — Government of Sir Benjamin D* Urban — 
Abstract of Ratio of Mortality among Slaves 359 


Arrival of Lieutenant-Governor Sir J. C. Smyth, Bart.— State of Colony 
— Proceedings of the British Parliament — Act of Apprenticeship, 
Oct. 19, 1833 — Inferior Criminal Courts established — Remarks ou 



the Policy of Great Britain — Immediate Effects of the New Act — 
Mutinous Assemblage of Negroes — Measures of the Lieutenant-Go- 
vernor to check the Insubordination— Dispersion of Mob — Trial and 
Execution of the Ringleader — ^Its Practiced Ecsult — Feeling against 
the Lieutenant-Governor — Newspaper Abuse — Domestic Habits of 
the Negro — The Compensation Money — ^Its Distribution, Appropri- 
ation, and TTsft— ^^ipurlrR n^ |,hf| Frftft-mlniirftj Pfflplft—Dftftrftaaft of 
Population, and its Causes — Formation of the Civil List — ^Retirement 
of Chief Justice Wray— His Character — Arrival of Chief Justice Bent 
— Party Spirit — Newspaper Outrage on the Lieutenant-Governor — 
His Remarks on the Subject — Establishment of Mayor and Town 
Council, 1837 — Title of Governor bestowed on Sir J. C. Smyth — 
Elective Pranchbe of 1838 — Death of the Governor — Remarks on his 
Character 390 


Administration of Major Orange and Lieutenant-Colonel Bunbuiy — ^Ap- 
pointment and Jurisdiction of Stipendiary Magistrates — Arrival of 
Henry Light, Esq., as Governor, June, 1838 — Abolition of the Appren- 
ticeship — Disallowance of certain Ordinances — Governor makes a Tour 
of Inspection — Condition of the Planter — Competition for Labour — 
Condition of Labourer — Rate of Wages — Division of British Guiana 
into Counties — Govemor^s Address to Combined Court, 1839 — ^Pro- 
posed Immigration Loan of Four Hundred Thousand Pounds — Subject 
of Immigration — ^Early Schemes respecting it — Reflections on the 
Subject — Colonial Indenture Act, 1835-6 — Introduction of Island 
Negroes — Their Character — Disputes about Immigration Ordinances — 
Stoppage of the Supplies, 1840 — Voluntary Immigration Society — 
New Civil List — Immigration Ordinances of 1841 — ^Appointment of 
Agents — Bounties — Portuguese Immigration; its Character and Re- 
sults — Coolie Immigration ; its Character and Results — General Re- 
flection on Immigration 427 


Objects of Immigration — Attempt to reduce Wages— Subject of Wages 
— Nature of Field Work — Metayer, or Metairie System — Its Results — 
Events of 1843, 1844, 1845, and 1846— Experiments on thorough 
Drainage— Events of 1847 and 1848 — Disputes between the Governor 
and Members of the Combined Court — Retirement of Grovemor Light 
— William Walker, Esq., acting as Lieutenant-Governor — Stoppage 
of the Supplies — Arrival of Governor Barkly — Relation of the Principal 
Events of his Administration — Its Results — Retirement of Governor 
Barkly — ^Accession to Office of Lieutenant-Governor Walker 480 





The History of a Nation may be compared to the life of 
an individual — it has its birth, infiancy, maturity, and 
decline; and as there are few lives which do not present 
some points of interest and instruction, so from the 
various phases of a nation may be gathered many curious 
points for speculation and inquiry. This observation 
may be said to be inapplicable to the rise and progress 
of a mere colony; but, after all, what is a colony but a 
nation in its youth ? The mind of man, having no tra- 
ditions to &11 back upon, and being bound to the past by 
no transmitted usages, forma, or institutions, must carve 
out its own destiny by such means as circumstances have 
placed within its reach. The History of a Colony traces 
the course of this curious and instructive process. 

VOL. I. B 


• • • 

It has been said,** that in the decline of a nation com- 
merce flourishpsj'and becomes the prevailing occupation. 
This does i(6t/obtain with regard to a colony. Com- 
merce here'.A'ay be said to give rise to its origin. It is 
certain, .-thaf whatever may be the means of acquiring 
or est«|b)ialiing a possession, the motives generally may be 
traced* tc'the desire of gain or glory. What else induced 
the "foUowers of Colimibus, or Cortes, to leave their then 
ovi^ipopulated countries, and struggle for territory and 
."Hiphes with the inhabitants of a newly-discovered world ? 
,. wliat else could have tempted the bold adventurers on 
'•Jthe ocean from all nations, to barter for, and purchase, 
* caigoes of human beings in order to hurry their de- 
graded victims to a life of slavery ? or persuaded the in- 
habitants of England to quit their native soil, and in the 
immensity of Eastern possessions to contend for conquest 
or death ? It is, perhaps, well that it is so ; all things 
work to a good purpose, and the individual who is 
prompted by necessity to seek other scenes for his 
talents and industry, involuntarily contributes his mite 
towards relieving his country from the evils of a too 
thickly populated soil, and at the same time assists in 
the diffusion of population over countries where fruitful 
nature pines for the help of industry and skill. 

These considerations lead us directly to our subject. 
Birt before we enter upon an examination of the races 
that originally peopled the surface of Guiana, or the 
colonisers that gradually settled amongst them, it is de- 
sirable to lay before the reader a description of the 
country it8el£ 

Guiana, Guayana, or Guianna, consists of a large tract 
of country in the southern continent of America, whose 
natural boimdaries seem to be the river Orinoco, and its 
branches on the west and north-west ; the Atlantic Ocean 

* Bacon's Essaji. 


on the north-east and east ; and the mighty river Amazon, 
with its tributary streams, on the south and south-west^ 
This extensive territory is largely encircled and inter- 
sected by rivers which flow in almost uninterrupted com- 
munication throughout the land.* The South- American 
Indian, seated in his buoyant boat, the stripped bark of 
some forest tree, might have entered the broad mouth of 
the Amazon, and wending his solitary way along the 
southern boundary, have entered the broad tributary 
stream of the river Negro, and ascending its waters along 
the western outline of this tract of country, persevered 
through the natural canal of Cassiquiare and the southern 
branches of the Orinoco until he reached that river; and 
here his course would be unbroken to the wide waters 
of the Atlantic, a few degrees higher to the north than 
where he commenced his voyage. 

According to modem geographers,! the extensive 
country of Guiana lies between 8 deg. 40 min. north 
latitude and 3 deg. 30 min. south latitude, and between 
the 50th and 68th d^. of longitude west of Green wich, 
Ijts greatest extent between Cape North and the con- 
fluence of the river Xie with the river Negro is 1090 
geographical miles; its greatest breadth between Punta 
Barima, at the mouth of the Orinoco to the confluence of 
the river Negro with the Amazon, is 710 geographical 
miles. A line of sea-coast extends between the river 
Orinoco and the Amazon, and is now divided into the 
Venezuelan or Spanish, the British, the Dutch, the 
French, and the Brazilian or Portuguese Guianas; but 
their respective and definite inland limits have never 
been satisfactorily arranged. That portion of this fertile 
but wild country (for by the Dutch it was called Guiana, 
or the Wild Coast) to which we must chiefly limit our- 

* This statement, howeTer, is not intended to justify the ignorance of man/ 
penons in Kngland who speak and write of British Guiana as ao ishuid. 
t Schorobo^k. 



fcjtlves — the present British Guiana — is generally con- 
sidered as extending from the mouth of the river 
Corentyn in 56 deg. 58 min. west longitude, to Punta 
liarima in 60 deg. 6 min. west longitude, and comprising 
an area of 100,000 square imles in extent. 

According to a modem writer on the subject,* who 
has been the principal traveller in this comitry, " if we 
follow the limits which nature prescribes by its rivers 
and mountains, and include all the regions which are 
drained by the streams which fall into the river Essequebo 
within the British territory, and adopting the river 
Corentyn as its eastern boundar}", then British Guiana 
would consist of 76,000 square miles." But according to 
tlie Brazilians, who have lately claimed as far north as 
the mouth of the river Siparumes, its area would be re- 
duced to about 12,000 square miles ; and it would form 
the smallest of the Guianas which are 'possessed by 
Europeans, as indeed stated on French authority.f 

Assuming, however, that it covei's an area of nearly 
100,000 square miles, the districts of Demerara and 
Essequebo may be computed at 70,000 square miles, 
while those in Berbice may be estimated at 25,000 
square miles. But only a small portion of this extensive 
tract is colonised and in a state of cultivation. 

Before the arrival of the European, the lofty moimtaui 
heights of the interior, the fertile and undulating valleys 
of the hilly region, and the borders of the illimitable 
forests and savannahs, were alone tenanted by the va- 
rious tribes of Indians who were scattered throughout 
this vast domain. Their fragile canoes were occasionally 
seen gliding along the large rivers and the numerous tri- 
butary streams which mtersect the countrj^ ; a dense mass 
of unrivalled foliage, comprising palms, mangroves, cou- 

* Schomburgk. 

t ])ictk>Dnaire Geographiqne Uniyenel, Paris, 1828, vol. ir. p. 615, where the 
area of British Goiana is stated to consist only of 3 120 leagues. 


ridas, and ferns, fringed the banks of the rivers and the 
margins of the coasts, while a thicker bush of an infinite 
variety of trees extended inland over an uncleared terri- 
tory, where the prowling beast, the dreaded reptile, the 
wild bird, and the noxious insect, roamed at large ; but 
when colonisation commenced and civilisation progressed, 
the flat lands bordering on the coasts and rivers were 
cleared and cultivated; the savage forests and their oc- 
cupants retreated before the encroaching step of civili- 
sation and the march of industry ; plantations were laid 
out, canals and trenches dug, roads formed, and houses 
raised over the level plain of alluvial soil, which, with- 
out a hill or elevation of any kind, stretches for many 
miles between the sand-hill regions and the Atlantic 

British Guiana, estimated as containing 100,000 square 
nules, lies between 1 deg. and 8 deg. 40 min. north 
latitude, and between 57 deg. and 61 deg. west longi- 
tude, with a sea-coast line of about 200 miles in extent, 
running in an oblique course from east to west, and 
stretching along part of the alluvial main formed by the 
deltas of the rivers Amazon and Orinoco. This line of 
coast is intersected at various distances by several large- 
rivers, namely, the Essequebo, thet)emerara, the Berbice,. 
and the Corentyn, which latter separates British from- 
Dutch Guiana; but besides these large rivers, there are 
several smaller streams, such as the Barima, the Warina, 
the Morocco, the Pomeroon, the Mahaica, the Mahaiconi, 
the Abari, &c., which, although tolerably large, have 
been improperly called creeks when compared with the 
larger streams. 

The course of these rivers is from south to north — 
their origin difficult to trace in the wild and mountainous 
interior — and their mouths opening into the vast Atlantic. 
Their discoloured waters dye the waves of the ocean for 
many miles to seaward. On approaching the land from 


the north and north-east, the blue waters of the Atlantic 
begin to be tinged with a dirty green at least 100 miles 
off the land, by degrees assuming a yellowish tinge imtil 
about forty or fifty miles off the coast, when a marked 
line of yellow may be seen, carried by a powerful current 
towards the Orinoco, after passing which the traveller 
enters the shallow, turbid, yellow waters, which an- 
nounce the close proximity of the flat but fertile shores 
of Guiana. 

The whole line of coast is skirted by mud-flats and 
sand-banks, especially about the Demerara and Essequebo. 
The mud-flats extend seaward about twelve miles, and 
render the approach of large vessels impracticable, imless 
in the hands of pilots and others acquainted with the 
coast. The approach to the rivers is along a narrow 
channel, for numerous shoals exist which render it diffi- 
cult even for scliooners and other small craft to navigate. 
Large sand-banks also sti'ctch out along the coasts, but as 
these will be more particulai'ly noticed in reference to 
the rivers wliose navigation tliey obstruct, I will add 
nothing further than that the true limits of many have 
not accurately been defined, although buoys and beacons 
are placed on several. Besides these, a quantity of drift 
mud and sand is frequently shifting about and interfering 
with the drainage on the coasts. ^ 

The first indication of land is characterised by a long, 
irr^ular outline of thick bush, on approaching which, 
groups of elevated trees, chiefly palms, with occasionally 
an isolated silk-cotton, or the tall chimneys of the sugar 
plantations, with the smoke curling upwards, begin 
rapidly to be recognised, and indicate to the experienced 
trader almost the very spot he has made. On nearing 
the land the range of plantations may be easily marked 
by the line of chimneys ; the dense foliage of the coast 
partly intercepts the view of any buildings, the low 
ground being covered with mangroves (Bhizophora 


Mangle) and courida bushes (Avicennia Nitida), ferns, 
and other plants, but behind this wooded barrier nume- 
rous dwelling-houses, extensive villages, and the sugar 
manufactories, extend along the belt of land which, in an 
unbroken level, constitutes the cultivated districts of the 

Once in sight of the land the scene rapidly changes in 
appearance — from a long, low outline of bush to the dif- 
ferent objects which characterise the attractive scenery 
of the tropics. The bright green palm-trees, with their 
huge leaves, fanned briskly by the sea-breeze, and the 
lofty silk-cotton-tree (Bombax Ceiba) are plainly visible, 
while a confused but picturesque group of trees and 
plants of tropical growth, with white and shining houses 
interspersed among them, present to the stranger rather 
the appearance of a large garden than the site of an ex- 
tensive and busy city. Before the river Demerara is 
fairly entered, the course steered is towards the light- 
ship, situated about twelve miles from Georgetown. 
This beacon is a floating vessel at the entrance of the 
difficult navigation of the river. In fine weather, and 
during the daytime, it may readily be seen with the 
naked eye, and at night a bright fixed light indicates to 
the navigator the anxious object of his search. 

Pilots are procured at the light-ship, and conduct the 
numerous vessels which arrive into the river, whose 
locality is clearly indicated by the tall masts of ships, 
which, like forest trees stripped of their foliage, peer 
distinctly above the houses and other edifices of the city. 

The light-house and fort are soon recognised, and very 
often, in little more than an hour after gazing with 
anxiety upon an unbroken mass of water, the traveller, 
as if by magic, is ushered through a crowd of ships and 
small vessels into a busy town, with its motley inhabi- 
tants collected from almost every part of the globe. 

The geological structure of the inhabited districts, or 


of the land on the banks of the rivers and along the sea- 
coasts between the mouths of the rivers, is entirely allu- 
vial. The soil is covered with perennial foliage, nourished 
by the frequent rains and balmy atmosphere of the tro- 
pics. The rapid rivers in their course carry down from 
the far interior the detritus of mouldering mountains and 
decrepid forests. The cinirabling rocks of the interior, 
mingled with vegetable matter, formed at one time the 
only burden which these waters bore to the sea ; but this 
was no mean freight. By degrees, deposit on deposit, 
formed at the deltas of the several streams stretchuig 
also along the coasts, produced at last an alluvial soil, 
which has not its equal in the world, save perhaps the 
overflooded plains of the Nile. The soil, so simple and 
yet so productive, has been the formation of centuries; 
huge rocks have crumbled to give it existence, mighty 
forests have contributed to sustain it; the streams that 
bore it to its resting-place have had their waters dyed 
by its circulation, as if to leave an imperishable memento 
of its singular formation ; and for miles aromid these 
rivers carry to the blue ocean their stained waters, to 
aixest the adventurous traveller who, exploring the wide 
Atlantic, seeks for a new country that is worthy of his 

This alluvial tract extends inland to variable distances, 
from ten to forty miles, and, consisting of different kinds 
of clay, impregnated with salt and decayed vegetable 
matter, rests at varying depths of 60 to 200 feet on a 
granitic bed. It is almost level throughout its whole 
extent, a gentle descent of about one foot in many hun- 
dred roods being scarcely perceptible. 

The depth of soil varies in different places, but, as a 
general rule, may be considered as greatest towards the 
borders of the coasts and river-banks, diminishing more 
or less regularly as it extends inland. The maximum 
depth may be considered about 200 feet, as on the east 


coasts. The minimum depth about 60 feet. The greater 
part, if not the whole, of this fertile alluvion has been 
under water, but has been gradually recovered from the 
sea and rivers by natural as well as artificial means. 

The natural means which have contributed to reclaim 
portions of land from the overflooding waters are the 
gradual accumulation of soil, occasioned by the deposition 
of the tides and the drifting of small particles of earth 
towards the deltas of the rivers. Slowly and by degrees 
did the work of superimposition proceed, until in some 
places a natural barrier was opposed to the inroads of 
the waves, unless on extraordinary occasions, as during 
the prevalence of high winds and spring tides, where 
miles of land became temporarily flooded by the swollen 

From a consideration of its composition (which will 
be shortly noticed), it has been thought by some that 
these alluvial shores have increased to their present 
extent by the deposition of earthy matter brought down 
by the rivers, together with decaying and decayed vege- 
table matter, &c., so that in time the deposit of mud has 
been suflicient to throw back the sea, and emerge from 
obscurity, to become of use to mankind. 

Another authority has, however, rather boldly con- 
ceived " that some years ago this continent was habit- 
able fifty feet below the present surface, and that it was 
then covered with an immense forest of courida-trees, 
which was destroyed by conflagration, as appears by the 
ochrous substratum. The sea must, at that time, have 
been confined to the blue water, where there is now 
eight or nine fathoms; and whatever may have been 
the comparative level between the Pacific and Atlantic 
on this side of the Isthmus of Darien, the surface must 
have been then fifty feet lower than now." It would be 
useless to speculate upon what we cannot easily prove. 
Either theory accounts partially for the fact that a large 


portion of this country was originally under water ; but 
Mr. Hillhouse is wrong in conceiving that, because strata 
of decayed wood composed a portion of the soil, it im- 
plied the land to have been habitable. One circumstance 
in the chemical composition of the soils on the coasts 
and those on the banks of the rivers — ^viz., the existence 
of large quantities of saline substances in the former, and 
comparatively little in the latter — would lead us to be- 
lieve, that however true it may be that some portion 
of the coasts has been under the sea, yet that the waters 
of the ocean have not very recently covered the alluvion 
of the rivers. 

The artificial means made use of by the inhabitants of 
the country to keep ofi* the encroachments of the sea and 
rivers consisted in the embankments or dams thrown up 
during the formation of estates. Owing to the natural 
level of the cultivated districts being lower than that of 
the sea and river at high water of spring tides, • it be- 
came of importance both for safety and for the purposes 
of agriculture that such means should be as efiectual as 
possible ; but even at the present day these means are 
scarcely found sufficient to protect either the town or 
country. The dams raised are often insufficient in struc- 
ture, and barely high enough to resist the march of the 
watery elements. 

The alluvial soil, in general, consists of stiff clay, vary- 
ing in colour, and in the quantity of organic and in- 
organic matters they contain. Some of these clays are 
blue in colour, contain much organic matter, and are in 
general singularly fertile ; others, again, are yellow, and 
are not so productive; while in many places the soil is 
covered over at different depths with layers of a substance 
called " Pegass," a black, light mould, composed of vege- 

* In lome places it is as much as four or flye feet below the leyel of high 
water—as on the east coast; but up the hyers the difference is less, and higher 
up» altogether disappears. 


table detritus, deposited at the mouths of the rivers. 
This peculiar substance, made up of decomposing vege- 
table fibre, and ^regarded by some as a kind of peat, is 
injurious to the productiveness of the soil. 

The analysis made of those soils have been of two 
kinds: textural, or mechanical, and chemical. 

By the former method, chiefly ascertained through the 
diligent exertions of our scientific agricultural chemist. 
Dr. Shier, the alluvial clay is found to consist of argil- 
laceous or impalpable matter, and portions of sand ot 
different degrees of coarseness, besides organic matter and 
soluble substances. Thus, in round numbers, out of 100 
parts of soil, abouft fifty per cent, may be estimated as ar- 
gillaceous or clayey, forty-three per cent, as sandy matter, 
two per cent, soluble saline matter, and the rest organic 
matter and adherent moisture, as better illustrated by the 
annexed tables composed by that gentleman. 

Little or no lime is ever found in the soil along the 
alluvial or maritime portion of land ; indeed, its presence 
anywhere throughout the country has been denied by 
most persons. A scientific traveller, Dr, Hancock, af- 
firmed that none of the soil along the rivers Essequebo, 
Orinoco, or Barima, could be made to effervesce with an 
acid ; but in Schombui^k's account of the ascent of the 
river Corentyn in October, 1836,* he describes a cal- 
careous clayf as occurring in the composition of the hills 
" Oreala," or Alivavarra. 

The chemical composition of the different kinds of soil 
met with on the coasts, the banks of the rivers, and the 
interior, has been but little studied ; of late, however, 
several portions of soil in the cultivated districts have 
been analysed by chemists both in Europe and in this 
country, and the results published. They present a few 
peculiarities which deserve consideration. The speci- 

* Transactions of the Boyal Geographical Society. 

t A reoent analjBls, howerer, has demonstrated that it oontaiiis no lime. 


mens examined have been found remarkably rich in 
organic matter (chiefly vegetable), which accounts for the 
singular fertility of the land in general; as much as ten 
and fifteen per cent, has been detected in some lands ; 
generally five to ten. 

This organic matter is little else than the thoroughly 
decomposed vegetable substances which have become in- 
corporated with the inorganic bodies; the organic re- 
mains of animals form but a very trifling portion of its 
bulk. It may be regarded as a kind of natural manure 
to the rest of the soil, and is found in great abundance in 
all parts of the colony. Organic matter is found very 
plentifiilly in pegass lands, but, existing^nly in a partially 
decomposed state, is comparatively unfit for the growth 
of plants. 

Another peculiarity of the soil is the lai^e quantity 
of iron met with in its composition. This exists pro- 
bably in the state of a protoxide, which towards the 
surface is often converted into a peroxide. Iron ore is 
therefore met with, combined with varying proportions 
of the oxygen of the atmosphere. It is not unlikely 
that phosphates of iron, combined with alumina, also 
exist. The soil in many places is quite discoloured from 
the abundance of iron it contains, and the waters flowing 
through it are impregnated largely with some of its salts. 
In some specimens of earth which I have myself ana- 
lysed, I have found as much as five to ten per cent, of 
iron in some form or other. 

The quantity of soluble saline substances met with in 
the soil varies greatly in diflferent parts of the colony. 
The salts chiefly found are those of soda and potash. 
The former (common salt especially) abounds in many 
places, particularly in the neighbourhood of the sea- 
coasts. The old planters knew this practically, by ob- 
serving that estates in this district were better adapted 
for cotton than sugar, coffee or plantains; and it was 


only when the altered duties on the former threatened 
to ruin them, that they reluctantly abandoned the culture 
of cotton on these properties for that of sugar, &c. It 
was, however, reserved for our agricultural chemist, Dr. 
Shier, to demonstrate scientifically the influence that 
such an abundance of saline matter exerted upon the 
products raised from such soils, thus pointing impera- 
tively to an altered system of drainage. 

His attention was first directed to the subject by 
"observing that the water from the reservoir, in a 
thoroughly drained field at plantation La Penitence, was 
very perceptibly salt to the taste, even afler it had been 
pumped out at least twelve times." He immediately 
instituted a series of interesting experiments on the 
waters of the colony, such as those in the Artesian 
wells, in the rivers, creeks, estuary, and sea, as well as 
others on the cane-juice and molasses raised from such 
lands, and published the result of his experiments in 
a short treatise on the subject of *' Thorough Drain- 
age," for which he greatly merits the thanks of the 

A more important fact has not been announced for 
many years in the colony, and as its practical value is at 
once apparent, I have inserted, Avith his permission, some 
of the tables, which illustrate this subject in a forcible 

From what has been already stated with regard to 
the probable submersion of a great part of our cultivated 
lands, it is not difficult to account for such large quan- 
tities of salt as have been met Avith, and the vicinity of 
the sea sufficiently accounts for the greater portion met 
with in coast lands. 

Where the rich alluvial district terminates, a range of 
unproductive sand-hills and sand-ridges rises up, the 
former attaining a height varying fix)m 30 to 120 feet. 
In some places, as on the coast of Essequebo, they 


approach the sea within a few miles« If followed 
upwards fix)m that point they take first a south-east by 
south, and afterwards a south-east direction, traversing 
the whole colony. About twenty-five miles up the river 
Demerara a number of these sand-hills are met with, 
their height vaiying from 100 to 150 feet. 

The rest of the land is covered with trees and shrubs, 
constituting what is called "The Bush." 

Behind several estates, along the west bank of the 
same river, sand-ridges are met with ; and both in Es- 
sequebo and Berbice large tracts of sand are to be 

Almost parallel with the ridge of sand-hills several 
detached groups of hillocks of moderate elevation are 
met with. They are seldom more than 200 feet high ; 
they cross the river Essequebo at Osterbecke Point, in 
lat 6 deg. 15 min. north ; the Demerara, at Arobaya, in 
6 d^. 5 min, ; the Berbice, in 5 deg.* 

The sand procurable fix)m the various sand regions 
varies both in appearance and quality, and is much in 
demand in the colony for road- making, ballast, and other 
pmposes. The white sand occurs both in the districts of 
Demerara and Essequebo. 

From the sand-hills up the river Demerara a white sand 
is procured, which is useful for ordinary purposes; it con- 
tains much silex, is evidently well suited for glass -making, 
and may be obtained in any quantity. 

Some time ago a specimen of white sand was sent to 
Boston in the United States, and on trial in the glass 
manufactories it was found superior to that in general 
use at that period. Specimens forwarded to Liverpool, 
and to the Great Exhibition of 1851, were much admired. 
I have myself remarked elevations of a fine white sand 
some distance up the Itaribice Creek, but have seen 

* Schombnrgk. 


specimens £sur superior to this which were procured from 
some banks above the falls of the river Essequebo. 

A species of black sand is found at the sand-hills up 
the river Demerara, specimens of which have been for- 
warded to Europe and America. 

I have been informed that in some places a kind of 
mixed sand is met with, alternate layers of the white and 
dark variety being visible. 

A common yellow sand forms banks and ridges in 
various parts of the colony. On the Arabian coast of 
Elssequebo miles of road of loose sand are found, and 
beautiful sand beaches line many of the plantations which 
front the sea. 

The term " caddy" is applied to fine comminuted shell, 
or fine sand intermixed with organic matter, and is much 
used as ballast for ships. 

The mountains of British Guiana are far removed from 
the coasts, and are so difficult of access as to be rarely 
seen by the inhabitants. Beyond a few enterprising tra- 
vellers, and the Indian tribes who live in their vicinity, 
they have been seldom visited, and from want of accurate 
information respecting them, the remarks which fol- 
low are necessarily scanty.* 

At present considerably removed from the Atlantic, it 
is more than probable that formerly the waves of that 
ocean washed the bases of the numerous chains of primi- 
tive rocks which stretch across this part of the continent 
of South America in various degrees of latitude, and that 
these granitic formations acted as a sort of dyke or boim- 
dary to that vast body of water which has since receded 
to so great a distance from its former situation. 

Evidences of such a retreat of the ocean may be 

* For a fiirther and better aooonnt of the nnmeroiit moontaiiis and hills met 
with in the interior of this magnificent country, tlie reader is referred to Sit 
Bdbert Schombwg^'s rqporfes to the Boyal Geoipaphicai iSouegr. 


gathered fix)m a variety of sources ; such as the presence 
of huge boulders of stone, found frequently in situations 
where the action alone of the water could account for 
their smooth and polished exterior; the indications of 
submersion furnished by large tracts of land now in cul- 
tivation, or occupied by forest trees ; and the existence 
of numerous ridges of sand, which either as ranges of 
hillocks or in banks are so frequently found in various 
parts of the colony. 

Between the 1st and 2nd parallels of north latitude, 
and between the 57th and 59th deg. of western longi- 
tude, are situated an irregular group of mountains, called 
the Ouangouwai, or Mountains of the Sun, close to the 
sources of both the Corcnt}Ti and Essequebo rivers. 
They may be regarded as offsets of the vast chain of 
the Sierra Acarai, and form a kind of connecting link 
between the Acarai and Carawaimi mountains. 

The natives called this range the Wanguwai, the 
highest peak of which is estimated at 3000 feet above 
the plain. Its latitude is 1 deg. 49 min. north. From 
the river Caneruau, a small stream which joins the 
river Essequebo from the south-east, a view may be ob- 
tained of the chief range of the Sierra Acarai, stretching 
from north-east round southerly north-west, the out- 
line peaked with sharp ridges, but densely covered with 
wood. Kaiawako is reputed the highest point, and is 
probably about 4000 feet liigh. This region is inhabited 
by the Woyawais Indians ; they are of middle stature, 
and of a lighter colour than the Tarumas, who live a 
little further to the north. The former are great hunters, 
but are very dirty in theii' habits. 

The Carawaimi mountains are situated between the 
2nd and 3rd parallels of west latitude, and the 58th and 
59th deg. west longitude. A range of hills runs to- 
wards them in a south-east direction. They are com- 


posed of granite, and are well wooded, with a maximum 
height of about 2500 feet above the plain, descending to 
the river Guidaru, a tributary of the river Rupununi. 
The neighbourhood of these mountains is inhabited by 
the Wapisiana tribe of Indians, a fine-looking race of men, 
with regular features and large noses. Another tribe, the 
Atorais, are likewise found amid these mountain ranges, 
but little is known respecting their number or habits. 
It is in this group that the natural pyramid of Ataraipu 
is met, a description of which will be given when consi- 
dering the natural curiosities of this romantic countr}\ 

In the same parallel of latitude north, but further 
west, or between the 60th and 61st deg. west longitude, 
and situated on the banks of the Uraquira, a few moun- 
tain groups are placed. Mount Caruma is made up of 
inclined plains of gneiss, having the appearance in some 
places of perpendicular walls, over which a streamlet 
forms a small cascade. From its heights the summits of 
the Mocajahi mountains are seen to the westward, look- 
ing like islands rising out of the ocean. 

The Kai-Irita^ or Kai-Iwa, or Mountains of the Moon, 
are situated between 59 and 60 deg. west longitude. 

The Tinijau mountains are to the southward of the 
Caruma, or St. Grande. 

The collective name of these detached groups is sup- 
posed to have been laid down in former maps as the 
Sierra Yauina. 

Between the 3rd and 4th deg. of north latitude the 
Cannucu, or Conocon mountains are situated. 

This range extends about thirty miles in a north-east 
and south-west direction, through which the river Ru- 
pununi has forced itself a passage. The stream here is 
about 130 yards wide, and occasionally the mountains 
rise abruptly to the height of from 2000 to 2500 feet. 

The geological formation is primitive, or granitic. 

VOL. I. c 


They are well covered with wood; hence the term 
" Conocon/' which, in the Brazilian language, signifies 
"wooded," in opposition to Pacaraima, which means 
bare. They are inhabited by a numerous tribe of 
Indians, called Warpeshanas, or Mapeshanas, as well as 
by the Macusis, a large and powerful nation. The Can- 
nucu mountains connect the Pacaraima moimtains with 
the Sierra Acarai, in which the Essequebo has its 
sources. Two points, Nappi and the Curassawaka, are 
distinguished by their perpendicular walls of granite. 
Nappi is the Macusi name of the sweet potato. The 
urari, or wourali plant, fix)m which the famous poison is 
made, grows on the Cannucu mountains. It was found 
there in a glen in the months of January and June, 
1836, but upon neither occasion was it in flower. The 
v^etation on these rocky masses consists of the myr- 
tacesB, clusiacesB, and orchidaceae, besides a vast number 
of plants belonging to other natural orders. 

On the banks of the river Essequebo, between the 4th 
and 5th deg. of north latitude, various mountain ridges 
are situated. 

The Twasinkie mountains, rising 1100 feet above the 
river on its western banks, extend in a westerly direc- 
tion, while, three miles beyond, on the right or eastern 
bank, the Akay wanna mountains, about 900 feet high, 
stretch to the north-east, and again, about another three 
miles further oif, but on the left or west bank, the Ta- 
quiarie, or Comuti moimtains, attain an altitude of about 
900 feet. " These two ranges, projecting into the rivet 
on either hand, cause it to assume the form of an S in 
its course for about six miles. In this distance are three 
falls, the most formidable of which, named Yucoorit, is 
caused by a dyke of stratified granite, or gneiss, crossing 
the river in a north and south direction, over which the 
water, hastened by previous rapids, and narrowed in by 
projecting rocks, precipitates itself with violence. The 


surrounding mountains recede and form an amphi- 
theatre, affording a highly picturesque scene." * 

Between the same parallels of north latitude the Mac- 
cary mountains extend in a south-east direction. They 
are situated on the east or right bank of the river Esse- 
quebo, and are very abrupt and ragged, studded with 
whitish masses of rocks, often perpendicular, and sparely 
wooded. Latitude 4 deg. 27-J- min. Four miles south 
of these mountains the rapids again commence, and con^ 
tinue for eight miles, a vast labyrinth of islands inter- 
mingling with the foaming waters. 

On the opposite or west bank of the river extends a 
large and important range known as the Cassi moun- 
tains, which stretch southwards and become connected 
with the Pacaraima. 

The mountains of Pacaraima approach the river Esse- 
quebo in lat. 4 deg. north, and appear to be an offset of 
the vast Sierra Parima range. Their general direction is 
east and west, and they are reputed to be of primitive 
formation. In the eastern part they attain a height of 
about 1500 feet, and have a westerly course of about 200 
miles, forming the separation of waters of the basins of the 
Orinoko and the Essequebo on the north, and the Rio 
Branco, a tributary of the Amazons, on the south. At 
the eastern foot of the Sierra Pacaraima range a settle- 
ment called Annayf is placed. The geological structure • 
of these mountains is chiefly granitic. The " Monosuballi," 
or Twins, are of flinty quartz, and occasionally much 
chalcedony is found. They are generally bare of wood; 
the soil at the foot of the mountains is good. The 
savannahs, on the contrary, are frequently bare of vege- 
tation, with here and there groups of stunted trees, and 
in other places only covered with short grass. Several 

♦ Report of an Expedition into the Interior of British Quiana in 1835-6. By 
B. H. Schomborgk, Esq., Corresponding Member B.G.& 

J- Annaj, in the Macnsi language, signifies maize, which is said to grow 



tribes of Indians are located amid these undulating 
heights, but are widely scattered and few in number; the 
chief of these are the Wacawais and the Arecumas, 
whose lonely and isolated position but rarely give the 
opportunity of intercourse with the more civilised part 
of the community. 

Connected with the main range of the Pacaraima moun- 
tains is situated Mount Mairari. It is between the 60th 
and 6l8t deg. west longitude. It is a stupendous mass of 
granitic and gneiss, the lower parts alone being wooded. 
It is famed for a beautiful species of parokeet (Psitti- 
caria Solstitialis). Its height has been computed at 3400 
feet above the sea. Other mountain ranges are situated 
very near. Thus Mount Zabang is found near to the 
river Cotinga, or Xuruma, which is connected with the 
river Tacutu, but neither of these two last ranges can 
be considered as fairly existing within the precincts of 
British Guiana. 

Between the 6th and 6th parallels of north latitude 
various important groups of mountains are placed. They 
are composed of granite, gneiss, and trappean rock, with 
their various modifications. They traverse Guiana in a 
south-eastern direction, and, according to Sir R. Schom- 
bmgk, may be considered as the central ridge of the 
colony. They have been considered as an offset of the 
Orinoco mountains, with which they are connected by 
the Sierra Ussipama of geographers. " Whenever this 
chain crosses any of the rivers which have been under 
my investigation, it forms large cataracts — viz., those of 
Twasinki and Ouropocari in the Essequebo, Itabrou and 
the Christmas cataracts in the river Berbice, and the great 
cataracts in the river Corentyn. The highest peak ap- 
pears to be the mountains of St. George at the Maza- 
runi, the Twasinki and Maccary on the Essequebo (the 
latter rising about 1100 feet above the river), and the 


mountains of Itabrou on the Berbice, the highest of 
which, according to my barometrical admeasurement, 
was 662 feet above the river, and 828 above the sea. 
This' chain appears to be connected with the Sierra 
Acarai, by the Marowini mountains, and I am inclined 
to consider it the old boimdary of the Atlantic, the 
geological features of the chain conducing to such a 

The culminating point of this range is the famous 
Roraima mountains, about three and a half miles long, 
but of inconsiderable breadth. From its eastern side 
flows the river Cotinga, which mingles its waters with 
those of the Takutu, Branco, and Negro, and ultimately 
falls into the Amazon. 

Roraima is the name given by the Indians (signifying 
" red rock") to the highest point of a range of sandstone 
mountains, in latitude 5 deg. 9 min. 30 sec. north, longi- 
tude 60 deg. 47 min. west. 

" This remarkable mountain group extends twenty-five 
miles in a north-west and south-east direction, and risea 
to 5000 feet above the table-land, or 7500 feet above the 
sea, the upper 1500 feet presenting a mural precipice|. 
more striking than I have ever seen elsewhere. These 
stupendous walls are as perpendicular as if erected with 
the plumb-line; nevertheless, in some parts they are over- 
hung with low shrubs, which, seen at a distance, give a 
dark hue to the reddish rock, and an appearance of 
being altered by the action of the atmosphere. Down 
the face of these mountains rush numerous cascades, 
which, falling from this enormous height, flow in diflFerent 
directions to form the tributaries of three of the largest 
rivers in South America — ^namely, the Amazon, the Ori- 
noco, and the Essequebo. 

"These mountains form the separation of waters of 


the basins of the Orinoco and Essequebo on the north, 
and the Amazon on the south; and they are, therefore, 
of the greatest importance in dividing the boundary of 
British Guiana."* 

The waters collected in such abundance on the sum- 
mit of these heights are supposed by Sir R. Schom- 
burgk to be occasioned by condensation from cold, as 
the thermometer stood at midnight at 59 deg. Fahren- 
heit. He further remarks: "The geological character 
of this is sandstone, with grains of quartz and particles 
of decomposed feldspar." Romantic and poetical as are 
these sublimities of nature, they are duly appreciated by 
the Indians. Their traditions and songs bear constant 
allusion to this magnificent creation. In their dances 
they sing of "Roraima, the red-rocked, wrapped in 
clouds, the ever fertile source of streams ;" and, in con- 
sequence of the darkness which frequently prevails when 
thick clouds hover abo.ut its simunit, it is likewise called 
the night mountain ; " of Roraima, the red-rocked, I sing, 
where with daybreak the night still prevails." 

Several other mountains form with Roraima a sort 
of quadrilateral arrangement, of which Roraima is the 
highest point, and the most south-easterly in direction. 
This quadrangle, according to Sir Robert Schomburgk, 
^* occupies, from south-east to north-west, ten geographical 
miles. The names of these mountains are Gukenam, 
Ayang-Catsibang, and Marima." 

A rocky height named Irwarkarima is distant about 
two miles from Ayang-Catsibang. It is bold and rocky, 
and attains an elevation of about 3600 feet. It is re- 
markable for an urn-shaped rock on its eastern end, 
which is about 466 feet high, and at its widest part 381 
feet. Next to this height are the Wayaca, Carauringlebub, 
Yutuariuma, and Irutibuh, which conclude the group. 


Not £|Qr from Roraima is the mountain Eaiman, about 
4000 feet above the level of the sea. Tracts of pure 
white clay or decomposed feldspar are met with in it, 
also a few blocks of compact feldspar of a bluish colour. 
White clay is, however, found in several other places, 
and might usedRilly be employed in the manufacture of 
ware. Red jasper, or homstone, is frequently met with 
in the vicinity of Roraima. 

Such are some of the principal mountain ranges of 
the colony, which divide it, as it were, from the vast 
plains and wooded lands of the western part of the con- 

Enclosed between these rocky regions and the waters 
of the Atlantic the rest of the face of the country is 
marked by a few, but grand features — such as wide- 
spread savannahs, illimitable forests, imdulating plains, 
gigantic rivers, and the various natural curiosities which 
present themselves to the traveller. 

The term "savannah" has been indiscriminately ap- 
plied to a variety of grassy, marshy spots, which, however, 
differ widely from each other. The savannahs met with 
here may be reduced to about three or four different 
kinds, and the number of them met with throughout this 
colony is very remarkable. 

The first variety which I shall notice are those which 
are met with between the rivers Demei*ara and Corentyn. 
These are in general large tracts of swampy land, some 
of which are covered with tall, rank grasses, the abode 
of reptiles and aquatic birds — such as the stork and rail, 
&c.i but others are well suited for grazing purposes. In 
some places they approach the ses^shore, as at the river 
Berbice, where miles of them occur. 

ApparentlyjBunilar to this kind of savannahs are those 
which are met with about the rivers and creeks; although 
not so large in^extent, they are covered with a variety 


of tall grasses, and afford places of resort to the wild 
duck, the bittern, rail, and other birds. Some of these 
savannahs, however, axe far from being sterile ; those 
which lie between Demerara and Berbice are admi- 
rably suited to the grazing of cattle, and are so used 
at the present day. Many of the cattle, however, stray, 
and in these extensive domains become absolutely wild. 

A second variety of savannahs consists of those great 
tracts of marshy land which are encompassed, according 
to an intelligent traveller,* " by the Sierra Pacaraima to 
the north, the Cannucu, Taripona, and Carawaimi moun- 
tains to the south, the thick forests of the Essequebo 
and isolated moimtains to the east, and the mountains 
of the Mocajahi, and offsets of the Sierra Parima, to the 

They are about 14,400 square miles in extent, and 
have evidently been submerged at no very distant period. 
These great savannahs are traversed by tortuous streams, 
whose course may often be traced afar off by an irregular 
row of trees, which fringe the otherwise scarcely percep- 
tible banks. The same authority informs us that these 
savannahs are merely covered with grasses and a few 
stunted trees, except in some places, where tufts of trees 
rise like verdant isles, or oases in a desert, from amidst 
these plains. 

" This tract contains the lake Amucu, which in the 
dry season is of small extent, and overgrown with rushes; 
but during the rainy season it not only inundates the 
adjacent low countries, but its waters, as I have been 
assured by Indians, run partly eastward into the Rupu* 
nuni, and partly westward into the Bio Branco. The 
small river Pirara has its sources somewhat south of Lake 
Amucu, flowing through it towards the Rio Mahu. On 

* Gax Robert Schomborgk. 


the banks of tliis small lake stands the Macusi village 

According to Sir Robert Schombui^k, "the geolo- 
gical structure of this region leaves but little doubt that 
it was once the bed of an inland lake, which by one of 
those catastrophes, of which even later times give us 
examples, broke its barrier, forcing for its waters a path 
to the Atlantic. May we not connect with the former 
existence of this inland sea the fable of the Lake Parima 
and the El Dorado? Thousands of years may have 
elapsed; generations may have been buried and returned 
to dust ; nations who once wandered on its banks may 
be extinct, and even no more in name : still the tradition 
of the Lake Parima and the El Dorado survived these 
changes of time; transmitted from father to son, its fame 
was carried across the Atlantic, and kindled the romantic 
fire of the chivalric Raleigh." The vegetation of the 
districts about the river Rupununi, where this description 
of savannah is met with, is far from being luxuriant. It 
consists of arid sands upon a clay substratum, and is 
improductive. Similar to this sterile kind of savannah 
is that met with behind many of the estates on the 
Arabice coast of Essequebo. 

A third variety of savannah is peculiar to the inland 
portions of this continent, and, although hardly within 
the limits of British Guiana Proper, requires some notice 
here, especially as throwing some light on this mis- 
appUed word. 

These tracts of land are of varying extent, but are 
marked by an entire absence of hills or irregularities of 
any kind; hence the term llanos, or plains, which have 
been applied to them by travellers and others. 

According to Humboldt,* " the savannahs, improperly 

* Cofmos. 


called by some pmries, are true steppes (llanos and 
pampas of South America). They present a rich cover- 
ing of verdure during the rainy season, but in the months 
of drought the earth assumes the appearance of a desert. 
The turf becomes reduced to powder, the earth gapes in 
huge cracks. The crocodiles and great serpents lie in a 
dormant state in the dried mud, imtil the return of rains 
and the rise of the waters in the great rivers, which, 
flooding the vast expanse of level surface, awake them 
from their slumbers. These appearances are often ex- 
hibited over an arid surface of fifty to sixty square 
leagues ; everywhere, in short, where the savannah is not 
traversed by any of the great rivers." 

This description of savannah has been, however, con- 
sidered by others as the bed of an inland lake, which at 
some time or other has burst through its banks, and by 
degrees become gradually dried up. These sterile savan- 
nahs are the deserts of the American continent. The 
hardy grasses which abound are the resort of the serpent 
and the stork, and present, whether flooded or dried up, 
a cheerless aspect to the traveller. 

Far different to the barren savannahs are the mag- 
nificent forests which present to the eye an unfading 
garment of green, varying in tint from the darkest 
to the lightest hue. Here are to be seen majestic 
trees, larger and stateUer than the oak; here entwine 
in voluptuous negligence numerous pliant vines, inter- 
lacing and encircling the larger trees, and named by 
the colonists bush ropes. Here flourish the varieties 
of the broad-leaved palms, the numerous native fruit 
trees, and a host of others possessing medicinal and 
other valuable properties; whilst minute mosses, in- 
numerable lichens, and a variety of ferns and parasitic 
plants crowd together in social luxuriance ; orchideous 
plants in amazing nimibers, perched on the gigantic and 
forked branches of trees, seeking only for a resting-place, 


appear to inhale from the ahr alone (though so densely 
crowded by inhabitants) the pabulum which supports 
their capricious and singular existence. 

The whole earth is hfe, the very air is life, and the 
foot of man can scarcely tread upon an inch of ground in 
this magazine of Nature's wonders without crushing some 
graceful plant or beauteous flower, so densely is it in- 
habited, so united, peaceful, and thriving are its denizens. 
The very beams of the bright sun are excluded from 
these secret haunts. Its rays glance only on the fanciful 
and glistening leaves which form a veil or mantle to the 
treasures they conceal. How true and beautifrd again is 
the language of Humboldt, for not alone were trees, and 
shrubs, and plants glor3ang in existence; the forest, 
still and silent ^ the grave, seemed a city for the recep- 
tion of all things living save man. " Yet amid this ap- 
parent silence, should one listen attentively, he hears a 
stifled sound, a continued murmur, a hum of insects that 
fill the lower strata of the air. Nothing is more adapted 
to excite in man a sentiment of the extent and power of 
organic life. 

"Mjnriads of insects crawl on the ground, and flutter 
round the plants scorched by the sun's heat. A confiised 
noise issues from every bush, from the decayed trunks of 
trees, the fissures of the rocks, and from the ground, 
which is imdermined by lizards, millipedes, and blind 
worms. It is a voice proclaiming to us that all nature 
breathes, that under a thousand different forms life is 
difiused, in the cracked and dusty soil as in the bosom of 
the waters, and in the air that circulates around us.*' 

Timber trees in every variety, finit trees in astonishing 
profiision, medicinal plants of singular efficacy, shrubs 
and flower-plants in inexhaustible numbetB, are found 
within these finiitfiil forests, in whose brandies nestle a 
world of birds. The shrill scream of the parrot at morn- 
ing and evening rends the air, while plaintive and slow 


strains may be heard at times from the maam and the 
powie. The rich plumage of the nmnerous bird tribes, 
and their pecuUar and varied notes, form a marked con- 
trast to the mute but grand assemblage of living plants. 
The magnitude and grandeur of these vast forests are 
almost incredible, save to eye-witnesses. The Indian, 
the melancholy lord of the soil, alone appreciates their 
gorgeous beauty and soothing solitudes. 

The magnificent rivers of the colony next demand 
attention; they are the connecting links between the 
inhabited civilised shores, and the lonely but romantic 
scenery of the interior. 

The river Demerara* is about a mile and a half wide 
where it joins the Atlantic, and runs in a tortuous course, 
in a southerly direction, a distance of about 200 miles, 
and is lost in a small group of mountains which ap- 
proach the Essequebo in 4 deg. 28 min. north latitude, 
and are called the Maccary. Its exact origin is not known, 
but it is said to arise from two small streams : one from 
the south-west, the other from the south-east, which 
unite to form this river. For about 100 miles up this 
stream is navigable for small vessels, and many brigs and 
barques have sailed nearly that distance to load with 
timber ; the tide extends likewise so far ; after that, a 
great number of rapids and cataracts impede the tra- 
veller's progress; and the Indians, in their slight canoes, 
can scarcely find a pathway. Some of these cataracts 
ore very large, and difficult to overcome. The river 
receives but few and imimportant tributaries in its 
course; these are called creeks, and are first met with 
about two hours* tide ; they flow with it on the right 
and left; some of them, narrow and shallow in their 
course, meander for many miles through marshy savan- 
nahs or wooded plains, occasionally expanding into 

* This riyer was called Lemdrare l^ Baldgfa and hit fi^owen; Bio De lifi- 
ran bj the Spaniaida; and Inoemaiy, or Demeraij, by the Datch. 


lakes, or shrivelled up into almost impassable beds of 
water. These creeks are almost abandoned hy the 
natives; a few wood-cutting establishments, and scat- 
tered bands of squatters, fast sinking into barbarismi 
occupy their dreary borders. 

As a marked contrast, however, the banks of the 
Demerara, for about thirty miles, are studded with 
thriving estates, dwelling-houses, and villages. The tall 
chimneys of the former, wreathed in smoke, stand like 
sentinels along the winding stream. 

The further you proceed from Greorgetown, which is 
situated on the eastern bank of the river at its embou- 
chure, the traces of civilisation become less distinct, the 
river narrows considerably, and along its savage and 
uncleared borders bands of almost lawless Africans and 
Creole negroes live in a state of primitive simplicity. 
The more honest and industrious have assembled in 
rude villages, and earn a livelihood by raising ground 
provisions and cutting wood. 

Early in the morning hundreds of corials, deeply 
loaded with produce, charcoal or wood, may be seen 
gliding with the tide towards the Georgetown market, 
and returning in the evening with goods purchased in 
the city. The tiny and grotesque sails of many are now 
spread to catch the afternoon breeze, and quicily, if not 
often safely, the little fleet of boats are scattered over the 
river, dotting the stream in all directions. 

The more ignorant or lazy of the squatters, however, 
employ themselves in stealhig from the others, and, re- 
tiring to the secluded creeks or gloomy forests, lead an 
unprofitable life of savage barbarism. 

Situated in the vicinity of larger rivers, the river 
Demerara loses that importance to which it is otherwise 
entitled. Its current is very powerful, especially towards 
its mouth, where it has been computed to flow as rapidly 
as seven or eight knots an hour, and the under-cur- 


lents or eddies must be equally powerful, and act much 
in the maimer of whirlpools, for it has become notorious, 
by experience, that few persons who have the misfortune 
to Ml into its stream are saved: whether borne away 
and sucked under by the eddying wave, or devoured by 
the greedy sharks, which in hundreds aboimd at its 
mouth, it is difficult to determine; but the melancholy 
fact still obtains, and has rendered the mariner caution 
and wary in his sports. 

The colour of this remarkable river (the supposed 
origin of its name being De Mirar, or the Wonderful) is 
of a dirty yellow, being in feet occasioned by the clayey 
soil or mud which (having been washed down by its 
rapid waters, and rendering turbid and thick the other- 
wise pure current of the stream) is deposited at its 
mouth in banks or deposits of mud-flats, forming natural 
barriers at the entrance of the stream to any very large 

A bar (as it is here called) of mud " extends about 
four miles to seaward, with only nine feet of water at 
half-flood, but the channel along the eastern shore has 
nineteen feet of water at high tide."* The very beach at 
its mouth is composed of mud ; occasionally large quan- 
tities of sand or caddyf drift towards the land, and form 
temporary beaches, but shortly disappear, and are car- 
ried higher up the coast, to return again at varying 
periods; it should be stated that sand-hills from 100 to 
150 feet high, and nearly perpendicular, are met with 
about thirty miles from the mouth of the river. Nume- 
rous islands of variable size obstruct, but not materially, 
the navigation of the river; the first of any importance, 
about twenty mUes up, was named Borselen, and was 
afterwards made the head-quarters of the Dutch, and the 
capital of this settlement. 

* Schombargk. 

t ^® ^^1™ caddj is applied to a substance composed of comminutod shells, 
sandy and sdl; but chieflj toe farmer. 


The river Eesequebo, the largest m British Guiana, 
was called by the Indians "Aranauma;" by Hakluyt, 
" Devoritia, or Dessekeber;" and is supposed to have 
received its present name from one of the officers of 
Diego Columbus — D. Juan EssequibeL Deriving its 
origin in the Acarai mountains, forty-one miles north 
of the equator, it pursues a tortuous course for about 
600 nules, and discharges its black, but pellucid, waters 
by four separate channels into the Atlantic Ocean. At 
its embouchure, or mouth, it is about twenty miles 
broad. The four channels alluded to are formed by 
three large islands, which stand crowned with perennial 
foliage, like monarchs on the frontiers of this watery 

These islands became afterwards cultivated, and are 
now known as — 1st. Tiger, or Arowabische Island, 
about ten miles long, on which three estates have long 
been in cultivation. 2nd. Leguan* (the most eastern 
island) is about twelve miles long. In 1770 it had 
eight or nine coflFee estates, and was subsequently laid 
out in sugar estates. 3rd. Waakenaara,f or Margarita 
Island, is about fifteen miles long, and had in 1770 
about three sugar and four coflTee estates. 

Most of the estates on the island of Leguan have been 
partially, some wholly, abandoned ; a few, however, are 
still in active and successful cultivation. In 1829 the 
sugar crop from about twenty estates was 10, 905, 9 11 lbs. ; 
while in 1849 it had decreased to 2,504,2151b6. 

In Waakenaam, there were formerly twenty estates in 
active operation; some of these have since failed, but 
there are still many large and valuable properties. The 
sugar crop has decreased about 6,000,0001bs. within the 
last twenty years. 

* Leguan deriTes its name firom El Guano, in conaeqacnoe of the preTalenoe 
of goanofl^a species of lizard, 
t Waakenaam waul of a name. 


Numerous other islands in luxuriant beauty are also 
n^ligently strewed throughout its course,* some large, 
some smaU, all lovely, and said to equal in number the 
days of the year. In its serpentine course the river 
Essequebo traverses valleys of surpassing richness and 
mountains of great height, which, rising from 3000 to 
4000 feet above its banks, cast their fearful shadows over 
its waves. The sombre forests approach in some places 
to the very water's edge, and the granite rock, with the 
mouldering forest trees, sink down together beneath its 
current. The dark colour of the water has been the sur- 
prise of every visitor. Regarded at a distance, it looks 
absolutely black and opaque, but a nearer approach 
reveals its translucency and bronze-like tinge. It has 
been supposed by a scientific colonistf that this tint is 
derived firom the iron of the granite rocks, as the waters 
are as dark at their source as at their termination; 
but another authorityj (and with more reason) attri- 
butes the stain to the impregnation of carbonaceous or 
decayed vegetable matter, and remarks, that where any 
of its branches traverse a different kind of soil to al- 
luvrum, as, for instance, a savannah, the colour becomes 

Possibly the two causes assigned, acting together, pro- 
duce this curious result. Be this as it may, the river 
Essequebo has other equally singular features. Flowing 
generally from south to north, it receives a host of 
tributary streams. Thousands of little rivulets de- 
scending from mountain steeps, and meandering along 
verdant plains and through rocky passes, combine to 
form the mighty branches which pour their strength 
into the parent stream. Many of these streamlets are de- 
rived from sources not far from the origin or bed of the 

* The names of manj of these are characteristic; thus the largest are known 
as Hog, Fort, Lowlow, and Troolie Islands, 
t Mr. Hillhonse. } Hancock, p. 40. 


'great Orinoco. In their course the tributaries of the 
Essequebo sweep over ledges of rocks of varying magni- 
tude, forming cascades of every size, from the simple 
rapids to the gigantic cataract. " Some of these falls 
are most difficult of ascent ; the Caboory, for instance, is 
full thirty feet high, in four different ledges, and requir- 
ing one hour's hard labour to get over a space of about 
100 yards. The rapids do not run in one sheet over a 
level ledge, but force themselves through a nimiber of 
large intermediate blocks of granite, dividing the diffe- 
rents hoots of the fall."* The noise of some of the larger 
cataracts is heard at a distance of several miles. The 
principal rivers, which like veins flow into one common 
trunk, are the Cuyuni and Mazaruni, whose united 
streams, about a mile in width, reach the Essequebo 
about thirty miles from its mouth; the Potaro, or Black 
River, from the south-west; the Siparuni, or Red River, 
also from the south-west; the Rupununi, or White 
River, a large stream about 220 miles long; the Cuyu- 
wini, the Yuawauri, or Cassi Kityon, from the south- 
west; and the Camoa, or Owangou, also from south- 
west ; and the Wapuau and Caneruau from the south- 
east. It would be needless in this place to enter into a 
description of the different ramifications of these streams, 
or to dwell upon the innumerable rapids or cataracts 
which in many places actually obstruct all progress, es- 
pecially in the Mazaruni. 

The consideration of the numerous wooded islands, 
with their fascinating scenery, of the luxuriant specimens 
of vegetation, and of the animals and mineral produc- 
tions, is left to the future scientific explorer, or enter- 
prising naturalist The curious on this subject may 
peruse with advantage the information gathered by 
such travellers as Schomburgk, Hillhouse, Hancock, 
and Waterton. Fort Island, called by Hartsink Vlag- 

* SchorobqiglL 
VOL. I. D 


gen Islancl, is situated at its northerly point abont three 
miles from the sea. It fbrmerlj possessed a wooden 
fort, protected with a palisade work (horenwerk), bnik 
near a creek, named Schipper Jans Ereek, but this was 
destroyed, and in 1740 upon the same spot a stone fort 
was erected, which in 1748 was finished, and called 
Fort Z^landia. It was quadrangular, ¥rith four bulwarks 
around mounting eighteen or nineteen guns; inside was 
a triangular redoubt with a flat roof and embrasures 
serving as a casern for the soldiers and powder magazine. 
On the waterside was placed a "horenwerk" with pali- 
sades, and protected with twelve cannon. Towards 
building this fort, each plantation had to contribute so 
many slaves, but when complete, an agreement was 
entered into between the company and the planters, 
whereby the former undertook to maintain it without 
further aid from the latter. The planters also, for their 
protection, built a battery, which was armed by the 
company with four metal culverines, and forty swords, 
and was manned by the people givai by the planters. 
It proved, however, of very little use, and soon was 
given up. 

In 1746 one Rypersberg travelled very far up the 
Mazaruni, and states that upon the seventh day of his 
journey, he met with a high pyramid of hewn stone 
between very high mountains. He felt curious to visit 
it, but none of the Indians would accompany him, be- 
cause they said it was the dwelling-place of Sawahou 
(Devil). The sea of Parima was the supposed El 
Dorado, and said to be inhabited by Indians of a fair 
complexion, and who wore clothes. In 1755 several 
successive attempts were made by the Spaniards to 
reach it, but failed, owing to the opposition rfiown by 
Indian and other dangers ; four of these clothed Indians 
were taken prisoners, and were said to have been seen 
by many persons of veracity. 


The gowmor of Essequebo, in 1756, sent thither to 
procure some of these peojde, but £Edled. Poet Arinda 
vras tiie £irthest post of the Dutch, on an island close to 
the falls. The river is here very wide, and studded with 
islands. In this neighbourhood was a kind of metal 
like lead, so soft that it could be cut ; hi^er up, and 
Jiear the river Sibaioua wese fi>und mines of crystal; 
and still hi^ier up, a volcanic mountain, said to have 
been discovered in 1749. On the banks of the Esse- 
quebo there were formerly about sixty estates, near the 
mouth of the river. The land is low and maishy here, 
but further in is hi^ and moimtainous. 

Previously to quitting this acooimt of our earliest his- 
torioal river, it is to be observed that the entrance to the 
many wonders it includes is much obstructed by nu* 
merous shoals and sand-banks, which, stretching out 
to seaward, become sources of danger to unwary navi- 

The sugar-bank stretching three iniles seaward from 
the mouth of the Essequebo, is so called from the wrecks 
in former years of small boats laden with sugar. For- 
merly the West India Company of the Chambers of Zea- 
land, who managed Essequebo and Demerara, placed a 
Brandwagt, or guard-house, on the east bank of the river, 
with two cannons to announce the approach of ships. 
Vessels of considerable size, however, having found a safe 
channel, can proceed for about fifty miles up the river, 
where the commencement of the rapids terminates at once 
the tide and the progress of a ship. The banks of the 
river are remarkable for the number of trees and plants 
which bathe their sunny leaves in the refreshing stream. 
Within sight, if not within easy reach, arise lofty hills, 
their summits often hid in douds, in wandering to which 
wild-fowl and game in many places abound, while the 
river itself fiimifihes numerous kinds of fish. There are 



no estates to be seen at present on the borders of this 
noble stream ; its lovely banks are only tenanted by a few 
impoverished individuals. For many miles no human 
habitation is visible; the very Indian has deserted the 
Lower Essequebo ; the inevitable bush creeps down to 
the river's edge ; the jabbering monkey, or the startled 
bird, occasionally breaks the deep silence of the scene; 
but scarcely an evidence of man's existence is to be 
traced around. A soUtary schooner on its way to the 
penal settlement, situated on the tributary stream of the 
Mazaruni, may now and then appear, drifting lazily with 
the noiseless tide, or an Indian canoe from the quiet 
missionary settlement at Bartika Point, may be observed 
stealing silently along the sides of the stream to avoid 
•the objectionable current. 

The river Corentyn, or Courantin, separates the British 
possessions in Guiana from those of the Dutch. It has 
its origin about the 1st deg. north latitude, and is sup- 
posed to rise from the same moimtain range as the river 
Essequebo, at a distance of about twenty-five mijes east 
from the source of that river. 

Flowing from the mountains of the sun (Ouanguwai) 
in a northerly direction, it is impeded in its coiu:se be- 
tween the 4th and 5th parallel of north latitude by the 
same tract of granitic boulders which cross the rivers 
Essequebo and Berbice, and which forms a series of 
formidable cataracts in 4 deg. 20 min., described in 
another place. The river which had expanded at these 
rapids now contracts and runs north and north-east until 
it reaches 5 deg. north latitude, where it flows to the 
west for about forty miles and receives a large tributary, 
the river Cabalaba, from the south; ftirther on it is 
crossed by a range of sandstone rocks, and receives the 
river Matappe; its course is now to the northwards, and 
is 80 tortuous, that in one instance — ^namely, from the 


mouth of the river Paruru to the river Maipuri (small 
tributaries which flow into it from the westward), it de-. 
scribes almost a circle, the distance by the river being 
twenty miles, while across the savannah, which here 
follows its course, it is only one and three-quarter miles. 
Further on it receives the rivers Wasiappe on the right, 
and Oreala on the left; the cliffs about Oreala consist of 
horizontal beds of siliceous conglomerate with sandstone, 
grains of quartz, and calcareous schistose clay of a bluish 
colour, and occasionally beds of loose sand and shale; 
these cliffs stretch north and south; they contain no 
organic remains; behind them stretch extensive sa- 
vannahs ; opposite to Oreala is Semira, the site of an old 
Moravian mission, and now consisting of an impoverished^ 
settlement. From Oreala the river flows in a northerly 
course, through a level country, for about fifty miles, 
and, receiving the tributary river Nickeri on its right 
bank close to the sea-coast, discharges its turbid waters 
into the Atlantic. At the mouth of the Nickeri is the 
Dutch settlement of the same name, with a small garrison 
and a sea-battery. Opposite to Nickeri, on the British- 
side, was formerly the plantation Mary's Hope; three* 
miles to the northward of this plantation, or in latitude 
6 deg. 5 min. north, a soft mud-flat, called the Bar of the 
River, extends in a direction south-east by east to the 
distance of seven and a half miles, with a depth of seven 
and a half feet of water over it at low tide; the moutb 
of the river, estimated between Mary's Hope and Nickeri, 
is about ten miles wide; but between Grordon's Point and 
Plantation Allness, which by some are considered as the 
extreme points of the mouth of the Corentyn, the distance 
is eighteen miles. 

A sand-bank is situated at the entrance of the river, 
which is about one mile long firom north to south, and 
about half a mile in breadth, and forms two channels for 


vessels to enter; the wmdward^ or eastern, cBannel is 
the deepest; it has eight and a half feet water at low 
water ; but at spring tides rises eight and a half feet 
higher, and at neap three feet; this chanriel is about two 
miles wide; while the westerly, or leeward, is shallower, 
but about the same width- The current of the river is 
very strong in the wet season, generally from three to 
four knots an hour, but sets fortunately in the direction 
of the river. The river Coraityn is navigable as far as 
the river Cabalaba, for boats that do not draw more than 
seven feet water, the distance being about 150 miles from 
the sea, if measured along the windings of the stream. 
In its course numerous sand-banks and islands are met 
with; thus in 5 deg. 55 min. north latitude it forms an 
estuary with navigable channels between the sand and 

The river Berbice has its origin probably about the 3rd 
parallel of north latitude, flowmg at first in a north- 
west direction through a swampy country intersected by 
ofl^oots of the Caimuctt mountains, which give rise to 
the formation of innumerable rapids and occasional cas- 
cades. In 3 deg. 55 min. north latitude it has assumed 
the extreme limits of its westerly course, and approadies 
within about nine miles of the river Essequebo. There 
is on old path overland to this river across a fertile soil 
daotmding ias palm-trees, as well as the crabwood (Carapa 
Chiianenaifl), the souari (Caryootr tuber-culosum), the 
yaniri, the amsra, bignonia, and othe* trees ; occasional 
Bwzmps have to be traversed in following the narrow 
pathway which leads from one river to the other. The 
Berbice from hence takes a northerly course^ and becomes 
very narrow and tortuous; now contracting to a width 
of only ten yards, in other places spreading out into lake- 
like expansions. The banks are low and marshy, and 
ere noi unfrequeaotly under water. The stream now 


jBows in varying width through a wild and savage wilder- 
ness, its banks fringed by the prickly pear, and its current 
impeded by dense masses of a species of solanmn, which 
is found in abundance. It pursues its winding course to 
4 deg. 20 min. north Itttitude, when boulders of granite 
rock stud the river, which has previously received a small 
tributary, called the Black River, from the west. After 
passing the boulders, numerous cataracts and rapids ob- 
struct the navigation for about fifty miles. The river 
before had been narrow, studded with islets, and fed by 
numerous inlets, with palm-trees on its banks, and had 
traversed a fertile soil impregnated with a chalky marL 
It is now crossed by offshoots of the mountain chains 
already described. In this romantic region the fiunous 
Victoria Regia lily was discovered in 1836 by Sir Robert 

In its rapid and tortuous course the river forms the 
Christmas Cataract; a series of rapids succeed, and 
further north it rushes from its northerly bank over a 
dyke of rocks, giving rise to the Itabru Cataract. The 
stream now expands into lake-Uke basins, at other times 
narrowing, and becomes almost hidden as it flows be- 
tween the numerous rocks and hills which overhang its 
banks. The last cataract is in 4 deg. 50 min. north 
latitude, and after passing the rapids called Marlissae, 
the river is now free for ordinary boat navigation. In 
4 deg. 56 min. north latitude the influence of the tide 
commences, and the distance from here is about 165 
miles to the sea, if the course of the river is followed, A 
little before reaching this spot the stream becomes less 
tortuous, and is about eighty yards broad ; on its banks 
are ledges of granitic rocks, of a red colour, with a 
smooth sur&ce, and coated over with a thick crust of 
the black oxide of manganese. On these rocks there are 

* Ascent of the rirerBerUoe, 1836-7. TransactiooBof theBoTalQeogcaphicAl 



traces of picture-writing, called Tehmehri by the na- 
tives, somewhat similar to those fomid at Warapoota, on 
the river Essequebo, and other places. From the 6th 
parallel north latitude the course of the river is in a 
north-eastern direction to its outflow into the Atlantic 
A small brook, the Yariki, flows into it shortly after it 
has taken this curve ; the river now becomes shallow, 
with numerous inlets, and the last traces of the trappean 
rocks are met with, distant about seventy miles in a 
direct line from the sea. From its western bank a path 
is shortly reached which leads to the river Demerara, 
while on the eastern side, a little lower down the 
stream, a similar path conducts to the river Corentyn. 
The tributary stream of the Yuacari now enters the river 
from the westward, and if this brook is followed a two 
days' journey along its banks and one overland, will 
likewise lead the traveller to the river Demerara. The 
river next flows through a sandy district, some of the 
hills of which are 100 feet in height, from the summit of 
which a fine undulating and wooded landscape may be 
seen. The stream after this again becomes narrow and 
tortuous, numerous inlets, called Itabu, occur, and 
patches of coarse long grass (Panicum) and Mocco* 
Mocco (Caladium arborescens) obstruct its course. The 
Monbacca, a small tributary, joins the river on its eastern 
side, and lower down, the river Moracco enters it on the 
opposite direction, where there is a wood-cutting esta- 
blishment in active operation. Another small stream, 
the Kabiribirie, famous for the coldness of its waters, and 
the Paripi, likewise join the river. At the junction of 
the latter several sand-hills or reefs extend close to the 
western bank. About ten miles ftirther north, the river 
WicMe flows into it from the east, behind which extends 
a marshy district. Sand-hills now succeed, and the valu- 
able wallaba-tree (Eperua Falcata) is found plentifully 


The sandy region extends as far as Peereboom (be- 
hind which large savannahs stretch inland), but does not 
terminate here, for having received the tributary Wie- 
ronie in 6 deg. 42 min. north latitude, the former site of 
an old redoubt and church, and the small river Moshieba 
and the brook Kaderbicie lower down, the river flows 
through hillocks of sand termed Hitia by the natives, 
and narrowed at this point in its course, emerges from 
the last trace of rising or elevated land. These hillocks 
are fifty feet in height, and are distant about thirty miles 
in a direct line from the coast. In 6 d^. 60 min. north 
latitude it makes a sweep to the north-west, at the 
southern angle of which is the site of old Fort Nassau^^ 
forty-five miles from the mouth of the river along its 
windings; lower down, the river receives the rivulet 
Abari-Itabu, which connects it with the river Abari, and 
beyond this two smaller streams from the north-west, the 
former situation of Plantation Daagerad. In 6 deg. north 
latitude the stream is about a mile in width, and makes 
a considerable bend, remarkable for the strength of the 
bore, which occasionally rises from twelve to fifteen feet, 
and proves dangerous to the inexperienced. 

After this it is only about half a mile wide, xmtil it 
approaches New Amsterdam, which is situated a little 
above the junction of the river Canje, which flows into 
the Berbice from the east. A short distance from the 
embouchure of the river a low and bushy island, about a 
mile in circumference, called Crab Island, is placed in 
the centre of the stream, and divides it into two navi- 
gable channels, of which the eastern is the deepest, being 
from seventeen to twenty feet at high water. On the 
eastern bank of the river, opposite Crab Island, are the 
ruins of old Fort St. Andrew, which formerly mounted 
eighteen twelve-pounders, and was admirably placed both 
for offence and defence. 


The river Waini, or Guainia, is a small stream, which, 
rising about the 7th parallel of north latitude, flows fiw 
its first half in a north-east, and subsequently in a north- 
west, direction, anastomosing with several other rivers 
in its course until it empties itself into the ocean. Shal- 
lows and sand-banks block up the entrance here of 
large vessels, but as it has a navigable channel of twelve 
to eighteen feet at high water, it may be navigated by 
schooners and other smaller craft. 

A passage, known as the Mora Passage, connects it 
with the river Barima, which stream, rising in the neigh- 
bourhood of the Sierra Imataca, 7 deg. north latitude, 
flows to the north and west until it reaches the Orinoco 
dose to the Atlantic, At its mouth it labours under 
similar disadvantages with the Waini ; but if once en- 
tered, it offers an uninterrupted navigation to vessels 
of from 250 to 300 tons burthen as high as the junc- 
tion of the Aruka. Towards the latter part of its 
course the soil is flat, marshy, and fertile, and covered 
with the inevitable courida and mangrove trees. By 
means of the Aruka and Aruan streams it becomes 
connected with the river Amacura, which, rising about 
the 8th parallel of north latitude, runs in a north and 
north-west course towards the Atlantic, where its waters 
are discharged a little to the westward of the rivw 
Barima. But the two rivers Barima and Amacura 
might be more readily brought into communication by 
cutting a canal across the portage. Numerous rivulets 
joiif the Barima on both its banks, which are, more or 
less, occupied by the Warraus, with a few families of 

The river Pomeroon rises about the 7th parallel of 
north latitude, and flows for about forty miles in a 
northerly course until it reaches the sea in 7 deg. 50 min. 
north latitude, and 59 deg. west longitude. The entrance 


to the river i* narrow, and bounded on the eastern side 
by a projecting tongue of land which is called Cape 
Nassau ; the land here is low and woody, and numerous 
sand-banks extend seaward in frcmt c^it. 

It was OTL the eastern side of this riyer that the first 
settlements of the Dutch were made in 1580; the sites 
of the two settlements of Nieu Middleburg and Nova 
Zelandia are to be seen marked on an old map of the 
country published in 1759 by Laurens Lodewyk Van 
Bercheyck. There were formerly many En^ish and 
Dutch settlers on this river, and many flourishing planta- 
tions existed, traces of which remain to the present day. 
Block houses and lotions for the troops were situated 
along part of the coast, which was not unfrequently 
visited by Spanish and other privateers in search of 
plunder. The sea is very rough about the aitrance of 
the river, and the "rollers" or breakers render it at 
times somewhat dangerous. This river has water com- 
munication inland through its tributaries with the river . 
Morocco, and by this latter with the rivers Waini and 
Barima, so that an inland navigation may be said to exist 
fix)m the river Essequebo to the Orinoco. 

Besides the above, there are the rivers Mahaica, Ma- 
haicony, and Abari, which flow between the larger rivers 
of D^nerara and Berbioe. A number of smaller streams 
or creeks are likewise found, meandering for miles 
through the most varied landscapes, and opening to 
the ocean or into the larger streams. 

The cataracts and rapids met with in the course of the 
noble rivers of this province are both numerous and in- 
teresting. They are occasioned by the rivers havmg 
forced their way through mountain ridges of primitrve 
rocks, which traverse the countay in irregular and imdii- 
lating chains of varying height At the narrowest part 
of most of the rivers they succeed each other rajadly j in 


Other places tHey are met at short distances from each 
other, but on the same line, at a part of the river where 
it has expanded into a kind of lake, and where huge 
boulders of rocks are strewn across the path of the tor- 
rent, as if intent on checking its fttrther progress, but 
the impetuous stream dashes onwards, and, divided into 
several currents by the masses of rock in its way, consti- 
tutes in its flight and fall those numerous and picturesque 
cascades which now require our consideration. 

However beautiful these are — however exciting to the 
wearied spirits of the traveller, they yet prove a diffi- 
cult and sometimes dangerous impediment to his onward 
course. A few of these cataracts, and many of the 
rapids, may indeed be passed in the light corials of the 
Indian tribes, and with the assistance of their calm and 
skilfiil piloting, but, as a general rule, it is a dangerous 
experiment, and one that is rather to be avoided if pos- 
sible than to be incurred. 

In the river Demerara there is but one cataract which 
merits any notice ; it has received the name of the great 
"Fall of the river Demerara," but is disparagingly 
spoken of by Robert Schomburgk, who visited it in 
March, 1837. I have been assured, however, by his 
Excellency Grovemor Barkly, who saw it in 1851, that it 
is a cataract of considerable importance ; the height of 
the whole fall has been estimated at about sixty feet. 
It is situated about 800 miles from the mouth of the 

The cataracts and rapids met with in following the 
course of the river Essequebo are both numerous and 
beautiful, and as several of the large tributary streams 
which flow into it are equally studded with these sin- 
gular formations, it would be tedious to attempt to enter 
into an3^hing like a formal account of them. To those 
who are desirous of becoming more acquainted with 


them, the accounts furnished by Schomburgk,* Hill- 
house, and others, are recommended, unless they possess 
the leisure and inclination to visit these romantic spots 

Independently of smaller rapids at and after its origin, 
the course of the Essequebo, after it has received the 
large tributary stream of Cuyuni in 2 deg. 16 min. north 
latitude, is, for the distance of about seventy miles, so 
impeded by cataracts, that it is barely navigable for the 
small canoes of the natives. It forms, in 3 deg. 15 min. 
north latitude, a large cataract called William the 
Fourth's Cataract. Its longitude is 57 deg. 19 min. 
54 sec. west. " The river here is narrowed in by moun- 
tains to about fifty yards, and precipitates itself with 
great force over two ledges of rock about twenty-four 
feet liigh." 

Before the river Rupunimi (which has a course of 
about 229 miles) joins the Essequebo in 4 deg. north 
latitude, it forms a large cataract in 2 deg. 39 min. 
This, the largest cataract of the Rupununi, is called by 
the Wapisianas the Cutatarua, or Truan, and by the 
Caribs the Corona, signifying respectively ^ the faU." 

After the junction of the Rupunimi, another cataract, 
the Orotoko, obstructs the Essequebo, and fiirther on the 
cataract of Waraputa appears, imtil, about fifty miles 
from its mouth, the last rapids are formed. 

The river Berbice is obstructed in its course by a great 
number of cataracts and rapids. In some places they 
extend for upwards of a mile and a half in length. 
The Itabru cataract occurs in a spot where the river is 
encompassed by a range of hills fix)m 200 to 600 feet 
high ; the fall takes place in 4 deg. 49 mm. north lati- 
tude, and 58 deg. west longitude. Huge blocks of 

* Beporto to Bojal Geographical Sodetgr. 


li^t .^reen chert and deoompomig daystone por- 
phyry lie scattered at the sides of the cataract, 
while one boulder, larger than the rest, awaits at 
the foot of the fall the shock of the waters dashed 
against it. The Christmas Gatarftcts, so named by Sir 
B. Schombnrgk on account of their having been seen 
upon that day, are situated in 40 deg. 42 min. north 
iatiteide, and 57 deg. 54 min. west lon^tude. They 
consist of a sucoession of fedls, picturesque in their 
course, but difficult to surmount. Mr. Reiss, a young 
man of twenty-two years of age, who accompanied the 
expedition up this river, was drowned here on the 12th 
February, 1837. He ventured imprudently to descaid 
one of these £Edls in a conal manned by Indians. In the 
rapidity of the descent he lost his balanoe, and, in endea- 
vouring to recover himself, upset the frail bark. The 
Indians saved themselves, but the unf(»1;unate European 
was carried away by the rapids, and his mangled body 
wittx difficulty recovered after a long search. 

The cataracts met with in the course of the river 
Corentyn are exceedingly interesting, and are perhaps 
the lai^est in the colony. A chain of rocks crossing the 
river about the 4th parallel of north latitude gives rise 
to the following fidls: 

Sir James Carmichael Sm3rth's Cataract is situated in 
4 deg. 21 min. north latitude, and 57 deg. 25 min. west 
longitude. It is called by the Indians Wanare-Wono- 
Tobo, and is probably the largest fall of water in British 
Guiana. The impetuous river rushes violently over a ledge 
of rocks to a depth of upwards of thirty perpendicular 
feet. A doud of spray ascends from the foaming stream 
below, and adds considerably to the beauty of the scene, 
composed as it is of huge boulders of rocks, and a gor- 
geous mass of tropical trees on the river banks. A large 
boulder of rock separates this cataract from another cas- 


cade, irhidi, howevec, is only to be seen whexi the river 
is very full; this has received the name of Governor 
Barkly's Fall. A little higher up the stream, the body of 
irater diverges in several channels, and at an angle of 
60 di^ rashes into a beautifiil vall^ fidrmed by gigantic 
piles of rocks. The two cascades compodng these falls 
are close together, and present a magnificent sight to the 

The greatest height of the next principal fall is, how- 
ever, only twenty-five fieet. It is known by the name of Sir 
John Barrow's Cataract, but the Indians term it Wotebo- 
Tobo, £rom the fact of a fimded resemblance of a parti- 
cular rode to the himian thigh-bone. The centre, or 
smaller fall has been termed the Sfiddle Fall, and is 
separated fi'om the others liy large masses of rock. 
The four falls above enumerated cannot be seen at 
one and the same time. They require to be visited se- 
parately, but amply repay the toil and trouble of the tra- 
veller, who must force his way along the wooded banks, 
or encamp upon the projecting rocks or sand-banks, to 
examine them properly. 

On the river Pardmu, or Padamo, one of the streams 
which run into the river Orinoco, there are, perhaps, a 
greater number of cataracts and rapids than in any other 
river of British Guiana. Many of them are also of con- 
siderable size. One of these, the Mariwacaru, has a fall 
of thirty feet over a ledge of rocks. Again, where the 
river Eundanara joins the Paramu, two large cataracts 
are met with, which, from their size and the picturesque 
beauty of their situation, have been much expatiated on 
by travellers. 

On the river Barama there is a succession of cataracts, 
with a fall of about 120 feet in a distance of two mUes; 
but as the stream is very tortuous, they are not seen to 


any great advantage. " The grandest sight is offered by 
the three upper falls, where the river, narrowing into 
about eighty feet, rushes turbulently down the precipice 
in three jets, and forms, in the distance of about 100 
yards, a fall of thirty-five to forty feet perpendicular."* 
This part of the fall is called Dowocaima, and the scenery 
around it is exceedingly picturesque. The ledges of rock 
are composed of gneiss. 

On the river Branco, or Parima, there is a very in- 
teresting fall of water, which has received the name of 
Purumama Im^ru. It is formed apparently by the 
stream forcing its way through a chain of small hiUocks, 
which cross it here. Its latitude is 3 deg. 20 min. north; 
its longitude 62 deg. 3 min. west. A first fall of about 
forty-five feet occurs, followed by another of about 
twenty-five feet. 

The natural curiosities met with in the interior of 
British Guiana, among its mountains, its savannahs, and 
its magnificent rivers, are some of them very remarkable, 
and require a particular notice. From the period of its 
earliest discovery up to the present time, eloquent writers 
have expatiated on the striking scenes and objects which 
have presented themselves to their notice. 

It is not in the neighbourhood of the coasts, or near 
the banks of the rivers (although even here the luxuri- 
ance of the foliage and breadth of water is very striking), 
that a stranger should judge of the coxmtry. He must 
pass by the maritime portion, and leave behind him 
the interminable forests; he must ascend the rivers, and 
surmount the numerous rapids and cataracts; he must 
quit the equable but enervating temperature of the low 
lands, and ascend the granite mountains and sandstone 

* Beport of Cheralier Schonibargk'fl Expedition up the Barima and Cajani 
KiTen in 1841. 


heights, where the thermometer ranges from 59 deg. to 
95 deg. Fah. in the shade, in order to appreciate the 
grandeur and beauty of the scenery; and to trace with 
awe, wonder, and admiration the picturesque objects 
which stud the wooded plains and wandering streams. 

Description fails to record, with anything like truth, this 
magnificent scenery; but according to Sir Robert Schom- 
burgk (whose splendid views alone can convey an idea of 
the country), the greatest geological wonder of Guiana is 
no doubt Ataraipu, or the Devil's Rock. This singular rock 
forms a kind of natural pyramid, and is situated on the 
western bank of the river Guidaru, in 2 deg. 55 min. north 
latitude. Its base is wooded for about 350 feet ; fi'om 
thence rises the mass of granite, devoid of all vegetation, 
in a pyramidical form for about 550 feet more; making 
its whole height about 900 feet above the river Guidaru,* 
and 1300 feet above the sea. According to the same 
author: " In latitude 3 deg. 59 min. north longitude, 59 
deg. 28 min. west, a remarkable basaltic column, fashioned 
by Nature, and compared by the Indians to the trunk of a 
crownless tree, is called Pur^-Piapa, or the ^Felled 
Tree,' and is of great interest. It occupies the summit 
of a small hillock at the outskirts of the Pacaraima moun- 
tains, and is about twenty-five miles north-north-west 
fi:om the Macusi village of Pirara. This column, the re- 
gular form of which would cause any one who viewed 
it at some distance to suppose it to be the trunk of a de- 
cayed tree, is about fifty feet high." This is the smallest 
of a group of three masses of rocks of a basaltic nature 
which were met with by this intelligent traveller on a 
journey fix)m Pirara to Esmeralda. Mara-Etshiba, the 
highest, terminates on the summit in one abrupt pillar, 
about fifty feet in height, a portion of which bulging out 
in the middle of this mass of rock, has, by the ever finiitful 

* Gaidani signito a kind of war dab. This rirer if a trilmtaiy of the Base- 



ima^nation of the Indian, be^i assimilated to the M»* 
roca — a large rattle made of the fruit of the calabash-tree^ 
filled with pebbles, feathers, and snake teeth, and which 
is the indispensable instrument of the Piatrary, Piai-man, 
or Indian sorcerer, during his conjurations. Of this co- 
lumnar group of trap-rocks, the largest has been named 
by the Macusis Canuyd-Piapa, or the guavartree stump. 

It is not to be wondered at that three such remarkable 
objects as the Mara-Etshiba, Canuy6, and Pur6-Piapa 
have given rise to some tradition ; the more so, smce the 
Indian who inhabits the mountains is like other moun- 
taineers, more vivid and fandful in his imagination, and 
possessed of a larger stock of traditional history than he 
of the forest or of the plain. Consequently it is related, 
that when Makunaima, the good spirit, wandered stiU 
upon earth, he passed these savannahs, and, fatigued and 
thirsty, he observed a tree on the summit of a hill, which, 
in the hope of finding it covered with finit, he cut with 
a stone axe. He was disappointed, and proceeded fur- 
ther eastward, and discovered the cannye, or guavartree, 
Ml of fruit; he cut it likewise, and afber having re- 
freshed himself he proceeded on his journey. It appears 
that whatever Makunaima touched was converted into 
stone, and thus the trees were changed into this substance. 
Every rock among these mountains, which is of more than 
ordinary size, or fantastically shaped by nature, is com- 
pared to some bird, animal, or tree, and is supposed to 
have been petrified by the powerful touch of the Maku- 
naima. How similarly constituted after all is the mind 
of man, whether in his savage state or in his most civi- 
lised condition. The pnmitive speculations of the un- 
tutored inhabitant of this land approach in character the 
mythological traditions of ancient Bome. 

" The sides of the Pourae-Piapa, or Pur^Piapa rock, 
are partially covered with red lichens, and in some places 
it is more acted on by the weather than in others. The 


ddudon being increased by a play of colours, the mind 
can scarcely divest itself of the belief that it is the gigan- 
tic trunk of a tree, the head of which, stricken by years^ 
or shivered by lightning, lies mouldering at its foot."* 

In the neighbourhood of the rivers fSmtastic piles of 
granite are met with ; now soaring as columns nearly 200 
feet high, now assuming the forms of familiar objects 
whose names they bear; thus, on the western bank of the 
Essequebo, two gigantic piles of granite rise from the de- 
clivity of A hill to a height of about 140 to 160 fi^et 
One pile, called by the Arrawak Indians Comuti, and 
by the Caribs Taquiare, signifying in both languages 
Water-jar, consists of three huge blocks of bluish granite 
resting one above the other. The first boulder surpasses 
in size the celebrated pedestal on which the statue of 
Peter I. is placed ; the second is supported on this by 
only three points, while on this rests another piece of 
granite, which resembles a jar in shape ; and, to the £eui» 
dfiil imagination of the Indians, the resemblance was ren- 
dered complete by a fourth, but small piece of granite, 
which, occupying the summit, serves as a kind of lid to 
the jar. The other pile of granite alluded to is called 
Eamai by the Indians, from its resemblance to the tube, 
or strainer, which is used by them for expressing the juice 
of the cassada root before it is made into bread. It is of a 
pyramidal shape, and by the measurement of a neighbour- 
ing pile, which was 160 feet hi^ attains nearly to the 
height of 200 &et These " giants of the hill," as Mr. 
Waterton has termed them in his " Wanderings,'* are 
both of them inaccessible. 

It is in this neighbourhood that Sir B. Schomburgk 
and others have met with specimens of ** picturo-writing,'* 
or Tehmehri, the name given by the Indians to the rude 
and frmcifril hieroglyphics carv^ on the rocks of granite 
in many places in the interior. The rocks on which 

* Schombinglc 



these traces are found are singularly hard. With the 
sharpest instrument or stone it requires hours of hard 
work to produce even the slightest impression, and yet 
some of these figures and sketches are described as up- 
wards of a foot in length, and more than an inch deep. 
Many of the rocks on which these hieroglyphics occur 
are at present decomposing; some have crumbled away, 
the figures destroyed; but on others the evidence re- 
mains of an imtiring zeal and patient assiduity on the 
part of the Indian, which otherwise we should not have 
expected to find in his character. 

In his illustrated views of British Guiana, Sir K. Schom- 
burgk remarks, in reference to these rude sculpturings : 

" A mystery, not yet solved, hangs over these sculp- 
tured rocks; whatever may be their origin, the subject 
is one of high interest, and demands the full investiga- 
tion of the antiquarian and historian. I have myself 
traced these inscriptions through seven hundred miles of 
longitude, and five himdred of latitude, or scattered here 
and there over an extent of three hundred and fifty 
thousand square miles. I have copied many of them, 
and, although they do not denote an advanced state of 
civilisation, in my opinion they have a higher origin 
and signification than that generally ascribed to them; 
namely, the idle tracings of hunting nations. It is re- 
markable that the situation of those which I have seen 
was generally near cataracts and rapids. The Indian 
races of the present day can give no accoimt of their 
origin ; some ascribe them to the good spirit, others to 
their forefathers; and the Taruma Indians, on the river 
Cuyuwine, a tributary of the Upper Essequebo, gave me 
in answer to the question, who had made the figures 
which I saw sculptured on some blocks of green stone in 
that river, Hhat women had made them long time 


The figures represented are of the most varied and 
singular description — rude outlines of birds, animals, 
men and women, and other natural objects; but it is not 
a little curious that among the sculpturings should be 
foimd some clumsy sketches of large vessels with masts, 
as was observed by the above writer, on some granite 
rocks at the Ilha de Pedra, on the river Negro. 

In many places the hieroglyphics appear to represent 
writing, and the characters have in many instances been 
traced to bear resemblance to the Hebrew and other 
dialects; whether this is merely a coincidence, or whe- 
ther there actually exists a connexion between the lan- 
guages of the east and west, is a problem for the learned 
to solve. 

On the river Cuowani there are found some granite 
rocks, on. which are sculptured men's faces, full moons, 
monkeys, snakes, and birds. 

My lamented friend. Dr. Bonyun, showed me, on his 
return firom a tour up the river Essequebo, in 1850, a 
few copies which he had made of some of this picture- 
writing, which he found traced on granite boulders; and, 
on comparing them with the characters of the Hebrew 
alphabet, we were both surprised at the resemblance 
many of these hieroglyphics bore to the letters. 

The only metallic trace throughout these heights has 
been that of iron; but as strata of quartz are known to- 
intersect the bed of granite met with in different lo- 
calities, it is possible that metallic veins of tin, copper^ 
or lead, might be foimd in some of the numerous speci- 
mens of soft granite which abound. The general belief 
which formerly existed with regard to the existence of 
gold and silver in the mountainous interior, has almost 
entirely disappeared. It was formerly supposed that 
gold was to be found at Saxicalli, on the Essequebo; 
^at copper existed in the river Cuyuni; and tliat at 


Kajtan, on the last river, silver ore had been met witib.* 
The Indians themselves afford us no ground for such 8 
conjecture; the reports of modem travellers are un- 
fiivourable to then: probable existence; and, although in 
the vicinity of re^ons formerly, if not now, abounding 
in the precious metals, as Mexico, Peru, &c., the hopes 
of the adventurous ended with the miniiig undertakings 
so zealously pursued at an early epoch of our history 
both by the Spaniards and DutcL Many substances 
have at different times been mistaken for metallic ores; 
and the unskilled traveller is often struck with the 
delusive appearance of glittering veins which traverse 
the rocky masses, whether on land or water. Many 
beautiful specimens of the earthy minerals are, however, 
met with. Crystals of quartz (rock crystals) abound in 
the mountains; in colour and transparency they vary, 
but the white translucent kind is most common. A 
fipedes examined by Hancock, crystallised into hexa- 
gonal columns, was met with by him either solitary 
or standing together, as if agglutinated; they are trans- 
parent, of a water-colour, taking a fine polish, and 
are nearly as hard as agate. So late as the year 1769 
the Governor of Essequebo (Gravesande) sent one Gerrit 
Janssen, post-holder of Arinda, up the rivers Essequebo, 
Bupununi, and Maho, to seek for the much-talked-of 
crystal mines* On this last river he met with one of the 
native tribes, the Wapisianas, who some years before 
had murdered three Dutchmen, He was questioned by 
them as to his object in coming to their neighbourhood» 
and replied that it was to barter with them, and to make 
their friendship. He was accordingly introduced to one 
of their chiefe, who received him with great gravity, 
acranginghis people around the stranger. The Dutch- 

^ In ITSt, the Dutch made an attwnpt to searoh for ailyer on the Cayimi* 
hot the little ore diaoorexed would not pi^ the eypenaei. 


man recognised some friends among them, but the 
greater nmnber were armed with bows and arrows. 
He made them a present of some gunpowder, which 
was thankfully received; and a kind of friendship having 
been established, be asked permission to continue his 
search, but was advised not to cross the river Maho, on 
account of the wicked character of the Indians there, 
who might murder him. He was told that there were 
six or seven hillocks of sand, and crystals in that neigh- 
bourhood; and the nMives offered him specimens of 
each, but would not allow him to dig in the ground 
where they were found. These hillocks or colimms were 
in a large savannah, where grass grew plentifrilly in 
some parts, and where the ground towards morning, in 
the dry weather, was covered with a kind of whitish 
powder, like hoar frost, which the Indians collected and 
used as salt. No doubt this was a kind of saltpetre 
(nitrate of potash). After a journey of about six months 
Janssen returned to the ^^post," bringing with him speci- 
mens of both crystal and saltpetre. Afterwards a mediator, 
or peace-maker (bulegger), was sent to that part of the 
country, who confirmed the statement about these crystal 
columns, and described them as about six in number. 

A species of red agate is found in some of the rivers. 
Dr. Hancock met with it in the Bio Maow. It is very 
hard, and is capable of being worked. 

A species of red rock, reputed cornelian, is found by 
the Indians at the western mountains of Parime. 

In the neighbourhood of the Roraima mountains nu- 
merous rock crystals have been foimd; they are much 
weathered from exposure, and are only met with of small 
size. The natives (the Arecunas) say that formerly much 
larger specimens were met with, but that the Portuguese 
have earned them all away. These crystal mountains 
have given rise to much conjecture on the part of tra- 


vellers. It is supposed that their existence was first 
made known to Europeans by the travels of Nicolas 
Hortsman, 1740. 

Since the above was written, gold has been discovered 
in the river Yuruari, a tributary of the river Cuyuni, and 
in the Pacaraima mountains, situate between the 4th d^. 
and 6th deg. north latitude, and 60 deg. and 60 deg. west 
longitude. This region is, I believe, beyond the defined 
limits of British Guiana, and is very diflScult of access. 
Some of the gold sent to Georgetown was of a very pure 
quality, and has been forwarded to the Industrial Exhi- 
bition of DubUn. It is found imbedded in masses of 
quartz, and will probably, at some future day, become of 
importance to the country of its discovery. 

It is here^ also, in the neighbourhood of Bondma, that 
traces are met with of extinct volcanoes. A writer in 
1811* states : " The bed of the river, in the dry season, 
discovers vast quantities of vitrified, stony, and various 
mineral substances, and appears to have been the seat of 
volcanic fires at remote periods of time. These volcanic 
products are chiefly met with among the fidls incumbent 
on beds of granite, where the soil and lighter materials 
have been washed away." 

Many of the stones, or pebbles, which though quite 
absent near the coasts and idluvial land are yet foimd in 
the interior, are of singular colour and formation, being 
remarkably smooth, and admitting of a wonderful polish; 
some of these, fix)m their colour and lustre, have been 
called diamonds — such as the Marowini pebbles — others, 
such as the cornelian, are used by the natives in forming 
articles of earthenware. In connexion with the evidences 
of a volcanic trace in the interior, travellers have been 
told that a tradition still exists among the Indians to the 
truth of that supposition; and even at the present day 

* Dr. Haooock. 


the old natdve, when expatiatmg on the wonders of the 
land which has been wrested from him, points his 
shrivelled finger to imexplored regions, where, as he 
asserts, the fire still bums. It was affirmed by an old 
writer, that a volcano in active existence was discovered 
in 1749, but others have failed to find it. SirR. Schom- 
burgk was told by the Indians of Pirara, " that on the 
south-western angle of the Sierra Pacaraima there was a 
mountain whence from time to time detonations are 
heard." Whatever may be the case in the inland districts, 
earthquakes are more or less frequent in this country; 
no injury has, however, ever resulted fix)m a severe 
" Tremblement de Terre," as the French significantly 
express it. Of late the shocks, although slight, have 
become more common, and scarcely a year elapses with- 
out some motion being experienced. 

It would be idle to attempt a description of the many 
magnificent and curious flowers abounding in the woods, 
and decorating the waters of this primitive territory. On 
the lofty mountains, and in the quiet valleys, in the fer- 
tile plains and the grassy marshes, an immense garden, 
stored with infinite variety, is presented to the observer. 
Raised and cultivated alone by nature, thousands of 
plants, the most rich and rare, spring up, blossom, and 
die. Many of them, however, have been reclaimed by 
enterprising naturalists, and have been transplanted to 
delight the senses of a refined commomity. The time 
may yet come when the foot of civilisation shall tread a 
path to these gorgeous regions, and the hand of man shall 
pluck these lovely plants firom the obscurity in which 
they are now buried. 

From these outlines some estimate may be formed of 
the natural wonders of this country. The little that has 
been seen has struck all beholders with astonishment and 
admiration. There may be monotony and sameness in 
the wonderfiil extent of its perpetual forests, where the 


^or, the deer, and troops of monkeys dwell ; but to 
tfai^ knrer of nature and of science there is nch reward. 
There may be difficulty and danger to encounter in its 
farnstretching savannahs and granite mountains, but to an 
enterprising spirit there is both interest and honour to be 
derived by gathering and recording his triumph ov^ the 
cayman and the serpent Patience and endurance may 
be required to trace its numerous streams, and their ver- 
dant banks hung with garlands of flowers to the water's 
edge, but to the poet and the naturalist they are in- 
spiring themes. Industry and perseverance are no doubt 
required by the man who desires to avail himself of the 
singularly fertile tract of alluvial land which has passed 
through so varied a course of agriculture and cultivation, 
but ample treasures await the individual who possesses 
such qualities. 




ORfonr OF wosD ^bdou*— dubs ahd oniAXBiiTS— «hk nra fbivoipak 


Having given some account of the land whose history 
we are now to trace, the ne2ct subject for consideratioii 
is, — ^Who were the races by whom it was originally popu* 
lated ? It would be an unprofitable inquiry to investi^te 
all the £EuiciM theories which have been promulgated at 
different times with r^ard to the origin and history of 
the various tribes met with in British Guiana. The 
probability is, that they had one common origin, and 
that the contrasts now existing amongst them may have 
been insensibly produced by local and accidental cir- 

• The inhabitant of this soil, before the discovery of 
America, was a stranger to the rest of mankind; he was 
hardly less isolated in an historical point of view. For 
him the voice of tradition was sQent, or incoherent. 
Upon the sur&ce of the earth there was no monument 
of man's &brication to mark the grandeur or barbarity^ 


dences of old age are soon apparent, and the bloom of 
youthibl beauty is transient and fleeting. The men pos- 
sess a strange air of independence and dignity in tlieir 
walk and bearing, which, so £bt fixsm bemg traceable to 
vanity or imitation, is perfectly natural to them. The 
Buck,* as he is here called, is unmoved by the most 
startling and novel sights. A smile or fix>wn is scarcely 
ever seen upon his tranquil countenance, which reflects 
the impenetrable apathy of his mind. Grave and austere 
as the Arab, so felicitously described by the illustrious 
Gibbon, his speech and gestures are slow and solemn. 

Like the savages of other nations, he goes about 
almost naked ; a string is passed round the waist to sus- 
tain a fold of some vegetable texture, which is slung 
across the loins. Many of the women wear a flmdfiilly- 
worked diminutive apron^ called a ^^ Queu," made either 
of beads or shells; in fact, a substitute for a fig-leaf. The 
bodies of the different tribes are marked by patches of 
paint, or tattooed streaks, which, in their own eyes, suf- 
ficiently distinguish them. They wear few ornaments : 
a necklace of some bright seed, or burnished tooth or 
shell; an earring of metal or stone; a coronet of brilliant 
feathers, gathered fi*om the beautiM plumage of the 
gaudiest birds, are almost all the appendages to their 
persons. Of late years there has been a marked advance 
in their costume, which, with the men, consists of shirt 
and trousers, and with the women, of gowns and petti- 
coats. This remark, however, applies only to those who 
have been brought within the pale of civilisation. The 
children are quite naked, and, as infants, are carried on 

* The term Buck ii probably deriyed from the Dutch word " Bok^" which was 
the appellation tued by that nation to designate the aborigmal of this land. It 
is easy to understand the slight alteration from " Bok** to ** Buck," and again as 
to the Dutch term Bok. Doctor Hostman, in his work on the ** Civilisation of 
tiia Negro Baoe in America^" page 830, says that the oAifin of the Dutch word 
"Bok" is to be Ibund in the word Lokho, which, in the Anawaks language^ 
mflans *«lfaii." 


tile hip or back. The women occopy the poeitdon of 
domestic slaves, attending to the drudgeries of house and 
field, whale the men rove about himting, fishing, or 
shooting with bows and arrows. Polygamy is more or 
less common, and depends chiefly upon tl^ wealth of 
the individual, who generally keeps as many wives as 
his circumstances enable him to support. This practice 
gives rise here, as elsewhere, to most of the evils conse- 
quent upon such an imnatural social state. 

Partaking of the same general character, there is, how- 
ever, a marked di&rence among these people as regards 
habits, language, and moral, as well as physical, qualities 
of the native tribes met with in British Guiana; five only 
are suflSdently known to merit any particular notice: — 
1st, the Arrawaks; 2nd, Accawai; 3rd, the Warrows; 
4th, the Macusis; 5th, the Carabisee. 

1st. The Arrawaks, Arawaaks, or Arowack Indians, 
in consequence of inhabiting the region of the sea- 
coasts and mouths of the rivers, became earliest known 
to the European settlers. Possessed of pleasing, affec- 
tionate, and not very warlike qualities, they mingled 
fireely with their invaders, who, disappointed in the hope 
of making them bondsmen, were not unwilling to secure 
their fiiendship and alliance. In physical conformation 
they may be taken as the type of the whole race, being 
short in stature and reddish in colour. In their manners 
the Arrawaks are perhaps less barbarous than the other 
tribes, and on that account have been much esteemed 
both by the Dutch and English. 

According to the reports of persons who have resided 
among them, the nmnerous fandhes of which this tribe is 
composed all descend in the female line, so that when a 
woman marries she continues to bear the name she 
received firom her mother, which she transmits to 
her daughters, who, as well as h^ sons, are prohi- 


bited from intermarrying with individuals of the same 

They speak of God as Wadnad (our Father), Wa- 
muretti Ewonei (our Maker), and Aiomum Eondi (the 
Dweller on High). They also believe in a wicked spirit, 
whom they designate Yauhahu. 

The Arrawaks are seldom more than five feet four 
inches in height, and are stout and plump in proportion, 
but not muscular; their necks are short, and their ankles, 
hands, and feet^ particularly those of the women, remark- 
ably small. Their features are in general diminutive, 
and the expression of the countenance has by some been 
considered melancholy and demure. They have, how- 
ever, been termed the "tiger-men," in consequence of 
the aptitude and skill they display in overcoming the 
jaguar of the forests and coasts. They possess well- 
marked imitative powers, and when instruction has been 
bestowed upon them they have not been found wanting in 
intellect. The forehead is lower than that of Europeans, 
but it has been remarked by those engaged in teaching 
them, that in the children who have been instructed* the 
forehead rises considerably with the progress of education. 
They are not in general so dark in colour as many of 
the other tribes; indeed, some of them are assertedf to 
be very fair when not exposed much to the influence of 
the Sim and atmosphere. Like most of the native tribes, 
they have characteristic marks by which they distinguish 
themselves, but none so obvious as to attract the atten- 
tion of strangers. Their number has been estimated at 
about 1500 souls, said to consist of twenty-seven families 
or castes. J They generally tattoo their bodies in pre- 
ference to dyeing them after the maimer of the Caribs, 
whose peculiarities, however, they imitate in the structure 
of their huts. 

* Benum's MUiioiiaiy Laboun • f Hancock. } Montgomery Bfartin. 


2nd. The Wacawoios, Accawais, or Accaways, ex- 
ternally resemble the Arrawaks; their skins are of a 
deeper red. They generally stain their bodies red or 
blue, according to taste. They are said to be recognised 
by a large lump of amotto (a species of red dye) stuck 
upon their hair over their foreheads, with which they 
paint themselves, partly to excite terror, and as a defence 
against the bites of insects, while the women adopt it as 
a species of ornament. This peculiarity is claimed also 
for the Carabisci Indians, whose language is allied to 
theirs, and who are marked on the forehead by the same 

The Accawais reside more inland, and generally 
occupy the upper rivers of the Demerara and Mazaruni* 
They are of a nomade, warlike nature, and wandering 
from the Orinoco to the Amazon, engage in barter or 
battle with other tribes according to circumstances. As 
their numbers are large, and their quarrelsome temper 
well known, they are disliked by the other Indians, in 
spite of their hospitable and humorous dispositions. Less 
civilised than the Arrawaks, their lives are passed in im- 
provident activity ; their more courageous tempers are un- 
happily tinged with cruelty. They are the Cossacks of the 
South, and, like them, prowl about in bands, not very 
particular as to their acts and manners. The time of 
peace is usually devoted to festivity and amusement. 

3rd. The Warrows, Warrays, or Warraus, are the 
maritime portion of the native tribes of British Guiana, 
and inhabit the sea-coast between the rivers Pomeroon 
and Orinoco. They are a short, hardy race of fishermen 
and sailors, subsisting chiefly by boat-building. They 
are not absolutely black, as has been stated by an erudite 
writer, but are of a dark, dirty red colour, and in their 
manners are bold, adventurous, and active. They are 
very improvident, and inclined to dissipation, but have 

VOL. I. F 


acquired some renown by their devemess in boat Mrchi- 
tecture. From the usefiil tunber^rees which grow in 
the forests they manu&cture canoes and corials of ocmsi- 
derable size and strength. Some of these are large 
enough to carry upwards of a hundred men, besides 
cannon. They are constructed on the best model for 
speed, elegance, and safety, without Hne or oompass, and 
without the least knowledge of hydrostatics;* they have 
neith^ joint nor seam, plug nor nail, and are an extraordi- 
nary specimen of untaught material sldlL These boats are 
frequaitly used by the Spaniards as privateering launches. 
A canoe forty feet long, six broad, and three deep in the 
centre, capable of carrying twenty-five men, besides bag- 
gage and ^^ material " for two months, was bought by Mr. 
Hillhouse for about ten pounds steding. He describes it 
as traversing falls, sailing through rdlera, and being 
hauled over rocks and sands, and capable of lasting for 
ten years without a patch, and far superior to any 
European craft for such purpoass. 

With then: skill and assiduity in this partdcolar branch 
of workmanship, they might soon acquire sufficient means 
to improve their condition; bat their improvident habits 
render such an expectation hopeless, for they spend in 
debauchery the money earned by their crafk. 

The knowledge they display in this particular species 
of handicraft naturally leads to the inquiry, who im- 
parted it to them ? How did they acquire that com- 
bination of mechanical powers indispensable to the pro- 
duction of such a proof of ingenuity as a well-built 
boat, so unlike the rude canoes of the surrounding 
tribes? It appears reasonable to suppose that they 
muyst have obtained this knowledge by admixture with 
some Old World race, of whose intercourse with them 
no trace remains. 


The Wano ws inliabit, by preference, a flat marshy land 
on the Pomeroon coast, between the two rivers above 
namedt and extending twenty or thirty miles into the 
interior. This tract of land is intersected in all directions 
by rivers and creeks. The pxincipal of which, the Mo- 
rocco, the Mora, the Guainia or Waini, and the Barima, 
fcequentlj mandate the whole territory; so that the 
inhabitants may ahnort be said to live in the water. 
^^At the western extremity of the detour of the Morocco 
is a large savaQnah, through which nms cme of those 
extraordinary canals without current, which, on a smaller 
scale, like the Cassiquiare, joins two rivers, and insulates 
the coaat lands from the liver Morocco to the Waini, 
or Guainia. These canals are called ^Etabbo,' from 
^£ta' (Mauritia), and ^ abbo,' waterKxnirse, bemg gene- 
rally found in large swamps of Mauiitias, which is the 
case in this instance ; the verge of this savannah berng 
80 exclusively surrounded by these palms that scarcely 
another kind of tree is to be recognised."* 

From these causes it may be inferred that the culture 
of the a(xi is next to impossible. The creeks abound, 
however, in a variety of fish, especially the siluri, which, 
eaten both fresh and smoked, supply the natives with 

At the heads of creeks, wh^re the land is firm and 
dry, a few ground provisions are grown, and these, with 
the usefiJ Mauritia palm, frimish sufficient subsistence. 
This invaluable tree grows in clusters, and almost every 
part is used. The leaf serves to thatch the huts, 
raised on a platform just above the level of the water, 
which in these regions is three feet above the earth for 
three-fourths of the year. Starch is procured from the 
pith of the interior of the tree, and a kind of paste or 

* WamwLudofBcitiihQiiiana. HiinimMa. 



bread is manufactured from other parts. A beetle bur- 
rows in the green part of the trunk, and is considered 
a great delicacy. The branches of the trees serve to 
construct the dwelling-houses, which last for a very long 
period. It has been observed with regard to these 
singular people, that they have a peculiar broad or 
spread foot (duck's foot, as it has been termed), which 
eiiables them to traverse with some degree of ease the 
muddy shores and marshes they inhabit. In these and 
other respects they bear a close resemblance to the 
littoral or coast tribes of the Maranon, a dirty, indolent, 
and apathetic race. 

4th. The Macousi, Macusi, Macoushi, or Macoosi In- 
dians, occupy the open savannahs of the Bupummi, 
Barima, and the moimtain chains Pacaraima and Cahuku, 
and may be estimated at about 2000 in number.* They 
have been described as inoffensive, hospitable, industri- 
ous and provident ; but capable of defending themselves 
against the more martial Accawais and Caiibs. Mr. 
Hillhouse considers them timid, taciturn, and obedient; 
but deficient in stature and strength. The Macousi 
Indian has the. credit, if any, of preparing the famous 
Wourali poison when a supply happens to be required. 
The Macousi seeks the various ingredients of which 
this poison is composed in the depths of the forests. 
The principal is the Wourali vine, which grows wild; 
having procured a sufficient quantity of this, he next 
seeks a bitter root, and one or two bulbous plants which 
contain a green and glutinous juice. These being all 
tied together, he searches for two species of venomous 
ants; one large and black, the "muneery,"f about an 
inch long, and found in nests near to aromatic shrubs ; 
the other a small red one, foimd under the leaves of 

* Beman's Missioniiy Labours. 

t The ating of the <*muneei7" is rety lerere, and oooaibiis ferer. 


''?r.miB3'. VO*; 


several kinds of shrubs. Providing himself now with 
some strong Indian pepper, and the pounded fangs of 
the "labani" and " conna-couchi" snakes, the manu* 
facturer of poison proceeds to his deadly task in the 
following manner: 

" He scrapes the Wourali vine and bitter root into thin 
shavings, and puts them into a kind of colander made of 
leaves; this he holds over an earthen pot, and pours 
water on the shavings ; the liquor which comes through 
has the appearance of coflfee. When a sufficient quantity 
has been procured, the shavings are thrown aside. He 
then bruises the bulbous stalks, and squeezes a proper- 
tionate quantity of their juice through his hands into the 
pot Lastly, the snakes* fangs, ants, and pepper are 
bruised, and thrown into it. It is placed then on a slow 
fire, and as it boils, more of the juice of the Wourali is 
added, according as it may be foujid necessary, and the 
scum is taken off with a leaf; it remains on the fire till 
reduced to a thick syrup, of a deep brown colour. As 
soon as it has arrived at this state, a few arrows are 
poisoned with it, to try its strength."* 

Females are excluded during its manufacture, andi 
there are certain forms which are ri^dly adhered to in 
the process. 

The Indians themselves consider it a banefiil task, and 
are not very communicative on the subject, so that after 
all it is possible that the preparation of this deadly poison, 
has never been thoroughly investigated. 

It has been stated by Montgomery Martin that the Ac-- 
cawais manufacture the Wourali poison, but I believe this^ 
to be incorrect; it is well known, however, that almost 
all the tribes are acqusunted with the use of it^ and it is 

* Walerton'i Wanderingi, p. 51. 


frequently bronght to town for sale by the Arrawafcs and 
others. Wei^oos charged with it are also sold, but it is 
cooDOLmonly believed that the most powerful preparations 
of the poison are rarely suffered to leave the localitiea 
where they are distilled. The Macousis have been 
described as ^^ residing in the deep recesses of the forests 
of the interior/' and as implacable in their revenge ; " pro- 
baUy," adds the same authority, ^^ they are the aborigines 
of the country, and flying before more civilised tribes, 
as we find to be the case in every part of the eastern 

To test the strength of the poison on their arrows 
ihey wound trees, and if the leaves £edl off or die within 
three days, they consider the poison as sufficiently viru- 
lait, but not otherwise. 

The Macousis are at present the most numerous of the 
tribes in British Guiana, but are supposed to have resided 
frimerly on the banks of the Orinoca 

5th. The Carabisce, Carabeesi, Charaibes, Caiibs, or 
Galibis, originally occupied the principal rivers, but as 
the Dutch encroached upon their possessions they retired 
inland, and are now daily dwindling away. 

According to Mr. Hillhouse, they could formedy 
muster nearly 1000 fighting men, but are now scarcely 
able to raise a tenth part of that number. They have 
been described by other writers as brave, credulous, 
proud, and obstinate. PtobaUy their pride may be 
traced to a tradition which prevails amongst them of 
tiieir having once occupied liie Caribbean IslandB^ and 
which is in some degree supported by the &ct that 
I3i0 names of many rivers, points, and islands, both 
in Trinidad and the Leeward Islands, are decidedly 

* Montgomery Martin. f lUd. 


They are of a bright copper colour, and are desig- 
nated by a patch of amotto on their foreheads. With 
this dye they also stain their bodies and legs. Their 
language is allied to that of the Accawai, but they are 
of a bolder and more independent character. They build 
their houses in a manner different from that of the other 
tribes, making them long and round at the top. They 
dwell in preference in the open lands; and though war« 
like, they are fond of coltivating land^ and disposed to 

They are well inclined to strangers, but require to 
be treated with some ceremonious consideratbiL Their 
friendship has been represented to be as warm as their 
enmity is dangerous. The CSharaibes of Gruiana still 
£3ndly cherish the tradition of RaleigVs alliance; and, 
according to Bancroft, ^^ to this day preserve the English 
colours which he Idt with them at parting.*'* 

The smaller islands of the Caribbean Sea were formerly 
thickly populated by this tribe, but now not a trace of 
them remains. They were considered by Colimibus as 
cannibals; and it is believed by many that, being of a 
restless, adventurous spirit, they gradually became pos- 
sessed of the group of the small i^ands, destroying the 
original male inhabitants and i^aring the women. This 
argument derives strength from the statement that the 
former islanders spoke two languages; the men the true 
Caiib dialect, and the women the language peculiar to 
their race, and to that of the inhabitants of the large 
islands of Jamaica and Hispaniola, which the Caribs 
never reached. 

The Carib calk himself Banares; literally, a man 
coming from beyond the 8ea.t 

The Caribs were once, undoubtedly, the lords of the 

* Buicroft'i Qniana, 1769. f LilMti. 


soil.* It has been asserted by Rochefort, however, who 
published an account of the Antilles, in 1658, that the 
'^ Charaibes," as he calls them, were originally a nation 
of Florida, in North America. He supposes that " a 
colony of Apalachian Indians, having been driven from 
that continent, arrived at the Windward Islands, and ex- 
terminating the native male inhabitants, took possession 
of their lands and women." Of the larger islands, he 
presumes '^ that the natural strength, extent, and popula-* 
tion, affording security to the natives, these happily 
escaped the destruction which overtook their unfortu- 
nate neighbours; and thus arose the distinction ob- 
servable between the inhabitants of the larger and 
smaller islands." To this supposition, Bryan Edwards, 
in his "History of the West Indies," opposes several 
arguments, the principal of which proves the existence 
of numerous and powerful tribes of Charaibes on the 
southern peninsula, extending from the river Orinoco 
to Essequebo, and throughout the whole province of 
Surinam even to Brazil; moreover, the language of the 
Charaibes, or Caribbees, was also that of some of the 
West India islands ; and Rochefort himself admits that 
the tradition of the islanders referred constantly to 
Guiana. So that it may be &irly concluded that the 
inhabitants of the Caribbean Isles were only the de- 
scendants of the original Charaibes of South America, 
and differing altogether from the aborigines of the larger 
West India Islands, such as Hispaniola, Jamaica, md 

But where did the continental Charaibes themselves 
originally come from? There are many writers who 
ascribe to them an Oriental source from across the At- 

* A tradition formerlj existed among some of the Indian tribes, that black 
men had been known to inhabit the mountainous interior. A similar tradition 
is reported among the South Sea Isbinders. 


This is supposed to have occurred in the following 
manner by Bryan Edwards,* who argues the point at con- 
siderable length. He conceives it possible that in ancient 
times vessels from the east, whilst cruising about, or ex* 
ploring the coast of Africa, might have been driven out 
to sea, and, fidling in with the trade winds, have been 
guided to the eastern shores of South America; but there 
is no proof to support this opinion, and it is opposed to 
the belief of Dr. Robertson,f who observes " that such 
events are barely possible, and may have happened, but 
that they ever did happen we have no evidence, either 
Scorn the dear testimony of history or the obscure inti- 
mations of tradition/' The probability of an eastern 
origin is strengthened, however, by the assertion of a dis- 
tinguished scientific writer,^ who, although classing the 
Caribi, Galibi, or Caribbees as the aborigines of the 
countries bordering on the Gulf of Mexico, and giving 
the following description of them by D'Orbigny, " com- 
plexion yellowish, stature middle, forehead not so much 
arched as in other cases, eyes obliquely placed, and 
raised at the outer angle," yet observes himself: " These 
traits, which belong to the great nomadic races of South 
America, approximate to those of the nomades of High 
Asia. The complexion is nearly the same, for these na- 
tions do not generally belong to the red men of the New 
World; the fece is round, the nose short, but the nostrils 
are not so wide or patulous, nor do the cheek bones pro- 
ject so much as in the Asiatic races. Von Spix and 
Martins thought the Caribs strikingly similar to the 
Chinese and other Oriental tribes." 

Many travellers have also made the same remark. 
Thus a wanderer in many lands writes to this effect: 
" They (that is, the Bucks, or Caribs) resemble the 

•SeeHistocyoftlieWeftlDdiei. f Histoiyof Americt. 

t Fritchud'i Hirtofjr of MaD, p. 4«5. 



Asiatics in more points than uy people I eveat saw; so 
much so that I leaUy thon^t myself once more in 
Ceylon as I looked upon them here, and as I had seen 
them in their visits to town and the different estates on 
which I had been*"* 

It is also certainly true that many wwds used in the 
Caiib language resemble in sound and meaning those in 
the Oriental dialects, as the following list will i^ow : 


Heaning in Prenoh, 

Similar Words in 



Ba xeuuike 




Ilia femme 






Come hither 




Walled houie 








ICy necklace 

Hue hue 








Je Buis malade 




Sols le bieu yenu 


Good welcome to you 





Toabana Tra 

Couverture d*une mauou 

Di bue our 

Roof of a houae 

Bavon boukaa 



Go Hit way 







To est 




Qire me drink 

Natoni boman 

Donnez moi I boire 

Natoni bamen 

The Caribs inhabit chiefly the Lower Mazaruni and 
CiTTuni; a few are found at the Corentyn, the Bupununi, 
and the Guidaru rivers. IndependenUy of the analogy 
arismg fix)m language and appearance, many of their 
habits and customs closely resemble those of the east; 
such as their mode of burial, the painting of their bodies, 
their conduct at births and funerals, &c. Polj^gamy, 
also, is allowed to, and practised by, those who can 
afford it. 

Some Indian tribes regard certain animals and birds 
as undean, or imlawful to be eaten; su(^ as the larger 
fish, the domestic hog, the cow, Sec 

* Life of Alexander. Jf, as teems probable, the natires of South America are 
referable to an eastern eiigin, I know of no better theory of tiielr emigration 
tiian that suggested by BotatMB in hit ** Hi0tovy of America." 


They eat parcked com, like the Egyptians. 

The roo& of the huts of some tribes are pointed like 
those of eastern iiatk>ns. 

A brother of a deceased Indian is expected to take 
the widow to wife, xmless he himself is othi^rwise pro- 
vided fcft. Moreover, as already noticed, the ^ picture- 
painting/' as observed by travellers in the intaior, bean 
a marked resemblance in character to that of the Hebrew, 
Syrian^ and Chaldean languages. 

I have confined this enumeration of the tribes now 
inhabitating British Guiana, to the principal and well- 
known castes in the nedghbourhood of Creoorg^iown; but 
I should observe, that early writers have transmitted to us 
elaborate descriptions of numerous other tribes that are 
now almost unknown.* When we come to consider 
their names and numbers, we are forced to conclude 
either that this part of the world was formerly much 
more important and thickly populated than it is at pre- 
sent; or to suppose that the varieties thus spoken o^ 
instead of representing any positive differences, consiated 
m^^y of divisions and snbdivisionB of tribes and fietmilies, 
who, settling, for the most part, on the b<Hxler8 of some 
large stream, or in the vicinity of some mountainous 
heiglit, deived firom that particular locality the names 
and usages by which they were severally disriugiiiflhed. 

Howler this may be, it is certain that their number 
is now constantly diminishing. In the first ages of dis- 
covery they were treated as slaves by the Europeans 
who emigrated to their soil — no longer permitted to cul- 
tivate their scanty provision grounds, or to pursue theic 
primitive occupations as huntsmen and fidiermen^ and 
compelled to work at unaccustomed laboiUB for the 
benefit of thehr conquen^s. But this system recoiled 

* Sir Walter Baleigh has a long list of the different tribes he met wit^ Set 
aoconnt of Second Vo jage, HakluTf f, toL iiL 



upon its authors^ and under the steady colonisation of 
the Dutch it became a law of the land that no Bok, or 
Bokken, as these people were called, should be treated 
as slaves. 

The following account of the names and number of 
minor native tribes formerly inhabiting Guiana, is ga» 
thered from different writers on the subject : 

The Tavias were tribes who lived near the coasts and 
rivers, and were about 10,000 or 15,000 in number. 

The Itouranes was the name given to an inland 
people, whose habits and numbers were unknown. 

The Guajanas were a small tribe, who inhabited the 
Carony river, or its neighbourhood. 

The Mapoyas inhabited the neighbourhood of the 
Orinoco as well as the Quirrubas, who lived to the south 
of that river. 

The Andagues and Abavas lived chiefly to the north 
of the river Orinoco. 

The Caberes, Achaguas, and Salivas, resided on the 
rivers Guabiares and Bichada. 

The Chiricoas and Guajivas dwelt near the river Meta. 

The Saruras were established between the rivers Meta 
and Sinaruco. 

The Otkomacquen (a bearded race) and Paos lived 
between Sinaruco and ApurL 

The Guianos were also a bearded race like the last. 

In French Guiana, the Gralibes from Cayenne to the 
Amazon, the Coussari and the Maraones were found. 

The Palicouris were marked by black streaks from ear 
to ear. 

The Aromayous and the Noragues lived also near 
these rivers. 

The Pirions, Nacouanis, Maurianse, Tocayennes, Tar- 
cupes, Cousanis, Armagoutous, Maprouanis, lived near 
the river Oyapoko. 


The Akoguovas lived near the river Camopi; they 
had holes in their cheeks, and were adorned with fea- 

The Mayets, Maracoupes, Mayhas, Eanararious, and 
Arikozets, Makapus, Oyampis, Ayauainques, Caicou- 
cianesy and Maikichouons, were inland races. 

The AronakaaneSy Conmaoiis, Maykianes, Amaddous, 
OaroubaSy Amenayous, Apiaoues, Akouchiens, and Ta- 
pouyranas, the Baricours, Maroupis, Manaus, Certanes, 
Arouhayous, Calipoures, Sahaques, Anchious, Ayes, 
Parahouaries, Cayars, were other tribes but little known* 

The Zaparas sprang from an intermarriage of the 
Macusis and Arecunas ; they have been represented as 
an ugly race, resembling the Macusis. They inhabited 
the bsmks of the Barima, and the mountains Tupae Eng 
and Warkamany, and were about 300 in number. 

The Guinau have been said to live in a savage state of 
perfect nudity, and dwelling on tributaries of the river 
Parisna. They saluted each other on the rising and 
setting of the sun. 

The Maiougking were allied to the Guinau Indians as 
to^ habits and mode of life. 

The Eirishanas inhabited the mountains between the 
rivers Orinoco and Ocamo, and are represented as being 
very savage and cruel tribes, living in a state of perfect 

The Acosi, Awake, Wapishiana, Altorias, Tarumas, 
Wiebec, Prianas, Camuuna, Arecunas, and Oewakees, 
are also the names of several other tribes which have 
been met with by late travellers. But there is little 
certainty to be placed either on the names or existence 
of these various races. 

The knowledge we possess of their several languages 
is too scanty, and our intercourse with them too limited, 


to admit of anything like a satifi&ctofy aooount of the 
numerons dwellers on this vast tract of oounfiry. 

The number of Indians who occupy the territories 
of British Guiaiia has been estimated at about 7000 
by some, while others have computed them at from 
15,000 to 20,000, indudi^ those from the miaritime 
distncts and those extending as fiu: south as the river 

Theae tribes are distributed ov» different parts of the 
country, according to chance or capdce. They appear 
to have no definite or distinct Widmarks as respects ter- 
ritory; but nevertheless, among the most savage of the 
Indians, th^:e is a feeling of delicacy, or an implied un- 
derstanding which prevents them &Gm trespassing on 
lands ordinarily occupied by others. There are striking 
variances amongst them in jdiysicBl configuration, char 
racta:, habits, and language. With reiqpect to the latter, 
the differences are strongly marked 

The Indisa of one tribe rarely understands the dialect 
of another, and although sometimes separated by only a 
few leagues, they are unable when they meet to conunu- 
nicate with eadh other by conversation. Y^ little 
accurate in£3rmation has been obtained concerning their 
languagea Whaiever an attempt has been made by 
travellers and missionaries to investigate these dialects, 
it has only led to a confusion that has darkened the in- 
quiry. Thus when the Lord's Prayer was translated into 
:bhe Arrawak by three or four different gentl^ooien, no one 
who compared the translations ^ven by the Bev. Mr. 
Bemau and Brett, and Mr. Hillhouse, could believe that 
they were intended to ^ve expression to the same sub- 
ject. A reference to a table or vocabulary of words 
fiimished by Mr. Hillhouse,* and to his version of the 

* lacBan KotioQi. 


Loxd's Frayeiv aooompanied by that gLven by the Rev. 
Mr. Benia%* iviuGh I have inserted in the Appendix, 
will sufficiently explain the difficulty of obtaining correct 
jnfonnatiaa xelative to the laogoages of the Indians. 

The natives are at present sufficiently pacific in their 
characters or habits, whatever mig^ have been their 
pracdces or tendencies in former times. They have been 
accused of cowardice, but it is notorious that when 
quarrels or wars arise, the passions of the native are 
roused to the highest pitchy and human life is held of 
little account In such extremities they become perfectly 
reckless of danger, and indifferent to death; no mercy 
or quarter is either sought or expected. It is in fact 
war to the death, and terrible are the incidents which 
might be selected in illustratioii of these tragical scenes. 
Their warlike weapons, and instruments for the chase 
and fishing, are ingenious and substantial The toma- 
hawk, or war dub, is fashioned into vanous forms, gene- 
rally dub-shaped, but with sharp angles, and truncated 
at the extremij^. Bows and arrows of several sizes and 
shapes are manufisKStured, and the latter are pointed with 
fish bones, stone, or iron, and frequaidy steeped in the 
deadly Wourali poison* 

One kind of arrow, called wiawakaei, is used for 
shooting £fih and labba ; another kind, called sarapa, for 
fish only ; while a third, called assetaha, is employed in 
the havoc of birds. The bows are generally made of 
washeba, or letter wood. A kind of shield, called haha, 
is used in martial ex^xdaes and games. The labba is 
also destroyed by a spedes of arrow, termed attum. A 
kind of harpoon, called natta, or arrow, made of the 
mid-rib of the leaf of the ita palm, is sometimes used to 
spear fish, whidi are also sometimes caught in a trap, 
nam^d masua. A blowpipe with small arrows is fire- 

^ ynmikmnj Laboaw in BriUrfi Ouimmu 


quently employed in hunting. They also manu&cture 
anklets of seed, teeth, and other substances, as well as 
head-dresses, or cftps, called garracoom, made of wicker- 
work and feathers; likewise necklaces, fans, rings, baskets, 
nets, mats, and other articles. 

Rude drums, flutes, harps (tarunba), and whips, named 
macquari, made of the tibisiri, or threads of spire of the 
ita palm, are made by them, and used in the war or 
fimeral dances occasionally indulged in. 

The games or sports of the Indians are few, frivolous, 
and not very decorous. They are so dull and uninterest^ 
ing as to 3rield little amusement, and even the children 
have hardly any pleasure in them. Life is either too 
serious, or too trivial, to be relieved of its monotony and 
dreariness by such puerile resources. 

The domestic habits and qualities of some of these 
Indian tribes are not a little curious. 

Chastity is not considered an indispensable virtue 
amongst the unmarried women, but when once affianced, 
they are singularly faithful and constant Indeed^ the 
fearful vengeance inflicted in the rare cases of infidelity 
that occur amongst them, tends greatly to preserve un- 
tarnished the honour of the Indian dames. They are 
by no means an immoral race, in spite of the barbarism 
of their daily life. If an Indian, by good luck, or good 
management, obtains possession of several wives, the 
oldest is not discarded or neglected, but on the contrary, 
exercises supreme authority over the younger females of 
the household, and occasionally over the gentleman him- 
self, who pays great respect to his ancient squaw, or first 
love. She acts as a sort of house or hut-keeper to the 
rest, and cooks their simple meals. It would not, there- 
fore, be difficult for her to poison any one of the family 
who might offend her. 

Parturition is attended with few inconveniences to the 


female Indian ; as soon as the child is bom, it is not an 
uncommon thing to see the mother proceed to a neigh- 
bouring streanii where she performs the necessary ablu- 
tions for herself and infant. There is little in the way 
of dress to give her much trouble, nor does the occur- 
rence occasion any interruption to her usual duties. The 
husband, however, is not let off so easily; the etiquette 
of savage life requires that he should take to his ham- 
mock for several days, where, with solemn countenance, 
and an appearance of suffering, he receives the visits of 
his acquaintances, who either condole or rejoice with 
him, as the case may be. 

The mode of life of these people is simple and primi- 
tive. Every tribe has its ovm hunting-ground ; each 
family its own plantation, consisting of a spot of land, 
cleared of tall trees, and cultivated with provisions, such 
as cassada, tanias, and corn. Each family possesses 
within itself the few utensils necessary for cooking and 
eating, such as rude earthenware vessels of various 
shapes and sizes, which are supposed by some people to 
bear resemblance to the Etruscan vases in form. How 
admirably are their simple wants supplied by the multi- 
plied ingenuity of Nature 1 for where the intelligence of 
man is inferior, and his civilisation undeveloped, she 
seems to compensate for these defects by the greater 
vigour of her own productions. How congenial such a 
climate to their modes of life, and to their tastes. Track- 
ing the silent forests in quest of game, or floating along 
the prolific streams, they become masters of all they see. 
Unrivalled in dexterity and cunning, they can steal 
unheard upon the imwary bird, or transfix with the 
barbed arrow the unsuspecting fish as it basks near the 
sur&ce of the stream. The food of the Indian consists 
of fish, birds, and many of the smaller animals, which to 
European palates would not be very acceptable. The 

VOL. I. o 


Staff of life with him is the dried loot of the c»Ba7a, of 
which there are two kinds, the bitter and the sweet 
They are both eaten, and when ground, can be made 
into an excellent kind of cake or bread ; other roots are 
also eaten, and the succulent and other fruits of the forest 
furnish a rich dessert. Their drink is water, except upon 
feast days, or occasions of rejoicing, when a fermented 
liquor, called paiwori, or piwarri, is used as an intoxi- 
cating beverage, its remarkable diuretic properties alone 
preserving them from the baneful effects of the fearfiil 
potations in which they indulge. They have also another 
intoxicating beverage, called cassiri. The paiwori is 
made of a fermented decoction of the cassava bread, 
large lumps of which are chewed by the women, to 
increase the fermentation.* It is like malt Hquor in 
taste and appearance. The hand of civilised man has 
oflSered to them other intoxicating drinks, which need 
not be enlarged upon in this place. Scattered about in 
various parts of the country, their habitations were, and 
still are, merely rude huts, raised upon poles or branches, 
and trunks of trees, and thatched in by the leaves of the 
troolie and other palms. When it is stated that some of 
the leaves of the troolie-tree are nearly thirty feet long, 
and three broad, it is easy to understand that a sub- 
stantial covering can thus be made. The Warrows, or 
race of fishermen, use chiefly the mauritia or eta palm in 
the construction of their abodes, which are generally 
raised on the cut stem of these trees over the water, and 
covered in by these beautiful and useful leaves. 

It was in allusion to this race that the learned traveller 
Humboldt fell into the error of describing them as living 
" suspended from the tops of trees ;" and the scientific 
Dr. Prichard, who calls the Warrows ^ Guarannas," says 

* It has been xemarked, that the diewing of the bread fixr this puxpoae occa- 
sions in the women occasioiially a Idnd of sciirTjr. 


^ tbej inhabit the two islands in the delta of the Orinoco, 
where they build their houses upon trees." The same 
author, al^ in confirmation of the view that the Carib- 
bees are the true aborigines of the land of Guiana, says 
that ^^ the lesser Antilles received from this nation the 
name of Caribbean Islands." In former times there ap^ 
pears to have been great enmity existing between the 
Caribbees and Arrawaks, and the charge of cannibalism 
has been laid at the door of these benighted savages, 
especially the Caribs. We believe that very few would 
now deny that such a practice has existed, but either the 
bitter feuds have, passed away which gave rise to such a 
revolting usage, or the mind of the Indian has insensibly 
imdergone an alteration. It is very true that some of the 
fiercer passions still rage unchecked in his unchristianised 
heart. A slight to an Indian is rarely allowed to pass 
without retaliation; and even among themselves the 
death of a relation or Mend by another party is always 
sure to be followed by the darkest revenge.* The 
victim may long escape ; he may contrive to put oflF the 
evil hour, but an insatiate pursuer is always on his track. 
Even in cases of ordinary death, suspicion sometimes falls 
upon some unfortunate individual, especially if, after ap- 
pHcation to a Pe-i-man, or Piai-man, or conjuror, a mur- 
derer is suspected. In order to ascertain by whom the 
supposed deed was done, the following account is given 
by a late interesting writer rf — " A pot is filled with cer- 
tain leaves, and placed over a fire ; when it b^ins to 
boil over, they consider that on which side the scum falls 
first, it points out the quarter fix)m whence the murderer 
came. A consultation is therefore held, and the place is 
pointed out, and the individual whose death is to atone 

* In thif and msiy ottier leepecte tbegr letemUe the Arabs, as deacribed I7 
the hiBtorian Gibbon, 
t Bcnuw, MMonaary Laboca. 



for that of the deceased. If he cannot be found, although 
he will be sought for years, any other member of his 
family will suflSce. One of the nearest relations is charged 
with the execution of the direful deed. The * canayi,' or 
the avenger of blood, forthwith puts on a curiously- 
wrought cap, takes up his weapons, and pursues his path 
in search of his victim. From the time of his leaving 
until his return home he is to abstain from meat, and 
lives upon what the forest supplies ; nor is he allowed to 
speak with any he may meet on his road. Having made 
his way to the devoted place, and finding his victim 
there, he will lurk about for days and weeks till a fa- 
vourable opportunity shall offer to perpetrate his revenge. 
If the victim pointed out be a man, he will shoot him 
through the back ; and if he happens to fall dead to the 
ground, drag the corpse aside, and bury it in a shallow 
grave. The third night he goes to the grave, and presses 
a pointed stick through the corpse. If on withdrawing 
the stick he finds blood on the end of it, he tastes the 
blood in order to ward off any evil effects that might 
follow from the murder, returning home appeased, and 
apparently at ease. But if it happens that the wounded 
individual is able to return to his home, he charges his 
relations to bury him, after his death, in some place 
where he cannot be found, and having done so, he ex- 
pires, not without great pains and fearfiil imprecations. 
The reason why the avenger of blood attacks his victim 
fix)m behind is evident from the circumstance that the 
Indian is always found armed, at least with a knife. And 
again, the reason why the victim desires to be biuied 
where he cannot be found, is to punish the murderer for 
his deed, inasmuch as the belief prevails that if he tastes 
not of the blood he must perish by madness. If a woman 
or child be the victim, their death is brought to pass in 
a different way. The individual is thrown down on the 


ground, the mouth forced open, and the fangs of a 
venomous serpent driven through the tongue. Before 
the poor creature can reach home, the tongue becomes 
inflamed and swollen, and she is unable to tell who did 
the deed, and death is sure to follow." As the foregoing 
passage illustrates many of the qualities of the Indian — 
viz., his vindictiveness, superstition, patience, endurance, 
and cunning, I may perhaps be excused for having 
quoted it at such length. Their disposition is otherwise 
kind, tolerant, and hospitable, and they look for a similar 
return on the part of those to whom they extend friendly 
oflices. There is very Uttle distinction among them as 
to rank, or wealth, or honour. They seem to have inte- 
rests in common, and each tribe, to its minor subdivi- 
sions, may be regarded in the light of a petty republic. 
A chief, or captain, presides over each such division, and 
he generally has to acquire this position by some trying 
ordeal or pre-eminent quality.* In no way diflFering 
from his adherents, either in mode of life or in the ap- 
pearance of authority, he yet exercises a tacit control 
over them. He settles their quarrels, directs their move- 
ments in hunting, fishing, and roving, and acts more as^ 
the fether of a family than the chieftain of a race. They- 
have made but trifling advance in any of the arts. 

Beyond building their rude huts, and making their 
canoes (at which craft the Warrows are far superior to 
the others), and preparing a few vessels of earthenware, 
some neat baskets from the beautiful reeds of the interior, 
and their own cots, or hammocks, from different kinds of 
grasses, they seem to have lacked the necessity, or the 
ability, to improve. Their bows and arrows, in spite of 
the praise that has been bestowed on them, are after all 
but rudely fashioned. Their knowledge, if any, of work- 

* In some tribes both males and females are snlijected to some kind of phyiioal 
torture before they can be considered admissible to associate with adults. 


ing the metal has been turned to very little uae; a 
sharpened stone, or pointed fish-bone, are the only o<> 
casional attempts to make their weapons formidable, if 
we except the deadly Wourali poison, or the massive 
tomahawk, or dub which in cases of danger is employed 
in th^ defence. True to the spirit of nomades, they 
have raised no cities, nor restricted themselves to any 
particular spot or dwelling. Their warfiare requires no 
walls, their barter no chamber of commerce, their science 
no lecture-room, their religion no temple. Their field of 
battle is the mountain and the forest ; their traffic is with 
the inhabitants of the air, the river, and the soil. Their 
science is exhibited alone in their instinct; their worship 
is nature. Their system of agriculture is simple, and 
always remains the same. Their amusements are dancing, 
drinking, and hunting; they have no games. Their 
rites of baptism, marriage, burial, present no imposing 
ceremony. The child is named by the piai-man, or con- 
jurer, who in darkness utters a few incantations, for 
which he is paid. Their marriage is sanctioned neith^ 
by form nor contract. The yoimg Indian selects^ or has 
selected for him, a youthful maiden, who with implicit 
&ithfiilnes8 and simplicity regards him as a protector and 
companion; as in olden times, it sometimes happens that 
he has to win his bride by a short period of servitude. 
Some tribes, especially the Warrows, place the corpses 
of distinguished individuals in a canoe, surrounded with 
almost all their worldly possessions, even, sometimes, to 
their very dogs. Lamentations and fimeral fires ensue; 
and the widow and children are passed over to the 
brother or next male relative. And so the drama of li& 

The Caribs sometimes collect the bones of those they 
esteem, and have them cleansed, painted, and preserved, 
or reduced to ashes. 


Their religion partakes of the character of their habits 
It is fanciful and ideal. They believe in the immortality 
of the soul. Conscious of a Creator, they feel so incapa- 
ble of appreciating his existence, that beyond wonder and 
awe at the sublime phenomena of nature in the thimder- 
storm and gale of wind, they exhibit no desire to obtain 
a nearer knowledge of Him; but make themselves fami- 
liar with spirits or inferior deities, to whom they attri- 
bute the immediate gccurrences of daily life, whether of 
good or evil. To such spirits they never offer worship; 
although it is stated by a writer on one of the West 
Indian Islands, that idols have been discovered buried in 
the ground.* Certain men from each tribe assume to 
themselves offices similar to that of priests in more 
civilised countries. They are called Pe-i-men, and act 
as conjurers, soothsayers, physicians, judges, and priests, 
thus imiting all the professions in their vicarious persons. 
They are looked up to with some reverence, and by their 
mysterious conduct and cunning intelligence, manage to 
make it a life of some profit to themselves. It would be 
useless and unprofitable to enter further upon the details 
of such a creed — ^if creed it may be called — the chief 
articles of which are a dim belief in an universal &ther, 
whom they called Tamousi, or according to others, 
Maconaima, and a confident but shapeless faith in a 
future state. 

* Hughes' History of Barbadocs. 




The precise time when the shores of Guiana were 
first visited cannot be fixed with certainty ; but there is 
no doubt that they were known at a very early period. 
The spirit of inquiry had been roused to an incredible 
degree among European nations by the discoveries of 
Columbus, who explored an ocean then almost unknown, 
and, believing firmly in the existence of other continents, 
lived to prove the fact to the incredulous and astonished 
inhabitants of the Old World. His example was rapidly 
followed, and adventurers fix)m all parts of the world set 


sail in the excitement, and in the hope of adding to the 
list of discoverers. 

The broad Atlantic, so long a wonder to the inquisitive 
spirit of man, became, in the fifteenth century, a scene of 
action to the enterprising. The favouring gales which 
swept the barks over the waters could not but guide 
some to the prominent eastern boundaries of the South 
American continent. Conspicuous in this region were 
found Guiana and its rude inhabitants. A number of 
marvellous stories are related in the chronicles of these 
early expeditions, the bulk of which are entitled to 
no more credit than the legends of the Pantheon. 
Amongst them we may at once dismiss as a pure fable 
the reputed discovery of the American continent by the 
crew of a vessel accidentally driven by an easterly wind 
to a continent hitherto unknown, who returned, after 
great distress and difficulty, and who all died shortly 
afl;er their arrival in Europe, without disclosing to any 
one, save Columbus, the accoimt of their voyage.* 

Contrary to the opinions generally entertained on this 
subject, it would appear that the discovery of America 
dates from a period anterior to that of Columbus. The 
learned Humboldt, in his chapter on oceanic discoveries, 
assigns the credit of the discovery of America — at least, 
in its northern portions — to the Northmen of Europe. 
It occurred in the following manner: — Towards the close 
of the ninth century, Naddod was driven by storms to 
Iceland, while attempting to reach the Faroe Islands, 
which had been already visited by the Irish. The first 
settlement of the Northmen was made in 875 by Ingolf. 
The colonisation of Iceland, which Naddod first called 
Snowland (Snjoland), was carried through Greenland, in 
a south-western direction, to the new continent. In 086 

* Robertson's Histoiy of Amcvica, toL tL p. 336. 


parts of America were seen by Bjame Heijulfsson^ in a 
voyage from Greenland to the southward, but no at- 
tempt at landing was made by him. In the year 1000, 
the continent of North America waa disco vered^ by Leif, 
the son of Eric the Bed. He first saw the land at the 
Island of Nantucket, 1 deg. south of Boston; then in 
Nova Scotia, and lastly in Newfoundland. But the hisr 
torical accounts of the intercourse maintained between 
the settlers in the extreme north of Europe, such aa 
Greenland and Iceland, with the continent of North 
America, do not extend beyond the fourteenth century, 
so that the merit of opening this immense continent to 
the knowledge of Europe, in 1^2, really belongs to 
Columbus, who, unlike the previous discoverers, was not 
driven thither by storms, but was led to it by his convic- 
tion that the eastern territories of the world were to be 
reached in that direction. Indeed, both Columbus and 
Amerigo Vespuoei died in the belief that they had merely 
touched on portions of eastern Asia. It was on the 12th 
October, 1492, that Columbus first discovered the land 
of GuanahanL 

According to the (Germans, it would seem that Martin 
Behaim was one of the discoverers of the New World. 
He was of the noble family of the Behaims of Nurem- 
' berg, and studied under the celebrated Begiomontanus, 
and proceeding to Lisbon, under the patronage of the 
Duchess of Burgundy, where he became renowned for 
his nautical knowledge, he formed the acquaintanceship 
of Columbus. In 1483, in conjunction with Diego Cano, 
he commanded a squadron fitted out for discovery, and 
is said to have discovered the kingdom of Congo. He 
settled in the island of Fayal, one of the Azores, and 
drew a map, which is still preserved in Nuremberg. In 
a copy of this map, as published by Doppilmayer, in 


which hardly one place is laid down in its trae situation, 
he delineated an idand, which he called St. Brandon, and 
which it has been imagined was some part of Gmanar 
But as it is placed in the same latitude with the Cape de 
Verd Isles, the whole ^;or7 is rendered absurd. Neitha 
are the pretensions of the Welsh, nor of the Norw^ians, 
por indeed of other nations, worthy of any notice, as 
contending for the honour of the discovery of America, 

We have good reason, however, to believe that Co- 
lumbus himself first discovered, or at least made known^ 
the land of Guiana ; for in August, 14fi8, in his third 
voyage, he made the island of Trinidad, and encountered 
much difliculty in the mouth of the river Orinoco. " 13iis 
river rdls towards the ocean such a vast body of water, 
and rushes into it with such impetuous force, that when 
it meets the tide, which on that coast rises to an uncomr 
mon height, their collision occasions a swell and a^tation 
of the waves no less surprising than formidable. In this 
conflict the irresistible torrent of the river so fiu* prevails, 
that it fireshens the ocean many leagues with its flood."* 
Columbus, having escaped the difficulty, ^^ justly con- 
cluded that such a vast body of water as this river con- 
tained could not be supplied by any island^ but must 
flow through a country of immense extent, and of con- 
sequence that he was now arrived at that continent 
which it had long been the object of Ins wishes to difh 
cover."t He accordin^y sailed to the west, and landed 
on the continent in several plaeei. 

In die following year (1^09), Alonzo de O^eda, a gal- 
lant and acti^iB officer, who had accompanied Columbus 
in his seomd voyage, attended also by the fimous Ame- 
rigo Yespucei, a Florentine gentlenuu^ who had the un» 
deserved honour of giving a name to the wodd dis- 

* Bobertaon's America, book it p. 154. f Ibid. 


covered by another, set out for a voyage of discovery \a 
four ships, proviSedty the merchants of Seville. Avail- 
ing themselves of the journal and charts of Columbus in 
his second voyage, they succeeded in reaching the eastern 
coast of South America, and are supposed to have made 
the land of Surinam after a voyage of twenty-four days. 
They then ran along the coast of the Gulf of Paria, 
passing several large rivers — amongst others, the rivers 
Essequebo and Orinoco. They saw no natives until 
their arrival at Trinidad, where, after trading with them, 
they stood to the west, and proceeded as far as Cape de 
Vela, ranging along a considerable extent of coast. 

Not long after,. Vincent Janez Pinzon, a companion of 
Columbus in his first voyage, sailed from Patos with four 
ships, January 13th, 1500, and made the land of Santa 
Maria de la Consoladon, or Cape St. Augustino, on the 
eastern angle of South America: he discovered the mighty 
river of the Amazons, or river Maranon, and landed on 
the coast at its mouth. From thence he sailed onwards, 
passing the rivers of Guiana as far as the river Orinoco, 
where it is supposed by some that he also landed. He 
aft;erwards proceeded to Hispaniola and the Bahamas. 
The Spaniards, according to an old writer,* on ascending 
the several rivers, were astonished at their size and pecu- 
liarities. On exploring the countries in the neighbour- 
hood of the Orinoco, they received information of a 
territory far in the interior, which abounded in gold 
and emeralds, and of a salt-water lake, called Parima; 
thus leaving no doubt that so early as the time I have 
mentioned an acquaintance had been made with some of 
the tribes belonging to Guiana, among whom a tradition 
of his visit was known to have existed. A few years 
later another Spaniard received similar information on 
the opposite part of the coast 

* Borrora. 


. Although the discovery of the diffejent portions of 
America succeeded each other so rapidly, it was not until 
about ten years after Columbus had made his first suc- 
cessful voyage, that the Spaniards practically attempted 
to form settlements on the main land. Unsupported by 
the crown of Spain, and at the sole expense of a few 
private individuals, this enterprising object was effected, 
chiefly through the famous Alonzo de Ojeda, who had 
acquired considerable reputation and wealth in some 
voyages of discovery; and who was assisted by another 
Spaniard, Diego de Nicuessa, a successful adventurer. 
Titles and patents (but nothing else) were granted by 
Ferdinand, and about 1609 two governments were 
established on the continent ; one extending fi-om Cape 
de Vela to the GuK of Darien, and the other firom this 
gulf to Cape Gradas k Dias, from which settlements 
parties were sent to explore the inland districts. The 
first government was given to Ojeda, the second to 
Nicuessa. Much formality and time were wasted in 
prescribing the mode by which possession should be 
taken. They were to expound to the natives the princi- 
pal articles of the Christian Faith ; to acquaint them with 
the powers of the Pope; to inform them of the grant 
which that formidable prince had made of their country 
to the King of Spain, and to insist upon their embracing 
the new religion and submitting to the Spanish authority. 
In default of the fulfilment of these conditions they were 
to be punished with fire and the sword, and their wives 
and families were to be reduced to servitude. As a 
matter of course, such arguments being rather new to the 
independent Indian, and somewhat too subtle for their 
uncultivated understandings, caused considerable con- 
fusion and opposition. Force being employed by the 
Spaniards when they found arguments fail, the in- 
sulted Indian, roused to a sense of his danger, replied to 


both by poisoned arrams (another proof that the natives 
of Guiana were ooncemed in these occorrences), and 
effectually annihilated their invaders. The Spaniards, 
prevented from escaping by the loss of their ships, 
perished within a year in the most miserable manner. A 
few survivors, headed by Yasco Nunez de Bilboa and 
Erandsco Pizano, formed a feeble colony at Santa Maria 
de Antigua, on the Gulf of Darien. Such was the first 
reception given to Europeans in Amenca by the simple 
aborigines of the interior. 

The confused accounts which had been given to the 
Spaniards in the year 1500, about a rich city abounding 
in gold, silver, and precious stones, situated on the 
borders of the lake Parima, within the predncts of 
Guiana, inflamed the adventurous sprit of the age, and 
led to numerous enterprises, undertaken in the hope of 
discovering this £a,mous region. Thus early were the 
cupidity and the credulity of the Spaniards excited with 
regard to an ideal city, with its golden palaces, and 
streets paved with precious stones, reflecting their gorge- 
ous beauty in the translucent waters of the Parima. Thus 
early was this M Dorado* of the west, this supposed 
land of surpassing loveliness and wealth, held up as the 
greatest object of the Spanish conqueror^s ambition. 
Mexico had been overrun, Peru had been conquered, 
but still the avarice of the invader had not been satiated, 
and El Dorado, the highest prize in the lottery of ad- 
venture, remained yet to be drawn. Hence ensued the 

* The term £1 Dorado wm not originally applied to any particiilar region, but 
rather to an indiyidual. According to Father Gumilla, the fable had its origin 
on the coast of Carthagena and Santa Martha, whence it passed to Bogota. A 
rumour prevailed through those regions that the soTereign prince of a country 
which abounded in gold, when he appeared in public, had his body sprinklefil 
orer with gdld-dust; hence aioae the expression of £1 Dorado, the gilded, or 
golden, which was subsequently applied to a supposed rich country. Others, 
bowerer, derive the term nom a regions practice among the sect of Bochiea, or 
Idacanzas, whose chief priest stuck gold-dust upon his nee and hands before he 
perfbrmed sacrifice. 


romantic and sprnted expLoita, of which the Allowing are 

A governor liad been sent out by Ferdinand, King of 
Spain, and was to reside in the then capital of the Guiana 
del Dorado, viz., Trinidad, an island on its coast. 

In the year 1530, Don Diego de Ordas, the governor 
of Quito, and one of the captains of Cortes, although 
Hving upon the opposite side of the ccmtinent, sent some 
of his people to explore Guiana. They had to pass hi^ 
mountains and barren plains, and from the difficulty of 
the journey, and the lack of provisions, were obliged to 
return. According to the account of Baleigh, it would 
appear that one Don Martines was an officer under Diego 
de Ordace, and got into a considerable scrapa 

^* For it chanced that while Ordace, with his army, 
rested at the fort of Morriquito (situated some 300 miles 
within the land, upon the great Oronoco), and which 
Ordace was either the first or second that attempted 
Guiana, by some negligence, the whole store of powder 
provided for the service was set on fire, and Martines, 
having the chief charge, was condemned by the general, 
Ordace, to be executed forthwith. Martines being much 
favoured by the soldiers, had aU the means possible pro- 
cored for his life, but it could not be obtained in any 
other sort than this, that he should be set in a canoe 
alone, without any victuals, only with his arms, and so 
turned loose in the great river." This Martines after- 
wards, who had the honour of christening the city of 
Manoa by the name of El Dorado, escaped to Trinidad, 
and from thence to Juan de Puerto Rico, where remain- 
ing a long time waiting for a passage into Spain, he died. 

Don Di^o subsequently returned to Spain, and 
procured letters patent fix)m the Emperor Charles V., 
which secured to him all the land he should discover 
from Cape de la Yela^ 300 miles to the east Still 


intent on the discovery of the El Dorado, and whilst 
cruising near the mouth of the river Amazons, he cap- 
tured some Indians who had precious stones resembling 
emeralds in their possession. Deluded by his prisoners 
into the belief that higher up this river there was a 
land abounding in similar productions and rich in gold, 
he proceeded, in 1631, with his force, consisting of 
several ships and about 400 men, up this mighty 
river ; but dismayed at the loss of one of his ships, and 
many of his men, and harassed by the strong currents 
and vexatious calms, he abandoned his object, and sailed 
for Paria, on the Orinoco, where he found a fort that 
had been erected by the governor of the Guianas, Don 
Palameque. He took possession of this fort (although 
commanded by an oflScer of the governor's, Juan Gon- 
^alves), under pretext of the letter patent granted to 
him by the emperor, and ascended the river Orinoco,* 
and although suffering from the want of provisions, and 
from the mosquitoes, bats, and other plagues, he arrived 
at the dwelling of the cassique Viapari (the Indian 
name of the river Orinoco), where, being well received, 
he remained for some time. On attempting to make 
further progress up the river, he lost his largest ship, 
and was obliged in consequence to foUow the banks of 
the stream, with about 200 men, and forty horses. On 
his route, he met only a few Caribbean fishermen. 
Having once more re-embarked his troops, he proceeded 
up the Orinoco, about 300 miles from its mouth, when 
he met the large tributary stream, the Meta, which, 
rushing down over the rocks in the form of a huge 
cataract, joins the Orinoco in this singular manner. 
Being now obliged to retrace his steps without having 
succeeded in discovering the coveted El Dorado, he 

* Sir W. Baleigh sajs he reached the rirer Orinoco by the river Viapari ; 
bat thif was the name giren to the Orinoco by the Spanish and Indians. 


descended the river, to about forty-five miles firom its 
mouth, where, on its eastern bank, he built a town, 
which he called St. Thomas of Chdana. 

Thus had Diego de Ordas the honour of first erecting 
a town within the precincts of the Guianas. He soon 
afterwards returned to Spain, and died, either on his 
passage, or shortly after his arrival. In the course of 
these expeditions he had transported out of Spain 1000 
soldiers. Situated at the confluence of the Caroni and 
the Orinoco, this town was never of much importance ; 
it consisted of about 150 houses, and the inhabitants 
planted tobacco, and, encouraged by the fruitful soil and 
fine pasturage, endeavoured to grow provisions, and to 
breed cattle and horses, which they procured from 
Coraana ; but a few years after, the English and Dutch, 
jealous of the progress of the Spaniards, disturbed them 
in their possessions. It was not, however, until the 
year 1570, that these disturbances commenced, and in 
1629, on the 30th November, but according to others, 
on the 11th December, a Dutch force of nine ships, and 
some sloops under Admiral Pater, took the town, which 
they plundered and burned. Some of the inhabitants 
escaped to Comana, and others repairing, about seven 
mUes further up the river, on the same side, erected 
another town.* 

Previously to these occurrences, however, the gover- 
nor of Paria sent his lieutenant, Alfonso de Herrera, 
with 200 soldiers, and five vessels, to St. Thomas of 
Guiana, in 1533. They had several skirmishes with the 
Caribbean Indians, and killed many of them. Proceeding 
fiirther, they arrived at the Meta cataract, already alluded 
to, and, undaunted by its roaring waters, they carried 
their vessels over the fall, and succeeded in making the 
ascent of the river. Their success was not unaccom- 

* St. Thom^ de Nuera Qaayana, the present Citjr of Bolirar. 
VOL. I. H 


panied by losses and disasters. Herrera and his troops 
were constantly harassed by the natives, who killed 
many of them with their poisoned arrows. Herrera 
himself was severely wounded, and became mad in con- 
sequence. During his temporary insanity, Alvaro de 
Oi^as took command of the expedition, and considering 
discretion the better part of valour, returned to Paria, 
which he reached in 15S6. In the same year another 
expedition was undertaken by Antonio SidcDno, with 
whom Herrera and Augustin Delgado were associated 
in the conquest of Trinidad against Bawcxmar, a famous 
king of that place. Sidenno passed by Maracapana with 
500 chosen men to discover £1 Dorado. In this journey 
he is said to have got much gold, and taken many 
Indian prisoners, whom he manacled in irons, several of 
them dying on the way. Even in their deaths these 
Indians became formidable, for the tigers that came to 
feast on their dead bodies fell upon the Spaniards, who 
with great difficulty defended themselves from their 
attacks. Sidenno having died, was buried within the 
precincts of the empire, near the head of the river 
Tinados, and most of his people perished.* 

Doomed to disappointment by water, in search of the 
El Dorado, an expedition by land was attempted by 
Gonzalo Pizarro, who had been appointed governor of 
Quito, by his brother, the famous Francisco Pizarro, who 
had deposed Benalcazar. Assembling together about 
400 Spaniards, nearly half of whom were horsemen, 
and 400 Indians, to carry their provisions, which they 
had in abundance, Gonzalo Pizarro, a man of great 
courage and ambition, left the capital of Peru (Quito), 
in the year 1540 (others say 1644), to explore the 
golden land. Passing over the lofty summits of the 
Andes, where the cold was severely felt, they descended^ 



after incredible liardsliips, into the low country, where 
an a1mo6t uninhabited territory, and torrents of rain, 
awaited them. Advancmg for many weeks through 
dense forests, occasional mountains, and swampy marshes^ 
assailed by numerous insects^ serpents, and some tribes 
of Indians ; and suffering from the fsdlure of their pro- 
visions, they still persevered, with the prospect of the 
glittering prize before them, until they reached the banks 
of the river Napo, a tributary stream of the Amazon, 
wliich, in 1536, had been already discovered by Gon- 
zalves Dias de Pineda. Aware of the difficulties by 
land, they contrived to build a bark for the purpose of 
seeking provisions, and fe^alitating their exploration of 
the country. The conmiand of this expedition was 
entrusted to Francisco Oreliana, the officer next in rank 
to Pizarro. He had with him about fifty soldiers, and 
receiving his orders fi:om Pizarro, was directed not to 
venture far, but to keep within reach of his party ; not- 
withstanding these strict instructions, he boldly entered 
the river, and, carried away by the current, was soon 
out of sight. . Fearlessly following the stream, this enter- 
prising, but unprincipled officer, reached at length the 
broadCT waters of the Amazon, where he held on his 
course towards the ocean. Struck, as well he might be^ 
by its fruitful banks, he occasionally made excursions on 
land, where he procured provisions, either by traffic, or 
by force^ firom the native tribes. It was whilst com- 
bating with some of these, that he observed, with sur- 
prise, that the women fought equally with the men, 
giving rise to the fable of the land of Amazons, for 
whatever might have been the case in his day, nothing 
particularly warlike on the part of the female population 
of that part of the globe has ever smce been noticed. 
It was here, also, that his cupidity was excited by the 
sight of some precious stones, resembling emeralds, which 



the Indians declared abounded higher up the river. 
Having named the river Orellana, after himself (a name 
which, though attempted to be retained by some, has 
given place to the equally unmerited one of Amazon), 
he, after incredible dangers, launched his adventurous 
bark into the ocean, and returned to Spain about the 
year 1545, where he pretended that he had discovered 
nations so rich, that the roofs of their temples were 
covered with plates of gold, and dwelt with enthusiasm 
on his wars with the female republics of the Amazon, 
and his long voyage, 1550 miles, up the river. 

Meanwhile, Gonzalo Pizarro, unwilling to believe in 
the treachery of Orellana, proceeded along the banks of 
the Napo as far as its junction with the Amazon, where 
a rendezvous had been arranged; but receiving no ac- 
count of the expedition, he tracked the banks about fifty 
leagues further on. Here, to his dismay, he discovered 
an officer who had been left to perish in the desert, be- 
cause he had remonstrated against the perfidy of Orel- 
lana. The danger of his situation was now revealed to 
him, but with undaunted courage he retraced his steps* 
Distant about 1200 miles from Quito, he had to lead his 
dispirited and disappointed followers back through the 
difficult road they had traversed. Their hardships were 
beyond description ; emaciated, worn out with hunger 
and fatigue, all the Indians, and the greater number of the 
Spaniards, perished in that fatal campaign — only eighty 
returned to Quito, and these in the most deplorable 
state, naked and famished. Thus, in the year 1542, 
ended one of the most famous expeditions in search of 
an ideal city, mocking the sun with golden mansions 
and silver waters. 

Nor were the Spaniards the only nation credulous 
enough to believe in the romantic tale which had now 
been circulated all over Europe. It would appear that 


the French, who were at this time (1550) in the habit 
of sending ships to the Brazilian coast, to trade with the 
Indians in pepper, dye, wood, and other native produc- 
tions, actually undertook several voyages to discover the 
El Dorado, but with the same results. The^cause of 
their failure is given in a very quaint manner by: Sir 
Walter Raleigh, who, describing the French as takiilg*lhe 
course of the Amazon in search of the golden land, ^e-^ 
clared that they were mistaken in the road, " den rechten 
Weg niet genomen hadden."* 

In one of these voyages, about the year 1555, they 
rescued from the Indians a Dutch traveller, " Hans- 
staden," of Homburg, in Hesse (who wrote an account 
of his travels), and were told by him that he had been 
a prisoner for about five years among the Indian tribes. 

Upon another occasion, one Pedro de Osua, a knight 
of Navarre, attempted to explore Guiana. Starting from 
Peru with 400 soldiers, he built his brigantines upon a 
river called Orio, which riseth to the southward of Quito, 
and is very large. This Pedro de Osua had among his 
troops a Biscayan called Agiri, a man meanly bom, and 
who bore no other office than that of sergeant, or alferez. 
This man induced the soldiers, who were worn with tra- 
vail, and consumed with famine, to mutiny, and having 
murdered Osua, and his wife Lady Ancs, " who forsook 
not her lord in all his travels unto death," he took the 
whole charge and command to himseH^ with the purpose 
not only of making himself Emperor of Guiana, but also 
of Peru, and of all that side of the West Indies. His 
party amounted to about 700 soldiers ; but not being 
able to reach Guiana by the Amazon, they were " en- 
forced to disembogue at the mouth of the said Amazon, 
thence he coasted the land till he arrived at Marguarita, 
to the north of Monpatar, which is, at this day, called 

♦ Hartsink, p. 158. 


Puerto de Tyranno, for that he there slew Don Juan de 
Villa Andr^d V governor of Marguarita." Agiri put to 
the swor^.y^ those who opposed him, and took with 
him cei^n ceremones and other desperate companions; 
with/t^^ he went to Gumana, and there slew the 
gov^Ylaor, and otherwise behaved in the same manner as 
af!2^arguarita. He afterwards proceeded to the Co- 
tsiocas, but was slain in the kingdom of Nuevo Seyna 

The following expeditions were also undai;aken about 
•'this period. A Spaniard, Juan Corteso, arrived at the 
river of Amazons, or Orellana, with 300 men, and 
marched into the coimtry ; but neith^ himself nor his 
men ever returned again to tell the tale of thar ad- 

Graspar de Sylva, with his two brothers, departed £x)m 
Teneriffe, accompanied by 200 men, to assist Diego de 
Ordas. They sought El Dorado by the river of the 
Amazons ; but after staying there a short time, proceeded 
to Trinidad, where they all died. 

Juan Gonsalves set sail £:om Trinidad to discover 
Guiana ; he trusted more to the ftdth of his guides than 
to the number of his men. He found the territory of 
Guiana, so far as he entered,' to be populous, pl^itifid in 
provisions, and rich in gold. 

Philip de Vren and Pedro de Limpias were leaders 
in another expedition into Guiana; the latter was slain 
by an Indian cassique, named Pouina. 

Jeronimo de Ortol, with 160 soldiers, failed in an 
attempt to reach Guiana by sea. He was carried by the 
current to the coast of Paria, and settled about St. 
Miguel; after suffering great hardships, and his substance 
having been all spent, he died at St. Dominga 

Pedro de Sylva, a Portuguese of the &xnily of Bigomes 
de Sylva, in favour with the King of Spain, was sent 
with a fleet to eiqplore Guiana^ and failed also in his 


object He entered the Amazons, but was attacked by 
the natives, and utterly overthrown ; of his whole anny 
only a few escaped, and of these but two returned to 
their native country. 

A certain friar. Father Sala, once made an excursion 
into the provinces of Guiana, taking with him only one 
companion, and some Indian guides. He returned with 
good intelligence, and is said to have brought with him 
eagles, idols, and other jewels of gold, in the year 1560. 
On a second visit to the country he was slain by the 

An attempt to reach Guiana was also made by Pedro 
Hernandez de Serpa, who landed at Cumana, and took 
his journey by land towards Orinoco ; but before be 
arrived at the borders of the river, he was attacked by a 
tribe of Indians, the Wikiri, and so completely routed, 
that, out of 300 soldiers, besides horsemen, Indians, and 
negroes, only eighteen returned to give an account of 
their leader's failure. 

Another famous Spaniard, Don Gonsalves Cenunco 
de Cassada, sought the country by the river Papamura, 
and eflfected his return, after a fruitless journey, with 
much diflSculty and cost. It was at his instigation that 
the gigantic expedition of Don Antonio de Berrejo was 
undertaken, which tiie latter declared cost him 800,000 

Afterwards Diego de Vargas, and his son Don Juan, 
undertook a similar enterprise, but were slain by the 
Indians at their first setting out. 

Caceres attempted the exploration of Guiana 6com 
Nuevo Reyno de Granada, but came no nearer to it than 
Matachines, which bordered upon the kingdom of Gra- 
nada, where he remained and peopled that territory. 

It was also attempted by Alon9o de Herrera upon two 
different occasions. He endured great misery, but iiever 


entered one league into the country. He sought it by 
Viapaii, or Amana, and was at last slain by a tribe of 
Indians, called Xaguas. 

Augustine Delgado explored the country to the south- 
ward of Cumanawgotto, with fifty-three footmen and 
three horsemen. The wars then existing between the 
Indians of the vale and those of the mountains assisted 
him in his object. He advanced until he met with an 
Indian cassique, named Garamental, who received him 
with much kindness, and gave him some rich jewels of 
gold, six seemly pages, ten young slaves, and three beau- 
tiful nymphs, who bore the names of the three provinces 
fi:om whence they had been sent to Garamental. Theu' 
names were Guanba, Poloquane, and Marguarata. These 
provinces were reputed to be very healthfiil, and to 
possess a remarkable influence in producing fair women. 
The Spaniards afterwards requited the manifold cour- 
tesies they had received, by absconding with all the gold 
that they could obtain, and seizing the Indians as pri- 
soners, whom they conveyed in irons to Cubagua, where 
they sold them as slaves. Delgado was afterwards shot 
in the eye by an Indian, and died in consequence of tlie • 
wound. Diego de Losada succeeded in his brother's 
place. He had many new followers, all of whom, in the 
end, wasted themselves in mutinies ; those that survived 
returned afterwards to Cubagua. 

Eeynoso undertook an expedition, but having endured 
innumerable troubles, " in the discomfort of his mind gave 
it over, and was buried in Hispaniola." 

The Dutch, although in the habit of sending ships for 
the purposes of trade, which cruised along the coast 
from the river Amazon to the Orinoco, do not appear to 
have seriously entertained any scheme for seeking this 
land of promise. Sedate, calculating, and phlegmatic, 
they resisted the infatuation, and addressed themselves to 


the real and practical advantages the country presented 
to them. 

In the year 1580, some vessels being sent from the 
province of Zealand to carry on the rude system of barter 
then practised, some of the persons concerned in the 
expedition established themselves near the river Pome- 
roon, where they formed a settiement which they called 
New Zealand, while others of the party formed similar 
settlements on the river Essequebo, and at the mouth of 
the Abary or Wayabari Creek, where there was an Indian 
village called Nibie. In June or July of the ensuing 
year, 1581, these rational movements acquired a more 
solid character from a wise resolution of the States-Gene- 
ral, which granted permission to certain individuals to 
follow up the experiment by fitting out an expedition for 
the purpose of trading along the coast and up the rivers. 

While the Dutch were thus sagaciously employed, the 
Spaniards, undeterred by the miserable fate of so many 
of their countrymen who had perished in the enterprise, 
resolved to undertake a fresh venture in search of the El 
Dorado. In 1582, Don Antonio Berrejo,* by command 
of Don Gonsalvo Ximeny de Quesada, whose daughter 
he had married, set out from New Granada, and pro- 
ceeded along the river Papameni, a tributary of the 
Orinoco. But, notwithstanding the advantages under 
which he started, he fell into the same errors as his 
predecessors, and suffered similar disasters — failure 
of provisions, sickness, an impracticable country, the 
harassing assaults of the Indians, and insubordination 
amongst his own troops. Utterly discomfited by these 
accumulated misfortimes, he returned with the wreck 
of his followers; but, ashamed to confess his ill success, 
like a true Spaniard he invented marvellous false- 
hoods to conceal it, and circulated absurd stories of the 

* Baleigb. 


dghts he had seen and the incidents that had occurred to 
him, boasting of having a present of ten golden images 
very artistically worked, ^^ zeer kimstig bewirkt," fix)m an 
Indian named Anabas, who lived on the borders of 
Amapaja, and with whom he hid oondndLed a treaty of 
peace. He very ingeniously got over the difliculty of 
producing these fabulous images to his countrymen by 
declaring that he had sent them to the King of Spain. 
He furthermore stated that he had discovered a civilised 
people, " Een handdbaar Volk/'* whose chief, Caripana, 
was above one hundred years old. From this imaginary 
personage he pretended to have obtained information of 
another chief named Morequito, who he stated was well 
acquainted with the kingdom of Guiana. This intelli- 
gence fired anew the cupidity of his countrymen, and a 
fresh batch formed themselves into an exploring party, 
and proceeded, imder a commisdon from Berrejo, to open 
a negotiation with Morequito; but they had no sooner 
reached that chief than he put them all to death, with 
the exception of one man who escaped, and carried back 
to Berrejo the tidings of the fate that had befallen his 
companions, t Soon afterwards, however^ Morequito paid 
the full penalty of his cruelty, being himself taken prisoner 
and executed — a doom which he in vain endeavoured to 
avert by offering his captors three quintals of gold in 
ransom. Another Indian, named Tapiawari, nniie to 
Morequito, and about one hundred years old, was also 
taken prisoner, and is said to have ransomed himself for 
one hundred plates of gold, and some green stones which 
the Spaniards called piedras hijadas (spleen stones, ac- 
cording to Raleigh). 

On the 2drd of April, 15d3, another Spaniard, 
Domingo de Vera, prosecuted a. voyage of discovery, in 

* Hartnnk. 

t A famous account of the expedition of Berrejo is giren hj Sir Walter 
Baleigh, toL L p. 196. 


the hope of meeting with the supposed splendid capital 
of the Guianas. Failing as a matter of course in his ob- 
ject, he formally took possession of the whole comitry in 
the name of his sovereign, Philip the Second. The fol- 
lowing translation fit>m Hartsink embodies the substance 
of the document which testifies to tiie act : 

<* Biyer de Pato, Apxil 23rd, 1593. 

'^ ly Bodngues de Coran^a, secretary of maiine, hereby 
testify that Domingo de Vera, lieutenant of Antonio 
BerrejOy having called his soldiers together, and placed 
them in battle array, thus addressed them: 

" * My fiiends, you know what pains our General Don 
Antonio Berrejo has taken, and at what expense he has 
been during the last eleven years in his endeavours to 
discover the mighty kingdom of Guiana and El Dorado. 
It is also not unknown to*you how he has suffered imder 
the most extraordinary difficulties during this famous 
undertaking; now, although in consequence of want of 
food, and the sickness of his people, this great labour and 
cost has been useless, he has ordered me to renew this 
undertaking. On that account, to take possession of 
Guiana in the name of the king and of our general, I 
command you, Francisco Carillo, to take up the cross 
which lays there upon the ground, and to turn it towards 
the east' 

"Carillo having obeyed this order, the lieutenant and 
the soldiers threw themselves upon the ground be£3re the 
cross, and prayed on their knees. After which, Domingo 
de Vera took a cup&l of water and drank it ; he then 
took another cupM and sprinkled it upon the ground, 
and, drawing lus sword, cut down some grass and twigs 
of trees, saying: ^In the name of God I take possession 
of this land for Don Philip, our noble sovereign ;' upon 
which all the officers and men again kneeling, answered: 
*We will protect this possession with the last drop of 


OUT blood.' After which, Domingo de Vera, with his 
naked sword in his hand, charged me to proclaim this 
assmnption of territory, and to call upon all present to 
bear witness to the same. 

" Signed, Domingo de Vera, through me, Rodrigues 
de Coran9a, secretary." 

Besides the foregoing expeditions, a host of other ad- 
venturers attempted further enterprises. But there is no 
further evidence to show that either the Spaniards or 
Portuguese, made additional progress in the possession 
of Guiana, or built any forts, with the exception of the 
settlements of the former on the river Orinoco, and of 
the latter on the Amazon ; nor is there any notice in 
the voyages to these countries, nor any relics to be found, 
which could lead us to believe that the Spaniards or 
Portuguese conquered any of 'the regions between the 
rivers Orinoco and Amazon, withiu whose confines were 
supposed to exist the Golden City and its Silver Lake. 
The only traces that remain of their presence in the 
country, are the Portuguese arms rudely carved over 
the gateway of an abandoned fort, and the names of 
some Spanish adventurers hewn out on the rocks in the 

But before quitting this part of the subject, we must 
refer briefly to the exploits of some of our own country- 
men in this region. 

Animated by the same spirit of adventure and inquiry 
which had been awakened elsewhere by the genius of 
Columbus, they also despatched vessels in all directions 
to add to the many triumphs of the sixteenth century. 

Pre-eminent among these travellers and heroes was 
the gifted but unfortunate Sir Walter Raleigh, who, 
after sending expeditions to the northern continent of 
America, and founding the colony of Virginia, was sent 


to the West Indies in command of a fleet of fifteen large 
ships to harass the Spaniards, with whom the English 
were then at war. That part of his enterprise, however, 
does not concern our narrative. 

Sir Walter Raleigh, in his retirement, " having had 
many years since knowledge by relation of that mighty, 
rich, and beautiful empire of Guiana, and of that great 
and golden city which the Spaniards call El Dorado, and 
the natives Manoa," contemplated a voyage to this coun- 
try, and on Thiursday, February 6th, 1595, set sail in his 
own ship, accompanied by a small bark of Captain 
Cross's, besides a small gallego, and arrived at Trinidad 
on March 22, casting anchor at Point Curiapan, which 
the Spaniards called Punto de Gallo, situated in 8 deg., 
or thereabout. Afl;er having explored a great part of the 
island of Trinidad, he attacked St. Joseph, the capital, 
captured the Governor Berrejo, and set fire to it, at the 
instigation of the Indians, who had been most cruelly ill- 
treated by the Spaniards. Being reinforced by Captain 
George GiflFord and Captain Keymis, Raleigh proceeded 
to Guiana ; but the distance (according to report, 600 
miles,) being greater than he had anticipated, he con- 
cealed the fact from the knowledge of the company, who 
otherwise would never have been induced to attempt the 
exploration. " In the bottom of an old gallego, which I 
caused to be fashioned like a galley, and in one barge, 
two wherries, and a ship's boat, we carried 100 persons, 
and their victuals for a month, being all driven to lie in 
the rain and weather, in the open air, in the burning 
sun, and upon the boards, and to dress our meat, and to 
carry all manner of furniture in them ; wherewith they 
were so pestered and unsavoury, that what with victuals, 
being most fish, with the wet clothes of so many men 
thrust together, and the heat of the sun, I will undertake 
there was never any person in England that could be 


found more unsavoury and loathsome, especially to my- 
self, who had for many years before been dieted and 
cared for in sort far different." Being obliged to return 
from many causes, Sir Walter Baleigh enters into a ftdl 
account of his travels and of the country, declaring 
** that whatsoever prince shall possess it, that prince 
shall be lord of more gold, and of a more beautiful em- 
pire, and of more cities and people, than either the King 
of Spain or the Great Turk " — a singular prophecgr, and 
in part fulfilled. 

Raleigh, having listened to the long account given of 
Guiana by Don Antonio Berrejo, resolved to make a 
trial to discover it, although urgently dissuaded by the 
Spaniard, who was hitherto imaware of Raleigh's object 
in coming hither. On the 22nd of May, after having 
been surrounded with diflSculties in the neighbourhood 
of the Orinoco, as above noticed, he discovered some 
Indians, who made him acquainted with the country of 
Guiana, Having provided a vessel that drew very little 
water, he explored the coast, and discovered several 
rivers. He saw birds of all colours, " carnation, crimson, 
orange, tavmy, purple, green, and other sorts, both simple 
and mixed." After innumerable dangers in ascending 
some of those wild and hitherto imexplored rivers, he 
discovered on the fifteenth day the distant mountmns of 
Guiana. On his route he fell in with several tribes of 
Indians, with whom he entered into friendly relations, 
accompanying them to their several towns. Having 
arrived at the river Caroli, he marched overland to view 
the strange waterfalls, and ascended the hills in the 
neighbourhood to see the adjacent countiy. There he 
heard of a great silver-mine. The following is Raleigh's 
description of the scene : 

*^I never saw a more beautifiil country, nor more 
lively prospects : hills so raised here and there over the 


valleys, the river winding into divers branches, the plains 
adjoining without bush or stubble ; all fair green grass, 
the ground of hard sand, easy to march on either for 
horse or foot ; the deer crossing in every path, the birds 
toward the evening singing on every tree with a thousand 
several tunes, cranes and herons of white, crimson, and 
carnation, perching on the river's side, the air fresh with 
a gentle easterly wind, and every stone that we stooped 
to take up promised dther gold or silver by its com- 

Some of these stones were believed by the Spaniards 
at Caraccas to be ^^ el madre del oro," and they affirmed 
that the mine was further in the ground. On the left of 
the river Caroli dwelt a tribe of Indians, called Iwara- 
wakesi (enemies to the Epuremie), and adjoining a great 
lake named Cassipa, reported about forty miles broad, 
dwelt other tribes, called Cassepagotos, Epar^otos, and 
Arrawagotos. Beyond Caroli was another river, called 
Arvi, and next it two other rivers, Atoica and Caora, on 
which latter inhabited the people called Ewaipanoma, 
" whose heads a^ppear not above their shoulders^' wliich 
fable, indeed, was generally asserted, and was partly 
credited by Raleigh, who states that ^isuch a nation was 
written of by Mandeville many years ago." 

To the west of Caroli was met with another river, the 
Casnero, '^ falling into the Orinoco, and larger than any in 
Europe. • ♦ • The winter and summer in these regions, 
as touching cold and heat, differ not, neither do the trees 
ever sensibly lose their leaves, but have always fruit 
either ripe or green, and most of them both blossoms, 
leaves, ripe fruit, and green at one time." To the north 
of Caroli was the river Cari, beyond it the river Limo, 
and between these a nation of cannibals, ^ in whose chief 
town, called Acamacaris, is a continual market of women, 
who were bought by the Arwacas for three or four 


hatcliets a piece, and sold by them to the West Indies. 
To the west of Limo were the rivers Pao, Caturi, Voari, 
and Capuri, a branch of the Meta ; and mention is also 
made of several other rivers and provinces inland." 

Raleigh next proceeded to trace the Orinoco toward 
the sea. He described it as being navigable for ships for 
nearly 1000 miles, and for smaller vessels nearly 2000 
miles, which at the present day is known to be incorrect. 
The winter or wet season having set in, he departed to- 
ward the east, " for no half day passed but the river 
began to rage and overflow very fearfully, and the rains 
came down in terrible showers, and gusts in great abun- 
dance." Raleigh having arrived at the fort of Morequito, 
sent for an old Indian, Topiawari, unde to Morequito, to 
give further information about the country. This old 
chief dissuaded him from attempting the city of Manoa 
for many reasons, relating at the same time marvellous 
tales about plates and images of gold which abounded 
among the borderers ; but when Raleigh, excited by 
these stories, urged an immediate attack, the crafty old 
Indian always prayed him to defer it till next year. 
Fully persuaded that these riches actually existed, he 
prudently deferred his attack till a more fitting season ; 
and leaving one Francis Sparrow and a boy, called Hugh 
Godwin, to make further investigations into the country 
and language, he took with him a son of the old Indian, 
as a hostage, and departed on his voyage, carefully ex- 
ploring the country as he proceeded. He found many 
beautiful valleys abounding in deer, and lakes full of fish 
and fowl. In one of these lakes he met with ''fishes 
big as a wine-pipe, which they called manati, and which 
is most excellent and wholesome meat." The manati is 
better known now as the sea-cow. Raleigh having de- 
scended the Orinoco to where it branched into three 
great rivers, divided his party, and explored the several 


branches, on the borders of one of which, the Winica- 
pora, he discovered a mountain of crystal. " We saw it 
far off, and it appeared like a white church tower of an 
exceeding height. There falleth over it a mighty river, 
which toucheth no part of the side of the mountain, but 
rusheth over the top of it, and falleth to the ground with 
a terrible noise and clamour, as if a thousand great balls 
were knocked one against another." Berrejo, his pri- 
soner, told him that this mountain contained diamonds 
and other precious stones, the shining light of which 
might be seen at a great distance. Raleigh having ex- 
plored several other rivers, or branches of the Orinoco, 
after numerous dangers and difficulties, at length suc- 
ceeded in reaching Trinidad, where he had the happiness 
of meeting his ships, and shortly afterwards proceeded to 
England. His report of Guiana was most favourable. 
He represented it as richer than Mexico or Peru, as 
abounding in all manner " of fish, flesh, and fowl," and 
states " that for health, good air, pleasure, and riches, I 
am resolved it cannot be equalled by any region either 
in the East or West." Out of 100 persons who accom- 
panied him in his romantic and perilous expedition, ex- 
posed to all the hardships of human life, such as want of 
food, raiment, habitation, and rest, and subjected to all 
the vicissitudes of the weather, and perils both by land 
and sea, not one died. " The soil," he adds, " is so ex- 
cellent, and so full of rivers, as it will carry sugar, ginger, 
and all those commodities which the West Indies hath." 
To conclude, he adds : " Guiana is a country that hath 
never yet been sacked, turned, nor wrought. The face 
of the earth has not been torn, nor the virtue and salt of 
the soil spent by manurance ;" and he winds up his ex- 
aggerated description of the country by declaring that 
among the prophecies in Peru, some of which foretold 
the loss of the said empire, there was one which affirmed 

VOL. I. I 


that from " Inglatierra a nation would come which would 
subdue the conquerors of the Ingas." He further states : 
" I had sent Captain Widden, the year before, to get 
what knowledge he could of Guiana; and the end of my 
journey at this time was to discover and enter the same. 
But my intelligence was fiir from truth ; for the coimtry 
is situate above 600 English miles further from the sea 
than I was made believe it had been. 

" But because there may arise many doubts, and how 
this empire of Guiana is become so populous, and adorned 
with so many great cities, towns, temples, and treasures, 
I thought good to make it known, that the emperor now 
reigning is descended from those magnificent princes of 
Peru, of whose large territories, of whose policies, con- 
quests, edifices, and riches, Pedro de Ceizor, Francisco 
Topz, and others, have written large discourses. For 
when Francisco Pacaro, Diego Alraagro, and others, con- 
quered the said empire of Peru, and had put to death 
Atabalipa, son to Guaynacapa (which Atabalipa had 
formerly caused his eldest brother Guascar to be slain), 
one of the younger sons of Guaynacapa fled out of Peru, 
and took with him many thousands of those soldiers of 
the empire called orciones, and with those and many 
others which followed him, he vanquished all that tract 
and valley of America which is situate between the great 
rivers of Amazon and Baraquan, otherwise called Mara- 
quon, and Orinoco.* 

"The empire of Guiana is directly east from Peru 
toward the sea, and lieth under the equinoctial line, and 
it hath more abundance of gold than any part of Peru, 
and as many or more great cities than ever Peru had 
when it flourished most. It is governed by the same 
laws, and the emperor and people observe the same reli- 
gion, and the same form and policies in government, as 

* DlBcoverie of Gviana by Sir Walter Baleigfa, Knt. 


was used in Peru, not differing in any part; and, as I 
have been assured by such of the Spaniards as have seen 
Manoa, the imperial city of Guiana, which the Spaniards 
call El Dorado, for the greatness, the riches, and for the 
excellent seat, &r exceedeth any of the world, at least of 
so much of the world as is known to the Spanish nation. 
It is founded upon a lake of salt water of 200 leagues 
long, like unto Mare Caspium, and if we compare it to 
that of Peru, and but read the report of Francisco Lopez, 
and others, it will seem more than credible. 

" It seemeth to me that this empire is reserved for her 
Majesty and the English nation, by reason of the hard 
success which all these and other Spaniards foimd in 
attempting the same." Another strange prophecy. 

Sir Walter Raleigh, after his return to England, still 
brooded over in his mind (abeady filled with numerous 
schemes) his " favourite but visionary plan of penetrating 
into the province of Guiana, where he fondly dreamed 
of taking possession of inexhaustible wealth, flowing from 
the richest mines in the New World."* Prevented him- 
self at that time from undertaking the voyage, he sent 
out Captain Laurens Keymis, in 1596, to pursue the ex- 
ploration. This navigator carefully traced the several 
rivers between the Orinoco and the Amazon, and de- 
scribed them in his travels as sixty-seven in number, 
enumerating also the names of the Indian tribes that in- 
habited their banks. On the 6th of April, 1696, he 
arrived at the Orinoco, -sailed up that river, passing by 
two havens, Topamerica and Topiawari, without meeting 
any Indians, who since the time that they had trafficked 
with Raleigh, had been driven away by:the Spaniards. 
Keymis Tetumed to England without making vany dis- 
covery of importance. Nor did any better success ^ittend 
another expedition, under Captain Masham, in )the same 

^ Bobertson, book ix. p. 184. 

I 2 


year. The following is an account of Captain Keymis's 
expedition : 

On Monday, January 26th, 1596, he sailed from Port- 
land Road in the Darling^ of London, having in company 
the Discoverer^ a small pinnace, which parted from 
them at sea in foul weather the Thursday following, and 
which they supposed to be lost. Friday, February 13th, 
fell in with the Canary Islands, and afterwards steered 
for the islands of Cape Verd. Thence they sailed Fe- 
bruary 28, and on Sunday the 14th of March descried 
a low land in the bottom of a bay, the water very 
smooth but muddy, and the colour red or tawny. They 
anchored in the mouth of the river Arrowari, a fair and 
great river, and there explored the country, meeting the 
following rivers, Arcooa,Wiapoco, Wanari, Caparwacka, 
Cawo, Caian, Wia, Macuria, Cawroor, and Curassawini. 
While ascending some of these streams, he met with 
Indians, and stated to them that he had come only for 
the purpose of trading with them. These Indians exhi- 
bited a friendly disposition, and sought the aid of the 
English against another nation, the Arwaccas. Keymis 
procured a guide from the tribe of the laos, " who mark 
themselves with the tooth of an animal, after divers 
forms," and this man requested to be carried to England, 
which was done. 

In addition to those already mentioned, the following 
rivers are enumerated by Keymis: Cunanamma, Vracco, 
Maivari, Mawarparo, Amouna, Marowini, Oncowi, Wia- 
wiami, Aramatappo, Camaiwini, Shtmnama (now the 
Surinam), Shurama, Cupanamma, Juana, Guritini, 
Winitwari, Berhice^ Wopari^ Maicaimniy Mahawaica^ 
Wappari^ Lemdrare^* Deaaekebe^* Caopui, Pcmrooma^ 
Moruga, Waini, Barima, Amacur, Aratoori, Ralecma^ 
or Orinoco. On the 6th April Keymis and his people 

* The present rirers of the I>emerara and Esseqnebo. 


came to anchor within the mouth of the last-mentioned 
river, after spending altogether about twenty-three days 
in discovery upon the coast. 

Having made friendship with the Indians, and pro- 
mising to assist them against the Spaniards, our party 
were now in a fair way to obtain some authentic infor- 
mation with regard to Guiana. They heard of several 
towns in the interior, and of a nation of clothed people, 
called Cassanari, who dwelt close to the place where the 
river first took the name of Orinoco, and learned that 
far within they border upon a sea of salt water, named 
Parime. The famous city of Manoa, or the El Dorado, 
was reported to be within twenty days' journey from the 
mouth of the Wiapoco, sixteen from Barima, thirteen 
from Amacur, and ten from Aratoori. 

They were told also, of a race of headless men, with 
mouths in their breasts, exceedingly wide, called by the 
Charibes, Chiparemai, and by the Guianians, Ewiapano- 
mos; and hyperbolical descriptions were communicated to 
them of the wealth of the interior, and of mines of gold, 
and precious stones. 

Having quitted the Orinoco after repeated conferences 
with several Indian chiefs, they fell in with their long- 
lost pinnace, the Discoverer, which, afl;er parting from 
them in a storm, had made the land to the southward of 
Cape Cecil, and had spent three weeks ranging along 
the coast. The pinnace being found not seaworthy, 
was burnt, and the party then proceeded to Trinidad, 
first making the island of Tobago, and afterwards setting 
sail through the islands to England, which they reached 
on the 29th June, having spent five months in their 

Writing to Sir Walter Raleigh upon the subject. Cap- 
tain Keymis urged strongly upon an English government. 


the policy of taking possession of Guiana. " England 
and Guiana conjoined, are stronger and more easily de- 
fended than if England alone should repose herself on 
her own force and powerfulness. For here," says he, 
" whole shires of fruitful rich grounds, lying now waste, 
for want of people, do prostitute themselves unto us, like 
a fair and beautiful woman in the pride and flower of 
desired grace." And he concludes in this strain: "In 
one word, the time serveth, the like occasion seldom 
happeneth in many ages, the former repeated considera- 
tion do all jointly together importune us, now or never 
to make ourselves rich, our posterity happy, our prince 
every way stronger than our enemies, and to establish 
our coimtry in a state flourishing and peaceable. Oh, 
let not then such an indignity rest on us, as to deprave 
so notable an enterprise with false rumours, and vain 
suppositions, to sleep in so serious a matter, and renounc- 
ing the honour, strength, wealth, and sovereignty of so 
famous a conquest, to leave all unto the Spaniards." 

In the following year, 1597, Raleigh again appeared 
in the west, under command of the Earl of Essex, but 
the object of this expedition was rather for plunder, and 
to annoy the Spaniards (in which they were evidently 
successfiil), than with any view to discovery. The fol- 
lowing is an account of this voyage to Guiana: 

Upon Thursday, October 14th, 1596, the pinnace 
called the Wat departed from Limehouse, but owing 
to contrary winds, and other accidents, did not get be- 
yond Weymouth before December 27th. On the 25th 
January, 1597, they made the Canaries, and meeting 
with several other vessels, both English and French, 
sailed in company with them to various places; at last, on 
February 12 th, they set sail from Mayo, and stood for 
the coast of Guiana, and on February the 27 th they 


made the land, which appeared low, somewhere about 
Cape Cecil. They next reached the river Wiapoco 
(about 4 deg. north of the line), and explored it as fia: as 
the fall (about sixteen leagues), and foimd it full oi 
islands, but met no Indians. They then sailed along the 
coast and traded with the natives. The traflSc was 
principally in tobacco. They passed by the rivers 
Euracco and Amana, explored the Marawinne, and on 
the 4th of April reached the falls, having had frequent 
and friendly intercourse with the Indians. On the 18th 
April they entered the river Coritine,* and met with a 
small town, named Warawalle. In this river they also 
met a bark, called the John;^ of London, with Captain 
Leigh on board. They were told here, that on a neigh- 
bouring river, the Dessekebe^^ there were lately about 
300 Spaniards, but that most of them were now de- 
stroyed, or dead. They also learned that this river 
stretched so far inland as to be within one day's joiuney 
of the lake, called Perima, whereupon Manoa was sup- 
posed to stand; "and finding that the river Coritine 
doth meet with Dessekebe up in the land^ we made 
account to go up into the country, to discover a passage 
imto that rich city." 

Accordingly, on the 28th April, a party, composed of 
about forty men and twenty Indians, proceeded in two 
shallops and two canoes to explore this passage. They 
diligently ascended the Coritine, sleeping at night in the 
woods and visiting several Indian towns, and arrived on 
the 2nd of May at the falls, over some of which they 
passed; but here their determination failed them^ for 
learning that there were other falls not passable, and that 
the In(£ans higher up would probably oppose their pro- 

♦ The Coien^. 

f The present river Essequebo. 


gress, they resolved to abandon the undertaking, although 
Mr. Masham yielded divers reasons to the contrary. On 
the 4th of May they regained their ships, and a report 
having reached them that there were ten canoes of 
Spaniards in the mouth of the Coritine, they made ready 
for an assault. It appeared afterwards, however, that 
this was merely a foraging party in search of provisions 
for the settlers in Orinoco, Marouco, and Dessekebe. 
They described the river Coritine as about fifty leagues 
from the mouth to the first falls, crowded with islands, 
and having three tributary streams and six towns. 

Having no further object to detain them, they cleared 
the river upon Sunday, the 8th of May, and took their 
course to the West Indies. Passing by St. Vincent, St. 
Lucia, and Martinique, they arrived at Dominica upon 
May 18th. Visited Guadaloupe on the 15th, and sailing 
along Montserrat, Antigua, and Barbadoes, steered across 
the Atlantic, and arrived at Plymouth on June 28th, 
without any casualty. The account given of Guiana by 
Mr. Masham confirmed the favourable evidence of Sir 
Walter Raleigh. In point of climate they found it 
temperate and healthy. 

" For besides that we lost not a man upon the coast, 
one that was sick before he came there was nothing 
sicker for being there, but came home safe — thanks be to 

The Indians he describes as " tractable and ingenious, 
and very loving and kind to Englishmen generally." 

There was great store of fish and fowl of divers sorts. 
" Tortoise's flesh plentiful, and tortoise's eggs innumerable ; 
deer, swine, conies, hares, cocks and hens, with potatoes, 
more than we could spend, besides all kinds of fruits at 
all times of the year, and the rarest fruits of the world — 
the pine, the plantain, with other variable and pleasant 


things growing to their hands without planting or 

He makes particular mention of Cassari (Cassava), 
"which, says he, is as good bread as a man need to eat, 
and better than we can carry any thither." He describes 
accurately the mode of preparing it, which is the same 
as that practised at the present time. 

With reference to the commodities of the country, he 
speaks of a species of hemp, of cotton wool, pitch, gums, 
pepper, &c. ; also of parrots, monkeys, and other animals. 

Not discouraged by the ill success of the previous 
voyages. Sir Walter Raleigh, whilst in prison, still 
cherished his romantic visions about Guiana, and every 
second year during his imprisonment continued to send 
vessels thither to encourage the Indians against the 
Spaniards, and to prepare them for the protection of the 
English. At length, when liberated from the Tower, in 
1616, he made arrangements for a grand expedition — 
raised about 10,500/. by selling his own and his wife's 
property, and attracted a great number of adventurers 
by the splendour of his reputation. A commission, dated 
26th of August, 1616, was procured from King James 
through the influence of Sir Ralph Wiwood; but 
although released from confinement, and holding this 
commission, Raleigh had not obtained a formal pardon. 
It is true that a pardon was offered him for 700?. by 
some of the courtierj«, but this he refused, strengthened 
by the opinion of Bacon, who gave him the following 

" Sir, the knee timber of your voyage is money ; 
spare your purse in this particular, for upon my life you 
have a sufficient pardon for all that is past already, the 
king having, under his broad seal, made you admiral of 
your fleet, and given you power of the martial law over 
your officers and soldiers." 



Seven months after the date of the commission the 
following force was ready for sea: 






Sir Walter Raleigh 




John Pennington 




E. Hasting (aft. Whitney) 




Sir Warham Saint Leger 



Flying Joan 

John Ghidlej 




John Bayley 




James Barker 



Before this fleet left the English coast, it was aug- 
mented by the addition of the undernamed vessels: 


Convertine Captain K^srmls 

Confidence '* WoUaston 

Flying Hart Sir John Feme 


A fly boat Samuel King 

I Another Robert Smith 

A caryel 

On the 28th March, 1617, Sir Walter Ealeigh dropped 
down the Thames. In the lilay following, he published 
his order to the fleet at Plymouth, but it was late in 
June, or early in July, before he started. The violence 
of the weather compelled him to put into Cork, where 
he was detained till late in August. He made the 
Canaries in September, the Cape de Verd Islands in 
October, and finally reached the continent of South 
America in November, afler a very bad passage. They 
made Guiana on the 12th November. 

On board of Raleigh's own ship, principally filled 
with his friends and relations, a great mortality had 
occurred. Forty-two persons had died on the voyage, 
as many more were ill, the great commander himself 
being amongst the sufferers. In a letter to his wife, 
after expatiating upon all the disasters he had expe- 
rienced, he concludes in these words: — "To tell you 


that I might be here king of the Indians were a vanity. 
But my name hath still lived among them here. They 
feed me with fresh meat, and all that the country yields : 
all offer to obey me." 

This letter was dated: "From Caliana, in Guiana, 
the 14th November." Raleigh remained at the river 
Caliana untU the 4th December, 1617, recruiting his 
shattered forces, and subsequently despatched five small 
vessels, imder the charge of Captain Keymis, to the 
Orinoco, to discover the mines. This little squadron 
had about 260 men in companies of fifty each, under 
the command of Captains Parker, North, Raleigh (son 
to Sir Walter), Thomhurst, and Chidley. The remain- 
ing vessels of the fleet (five in number, some having 
deserted,) proceeded to Trinidad to await the result 
of the expedition against Orinoco, and to watch the 
Spaniards. The forces under Captain Keymis having 
landed on the Orinoco, marched up to the town of St. 
Thomas, which they attacked and captured, but with 
considerable loss. Amongst others, yoimg Walter 
Raleigh fell at the head of his company. Captain 
Keymis, disheartened at the loss of his best troops, re- 
linquished his search for the mines, and after slaying 
the governor of the El Dorado, Don Diego Palamica, 
and several of his captains, withdrew from the town and 
re-embarked his troops. Raleigh's interview with this 
commander led to a melancholy catastrophe. Keymis, 
unable to justify his conduct, retired to his cabin and 
destroyed himself. 

Some of the other adventurers under Captains Whit- 
ney and Wallaston sailed back to Granada. These cir- 
cumstances preyed upon the mind of Raleigh. The 
darling object of his ambition seemed no longer attain- 
able, and after having sacrificed his son, his health, and 


his fortune, he left the Guianas for ever, and repaired to 
England, doomed to end his chivakous career upon the 

Perhaps there is no tissue of romantic adventure in 
the history of human delusions more extraordinary than 
the narrative of these expeditions. For a period of up- 
wards of one hundred years the belief in a kingdom 
abounding in gold and silver, whose capital was paved 
with the precious metals, and outshone the sun with the 
splendour of its precious stones, continued to dazzle the 
imaginations of men in all parts of the world, notwith- 
standing the repeated proofs which the failure of one 
undertaking after another furnished of the fallacy of 
their expectations. The " Arabian Nights" hardly con- 
tain an enchantment so marvellous as that which was 
exercised over the adventurous spirits of the sixteenth 
century by the poetical fables that were circulated of 
the El Dorado. They sought it in the east on the 
margin of the Atlantic; they pursued the phantom to 
the north of the banks of the wild Orinoco; they fol- 
lowed its imaginary track to the west over the mighty 
Andes, through savage valleys, interminable forests, and 
perilous swamps, and to the south over the dark waters 
of the river Negro and the island-studded Amazon; but 
the land of promise vanished as they approached, and 
the further they advanced the more hopeless was the 
pursuit. But disappointments, instead of damping their 
ardour, fired their determination anew, and accumulated 
disasters deemed to confirm their faith. Their bones 
whitened the banks of rivers — successive expeditions 
perished — and the few survivors who came back to tell 
the tale, only served to stimulate the delusion their 
example should have reproved and dispelled. 

In this more instructed age we look back with wonder 


upon the infatuation that led to so vast an expenditure 
of energy and capital upon so manifest a chimera ; but it 
is impossible at the same time not to admire the courage 
and perseverance that were wasted upon its pursuit. 
The resolution of these desperate adventurers mounted 
with the diflSculties and dangers that surrounded them; 
the poisoned arrows showered upon them from the am- 
buscades of the trackless woods — the sickly heats of the 
climate — the horrors of the rainy season — the pestilent 
morass — the atmosphere charged with miasma — the 
earth and the air alive with reptiles and insects more 
formidable than the human foes through whose posses- 
sions they had to pass — were encountered with a fanati- 
cism which nothing short of the thirst of gold could have 
inspired or sustained. 

The vision of the Golden City has now faded in the 
awakening light of knowledge. It has been reserved 
for a distinguished philosopher of the present age to sub- 
mit the delusion to the test of science, and dissipate the 
gorgeous phantasy for ever. 

" In the universal search for El Dorado, two places 
appear more particularly to have attracted general atten- 
tion — viz., the regions along the eastern slope of the 
Andes of Candinamarca (New Granada), which have 
been considered as the birthplace of the fiction, and 
that part of Guiana which lies between the rivers Rupu- 
nuni and Branco. A large inland lake, another Caspian 
Sea, as Raleigh expressed himself, was the constant 
companion of the golden city. Whether or no this 
locality referred to the Andes south of Mexico, or to 
Guiana, we find it surrounded by water. Thus when 
the space where El Dorado was situated was supposed 
to be in Guiana, the name of the river Parima, and the 
inundations to which the flat country or savannahs were 


subjected, through which the rivers Parima, Takutu, 
Xurumu, Maku, and Rupununi take their course, gave 
rise to the fable of the White Sea, or Laguna del Parima, 
or Rupununi. Captain Keymis, who, at the expense of 
Raleigh, undertook a second voyage to Guiana, identified 
the locality of Dorado with this lake, which, as he 
imagined, contained the town of Manilo ; and Hum- 
boldt, after fully examining into the subject of the lake 
Parima, proved that it no longer existed. Its erasure 
from the maps put an end to the long and painful illu- 
sion of the El Dorado." 

HISTORY OF bbhish guiama. 127 





The age of chivalry and jomance in British Guiana passed 
away with the adventurers of the sixteenth century, never 
to return. To the ardent and sanguine Spaniard, suc- 
ceeded the methodical and unimaginative Dutchman, 
who, accustomed in his own country to the difficulties of 
a flat and marshy land, settled down in contentment upon 
the undrained banks of the rivers and rsea-coasts, leaving 
to more credulous and speculative individuals the task of 
exploring the interior of a country enveloped in mystery 
and marvels. It has been already shown that the several 
adventurers from Spain, Portugal, England, and France, 
although ransacking the country in quest of the treasures 
it was supposed to contain, left little behind them but 
the history of therrmisfortunes and disappointment. The 


Spaniards, more particularly, furnished such an example; 
for although they had long lingered on the " Wild 
Coast," as Guiana was then denominated, yet they were 
eventually all driven away, or murdered by the Indians ; 
so that about the end of the sixteenth century they held 
scarcely a rood of land in this d^rritory. 

It has been already noticed that in 1580 the Dutch, 
imder the direction of some Zealand merchants, had com- 
menced a settlement on the banks of the river Pomeroon 
and at the mouth of the river Essequebo,* from which 
latter, however, in 1596, they were driven away by the 
Spaniards and Indians. With the pertinacity, however, 
peculiar to their character and nation, they did not 
abandon their object, but proceeded further up this noble 
river, and, under commander Joost Van der Hoog, effected 
a settlement on a small island called Kykoveral, situated 
at the confluence of two tributary streams — viz., the river 
Cayuni and the river Mazaruni, which will be shortly 

In 1599 another Dutchman, named Adrian Hend- 
ricks, an influential inhabitant and burgomaster of 
Middleburg, sent two ships to the same coast, and asked 
for sixteen competent soldiers for each vessel from the 
state of Zealand, knowing the dangerous condition of 
traffic at that time. Other attempts at settlements were 
made about the same time from Vlissingen. Whilst 
these movements were in progress, two forts which the 
settlers had erected on the Amazon were destroyed by 
the Portuguese. 

Some Zealand merchants shortly afterwards sent an 
expedition, imder the command of Ryk Henderzoon, for 
the purpose of trade, and to establish a settlement on the 

* A settlement formerly existed at Cartabo Point, the tongue of land dtnated 
at the confluence of the rlTers Mazaruni and Cajuni, tributaries of the riyer 


same coast. The names of these merchants were Van 
Peeren, Van Khee, De Moor, De Lampsins, De Vries, 
and De Hovin. Freedom of convoy was' granted to them 
by the States-General in 1602. Their endeavours to 
proceed up the river Orinoco were, however, prevented 
by the Spaniards, who th%n occupied the neighbourhood 
of that river. 

It would appear also that the English (who had at one 
time indulged in the same sanguine expectations that had 
fascinated the Spaniards), profiting by the disastrous 
results of mere speculative theories, now began to emulate 
the more sober efforts of the Dutch at colonisation, and 
actually endeavoured to settle on the coast. In the year 
1604, Captain Charles Leigh attempted to plant a colony 
in Guiana. Leaving England on March 21st, he arrived 
with his ship, the Olive JPlant, and forty-six people, at 
the river Wiapoco (a tributary of the river Orinoco), 
which he called Caroleigh (May 22nd). He was here 
well received by the Indians (the lokos, Armakos, and 
Sapayos), whom he assisted in their wars with the Caribs. 
He commenced a settlement near a hill, which he called 
Oliphe; but the people getting dissatisfied at his selec- 
tion of a locality, he removed to another hill named 
Huntly, about two miles westward of the river Caroleigh,. 
calling the settlement Principium, and the hill Howard. 
Here he waited for reinforcements, which, unfortimately,. 
never arrived. The expected force under Captaina 
Calolone and Nicholas St. John, in the ship Olive 
Blossom, left Woolwich in May, 1605; but, in conse- 
quence of adverse winds, went first to Barbadoes, and 
afterwards to St. Lucia, where they attempted to settle, 
but were for the most part murdered by the Carib Indians, 
who had not yet been driven from their fastnessec.* 
A few, however, escaped, and proceeded to the Caraccas. 

* Breen'f St. Lucia, p. 45. 
VOL. I. K 


In the following year, 1606, Captain Edward Hartley 
sailed in his vessel, the Sea Phomia;, with thirty people 
and some merchandise to the coast of Guiana. In the 
course of their cruise they were fortunate enough to meet 
with Captain Leigh and some of his people ; but the in- 
formation derived from them was not of an encouraging 
description. The majority of the settlers had suffered 
severely from the climate and other unlooked-for hard- 
ships. Many had died; and Captain Leigh himself, with 
several others, perished soon after. The Sea Phcmix 
did not remain long in the neighbourhood; yet, in spite 
of the accounts which they had received, thirty-five people 
maintained their struggling colony under the command 
of Richard Lacksia, only, however, to experience in the 
end the same calamities that had befallen the rest of 
their countrymen. In a short time many of them died, 
and at last, Lacksia himself, with fourteen others, gladly 
seized upon a favourable opportunity, and set sail in some 
Zealand vessels bound for Middleburg. Another attempt 
to form a British colony in this neighbourhood terminated 
still more disastrously. In the year 1608 an expedition, 
under Commander Harcourt, with thirty people, reached 
the coast, and settled in the Indian village Caripa, on the 
river Wiapoco. Nothing more is known of the issue of 
the undertaking; but little doubt can be entertained as 
to its fate. Had they succeeded, they must have left 
some trace behind them, or some account would have 
come down to us of their proceedings. The probability 
is, that they perished under the hands of the natives. 

Nor was the attempt made at a later period by Cap- 
tain Marshall and sixty people, to settle in a neighbouring 
river, the Surinam, attended by much more prosperous 
results. They erected a small building about ten miles 
up that river, and also established a fort some sixteen 
miles ftirther on, with the intention of cultivating to- 


bacco. They had at first settled on a small river, the 
little Coma — ^the present river Comowini, or Corame- 
wyne; but being molested in this place, they proceeded 
to the great river Coma, now known as the Surinam. 
When they first landed, a large Indian village, called 
Paramaribo (Flower-garden), had been abandoned and 
destroyed by the natives. This village the English re- 
built ; but finding themselves harassed by the Indians, 
and suffering severely from the insalubrity of the climate, 
they finally abandoned their project. This occurred 
from the year 1626 to 1630. Ten years afterwards the 
French invested the evacuated settlement of Paramaribo, 
but rehnqpiished it for the same reasons as the English. 
The French settlers, however, proceeded to Cayenne, 
and there founded what is now faiown as French Guiana. 
The origin of the present Dutch Guiana is curious, and 
deserves, perhaps, in this place a passing notice, although 
somewhat irrelevant to the immediate subject of our 

In 1652 a body of English settlers again arrived at 
Paramaribo, and being now fireed from the molestation 
of the Caribbee Indians, who had removed fix)m Warrica 
to the Coponam, at length succeeded in establishing a 
settlement The infant colony prospered, and in 1662 
was granted by Charles II. of England to Lord Wil- 
loughby, at that time governor of Barbadoes, who 
changed the Indian name of the river Coma, into Surry- 
ham, in honour of the Earl of Surrey, which in the 
course of time became converted into Surinam. The 
British Crown afterwards bought this colony firom the 
heirs of Lord WHloughby, and exchanged it with the 
Dutch Grovemment in 1669 for New Holland, in North 
America — ^the present repubhcan dty of New York. 
Thus is the French adage, " L'homme propose, Dieu dis- 
pose," verified in these singular events. 



It has been shown that at the end of the sixteenth 
century, in 1680, the Dutch had akeady effected a settle- 
ment near the river Essequebo, and that in the attempt 
to establish themselves further upon its west coast, they 
had been driven away by the Spaniards. In 1613 this 
little colony had made considerable progress, for in addi- 
tion to the settlement of New Zealand, held by Com- 
mander Joost Van der Hoog, that officer had taken pos- 
session of a small island at the confluence of the two 
great tributary streams the Cayuni and the Mazaruni. 
He found here the remains of an old fort, built of hewn 
stone (van klipsteen gebouwd*), with the arms of the 
Portuguese nation carved over the gateway; but when, 
or by whom erected, is unknown. To this fort he gave 
his own name, and the island, ftom its commanding posi- 
tion, was termed by the Dutch " Kyk over al," literally 
" See over all." For many years this fort was held for 
the purpose of defence, but subsequently, in 1764, was 
destroyed, and part of the hewn stones were used in the 
erection of a sugar-mill on the Dutch Company's planta- 
tion, the Duinenberg, the remainder being similarly em- 
ployed in 1768 on another plantation, the Lucksbergen. 
In course of time two churches were built, one at Post- 
ampa, erected at the cost of the inhabitants, and the 
other, or company's church, on Fort Island ; and a pre- 
dicant, or preacher, was appointed, at the joint expense 
of the inhabitants and the company. These arrange- 
ments were followed up in 1614 by a general declaration 
issued by the Government of Zealand (one of the seven 
United Provinces), granting free trade to certain persons, 
to the exclusion of all others, who should undertake to 
explore and navigate the several rivers, havens, and 
creeks of this country. 

It must be borne in mind, in reading the account of 

* Hartsink 


the subsequent events, that the condition of the Dutch 
nation at this period was very different from its present 

On the 16th of January, 1679, seven Protestant pro- 
vinces of the Netherlands, then governed by Philip 11., 
successor to the famous Charles V., threw off the yoke 
of Spain, and deputies from Holland, Zealand, Utrecht, 
Friesland,' or Vlissingen, Goningen, Overyssel, and Guil- 
derland, the seven provinces, met at Utrecht, and signed 
the famous Union, to all appearance so slight, but in 
reality so solid, whereby these provinces, hitherto inde- 
pendent of each other, and actuated by different interests, 
became as closely connected by the great tie of liberty 
as the bimdle of arrows, the arms and emblem of their 

It was agreed that they should unite imder one go- 
vernment, each province and city reserving to itself all 
its own privileges, rights, customs, and statutes ; that in 
all disputes between particular provinces, the rest should 
interpose only as mediators ; and that they should assist 
each other with life and fortune against every hostile 
attempt upon any single province. Their motto was 
" Incertum quo fata ferant," and they adopted for a de- 
vice on their coin a ship stru^ling amid the waves, un- 
assisted by sails or oars. The republic had for their 
rulers, or stadtholders, the princes of the House of 

In 1621 the Dutch West India Company was esta- 
blished, with exdusiye control over all the settlements of 
their nation on the Wild Coast, and also the trade thither. 
The cultivation of land must already have been in active 
progress, for reports from the infant colony represented 
it to be in a flourishing condition ; and the abundant 
fertility of the soil being appreciated, the means only 
were wanting to carry out the full development of its 


resources. Who can contemplate without excitement, 
the position of the early planters, and the thoughts which 
must have crowded into their minds, when they found 
themselves masters of a land teeming on all sides with 
unbounded natural wealthy and reaching as far as the 
eye could strain ; under the genial influence of perpetual 
summer ? How eager must have been their desires I 
how jealous their views! how ambitious their enter- 
prising projects! Wealth was before them, but how 
could they obtain it ? Opulence was scattered around 
them, but how could they collect it ? The broad stream 
had to be crossed, the tall forests levelled, and unprofit- 
able verdure made to give way to more useful culture. 
The Dutch Government was' not backward in aiding the 
early efforts of the colonists ; aware of the advantages 
which would accrue to their country, and already skilled 
in colonisation by their rising possessions in the east, 
they undertook to supply the colonist with the cheapest 
labour. A company was accordingly formed in 1621, 
and a monopoly granted to them, for the purpose ot 
introducing negro slaves from Ainca into their posses- 
sions in Guiana. 

It is unnecessary in this work to enter at any length 
into the origin and history of the aUwe-trade. This 
abominable traflSc was introduced so early as the year 
1442, to a civilised world, by the Portuguese, who, 
imder the encouragement of their celebrated Prince 
Henry, were exploring the coast of Africa. About that 
timey Antonio Gonzalves had seized some Moors near 
Cape Bajador, but was ordered by the prince to carry 
them back to their country ; he accordingly landed them 
at the Rio del Oro, and received from the Moors in 
exchange, ten blacks, and a quantity of gold dust, with 
which he returned to Lisbon. Stimulated by the pros- 
pect of gain which this adventure opened up, his 


countrymen were not slow in following his footsteps, 
and through succeeding years, a number of vessels were 
fitted out for the same profitable traffic ; forts for the 
protection of this novel trade were erected on the coast 
of Afiica, and the "K^ing of Portugal, in addition to his 
Christian titles, assumed that of " Lord of Guinea." 

The Spaniards in 1502, urged on by the avarice and 
recklessness which in this age characterised their pro- 
ceedings, greedily entered into the necessary and cruel 
traffic, and finding the aboriginal inhabitants of the 
newly-discovered countries too indolent and refiractory 
to assist them in their gold-seeking pursuits, they na- 
turally fell into the tempting project of importing negro 
slaves for the purpose of labour, but especially for work- 
ing the mines of die auriferous regions. Hence, in a few 
years, it became an established and regular branch of 
coromerce. Among other nations, the English did not 
hesitate to follow the same lucrative trade, for in the 
records of naval history collected by the famous Hakluyt, 
particular mention is made of the celebrated " John 
Hawkins," who afterwards received fi:om Queen Ehza- 
beth the honour of knighthood, and was subsequently 
made treasurer of the navy. This fortimate captain, 
says Hakluyt, hearing "that negroes were very good 
merchandise in Hispaniola, and that store of negroes 
might easily be had on the Coast of Guinea, he resolved 
to make trial thereof, and communicated that device 
with his worshipful fiiends of London, Sir Lionel Ducket, 
Sir Thomas Lodge, Master G^mson (his father-in-law), 
Sir William Winter, Master Bromfield, and others ; all 
which persons Uked ao well of his intention, that they 
became liberal contributors, and adventurers in the 
action ; for which purpose there were three good ships 
immediately provided, the Solomon of 120 tunnes, 
wherein Master Hawkins went himself as general ; the 


Swallow of 100 tunnes, and the JonaSj a bark of 40 
tunnes; in which small fleete Master Hawkins took 
with him 100 men." 

He sailed fix)m England for Sierra Leone, in October, 

1562, and in a short time after his arrival on the coast, 
got into his possession, partly by the sword, and partly 
by other means, about 300 negroes, besides smidry mer- 
chandise, with which he proceeded to Hispaniola; and 
touching at different posts in that island, disposed of the 
whole of his cargo, in exchange for hides, ginger, augar^ 
and some pearls. He returned to England in September, 

1563, after a voyage which had been productive of 
great profit to the adventurers.* In the following year 
he undertook another voyage, in which we need not 
follow him ftirther than to state that, upon this occasion, 
he was appointed to one of the queen's ships, lezuSj 
of 700 tons; the avarice and cupidity of the British 
Government being excited by the successftd issue of his 
former expedition. The implied sanction, if not the 
direct protection and support of Great Britain, was thus 
given to the slave-trade. 

The French nation was also found engaged in a similar 
trafiBc, and lastly the Dutch, in the seventeenth century, 
formally entered upon the heartless, but profitable spe- 
culation. The shores of Guiana were perhaps the first 
territories to which the miserable steps of the captured 
Afiricans were directed by their Dutch masters. It was 
not long before the evidence of the new labour-power 
was made manifest ; the impassable bush was cleared 
from the land; the soil was tolerably drained of its 
superabundant moisture ; and the finiitfiil earth, so long 
undisturbed, was awakened to a new life, and made to 
give birth to a race of exotic plants, brought to maturity 
by the skill and industry of man. 

* Edwardfl, p. 48. 


The cotton, the coffee, and the sugar-cane, introduced 
at different periods, into the teeming soil, were reared in 
such vigour and luxuriance, as to render the name of 
Guiana familiar in after-times to the whole of Europe. 
Few people, except the enterprising Dutch, could have 
seriously entertained the design of establishing extensive 
cultivation so near to the coast of the Atlantic, and the 
inundated banks of these rivers. But accustomed in 
their own country to wrestle with the difficulties of a 
marshy land, and to defy the encroachment of the seas, 
they did not hesitate to occupy the muddy shores, and 
to protect themselves by artificial means from the en- 
croachment of the waves; possibly, also, to rob the 
waters of their natural botmdaries. At first, they were 
more or less compelled to cultivate the lands up the 
river, from apprehension of the buccaneers, who occa- 
sionally did them the honour of depriving them of the 
profit of years. But gradually they became bolder, and 
approached nearer the mouth of the river. This move- 
ment was adopted partly for the general purposes of 
commerce and military strength, and partly to obtain 
increased shipping facilities, having found it necessary 
in their early shipments to employ vessels of war in 
escorting the loaded barks out to sea, beyond the reach 
of the marauding privateers that cruised about the coast. 
At the present time, it appears almost incredible that the 
Dutch should have carried their cultivation so high up 
the Essequebo, and so far inland. It is asserted by Dr. 
Hancock, that not many years ago a coffee-field existed 
at Ooropocary, about forty leagues inland, which had 
been planted at some unknown period; and the same 
writer adds, in exemplification of the wonderful fertility 
of the soil, that the trees were still actually bearing fruit 
in abundance, " nature alone keeping up the reproduc- 
tion." It is also evident fix>m the reports of travellers, 


that numerous posts, established by the Dutch, are still 
to be met with on the Essequebo, very far inland. 

In 1626, Jan Van Peere, a native of Flushing, who 
with other settlers had been driven away from the river 
Orinoco, proceeded to the river Berbice, and commenced 
to cultivate its banks. His efforts were crowned with 
success, for in 1627, at a meeting of the West India 
Company of Holland, or rather of the republic of the 
seven provinces, a resolution was passed forbidding any 
one to trade to the coast of Guiana from the Pomeroon 
to the Corentyn without permission fi'om the said com- 
pany or from the said Van Peere, who had become a 
kind of proprietor of the lands in cultivation in Berbice. 
The company also declared the African slave-trade to 
this coast to be free, but reserved to themselves the ex- 
clusive supply of such settlements as already existed — 
viz., Surinam, Essequebo, and Berbice. 

St. Andries was a fort built subsequently on the east 
of the river Berbice, about 100 roods from its mouth, 
opposite Crab Island. This fort was called Andries 
after the then governor, Johan Andries Lossner, and was 
built of brick, fortified with twelve cannon, having a 
paling four feet high, with a ditch or moat outside. In 
1746 there were twenty-five men here, under a lieutenant 
and other ojficers ; but the soldiers deserted, and the fort 
was pulled down, a stone house built in its place, occu- 
pied by a sergeant and five or six men, with a cannon, to 
establish signals with the settlements; a redoubt and 
posts were constructed more inland, but were afterwards 
abandoned. The Eedoubt Samson, several miles up on 
the east bank of the river Berbice, was a bulwark made 
of earth, afterwards changed into a brick house, with 
several cannon for protection. 

About fifty miles fiirther up, in a direct line, was Fort 
Nassau, for many years the site of the little capital of 


that river. It was occupied by the governor and prin- 
cipal colonists, and was protected by palisades ten feet 
high, and several cannon. In the interior was a church 
and a brick building, used as a council-house and go- 
vernor's residence; the under part was employed as a 
guard-house and magazine. At the distance of a cannon- 
shot fix)m Fort Nassau was New Amsterdam, which 
consisted at first of about twenty scattered houses, with 
a Lutheran church and minister's house. On the other 
side of the river a Dutch Reformed church was built at 
the mouth of the river Waironi, as well as a redoubt or 
fort, and another small Lutheran church higher up. A 
fortress, called Zeelandia,. was constructed about fifty 
miles up the river, but was subsequently abandoned. 

Acting upon the same principles as their fellow-coun- 
trymen on the Essequebo, the colonists of Berbice pro- 
ceeded to lay out plantations, to form draining and navi- 
gation canals, and to raise up dykes, or, as they were 
afterwards called, dams. The increasing success of these 
two infant colonies induced numerous persons to flock to 
them, and led others to attempt similar expeditions else- 
where. A ship, called the Kmg Davidj with fourteen 
pieces of cannon, twenty-five sailors, and thirty passen- 
gers, under the command of Captain David Pietre de 
Vries, sailed fi:om Texel on the 10th of July, 1634, and 
proceeded first to Cayenne, which they found settled by 
the English. They in consequence directed their course 
to the island Meconia, between the rivers Cayenne and 
Wia, where they disembarked, and colonising its banks, 
endeavoured to cultivate tobacco, orlians,*'and cotton. 
In this neighbourhood they met with another body of 
Dutch setders, under Claude Prevost, who had arrived 

* The Qrliana-tree, as it was called hy the Dutch, yielded the Rocoo, or Ar- 
notto dye, which became an artide of commerce, and has been used to colour 
cheese. It it the pfoduce of the Biza Oiellana (ord. Flacourtiaoea). 


on the island two years before. The new planters like- 
wise discovered the ruins of an old castle, built by the 
French, on a hill, which they took care to repair for their 
own protection, and to prevent the approach of hostile 
ships. Two wells were found sunk within the castle. 
Moreover, some English and Zealanders were fallen in 
with, employed in cultivating tobacco and other produce; 
and such was the extent of the cultivation that had been 
previously carried on at this place, that they reported 
having found between 80,000 and 100,000 tobacco-plants, 
the same number of cotton-trees, and some wild speci- 
mens of the sugar-cane, whose stems were as thick as a 
man's arm ! 

Captain De Vries left this island on the 14th of Octo- 
ber in the same year, taking with him the grandson of a 
Caribbean chief, named Awaricary, who was anxious to 
see Europe. Sailing to the river Sinamari, he fell in with 
twelve French settlers, cultivating pimento and pepper. 
These people were imder the command of an oflScer 
named Chambin, and had been here about three years. 
Visiting next the river Anama, and Marowini, Captain 
De Vries found them inhabited by Arrawak and Carib- 
bee Indians ; on the last river he met with some Dutch 
settlers. Proceeding subsequently to the Surinam, he 
saw Captain Marshall and his English settlers. Quitting 
this river, he passed the Berbice and Demerara, leaving 
at the latter stream some Indians who had accompanied 
him from Surinam, and at length reached the settlements 
at the Essequebo, where he joined the commander, Jan 
Van der Goss. This governor seriously entertained the 
idea of the existence of gold mines in the neighbourhood, 
and actually sent proposals to the West India Company 
relative to the exploring of such on the Orinoco. 

It was very natural that in such new countries the 
thoughts even of the practical Dutchman should be 


diverted by the prospect of finding gold in some shape or 
other; for in spite of the prospects held out to them by 
the exuberant richness of the soil, they had many dif- 
ficulties of no ordinary kind to contend against in its 
cultivation. The cUmate was damp, relaxing, and aguish; 
the land was overrun with creeping plants; the animals 
and insects were intolerable; and the distance firom home 
occasioned the greatest inconveniences. A few of the 
necessaries of life could indeed be procured in their 
adopted land; but their luxuries, and many of their 
habitual wants, had still to be supplied fi:om an European 
source, at a distance of about 4000 miles. They bore 
their hardships with the greatest fortitude and patience, 
and encountered their difficulties with composure if not 
cheerfulness ; but as yet the produce of the soil was not 
of a very lucrative nature, and the mere exportation of 
such articles as tobacco, pepper, pimento, dye-stuffs, and 
cotton, had not attracted much notice in Europe; indeed, 
they had made so slight an impression, that in the year 
1657 the first Dutch General West India Company, in 
consequence of recent losses in the Brazils and other 
causes, were disinclined to take much interest in them, 
and in the October of that year the management of the 
settlement in Essequebo was entrusted to a connnission 
of eight persons — viz., two from Middleburg, one from 
Vlissingen, one fi:om Veere, and four from the Chamber 
of Zealand, which last had endeavoured to organise the 
scanty possession on the Essequebo by establishing planta- 
tions and introducing more negro labour. The two posts 
at Pomeroon and Morocco were accordingly settled anew, 
and the villages or towns of New Zealand and New 
Middleburg were erected on the banks of these rivers. 

The commissioners on behalf of these cities in the 
Netherlands, which they represented, had the exclusive 
right of trading to these new settlements on condition of 


defraying all the charges of the civil and military esta- 
blishments ; but the evils of war interfered soon after 
with their new arrangements; the administration of 
Essequebo was handed over to the Kamjer Zealand, or 
West India Company of the Chamber of Zealand. 

At the beginning of the war in the year 1665, an 
English vessel of ten or twelve guns attacked Fort 
Nassau, and was repulsed. But in the following year, 
1666, an English fleet, under Meyer John Schot, furnished 
by the governor of Barbadoes and some of the other 
islands, attacked this colony, and compelled the Dutch to 
capitulate; furthermore, the French, with whom they 
were also at war, visited the settlements on the Essequebo, 
and plundered them, but could not take the fort; so that 
the commander of Berbice, at that time Matthys Ber- 
genaar, with a few of the settlers, besides a company of 
negroes and some runaways, proceeded to the rescue of 
Fort Nassau which had been attacked, and compelled 
the invaders to withdraw. This was in 1667, when the 
peace of Buda restored a temporary tranquillity to these 
shores. The general command was then given to Com- 
mander Crynsse, who left the Ensign Baarlaid in charge 
of the Essequebo, and Commander Saal in charge of the 
Morocco, but who was succeeded in 1670 by Hendrich 
Roll, appointed by the Kamer Zealand as Commander of 

Not long after the peace, or about 1669, a serious 
proposition was made by Frederick Casimir, Count of 
Hanover, through his privy councillor, Raad Jan Joachim 
Bekker, to the General West India Company, into whose 
hands the management of the colony had again fallen 
under certain conditions confirmed by the States-General. 
The proposition of Count Hanover was, that a German 
colony, with the consent of the Company, should be 
formed on the "Wild Coast** of America, between the 


Orinoco and the Amazon. This proposal was at once 
agreed to, and an agreement to the following effect 
entered into between the parties: — " That the extent of 
land to be granted should be about 30 miles broad and 
100 deep mland, and to be at least six miles from any of 
the Dutch settlements. That the land so given should 
be cultivated within twelve years of the grant. That the 
land should be held as a lien, the count to consider him- 
self as a vassal to the company, giving and receiving 
assistance. That such land be liable to transfer to 
children, or other heirs, but that with every transfer a 
charge of liege money (Heergewaaden) was to be paid — 
say 5000 lbs. of su^ixr, or 100 ducats. That the com- 
pany should be bound to maintain and support the rights 
of Uie count. That the count should possess sole right 
over the political, judicial, and military affairs, appeal in 
certain cases being permitted to be made to the company. 
That the practice of all kinds of religion should be allowed. 
That the navigation should be confined to the Netherlands; 
all * materiel' and goods' to come from that country, and 
all articles of produce shipped to go there. That ifwLj 
ne^o slaves should be required, the West India Com- 
pany should reserve j;he right of selling them at such 
rates and on such terms as they were in the habit of 
doing elsewhere," &a This carefully concocted scheme, 
however, was never carried into effect. The same destiny 
attended a similar proposal made some years after by 

On the first attempts at settlement, whether on the 
Essequebo or the Berbice, little attention had been paid 
by those in charge to their several limits or boundaries; 
but as the inhabitants increased in number, and as cultiva- 
tion in each district was followed up with some d^ee of 
success, it became necessary to draw the line of demarca- 
tion between two such spreading " land streeken," as the 


Dutch termed them. The necessity for this arrangement 
was obvious; for although colonised by individuals of 
the same nation, yet each colony maintained its separate 
rights and privileges, and was superintended by a separate 
commander. To benefit, therefore, the present occupiers 
of land, and to avoid future litigation, the governor of 
Essequebo, Hendrich Roll, who had been appointed by 
the West India Company in 1670, and the Secretary of 
Berbice, Van Berckel, agreed, in the year 1672, that the 
boundary line between Berbice and the Essequebo (in- 
eluding in the latter the unsettled river of Demerara) 
should be the small river Abary, which, arising in a hilly 
district about the 6th degree of north latitude, runs in a 
northerly direction towards the Atlantic Ocean, into 
which, after a course of about fifty miles, it discharges 
itself. Like most of the other rivers of similar size, this 
stream was called by the Dutch the Kreek Abari, after- 
wards translated into English the Creek Abari, which 
name it retains to the present day. 

It was, perhaps, from the greater attention paid by 
the Dutch to the very large rivers of this new country, 
or to the contrast which they presented to the smaller 
ones, that the term " kreek " became appUed to so many 
of the streams in Guiana ; for it requires very little geo- 
graphical knowledge to distinguish between a mere inlet 
of the sea, and the termination of a bed of water which 
has its origin inland. 

In 1673 a rebellion of the troops broke out, caused by 
Constapel Dirk Kosenkrans, who was dissatisfied with 
the diminution of the rations. Owing to the war, no 
ship had arrived for seventeen months, the one expected, 
the JEendrMhty being intercepted by the English. This 
Eosenkrans put the commander of the troops in prison. 
In 1674, two ships arrived bringing a new commander for 
a year, who liberated the former one, and sent him home. 


The boundaries being setded, the administration of 
the Government of Essequebo devolved into the hands 
of a new General West India Company, which was esta- 
blished in 1674, the first company having been dissolved. 
The Chamber of Zealand, however, was still allowed a cer- 
tain control over the colony, and even an exclusive right of 
trade with it, which continued till 1770, when the trade 
was partially thrown open to the other provinces also. 

The company appointed an assembly of ten persons to 
conduct its business, and the colony was presided over 
locally by an oflEicer or commander, Hendrich Koll, with 
a small salary, who, assisted by a few of the leading 
settlers, conducted the trifling judicial, civil, and political 
business of the settlement. Thus early the elements of a 
social commmiity began to be developed — so instinc- 
tively does man in a civilised state, turn to society for 
happiness and security. 

It has been asserted by a celebrated writer, Hobbes, 
''that out of society we are defended only by our single 
strength, in society, by the strength of all. Out of 
society no man is sure to keep possession of what his 
industry has gained ; in society, every body is secure 
from that danger. To conclude, out of society we have 
the tyranny of passion, war, fear, poverty, filthiness, bar- 
barity, ignorance, and wildness ; in society we have the 
sway of reason, peace, security, riches, decency of orna- 
ment, company, el^ancy, knowledge, and benevolence." 

This quaint exposition of the advantages of a social 
state has, however, been attacked by criticism, and 
with good reason, since the blessings enumerated do not 
invariably follow in society, nor are the evils of an op- 
posite state always to be avoided. The reader, in fol- 
lowing up the progress of this history, will probably 
discover cause for dissenting from the unqualified praise 

VOL. I. L 

146 msTORr of British guiana. 

bestowed on the advantages of the social compact by 
our learned countryman. Such as it was, however, 
something approaching to an organised social state 
began now to be displayed in the infant colony. The 
Assembly of Ten, alluded to, allowed the Chamber of 
Zealand, who were more particularly interested in the 
progress of the Essequebo settlements, to furnish equip- 
ments for their military protection, reserving to them- 
selves the right of appointing directors and commanders. 
They npminated Jacob Hars commander, who was suc- 
oeede<3[^ in 1678, by Commander Abraham Beckman. 
The colony of Berbice was under a similar superin- 
tendence, and was included in the charter of the West 
India Company ; but in the year 1678, a fresh arrange- 
ment was entered into between this company and 
Abraham Van Peere, magistrate and counsellor of Vlis- 
singen, whose ancestor, Jean Van Peere, as before ex- 
plained, first managed it about fifty years before. 

The following is an extract ftx)m the register of the 
resolution of the directors of the West India Company and 
the Assembly of Ten: — "Article and condition whereby 
the gentlemen directors (a committee of the respective 
Chambers of the General West India Company of the 
United States), under authority of their High Mighti- 
nesses of the States-General, give over a lien to Abraham 
Van Peere on the colony named Berbice. This colony, 
with all its appurtenances, to be made over to him 
under certain conditions. The above Van Peere, his 
lien, &c., to continue its administration, dvil, political, 
and social as before. To contract alliances, &c., under 
name and authority of their High Mightinesses and . 
company, and to erect fortresses, &c., for its defence and 
protection. Ships sent to the colony to be reported to 
the company, and to take out an act of commission." 


By the transfer thus made of this colony, and after- 
wards renewed in 1703, Abraham Van Peere became 
in a manner proprietor of the soil. 

Supplied as they were with the rudiments of autho- 
rity, capital, and labour, the two infant colonies, stimu- 
lated by an increasing demand for the products of their 
industry, contrived by their existence to signalise the 
trimnph of the Dutch, and stamp with some celebrity 
the close of the seventeenth century; but comparing 
small things with great, it is curious to notice the value 
of colonial appointments at this period. The first com-* 
mander of any note in Berbice, was Herr Lucas Condrio, 
who arrived in 1684, and contributed greatly to the 
prosperity of the colony. He improved Fort Nassau, 
and proceeding as a captain *o Surinam in 1689, was 
killed by the French. 

The Assembly of Ten having appointed J. P. De 
Yonge commander of Essequebo in 1680 or 1686, his 
salary was fixed at 50 florins per month (about 6^), which 
was just double what his predecessor, Abraham Beck- 
man, received in 1681; but this sum was protested 
against by the colonists as an intolerable burden, although 
it failed to satisfy the ambition of the next commander^ 
Samuel Beckman (appointed November 2, 1690), who 
in 1696 formally applied for an increase. This year ia 
also memorable for two other reasons — Ist. That an ap- 
plication was made for the appointment of a predikant, 
or clei^yman, indicating clearly that up td this period no 
such functionary existed in Essequebo, and also that 
some occasion or other led to the declared want of such 
an acquisition to the social elements ; 2nd. That the want 
of shipping was felt so generally, that application was 
actually made for leave to send produce by way of Suri- 
nam, showing indisputably that the settlers were not 
idle, or inattentive to their interests, but had already 



employed the land to some advantage in the cultivation 
of tobacco, orlians, cotton, and perhaps sugar. Hence it 
is clear that at the close of the seventeenth century the 
persevering natives of the seven miited provinces had 
succeeded in their endeavours to colonise this land. 
How different the pursuits in which they engaged to those 
so ardently followed by their predecessors of the six- 
teenth century I How different the result I The Spa- 
niard, in his thirst for gold, sought an imaginary treasure 
— the Dutchman contented himself with the culture of 
the soil. The former wasted his resources and lost his 
life — the latter lived to enjoy some reward for his efforts. 
The Spaniard, led by his imagination, explored, amid 
difficulties and dangers, the far interior, and found a 
" bourne from whence no traveller returns " — the Dutch- 
man, guided by experience, possessed himself of " things 
that lie free for any taker." The one grasped at a 
shadow, the other seized the substance. In military 
pomp, and pride, and discipline, the adventurer of 
Spain sought combat with the sword against abori- 
gines, rude countrymen, without laws or government, 
free and unrestrained, and thought to wrest a golden 
prize from their simple hands; the settler from Holland 
held out the olive-branch to the actual proprietor of the 
land, whilst at the same time he firmly planted himself 
on the banks of the rivers and on the sea-coasts. The 
name of the one became a byword to after nations, and 
left no trace tf greatness or wisdom ; the character of 
the other is still indelibly stamped upon the land, and 
the genius of the Dutdi, as demonstrated by their 
canals, bridges, drainage, policy, and laws, remains to 
the present time to illuminate the epoch of their lives. 

The investment of large sums of money in the cultiva- 
tion of property had drawn to this -country many men of 


tolerable rank and education, who, with the intelligence 
peculiar to speculators, had prospered in the land, and 
surrounded by their dependents and slaves, revived in a 
manner the feudal system of bygone years. Like to the 
barons of former Europe, the lordly planters of America 
enacted in the New World scenes similar to those which 
had nearly been abolished in the civilised parts of Eu- 
rope. Eevelling themselves in luxury and riches, they 
exacted the most harassing duties from their slaves or 
vassals, who were made to toil for the advantage, the 
ease, and the prosperity of their masters. If, xmlike the 
serfs of old, they were exempt from military service, it 
was simply because no such service was necessary for 
defence or aggrandisement. The planter lived in a spa- 
cious house, in the enjoyment of every comfort that 
wealth could procure ; he was flattered by dependents, 
who courted his good-will ; his equals or neighbours ex- 
changed with him the most friendly acts of hospitality. 
Aroused at early mom by his attendants, he sipped his 
cup of coffee ; a short toilet followed, during which his 
nerves were fortified by a glass or two of genuine schie^ 
dam by way of an " antifogmatic," a custom ridiculed by 
the uninitiated, but defensible, nevertheless, as a very 
prudent and salutary protection against the injurious 
effects of the morning miasm. A wide straw hat, a nan- 
keen or linen suit, comprised the chief articles of his 
dress. Having held a parley, or rather " lev^e," with his 
assistants or overseers, he saJlied forth on horseback, fol- 
lowed by a running footboy or page, armed with the 
pouch of tobacco or cigars, perhaps having again applied 
to the " gin-flask," to make precaution " doubly sure." 
His equestrian tour was round the plantation, along its 
wide and grassy paths, where his quick eye detected all 
errors of ^^ omission and commission." After a careful 


inspection, and having given necessary orders for the day, 
he leisurely returned home to an elaborate breakfast — a 
regular "d^jeAner k la fourchette," where fish, hams, 
sausages, pepperpot, cheese, formed the staple articles. 
Tea was considered too " bilious," coffee too heating, and 
a ready substitute was found in beer or wine. After this 
solid repast came the hour of contemplation and repose, 
ushered in by the fiimes of the fi:agrant tobacco. Read- 
ing was rarely indulged in. The morning " siesta" over, 
the time was spent in visiting or receiving neighbours, 
looking over the buildings and machinery, writing, or 
other light employment, not forgetting a stimulating 
luncheon and occasional draughts of sangaree, pimch, or 
brandy-and- water. As evening approached, preparations 
were made for the great object of the day, dinner, which 
consisted of soups, fish, fowl, and viands of all kinds, to 
which a vigorous appetite did ample justice. Punch, 
beer, wine, were again handed round, and attendants in 
naked grace were employed in beating off with fragrant 
branches the remorseless mosquitoes, who in hundreds 
were buzzing about audibly, and no doubt sharpening 
their " probosces " ready for an attack on the vulnerable 
proportions of the Dutchman. The night was marked 
by copious libations and smoking, until at length, over- 
powered with fatigue, repletion, and happiness, the lordly 
planter sank into the arms of repose, to dream of insur- 
rections and earthquakes. 

The other elements of society moved round the planter 
as their centre ; for although not highest in rank, his 
power was most generally diflfiised through the different 
classes. The slaves bought with his money were the 
servants of his will. Their ignorance and their depen- 
dence exaggerated his position. The few tradesmen who 
there existed had been principally brought fi:om the 
more civilised West Indian Islands, and they of course 


looked up to him for employment and pay. The mer- 
chants were but too happy to partake of his patronage; 
the professional man had no other prospect of subsistence 
or of acquiring wealth except through his influence; and 
the civil officers appointed to administer the public fimc- 
tions of the colony found his hospitality so tempting and 
agreeable, that they were studious of keeping on the best 
possible terms with him. 

We shall, hereafter, see how this elevated position of 
the planter became gradually altered when it had ac- 
quired its maximum of prosperity, and in the course of 
our history we shall have occasion to trace his subsequent 
reverses and humiliations to some of those very causes 
which formerly gave him such unlimited power, influ- 
ence, and wealth. It is with individuals as with states. 
In the plenitude of their pawer and prosperity, men are 
too apt to suffer luxury and apathy to imdermine their 


such scenes. He saw the different races of animals per- 
petually destroying each other, and he thought himself 
not so far removed from their condition as to justify 
the expectation of any happier state of eidstence for 
himself. The chiefs among his people, their princes and 
great men, were regarded as only more fortunate, or 
more powerful in the strife than the rest, and were con- 
sidered as maintaining their ascendancy by naked brute 
force alone. The vast universe was not looked upon as 
a system of humanity, regulated by the wisdom of Pro- . 
vidence ; but as a chaos over which chance and accident 
presided. The negroes were idolaters ; forms of wor- 
ship were rare amongst them. Their religion consisted 
in wild appeals to the spirits of evil, to deprecate ven- 
geance, or misfortunes, or to propitiate protection. The 
calamities of life were attributed to the evil influence of 
inferior spirits, whom they called Jumbi, and hence it 
was not strange that the more shrewd among them 
should pretend to a mysterious intercourse with these 
spirits, in order to enable them to practise profitable 
impositions upon the credulity of the ignorant. Such 
persons received the name of Obeah-men, and dealt in 
charms, talismans, and artifices. They gave the good 
spirit no service, thinking him too pure to need it ; some 
believed that man sprung fix)m a great spider, named 
Arransie ; others affirmed that the good spirit was called 
Jan Campas, and called him God, although they say 
that he was a good man, who made both black and white 
people, but that the black chose the gift of gold, and the 
white man that of arts and knowledge, when the first 
were made servants to the last. Others supposed that 
men were found in holes and pits. They had no fear of 
being hanged, because it left them whole and sound to 
enter upon another state of existence, but they dreaded 


being beheaded, or broken on the wheel, because they 
believed it would incapacitate them from enjoying a 
future life. 

All ages and races have had their superstitions, and it 
would, indeed, have been singular if the African had 
formed an exception. The sybils and oracles of ancient 
Italy and Greece are reflected under a diflferent form in 
the obeahs and orgies of the uncivilised African. 

Tom from his native country, his home, and friends, 
he was brought into a strange land, and made acquainted 
with a new taskmaster, who forced upon him the neces- 
sity of working. If he reftised to work, he was subjected 
to the cruelty of the lash, which, according to a Dutch 
writer,* was often steeped in brine, or pickle and peppers, 
but not, as asserted by him, for the purpose of wanton 
vengeance, but rather to prevent any evil consequences 
from its application. Brought as this poor ignorant negro 
was in contact with a more civilised people, we shall soon 
see how rapidly his tastes, his habits, and character be- 
came modified by such communion ; not greater or more 
marked were the physical and ethnological changes pro- 
duced by such an intercourse, than the vast moral revolu- 
tion effected in his nature. The tendency of dependents 
in every age and in every condition has been to imitate 
those above them ; but the ignorant, who, struck with 
the novelty or merits of a picture, try to copy it, produce 
only a caricature. It is the natural tendency of inferiors 
to model their habits and manners on the example of 
their superiors; and hence arises — especially in feudal 
states of society — the great influence which is exercised 
over the national mind by the conduct of the higher 
classes. Thus, in Greece, the high refinement of the 
educated ranks gradually spread to the citizens, and im- 
parted its polish to their tastes and customs. Again, in 

• Hartdnk. 


the Roman Empire the luxury and idleness of the 
patrician class infected the plebeian orders, till the whole 
state sank under the enervating influence; and nearer to 
our own day maybe cited the still more striking instance 
of the French revolution, when the people, debased and 
rendered desperate by the callous and unprincipled con- 
duct of the nobles, rapidly imbibed those dangerous 
principles which led to the overthrow of rank and 
religion. Illustrations of the efiects of example upon the 
uneducated masses need not be accumulated; and if we 
find this direct action infallibly producing uniform results 
in the civilised communities of Europe, we cannot be 
much surprised that it should operate similarly in remote 
and despotic societies, in which only two classes existed 
— the masters and the slaves. That there were many 
excellent and virtuous traits in the character of the old 
settlers is undeniable. There is scarcely a work published 
by travellers who had visited the colony at difieret times, 
which does not contain numerous instances of creditable 
humanity and generous feelings; but it is the perverse 
condition of human nature to cop}' what is bad rather 
than what is good, and the negro, if he is unlike his 
white superior in the best qualities, will be found at least 
to resemble him in his worst. In order that we may be 
able to understand more clearly how this spirit of de- 
pravity sets in, and is encouraged by circumstances, let us 
Ibllow the slaves for a moment in their labours and gene- 
ral mode of life. 

At early dawn they were summoned forth to work by 
the stunning clatter of a large bell or gong. The efficient 
and healthy were then distributed in gangs, according to 
their age, sex, or capacity, to each of which a headman, 
or driver (called by the Dutch " Bomba," or " Mustee 
Knegt"), was attached. Armed with a little "brief au- 
thority" — the whip — this driver followed his gang to 


their several duties in the field, where they continued 
until about eight a.m., when time was allowed for break- 
fast and rest. Again the bell sounded, and they returned 
to their labour until twelve ; then to dinner, and after- 
wards to work again until five or six p.m., when they re- 
tired to their homes and to their supper. They lived, for 
the most part, in long ranges of wooden ^buildings, sub- 
divided into small rooms, to contain one or more families. 
These buildings were in general tolerably comfortable, and 
it was no unusual thing for small portions of land to be 
attached to them, which the slaves were at liberty to 
cultivate for their own profit. Here they kept pigs and 
poultry, and the thrifty and industrious had an oppor- 
tunity of earning a little money, which subsequently be- 
came of much importance. They were punished for 
behaving ill by the whip, or confinement in the stocks, 
and other measures of severity ; but in cases of rebellion, 
or murder, they were made to imdergo a still more 
terrible chastisement, which cannot be mentioned here. 

They were very fond of dancing and music, using a 
kind of guitar called a " banja," and several varieties of 
drums and tambarines. They accompanied their dancing 
with strange songs or chants adapted to the style of the 
dance — sometimes low and monotonous, at others loud 
and boisterous. On Simdays, or festival days, there was 
rarely any work done; and at certain seasons of the year 
they received presents from the planters of clothing, 
cooking utensils, ornaments, &c. Spirits were also served 
out to them occasionally, and thus the taste for intoxica- 
tion was introduced among them, and led to many de- 
pravities and abuses. Their food consisted chiefly of 
plantains, salt fish, rice, &c., mixed up with the condi- 
ments of the country, such as peppers. The sick or 
infirm were confined to a building called the hospital, 
which was visited at stated periods by a medical prao- 


titioner, who had under him sick nurses and attend- 
ants to obey ibis orders. The health of the slave was, 
indeed, provided for in the ratio of his value, as farmers 
provide for their cattle in order to keep them in work- 
ing condition. A death was grieved for as a loss to the 
property, and sickness and destitution guarded against as 
a fire, or any other evil which might interfere with the 
profits of the estate. There was no attempt made to 
provide mental or religious education, as it was appre- 
hended that the moral elevation of the slaves would lead 
to dangerous innovations. Marriage was unknown; but 
children were bom, and grew up to the inheritance of 
slavery. They received their names* at ^ the hands of 
their owners, and were often " branded" instead of being 
baptised. Thus passed away the life of the slave; and, 
comparing it with the state of the lower orders in most 
countries, it cannot be denied that it possessed some ad- 
vantages, so far as physical circumstances were concerned. 
From the cradle to the grave every want was supplied ; 
and the animal lived, worked, and died without tasting 
that bitter experience which wrings the stout heart of 
many a more civilised peasant in the struggle for sub- 

If the happiness of human beings depended on the 
regular supply of food, exercise, and medicine, there is 
no doubt the slave ought to have been happy; and, 
knowing nothing better, perhaps he was. But it is im- 
possible, from our point of sight, to contemplate with 
satisfaction a course of treatment which kept him in 
health only to reduce him to the condition of a working 
machine or a beast of burden. It is quite true that he 
had never enjoyed liberty, and was, perhaps, from that 

* The most classical names were often given to the slaves; as, for instance, 
Pompey, Csraar, Scipio, Hannibal, Jupiter, Venus, Juno, Bacchus, ApoUo» &c. 
The English followed this practice, but introduced a little yaiiety, calling them 
London, Sooiland, Monday, Sambo, Quashy, Prince, Queen, CoQr, &c 


very circumstance, not very well qualified to enjoy it ; it 
is true, also, that his mental powers had never been 
developed, and that the privation of mental pleasures 
was comparatively no great penalty; and that never 
having felt the high privileges of religious inspirations, 
the want of religious instruction was a matter of utter 
indifference to him. But evils are not the less evils be- 
cause those who suffer them are incapable and ignorant. 
It is the high mission of civilisation to improve, correct, 
and elevate; and to draw an argument for the perpetua- 
tion of slavery fi:om the mere fiact of having found it in 
existence is as unreasonable and barbarous as it would 
be for a colony of settlers to excuse themselves from the 
. toil of tilling the ground, on the plea that it came into 
their hands in a state of nature. But colonists do not 
apply that argument to the earth — they dear it, plough 
it, plant it, and work its capabilities to the highest point 
of cultivation ; it is the human serfj the hereditary bonds- 
man alone, they keep in his original condition, or rather 
whom they plunge into a worse condition, iDy placing 
him in new and dangerous circumstances, and expanding 
before him those advantages of knowledge, power, and 
freedom, which they permit him to contemplate, but will 
not suffer him to participate in. They excite strange 
passions in him, they stimulate his activity, tempt his 
ignorance, fill his mind with novel desires, awaken his 
capacity without instructing it, and take advantage of his 
helplessness to crush him down lower and lower in the 
scale of humanity. 

The slave-trade was in full operation in the eighteenth 
century, and cargoes of valuable slaves were brought to 
these shores. They were shipped from the coast of 
Africa in tolerable health; but after the confinement and 
cruel hardships of a three or four weeks' passage in the 
hold of ill-ventilated vessels, they generally arrived in a* 


deplorable condition. The horrors of the middle passage 
are too well known to require any description in this 
place. The closely-packed slaves, when freed from their 
dens, were often unable to stand ; they could not endure 
the light after having been so long shut up in darkness ; 
and they required the most careful and skilful treatment 
for many weeks, and sometimes for months, to bring 
them back into working order. The mortality at times 
was frightful — as much as 50 or 75 per cent, perished 
either on the passage or soon after landing ; and fearful 
as were the returns of the deaths at subsequent periods 
of the free immigrants, the mortality never equalled that 
which for many years took place among the shackled 
African slaves. Fortunately, however, this was not 
always the case, and as it was evidently for the interest 
of all parties that the slave should be imported in as fine 
condition as possible, great care was often shown for 
their comfort and good appearance. 

The slaves imported were procured from various parts 
of the coast and interior of Africa, and their value was 
differently estimated, as will appear from the following 
account, chiefly derived from an old Dutch writer,* on 
the subject: 

The Ardras^ called also Dongas (as well as other 
slaves who had cut marks upon their bodies), were 
brought from Inda (better known as Tida) and Ardra^ 
towns near the western sea-coast of Africa, from a dis- 
tance of fifty miles to the north-east of Ardra. They 
were not, however, of the best sort, although accustomed 
to agriculture, and capable of being rendered useful. 
The men, women, and children, had gashes upon their 
cheeks, but those of rank amongst them were marked 
only about the forehead. The Nago slaves differed 
little from the above, and were well adapted for labour ; 

r ♦ Hartiink. 


they had streaks, or curves, which represented rudely 
the outline of animals upon their bodies. The Mdllais 
slaves were brought to Tida, Ardra, and Jaquire, from a 
distance of about three months' journey. They were an 
excellent people, and accustomed to severe labour, which 
they willingly undertook. They brought high prices in 
the market. Their tattooed marks differed in some re- 
spect from the Tibou and Guiamba negroes. The 
AquiraSj distinguished by linea upon the back and 
breast in the form of lizards and snakes, had the cha- 
racter of being active and faithful to their masters. The 
Tibou slaves were of the worst kind, good for nothing, 
except light house work. They had long gashes upon 
the cheeks, breast, and stomach. The Foin slaves were 
recognised by scratches upon the temples; they were 
also a bad people, lazy, thievish, and addicted to filthy 
habits. The Chdamba slaves resembled the two last- 
named races, and were marked like the Tibotia. The 
negroes from Tida and Jaqum committed thefts when 
they had an opportunity, but were otherwise true to their 
masters; they had upon their cheeks several spots or 
points. The Ayoia negroes, a martial and enterprising 
race, were well. inclined to work, which they performed 
better than any of the other nations. They were knoAvii 
by long gashes stretching from ear to ear. They were 
the terror of the rest; held their lives of no account when 
their passions were roused, and pursued their objects with 
an ardour it was difficult to restrain. 

Other slaves were known by the names of the places 
they came fi:om. The negroes of Goreie were among 
the best — strong, honest, and faithful ; they had upon the 
temples three gashes about three fingers broad. The 
negroes firom Sierra Leone were also very strong, and 
good for employment ; they had four gashes upon the 
forehead. The n^oes from Cabo Monto were neither 

VOL. T. M 


SO strong nor so useful as the others, but made good 
slaves, and had upon each cheek a gash extending from 
the head to the chin j they were in general of a lively 
temperament The negroes from Cape La Hoe, or 
Lahore, or the Gold Coast, possessed equally valuable 
qualities, and were brought in great numbers to 
Surinam, where a famous traffic was established, and 
from whence the slaves were carried to other colonies. 
They were marked over the whole body with figures of 
birds and animals, and wore roimd the neck a string of 
red sea-shells, which was regarded as a kind of amulet 
or charm. They were for the most part strong, tall, 
and well made, but not very black in colour; as a 
general rule^ it was remarked that the darker the 
colour of the negro^ the strofiger he was. 

The real Delniina negroes were all bom in the vil- 
lage, or crom of D'Elmina, and were not saleable, such 
sale being against the laws. Those people which were 
purchased at St. George D'Elmina, came from the Asi- 
antyn, Hautaschi, Fantysche, Alguirasche, Wassaches, 
and Akinsche countries. The men, as well as the women, 
were marked upon the cheeks and breasts with several 
gashes. Among these people w^ere found some old 
slaves quite grey, who had a custom of smearing their 
hair with charcoal to make it black. 

The Annamaboe negroes (sometimes called Fantynes) 
belonged to the English, a well-conducted tribe, and 
best suited of aU for the work of the plantations. They 
were marked upon the forehead with points, or spots, 
burnt in with gunpowder. Among the Fa/ntynes were 
found some Akinsche and Asfiantees. Between these 
three nations no marked difference existed except in 

The Acra negroes were brave, strong, and good 
slaves. These excellent qualities rendered them costly 


in the market. They were under the protection of the 
Danes, but the Dutch and English had the control of 
such as were located near then: foists. 

The Abo and Fa/pa negroes were little meddled with; 
the last were said to have a kind of poison placed under 
their nails, with which they threatened to kill any one, 
if exasperated; hence, perhaps, the disinclination that 
was shown to interfere with them. 

The Cormantyn negroes were of a good disposition, 
but never forgave an injury ; they always attempted the 
life of any person who offended them, and, failing in 
their purpose, destroyed themselves. They had no cha- 
racteristic marks, but were known by their fine smooth 
black skin. The Loa/ngo^ or Chango negroes (no doubt 
the present Bjroomen), were a vicious race, and practised 
cannibalism. Their teeth were so exquisitely sharpened 
that they could easily bite off a finger, and all the other 
negroes hated and feared them. At the marriage of theic 
kings a certain proportion of each tribe were killed for 
the purpose of furnishing a rich banquet. These people 
were never to be depended upon. They absconded 
fi:om work, hid in the forests, and lived upon animals 
and reptiles. To the eastward and southward of the 
coast the negroes were of a bad quality; whilst ftom 
the north-west the best kind were procured. 

Such is the account handed down of the qualities and 
value of the several tribes of Africa imported to this 
colony. It would be impossible now-a-days to trace 
out the desc^adanta of any one of these tribes. Thgr 
have all merged into one large human family, the black 
Creole, and have relinquished, it is to be hoped for ever, 
most of the characteristic marks, both physical and moral, 
by which their progenitors were distinguished. The 
elaborately tattooed skin, the cannibal appetite, the flat- 
tened forehead and nose^ the prominent jaws and mouth, 



have more or less disappeared ; but, unfortunately, the 
indolence, the superstition, the immorality of the African 
character obtains to an extent deplorable and alarming. 
Emancipation and civilisation have but partially done 
their work, and the abandoned cane-piece and unculti- 
vated lands stand out as evidence of the want of energy 
and industry among the lowei; classes. Up to this hour 
cargoes of liberated Africans are still imported to these 
shores, but their influence is trifling in the social scale. 
Their labour is valuable, but their numbers are in- 
adequate to the duties required of them. Eagerly sought 
after, they receive abundant care and attention, which, 
however, does not altogether wean them from their 
native African habits, although they gradually adapt 
themselves to surrounding circumstances. The change 
is undoubtedly beneficial to them ; but it is questionable 
whether they do not keep alive among their black 
brethren, those feelings of barbarity and superstition 
which still continue to retard the progress of true civi- 

Returning to the narrative of the original importation 
of slaves, we will place before the reader a picture of the 
slave-trade as it existed in its earliest days in this colony. 
The arrival of these living cargoes was hailed with 
general satisfaction, and a dep6t was established for the 
reception and convenience of the slaves, where they 
were kept till the time appointed for their disposal. 
The vendue, or sale, was generally cflfected publicly, and 
the maimer in which it was conducted affords a curious 
insight into the habits and character of society at that 

A slave-market was looked upon as a kind of fair, to 
which, indeed, it bore a striking resemblance. Public 
notices were issued, annoimdng when and where it was 
to be held. It was looked forward to as a gala day. 


Urged on by curiosity, excitement, or speculation, per- 
sons of all qualities and ages, and of both sexes, decked 
out in their gayest apparel, hurried to the scene of 
barter, where, arranged in lots, and prepared for sale, 
stood the miserable objects of their cupidity. What a 
contrast was here presented — the lordly proprietor, the 
usurious speculator, the insatiate sensualist, the timid 
female and pampered child, had even gathered in groups 
about the dark children of Africa, who, with anxious 
hearts and downcast eyes, awaited the result. It was 
not long in being decided. A purchaser would ap- 
proach and investigate the qualities of the animal he was 
about to buy. The scanty covering which the custom of 
the day required, threw but a slight veil over the defects 
or imperfections of physical conformation. The limb 
was carefully examined, its action tested, the surface of 
the body scrutinised for the detection of any morbid 
condition of the skin, the mouth inspected, the fimctions 
of walking, running, and lifting were practised at the 
desire of the party about to make an offer. Delicacyj 
pity, generosity, never interfered with the mercenary 
considerations which regulated these proceedings. 

It was no imusual thing for ladies to be present during 
such examinations, and even little children were called 
upon to choose by chance, or caprice, the future slave 
who was to obey the wants and calls of little " massa" 
or " missy." The following account of one of these sales, 
of the date of 1796, is furnished by an eye-witness : — 
" Not simply from curiosity, but from a desire of ac- 
quiring instruction from whatever occurs of peculiar 
interest, I have again been led to be present at one of 
those most humiliating scenes, a sale of human merchan- 
dise, where I saw what is here termed a prime cargo of 
300 men and women from the Gold Coast of Africa, all 


human beings like ourselves, exposed to public vendue, 
ovcui UN the herds of sheep and oxen in Smithfield 
miirkot. But although I had been more than a year in 
the West Indies, I was glad to find that my European 
foolings wore not so entirely blunted as to allow me to 
witncsH such a scene without experiencing the painful 
sonsiitions which naturally arise in the breast of an Eng- 
lishman when seeing his feUow-creatores thus miserably 
degraded. The crowd was as great as at Coventry fiur, 
and amid the throng I observed many females as well 
while ns of wlour, who, decked out in tinsel finery, had 
nil como to tlio mart to buy slaves either for themselves, 
tlunr tnasters, or keepers. Infants, too, were brought to 
pdint the lucky finger to a sable drudge for little sel^ 
\\\ioti the same principle which leads mamma to take 
donr babe to a lottery-office to finger out the happy 
ticket which is to make little missy's fortune. The poor 
blacks were not exposed to public gaze upon a high 
stool, in order to be first examined and then knocked 
down at the hammer, as at the Dutch sale at Berbische, 
but were divided into three great lots according to their 
value, and the price being fixed upon, purchasers were 
left to select fi:om which ever division diey might prefer. 
Boys from eleven to fourteen years of age sold for 600 
or 700 florins; the price of the women was firom 700 to 
800 florins, and of the men firom 700 to 900 florins ; but 
a few of the strongest were valued somewhat higher. 
The agent who conducted the sale is a liberal man, pos- 
sessed of human sentiments and a cultivated mind, but it 
is unfortunately his calling to deal in human flesh, and 
he very justly remarked to me, that in following this oc- 
cupation it is necessary to give an opiate to the finer 
feelings of nature. Amidst a scene everywhere repug- 
nant to humanity, I was pleased to remark that a general 


sjmipathy was excited towards one particular iiEunily, 
whose appeals to the compassion of the multitude were 
not less powerful than their claims. This family con- 
sisted of a mother, three daughters, and a son. The 
parent, although the days of youth were past, was still a 
well-looking woman; the children appeared to be fix>m 
fourteen to twenty years of age; they were very Uke the 
mother, and still more resembled eadi other, being all of 
distinguished face and figure, and remarkably the hand- 
somest negroes of the whole cargo. Their distress lest 
they should be separated and sold to different masters 
was so strongly depicted upon their countenances, and 
expressed in such lively and impressive appeals, that the 
whole crowd were led impulsively to commiserate their 
suflfering, and by universal consent they were removed 
fix)m the three great lots and placed in a separate comer 
by themselves, in order that they might be sold to the 
same master. Observing their extreme agitation, I was 
led particularly to notice ,their conduct as influenced by 
the terror of being torn from each other, and I may truly 
say that I witnessed a just and £Biithfiil representation c^ 
the distressed mother, and such as might bid defiance 
even to the all-imaginative power of a Siddons. When 
any one approached their little group, or chanced to 
look toward them with the attentive eye of a purchaser, 
the children in broken sobs crouch^ to their tearful 
mother, who in agonising impulse instantly fell down be- 
fore the spectator, bowed herself to the earth, and kissed 
his foot ; then alternately clinging to his legs and pressing 
her children to her bosom, she fixed hersdf upon her 
knees, clasped her hands together, and in anguish cast 
up a look of humble petition which might have found its 
way even to the heart of a Caligula."* 

♦ Finckard. 


Such was the slave-market in former times ; and Kttle 
as any one may feel inclined to attribute to the Africans 
the possession of acute sensibility, it must be admitted 
that this was a process from which even their dull nature 
must have instinctively recoiled. That they did recoil 
from it — that it rendered them desperate, and generated 
in their minds feelings of horror, is sufficiently proved by 
the numbers that attempted to make their escape, prefer- 
ring any risk of danger or destitution to the life of the 
gang and the lash. Large numbers of slaves annually 
absconded from the Dutch settlements, and, associating 
in small parties, hid themselves in the woods. Most of 
these slaves were of the lowest order of intellect, and 
actuated by the worst passions of the human race. Many 
of them had committed serious crimes, and thus sought 
to evade punishment, while others were filled with pro- 
jects of plunder and destruction to their masters. They 
were called "Bush negroes," from their living in the 
bush or forests. Their numbers increased to such an 
extent that they gave serious alarm to the white inhabit- 
ants, and measures were repeatedly taken to disperse 
them. They made predatory excursions in the neigh- 
bourhoods they infested, and carried off provisions, or 
whatever else they could lay their hands upon ; and such 
were the sentiments of revenge they entertained against 
the white men, that whenever they happened to surprise 
any of them, they seized them, hurried them away to 
the woods, and put them to the most miserable deaths. 
The mangled bodies of their victims, afterwards dis- 
covered, afforded revolting evidence of the most bar- 
barous treatment. Rivalling the ferocity of the animals 
with whom they herded, they maintained, however, a 
kind of discipline amongst themselves, electing a chief. 


whom they strictly obeyed, and always acting in concert 
under his orders. Rendered desperate by their situation, 
these lawless savages became the terror of the country. 
Fortunately they were at length subdued, and no further 
instances have since occurred of a similar organisation. 
SoUtary individuals have been encountered in remote 
places, but they were generally found to be idiots or per- 
sons of weak intelligence who had lost their way in the 
forests, where they supported life by destroying and 
eating birds, insects, reptiles, and occasionally gathering 
^ few roots and fruits. When found and brought back, 
they evinced no ferocity, anger, or surprise ; apathetic 
and indifferent to consequences, they sluggishly and cun- 
ningly watched the earliest opportunity to return to their 
wild and savage life.* 

The following description of the habits of the Bush 
negroes, and the attempts made to subdue them, is from 
the pen of an early but faithful writer: — "The Bush 
negroes were men of the worst description, cruel and 
bloodthirsty, and revolting 'in combination, plotted the 
destruction of the planters, in order to take the colony 
into their possession; but being firustrated in their de- 
signs, have saved themselves from punishment by flying 
into the recesses of the forest, from whence they issued 
only to ravage and plxmder. They had subjected them- 
selves to a sort of regular discipline imder captain and 
lieutenants, and the lower orders of them were compelled 
to toil in the night, by going out of the woods in plun- 
dering parties to steal plantains and other provisions 
from the estates ; but the labour to which they were ex- 

* An instance occorred in tliis countiy in 1845 of a Bosh negro being found. 
He had long, hiurd nails, and was decked out in the plumage of wild birds and 
the skias of animals. He refbsed to eat the ordinary food at first, and looked 
longingly upon fowls, which he seemed anxious to derour. He scucely spoken 
but muttered a few words, and remained all day passiye and inactive. Crowds 
of persons went to see him at the lunatic asylum where he was confined. 


posed by this night duty was so much more severe than 
that required of them in their common duty as slaves 
upon the plantations, that some of them have been 
known to desert from the woods to resume a life of 

" From the injury done, and the increasing number of 
these hordes, it was deemed necessary that a body of 
troops should be sent against them. A party of Dutch 
soldiers were duly marched to exterminate the brigands ; 
but they were drfeated by the negroes, and few escaped, 
most of them being killed, and their scalps or bodies 
fixed against the trees. A second expedition was sent 
out, composed of faithful slaves and the native Indians, 
who held the Bush negroes in abhorrence. Well pro- 
vided and equipped, this second band separated into two 
parties, and boldly advanced into the wood to form a 
combined attack. Upon their march they passed the 
dead bodies of the Dutch soldiers tied to the trees. Not 
deterred by this horrid spectacle, they proceeded on- 
wards, having the sagacious Indian on tlieir flanks, by 
whose acuteness and penetration they discovered the 
various situations where the difierent companies of the 
brigands had taken up their residence, and by well-con- 
certed attacks defeated and routed them wheresoever 
they met them. As an encouragement to the able and 
new-raised troops, a premium was offered for every right 
hand of a Bush negro which should be brought in ; and 
when they returned from the successful expedition, they 
appeared with seventy black arms displayed upon the 
points of their bayonets, causing a very singular and 
shocking spectacle to the beholders. Three hundred 
guilders had been fixed upon as the price, but it was 
found necessary to reduce the premium, lest the slaves 
should kill their prisoners, or even destroy each other, to 


obtain it. The exertion and fatigue required in such an 
expedition cannot be well conceived by those who are 
accustomed only to regular and systematic warfare, nor 
is it probable that such a service could have been sup- 
ported in this climate by European soldiers. In addition 
to all the difficulties of making their way through the 
unknown and ahnost impenetrable woods, they knew not 
where to find the enemy's ppsts, or were at every minute 
liable to be fallen npon by surprise. At first entering 
the bush, the march was continued to a great distance 
nearly knee-deep in water, and when further advanced, 
the troops had to scramble through the thickets or follow 
each other by a confined path in Indian fiile, and after 
the harassing march of the day to lie down at night on 
the bare ground under the trees, the officers suspending 
their hammocks fi:om bough to bough ; they had, more- 
over, to carry the whole of their provisions, arms, 
and ammunition, and every other necessary required 
for their success, upon their backs. But for the 
assistance given by the Indians, the brigands had pro- 
bably never been subdued, perhaps not even found! 
The expertness of these men in such a pursuit is peculiar, 
and beyond all that could be imagined by those who live 
in crowded society. They not only hear sounds in the 
wood, which are imperceptible to others, but judge with 
surprising accuracgr of the distance and direction whence 
they proceed. The position of a fallen leaf, or the bend- 
ing of a bramble, too slight to be noticed by an European 
eye, conveys to them certain intelligence respecting the 
route taken by those whom they pursue. From constant 
practice and observation, their organs of sense become 
highly improved, and they hear with an acuteness and 
see with a precision truly surprising to those who are 
unacquainted with their habits and their vigilance. With 


such guides the expedition moved in confidence, and was 
conducted in safety. Some of the encampments of the 
brigands discovered and routed, had existed during 
fifteen years, concealed in the profoundest gloom of the 
forest. The following was the mode usually observed 
in estabUshing their fixed places of residence and resort: 
— Having fixed upon the spot most favourable for their 
purpose, a circular piece of ground was cleared of its 
wood, and in the centre of this they built huts, and 
formed the encampments, planting round about the 
buildings oranges, bananas, plantains, yams, eddoes, and 
other kinds of provisions; thus, in addition to the trees 
of the forest, procuring themselves fiirther concealment 
by the plantation which gave them food. The eddoes 
were found in great plenty, and had seemed to constitute 
their principal diet. Round the exterior of this circular 
spot was cut a deep and wide ditch, which being filled 
with water, and stuck round the sides and bottom with 
sharp-pointed sticks, served as a formidable barrier of 
defence. The path across this ditch was placed two or 
three feet below the surface, and wholly concealed fi:om 
the eye by the water being always thick and muddy. 
Leaves were strewed, and steppings, similar in their 
kind, made to the edges of the ditch at various parts, 
as a precaution to deceive any who might approach 
respecting the real situation of the path. But the proper 
place of crossing was found out by the acuteness pf the 
Indians, who soon discovered that to attempt to pass at 
any other part was to be empaled alive. It was found 
that the brigands had eight of these encampments, or 
points of rendezvous, in the woods, one of which still 
remained undiscovered. After much fatigue in en- 
deavouring to discover it, the search was relinquished, 
in the idea that some of the prisoners, either by indul- 


gence or torture, would be induced to make it known ; 
but this expectation has only led to disappointment. 
All the means used failed, and the prisoners, faithful to 
their cause, suffered torture and death rather than betray 
their forest associates. The cruel pimishments that were 
applied to these miserable blacks would be almost in- 
credible. The ringleaders being taken, were tried and 
executed. Some were burnt alive, others hung in chains 
and allowed to perish, lingering out for several days; 
but they made no complaint or lament. They bore the 
most severe pain with a firmness truly heroic. No dis- 
closure escaped their lips, no sigh betrayed their emotion. 
They despised death, and were only concerned as to its 

Fompa mortiB magis terret, qoam mors ipsa.*^ 

As far as the peculiar conditions of its formation per- 
mitted, society may now be said to have reached a cer- 
tain stage of organisation ; yet one essential element was 
wanted. The hitherto unsettled state of things held out 
little inducement for European females to venture into 
the colony, and the few who were to be found in it were 
not persons whose education or moral habits were likely 
to exercise a very beneficial influence. The consequences 
inseparable firom such circumstances ensued. Unre- 
strained by the presence of refined and virtuous women, 
and enjoying a perfect impunity of power over all sur- 
rounding associations, the colonists surrendered them- 
selves to a life of unbridled depravity. Having no 
scandal of public opinion to encounter, and being wholly 
liberated from all religious and social obligations, they 
formed intimate relations with the humblest of their 
slaves, beginning, perhaps, with some vague sense of 
personal responsibility, but gradually breaking down all 



the barriers of honour and decency, until the whole 
country presented a scene of demoralisation that would 
scarcely be credited in the present age. The authority 
of the master was omnipotent, and it was employed 
without remorse in promoting the indulgence of the 
worst passions. The result was, that the majority of the 
old planters of the West adopted the customs and privi- 
leges of the despots of the East. A seraglio was esta- 
blished on almost every property ; and the harem of a 
planter, if it did not enlulate the luxury and pomp of 
the Turk, transcended its prototype in coarseness and 
sensuality. The slave, though raised to her master's 
embraces, was still his menial ; her children became his 
property, were still accounted slaves, and were often 
compelled to the labour of the field, without being 
allowed to derive any advantage from their European 
descent.* This, however, was not the general rule. 
The mother and her offspring were frequently made 
free by purchase, and the children brought up to some 
trade or business. From these unions sprung the mu- 
latto, which in turn, mingling again with the white, 
produced the Tercerones and Quadroon, followed by the 
" Quarterones," the oflfepring of the white and the Ter- 
ceron; all distinction finally vanishing in the "Quinte- 
rons," who owed their origin to a white and "Quarteron,V 
called also "Mustees." This was the last gradation, 
there being no visible difference in colour or features 
between them and the whites ; indeed, they were often 
fairer than Europeans, but generally devoid of the healthy 
rosy hue so striking in the latter.. The children of the 
negro and mulatto were called "Samboes," and had a 

* Many of this class of children were nerer made treey but left to grow up 
in ignorance and vice ; many were actoally included in the claim for compensa- 
tion, with the conniyance of their parents. 


disagreeable complexion and features. In glancing at 
these various classes, we find the character of the mulatto 
standing out prominently from the rest. 

Brown in colour, with short crisp hair, and features 
between those of the European and African, but gene- 
rally more nearly resembling the latter, he was strongly 
formed, and well proportioned; and was marked by 
some of the most conspicuous traits of his descent on 
both sides — ^the prejudices and haughtiness of his Euro- 
pean father, and the levity and the idleness of his African 
mother. He inherited from the former an instinct of 
independence and a love of authority ; but these were 
neutralised by the languor and disinclination to exertion 
lie derived from the latter. Quick to learn, he had not 
always the opportunity ; eager of enjoyment, his means 
were restrained; jealous of his parentage, he was denied 
its privileges. Hence levity, cunning, and recklessness, 
took the place of those better elements, which, under 
more favourable circumstances, he might have success- 
fully developed. In the course of time, however, as his 
position improved, he began to vindicate his European 
origin, and it would be unjust to deny him the posses- 
sion of some excellent qualities, such as generosity and 
humanity. The mulattoes were generally educated in 
mdustrial occupations, which they follow to this day, 
and in which they exhibit much willingness and intelli- 
gence, and no inconsiderable capacity. 

The negro characteristics, nevertheless, are still pre- 
dominant — the indolence, the fondness for holidays and 
finery, and the passion for music and dancing, in which 
latter they excel. Wanting in. the distinctive attributes 
that constitute an original race, they have failed to strike 
out a separate course for themselves; but they generally 
incline towards the customs and practices of the Euro- 
peans, and in all cases of conflicting interests they side 


with the whites. To the peculiarity of their training, 
perhaps, may be ascribed the repugnance or contempt 
with which they regard the blacks; yet not having 
enough of industry or energy to achieve a high place in 
society, and abandoning the profitable pursuits of the 
field for more light and frivolous occupations, they are 
not unfrequently outstripped in worldly prosperity by 
the plodding and imambitious negro. 




The undertakings of the Dutch, however distinguished 
by a spirit of enterprise, were chequered by misfortunes' 
early in the eighteenth century. 

About the year 1689, some ships (part of the squadron 
under Admiral de Casse, that had been imsuccessftdly 
engaged in attacking Surinam) sailed up the river Ber- 
bice, landed some troops, and laid waste several planta- 
tions. The colonists were compelled to buy out their 
invaders, and finally got rid of them by a ransom of 
20,000 guilders in the form of a bill of exchange drawn 
upon the proprietors of the estates in Vlissingen. A sub- 
sequent arrangement relieved them from the payment 
of this obligation. The governor of Surinam, Van 



Schupenhingen, had taken some French prisoners during 
the late invasion, and it was agreed between the contract- 
ing parties that the bill of ransom should be cancelled, on 
condition that the prisoners were delivered up, together 
with a sum of about 5000 or 6000 guilders, and some 
sugar which was ready for shipping in the river Berbice. 

It would appear from this latter circumstance, that 
although the value of the settlements on the Berbice was 
not very considerable, yet that the cultivation of sugar 
had already commenced and made some progress. It is 
in this district that we find the first allusipii made to the 
manufacture of sugar. Undeterred by the late invasion, 
the indefatigable settlers increased the number of their 
plantations, and with renewed vigour applied themselves 
to the cultivation of the soil. 

The settlements on the river Essequebo were also ex- 
posed to frequent assaults fi:om piratical vessels. On the 
10th December, 1707, Peter Van der Heyden Besen was 
appointed commander of this district, and under his 
administration considerable progress had been made by 
the indefatigable Dutch. In 1709 two French armed 
vessels sailed up the river, whose banks were still 
studded with Indian villages. Their object was plimder; 
but awed by the strength displayed in the fortified posi- 
tion of the Dutch colonists, and their evident determina- 
tion to offer a stout resistance, the marauders contented 
themselves by attacking, burning, and plundering the 
villages of the Indians, who however retaliated, by de- 
coying some of their enemies into the forests, where they 
took ample retribution for the wrongs that had been 
inflicted on them. 

Foiled in their first attempts, the French prepared 
for a second invasion of the settlements on the river 
Berbice, organising upon this occasion a considerable and 


effective force, under the command of Baron de Mouans. 
On the 8th November, 1712, the French commander ar- 
rived in the river Berbice with three ships and some 
sloops, three mortars, and about 600 troops. On the 
9th they passed the guard-house at the entrance un- 
molested, owing to the want of hands on the part of the 
Dutch to occupy that post. On the 10th, having ascended 
fifty miles up the river, they landed some of the troops, 
and reconnoitred Fort Nassau. The next day a French 
officer proceeded to the fort, and demanded the surrender 
of the colony. This demand was indignantly refused, 
and the threat of bombardment which accompanied it 
was put into execution on the same evening by the 
French. The assalilt was heroically resisted ; and it was 
not till after a fierce siege of four days, during which 
about 160 bombs were thrown into the defences, that 
the " chamade," or beating of drums on the part of the 
Dutch, signified to the French that the besieged were 
willing to capitulate. After some little difficulty a con- 
ference was held between the two commanders, and on 
the 16th November the captured colony was ransomed 
by the Dutch for the sum of 300,000 guilders, after th^ 
foUowmg manner : 

153 male negroes and 91 ftmale, at 300 guilders each 78,200 

15 jovLDg negroes (from 10 to 12 years oldX HI guilders 
each 1,665 


734 hogsheads and 1 tieroe of sugar, yaloed at 92,040 

ProTislons and merchandise 21,118 14 

BlUofEzdiange 181,975 6 


In addition to this large sum, a further payment of 
10,000 guilders was exacted by the unscrupulous French 
to exempt the inhabitants from private spoliation and 
other insults : 




Gold and rflTer 5138 

Other cuh 956 

Merdumdiie 2949 

6 hogiheads sngir 180 

A tUre and diild 400 

Sundrief 377 


Moreover, the French commander insisted on having 
hostages delivered up to him to accompany him to 
Europe with the bill of exchange, till it reached ma- 
turity and was duly paid. Two gentlemen, the two 
junior members of the Court of Policy, Gerard de Veir- 
man and Hendrich Van Doom, accordingly, leaving their 
wives and families behind them, accompanied the bill, 
which was drawn at six months on Jan and Cornelius 
Van Peere, of Flushing. Unfortunately, both these 
gentlemen died, one on the passage, and the other shortly 
after his arrival in Eiurope, and the bill when presented 
was refused payment. Two protests were made against 
it, one on the 12th May, 1713, the other on the 17th 
November, 1713. During the time occupied in the dis- 
cussion about this bill, the colony of Berbice was provi- 
sionally ceded to France on the 13th September, 1713; 
but at the Treaty of Utrecht in 1714 it was given up by 
the French Government, through Joseph Maillet, to 
some Dutch merchants, viz., Cornelius Van Peere, Van 
Hoom (Nicholas and Hendrich), Arnold Dix, and Peter 
Schurman, all of Amsterdam,! who agreed to pay 
108,000 florins on account of the protested bill, and who 
were thus to become the proprietors of the colony under 
the protection of the States or United Provinces. One 
quarter of the colony was, however, to be reserved to 
the original propnetor pf the settlement. Van Peere. 

* The tenns of the capituktion and snbseqaent ransom were signed by 
Steren de Waterman, Laurens de Feer, M. Heyn, Claas Bal, and A. Herens. 

t See Acte Van Cessie en Transport der Colonie de Berbice, door Joseph 
MaUlet, 99. Aan de Van Booms, 24th October, 1714. Hflrtoink, p. 805. 


The necessity for obtaining hands to cultivate the 
estates induced this company of merchants, Messrs. Van 
Peere, Van Hoom, Dix, and Schurman, to attempt to 
introduce labourers from the East (a curious foreshadow- 
ing of what was to occur in after years in the same 
colony) ; but their request was refused by the Govern- 
ment. In the same year, 1714, the " Staats-General " 
contracted* for African negroes, of whom one-third were 
to be females. These people were brought chiefly from 
the Angola or Ordra tribes on the coast of Guinea, in 
accordance with an agreement which, as an illustration 
of the manner in which these affairs were regulated, will 
be found inserted in the Appendix. 

In 1719 Laurens de Heere was appointed commander 
of Essequebo. In the same year the West India Com- 
pany of Berbice contracted with a Jew, named Simon 
Abrahams, to search for gold and silver, of which he was 
to have one-sixteenth share, but none was ever obtained. 
The ore discovered in 1721 resembled that of the western 
part of South America, but was of inferior value. The 
speculation proved unfortunate, and Abrahams returned 
to Holland in 1724. 

The proprietors of Berbice, not having a capital equal 
to the cultivation of which the colony was capable, pro- 
posed, in 1720, to raise a ftmd of 3,200,000 florins, 
divided into 1600 shares of 2000 florins each, to be 
employed solely in cultivating sugar, cocoa, and indigo, 
of which 50 per cent, was to be repaid in eight instal- 
ments before April, 1724, and the remainder when 
required by the directors, who consisted of seven pro- 
prietors of 20,000 florins each, residing in Amsterdam. 
The actual proprietors were also to be paid, by way of 
indemnity, the sum of 800,000 florins, or to be allowed 

• Hartnnk, p. 318. 


to purchase 400 shares. This company, the directors of 
which were afterwards increased to nine in number, held 
all the lands or estates in common ; the shipping, the 
warehouses, the revenues of the custom-house, and the 
produce, were likewise the property of the shareholders, 
and a yearly dividend of the profits was to be apportioned. 
Of the proposed capital, only 1,882,000 florins was raised 
and invested, and the yearly dividends never reached 
more than 3 or 4 per cent. The shares in consequence 
soon fell firom 2000 to 200 florins per cent., and were 
chiefly bought up by the new settlers as a kind of title to 
their several properties. The colony under this company 
was managed by the directors in Holland, who received 
an annual salary of 200 florins each, submitting their 
accounts to an annual meeting of proprietors, and ap- 
pointing auditors to inspect them. Their management 
was at once cheap and eflicient, their whole staff consist- 
ing of one secretary and two book-keepers, under whose 
arrangements the colony made rapid progress ; the culti- 
vation of property was extended, an ample supply of 
labour was introduced, a substantial fort (St. Andrew) was 
built at the junction of the rivers Canje and Berbice, and 
the luxuriant soil was devoted to the raising of various 
kinds of produce. 

In the year 1720 an inventory was made of the pro- 
perty in the colony of Berbice, which gave the following 

Inventory of effects belonging to the colony of Berbice, 
' 1. 896 n^ro slaves. 

2. 6 large and complete sugar plantations, with all the 
necessary appurtenances, for the cultivation and manu- 
fitcture of produce ; 2 cocoa plantations, ditto, ditto. 

3. 1 fortress, or guard-house ; 1 large fort (Nassau) ; 
1 redoubt (opposite this fort) ; 4 outposts, situated inland ; 


the whole of these defences were furnished with 60 pieces 
of cannon, besides smaller weapons, and the necessary 

4. 1 smithy, including some iron, coal, &c. ; 1 cedar- 
built chmrch. 

5. 1 bark, besides other small vessels, such as yachts, 
canoes, punts, &c. 

6. The goods belonging to the fort and outposts ; the 
cash in the treasury, about 4 or 500 guilders in amomit ; 
the provisions, medicaments, and sundries. 

7. 524 head of cattle, besides some sheep, pigs, &c. 

8. 281 horses. 

9. 1 trading ve^el, lying at the wharf (Hegte Thiet). 

10. 1 tout or decked vessel,* nearly new, and fitted 
up at an expense of about 35,000 guilders. 

11. The cargo of this vessel, namely, 8 or 900 hogs- 
heads of sugar, besides other goods. 

12. The sugar and other produce foimd in the colony. 
At the first meeting of the new company (4th October, 

1720), it was agreed to reduce the payment to the for- 
mer proprietors of the colony firom 8 to 600,000 guilders. 
Of the above-mentioned capital of 1600 shares, 941 
were taken by strangers, and 659 by fhe colonists, and 
the following instalments were made at different times, 
viz. : 

l8t NoTember, 1720 

8 percent.^ 

l8t April, 1721 


Ist October, 


Besides a call of 8 per 
cent, in 1764, ist 

Ist April, 1722 


Ist Hay, 1724 

4 „ 

^ August ; owing to 
the loflfi occasioned 

Ist October, 


Ist Auffost. 1732 


by the insurrection. 

42 percent.. 

The following is a copy of the articles of agreement 
of a proposed company for the extension of cultivation 
in the colony of Berbice, in September, 1720 : 

* A craft peculiar to the Dnteb, and empli^ted hj them in tnidet 


1. The present proprietors are willing to give up all 
the plantations, with their appurtenances and other pos- 
sessions in the said colony, for the sum of 800,000 
guilders, as per inventory. 

2. The proprijBtors to be exempt from all taxes, and 
payments of salaries to officials, sailors, and soldiers, &c., 
from the 18th March, 1721. 

3. Any monies due to the said colony after such date 
to be received by the new company. 

4. The present proprietors to hold by preference 400 
shares in the new company, as well as any more shares 
as shall be allowed. 

5. Of the proposed capital, viz., 3,200,000 guilders, 
50 per cent, shall be paid, in 8 instalments, as follows : 


1720 1 at November 8 per cent on the whole 256,000 

1721 lit April 8 „ „ 256,000 

„ l8t October 10 „ „ 320,000 

1722 l8t April 8 „ „ 256,000 

n l8t October 4 „ „ 128,000 

1723 I8t April 4 „ „ 128,000 

„ l8t October 4 „ „ 128,000 

1724 l8t April 4 „ „ 128,000 


6. In the event ol any instalment not being paid 
within one month after it becomes due by the share- 
holder, he shall forfeit his share or shares. 

7. No further payment than the 50 per cent, shall be 
called for, except by the consent of a majority of the 

8. The administration of the affairs of the company to 
be conducted by seven directors, of whom Nicholas van 
Hoorn (or in his absence his brother Hendrich) and Peter 
Schurman should be two. 

9. The other five directors shall be experienced mer- 
chants, elected by a majority of the other shareholders, 
and they shall be obliged to name an efficient substitute 
in case of their absence. 


10. No person competent to be a director unless he 
holds at least ten shares in the company. 

11. The directors appointed for life, but in case of 
non-qualification, or other cause, when absent from the 
assembly for a year and a day, another director shall be 

1 2. The directors shall appoint the necessary servants 
of the company. 

13. A full shareholder entitled to one vote to be pos- 
sessed often shares at least. 

14. The directors to receive no salary for the first four 
years, except a recognition of 200 guilders each per annum, 
but after a distribution of the funds they shall be paid at 
the rate of 5 per cent. 

15. The directors shall expose the books of the com- 
pany annually, and balance them, at the same time nomi- 
nating two or three of the full shareholders- to examine 
them andaudit the accounts. 

16. The capital of 3,200,000 guilders shall be in- 
creased or diminished only with the consent of a majority 
of the shareholders. 

17. The directors shall distribute the funds at such 
times as shaU seem best to them. 

18. It is to be understood that none of the share- 
holders shall transact any business in connexion with the 
company, but it shall be competent for them to sell their 
shares on paying 2 guilders for the transfer. 

19. The shareholders shall continue the contract 
entered into by the fonner proprietors with Simon 
Abrahams to explore for minerals, &c. 

20. Any alteration or amendment of the present rules 
which may be found necessary, shall take place only by 
consent of a majority of the shareholders. 

21. The payment of the 800,000 guilders to the former 
proprietors shall be made in eight instalments^ as follows: 



1720 istNoyember 180,000 

1721 IstAppU 120,000 

„ I8t October 120,000 

1722 I8t April 160,000 

„ l8t October 80,000 

1723 l8t April 64,000 

„ l8t October 40,000 

1724 Ist April 36,000 


22. No one shall be allowed to hold less than three 
shares, or more than ten. 

It was also determined to erect ten new large sugar 
plantations, with 100 slaves on each. Eight of these were 
in cultivation in 1722 — ^viz., the Johanna; 2. Corelia 
Jacoba ; 3. Savonette ; 4. Hardenbroch ; 5. Dageraad ; 
6. Hogslande ; 7. Elizabeth ; 8. Debora. A brickery 
was also established, but done away with in 1731. The 
council of Berbice about this time was increased from six 
to nine persons. 

In the year 1721 coffee was first cultivated in Berbice, 
fix)m seed obtained through the governor of the neigh- 
bouring settlement of Surinam — M. Courtier — who 
liberally called the attention of the inhabitants to the 
cultivation of that useful article — a public benefit of 
which they marked their sense by presenting him with a 
saddle-horse. Many new estates soon b^an to be laid 
out in coffee, which was found to thrive and bear ex- 
ceedingly well in the alluvial soil. The directors of the 
company in Holland had the appointment of all the dvil 
servants of the colony, and paid them, as well as the 
troops, in bills drawn on themselves at six weeks' date, 
which bills were received in Berbice in payment of taxes, 
and passed current in the ordinary transactions of busi- 
ness. To these bills may be traced the origin of the 
paper currency of the colony. 

The States-General, under whose sovereignty or pro- 
tection the company had placed Berbice, agreed to erect 


forts, and keep a certain number of troops in them, on con- 
dition that the inhabitants contributed annually the sum 
of 75,000 florins, the proprietors on their parts reserving 
all legislative and executive functions in their own hands. 
In the year 1723, the colonists of Berbice began to open 
a trade along the American coast, which was at first 
resisted by the Dutch West India Company as an inter- 
ference with their charter, but ultimately agreed to. 
The cultivation of this trade was of great importance to 
the infant settlement, as it not only enabled the people to 
procure a supply of live stock and a variety of goods and 
commodities necessary for their support, but to establish 
markets for articles of their own production. They 
were unable, however, to avail themselves of the full ad- 
vantages of these circimistances, being obliged to ship the 
principal exportable commodities — such as sugar, cocoa, 
and coffee, in vessels belonging to the States-General. 

In the year 1730, the directors of the colony made a 
representation to their High Mightinesses of the States, 
to the effect that, in 1720, when the administration of 
Berbice was taken over by them, they found only six 
plantations in cultivation, but that since that time eight 
others had been laid out,* which they expected would 
realise considerable advantages to the parties concerned ; 
in order, however, to advance fiilly the interests of the 
community, they prayed that this colony should be placed 
upon the same footing as that of Surinam, that it should 
be fi:'ee of access to all inhabitants of the parent coimtry, 
and that lands should be granted to all new-comers who 
should require them, upon certain conditions to be subse- 
quently named. The immediate effect of this representa- 
tion does not appear ; but that it received ample con- 
sideration may be inferred from the fact that in the year 

* In 1731 the ralne of the lettleiiieiits in BecUoewM estimated «t only 750,160 


1732 an octroy,* dated the 6th December, made its ap- 
pearance, containing the most important provisions for 
the future government of the colony that had yet been 
contemplated, and marking very distinctly the progress 
that had been made in wealth and stability. 

In the first place, the octroy declared that it had be- 
come necessary to provide a " constitution for Berbice/' 
The States-General enacted that the government was to 
be administered by a governor and council — ^the governor 
to be appointed by the directors of the association, under 
a commission from the States; and the council (also 
termed thfe Court of Policy) to consist of six persons, to 
be chosen by the governor, out of twelve nominated by 
the inhabitants,! the vacancies being filled up by the 
governor, who selected one out of two persons nominated 
by the remaining councillors. A Court of Criminal Justice 
was established, to consist of six or more members, to be 
appointed by the council or court of policy. A court of 
civil justice was instituted, to consist of the governor, as 
president, and six members selected by him out of twelve 
persons nomkiated — one-half by the Court of Policy, and 
one-half by the inhabitants, three members to retire every 
two years. The governor was allowed only one vote. 
The Court of Policy was to take precedence of the Court 
of Justice and the individual members, severally one of 
the other, from the date of their appointments. 

At the same time, the octroy empowered the directors 
to grant lands upon such terms and conditions as should 
appear to them proper. Another article empowered 
them to enact a capitation-tax, a weigh-tax, and a ton- 

The lands were at first given gratis to the settlers ; 
but as this system produced more claims than could be 

* Project Reglement dienende tot het Verzogte OctiooL HAr ^nV, p. 947. 
t This arrangement was afterwards idtered. 


entertained, it was proposed that a charge of 10 florins 
per acre be made, and the money so raised was called 
" acre-money " (akker geld genaamd). This acre-money 
was to become payable in fifteen years at ten different 
instalments, with the exception of the lands upon the 
east and west sea-coast, which were considered of so 
much greater value than the rest, and had latterly began 
to attract so much notice, that the acre-money there 
was made payable within twelve months in two instal- 
ments. At a subsequent period, in April, 1774, a plan- 
tation-tax was raised of 125 florins per annum from 
each estate, amounting in a few years to a large sum — 
about 125,000 florins — which was again distributed to 
the several plantations according to the number of the 
slaves on each. As the object of this proceeding is 
not very obvious, I transcribe the sentence in Dutch 
which refers to it : " De jaarlyksche opbrengs daar 
van is heden ten dage (1805), een Somme van 125,000 
florins, die over alle de Plantagien, naar maate vau 
het getal der slaven, tot ieder dezelven behoorende, 
wordt omgesla-geny* 

The capitation-tax (fifty pounds of sugar, or cash equi- 
valent, 50 stivers) was exacted indiscriminately fi:om 
the whole population, both white and black, children 
under ten years of age being charged only half that 
amount. The weighage-tax, or toll, consisted of 2^ per 
cent, commission on all imports and exports; and the 
tonnage-tax, or duty, was about 3 florins per "last" 
on the burden of ships ; besides these, an excise duty 
was charged on every fifty pounds of sugar exported. 

The directors were required to provide the colonists 
with a predikant, schoolmaster, and reader, but were 
only partially to contribute to their support ; a fi:ee 

* Yerliaal tui Berbice^ p. 8. 


table at the commandant's, besides a keg of brandy, and 
half a pipe of wine, were allowed to the predikant. 

The colonists were enjoined to employ one white 
person for every fifteen slaves, and the transport of 
such white persons was limited to the smn of 30 

Again, all sugars and other produce shipped were 
required to be marked with the name of the estate which 
produced it, and directed to be sent to no other place 
than Holland. 

From the consideration of these important measures in 
the history of the colony, it will be evident that society 
had now began to assume a more settled state. On 
the 22nd April, in the year 1733, Bemhard Waterham 
was installed as the first governor of Berbice, to carry 
out those new measures of government which were des- 
tined to influence the character not only of Berbice, but 
of its sister settlement, for many years to follow. 

From the commencement of the directory in 1720, to 
the year 1732, when these changes were introduced, the 
settlement does not appear to have had a very foil or 
regular tide of prosperity. It would seem that the sum 
of 54,235 guilders 10 stivers only had been shared by 
the proprietors, and that this had given rise to much 
dissatisfaction ; and two years after the establishment of 
the constitution, it was found that the planters could 
not support the new rate of taxes, and consequently a 
temporary exemption from taxation was granted to 
them. In the same year, 1734, upon the representation 
of the sugar refiners of Holland, the refining of sugar 
was prohibited in the colony. Notwithstanding these 
circumstances, however, the influx of strangers under 
the new government produced so great a demand for 
land, that it was found necessary to adopt k stringent 


regulation, by which all fixture purchasers were restricted 
to plantations not exceeding 2000 acres in extent. 

The increased and increasing population led insensibly 
to many social changes. A number of new houses were 
erected near the fort, and it was proposed to fortify Crab 
Island, but this had been objected to by the former com- 
mander of the river, Mr. Tierens, and upon the recom- 
mendation of the engineer, Osterlein, the old fort situated 
there was reconstructed and put in better order. 

In 1735 the first predikant, Jan Christian Frauendorf, 
arrived in the setdement of Berbice. It had been stipu- 
lated that he should be supported by a tax of 25 guilders 
from each plantation, which it was calculated would 
afibrd him a salary of about 800 guilders, besides his 
residence and fi:ee hving at the governor's table, his 
annual keg of brandy, and his pipe of wine. This 
arrangement, however, was found to be practically in- 
convenient, and it underwent some modification. The 
salary of the predikant was fixed at a sum of 900 
guilders yearly, which he received firom the colony; 
a house was built for him to reside in near the fort ; and, 
instead of boarding with the governor, he was allowed 
an additional sum of 300 guilders to keep his own table. 
In addition to this officer, a derk and schoolmaster was 
also imported, and received a salary of 300 guilders per 
annum. At the same time, a church fund was instituted, 
and was supported by a grant fix)m the general fimds of the 
colony. Various other acts of importance were effected 
about this period in Berbice. For the fiirther introduction 
of slaves, the want of whom was greatly felt, an arrange- 
ment was made with the West India Company whereby 
500 slaves were to be brought firom the coast of Guinea. 
The inhabitants, also, profiting by the example of Surinam, 
which at that time served as a sort of model colony, de- 


termined upon raising a militia force. Four companies 
of free persons were organised and trained in the use of 
arms; and as a further means of protecting the infant 
colony from assaults (internal as well as external), the 
troops of the garrison were augmented from 150 to 200 
men. For the convenience of the inhabitants, a tavern 
or hotel was erected close to the fort, and the hotel- 
keeper was prohibited from receiving any produce in pay- 
ment under a heavy penalty. The attempt to re-establish 
a brickery was also renewed, but, although partially suc- 
cessftd, never prospered to the desired extent. For the 
better administration of the goods of deceased persons, 
and for the benefit of minors and orphans, an Orphan 
Chamber (Weeskamer) was instituted, and subsequently 
became a very important office in these colonies. 

The appointment of director or superintendent of the 
plantations was an office which deted from about this 
period, but as the remuneration attending it was found 
inadequate, it was decreed that in future the person who 
filled it should have a seat in the Court of Policy. 

Some difference having arisen between the directors of 
the colony and the members of the company in 1738, it 
was determined to raise the number of the former from 
seven to nine persons, which was accordingly done in the 
month of July of that year. 

Following the example set them by the colonists in 
Surinam, the settlers in Berbice cultivated plantations of 
sugar, coffee, cocoa, and cotton along the river and the 
numerous branches or creeks. The cultivation of to- 
bacco also was attended to, for on the 22nd of October, 
1738, a duty of 2 penningen per lb. was levied upon its 
introduction in the states of Holland. 

With a view to increase the facility of communica- 
tion throughout the different plantations along these wild 


districts, a pathway was formed between Fort Nassau and 
the river Canje. It was found impossible to construct roads 
iilong the banks of the river and between the plantations; 
hence the conmiunication was kept up chiefly by water, 
while a few narrow and indistinct fcotpaths were tracked 
out between some of the most important posts and habi- 

VOL. I. 




Ever since the introduction of the slaves into the 
colony of Berbice, they had shown an indisposition to 
labour, which rendered coercive measures unavoidable ; 
and the severity with which they were consequently 
treated led to several ineflfectual attempts to escape their 
misery by absconding from the plantations, and, in some 
instances, to open revolt. In 1733 and 1734 partial re- 
bellions broke out, but were easily suppressed by the 
energy and promptitude of Governor Waterham, who, 
up to the period of his death in 1749, appears to have 
preserved the colony in a state of comparative security. 
He was succeeded by John Andries Lossner on the 8th 
April, 1749, who was displaced in less than a month by 
the appointment of John Frederic Collier. These changes 
were not calculated to tranquillise the settlement, or to 
produce a feeling of confidence amongst the settlers; and 
accordingly we find, that diuing Collier's administration 


the insubordination spread from the slaves to the Dutch 
soldiers, who now b^an to betray impatience of the 
rigorous discipline to which they were subjected in cc»n- 
troUing the outbreaks of the negroes. 

In 1761 some fifteen or sixteen soldiers tried to escape 
from the fort, but were captured, and cast into a loath- 
some prison overrun with snakes and rats. By the 
verdict of a court-martial the principal culprit was sen- 
tenced to be hanged; but that degrading death was 
spared him, and he was ordered to be shot. The ring- 
leaders were banished fix)m the colony and sent to New 
England, and the rest subjected to other punishments.* 
In 1762 another revolt took place on plantation Switzer- 
land, but it was speedily suppressed, and the leader of it 
drowned himsel£ 

On the 5th December, 1766, a new governor, Hen- 
drick Jan van Rjrswick, was appointed. Fresh instances 
of violence continued to betray the unsettled condition of 
the military. Anthony Kragh, a soldier who had been 
implicated in the late attempt at escape, was found con- 
cerned, along with a Boor who had been expelled for 
bad conduct, in the murder of an old man, Peter de 
Baad. They were, however, discovered by the detec- 
tion of some coin which was known to have belonged to 
the deceased, tried, put to torture, and, after confessing 
their guilt, the criminals were broken on the wheeL 
The Boor left behind him a wife and children, who were 
sent to New England, where the eldest daughter soon 
after contracted an advantageous marriage in New York. 

In 1769 a fatal duel took place between two of the 
soldiers, who fought with bayonets. They were both 
foreigners — the one French, the other Italian. In the 
rencontre the latter was mortally wounded, and the 
survivor was brought to trial and executed — an example 

• Hartsink. 



of severity demanded by the disorderly state of the mili- 
tary. About this period, or a little earlier, a malignant 
fever broke out among the white inhabitants, and carried 
off great numbers. On this occasion the mortality among 
the troops was so extensive, that in 1762 the whole 
garrison amounted to scarcely twenty in number. These 
circumstances gave increased confidence to the mutinous 
slaves, and a body of them taking advantage of the ab- 
sence of the proprietor of a plantation, they attacked the 
dwelling-house, ransacked and burnt it, and effected 
their escape up the river, bidding defiance to the resist- 
ance offered at the post and other places. The news 
having reached the fort. Lieutenant Thielen, a corporal, 
and twelve soldiers, assisted by some militia, proceeded 
in search of the rebels, and tracing them to the bush, 
attacked them twice, but were defeated, and obliged to 
retire with the loss of several killed and taken prisoners. 
A heavy retribution, however, awaited the insurgents. 
The soldiers retreated to an ambuscade, where they 
awaited the negroes, and in the conflict which ensued 
many slaves were killed, others dispersed, and a few of 
them were taken prisoners. There was no mercy for 
these unfortunate men. The general safety required 
extreme measures, and the prisoners were executed. 
But these severities were not successful in checking the 
disaffection. In the same year insurrectionary meetings 
were discovered on three plantations in Berbice, but for- 
tunately in sufficient time to arrest the plans of the 
conspirators, whose designs were thus to all appearance 
annihilated. The cautious vigilance of the Dutch had 
extinguished the flame, but their tyranny had kept alive 
the embers, and in the following year, 1763, a terrible 
insurrection burst out, which convulsed the whole 
colony, and threatened its very existence. 
The number of slaves at this time in Berbice was 

,AA-<'.'.. W-.. 

I<^^- -V;;../^; Vk;/:-. ^:^/2.y,if'.,.^,,^j. ...^^),..,,:y 


J.fTTiiia:- ,J.j.-i_(jnirnil:r*? 


about 3000, of the whites about 100.* The insurrection 
commenced upon plantation Magdalenenburg, on the 
river Canje, where some of the slaves, about seventy- 
three in number, appeared in open rebellion. They 
murdered the director or manager, Andr6 Fourie Niffens 
den Timmerman, and seizing upon all the arms they 
could find, proceeded to the next plantation. Providence. 
The director, however, having heard of their approach, 
escaped with two of his people to the plantation Peters- 
burg. Disappointed of their victim, the rebels plundered 
the house, and being joined by other negroes, crossed the 
river Canje, with the intention of reaching Surinam. 
When the governor, Van Hogenheim (who had been 
appointed in 1760), was informed of the revolt, he 
despatched a body of sailors from some of the merchant 
ships, under command of a mate (having no soldiers he 
could employ on such a service), with strict orders to go 
overland to the river Canje and to post themselves 
securely on the line of attack. The expedition, however, 
was fruitless, for after remaining several days in the 
neighbourhood, the sailors discovered that the negroes 
had decamped. In the month of March several other 
plantations were attacked by the slaves, the houses fired, 
and some of the whites murdered. In consequence of 
these alarming circumstances, the governor ordered the 
slave-ship Adriana PetroneUa^ Cock, master, with thirty 
strong and welLarmed people, to sail up the river 
Berbice, for the purpose of succouring the whites, who 
with their famihes had fled, terror-stricken, fix)m their 
lands. But, instead of proceeding at once to the rescue 
of the distressed fugitives, the master cast anchor shortly 
after he had left the fort on the pretence of taking charge 
of some moveable property belonging to the neighbouring 
estates. The inhabitants of the town of New Amster- 

• Hartsink. 


dam, hearing that the rebels were advancing to the fort, 
took advantage of the opportunity to convey goods on 
board of three of the vessels in the river, in which they 
also took refuge themselves. These ships had been 
moored off the fort by orders of the governor, to assist it 
in case of need. The fort itself was so badly garrisoned, 
that only eight soldiers and about ten citizens composed 
the force. In spite of the renewed orders of the governor, 
the master of the slave-ship remained in this state of 
inactivity, and application being made to the master of 
another vessel to undertake the attempt, he refused, on 
the ground that his pilot and some of his sailors were 
absent, and the others sick. Meanwhile, the unfortunate 
planters up the river had shut themselves up in a house, 
which they fortified as weU as they could, where they 
defended themselves against severd attacks from the 
negroes, who loudly proclaimed their determination to 
hunt every white man out of Berbice, and to take pos- 
session of their estates. Finding further resistance im- 
possible, they capitulated with the slaves, and begged for 
permission to pass out to their boats so that they might 
embark in the ships. To this proposal the insurgents 
treacherously consented ; but scarcely had the miserable 
planters and their families entered the boats, than the 
negroes fired on them, killing several, and wounding and 
m^ing prisoners of others. A few alone escaped the 
carnage, and took to flight in despair. The wretched 
captives were brutally insulted, and many of them deli- 
berately murdered; others committed suicide in antici- 
pation of their fate. The news of this horrible catas- 
trophe reached the fort through a mulatto, Jan Broer, 
and was shortly after confirmed by the Predikant Ram- 
ring, his wife, and sister, who, " as a man who spoke 
with God," had been spared by the rebels. They com- 
missioned him, however, to acquaint the governor that 


the cause of this revolt originated in the cruel and 
wicked conduct of some of the planters. Many other 
settlers from diflferent parts of the colony came flying 
into the town, naked and destitute, to seek shelter in the 
fort, or on board of the ships. 

The revolt had now become general. Under such dis- 
astrous circumstances the governor. Van Hc^enheim, con- 
vened an extraordinary meeting of the principal inhabitants 
to consider the best means of acting under such difficulties, 
and also despatched a trusty messenger to the governor 
of Surinam, praying for succour and relief. Upon in- 
specting the fort and general means of defence, the former 
was found in such a deplorable condition as to preclude 
all hope of its being rendered, effectually serviceable ; and 
measures were taken, imder a report from the principal 
military and militia officers, for the purpose of repairing 
and strengthening it. Another report contained a plan 
of general defence. They suggested that the inhabitants 
who had taken refiige on board the ships should be 
ordered to return into the fort, and not allowed to go out 
without express permission; and that the masters of the 
four principal ships should be directed to place them- 
selves in such a manner as to give the best assistance to 
the fort. Two of the ship captains consented to this 
arrangement, a third pleaded sickness in excuse, and the 
fourth pleaded that his orders required him to leave the 
colony as soon as possible, to proceed either to St. 
Eustace or elsewhere. A letter was shordy afterwards 
forwarded to the governor from two of the ringleaders, 
Cufiy and Accara, warning him to depart at once with 
the white inhabitants and their ships, leaving the colony 
to the negroes, who had been driven to this measure by 
repeated cruelties and injustice, and who, if resistance 
was continued to be offered to them, would compel their 
masters to evacuate the territory. To this demand the 


governor returned an answer, not with the intention of 
entering into correspondence with the rebels, but merely 
to gain time. By this time the negroes had organised 
themselves into a regular government, had established a 
complete system of military discipline, and had chosen 
Cuflfy, a young slave of courage and judgment, as their 
governor. A rumour having prevailed that the rebels 
were advancing to the fort in great numbers, the Dutch 
inhabitants took alarm, and addressed a letter, dated the 
7th March, to the governor, requesting leave to depart 
on board the ships, since the fort was incapable of 
affording them protection ; stating further that the slaves 
were already in possession of the whole of the settlement 
up the river Berbice, and to the number of 600 were 
carrying fire and destruction along with them. This 
request was peremptorily refused by the governor and 
military officers, who advised that they should remain in 
the fort until assistance could be obtained; but the 
militia officers having sided with the colonists, and the 
question being asked of the military whether they alone 
felt themselves equal to the task of resisting the rebels, 
and being answered in the negative, it was at length 
finally determined on the 8th March diat the fort should 
be abandoned and set on fire, whilst the unfortunate 
inhabitants retreated to their ships. These latter, with 
the colonists on board, having retired out of danger, a 
lieutenant, corporal, and two men were left to execute 
the blowing up of Fort Nassau, which being accom- 
phshed, they reached the ships in a boat left behind for 
that purpose. A negro, named Simon, was likewise 
despatched on horseback to the neighbouring settlements 
on the river Canje to acquaint the planters with the 
determination and conduct of the colonists in Berbice, 
but he found that they had all fled from their plantations 
and retired towards the sea-coast. The ships as they 


passed found nearly the whole plantations along the 
river in possession of the rebels. Upon one only the 
slaves were still faithful, and on being asked to co- 
operate in the general defence, they came on board and 
joined the colonists. Several skirmishes took place be- 
tween the ships and the insurgent negroes, who repeatedly 
fired on them. One or two white inhabitants were 
happily rescued as the ships proceeded down the river. 
A letter was soon after received by the governor from a 
burgher captain of Canje, stating that the inhabitants of 
that district had reached Fort Saint Andries on the 
coast, and praying for assistance and provisions that they 
might be enabled to hold out. The ships having 
arrived at plantation Dageraat, cast anchor, whilst the 
governor and many of the colonists went on shore, find- 
ing that the negroes on that estate were peaceably 
inclined, and attending to their work. It was further- 
more determined, after mature consideration, to make a 
halt here, for the situation of the estate was most 
favourable to resist any attack on the part of the in- 
surgents, being protected in front by the river and ships, 
and inland by a marshy and almost impassable waste. 

One of the ships was ordered to the mouth of the 
river Canje, to prevent any sally on the part of the rebels, 
as well as to cover the entrance of the river Berbice. 
But the ship captains refused to accede to the proposi- 
tions made to them, although the governor and council 
addressed them, and promised to hold them harmless of 
the consequences. In spite of all commands they per- 
sisted in saiUng down the river, and the governor and 
colonists were obhged to join them, especially as some 
of the ships' companies had shown a disposition to be 

On the next day, the 12th of March, the anchors were 
raised, and they journeyed onwards, learning soon after 



the Seven Frovmces, dropped her anchor at plantation 
Dageraat. She was commanded by Captain Hendricks, 
and was armed with ten 4-pounders, and twelve arque- 
buses; having also about thirty men from the otiier 
bark (which was left at Fort St. Andries), and being 
well furnished with ammunition and provisions. In 
consequence of this timely assistance, a proclamation 
was issued, calling upon the loyal slaves to join the 
whites, and offering the following premiums : 

For every living negro rebel, the sum of ... 50 guilders. 

For every right-hand of one slfiin SO „ 

For every man and woman who acted faithfully 10 „ 

And the children of these, each S „ and 10 stivers. 

To those who should restore any stolen or other pro- 
perty — such as monies, jewels, clothes, &c. — to the proper 
oflScers, were to receive half the value of the several 

For the apprehension of the negro Cuffy, a reward of 
500 guilders was offered ; and for the negro Accara, who 
acted as captain, 400 guilders. This proclamation was 
dated, at the post at plantation Dageraat, 8th of May, 

On the 13th of the same month, another singular pro- 
clamation was issued by way of encouragement to the 
troops of the expedition, in order to encourage their 
zeal. It set forth the following extraordinary list of 
pensions : 

Pension for the loss of two eyes, the sum of 1500 guilders. 


„ one eye 




„ both arms 




„ right arm 




„ left arm 




„ both hands 




„ right hand 




„ lett hand 




„ both legs 




one leg 




„ both feet 




„ one foot 



* Hartfmk. 


Shortly after the arrival of the other bark from St. 
Eustace at Dageraat, on the 11th of May, a determined 
attack by the rebels, who now mustered about 2000 or 
3000, was made on the post, but was bravely resisted 
by the Dutch, who killed a great many, and dispersed 
the rest. The heavy guns from the ships did terrible 
execution, whilst among the Dutch four or five only 
were killed, and a few others wounded. The governor 
himself had a narrow escape, a ball having perforated 
his coat; considerable damage, however, was done to 
the post, the negroes having destroyed part of it by fire 
at the first assault. Several parties were sent in search 
of the fugitive rebels, but soon returned with little suc- 
cess. The Indians, who had been everywhere treated 
very badly by the insurgents, gradually assembled, and 
took service under the Dutch, who set them to track 
the course and haunts of the insurgents. Several of the 
slaves at the post and neighbourhood of Dageraat, who 
were considered favourable to the whites, had absconded, 
or were made prisoners by the rebels, whose confidence, 
however, was beginning to be shaken by the want of 
provisions, and by dissensions amongst themselves. A 
new chief had been chosen to supersede CuSy. His 
name was Atta; and this man gained over to his side 
nearly all the partisans of his rival, CuflFjr, who, first 
hiding the powder which had been placed under his 
charge to prevent it from falling into the hands of his 
enemies, shot himself, and thus escaped the vengeance of 
those who sought to murder him. 

On the 19th of June, the ship Sendrick, Captain 
Rolwagen, arrived at the mouth of the river Berbice; 
having on board the new fiscal and secretary, L. Fick; 
two surgeons, some soldiers, a smith, and five other 
persons; some of whom immediately proceeded up to 
Dageraat. On the 7th of July another ship, the 2>e- 


inera/ra Welfare^ Captain Salvolarie, a Greek, sent by 
the governor of St. Eustace, De Wind, arrived at Da- 
geraat with about forty men, and some provisions ; but, 
at the same time, the spirits of the colonists were de- 
pressed by the sickness and mortality which prevailed 
among the troops and sailors; and likewise by the in- 
telligence that, in consequence of a quarrel over certain 
booty which had been obtained from the rebels, about 
seventy soldiers who had arrived from Surinam had 
deserted their posts, and joined the rebels in Canje, with 
the intention of proceeding to the Orinoco; but in this 
they were defeated ; they quarrelled among themselves, 
and were obliged to give up their arms to the n^oes^ 
who suspected them, and shot several. The others they 
spared, in order to make them useful. Among the mu- 
tineers was a surgeon, who proved very serviceable to 
the rebels. Most of them were in the end recaptured 
by the soldiers, and endeavoured to pass themselves off 
as prisoners in the hands of the negroes, but were, how- 
ever, tried and executed. 

During this month (July) several skirmishes took 
place, but nothing of decisive importance transpired; 
information was received from Essequebo of the ap- 
proach of some Indians, who had already attacked the 

Unfortunately, the sickness among the Dutch pre- 
vailed so heavily up to the month of August, that it was 
determined to sail towards the sea-coast; one of the 
barks alone had lost forty-five people, and the governor 
and many officers were also ill. 

The troops, for the most part composed of French 
runaways and people of indifferent character, could 
scarcely be said to be under the control of their officers, 
who were themselves as impatient as their soldiers to 
return to the sea-side, and to leave the post of Dageraat 


to its fate. The greater part of the colonists joined in 
this view ; but the governor, in spite of every obstacle, 
determined to keep his position with as many of the 
people as he could persuade to remain with him. The 
post was in a most defenceless state, and might now 
have been easily carried by an assault ; but it appeared 
afterwards that the rebels were in a state of great con- 
fusion and want The scarcity of provisions was alarm- 
ing; they were reduced to eat horses and dogs, and 
many quarrels took place among them; nevertheless, a 
few occasional attempts were made in the neighbourhood 
to intimidate the whites. Sad accounts were shortly after 
received by the governor firom Fort St. Andries; one of 
the captains placed there (Hattinga) having left his post, 
and disappeared with his company. He had been 
latterly very drunken, and great fears were entertained 
for his safety. Several soldiers had also quitted their 
posts and absconded; rewards were oflfered for their 
captiure, which proved imavailing, although some trusty 
negroes and the fwithiul Indians pursued them with 

In this state of alarm and uncertainty, the affairs of 
the settlements continued during the months of August 
and September. 

On the 3rd of October a memorial was addressed to 
the governor firom Major Ewyk and Captains Kyssel 
and Fexier, strongly urging the necessity of abandoning 
the position at Dageraat, and concentrating the forces 
on the river Canje ; but the governor, Hogenheim, was 
resolute in maintaining his stand as long as he could, 
having provided for a retreat to St. Andries in case of 

The intelligence of the revolt of the slaves in Berbice 
having eventually reached Holland, through Captain 
Spruyt from Surinam, and Richard Roberts from Esse- 


quebo, the directors of this colony, as well as a number 
of other proprietors and persons interested in its welfare, 
addressed themselves, on June 8th, to the States-General, 
praying that his high mightiness would grant two 
frigates and a body of disciplined troops, in order that 
they might at once proceed to quell the insurrection. 
Application was made to the Admiralty College for any 
ships which might be at their disposal, and troops were 
sought for at the hands of the Duke of Brunswick. 
The latter raised two battalions of volunteers from the 
different regiments, besides engineers, artillerymen, and 
workmen ; to whose equipment and transport the coun- 
cillors of state granted a requisition of about 706,000 
guilders. The officers were induced to join by a pro- 
mise of promotion on their return. 

The command of the expedition was given to Colonel 
de Salve, who had under him, as officers in the first 
battalion, Major de Brau, Captain Lutteke, Captain La 
Croix, Captain Blank, and Captain Lyburg; second bat- 
talion, Lieutenant-Colonel Douglas, Major Pusch, Captain 
Tourgund, Captain Mouchy, Captain Douglas, and Cap- 
tain Tisbach; besides 72 under-officers, 468 privates, 12 
drummers, and 40 artillerymen, in all. 

The Admiralty also furnished the Zephyr^ with 110 
men, under Captain L. H. van Oyen ; and the Admiralty 
of Amsterdam equipped the frigate Dolphm^ with twenty- 
four guns, under Captain Evert Bisdom. There were 
besides six transports to convey the troops; viz., four 
ships of three masts, and two smaller vessels. The 
following instructions were then given to Colonel de 
Salve : 

1st. Colonel de Salve to take command of the expe- 
dition lying in the Texel, and to proceed as soon as 
possible to Surinam and Berbice. 


2nd. The ships to keep company as they best can ; and 
in case of separation to have a place of rendezvous, with 
the necessary signals. 

3rd. In case of separation, no time to be lost in seek- 
ing the other vessels; but, as many as can, to proceed on 
their course direct. 

4th. The commander-in-chief to arrive first at the 
rendezvous of Surinam, if practicable. 

5th. Upon his arrival at Surinam he must communi- 
cate with the governor and council as to the state of the 
colony of Berbice, and, after leaving directions for any 
absent vessel, shall proceed to act for the immediate 
relief of Berbice. After having remained eight days at 
Surinam, to await any dilatory ships, and to consult 
with the governor and council as to the best mode of 
offering assistance to those in need of it. 

6th. Likewise, he shall communicate as soon as pos- 
sible after his arrival at Surinam with the governor of 
Berbice and other officers, forwarding a copy of the 
resolutions of his high mightiness of the 5th of August. 

7th. Upon his arrival at Berbice he shall consult with 
the commanding officer, and with the governor, as to 
the plan to be pursued in subduing the insurgent slaves. 

8th. After such consultation he shall take the ne- 
cessary steps to fortify and defend the several posts of 
the colony. 

9th. In case of requiring the use of any colony boats 
or negroes, he shall agree to hire the same at stated 
rates from the hands of the governor and council. 

10th. In case he should think it necessary to under- 
take operations against the rebels from the side of 
Surinam, Essequebo, or Demerara, he shall detach ves- 
sels and troops to these points. 

11th. He shall on his arrival as soon as possible 

VOL. I. p 


debark the troops, and land and secure the ammunition, 
stores, and provisions. 

12th. He shall appoint officers and under-officers as 
commissaries, to superintend and be accountable for such 
ammunition and stores. 

13th. In payment of the necessary expenses, bOls of 
exchange shall be drawn upon the solicitors Heeneman 
and De Vrieu, of Gravenhage, who wUl, upon receipt of 
such, transmit the necessary monies. 

14th. In case the commanding officer shall require 
more troops, or other assistance, he shall forward an 
application to Holland for the same. 

15th. He shall also report upon the condition and 
number of the forts necessary for the defence, as well 
external as internal of the colony. 

16th. He shall with every suitable opportxmity fiimish 
a report of the affiiirs of the colony, and provide for the 
speedy reception of orders addressed to him by way of 

17th. He shall avoid, and cause to be avoided, all 
occasions of dispute between himself his officers, and 
those of the local government, and shall execute all 
services required of him in iiiendly concert 

18th. All ceremonies between the military and naval 
officers to be so conducted as to avoid unpleasant conse- 

19th. He shall appoint to any vacant situations which 
may occur in the service, subject to our approval. 

20th. He shall act faithfully for the peaceful interest 
of the colony, and shall remain there until further 

Dated Grayenhage, let of October, 1763. * 

The squadron sailed on the 6th of November, 1763 j 

* Hartsink. 


and arrived on the 19th of December at Surinam, with 
the exception of the ship George Sefidrick, imder Cap- 
tain Visser, on board of which was Major Pusch, and 
three companies. On the 26th of December they again 
weighed anchor, and sailed for the Berbice. 

Meanwhile the governor had received a letter, on the 
28th of October, from Captain Haringman, of the ship 
Mdrtensdpkj which had arrived at the mouth of the 
river Berbice from Holland, and waited the means and 
opportunity to sail up the river. 

On the 3rd of November, Lieutenant Prys and forty 
men, besides a volunteer named Baron Einkel, arrived 
at Dageraat, stating that the vessel under Captain 
Haringman was at anchor at Fort St. Andries; but that 
the commander, hearing of the sickness up the river, 
liesitated to sail up, and requested a conference with the 
Governor Hogenheim, who was invited on board. He, 
accordingly, proceeded to the ship at Fort St Andries, 
leaving the post at Dageraat in charge of Lieutenant 
Smit. After some stay and conference with Captain 
Haringman, they returned to Dageraat together, and a 
coimcil of war was held with the other oflSioers as to the 
safest way to ddiver the colony ; at length it was de- 
cided that an attack should be commenced on the river 
Canje. Fdlowing up this plan, two schooners and a 
bark, well equipped and armed, were sent up the Canje. 
For this purpose the colony contributed three offices, five 
sei^eants, two corporals, one surgeon, and seventy men; 
and the frigate SL Martm^ with two officers, one sergeant, 
and ninety-three men. The post at Dageraat was guarded 
by a force of fifiy men under Lieutenant Smit, and pro* 
tected on the xiver side by the two barks from St. 
Eustace, ordered there. The governor himself about 
the 8th of November, took charge of the expedition up 
the Canje. Having sailed \xp the river, and occasionally 



chasing the negroes, they anchored, on the 13th of No- 
vember, off plantation Don Carlos; and a detachment of 
100 men, under Lieutenant Thielen and two other 
officers, had orders to scour the country in the direction 
of the lately abandoned Fort Nassau. 

Proceeding next to Stevensburg plantation, they were 
rejoined by the detachment under Lieutenant Thielen, 
who had dispersed some rebels, but had made no pri- 
soners. The post here was strengthened by a force of 
106 men under Lieutenant Thielen; and the Governor 
Hogenheim and Captain Haringman shortly after re- 
turned to Fort St. Andries, and on the 19th of November 
reached Dageraat, where he found everything in con- 
fusion; several buildings in the neighbourhood burnt 
down, and the troops suffering from sickness. But grati- 
fying intelligence soon compensated for his disappoint- 
ment. Information was received from Governor Grave- 
sande, of Essequebo, stating that two ships from Zealand 
had arrived with about seventy soldiers, whom he could 
readily spare for the protection of Berbice; moreover, 
that the Indians had gained some victories over the re- 
bellious slaves; and shortly after, the additional good 
news was received of the arrival at Berbice of three 
company's ships, under Captains Dakam, Kraay, and 
Kamp, bringing ninety soldiers sent by the directors 
from Holland. Again, on the 3rd and 5th of December, 
arrived the frigate Dolphine^ Captain Bisdom, with 150 
men, and twenty-two guns; and the Zephyr j Captain 
Van Oyen, with 110 men, and twelve guns; bringing also 
the joyful intelligence that an additional force of 600 
men were shortly to be expected, under Colonel de 
Salve, sent by his high mightiness for the relief of 

Before the arrival of this latter aid, it was determined 
to attempt a general attack upon the rebels ; and the 


ships, barks, and boats, were stationed in such situations 
as would prevent the. negroes, when assailed by land, from 
escaping by water. The troops were also disposed of in 
companies to proceed up the rivers, and to land upon 
the most commodious estates. The whole force was 
ready on the 18th of December, and next day were 
ordered to commence operations. 

On the 19th, information was received from St. An- 
dries of the death of Captain Van Kyssel, and the arrival 
of a slave-ship with 300 negroes, under Captain Bruyn. 
The governor, notwithstanding, proceeded up the river 
Berbice with a large force of ships and troops, and found 
most of the plantations abandoned and burnt. On ar- 
riving at the old site of Fort Nassau and New Amster- 
dam, they found every house destroyed, except the 
Lutheran church and the house of the predikant ; the 
rebels fearing to trouble these lest the Almighty should 
be angry. Having landed here some troops, under 
Lieutenant Smit, the governor and Captain Haringman 
proceeded up the river, and, reaching the creek Wironje, 
foimd the church and the house of the predikant at this 
post uninjured. As yet few of the rebels had been 
discovered, occasionally several of them voluntarily sur- 
rendered, or were taken prisoners ; but the greater body 
of the insurgents retreated at the approach of the ships 
and troops ; most of the plantations along their course 
were visited, but were found deserted, and the greater 
part of the buildings burned or destroyed. Upon reach- 
ing the creek Wikkie, the governor was led to sup- 
pose that a large force of the rebels had assembled at 
plantation Hardenbroch, a little way up that stream; 
and a strong detachment was ordered to proceed up the 
creek in boats, and attack the enemy. Lieutenant Smit 
and his party arrived first, but immediately on their 
approach were fired upon by the negroes, who had lain 


in ambush; and that gallant officer, Lieutenant Thielen, 
and Ensign Eees, were all three killed, besides several 
others severely wounded. The troops, however, re- 
turned the fire, and succeeded in landing, driving the 
rebels before them, and taking possession of the post at 
plantation Hardenboch; here, after exploring the neigh- 
bourhood, and capturing a few slaves, a body of troops 
was left under Sergeant Hopvaal, and the governor and 
party proceeded up the river Berbice, as far as La- 
vorrette, where they landed on the 29th of December, 
and joiaed the troops already stationed there, who had 
in several excursions killed many of the rebels, and taken 
numerous prisoners, amongst others the runaway soldier 
Jean Benard. 

The whole river, from its mouth to the plantation 
Lavorrette, about 100 miles, having now been searched, 
the several estates visited, and the insurgent slaves 
routed, the governor determined to retrace his steps. 
A detachment of about forty-five men, under command 
of Captain Slavorinus, was left at plantation Lavorrette, 
whilst the bark Seven Provinces^ with thirty-two men, 
was ordered to remain in the river opposite that estate 
by way of protection, in case of necessity. Having 
made these arrangements, Hogenheim embarked on 
board of the Hope^ and sailed down the river on the 
31st of December. 

Upon his route he received a letter firom Colonel de 
Salve, annomicing his arrival with six transports, and 
600 men, in the river Berbice, and expressing his desire 
to hold a consultation as to the necessary measures of 
attack. The meeting for this purpose took place at a 
post where a church and some buildings yet remained. 
Having again reached the creek Wikkie, the governor 
communicated with the people at plantation Harden- 
broch, and sent up a, strong party, under Lieutenant 


Crombie, to pursue and capture the rebels who had 
taken refuge higher up, which was aflirmed by several 
slaves who surrendered themselves, and who appeared 
glad to place themselves once again under the protection 
of the DutcL A young lady, who had fortunately made 
her escape from the rebels, also confirmed this state- 
ment. Leaving a sergeant and fourteen men at post 
Hardenbroch, the governor sailed down the river as far 
as the creek Wironje, where he foimd the officer in 
charge, and most of the soldiers, ill and unfit for duty. 
Information was soon after received that Colonel Salve, 
with his force, had entered the river, and that already 
two of the transports had reached the post at Dageraat, 
where he had met and consulted with Captain Haring- 
man. The governor having now reached the site ot 
Fort Nassau and New Amsterdam, met there the two 
Captains Bisdom and Van Oyen, who proceeded with 
him at once to meet Colonel de Salve. It was deter- 
mined at this meeting to occupy immediately the post in 
Canje; and for this purpose three companies under 
Major Pusch were despatched, and. orders given to 
Lieutenant-Colonel Douglas to station himself at Fort 
St. Andries, and forvrard the necessary stores and troops 
to reinforce the colonyi.,troops already posted on the 
Canje. The governor, wBth his two ^captains and a 
Dutch engineer, De Vrye, returned to inspect the ruins 
of the late town and fort; and it was determined, as 
soon as possible, to reconstruct and fortiiy the same. 
Five companies, under Major de Brauw, were ordered up 
the river Berbice to reheve the colony troops at the 
creeks Wikkie and Wironje and plantation Lavorrette. 

Thus four companies remained at head-quarters near 
the ruins of Fort Nassau, where only the church and 
predikant's house were found, and were converted into 
barracks; three companies were sent, as stated, to Canje ; 


one company occupied the church in the creek Wironje ; 
three companies were posted at the creek Wikkie ; and 
one company and a half occupied the distant settlement 
at Lavorrette. Open communication was kept up be- 
tween these several stations, and artillery and surgeons, 
with the necessary stores, were divided among them. 
It was also determined that three of the ships of war 
should return to Holland, as the expense of keeping 
them was very great, and their services appeared now 
unnecessary. Colonel de Salve at first opposed this pro- 
position, but eventually acceded to it. Governor Hogen- 
heim having arrived at Dageraat on the 9th of January, 
1764, found the troops posted there very sickly, and 
that many of them had died. 

Whilst here, he received intelligence from the several 
posts, especially from that on the creek Wikkie, where 
much fighting had taken place between the troops and re- 
bels; the latter being defeated, and many taken prisoners, 
with some loss on the part of the Dutch. On the 24th 
of January, Colonel de Salve took up his head-quarters 
at old Fort Nassau; the artillery and stores were landed, 
and preparations were made for rebuilding the town and 
fort. Information having been received that Atta 
and other ringleaders were in the neighbourhood of 
creek Wikkie, an expedition of about 160 men, under 
Captain Van Oycn, proceeded in search of them, but 
failed in the attempt. A number of penitent or trusty 
negroes were now employed to trace out the remaining 
rebels, and to assist in their capture ; and for the next 
two months several expeditions were made against the 
insurgent slaves, wherever they could be met with in 
suflSicient numbers. The Congo negroes, who, in several 
instances, had committed the horrible brutality of eat- 
ing some of their victims, were more especially sought 


On the 17th of March orders were issued by the 
commander-in-chief to recal some of the troops stationed 
on the river Canje, where very few of the rebels now 
lingered, and to station them on the Berbice, where 
every week many of the negroes were captured, or sur- 
rendered. A great many of the prisoners, after a formal 
trial by the governor and council, were condemned to 
death; some to be hanged, others to be burnt, and a 
few to be broken on the wheel. The rebel chief, Atta, 
was discovered and seized by some of the negroes who 
had joined the Dutch, and, along with several other 
ringleaders, was most cruelly tortured, and then tied to 
a stake and burnt, without one word of complaint. In 
fact, it was remarkable how callous and indifferent the 
rebels had become, not a sigh or groan escaping from 
them under the terrible vengeance of the victorious 

The exact number of those condemned to death and 
executed is not recorded. On the 16th of JMarch twenty- 
three were sentenced to be hanged, sixteen to be broken 
on the wheel, and fifteen burnt; in all fifr.y-four.* 

Many of the deserters from the Dutch service were 
also captured, and underwent various punishments after 
a kind of court-martial held in Paramaribo, on the 20th 
of July, 1764 ; the leaders of these mutineers were tor- 
tured, and aft;erwards executed. 

Such was the close of this fearftil drama, such the cruel 
retribution which the exasperated colonists wreaked on 
the principal instigators and abettors of this long and 
dreadful insurrection. 

The insurgent slaves, long revelling in undisturbed pos- 
session of their spoils, were gradually dislodged fi:om their 
strongholds, chased fi:om creek to creek, from plantation 
to plantation, until hemmed in on all sides, shot down, 

* Harteink. 


captured or dispersed, their noted chiefe betrayed and 
made prisoners, they gave up in despair the long-pro- 
tracted contest with the white man, and once more sub- 
mitted to the harness and drudgery of slavery. To many, 
indeed, it was a matter of satisfaction again to find 
themselves the well-provided dependents of the prudent 
planter, for the year of self-accomplished fireedom had 
not passed without its trials, and anarchy, insecurity, 
famine, and exacted toil, had caused many openly to 
declare that they preferred the life of slavery under the 
white man, to the embittered liberty of their own 

Comparative order. and security having followed the 
last act of the insurrection, Colonel de Salve wrote, on 
the 14th of August, to the governor and council, stating 
that he had received orders from the Duke of Brunswick 
to return immediately to Europe as soon as peace and 
tranquillity was restored to the colony of Berbice, the 
more especially as considerable sickness prevailed among 
the troops stationed in the diflferent districts. 

To this the governor and council replied, " That it 
was their belief that peace and tranquillity had been 
restored, and that the slaves in general had returned to 
the plantations, except a few secreted in the bush, who, 
however, would be soon captured ; but that as to the 
suggestion of withdrawing the troops, they (the governor 
and coimcil) feared that the military strength of the 
colony was too weak to prevent a recurrence of the late 
disasters, should the slaves be so inclined, when they saw 
the departure of the troops for Holland, and prayed that 
the colonel would leave a force of 100 eflfective men.'' 

The following shows the amount of the population 
about this time :* 

* Hartsink. 


Whites (exckulYe of the troops) . . . 11& 

Male negroes 308 

Female ditto 1317 

Children 745 

Total 2486 

Colonel de Salve being desirous of making arrange- 
ments for his departure, found that the naval and mihtary 
forces were in such a deplorable state from sickness, as 
to render it imperative on him to procure fiirther assist- 
ance to work the ships. He accordingly wrote to the 
governor of St. Eustace, requesting him to forward a 
body of able seamen. The ship convejdng these people 
was, however, wrecked among the islands, many of the 
sailors perished, and the remainder only reached Berbice 
on the 7th of November. Meanwhile, a ship, the St. 
Martifii sent from Holland with supplies for the troops, 
was lost off the mouth of the river Berbice, but her 
cargo fortunately was saved. 

On the 16th of September another ship, the Christina 
Maria J arrived, and assisted in carrying back the troops. 
On the 2nd of October, 1764, four ships being in a 
condition to act as transports, the troops were embarked ; 
but, owing to contrary winds and low tides, they did 
not get to sea until the 24th of November, with the 
detention, however, of one of the ships, the TPakkerheidj 
which parted her anchor and drove on a sand-bank. 
The intention of the commander was to have saUed to 
St. Eustace, but contrary winds compelled the transports 
to put into Cura^oa, where they arrived on the 4th of 
December; and the number of sick persons being very 
great, they were detained here until the 26th of Ja^ 
nuary, 1765, when, being rejoined by the ship WaJk^ 
kerheidy and the invalids having recovered on shore, 
they proceeded to Texel, where they arrived singly in 


March, April, and May, and the troops forwarded to 
Bergen-op-Zoom, after their long and perilous campaign 
to the wild coast. 

The troops which were left behind, at the request of 
the governor and council, consisted of one major, two 
captains, five under-officers, six sergeants, six corporal?, 
two drummers, seventy privates, eight artillerymen, be- 
sides two surgeons ; in all, 102. 

Governor Hogenheim, who had removed the seat of 
government from Dageraat to New Amsterdam, on the 
31st of October, 1764, issued a proclamation to the 
slaves, offering a free pardon to all those absent, and 
invited them to return to their duty as soon as possible, 
which induced many of them to deliver themselves up ; 
a circumstance that afforded the most lively satisfac- 

The sickness among the troops having abated, many 
of the soldiers purchased their discharges, and accepted 
situations upon the different plantations, which began 
now to be renewed in cultivation. 

In March, 1765, a vessel, the Albertma Chriatma^ 
arrived in Berbice with a body of militia, hired by the 
directors of the colony to relieve the troops of the State 
which were left behind; but her condition was so bad 
that the major commanding the forces refused to go 
home in her, and sailed with his company in another 
ship, called the States of Holland^ which left on the 
29th of March, but, owing to contrary winds, did not 
reach St. Eustace until the 6th of May, whence it sailed 
on the 11th of June, and arrived in Texel on the ' 
10th of August, the troops being forwarded to Bergen- 

Two penitent ringleaders of the revolt went to Hol- 
land with this expedition, and, receiving their pardon 


at the hands of his high mightiness, were enrolled as 
soldiers under Colonel de Salve, 

Grovemor Hogenheim having applied to the States- 
General to be relieved jfrom the government of the 
colony, was promoted to the rank of major, and Heer 
Johannes* Heyliger was appointed in his stead, and was 
succeeded, in April, 1768, by Stephen Hendrick de la 

Several plans for the protection and defence of the 
colony from within, as well as from without, were drawn 
by Major de Veye, and transmitted to his high mighti- 
ness, who submitted them to the directors of the colony ; 
and about the year 1769 a stone fort was erected near 
the site of the former one, whilst wooden buildings of con- 
siderable strength and utility were constructed on the 
former site of New Amsterdam, which long served as 
head-quarters for the officers, officials, and troops. 

The colony of Berbice was now managed by nine 
directors, chosen by the principal shareholders, besides 
a secretary and two book-keepers. The governor was 
elected by the directors of the colony, received a com- 
mission from his high mightiness, and governed the 
colony with the assistance of councils of policy, criminal 
and civil justice. 

The principal officers of the colony were a fiscal and 
secretary; a college, composed of four officers, to ad- 
minister to estates of orphans, besides marshals; a book- 
keeper and receiver-general of the colony plantations; 
a book-keeper for the soldiers' pay; a vendue master, 
and receiver of vendue money; an inspector of colony 
shops, and receiver of the commission money ; a 
receiver of the capitation money and church contribu- 
tions; a receiver of the weigh money; a receiver of the 
hospital tax; a receiver of the tonnage tax; a land- 
surveyor; a surgeon^major. The church council, or 

224 HISTORY OF British guiana. 

gress must already have been made in its cultivation, 
for we learn that in the year 1739 an establishment of 
the Dutch Company of Berbice was in existence at Naby, 
in Mahaicony; and about that time a college of keizers, 
or burgher officers, was appointed for that district * 

The line of coast between Deraerara and Essequebo 
(now called the west sea-coast) had likewise been 
reached and explored by the settlers on the latter river, 
who, in some instances, made imperfect attempts to bring 
it into cultivation. As a general rule, however, the 
coasts were avoided by the Dutch, who seemed to 
think that the banks of rivers and the more inland 
country were better adapted for their purposes; and it 
was not till about the year 1740, when they made the 
discovery that the low lands near the sea were more 
fertile than the heights and inland spots they first occu- 
pied, that they began slowly to remove towards the 
coast. Cotton, more especially, was found to thrive 
wonderfully well upon the soil in the neighbourhood of 
the sea, which, at that time, was considered too saline 
for the sugar-cane, the coffee-bush, and the plantain- 
tree — all yielding edible products. 

About the same period, the island of Wacquename, 
or Waakenaam, also attracted observation jfrom its fer- 
tility; and on the 4th of June, 1741, two gentlemen, 
Thomas Wilson and James Doing, bought a third part 
of the island, and established two large estates there. 
Their example was soon followed by others, who esta- 
blished themselves in the rest of the land. 

Subsequently the lands between the Essequebo and 
Demcrara, the present west coast of the county of 
Demerara, were laid out in sugar and cotton plantations, 
of which there were at first about fourteen in number 

* Local Guide, 1832. 

ttmroBT or bbitish guiana. 225 

The ifiland of Leguaa was also partly cleared of its 
luxuriant vegetation, and several fine estates were 
mapped out and brought into cultivation ; nor were the 
other islands at the mouth of the Essequebo suffered to 
run to waste. The hardy Dutch, unmindful of the hard- 
ships of living in such secluded and tmcivilised spots, 
boldly set to work to clear a pathway in the interminable 
bush, and to form plantations on the flat surface of a 
land exposed to the danger of inundations firom the sea, 
and the enervating influence of the miasm exhaled from 
its swampy plains. 

In the year 1745 the project was seriously entertained of 
cultivating the banks of the Demerara, and the directors 
of the Chamber of Zealand granted permission to Andrew 
Pieters to lay out plantations on the ** uninhabited river 
Demerary" on the following conditions: 

1st. The West India Company were not to erect forts 
or garrisons. 

2nd. The inhabitants of Essequebo to be allowed, for 
ten years, to remove to Demerary, paying the capitation 
tax, and recognising the jurisdiction of the neighbouring 
settlement of Essequebo. 

3rd. Sugar plantations were to consist of 2000 acres; 
1200 roods or rods facade along the river; the remainder 
in depth, leaving a dam ten rods in breadth between 
each estate for a road to second depths. Smaller sugar 
estates were to be 1000 acres in extent ; those for cocoa, 
coffee, or indigo, 500 aores, with fa9ade and depths pro- 
portionate. Whilst on this subject, it becomes necessary 
to describe the old Dutch mode of planning out an estate 
or plantation. 

^^ Plantations,'' says Bacon, *^ are amongst ancient, 
primitive, and heroical works; for I may justly account 
new plantations to be the children of former kkigdoms.** 
Again he says, and his words are almost prophetic: 

VOL. I. Q 


'* Planting of countries is like planting of woods; for you 
must make account to lose almost twenty years of profit, 
and expect your recompense in the end ; for the principal 
thing that hath been the destruction of most plantations, 
hath been the hasty and base drawing of profit in the firsi 
years. It is true, speedy profit is not to be neglected, a» 
&r as it may stand with the good of the pla^tation, but 
no further," And again, and here, too, his wisdom 
anticipated thejslave trade : " It is a shamefiil and uur 
blessed thing to take the scum of people, and wicked^ 
condemned men, to be the people with whom you plant; 
and not only so, but it spoileth the plantation, for they 
will ever live like rogues, and not fall to work ; but be 
lazy^ and do mischief ^ and spend victuals, and be quickly 
weary, and then certify over to their country to the dis* 
credit of the plantation."' 

In these remarkable expressions we have mapped out, 
as it were, by prophesy the three principal events that 
mark the course of our history. 1st. The future im- 
portance of the colony fix)m a mere assemblage of planta- 
tion; 2nd. The ruinous and pernicious system adopted 
by the successful planters leading to their own over- 
throw ; and 3rd. The introduction of various dasses of 
immigrant labourers, unfit in many essential respects for 
the work before them. All this will become apparent 
as we proceed. 

After the land was cleared of trees, brushwood, and 
grass (no trifling labour), they were laid out by surveyora 
in parallelograms, or narrow rectangular strips, with a 
frontage or fa9ade to the coast or river. The estate with 
a river frontage had the best drainage, because the land 
was generally higher; for it must be remembered that 
almost all the cultivated lands were below the level of 
high water at spring tides, except those far inland. On 
the estates planned out near the coast, the out&ll aol 


necessary to good drainage was very bad, and oc- 
casionally rendered impracticable from deposits of mud 
or fine sand and shells. The size of the estates varied 
from 500 to 2000 acres, but generally they had a facade 
of 100 to 300 rods,* and a depth of 750, with the con- 
ditidnal grant of another similar portion if two-thirds of 
the first allotted land was in cultivation within a given 
time, and to the satisfaction of two neighbouring planters. 
In Berbice many of the grants were 18,000 feet wide and 
12,000 deep* Each plantation was surrounded by four 
dams or embankments; two at the sides, extending from 
front to back ; one in front, to exclude the water of the 
sea or river; and one behind, parallel to the first, to 
prevent the ingress of what was called "bush water;'* 
that is the accumulated rain that had fallen in the forests 
and interior, which, having no means of escape, frequently 
inundated the surrounding country. These *' sidelines," 
as they were afterwards called, were common to two 
contiguous estates. Between every second estate a 
broader dam or path was left, which was called the 
^* company's path," a term retained to the present day. 

The system of drainage established was the best that 
circumstances admitted of. Two long canals or trenches 
were dug of considerable depth, along and inside the 
" sideline" dams (to construct which the clay assisted 
materially when thus thrown out), and extended from 
the front to the back dam; these were termed the main 
drains, and commimicated with smaller trenches or drains 
which were dug at distances of two to three rods apart, 
commencing within the portions of land in cultivation 
called beds, and meeting the side or main drains at right 
angles ; the two side or main drains generally communi- 
cated in front by a canal or trench dug out behind the 

* The Rhjrnland rod ii equal to 1S-3S feet 



front dam, and here one or more sluices or ^^ kokers,** as 
they are termed in Dutch, were placed, which at the ebb 
tide allowed the drained water to escape. These sluices 
or " kokers" were very ingeniously constructed. Two 
pillars of brick were generally snxnk at the sides of the 
trench, and elevated above it in the form of an arch, at the 
top of which a large wooden wheel was made to revolve 
by means of spokes, and to draw up or let down by 
pullies or ropes a heavy wooden door which descended 
to the bottom of the trench, and excluded at high water 
the advancing tide, but was readily raised in its sliding 
at ebb tides to allow the waters to escape. 

The plan adopted for bringing home the produce of 
the field to the buildings or sugar manufisictory was 
equally simple. In the centre of the estate a raised 
dam, called the " middle walk," was made, along each 
side of which two deep canals, termed '^navigation 
trenches," were dug. This middle walk and these 
trenches extended likewise fi:om the fix)nt to the back 
dam, and formed a ready road to the plantation both by 
land and water. At regular distances the navigation 
trenches branched off at right angles into smaller canals, 
running towards the sideline or draining trenches, ap- 
proached them within a rod or so, thus allowing the 
canes to be easily conveyed to the sugar works in wooden 
or iron punts. These navigation canals were chiefly 
supplied by the rain or fresh water, as it was injuriou£f 
to the plantation to admit salt water, which, however, 
sometimes became necessary in seasons of drought. On 
smaller estates one navigation canal sufficed. 

Whilst, therefore, the cultivation of the estates was 
conducted upon a very simple principle, the buildings 
erected for the purposes of manufacture were equally 
plain and primitive. 

The sugar-cane, after being cut, was brought to the 


manufactory by manual labour (but subsequently by 
machinery) to be crushed under heavy rollers, and the 
juice thus expressed was carried away in gutters to be 
boiled, care being taken first to neutralise its acidity by 
some alkali such as lime. After being sufficiently boiled 
and the scum removed, it was thrown into large wooden 
reservoirs, where it was allowed to cool and granulate 
into sugar. The principal motive power applied was 
the wind, hence every sugar estate had one or more 
windmills built, whose large sails caught the tropical 
breeze, and served the speculative adventures of the early 

It was, however, soon found, that in spite of the con- 
stancy of the usual sea breeze, it often happened that 
the working of the machinery was delayed by the want 
of sufficient wind to propel the large vanes of the wind- 
mill, especially during the wet seasons ; hence, in after 
years, the invention of the steam-engine was hailed with 
the greatest enthusiasm by the sugar planters. Early in 
the nineteenth century, or from the year 1805, the intro- 
duction of this powerful agent rapidly superseded the 
more humble vrindmill. In some situations, where wind- 
mills were not admissible, mills were worked either by 
catCle or, in some suitable localities, by water ; but these 
latter were rare, and the cattle mill was found very tire- 
some and expensive. The presence of these mills on 
the estates gave a lively appearance to the several pro- 
perties, and their maintenance was comparatively inex- 
pensive, advantages which do not belong to the commo- 
dious, but more costly steam-engine. 

It may perhaps be asked, therefore, whether the total 
abandonment of these primitive mills has been judicious 
or profitable ; once erected they gave little trouble, and 
to puU them down was only to discharge an old and. 


useful servant, because a younger and more actire servitor 
had made his appearance. 

Considerable improvement had manifested itself in the. 
progress of civilisation among the new settlers on the 
river Demerara, and the amount of produce shipped led 
the inhabitants, both here and in Essequebo, to complain 
of the exclusive right of the Zealanders (the origini^ 
settlers) to the navigation of the colonies. These com- 
plaints and disputes were carried on for about twenty 
years, when, as will be seen in its proper place, attention 
was at length paid to them. 

At the earnest demand of the inhabitants, the di- 
rectors of the Chamber of Zealand transmitted a commu- 
nication to the Director-Greneral of the two rivers and his 
council of government, acquainting them with the Cham- 
ber's intention to send out a " predikant" or clergyman* 
to the settlers in the river Demerara. This communi- 
cation was made in 1757, and was signed Thibault and 

Demerara, so long a dependency of Essequebo, was 
still so in 1751 ; and the first account I have met with 
of an independent commander was in 1765, when Jan 
Cornells van der Heuvel was appointed by the Chamber 
of Zealand to act in that capacity; but in urgent cates^ 
appeal was still made to the Director-General of the two 
rivers. This right of receiving appeals was illustrated 
in 1768 under the operation of an article of the " jBree 
navigation act," which provided that all slaves imported 
into Essequebo should be sold at public vendue to the 
highest bidder. An improper advantage, it appears,- 
was taken of this regulation by the slave dealers, who, 
bidding up the slaves exposed for sale to an enormous . 
price, rendered abortive every advantage of the act. A 
representation of this proceeding was made by the inha^j 


bitants to the Director-General Storm Van Gravesande 
in 1769, and some alterations were subsequently made 
in 1770, which did away with the imintentional offence 
committed by the Chamber of Zealand, as well as the 
dispute about the monopoly of the Zealanders already 
alluded to. 

The right of navigation, hitherto enjoyed exclusively 
by the Zealanders, had long occasioned the most acrimo- 
nious dissensions, and was at last referred to the decision 
of his Serene Highness, who in 1770 decreed that the 
right of navigation belonged equally to all the provinces; 
but that the Zealanders, from length of possession, were 
entitled to have a preference given to their Society of 
Directors of " Middleburg ;" and the States General, in 
1772, promulgated a decree regulating any further difc 
ferences which might occur. The neighbourhood of two 
such large rivers as the Essequebo and the Demerara, and 
the common interests of the settlers rendered it desirable 
that a channel of intercommunication should be es- 
tablished which would not only open up a more ready 
intercourse thto was afforded by navigating along the 
coast, which was tiresome, and not a little dangerous 
from its shoals and sandbanks,* but enable the settlers to 
put into cultivation a wider extent of inland districts. 
In the year 1773 a formal plan to that effect was sub- 
Initted to the West India Company by the Director- 
General. Whether or not that it was from any such 
suggestion is difficult to determine, but it is certain that 
about this period a large canal was commenced to be 
excavated about six miles from the mouth of the river 
Demerara, and running from east to west towards the 
Essequebo, distant at this spot about ten miles. It is 

* In the year 1769 there existed aboat 130 sugar and ooflbe estates along thfr, 
riTer Demcniy and its creeks. * 


more than probable that the commencement of this canal, 
which received the singular name of No. 1, was com- 
menced at the public expense, but afterwards carried on 
by new settlers or proprietors, who purchased the new 
grants of land. The arrangement was as follows : — ^The 
course and size of the canal having been carefully 
estimated, the adjacent land was laid out in allotments of 
about 100 rods fa9ade, and 500 rods deep, on each side 
of the proposed canal. It was further agreed to, that all 
holders of such lots or plantations* were, in the first 
instance, to dig out half of the canal on th^ own side, 
and in front of them along their whole fa9ade, thus 
dividing the labour of cutting the canal equally between 
all parties who should settle here. The width of the 
canal at its junction with the liver Demerara was about 
sixty feet, and its depth about ten, but by d^ees it was 
gradually narrowed, and at the extreme length to which 
it was ultimately extended, about six miles, it was scarcely 
half the width of the outlet. This is easily accounted 
for. When this gigantic undertaking was projected 
there was a great demand for land, and the capital and 
labour thus embarked in it enabled the work to be pro- 
secuted with spirit. But by degrees the zeal of the 
proprietors abated ; some evaded their engagements, and 
others took up land only upon the north side of the canal, 
confining their operations to their own hal^ so that the! 
channel fell away to a moiety of its original breadth. It 
^ hardly possible to over-estimate the toil and outlay in* 
curred in cutting through such a length of dense bush and 
gorgeous foliage, where in every foot of soil was buried 
the vegetation of ages. But the indomitable energy of 
the settlers and their slaves vanquished all obstacles, and 

* From the names giTen to the estates abng this canal, and also others in the 
neighbourhood, I am inclined to the belief that the first settlers hare 1 ~ 


in a comparatively short space of time converted this 
uncultured waste, this wilderness of unparalleled fertility, 
into profitable plantations of coffee and plantains. Nor 
did they rest here. Having secured the useful, they 
next turned their attention to the embellishments of 
civilised life. Beautiful gardens were laid out round the 
gaily painted houses, the rarest flowers were brought 
fix)m foreign countries, and transplanted into this fertile 
region, where they flourished in perfection; immense 
rows of indigenous and other tropical fruit-trees were 
planted ; groves of orange and lime-trees perfumed the 
air with their fragrance, while dazzling flowers and glossy 
leaves added their delicate graces to the beauty of a; 
scene which was justly regarded as the loveliest in the 
whole colony. 

A glance at this picturesque spot would have fesdnated 
an artist, who would have discovered ample incidents in 
it to supply a charming picture — ^the Hollander gliding 
along the placid waters of the canal in his comfortable 
barge, surrounded on each side by the gay dwellings and 
flowering gardens, the estate in rich cultivation lying 
beyond, and in the distance the dark outline of sombre 
forests guarding, as it were, the limits of the enchanted 

The history of these canals (for others were completed) 
forms the only trace of romance in the matter-of-fact 
career of the enterprising Hollander. The construction 
of these water-tracks (the suggestion of which was, no 
doubt, derived fit>m his native marshes) showed that he 
was not insensible to the picturesque capabilities of this 
wild country, and that he had a genius equal to the task 
of reducing them to harmonious forms. How bitter 
would have been his disappointment, how intolerable his 
grief, could he have foreseen that these monuments of his^ 

ta'k ttnosr Cff BBxnsH gciasa. 

Industry and skill should have been neglected by a future 
race and a foreign people. 

Since the halcyon days when these works were aoconi- 
plished the canals have witnessed sad changes and dis- 
asters. The estates have been abandoned, the waters 
are nearly choked up with mud, the accumulation of 
years; the fruit-trees and the flowers have disappeared; 
grass and rank verdure have resumed their pristine 
luxuriance, or are only destroyed by the occurroice of 
immense fires in the diy seasons, whose devouring flames 
sweep away all things for miles and miles in their de- 
vastating progress. A few impoverished proprietors and 
a host of squatters alone occupy this r^on now. 

A canal called No. 2 was subsequently dug out, about 
a thousand rods higher up the river, and the same arrange- 
ment obtained in its construction as in the preceding one, 
so that the rows of plantations, as far as they extended, 
abutted one on the other at their back dams. Another 
canal, No. 3, was likewise made on the opposite, or east 
bank of the river, but did not extend so far inland, or 
become so important as the rest. 

In this manner did the energy and spirit displayed in 
Demerara contribute to its success, and in a short time 
(1773) it became necessary to have separate courts of 
policy and of criminal and civil justice for its distinct 
administration. These coxuls consisted of the comman- 
dcur of Demerara, or head civil officer ; 2nd. The com-^ 
mandant; 8rd. The fiscal; 4th. The vendue master; and 
four inhabitants of the district, selected from a return of 
twice that number made by the College of Burgher 
ofllcers previously alluded to, and who exercised functions 
similar to the keizers of Essequebo and Berbice. The' 
*eat of government was first held at the island ** Bor- 
selen," about twenty miles up the river, but as the colony 

didtORT OF BRiTiBH qui^ubta; 235: 

advanced, the inconvenience of sucli a site was greatly 
fblt in many ways; and in the year 1774 it was removed 
to the extremity of the eastern bank of the river, where 
it joined at an angle the east sea coast. A few build- 
ings, chiefly of wood, were erected, and became the 
embryo of a future city. 

The first assemblage of houses received the name of 
• ** Stabroek," and consisted of two rows of isolated build- 
ings, wide apart, with a grass-plot between them for a 
road; they were placed at irregular intervals, and the 
road or street, about a mile long, run in an easterly di- 
rection towards the bush. By degrees, another coUeo* 
tion of houses were erected at the extreme angle of the 
river and coast, and was intended chiefly for the accom- 
modation of military officers, who found it convenient to 
reside in the neighbourhood of a fort which became 
erected here, and received the name of " Fort Frederick." 
The district itself was termed Eveleary* by the Dutch, 
and Kingstown by the English ; which latter name it 
retains at the present day. Other clusters of houses 
sprang up as the colony improved, each isolated, in 
squares or districts, one from the other, and receiving 
different names, many of which are still retained. The 
principal of these were named " Cumingsburg," " Bridge-; 
town," " Werken-Rust " (where also a burial-ground was 
subsequently planned out of about ten acres, and has- 
lasted the inhabitants until within the last few yearsf), 
New Town, and Labourgade, the site of the hospital in 
the time of the Dutch, &c. The same principle was 
carried out in the construction of all these different dis- 


f The burial-ground of Werken-Rutt, 42 roods front, 60 roodi deep, and about 
8^- acres, was purchased for the sum of 10,000 guilders in 1797, by the odlonj. 
Double that amount had been asked bj the owner of the land* but was reftieed 
by the Court of PoU^. ' 


tricts; that is, rows of houses built on square lots of 
land, with wide intervening streets and trenches, and 
ample room allowed for garden or yards to each house, 
so that when in after years these separate districts had 
spread, and reached one to the other, they became amal- 
gamated into as well laid out a town as could have been 
desired had the whole been planned at one time. 

Three principal streets extended fix)m north to south ; 
one close along the river, hence termed Water-street; 
two others more inland, but parallel to it; and between 
these, other streets branched off at right angles through- 
out the town, thus dividing the whole into a number of 
squares, with part of a street at each side. Formerly it 
was as easy, if not easier, to traverse the town by water 
as by the roads, which in the wet season were almost 
impassable, whilst the trenches were then in their prime. 
A number of public offices were also erected; one a house 
for the head civil officer, and others for the secretary to 
the colony, the receiver-general, the commissary, the 
exploiteur or marshal, &c., besides other necessary build- 
ings, such as a gaol, custom-house, post-office, guard-house, 
fiscal's office, &a The original size of the lots of land in 
town for building on was 100 feet by 200, but they be- 
came afterwards subdivided. 

But notwithstanding all this progress, the develop*, 
ment of the capabilities of the colony was retarded for 
want of slaves to carry on the rapidly-increasing cultiva- 
tion. In 1774, the inhabitants of Demerara and Esse- 
quebo made formal complaints of the inability or disin- 
clination of the ^^ West India Company^' to fulfil their 
engagements in Surinam and Berbice, where the chief 
vendues of slaves were held, and objected that during 
the last twenty years there had been at least thirteen 
during which no slaves had been sent to these colonies^ 
as the following table shows: 


Ships fix)m Afiica with cargoed of slaves to Demerara 
and Essequebo, from 1745 to 1786. 

1745 to 1748 

- 1749 I 

1750 to 1761 

n 1761 1 

„ 1763 1 

n 1764 1 

„ 1765 

H 1786 47 

Grmnd total 51 In the 48 yean.* 

Each vessel averaged about 120 slaves, and it is very 
dear from the date of the complaint, that an impulse to 
the ''slave trade" had been given by the remonstrances 
on the part of the colonists; who, however, in the same 
year, 1774, forwarded a letter of thanks to the States- 
General for having made a treaty with Spain to prevent 
the runaway negroes from being received in the Spanish 
settlements, and also for suppressing the contraband 
traffic between the rivers Waini and Orinoco, t 

In the year 1776, it was proclaimed by an act of the 
Assembly of Ten, who still continued to represent the 
affairs of the colony of Demerara, " That the Collie of 
Kiezers is not considered a judicial body, but as electors 
of buigher representatives in council;" and at a subse- 
quent period, viz., about 1778, it was dedared, '' That 
the kiezers, not being in the pay of the Company, are 
not required to watch the interests of the Company, but 
those of the colony only.'' About this time also, these 
settlements, but that of Demerara more particularly, had 
received a considerable accession of strength by the 
arrival of a number of English speculators from the 
islands, who brought with them considerable capital, and 
introduced a more intelligent and better educated class of 

* BolinRbroke. 

t la 1775, the Spaniards erected a imall fort on the right bank of tlie Urari- 
capara, a branch of the river Braaco^ or Barima. It waa intended aa a tort of 
proof of sovereign^ OTer those regions, but was aband o ned sooo after. 


tradesmen along with them. These new planters showed 
no inclination, as the Dutch had done, to settle far away 
from the coast, but remained in its neighbourhood ; and 
it was chiefly owing to their exertions and industry that 
a large track of country was cleared, and the cultivation 
of cotton and sugar established; 

But not only did English arrive, but people from all 
nations began to be attracted to this spot. Germans, 
Spaniards, French, Swedes, Danes, and others. The 
Dutch and British, however, were the most numerous, 
and the latter soon formed at least two-thirds of the 
white population, which in the town of Stabroek alone 
mustered at this period about 1000 inhabitants. Indeed, 
a great deal of the produce raised was carried away by 
a species of smuggling in British vessels; for although 
the Dutch were obliged to oppose the system as contrary 
to their laws, and had stationed vessels of war at the 
mouths of the rivers to prevent any such contraband 
proceedings, yet it was well known that their ardour and 
vigilance were accessible to bribery. Moreover, as the 
Dutch vessels were very irregular in carrying away the 
produce, the impropriety did not appear so great. 

However, in the year 1781, the American war having 
induced Holland to join with France against the British, 
a large fleet under the famous Lord Rodney was sent to 
the West Indies, and afler having made some seizures in 
the Caribbean Islands, a squadron was detached to take 
possession of the colonies of Essequebo and Demerara, 
which was accomplished without much difliculty. The 
director-general, or governor, at this time, Van Schni- 
lenburg, having assembled his council, and being aware 
of the want of Dutch protection, surrendered to the 
British, who, upon taking possession, found a rich booty ; 
the quantity of produce which had accumulated from tJie 
want of shipping proving to be of great value. 


Th6 control of these two rivers having, foi* the first 
time, fallen into the hands of the British, an oflBcer, 
Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Kingston, on October ITth^ 
1781, assumed the government of the colony, which had 
capitulated on the 3rd of March of the same year. 

The sister settlement of Berbice likewise fell into the 
hands of the captors, who immediately began to grant 
lands to any adventurers who felt inclined to settle in 
the new countries. It was in the month of April, 1781, 
that Berbice capitulated, and it remained under the 
government of the same English officer as Essequebo 
and Demerara. 

But the duration of the British power, upon this 
occasion, was brief, and unproductive of any marked 
results. In the year 1782, a French force approached 
the shores, and Lieutenant-Colonel Kingston was obliged 
to capitulate in the month of February, 1782. The 
Count de Kersaint now became governor of the three 
rivers and their settlements and inhabitants. To make 
sure of their conquest, the French began to erect forts 
at the mouth of the Demerara, one on its eastern, the 
other on its western bank, and for that purpose com-* 
pelled the planters to furnish negro labour ; they like- 
wise doubled the capitation-taz, all which innovation 
was severely felt by the colonists, who saw no end to 
their troubles. But at the peace of Paris, which occurred 
in 1783, these settlements were restored to the Dutch, 
who now meditated great changes. Two new governors 
were appointed to the colonies in 1784, J. Bourda^ 
a member of the Court of Policy, was placed provision- 
ally at the head of affairs for Essequebo and Demerara, 
and JPeter JBT. Koppiers for that of Berbice. This latter 
officer reclaimed all grants which had bieen made by the 
English and French during the late wars, leaving such 
holders as had built upon, or cultivated their grants, tQ 



address themselves in the ordinary manner to the go* 
vemor and council. About this period the new colony 
of Demerara had so &r eclipsed the older one of Esse- 
quebo, that the two Courts of Policy were united into 
one, and by a resolution of the States-Greneral in 1784, it 
was enacted that the Courts of Policy, thus incorporated 
into one, should in future hold their sessions in ^ Sta- 
broek." As yet, however, Essequebo retained its own 
separate courts of justice, which were still held at Fort 
Island, the ancient capital of that colony. 

In the same year, 1784, the West India Company 
published certain regulations against compelling slaves 
to work on Sundays, or punishing them with more than 
twenty-five lashes. But the enforcement of these humane 
rules was never fully carried out for many years. On 
the 6th October of the same year, it was enacted by the 
^^ Assembly of Ten " for Demerara and Essequebo, that 
certain Vendue Regulations should be published for 
future guidance, in which the mode and manner of 
conducting sales of slaves, cattle, and property, were 
fully declared in different articles. These regulations 
did not apply to the vendue-office in Berbice, which 
was conducted in a somewhat different manner, and so 
continued for many years after. 

In Demerara and Essequebo, it was enacted : Ist. 
That settlers should give six weeks notice in regard to 
immovable property, and four weeks' notice in regard 
to movables, and Uiat the vendue-master, after reoeiv* 
ing a statement of the matter to be sold, should publicly 
advertise it, so that the time of sale might be known in 
both rivers. 

2nd. Persons wishing to sell slaves, horses, other 
cattle and provisions, to give due notice to the public. 

8rd. Two per cent, to be paid by the seller on the 
amount of all vendues to the vendue-master, and one* 


and-a-half per cent, church and poor money, by the 

4th. Any article bought in, to be charged a quarter 
per cent, on the sum offered for it, and to be paid to the 

5th. Time of sale to be fixed by the director-general 
and council in the one river, and the commander and 
council in the other. 

6th. Pa3nBent of purchase-money, &c., to be made 
two weeks after the vendue, or within the time limited 
by the seller, and specified in the conditions of the sale. 
Payment to be made in specie, or in bills upon Holland, 
or Zealand, or elsewhere, according to stipulation^ 

7th. Purchasers to provide suflBcient securities, two in 

8th. The securities to be considered as principals, 
and to be bound for the whole amount of purchase. 

9th. Immovable property to be immediately trans- 
ported to purchaser on the payment of the amount, 
&c., &c. 

10th. In the event of non-payment, or protest of any 
bills pven, property to revert to seller, who may prose- 
cute the buyer and his securities. 

11th. Slaves, horses, and mules, may be removed imme- 
diately after the purchase, the two latter to be marked, and 
ftirther provision taken to guarantee the seller fi:om any loss. 

Other rules followed relative to the passing of bills of 
exchange ; to the business and duties of the vendue* 
master ; and to some other minor matters. 

These vendue-offices became subsequently of great 
importance in the two capitals of the (Ustrict. Greorge- 
town and New Amsterdam were of considerable value 
to the incumbents, who, appointed by letters patent, 
enjoyed a monopoly for many years, even after the 
emancipation. An orphan chamber (weeskamer) was 

VOL. I. R 


likewise established for the administration of the e&cts 
of persons dying intestate. This body was at first com- 
posed of a councillor of justice and certain burgher 
members, besides an executive officer or " Griffier." 
The commissaries, as the members of the orphan 
chamber were called, were changed every two years. 

About the year 1785, the colonists of the three rivers, 
sensible of the imperfect system of taxation, of judicature, 
and of the public administration generally, endeavoured 
to procure some amendment in these respects. As early 
as 1780, the inhabitants of Berbice had complained of 
the arbitrary monopolies and unjust taxation, and a few 
years later, the various settlers on the Demerara, applied 
by petition to the director-general, complaining of an 
interference in their rights, or rather those of their 
burgher officers, to appoint the four colonial members of 
the Court of Policy ; for it appeared that during the 
sway of the French, all the members of the then Courts 
of Policy and Justice were released from their service as 
servants of the Assembly of Ten. On the resumption of 
power, however, by the Dutch, the new Director-General 
Jan L'Espinasse, by virtue of his instructions fi-om the 
Assembly of Ten, had appointed some of the colonial 
members, which act was considered by the inhabitants 
as contrary to their constitution. The petition of the 
colonists was referred by the director-general to the West 
India Company; but in 1785, the inhabitants of Esse- 
quebo having joined the others in this matter, a memorial 
drawn up by both was forwarded to the States-General, 
who finally confirmed the right of the bui^her officers, 
or keizers, to elect the colonial members of the courta 
The colonists of these two rivers also prayed for a reduc- 
tion of the capitation-tax to two guilders and a hal^ 
and that all ex-officio proceedings for taxes might be 
suspended. These various petitions, with certain othen^ 


had been considered by a committee of the States-Greneral 
appointed for that purpose in 1788, who in the same 
year drew up a proposal for a Provisional Plan of Ke- 
dress, which being approved of by the States-General, 
was accepted by them. In the following year, 1789, a 
committee sent out from Holland arrived in the colony 
of Demerara, dissolved the then existmg governments of 
the two colonies, and established a new one. And it 
was also in this year that the two colonies became 
united into one, under the title of the united colony of 
Demera/ra tmd Essequebo. In this new constitution 
regulations for the fiscal or law-officer, the secretaries, 
the marshals, and other public officers were drawn up, 
and a new constitution for the several courts instituted, 
which, although the basis of the subsequent government, 
was fi^quently modified in after times. 

But, notwithstanding the new regulations, the situa- 
tion of the colonists of the united colony under the 
administration of several Dutch governors, viz., A. 
Backer, in 1789; Baron van Grovestein, in 1793; a 
Provisional Government in 1795 ; and, lastly, Anthony 
Beaujon in the same year, did not afibrd genersJ satis- 
&ction, and the opinions and sentiments of the British 
inhabitants had introduced a feeling in fEivour of the 
British government. In consequence of growing desire, 
it appears that, in the year 1796, overtures on the part of 
some of the inhabitants of the united colony were made 
to the British commanders in the West Indies ; and it 
has been positively asserted* that a deputation from the 
colony actually proceeded to Barbadoes for the purpose of 
making proposals to induce a British expedition to be 
sent against it ; whether this be true or not, it is very 
certain that on the 15th of April, 1796, war having 

' Boling1ifok6b 


24A HiSTOEY or beitish ouiaka. 

broken out between England and Holland, a secret 
expedition was sent from Barbadoes (then head-quar- 
ters) consisting of a squadron of ships, viz., the Malabar^ 
La Pique^ Le Baheti and Undaunted^ frigates, the 
Orenada^ a large transport, and five small schooners 
and sloops, under Commodore Parr, and a land force of 
about 1300 troops of the 39th, 93rd, and 99th Regi- 
ments, commanded by Lieutenant-Colonels Tilson, His- 
lop, and Gammell, with a detachment of artillery under 
Captain Bagot ; the whole force being under the com- 
mand of Majot-General Whyte, who accompanied the 
expedition. The destination of this large force was not 
known to the inferior officers ; but on the 20th of April 
they arrived upon the coast of Demerara. Orders were 
then issued for three days* provisions to be cooked, and 
for the troops to hold themselves in readiness for imme- 
diate debarkation, and they were forewarned in general 
orders that all irregular conduct towards the inhabitants, 
on landing, would subject them to certain disgrace and 
punishment ; while plunder was prohibited on pain of 
death. After being paraded upon deck, their arms and 
accoutrements cleaned and inspected, the field artillery, 
with carriages, sponges, ammunition, and all the neces- 
sary apparatus, were put into boats that evening, prepa- 
ratory to being conveyed on shore with the troops in the 
morning. Orders were issued concerning the plan of 
attack by the troops, and the several stations to be taken 
by the different ships. All being in readiness for landing 
on the morning of the 21st of April, the troops were 
ordered to proceed on shore with the earliest tide, and 
the frigates, with the Grenada transport, were directed 
to take their station before the fort at the mouth of the 
river, so as to prevent the escape of any of the enemy's 
vessels. After a little delay, owing to an accident, which 
caused the drifting to sea of two boats containing the 


necessary implements for working the guns, but which 
were recovered, the little fleet of sloops, schooners, and 
other small boats, adapted for the shallow water, got 
imder weigh, and stood direct for the shore ; but, im* 
fortunately, they all got aground in the mud that same 
evening, where they had to wait for the tide, and where 
they might have been easily annihilated by the Dutch, 
had any wish for that purpose been entertained. How- 
ever, the Chrenada transport, and some of the other 
vessels, which could find a channel, came to protect 
them, and were in full view of a Dutch frigate and. a 
quantity of shipping in the river. 

On the morning of the 22nd a flag of truce, with a 
summons to surrender, was sent on shore, but returned 
about eight a.m. with a letter from Governor Beaujon, 
who stated that he could not give an official answer 
until he had first consulted with the Council or Court of 
Policy, which would meet at once. After that meeting, 
the following "answer to the smnmons" was for- 
warded by the governor and coimcil to the British com- 

" Gentlemen, — ^We, the governor, members of the 
coimcil, and commanders of the naval forces of the 
colony, in council of war assembled, having attentively 
perused the summons dated yesterday, and addressed to 
us by your excellencies, demanding the surrender of the 
said colony to his Britannic Majesty's forces, also the 
terms thereunto annexed, have, after mature deliberation, 
resolved to accept said terms, and on them to surrender 
said colony and dependencies as demanded, whereof we 
hereby give you notice; also, that our colours will be 
struck on the landing of your forces. It will depend on 
the several officers and die troops to decide for them* 


selves as to the offers made them, and we have the honour 
to subscribe ourselves, 

« A. Bbaujon, Governor. 
" I. Van Well, Major. 
" A FrrzjCHEB, Commander. 
" L P. LuYHEW, -^ Members 
" Thomas Cumings, v of 
" A. Meebtkns, j Council. 
" By order of council, 

*^ M. S. TiNNB, Secretary ad interim. 
" Dated Fort William Frederic, Demerara, 22nd of 
April, 1796. Addressed to their Excellences Major- 
General Whyte and Commander Parr, &c." 

The terms of surrender were : " That the inhabitants 
were to have full security for their persons; free exercise 
in matters of religion ; enjoyment of all private property 
(except any subjects of the French Republic) ; to enjoy, 
as long as the colony was held by the British, such com- 
mercial rights and privileges as other British subjects in 
the West India colonies; officers and soldiers in the 
Dutch service to be received into British pay, until re- 
stored to the stadtholder, and to serve the king faithfully 
during the war under oath of allegiance; the soldiers to 
receive 100 guilders, and the officers 200 days' bat, 
haggage, and forage money; officers and men of maiine 
force not to be taken on such terms until the king's plea- 
sure be known, but to receive pay according to their 
rank ; the governor and civil officers to retain their 
several situations if acceptable (except such as are in- 
clined to French interests), but the governor to resign 
the military command," &c. 

The British troops were immediately disembarked, 
and a portion of them took possession of the colony; 


the Dutch garrison marched out of the fort at fout p.iLi 
and in the evening of this eventfiil day the British 
troops were fiiirly installed in Fort William Frederic, the 
strongest, and, indeed, the only defence of Demerara. 

Immediately after taking possession of the united 
colony of Demerara and Essequebo, a division of the 
force, consisting of part of the 93rd Regunent, was de- 
spatched in small schooners and sloops to capture Berbice, 
distant about twenty leagues. This inconvenient mode 
of forwarding the troops was adopted in consequence of 
the impracticability of. travelling by land between Deme- 
rara and Berbice; for although the coast between them 
was in part cultivated, yet no regular road had been 
established. Upon their arrival, the governor, Van 
Batenburg, and the inhabitants, aware of the fate of the 
other colonies, at once capitulated upon the same terms, 
and the former was left in charge of the administration of 
that colony, whilst Anthony Beaujon continued to hold 
office in Demerara and Essequebo. Lieutenant-Colonel 
Hislop, of the 93rd, was, however, lefl behind by the 
British forces, on their retirement, as commander-in-chief 
of the military in the three colonies. The calculated 
value of this conquest to the British was upwards of 
200,000/. ; about seventy ships were found loaded in the 
rivers. Considerable public property was sold, but no 
dividends given as prize-money. Its moral effect was 
still greater. A number of speculators from the islands 
had accompanied the expedition, and brought over 
merchandise and shipping, while others came possessed 
of capital to purchase property, and in a short time the 
value of land rose confidderably. An acre fetched about 
9/., and gradually increased in the next few years to 12/., 
just double its former value. The uncultivated land be- 
tween Demerara and Berbice was bought up, and plantar 
tions laid out in cotton, as well as along the Mahaica and 


Mahaicony creeks. Many of the Dutch proprietors sold 
their landa to the English, who soon gave a new impetus 
to industry, and introduced rapidly their manners, 
customs, and language. 

A number of British vessels now resorted to these 
colonies, and at one time as many as 100 vessels were 
being loaded together with the produce of the colony. 
The British likewise voluntarily formed themselves into 
a "militia corps," and also raised a troop of cavalry. 
Aware of the importance of the settlement, they spared 
no pains to bring it to a successful issue. Lieutenant- 
Colonel Hislop added another regiment to the line, called 
the 11th West India Regiment, which was raised by a 
levy on the planters, who contributed a certain number 
of effective negroes for that purpose in the hope of being 
repaid by the Government. Their expectations, how- 
ever, were disappointed; they lost their slaves without 
ever receiving any remuneration, and the regiment so 
raised was actually marched away from the colony to 
the chagrin and mortification of the planters. 

It was fortunate for the British that they had adopted 
these precautionary measures of defence. The Spaniards 
and other nations still watched these shores jealously, 
and in 1797 a party of the former attacked the post on 
the Morocco creek, feeling their way at the extremities 
of the colony before thev would venture to assault the 
more vital parts. They were, however, gallantly re- 
pulsed by Captain Rochelle* and a detachment of Dutch 
soldiers in the British service, for it appears that the 
Dutch troops had acceded to the offers of the capitu- 
lation, and had entered the service of his Britannic Ma- 

* The spirited efforts of this officer were ai»pieciated bv the commimitv ; soon 
after this adyentaro he fell ill, and the colonists, aware of his straitened flnanoes, 
held a public meeting on the sulgect, and ad±nessed the Court of Policy, who 
granted him the sum of 1500 guilders (about lOOL}, and a similar sum was like* 
wise giren to be diTided among the officers and prirates of the fivce under him. 


jesty; numerous attempts were subsequently made by 
Spanish privateers to land upon different parts of the 
colony, especially the remote district of "Pomeroon," 
where several flourishing plantations formerly existed. 
To protect the inhabitants from such assaults, troops 
were stationed here, and " block-houses," as they were 
termed, were erected, in which the soldiers lodged as in 
a fort. The object of such piratical attacks was rather 
to plunder and carry away the slaves for sale than any 
definite design of conquest. To endeavour to put a stop 
to this, the inhabitants prayed the Court of Policy to 
provide armed boats and cannon to protect certain parts 
of the coast. According to the articles of capitulation 
in 1796, it was agreed that the Government of Demerara 
and Essequebo should continue as before under Governor 
Beaujon and the other members of the Courts of Pohcy 
and of Justice; and in Berbice under its respective go- 
vernor and courts ; but, at the same time, it was under- 
stood that in both these colonies the military command 
should devolve on the British officer highest in rank in 
the two places. lieutenant-Colonel Hislop accordingly 
exercised that office in Stabroek, the capital of Demerara 
and Essequebo, whilst another British officer commanded 
in Berbice. 

It was an old custom of the colony that the command- 
ing officers of the troops shou^ receive certain grants 
from the colony, known as table-money, flag-money, and 
prison-money. This latter perquisite arose from a charge 
made on the admission or discharge of persons out of 
confinement, one-half of which went to the fiscal, the 
other half to the military officer. The perquisite arising 
from the flag-tnoney was discontinued during the ad- 
ministration of a late governor, W. A. Baron Van 
Grovestein, who appropriated that money, as well as 
that arisiDg from the tonnage and export duty, to the 


service of the colony. The table-money was, however, 
demanded by Colonel Hislop, and granted by the go- 
vernor and Court of Policy. It amounted to 600 guilders 
per annum, or about 40i. ; but in the following year, at 
a meeting of the Court of Policy, presided over by 
Governor Beaujon, it was raised to 8000 guilders per 
annum, payable quarterly. At a subsequent meeting, 
composed of four councillors and four representatives, 
during the premeditated absence of the governor, the 
sum of 12,000 guilders was awarded as table-money, to 
be divided between the governor and the military officer 
highest in command; whilst a smaller sum of 760 guilders 
was given to the commander of Essequebo.* 

When the British took possession of the colony in 
1796, they found a number of negroes in chains, who 
had been sentenced to work in gangs for various acts of 
ill-conduct. The new authorities ordered the fetters to 
be struck off, and many of these liberated negroes availed 
themselves of their liberty to run away from their owners. 
There used to be a fine of 1000 guilders on masters of 
vessels who carried away slaves, whether as sailors or 
otherwise. One-third of this fine went to the fiscaal, 
another third to the colony, and the remainder to the 
informer. A similar fine was imposed for leaving im- 
proper or useless individuals behind. 

One of the first acts under the British rule of the go- 
vernor and Court of Policy of Demerara and Essequebo 
was the institution of the College of Financial Repre- 
sentatives, in accordance with a project previously planned 
and devisedf 

• See minates of Court of Policy, 1798. 

t See Appendix letpecttng the InsUtiiUon of the Financial Bepresentatifet. 

moBOXT or bboxsh quiava. 251 



The opening of the nineteenth century, marked at first 
by the scourge of war in Europe, resulted in the esta- 
blishment and consolidation of a general peace. This 
colony partidpated in the advantages of restored security, 
infinitely more important to her than to the old com- 
munities, upon whose tranquillity her prosperity mainly 
depended. The great moral changes, which were finally 
destined to bring her industry to bear efiectually upon 
her resources, were reserved for this period; and conse- 
quences more beneficial than any she had ever derived 
from the dominion of the sword ensued upon the long 
tenn of repose which now fiivouied her efforts. 
HavijBg £iUowed her history for nearly three hundred 


years, and traced step by step the varjdng influences for 
good and evil exercised over her development by the 
several races of inhabitants that sought her shores, from 
the buccaneering Spaniard, the piratical Portuguese, to 
the plodding Dutch settler and speculative English ad- 
venturer, we now come to that era in her social history 
when British authority ruled over the land; when the 
policy, wisdom, and philanthropy of England were to 
open a new field of exertion in this remote spot of her 
vast dominions; and English emigrants were to press 
forward from their frigid climate to seek their fortunes 
under a tropical sun. 

Omnibus hone potius, commonem animantibiis orbem. 
Communes et crede Deos; patriam inde Vocato. 
Qua redit itque dies; nee nos diis nata malignis 
Cluserit hoc crudo semper sub frlgore messis; 
Fas mihi non stabilis, fks et tibi linquere colchos. 

The success of the Hollander in his agricultural ex- 
plorations of the land, and the sagacious but interested 
line of conduct he pursued towards the negro, have been 
already noticed. During the period of about two hun- 
dred years that the Dutch possessed this land, the march 
of improvement had indeed reached the soil, but brought 
no benefit to the slave who tilled it. The labourer had 
not risen above his original condition, save in a few 
instances. Physical circumstances had advanced, but 
mind had made no progress. The old customs, habits, 
and laws of the Dutch hung, like the miasm, undissipated 
over the vast shores of Guiana. The people had lan- 
guished without a teacher ; the soul had not been ele- 
vated to God; the promise of salvation had scarcely in 
one instance been oflfered to the dark child of Africa. 
While this glaring and lamentable neglect was painfrdly 
visible on the one hand, it was no less obvious on the 
other that the enterprising Hollander had bestowed 
anxious attention upon his own worldly interests. The 


three largest rivers were studded with plantations, and 
the coasts were relieved of their former dreariness and 
useless verdure. The coffee, cotton, and sugar estates 
were in a high state of cultivation. The buildings and 
houses were in excellent repair, and crusted over with 
layers of gaudy paint; for with the thrifty Dutch it was 
a maxim that a house could not be too often painted 
both for economy and comfort, a prudential maxim of 
especial efficacy in a climate where wooden structures 
would speedily perish without such a protection. The 
elegance and luxuries of life abounded ; plants of every 
variety and fruit-trees in great numbers, introduced from 
other countries, enlivened the somewhat monotonous 
scenery of the cultivated districts, besides contributing to 
the pleasures of the table. The inhabited parts of the 
colony resembled more a garden than a land explored 
by the European and peopled by the African* To the 
eye of a stranger there was litde in the waving fields 
of canes, and their yellow stems and long green leaves, 
that in^cated the wealth which the art of man had the 
power of extracting from them. There was little in the 
plain shrub and yellow flower of the cotton which could 
point out the important uses to which they were con- 
verted by mechanical appliances; and the prim and erect 
coffee bush might have been overlooked and classed as 
a mere wild growth of the forest, save for the regularity 
of its outline, and the exact arrangement of the trees. 

The capital of the colony, called Stabroek, consised of 
only two long rows of houses, stretching from the eastern 
bank of the river Demerara for about a mile toward the 
forest, or ^^ Bush,'* and a few buildings erected at the 
mouth of the river, occupied by the military. The town, 
if such it might be called, was intersected by numerous 
canals, which were necessary for the drainage of the ad* 
jacent estates ; and communication from one part to the 


Other was as easily effected by water as by land, especially 
in the wet seasons, for as yet few regular streets were to 
be met with. The number . of estates at tins time 
throughout the three provinces of Demerara, Essequebo, 
and Berbice was about 150, of which the greater part 
were planted with cotton, which promised to be the 
most lucrative branch of trade. Indeed, out of about 
100 estates, situated principally on the east coast, or 
maritime portion of land, stretdiing between the rivers 
Demerara and Berbice, only one was planted with th6 
sugar cane. The average produce of eighty good cotton 
estates was fix)m 50,000 to 60,000 lb. each per annum; 
the average number of cotton bushes on each estate was 
about 600 ; each bush calculated to 3rield about 8 oz., or 
-I* lb. of cotton, which at that time was sold for about 15 
stivers, or little more than a shilling. For the cultivation 
of such land one able negro was sufficient for two acres. 
Each acre laid out in coffee cultivation had about 450 
trees, each tree yielding about 1^ lb. of berry, realising 
from seven to eight stivers per pound; and for the 
working of such estates two able negroes were considered 
necessary for every three acres. An acre of sugar plan- 
tation yielded about 2000 lbs., at 4d. per lb., besides 
molasses and rum. To raise such a crop one negro was 
reckoned for every acra The number of slaves employed 
through the colony were from 50,000 to 60,000. One 
proprietor alone had about 2000 under his chaige. The 
price of a slave at this time was from 600 to 900 guilders, 
or 402. to 602., and the profit obtained frx)m his labour 
amounted to 20Z. or 261. per annum. The hire of a 
negro was from one to two guilders per day (two or 
three shillings) ; if for the year, 200 to 300 guilders, or 
about 20/. Provisions were sold at the following rates : — 
Bread, 1 bit, or 4d. per lb. ; pork, 2| bits per lb. ; beef 
and mutton, 3 to 4 bits ; milk, 1 bit per pint ; cheese^ 


4 bits per lb. ; salt butter, 4 bits per lb. ; turkeys, 4 to 6 
dollars each ; ducks, 1 dollar ; a fowl, 1 dollar ; hams, 
4 bits per lb* ; loaf sugar, 6 bits per lb. ; tea, 4 J dollars 
per lb. ; apples, 4 bits per dozen ; onions, 1 bit per 
dozen ; Madeira wine, 1 dollar per bottle ; daret, 1 
dollar per bottle ; porter and beer, each 6 bits per bottle ; 
plantains, 1 to 2 bits per bunch ; yams, 1 bit per gallon ; 
eddoes, 2 bits per gallon ; sweet potatoes, 1 bit per gal- 
lon ; oranges, 1 bit per dozen ; pines, 3 bits a dozen ; 
Indian corn, 3 to 4 bits per 100 ears ; grass, 1 bit per 
bundle, &c.* 

Society at this period was resolvable into three great 

The whites, so designated par excellence^ were com- 
posed of officials, professional men, military, merchants 
planters, and a few tradesmen. 

Second, the freedman or liberated slave, and mechanics 
of various classes- The free coloured population, avow- 
ing a decided contempt for the slaves, were certainly not 
warranted in so doing by any marked superiority over 
them. They had, it is true, some smattering of educsr 
tion, but this in reality was of no use to them ; they 
copied too closely the habits indulged in by the whites, 
and, without their industry and perseverance, aimed at 
rivalling them in their fashions. Turning away from 
the advantages which might have resulted from a life of 
agricultural pursuits, and seeking rather the means of 
livelihood in the towns, they let several opportunities pass 
by of advancing as a class. In after times they, conse- 
quently, became much reduced in means and position, 
and eventually were the worst off in a community where, 
at one time, they held a middle rank. The free popular 

* It was formerly the practice of the Court of Fdicy to fix the price of food 
and other artkte. See lOmifee^ 1797. 


tion at this period (including the whites) amounted to 
about 8000 or 10,000. 

Third, the field labourer or slave. The last continued 
to lead much the same kind of life as we have already 
described, making but little progress either in civilisation 
or education ; but yet watching closely the example set 
them by their masters, and insensibly acquiring some ideas 
of advancement. They were gradually stimulated by the 
same desires for pleasure, dress, and display which they 
had observed to influence the European. The notions 
then fostered were afterwards to be rapidly developed. 

The white population, more particularly those holding 
the higher situations in life, revelled in ease, enjoyment, 
and sensual gratification. The virtues of hospitality and 
generosity were practised to a higher degree, perhaps^ 
than in any other coimtry. When a stranger presented 
himself the house of entertainment was immediately open 
to him. Every comfort and luxury that wealth could 
procure was lavished upon him ; his wishes were antici- 
pated ; his desires excited but to be directly gratified, 
and the very passions of the guest were as much pandered 
to as his tastes or his feelings. Then came the round of 
busy professionals, jovial and roystering officers, seekers 
of pleasure and dissipation ; whilst the austere but watch- 
ful official looked on with a keen glance at the delin- 
quencies and the advantages of a society so strangely 
constituted — so good (according to an ungracious proverb 
of the Italian), that it was good for nothing : 

Tanto baon che yal niente. 

It cannot be a matter of mudi astonishment that the 
absence of refinement in the higher classes should, at 
last, begin to affect the mass of the population; nor, 
when we consider the imitative power of man, always 


eager to copy rather what is bad than what is good, caa 
we cast much blame upon the slave for reflecting back an 
exaggerated image of the vices he daily observed ia the 
conduct of his master ? 

* Omni animi ritiam tanto conspeetiiii in ae 

Crimen habet, qoanto migor qoi peocat habetar. 

More public acandal vice attends, 
At be It gzeat and noble who oiKiiidi. 

But whilst the energy and industry of the British was 
about to meet its merited reward, whilst the cultivation 
of the three colonies and the number of slaves had won- 
derfully increased, and every precaution had been taken 
to render the conquest permanent, an event occurred in 
Europe which frustrated all the good that had been 
e£fected by the colonists, and involved them for many 
years in confusion and misery. 

. In the year 1802, the peace of Amiens terminated, or 
rather suspended, the war between England and Holland, 
and it was stipulated in that agreement, that the colonies 
of Demerara, Essequebo, and Berbice, should be ceded to 
the " Batavian Republic,'* as the Dutch provinces unad- 
visedly styled themselves, in order to please the revolu- 
tionary French, who "had regenerated them." Never 
was a more suicidal act committed by the British; never 
was a more wanton injury inflicted upon private and pub- 
lic interests. The British exercised at this period the 
greatest influence in these settlements, to which they had 
been invited by the inhabitants, and whither they had 
been conveyed by his Majesty's forces. By their num- 
bers, their intelligence, and their wealth, they constituted 
the majority of the respectable inhabitants; and the 
Dutch, already conscious of their declining power, were 
willingly and gradually relinquishiDg their pretensions* 
So that in &ct, while every local circumstance was tend- 
ing to transform slowly these possessions into British 

VOL. I. s 


colonies, the Government, unaware o^ or inattentive to 
their importance, took the very steps which were to prove 
most fatal to their overthrow. 

Let lis pause here, and examine into some of the con- 
sequences of this measure. The value of land, which 
had been slowly increasing, as before observed, now 
rapidly fell, and such was the consternation of the inha- 
bitants, that according to an old historical authority, 
one estate actually sold for a negro; another, in jest or 
derision, for a " turkey,"* which, it is said, gave rise to 
its name in after times. The bills which had been drawn 
on British houses, came back protested to the amount of 
625,000/., including the 25 per cent, damages, which by 
a law of the colony was allowed on all returned bills of 
exchange. An arrangement was then made with some 
Dutch mercantile houses to take up these bills and others 
which were drawn; but the war with the Batavian Re- 
public soon breaking out again, these bills also came 
back; which circumstances, together with the loss of 
produce, and ships captured by the enemy, want of sup* 
plies, &c., led to the greatest distress. The courts of 
justice were closed; business was suspended; cultivation 
was impeded, if not paralysed; and a panic, such as had 
never before been experienced, seized upon the whole 

The total loss sustained by the colonists under the 
peace of Amiens was thus calculated by the inhabitants: 

Damages on bills returned X85O,00O 

Kxpensesof law-suits, interests, postage, &e. . . 10,000 
Captures of produce and ships 1,000^000 

Less this sum recorered bj order of King and Council • 125,000 


^ See Bdhigbroke; the limited period allowed tor the disposal of the proper- 
lies of the settlers was the cause of these singular oocumncea. 


This trifling sum mentioned as recovered resulted 
from the remonstrance and application of the colonists to 
the British Government, setting forth the hardship of 
having British colonial merchandise and produce seized 
and sold, irrespective of all justice to the owners. Pro- 
bably a larger sum might have been recovered, had not 
the uncertainty and heavy law expenses deterred many 
of die colonists frotfi advancing their claims. 

Under the " Bdtavian Republic," these colonies were 
the scene of civil and political confusion. The spirit of 
democracy which had broken out in the neighbouring 
coloniw of Surinam and Cayenne, fostered by the vehe^ 
ment declamation of the French patriots, threatened also 
to convulse these shores; and hostile feelings arose 
between the monarchial British and the republican 
foreigners. The former were called tyrants, aristocrats, 
and other such names, by the " sans culotte" class, who 
were absurd enough to talk about liberty in a land of 
slaves, whose manacles were forged by themselves. The 
cap of Liberty and Equality appeared very charming on 
their own heads, but was never intended to fit the 
cranium of the astonished African, who looked on in 
silence and wonder at the vagaries of the " Buckras." 

The Governor of Demerara and Essequebo at this 
time was Anthony Meertens, who had been appointed in 
1802 by the Batavian Republic; and in Berbice the 
colony was ruled by a Provisional Government, composed 
of two members of the council, the former governor, Van 
Batenbuig, having been recalled to give an account to the 
home government of the surrender of that colony to the 
British in 1796. Governor Meertens made himself ex^ 
tremely unpopular to the British party by his insulting 
and overbearing conduct towards them. His expressed 
wish was to drive away every Englishman from the 



country, and he certainly would have succeeded in His 
object had time been allowed him. 

It was intimated to the British that a certain period 
would be granted to them for arranging their affairs 
before they left the colony, to whose prosperity they 
had contributed so much ; but the governor exercised 
his authority so rigorously in the interval, by hastening 
their departure, and loading them with threats, that 
many absolutely gave up their properties at a tremen- 
dous sacrifice. Nor was it by the English alone that his 
acts were felt to be arbitrary and unjust ; some of his 
own countrymen also suffered fix)m his severity. Ho 
eompelled the burgher militia, or white inhabitants, to 
execute the military duty of the town, which was very 
irksome to persons unaccustomed to such a life ; and, in 
the end, this enforced task proved fatal to many of the 
yoimg men. Perhaps an irregular and dissipated mode 
of living may have helped towards this result ; but it 
was very weU known that a great number died at this 
particular time, in consequence of the hardships to which 
they were subjected. It is possible that the mortality 
among the 9oldiers of the ^Batavian Bepublic'' may 
have compelled the governor to adopt this step; a 
necessity, however, which does not excuse or account 
for the harshness he had previously shown to these very 
soldiers. A very fine body of troops fiK>m Holland had 
lately arrived in the colony, to the number of about 
2000. No preparations had been made for their recep* 
tion or accommodation; and exposed to the sun and 
rain, without wholesome or sufficient food, tempted with 
new rum, and huddled together in crowds, disease broke 
out among them, and a frightful mortality resulted. In 
vain did the commanding officers seek for assistance and 
money ; in vain did the medical staff attempt to stay the 
danger — ^the greater part of the medical officers being 


young and ineiqperienced men, who had gone through 
no regular course of study, and who had got admission 
into the army during the turbulence and confusion of 
war; in vain did the soldiers themselves damour and 
remonstrate. They died in scores ; their corpses could 
not be buried fast enough, and at last were taken out 
to sea in ptmts, and committed to the waves. The 
•* noyades" of the dead, if not of the living, followed 
the republic even to these realms. Within three months, 
500 (^ these fine troops lay buried in the mud flats, and 
the commanding officer, in despair, resigned^ and disap- 

The administration of the dvU service was not more 
cheering. Partiality, bribery, and abuse had crept into 
the several offices. Many different situations were held 
by one individual, who was fi:^uently an absentee. The 
following was an estimate of the salaries received, by 
fees, perquisites, and other means, by some of the prin- 
cipal officers of the colony about this period : — 

The goTernor £6,000 to £8,000 

Eeceirer of colonial taxes 800 „ 2,000 

Goremment secretary 1,000 „ 8,000 

Receiver of king's does . . . . . 500 „ 1,500 

Vendne-master 1,000 „ 8,000 

Fiscal 8,000 „ 4.000 

Expioitenr or marshal 1,000 ^ 8,000 

Fdst-master and naral officer .... 800 ,, 2,000 

Harboor-master 500 „ 1,000 

Collector and oomptroUer • • . . . 1,000 „ 8,000 

The variable amounts mentioned possibly arose from 
the uncertainty and irregularity attending the system of 
fees, &C. ; for, although tariff of these at different times 
had been instituted, they were rarely attended to. 

The following anecdote, from a writer* who lived in 
this colony from 1795 to 1805, illustrates this drcum- 



Stance, as well as the general depravity which must have 
pervaded society. 

A gentleman from the islands, who was not upon very 
good terms with the fiscal of Demerara, Mjmheer Van 

, applied to him one day, when he happened to 

meet him on horseback, to know what sum would be 
required by that officer to absolve him from all conse* 
quences in his determination to chastise another, to 
whom he owed a grudge; the fiscal, after a moment's 
reflection, demanded 150 guilders, which were imme- 
diately paid to him by the gentleman, who collared the 
astonished Dutchman, dragged him from his horse, and 
Severely horsewhipped him, telling him at the same time 
ghat he was the party to whom he owed the grudge, and 
wishing him good morning, as he now felt satisfied. The 
defeated Dutchman pocketed the money and the insult, 
leaving the affair to die of itself. But the joke was too 
ood to be kept secret, and has been regularly chronicled. 

It appeared that in the neighbouring colony of Berbice 
the troops had been equally badly treated, for early in 
1808 a mutiny took place. The insurgents, to the 
number of some hundreds, were headed by several of 
the officers, a captain especially, and they compelled the 
commandant and his adherents to evacuate Fort St. 
Andrew, and take refuge in the Government-house. 
After a short time, they were obliged to abandon this 
temporary shelter, and to retreat upon " York Redoubt," 
a military post opposite the river. From this place they 
sent off* for reinforcements ; but, as we have seen, there 
was already great discontent existing in the troops in 
Demerara, and only 100 men could be depended on for 
such a service. The mutineers in Berbice offered the 
government of the colony to an English planter, who 
prudently declined it. At length some more troops 
arrived from Surinam, and an attack was planned by 


Colonel Mattliias and Major Van Hamer. Hiey con- 
trived to land above New Amsterdam, the capital of 
Berbice, and here they attacked the insurgents, who, 
driven fix)m Government-house, fled across the river 
Canje, pursued by the troops, who met with some 
casualties. On the 9th of May, more troops arrived 
from Surinam, and proceeded to attack Fort St. 
Andrew, which was still occupied by some of the 
insurgents, assisted by the vessel of wisff, Serpenty and 
40 canoes, with about 400 native Indians, who had 
volunteered to join them. They succeeded in compel* 
ling the soldiers to surrender on the 10th of May. About 
200 men were taken prisoners, five of whom were shot. 
The officer who conunanded them was sent to Holland, 
tried, and executed. 

The Bucks, or native Indians, had more than once 
proved of great service to the Dutch inhabitants. They 
sided with them against the insurgent n^oes, and now 
again assisted them against their own mutinous soldiers. 
These services sufficiently explain the friendly feelings 
displayed towards them by the Dutch, who passed se- 
veral laws to protect and favour them. 

It had long been a practice with the Dutch to place 
persons on the principal rivers in the colony to act as 
superintendents or magistrates in the neighbourhood. 
These persons were called " Post-holders,** and, residing 
beyond the ordinary districts in cultivation, were brought 
into frequent oommimication with the native Indians, 
who soon formed an attachment to them. Instructions 
for the Post-holders, in accordance with the friendly 
sentiments of the Dutch towards the Indians in Deme- 
rara and Essequebo, were printed in 1803 ;* and, as 
might have been expected, created very jealous feelings 

*. See Appeadiz. 


in the minds, of the negroes, who, while the hand of 
amity and protection was extended to the Bucks, still 
continued to be treated in the old way. 

By the former laws of the Dutch, persons were pro- 
hibited from purchasing or holding as slaves any of the 
IndW tribes, or even the offspring of Indian females; 
«nd in the event of any of the Indians having beeu 
bought as slaves, they wese required to be given up at 
the secretary's of5ce, and negro slaves were to be given 
instead, on the payment of five guilders to the governor. 
Laws were also made that in the event of the free Iz^ 
dians having slave Indians as wives, they should be 
compelled to support them, and to provide for their 
children, and planters and others were obliged to arrest 
such Indians if they attempted to desert their wives. 

Other laws were likewise made to prevent the Indians 
being molested, either by word or deed, under a penalty 
of twenty-five guilders ; many of these laws began to be 
enforced as early as the year 1736, and were afterwards 

. The administration of these colonies during the domi* 
nion of the Batavian Republic was not calculated to pro- 
mote the interests of the colonists or the value of their 
possessions. It was unfortimately a period of excite* 
pient and agitation, and the anxieties and uncertainty 
incident on the prosecution of war between England 
and France naturally gave rise to hopes and fears on the 
part of those who were inclined to side with the one 
power or the other. Business was transacted, and the 
cultivation of property carried on apparently as nsual^ 
but they were impeded by circumstances at once incon- 
venient and disadvantageous, arising from the perpetual 
alarms produced in a colony by the fluctuating intelli? 
gence from Europe. The few British colonists who, 
under obloquy and ill-treatment> still remained to pro- 

HI8T0BT or BBinSH QUIA9A. 265 

secute their enterprising schemes with persevering energy, 
were not without hope that the supremacy would be 
gallantly maintained by England, the acknowledged mis- 
tress of the ocean, and as the sounds of war drew nearer 
to these shores their hopes, as well as those of the sen- 
sible Dutchmen, were roused to the highest pitch* It 
was well known that a powerful British annament was 
directing its course to the West Indies. A squadron 
under Commodore Hood, and a fine body of troops 
under General Grinfield, at length attacked the hostile 
possessions of the West Indies. On the 22nd June, St. 
Luda was carried by storm; on the 30th Tobago was 
attacked and capitulated ; while on the 19th September 
the colonies of Demerara and Essequebo were reduced 
by the same commanders. The settlement of Berbice 
capitulated on the 24tlu 

The following were the terms of the capitulation: 

^^ Proposed Articles of Capitulation^ by tobich Deme^ 
rara tmd Essequebo were to be surrendered to Oreal 
Britain f in 1808. 

'^Article 1st. The laws and usages of the colony 
shall remain in force and be respected; the modes of 
taxation now in use are to be adhered to, and the in- 
habitants shall enjoy the public exercise of their religion 
in the same manner as before the capitulation ; no new 
establishments shall be introduced without the consent 
of the CJourt of PoHcy, or the LfCgislature of the Colony. 
The constituted authorities and pubHc officers, whether 
in the civil, law, or Church establishments, as well as the 
members of the respective courts (except the Governor^ 
General), shall be continued in their respective offices 
and situations until his Majesty's pleasure be known. 

^< Answer. — Granted. 
* ^^ 2nd. The inhahitanta^. those at present in the co* 


lony, as well as those who may be abroad^ shall be pro- 
tected in their persons, and have the jfree enjoyment of 
their properties, without being troubled or molested for 
any acts whatsoever, other than such as they might com- 
mit subsequent to the capitulation, and in violation of 
the oath of fidelity they shall be required to take. 

^Answer. — Granted. 

^^ 3rd. The inhabitants shall, on no account whatever, 
be obliged to take up arms against an external enemy; 
but their services shall only be required for quelling in- 
ternal commotions or disturbance, according to the exist- 
ing regulations of the burghers, and for maintaining the 
internal tranquillity of the colony, in conformity to what 
has always taken place to this day. 

"Answer. — Granted, until, at the conclusion of the 
war, it shall be determined to what Gt>vemment these 
colonies shall be subjected 

" 4th. That debts contracted by the Government for 
the building of new barracks, the erection of batteries,* 
the purchase of provisions for the garrison^ the salaries 
of civil officers due, shall, on the first demand, be paid 
out of the Sovereign's or Government chest, as well as 
other demands that would have been paid or reimbursed 
by Government had the colony not been taken. 

" Answer. — Granted. 

^^ 5th. The sea and land forces of the Batavian Re- 
public, stationed in the colony, shall be allowed to de- 
part fi:^ely. They shall retain their arms, and the whole 
of their baggage, as well the officers, non-commissioned 
officers, as privates. They shall be supplied by the 
commandant of his Majesty's forces with proper vessels 
to convey them, with the utmost convenient speed, to 
one of the ports of the Batavian Republic, and during 
the passage thither they shall receive, on account of his 
Majesty, each according to his rank, the same rations, 


botb as to quality and quantity, as are usually allowed 
to British troops. 

" Answer. — Granted ; but the troops and seamen must 
be considered as prisoners of war, and not to bear arms 
against Great Britain or her allies until r^ularly ex* 
changed or released, and the arms and accoutrements of 
the soldiers must be delivered up. 

^^ 6th. The corvette Si^sipameneB shall be given up 
imarmed, for transporting her officers and crew to one of 
the ports of the Batavian Republic. As many other 
troops of the Batavian garrison shall embark and take, 
their passage in the said corvette as can be conveniently 
placed on board of her. 

" Answer. — Cannot be granted ; proper vessels will be 
furnished, at the expense of the British Government, to 
carry the troops and seamen to Europe. 

" 7th. The Gt)vemor-General, not having military 
rank, shall be at liberty to remain in the colony until he 
shall have collected the necessary documents or proo£i 
towards enabling him to lay before his Sovereign an 
accoimt of his administration ; after which every facility 
shall be afforded him to return to the Batavian BepubUc 
in a manner suitable to his rank. He shall be allowed 
to require such copies of papers from the Government 
and Colonial Secretary's Office as he may deem neces-r 
sary for the purpose above expressed* 

" Answer. — Granted. 

^^ 8th. From the day of the colony being taken pos- 
session of by the British forces the Batavian troops shall 
be supplied with their usual rations by the British com- 
manders imtil the day of their embarkation, and from 
that moment the Batavian troops are to receive the same 
rations as are usually allowed to British troops when at 
sea, in the manner mentioned in the 5th Article. 

^< Answer. — Granted. 


^^ 9th. The Batavian troops shall contmue to all in- 
tents and purposes under the command of thdr own 
officers. Every respect and honour shall be mutually 
shown by the troops of both nations to one another, and 
care shall be taken on both sides to preserve peace and 
toanquillity until the departure of the Batavian troops. 

** Answer. — Proper quarters will be allowed for the 
Batavian troops, and to which they must confine them- 
selves until their embarkation. 

" 10th. The Batavian garrison shall be allowed fredy, 
and without any hindrance, to take along with it all 
accoutrements and arms belonging to it ; also the ejBTects 
of deceased officers, non-commissioned officers, and pri- 
vates that may yet be unsold, whether the same be 
deposited in the public magazine or in any other 

^^ Answer.-^That part of the article relating to the 
arms and accoutrements has been answered in Article 5 ; 
the remainder is granted. 

" 11th. The sick of the Batavian troops who may be 
left behind in the hospital shall be treated and taken care 
of in the same manner as the British soldiers ; they shall 
be entitled to the same terms of the capitulation, and 
enjoy the same advantages, as are stipulated for the rest 
of the Batavian garrison ; and, in like manner as the 
latter, they shall, after their complete recovery, be trans* 
ported, with the most convenient speed, to one of the 
ports of the Batavian Republic. 

" Answer. — Granted. 

" 12th. The commander of his Majesty's forces shall 
immediately on the colony being taken possession o^ 
furnish the Governor-General with a conveyance to 
transmit to the Batavian Government a copy of the 
capitulation, with a statement of the reasons which in- 
duced him, as well as the Council of Policy and the 


Commanding officers of the Batavian forces, to surrender 
the colony to his Britannic Majesty. 

" Answer. — Granted ; the vessel which takes our 
despatches to Europe will take those of the governor of 
the colonies. 

" 13th. No negroes shall be required from the planters 
for the purpose of forming or recruiting any black corps. 
" Answer. — Granted. 

** 14th. Should any difficulties arise in consequence of 
any dubious expressions occurring in the present capitu- 
lation, the same shall be explained or construed in the 
sense most favourable to the colony or the Batavian 

" Answer. — Granted. 

** Government-house, September 18, 1803. 

(Signed) " A. Mrertbns, Governor-General of 

Essequebo and Demerara. 
'* P. RosMwiNKBL, Major. 
" G. H. Trotz, Commander of Essequebo. 
^^ D. J. C. Lambert, Captain of Artillery. 
" P. P. Lbthbn. 

" J. HoFVif AN, First Lieutenant. 
" Chris. D. Mack. 
" F. Van dbr Vbldbn. 
^ F. Knoll. 
" By command of the Court of Policy, 

" P. F. TiNNB, Secretary. 
(Signed) " William Grinfibld, Lieutenant-General. 

^ Saicubl Hood, Commodore. 
" By order, 

" William Tatum, Military Secretary., 
" H. Tracy, Naval Secretary.*' 

Additional Articles. 
^ Ist. Possession of Fort William Frederic is to be 


given to a detachment of British troops this evening, by 
7 o'clock P.M. ; also the possession of the Batavian ship- 
of'war^ the SippomeneSy to the British seamen ; and 
the Sametj British sloop-of-war, and the schooner 
Netley^ are to be allowed to pass into the harbour of 

" Answer. — Acceded to. 

^^ 2nd. Possession of the colonies of Demerara and 
Essequebo are to be given to the British by 12 o'clock 
to-morrow, noon. 

" Answer. — ^Acceded to. 

(Signed) " William Grinfield, Lieutenant-Generah 
" Samuel Hood, Commodore. 
" G. H. Trotz. 
« F. Knoll. 
^* J. Hoffman. 

^^ A. Parrt HerklotSi Lieutennce, Navy. 
'' Hemeor, September 19, 1863.'* 

The colony of British Guiana, at the time when it thus 
finally passed into the hands of the English, consisted of 
two separate Governments, Demerara and Essequebo 
being imited, and ruled over by an officer appointed by 
the Batavian Republic, with the title of Governor, and 
the settlement of Berbice, which had likewise its own 
governor. These governors were perfectly independent 
of each other ; but the habits, laws, and pursuits of the 
three colonies were nearly, 'if not entirely, identical 

The form of government in Demerara and Essequebo 
in 1803 consisted of a Court of Policy, or Council of Po- 
licy, comprising eight members — four official, and four 
£rom amongst the inhabitants, two each from Essequebo 
and Demerara, elected by another body called the Col- 
lege of Eeizers, a Dutch word, signifying electors or 
choosers. The Court of Policy was first composed oi 


the governor, the commandants of Demerara and Esse- 
quebo, and certam directors of the West Indian Com- 
pany's plantation, besides a secretary. They met four 
times a year (the first Sunday in January, and so on for 
the other months) to consider the report of the com- 
pany's proceedings and the granting of fre»h lands. The 
four official members were the governor, the Commander 
of Essequebo, the Fiscal of Demerara, and the Fiscal of 
Essequebo. To be qualified for a member of council, it 
was necessary to be a fireeholder, to be Protestant, to 
understand the Dutch language, and to have been three 
years in the colony. The non-officials were returned by 
the Collie of Eeizers in each district, viz., two for each 

The College of Eeizers for each district was elected 
by the inhabitants, and the members, five first and after- 
wards seven in number, retained office for life, or during 
their residence in the colony. The qualification for 
office was the possession of 25 slaves, and a residence in 
the colony of three years; the qualification for votes was 
the possession of 25 slaves, but the right of voting was 
afterwards allowed to persons paying 70 guilders a year 
in taxes. The votes taken by ballot were sent into the 
Government secretary's office, deposited in a sealed box, 
and opened in the presence of the governor, and not less 
than two other members of the Court of Policy. The 
first assembly of electors was chosen by the counsellors 
of justice fix)m among the burghers. The College of 
Eeizers nominated two persons to fill vacancies in the 
Court of Policy. The governor and the court selected 
one firom the nomination, and notified in an official paper, 
the Gazette, the person so selected. The senior mem- 
ber of the court went out after two years. An annual 
meeting was held with another body, and this assembly 
was called the Combined Court, which assembled every 


year for the purpose of levying taxes, granting moneys, 
&c In cases of vacancy in the other courts, the as- 
sembly of electors sent a double nomination to the Su- 
preme Court of Justice who selected one.* 

Fmcmcial Representatives. — The members consti- 
tuting this college were six in number: three nominated 
by the inhabitants of Demerara, in the same manner and 
with the same qualification as the Eeizers, and three by 
the inhabitants of Essequebo. Their term of service 
was limited to two years, and their duties, as we have 
seen, consisted of meeting the Coiut of Policy once in a 
year, at a session called the " Combined Court," for the 
purpose of levying taxes and regulating the expenditure. 
At this combined meeting, the Court of Policy submitted 
an estimate of the expenses of the year to come, which 
had previously been prepared and discussed in that court 
In the Combined Court, every item of the estimate was 
discussed, and every member, whether of the Court of 
PoUcy or Financial Representative, had an equal vote. 
(But this was not the case in the original constitution of 
the colony. This court had no power to control the 
amoimt of colonial expenditure; its functions were con- 
fined to determine what taxes should be raised to meet 
the expenditure.) At this meeting the public accounts 
of the preceding year were examined and audited, which 
was the peculiar province of the Financial Eepresenta^ 

The Court of Policy passed all laws for the internal 
regulation of the colony. It required four members to 
constitute a court. No law was binding without the 

. * Daring the time of the Dutch, the powers entnuted to the odonlfti in thefe 
different institutiona were yery rettricteo, but were gradnallj enlarged, espedalhr 
under a British flag. The Dutch Ooyemment was nearlr absolute^ and witn 
good reasons, owing to a diflbrent state of society. Modification, howerer, gra- 
duallj crept into the oonstittttlon of the oolonj, and often without a proper or 
J^gal sanction. 


vote of one member of the non-oflScial section of the 
court. The qualification for a member of the Court of 
Policy was the proprietorship of a plantation, and a re- 
sidence of three years in the colony. 

Judicial Department — The districts of Demerara 
and Essequebo had each a Court of Civil and Criminal 
Justice, which consisted of six members and a president. 
The Courts of Criminal and Civil Justice were first 
composed of the governor, two commandants, and four 
inhabitants (two each for Demerara and Essequebo), 
besides a secretary. Their sitting began on the first 
Monday of January, and the other quarters, April, July, 
and October. A separate court of judicature existed 
in Demerara, and was composed of the commandant of 
that river and officers (burgher), who held a sitting one 
month before that of Essequebo and Demerara. Appeal 
was allowed to the latter, or Combined Court, when the 
value of the suit exceeded 150 dollars. The members 
were elected by the College of Eeizers in each district, 
the two senior members retiring every year ; the quali- 
fication of a member consisted in the possession of 25 
slaves, and a residence of three years in the colony. 
The commander of Essequebo was president of the Court 
of Justice in that district^ and the Grovemor of Demerara 
president of the other Court of Justice. The law of 
Demerara was the law of Holland, or Roman law. Each 
member of the court had an equal vote on both law and 
fact; and all cases were decided by a majority of votes. 

The administration in the colony of Berbice was simi- 
larly conducted, and need not, therefore, be recapitulated. 

Besides such official and colonial appointments, there 
were several others, such as fiscal, secretaries, heads of 
departments, marshals, &c. 

The duties of the fiscal (or, rather, " fiscaal," a Dutch 
term for an officer in Holland, similar to that of Attorney- 

VOL. I. T 


General of England) were various and vexatious. He 
was the great law-officer of the crown; his power and 
privilege were considerable, and his influence extensive. 
He was the active officer of the Commissary Court, which 
was composed of two members from the Court of Justice, 
appointed in rotation and held in Stabroek for the ad- 
justment of petty offisnces, and the decision of all questions 
of property under the value of 600 guilders. He imposed 
and pronounced the fines adjudged by the court; and if 
his notice was neglected or resisted, he served the parties 
with a citation. 

The country at this time was divided into districts, 
with a burgher captain, or militia officer, over each, 
who carried into effect the public regulations. The 
owners or representatives of estates, as already remarked, 
were bound to keep in good repair the public roads which 
intersected their properties. It was the duty of the fiscal 
to visit such roads and bridges, &c., thereon, and where 
any neglect or default existed to impose certain fines. 
He was, in these visits, attended by the burgher officer 
of the district, and a clerk from the Government secre- 
tary's office; the former to approve, the latter to witness, 
such approval, and to note the fines imposed. This was, 
perhaps, necessary, as a portion of the fines levied became 
the perquisite of this law-officer. The planter, upon re- 
ceiving notice of the fines imposed, had the privil^e of 
resisting the payment of them, in which case the fiscal 
referred the question to the Commissary Court, and 
pleaded the cause himself as principal law-officer of the 
colony. But it frequently happened that, by offering 
one-third or one-half of the fine named, the affair was 
compromised, the fiscal silenced, his conscience and pocket 
satisfied, and all further appeal to a court of justice 
rendered imnecessary. This regulation was afterwards 
changed, an order from Government decreed that the 


fiscal should have hiis specific pay, and the whole of the 
fines were appropriated to the " ways and means of the 
colony.'* But it is very questionable whether the colony 
in this instance benefited by the change, as under the 
old system the roads were tolerably sure of being kept 
in order. 

Such is a sketch of the colony at the time that the 
British Government imdertook its rule; such is an out- 
line of the social, moral, and political condition of the 
settlements in Guiana ceded to Great Britain in Oct. 1803« 
A fresh impulse was given to society by the introduction 
of British energy and capital; a number of persons, 
young men more especially, at the close of the long wars, 
finding themselves without prospects at home, and eager 
to try their furtunes in the western world, hastened out, 
determined to climb the golden ladder which was to lead 
them to wealth. West India property had then become 
proverbially lucrative, and the expression, "rich as a 
West Indian," was on the lips of every one. The young 
and ardent, heedless of the rumoured unwholesomeness 
of the climate, sailed for its shores ; and where industry, 
intelligence, and prudence were united in the same indi- 
vidual, most of them lived to become independent, if not 
opulent. Capitalists turned a willing ear to the seduc- 
tions of slave cultivations, and money in abundance was 
poured into the lap of the coimtry. The number of 
slaves was wonderfully augmented; so that before the 
year 1805, they amounted to 80,000 persons. 

The English, by their arrival, infused into colonial 
society the same elements of character which marked 
them at home: 

CoBlnm noo animvin mutant qui trant mare cnnenl. 

Distributed throughout the country, they imparted a 
vigour to the efforts of the colonists which had never 

T 2 


before been felt;* gaiety was mingled with scientific im- 
provements in building and cultivation; amusements 
were blended with efforts at moral regeneration; im- 
portant changes began to pass over the institutions of the 
Hollander, and were carried out in household matters, 
laws, agricultural and commercial imdertakings. The 
severe, prudent, but selfish policy of the Dutch was dis- 
placed by the liberal influence of English industry, order, 
and energy; and it happened, singularly enough, that the 
monarchical system of the British isles, after having van- 
quished republican principles in Europe, crowned its 
triumphs by introducing the spirit of practical liberty 
among a people ruled over by the Batavian Republic^ 
The haughty aristocrat of England was about to over- 
throw the republican colonist or leveller, as he termed 
himself, with his own weapons, and, at a personal sacrifice, 
to undertake a task from which the self-decreed ^^sans 
culotte" had always turned back apalled. 

* The steam-engine was first introduced in 1805, to work sngsr-mills od 
plantations Belle Voe and Hague. It gradually came into general use^ and in a 
few years superseded the water and cattle-millB on the riyer estates, and tiie 
wind and water-mills on the coast. 




Upon taking possession of the united colonies of Deme- 
rara, Essequebo, and Berbice, it would appear that the 
Commander-in-Chief^ General Gnnfield, appointed Lieut.- 
Colonel Bobert Nicholson as acting Governor over the 
surrendered colony; and this gentleman continued to 
hold that important office until the receipt of a despatch 
from Lord Hobart^ dated 26th of January, 1804, an- 
nouncing that he had directed Anthony Beaujon, Esq., who 
had held the office when the colony capitukted in 1796, 
to resume the civil administration of the colony. On the 


13th of August, 1804, Governor Beaujon, who had re- 
ceived a most flattering letter from Lord Hobart, was 
Bwom into his high oflSce, and took the oath of allegiance 
to his Majesty George the Third. 

At a meeting of the Court of Policy, held on the 24th 
of August, the large sum of 20,000 guilders per annum, 
besides an additional sum of 5000 guilders, as President 
of the Court of Justice, were voted to the new governor 
as table-money. 

By a proclamation, which was published on the 24th 
of November, the destitute state of the public funds was 
made known, and the following capitation-tax was fixed 
upon, viz. : 

Working male and female slares, each . • . . • 3 10 

Children from 3 to 12 years of age 1 

House senrant (slaves) if 3 years of age .... 6 

Do. da if4 do. 10 

Bo. do. if 5 do 15 

Do. do. if 6 do. . • . . .20 

Do. do. if 7 do. 25 

Do. do. if 9 do. 30 

Do. do. aboye 9 do. 40 

Certain persons were to be exempted lix>m the pay-* 
ment of these taxes, namely: — Planters resident on their 
estates; the governor, who was entitled to twenty ser- 
vants; the members of the different courts; also the se- 
cretaries, the receivers of government and colonial chests, 
vendue-master, and certain other public officers, who 
were each limited to four servants. Tradespeople were 
required to pay for each slave employed at the rate of 
7 guilders per head. The women of colour were to pay 
10 guilders. A general return of all slaves was also 
called for to the 31st of December, 1804. 

About this time a petition of the inhabitants to the 
Court of Policy stated, that they had supplied articles for 
the use of the Batavian Government at the instance of 
the late Governor Meertens, for which they had received 


bills of exchange drawn by him and the Book-keeper 
General on the Batavian Council of the American Colo- 
nies; but on the colony reverting to tlie British, these 
bills were protested, under the provisions of the 4th 
Article of the capitulation, which guaranteed the payment 
of all debts contracted by the late Government. 

Early the next year, a colonial agent (Mr. Adam Gor- 
don) was appointed, at a salary of 500^ per annum, to 
superintend in England the affairs of Essequebo and 
Demerara; but he was superseded in 1806, and two 
other persons were appointed to act conjointly. 

The sister colony of Berbice was in most respects 
similarly situated. Its laws, system of administration, 
mode of agriculture, and social condition, were almost 
identical. But there were certain peculiarities in the 
circumstances of Berbice which require special notice. 
At the time when it fell into the hands of the British, 
September, 1803, there was actually no governor, that 
officer, A. J. Imbyze Van Batenburg, having ])reviously 
departed for Europe to give an account to the States- 
General of the surrender of the colony in 1796 to the 
English. In his absence the administration was carried 
on by a Provisional Government of two persons, to- 
gether with the other members and officers of the Legis- 
lature. These functionaiies ceded their power to Lieu- 
tenant-Colonel Bobert Nicholson, who was appointed 
acting-governor by General Grinfield, and who filled 
this situation imtil June, 1804, when Governor Van 
Batenburg was restored to his post. It appears that 
this officer, whilst on his voyage to Holland, was taken 
prisoner, together with his whole family, by an English 
vessel cruising in the Channel, and carried to England. 
During his detention in that country he became aware 
of the capture of Berbice by the English ; but fortune in 
this instance befriended him more than be expected. 


On leaving the colony he had taken with him a compli- 
mentary address (Dank adres) presented to him by 
the inhabitants of Berbice along with a more substantial 
gift, viz., a silver table-service of the value of 8000 
florins, or about 500/. 

The address had been numerously signed by the 
principal inhabitants, who were in general satisfied with * 
his administration. This flattering testimonial, together 
with his local knowledge and experience, made so fa- 
vourable an impression upon the English Court that it 
was considered desirable to secure his future services, 
and he was accordingly re-appointed, and, returning to 
the colony on the 25th June, 1804, was reinstated as 
governor. But it would appear that his views and 
opinions during his absence had undergone a total revo- 
lution, for soon after his arrival he announced that, in 
accordance with his instructions, he would in future take 
over the administration of the colonial plantations (ho 
no longer called them society plantations, as formerly) 
in the name of the King. At the sitting of the Court of 
Policy, held on the 2nd July following, he availed him- 
self of the opportunity of declaring that some of the in- 
habitants of the colony were indebted in large sums to 
the Receiver-General, which they would be immediately 
called upon to pay, in order to meet the existing defi- 
ciency, observing at the same time that the acre-money 
(akkergeld) or tax on property, formed a large item in 
the amount. The members of the court, astonished at 
such a speech firom the governor, replied that in con- 
formity with the articles of capitulation of the 24th Sep- 
tember, J1803, the acre-money, as well as the plantations 
themselves, and other properties of the society of Ber^ 
bice, could not be considered in any pther light than as 
private property, separate and special; and that it could 
not be otherwise regarded until proof to the contrary 


was brought forward and established. The governor, 
however, mamtained that the acre-money was included 
under the taxes (Lasten), income, and other moneys for- 
merly paid to the Dutch or Batavian Government, and 
were now due to his Britannic Majesty. The court, 
notwithstanding, reftised to take the ^' ipse dixit'' of the 
governor on this subject. Orders were consequently 
issued by the governor to collect the acre-money; but, 
with a few exceptions, the inhabitants exhibited a de- 
termination to resist the payment, declaring that any 
such orders or publications emanating from the governor 
without the concurrence and sanction of the other mem- 
bers of the court were null and void — ^in fact, unconstitu- 
tional and illegal. 

In the following year, 13th February, 1805, another 
publication was issued to the same effect, but without 
shaking the resolution of the inhabitants, who still main- 
tained that the money was exclusively private property, 
and could not be interfered with. The popularity of 
the governor now began rapidly to decline, and open 
complaints broke out in all parts of the colony, which 
took a distinct and affirmative shape on the 12th April, 
when a large meeting of the people was held in New 
Amsterdam, for the purpose of considering the necessity 
of remonstrating against these arbitrary proceedings, and 
of submitting their case to the sovereign. A cominittee 
of twelve persons was formed to investigate and report 
upon the subject. On the 23rd April another meeting, 
still more numerously attended, was convened, when a 
declaration was drawn up, declaring that, as the colony 
was ruled not by a governor, but by a governor as pre- 
sident and a council, any order or publication issued by 
the governor alone was invalid and illegal. 

Three persons were accordingly elected (G. Baillie, 
Edward Van Hartha, and Lambert Blair, the two first 


resident ia London, and the third then in the colony, 
but on the point of quitting it) as a committee to con- 
duct their case, and another committee was appointed in 
Berbice to open a correspondence with them. Shortly 
ader this arrangement Lambert Blair proceeded to Eu- 
rope furnished with proofs and other evidence of the 
justice of the common cause. 

The colonists subsequently wished to publish their de- 
claration in the local gazette, but the governor cautioned 
the printer, Mr. Douglas, against its admission. The 
declaration was printed notwithstanding on a separate 
piece of paper, which gave equal offence to the gover- 
nor, who applied to the fiscal or law-officer to prosecute 
the parties concerned. This officer, however, viewed 
the subject in a different light, and, refusing to obey the 
order of the governor, actually resigned his office. After 
considerable delay and difficulty a lawyer fix)m Demerara 
was prevailed upon by the governor to take up the 
matter, and with his assistance and counsel steps were 
adopted for the recovery of the disputed acre-money. A 
commissioned officer (Humbert) was ordered to summons 
the inhabitants alleged to be indebted in this tax to pay 
up forthwith, under penalty of " parate executie." 

Among the persons thus summoned was L. Blair for 
arrears of about 60,000 guilders, in reference to possess 
sions held on the east sea-coast of Berbice, although it 
was known, ex officio^ by the governor, that this gentle- 
man had made previous arrangements with the Batavian 
Government exonerating him from such payment. 

The commissioned officer or receiver, fibading an in- 
ferior officer, bailiff, or deurwaerder, willing to enter 
upon the obnoxious duty, appointed him to act. The 
inhabitants, thus pressed, presented another remonstrance, 
and resisted by all the means in their power. The go- 
vemor, however, was determined to proceed to extremi- 


ties, and authorised the bailiff to call in military aid in 
case of further opposition. This threat had the desired' 
effect; bills of exchange were offered under protest by 
the defaulters, drawn to order of the Right Honourable 
Lords Commissioners of his Majesty's Treasury, and 
handed over by the bailiff to the receiver-general. 

While these disturbing incidents were agitating the 
colony of Berbice, the settlements of Demerara and 
Essequebo were conducted in a satisfactory and peace- 
able manner by Governor Beaujon, who unfortunately, 
however, died in October. Upon his death, the officer 
highest in command was Brigadier-General James Mont- 
gomery, who assumed the government, ad interim^ on 
the 19th of October, and having assembled the Court of 
Policy, in conformity with a document found on the late 
governor's decease, entitled '* Sketch of Instructions for 
Demerara and Essequebo," he addressed the members of 
the Court, and, lamenting his deficiency and want of 
experience, earnestly sought their counsel and advice. 
The Court of Policy offered to defray the burial expenses 
of the late governor, but this mark of respect was cour- 
teously declined by the widow of the departed chief. 
In the next year, 1806, several measures of public inte- 
rest were enapted. A premium of one hundred guilders 
was offered for the capture of each runaway slave ; and 
the same sum for "bush negroes." The sum of fifty 
guilders was offered for each right hand of such slaves, 
if not taken alive. At a sitting of the Court of Policy, 
on the 29 th of April, in consequence of a petition of the 
inhabitants, a duty of two guilders per gallon was charged 
on rum imported, except that for the use of the garrison. 
A prohibition was enacted to export any colonial wood, 
except firewood, under a duty of thirty stivers for 
every cubic foot. A schooner (the Jack) and a brig 
(the Demerara) were purchased by the colony to pro* 


tect its rivers and coasts. These vessels, with fitting-out 
and repairs, cost upwards of eighty thousand guilders. 

On the 8th of May, 1806, H. W. Bentinck, Esquire, 
arrived in an English frigate. He was received at the 
governor's stelling by the officers, under a salute of the 
guns of the fort, and duly escorted to the Court of Policy, 
where Brigadier Montgomery, the acting governor, had 
vdnly endeavoured to assemble an extraordinary meeting 
of its members on the occasion. Only two gentlemen 
attended, the others being absent in the country. The 
acting governor having thanked this scanty gathering for 
their assistance and counsel, introduced the new lieute- 
tenant-governor, who was formally sworn into office, a 
formal proclamation announcing his installation to the 

The usual table-money, twenty-five thousand guilders^ 
was accorded in the following session (28th of July), 
when his excellency communicated to the members of 
the Court a despatch, dated 26th of March, 1806, from 
his Majesty's principal Secretary of State, requiring an 
additional premium to be paid on British North America 
salted fish, and prohibiting the importation of fish from 
the United States. 

A proclamation also appeared to dress the militia in 
uniform (red), in accordance with the views entertained 
by the late acting governor. An order was also passed 
to build a beacon on the east sea-coast, the cost of which 
was not to exceed twenty thousand guilders; and a tax 
on shipping, of six or ten stivers per ton, was raised for 
its support; as also a stipulated weight of sand or gravel 
for the use of the colony (say five tons of gravel for 
every fifty tons of shipping), except from vessels under 
one hundred tons. Li defkult of payment of this latter 
tax, the sum of five guilders was to be paid for every 
ton of ballast due. 


The great scarcity of silver coin this year led to an 
issue of paper-money, in forms called "goods," to the 
amount of twenty-three thousand guilders, in the follow- 
ing proportion : 

4000 of one guilder each 

3000 „ two „ 

2000 „ three „ 

2000 „ four „ 

500 „ ten „ 

500 „ fifteen „ 

500 ^ twenty „ 

200 „ thirty „ 

200 „ forty „ 

100 „ fifty „ 

50 „ Mty „ 

80 „ terenty „ 

20 „ eic^ty 

20 tf ninety „ 

20 „ one hundred „ 

These " goods " were to be signed in the name of the 
court by two, three, or foiu* members, and oountersigned 
by the colonial receiver in the following manner : 

No. CU 8.) Guilders Stahroek. 

Goods l»y the Colony of Essequeho and Deoierara, 
Issued this hy authoritr of Lieut.-GoTemor. 


and Court ofFblicy. 

Signed by 


A petition firom the inhabitants in Essequebo prayed 
the lieutenant-governor and Court of Policy to remove 
the present capital of that district to a more convenient 
site, and also to place buoys on the banks; which re- 
quests were subsequently taken into consideration. 

The following taxes were also imposed this year. 
For each male and female working slave, three guilders. 
A tax of two per cent, on the revenue of each individual 

The members of the courts of justice, finding heavy 


demands upon their time) applied to the Combined Court 
for some remuneration ; but this was refused. On the 
application, however, of the fiscal, an exemption from 
the payment of colonial duties was allowed for one year, 
but subsequently, in 1808, the members were paid at the 
rate of forty guilders per sitting-day. 

In March, 1807, Governor Bentinck read a letter to 
the Court of Policy which had been received by his pre- 
decessor, Governor Beaujon, and which was dated 25th 
January, 1804, fix)m Lord Hobart, to the effect that, in 
future, British subjects should by preference be appointed 
to any situations which might become vacant. He also 
deemed it advisable to cause a new election of persons 
to fill the present college of electors, in consequence of 
some irregularities which had taken place in Essequebo. 
In the following month, April 27th, his excellency 
announced his intention of proceeding to England in 
consequence of ill health ; the administration of the 
affairs of the colony to devolve on Brigadier-Gteneral 
James Montgomery, and the president of the courts of 
justice, V. A. Heyliger. Previous to his retirement, the 
governor read a despatch received fi:om Mr. Windham, 
dated Downing-street, 9th March, 1807, calling attention 
to a bill then passing through Parliament relative to the 
abolition of the slave trade. This announcement took 
the members of the court completely by surprise, and 
caused them to break up with marked consternation. 
Yet they ought not to have been wholly imprepared for 
such a contingency, as in the previous year his excel- 
lency had proclaimed to an extraordinary meeting of 
the court, that he had received orders from England 
requiring correct retiu-ns of slaves to be sent in by 
colonists, with a view to regulate a limited importation. 
In default of such returns, a penalty of 500 guilders was 
incurred, half of which was to be paid to the governor's 
chest, and the other half to the fiscaal. 


On the 2nd May, 1807, acting Govemol: Montgomety 
was for the second time sworn into office, but did not 
long retain it; for on September the 14tli he announced 
his intention of resigning in favour of Lieutenant-Colonel 
Nicholson, who, since the retirement of Governor Van 
Batenburg from the administration of Berbice in 1806, 
had presided as acting governor. The two military 
officers, in point of fact, exchanged situations, and 
Brigadier-General Montgomery, to the regret of the in- 
habitants of Essequebo and Demerara, proceeded to 
Berbice, which situation, I believe, he hoped to keep, as 
hitherto no civil governor had come from home since 
Governor Van Batenburg's retirement. Lieutenant- 
Colonel Nicholson was installed September the 14ith. 

During this year considerable distress was felt through- 
out the West Indies. In these colonies the inhabitants 
still suffered from attacks of pirates, and were obliged 
to call in the aid of an armed schooner. The Afficmce, 
from Barbadoes. 

Early in the year, March the 24th, 1808, the African 
slave trade was abolished, but slaves continued under 
certain restrictions and regulations to be imported into 
the colony, in limited numbers, from other sources for 
many years aflerwards, or until 1823. This was the first 
serious blow aimed at the principle of slavery, and it is 
gratifying to record it as having marked at so early a 
date the administration of the English. 

The year 1808 was also memorable for the introduc- 
tion of a new social element, which was ordained to play 
an important part in the future condition of the colony 
— ^namely, the arrival of some missionaries from the 
London Missionary Society. 

It is not intended in this place to enter largely into 
the consideration of the effects produced by the introduc- 
tion of the missionaries, as the history of their labours 
will be traced in another part of this work in connexion 


with the religious and moral progress of the oolony; but 
some notice of them is called for here, as they soon became 
intimately mixed up with the social and political institu- 
tions of the country. The Parent Society, in sending 
them out, was no doubt actuated by the noblest motives. 
Their ostensible object was the liberation of the Afirican 
fix)m spiritual darkne^; and had their exertions been 
strictly directed to the regeneration of the depraved 
heart of the slave, and their religious zeal been tempered 
with moderation and discretion, much misunderstanding 
would have been averted, and they would doubtless have 
been allowed to pursue, undisturbed, their unostentatious 
and charitable design. Leaving England as they did, 
embued with an ardent desire to spread the benefits of 
the Gospel; mild and simple in their manners; actuated 
apparently by the purest intentions, and exhibiting holy 
and devout conduct, they had, notwithstanding, imbibed 
in all its bitterness the strong prejudice which at that time 
existed in England against the planter. Nor were the 
circumstances which met them on their arrival much 
calculated to modify their opinions. They beheld the 
slave toiling under his yoke, and heard the cry of com- 
plaint, and the stroke of the whip, rising around them on 
all sides. They witnessed the daily life and animal 
existence of the African and his descendants such as we 
have described it. They were apalled at the despotism 
and the hardihood exhibited by the white man; at the 
unlimited extent of punishment, and the means of terrible 
vengeance he wielded; and were dismayed at the revolt- 
ing picture of moral abasement so prevalent throughout 
the land. It must be admitted that the state of society 
presented a debased and humiliating spectacle. There 
were but two churches in the whole of British Guiana; 
one a Lutheran church, richly endowed, in Berbice, the 
other a Dutch reformed church, upon Fort Island, the 
ancient capital of Essequebo. In Demerara no attempts 


had as yet been made to erect a place of worship, not- 
withstanding that the metropolis, Stabroek, was fast 
rising into importance; and it was not until 1810 that a 
church, called St. George's, was built, being the first 
episcopal church established in Guiana. At this period 
divine service was read at the Court-house by the chap- 
lain to the garrison. The missionaries needed little more 
than a glance at these circumstances to confirm their 
worst prejudices. The first impressions thus made upon 
their minds were never effaced. The gloomy side of the 
subject was alone considered. The ^'Bevers de la 
M^aille" was never regarded. The generosity of most 
of the planters, their liberality and kindness to depend- 
ants, their hospitality to strangers, and their estimable 
private qualities, were regarded with indifference by men 
who viewed them in no other light than as slave-owners 
and cruel task-masters. It would have been happy for 
the colony if ownership and tyranny had not been ren- 
dered synonymous^ and if the true diaracter of the race 
of planters, kind and generous on the whole, had never 
been disgraced by brutal exceptions and individual 
atrocity. The missionaries, objecting generally to the 
system of slavery, admitted of no exception. They 
sternly rebuked all alike. It has been truly said by a 
great man, that ^^ what is morally wrong can never be 
politically right;*' and a still higher authority declares, 
^^ A good tree cannot bring forth corrupt fiiiit, neither 
can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.'* 

Boused by the depressed condition of the slave, the 
missionaries awakened feelings of opposition and dislike 
to the masters. They engendered a new sentiment in 
the mind of the slave. It was not, therefore, likely that' 
two such conflicting influences as these of the planter 
and the missionary should combine in social harmony; 
that the hand which endeavoured to pour balm into the 

VOL. I. u 


wounds of the bondsman should grasp in fiiendship that 
of the oppressor; or that the missionary, mixing fiieely 
with the slave, and entering into his views, in order 
to gain him over to the grand scheme of salvation, 
should at the same time assimilate himself to the lives, 
habits, and opinions of the slave-owners. We shall here 
dismiss the subject for the present. We shall hereafter 
see how this contest of antagonistic views ultimately 
developed itself. 

In April, 1808, it was resolved by the Court of Policgr. 
that no petitions written in Dutch should be received^ 
unless accompanied by an Englishr translation, and also 
that all petitions were to be sent in to the secretary at 
least eight days before the meeting of the court Cer-« 
tain rules and regulations were also drawn up for a house 
of correction or workhouse, for the confinement of con* 
victs who had been sentenced by either of the courts of 
justice. A threatened conspiracy to revolt was reported 
to be existing on plantation Lusignan, on the east sea- 
coast ; but it led to no results, except an expedition of 
the troops in that neighbourhood. 

On the 24th of June, Lieutenant-Colond Andrew- 
Boss, of the 70th Regiment, in obedience to the com-«: 
mand of General Bowyer, took over the civil adminis-i 
tration of Essequebo and Demerara, and Acting-Governor 
Nicholson retired. The new acting-governor proved him- 
self an able and active officer ; but, in consequeDce of bad' 
health, was soon obliged to resign his post. During his^ 
incumbency, a petition was drawn up by the inhabitants, 
praying his Majesty to prepare a new silver coin fiir the. 
use of this colony. The coin in circulation for many 
years past had been rather limited, and the Portuguese 
gold coin ^^ Johannes," called by the colonists a Joe, and 
of the value of eight dollars at that time, which was in 
general use, had been so adulterated by plugging with 


co{)per and brass, as to have lost considerably its intrinsic 
value. About 5000/. worth were withdrawn fix)m general 
circulation, and paper " goods," proclaimed to be legal 
tender, were issued instead. Subsequently the ^ Joe 
notes" were substituted. This new paper-money was 
issued to the amount of 50,000 joes, equal to 1,100,000 
guilders, or, at the rate of exchange then current (two 
and a half guilders to the dollar), 440,000 dollars. The 
loss sustained by the colony from the plugged joes was 
calculated to amount to 10,000/. ; but when these joes 
were withdrawn from circulation, the inhabitants did not 
suffer by the depreciation in their value, the paper joe, of 
the value of twenty-two guilders, being substituted for 
the gold coin. 

The following is an estimate of the proposed new 
silver coin, petitioned for by the inhabitants, payment 
for which was to be made by bills of exchange: 

X4000 in pieces of 3 goilden, to weigh 15 peimTweigfati, equal to 3a. 9d. 
2000n« r, 10 „ 26 

«000 „ 1 „ 5 „ 13 

SOOO n i »f H ». 7i 

The governor, inr his despatoh to Lord Castlereagh, 
represented the justice of the petition, and stated that 
the then lowest coin was the Danish bit, composed of 
silver and copper, and equal to five stivers or four pence. 
The plumed joes, about 28,000 in number, were sent to 
England, along with the governor's dispatoh, and Mr. 
Baillie was appointed agent to conduct the monetary 

This gentleman invested the money in the funds, and 
the investment, though not specially pledged for that 
purpose, was regarded as a security for the ultimate 
redemption of the paper issue. 

In the year 180& a letter was received in which thd 
failure of Messrs. Campbell, Harper, and Baillie was 



announced, as well as the fact that the money of the 
colony entrusted to then* charge (11,268/. 9s. 7d,) had 
been appropriated by that firm to its own use. The 
trustees of this money were Messrs. Campbell, Baillie, 
and King. The Court of Policy refused to become 
creditors to the bankrupt estates, and applied to the 
trustees for payment.* 

An annual sum of 2000/., raised by a tax, continued 
till the year 1822 to be remitted to London, and, together 
with the accruing interest of the previous instalments, to 
be placed in the funds for the benefit of the colony. By 
the year 1822 the stocks thus held amounted to upwards 
of 150,000/., and the amount of paper money had, by 
additional issues in 1816 and 1816, been increased to 
75,807 joes. The further history of this paper money 
we shall give imder the years 1824, 1825, and 1889. t 

The Berbice paper money was much more ancient, and 
stood upon quite a different footing. It consisted at first 
of bills of exchange on the proprietors of the colony in 
Holland, drawn for their salaries by the colonial oflScers, 
and certified by the colonial authorities to be good. 
These biUs passed from hand to hlmd as a circulating 
medium. Additional paper money was afterwards issued 
to meet the public exigencies by die colonial authorities, 
but no fund was provided for its redemption, nor was 
any such provision secured when, upon the cession of 
Berbice to the British, certain estates and other property 
were made over to the late proprietors. 

At a meeting of the Combined Court during this year^ 
1809, it was resolved to redeem the issued colonial goods 
by tenders for bills of exchange instead of specie. The 

* In 1820 the coloinr assumed the debt towards Messrs. CampbeO, Hanor. 
•nd Baillie, absolTed Messrs. James Baillie and Kinff, and appoiiitod *' 
Hiffglns, King^ and M'Lard the new trustees. 

t Minutes of Ckmrt of PoU(7, 1819. 


liolders of tlie colonial goods thus tendering were to 
receive bills for one-third of the amount of their tenders, 
and the other two-thirds were to be issued to them in a 
new colony paper — ^the paper joe, already alluded to, 
value 22 guilders — secured on the money in Mr. Baillie*s 

This gentleman had written firom London on the 26th 
April, stating that the silver coinage prayed for was 
granted by the Grovemment, but that the coin to be 
struck should not resemble that of other states, it being 
contrary to law. He mentioned having bought 10,000/. 
sterling of Spanish dollars at 5s. 4d. per ounce, and that 
the gold had sold at 41. the ounce, more than had been 
expected. An alloy was used in the striking of the new 
coin, to defray the necessary expenses. Mr. Baillie had 
invested about 22,000/. in Government securities, and 
had reserved the surplus to meet current expenses.* 

From a report drawn up the next year (1810) by a 
committee appointed to correspond with Mr. Baillie on 
the subject, it appears — 

That the produce of tht plugged joetaiDoanted to £34,744 8 8 

That the unoont of lilTeryreoeiTed per /fefte, was £10,770 L2 6 
n yf » Ptnman, 2,701 3 i 

13,471 15 7 

LeaTing a balance of . ; • . . . £21,272 18 1 

The attention of Governor Ross was not confined to 
the monetary interests of the colony. In consequence of 
the American war it became necessary to protect these 
rising settlements. Rear-Admiral Sir Alexander Coch- 
rane, the commander-in-chief of the naval forces in the 
West Indies, was addressed on this important subject, 
and directions w^:^ given for stationing certain vessels 
on the South American station — one at Surinam, another 

* MiniltetorOonrtorPolk^, 1809. 


at Bcrbice, a third at Demerara, and a fourtli at the 
Orinoco ; while four armed cruisers or schooners were 
ordered to ply between these vessels, thus keeping up s 
constant inter-communication. 

It now became more than ever necessary to protect 
the sugar-laden ships on their passage to Europe, and 
convoys had long been employed for that purpose. The 
time and place of rendezvous was in general some wind- 
ward island in the West Indies, and all vessels desirous 
of joining were required to be ready at the place and 
time appointed; but the inconvenience to these colo- 
nies was especially great, and a separate convoy was 
asked for. 

On the retirement of Governor Boss from ill-health 
the Court of Policy agreed to present him with a sword 
of the value of 1001. A handsome letter accompanied 
this testimonial, complimenting him upon his zeal, talents, 
and love of order. Major-General Samuel Dalrymple 
was sworn into office as his successor on the 8th April, 
1809 ; but on the 19th May, following, an extraordinary 
meeting of the Court of Policy was assembled to receive 
their former governor, H. W. Bentinck, Esq., who cxp 
hibited to the court his commission fiom his Majesty 
George the Third, dated 30th January, 1809. A pro* 
clamation was issued on the 22nd June, announdng to 
the inhabitants the renewal of his administration. 

In the year 1810 a successful expedition was con- 
ducted by Mr. Edmonstone and the Bucks against the 
Maroons or bush negroes. On the first arrival of the 
British, in 1796, several military excursions of Dutch 
troops and others had been attempted with a similar 
object, but had entirely failed ; and in the appointment 
of Lieutenant-Colonel Hislop a general amnesty wa9 
proclaimed for three months, copies of which were sent 
in a block-tin box to the Maroons^ who, in 1795, had 


thrown the colony into considerable peril. The ex- 
penses of the late bush expeditions were very heavy, 
and in October of this year a deputation proceeded to 
Berbice to arrange with the Court of Policy respecting 
the amount severally to be paid by each settlement, and 
the sum of 100,000 guilders was agreed upon, one-third 
of which was to be paid by Berbice, and the other two- 
thirds by Essequebo and Demerara.* This arrangement 
became subsequently the subject of serious disputes be- 
tween Demerara and Berbice, the latter colony repudiat- 
ing the demand made upon it. 

About this period a conference was hdd between the 
governor and the Court of Policy and an Indian chief 
named Manariwau, who was reputed to possess con- 
siderable power and authority among the Caribs. The 
object of this conference was a request on the part of this 
chie^ that the members of the court would purchase cer- 
tain prisoners in his possession, as well as others which 
he might obtain. To this the court objected, but pro* 
mised, that whenever such prisoners should be handed 
over to the colony, annual presents should be forwarded 
to himself and his tribe. These prisoners were for the 
most part runaway slaves and bush negroes. A treaty 
upon this basis was accordingly entered into between the 
-whites and the King of the Caribs. A few years after- 
wards, however, when the Indians came to Governor Car- 
michael for their presents^ they were refused on the 
ground that such presents could not be claimed as a 
right, but oolj as a gift, or boon. The cost of the pre- 
sents (which may have been the reason for reftising 
them) is stated to have amounted to the sum of 20()0^. 
per annum. 

An important meeting of the Combined Court was held 
on the 4th of December, 1810, when a memorial or 

* mautmni Court otVdlkj, 1801. 


address was read by the financial representatives, to the 
following effect: 

They demanded to ascertain the exact nature and 
duties of the financial representatives, and stated that 
several such requests had formerly been made by them 
without receiving any satisfactory answer. Neither was 
the origin of this body known, although constituted 
within the memory of some of their members. They 
were told that they had been appointed by a resolution 
of the Court of Policy, subsequent to the capture of the 
colony in 1796 ; but from what they could learn, it would 
appear only that the court had sanctioned the dection of 
six financial representatives instead of four keizers, who 
formerly, with the members or counsellors of the Court 
of Policy, constituted the Combined Court; but this only 
proves that the court had originated such a change; 
neither could they have legally changed the existing con- 
stitution without the sanction of a higher authority. 
But that some such sanction was given by the Govern- 
ment of Holland, is rendered probable from various com- 
munications contained in a memorial presented to Genieral 
Whyte, on the surrender of the colony in 1796. By 
this memorial, which they concluded to be authentic, it 
appeared that the insufficient representation of the inha- 
bitants of these colonies had been complained of at a 
very early period, and that representations to this effect 
had been made to the authorities previous to the appoint- 
ment of Baron Van Grovenstein in 179.5, and which 
representations were attended to; for, in the 19th and 
39th articles of his instructions from the Colonial Board, 
allusions were found to this subject; so that having com- 
municated the nature of these instructions to the mem- 
bers of the Court of Policy, it was agreed to summon th^ 
four keizers (two from Essequebo and two firom Deme- 


rara) who, with the Court of Policy, were to constitute a 
combined court, in order to deliberate on the best mode 
of raismg the necessary taxes; but it appeared that, 
during Baron Grovenstein's administration, this contem« 
plated arrangement wad never effected; and that it was 
not until after his departure from the colony, and during 
the serious disturbances consequent thereon in 1795, the 
provisional acting governors (consisting of two members 
of the Court of Policy, in rotation, who acted jointly for 
eight days) summoned the four keizers to deliberate not 
only on raising the t€ucesj but actually, conjointly with 
the four coimseUors of the Court of Policy, to deliberate 
and vote on the disbursements of the expenses; which 
act evidently accorded with the spirit of several other 
despatches received fix)m Holland on this subject. But 
it appeared afterwards, that the keizers were deemed 
improper representatives for the purposes of taxation, &c., 
inasmuch as they held their seats for life; hence it was 
considered preferable to substitute other persons called 
^nandal representatives, who, elected by the keizers, 
were to continue in office for two years only. It was 
presumed, however, that on such appointments taking 
place, the same powers which had been conferred on the 
keizers would descend to the financial representatives; 
and that these latter were, therefore, not intended to 
deliberate only on the best mode of raising the taxes, but 
also to assist in the expenditure of the public money, and 
to be consulted in all cases involving the outlay of the 
colonial cash. The financial representatives therefore 
considered that, unless such were at present the powers 
invested in them, their sitting with the honourable court 
once a ye%r for any other purpose could be of no possible 
use to their constituents. Strongly impressed with these 
sentiments, the financial representatives requested the 
Court of Policy to state what they considered to be their 
views on the ckities and powers of Ihe former, boldly de* 


daring at the same time, that in the event of their not 
being admitted to the exercise of what they deemed their 
nghts and privileges, they must decline (however reluc- 
tant they might feel to impede the public business of the 
colony) taking any part in the laying on of taxes, over 
the expenditure of which they had no control. 
(Signed) John Justus Deloes, 
John Wilson, 
Richard Nugent, 
Thomas Mbwburn, 
Edward Bishop, 
James Butherford. 

On the discussion arising out of this able document^ 
the justice of the remarks was admitted, but it was 
deemed contrary to the then existing constitution to 
grant to the financial representatives the exercise of the 
powers claimed ; they were requested, however, to draw 
up a memorial embodying such measures as they consi- 
dered most advisable, which, after being submitted to 
the Court of Policy, would be forwarded to H.M. Go- 
vernment. Moreover, it was resolved that should any 
necessity arise in the mean time for incurring an extra 
expenditure, and should the subject permit of the neces- 
sary delay requisite to convene a combined court, the 
financial representatives were to be consulted on the ex- 
pediency thereof. 

The financial representatives lost no time in preparing 
their memorial, which was submitted to the Court (^ 
Policy two days after, viz., on .the 6th December; but 
at a subsequent meeting in the following year, on inquir- 
ing into the fate of this document, they learat, to Uidr 
astonishment, that it had never been sent to England, a 
majority of the court not deeming it sufficiently supported 
by the public. The indignation of the financial represen- 
tatives was excessive on being made aware of this circimi- 


Stance. They declared that they would no longer act, and 
refused to vote the supplies, but Governor Bentinck was 
equally firm, and threatened, in case they persisted ii^ 
their determination, to arrest the refractory members, 
and ship them to Europe in a gun-brig. This menace 
had the desired effect, and things went on agiun as usual. 
The following taxes were for the present proposed: 

Sogar rDatch weight per 100 Ibt.) • Sfdrers. 

Rom (Sir erery 100 gmllons.) . • 12 ^ 

Coffee (for erery 100 Ibt.) • . . . 5 »» 

CoCUm (for eireiy 100 Ibe.) > 9 „ 

These taxes were estimated to yield the following 
amount : 


1S,000 hhdt. ragAT Sl,600 

8,000 ponolieoiis mm . • • • . 6,280 

2,000 „ molateee • • • . 1,000 

12 miUUm Ibe. eoflbe • . . » . 80,000 

10 ,» 9, ootUm 45,000 


This produce tax was raised in order to cover the ex- 
penses of the late expedition against the bush negroes. 

The other taxes on slaves, wines, incomes, hucksters, 
transient traders (raised from 2^ to 4 pa- cent.), on horses, 
carriages, &c., to continue as before. 

The sum of 300 guineas was also appropriated for the 
purchase of plate to be presented to Mr. Baillie for his 
diligent services in the affidrs of the colony. 

The police regulations were altered and amended. 
An inspector-general, with a salary of four thousand 
guilders per annum, was appointed for the town, together 
with two assistants, subject, however, to two commis«» 
siiHiers to be appointed by the court. Mr. Van der 
Welden held the first office. Subsequently, or in 181*, 
a Board c& Police was appointed by the governor and 
the Court of Policy for the management of Georgetown. 

In the early part of the year 1811 areolars were sent 
round to several <^ the British govemoiB in the Weak 


Indies, and, among others, to Governor Bentinck, requir- 
ing him to forward to England a report on the condition 
of the colony, on the number of slaves, and their loca- 
tion ; on the number of clergy, including an accoimt of 
the missionary and other preachers throughout the coun- 
try ; to send also returns of convictions and punishments 
awarded to the slaves, as well as a statement of such acts 
and laws as had been passed by the Court of Policy of 

In consequence of the representations made to him, 
and perhaps for other reasons. Governor Bentinck issued 
a proclamation on the 25th May prohibiting the negroes 
from attending places of public divine worship in th6 
imrestricted manner at that time in practice. This mea- 
sure of course occasioned much dissatis&ction, and com* 
plaints having been forwarded to England, the governor 
was directed to recal the proclamation, and advised to 
have all chapels and places of divine worship forthwith 

About the same time, the governor and the fiscal, Van 
Berchel, had, unfortunately, some very unpleasant mis- 
imderstandings, and the former having suspended the 
fiscal for disrespectful language and di^onest practises, 
was directed by the Secretary of State, Lord Liverpool, 
to appoint a court of inquiry to investigate Mr. Van 
Berchel's conduct, and to report their decision to Eng- 
land. On the receipt of diis despatch, the governor 
wished to nominate a court formed of members of the 
CJourt of Policy, but Mr. Van Berchel objected, on legal 
groimds, and maintained that a court competent to decide 
on such matters could only be composed of members 
selected firom the Court of Justice. 

At the commencement of the year 181^ Governor 
Bentinck having neglected to recal the proclamation of 
the 25th May last as directed, was superseded in the 
government of the colony, and by a despatch dated 25th 


!Pebruary, Major-Greneral Carmichael was appointed to 
act as lieutenant-governor until his successor should ar^ 
rive from England. At the same time, the ex-Governor 
Beutinck was ordered to return to England to give an 
accoxmt of his administration; but having, after con« 
sultation with the Court of Policy in the interim^ written 
to the Secretary of State, assigning the reasons which 
induced him to delay or modify the withdrawal of the 
proclamation of the 25th May, the Home Government 
appear to have been so well satisfied with his explanation,, 
that the recal of the proclamation was subsequently 
countermanded, if it had not already taken place, by a 
despatch to Grovemor Carmichael; and in about two 
years afterwards Mr. Bentinck was nominated governor 
of Berbice. On quitting Demerara, an address was pre- 
sented to him by the inhabitants, but its publication was 
prohibited by Governor Carmichael, who considered its 
language offensive to the Home Government. 

In the course of this year the Courts of Justice were 
remodelled after the following manner: 

Ist. The Courts of Justice of Demerara and Essequeba 
were imited into one, to be held at the former place. 

2nd. The office of president of the Court of Justice 
was made separate from that of the governor. 

3rd. The English language was substituted for the 
Dutch in legal pleadings, &c. 

The first president appointed was Thomas Franckland, 
Esq. His salary was fixed at 80,000 guilders, half to 
be paid from the Sovereign's chest, and the other half 
from the colonial chest. 

In consequence of the abolition of so many offices, and 
the reduction of establishments in Essequebo, a saving 
was effected to the colony of 100,000 guilders annually 
in the way of salaries. There were about 18,000 slaves 
in Essequebo at this period. 


The districts of Demerara and Essequebo were united 
on the 28th April of this year. Their formerly separate 
institutions were consolidated, and the name of the former 
capital of Demerara, Stabroek, was changed to George- 
town. But while the bonds of union between these two 
settlements were drawn closer, a serious quarrel existed 
with Berbice, the cause of which arose about the payment 
of the expenses incurred in the bush expedition of 1810, 
already alluded to. It appears that some of the inha- 
bitants of Berbice refused their proportion of the money, 
which so exasperated the Demerarians, that a procla- 
mation of one of the courts was issued, declaring that 
such Berbiceans should be exiled from Demerara. This 
order was, however, suspended by Governor Carraichael^ 
who did everything in his power to reconcile the differ* 
ences which unhappily existed. The matter was subse- 
quently referred to the British Grovemment, and the 
governor gave full explanations about it in his despatches 
to London. 

The vessels of war formerly stationed off the rivers 
and coasts to protect these settlements having been 
withdrawn, the colonies of Demerara and Berbice were 
blockaded by American privateers, who captured several 
vessels laden with sugar. But they were finally attacked 
and chased away by colonial ships, voluntarily armed 
and equipped, a body of the militia having embarked as. 

The sentence of the Court of Justice on Mr. Van 
Berchel was transmitted to the Secretary of State. He 
was honourably acquitted, and Mr. Paddevort, who had 
been appointed in his place by Governor Bentinck, was 
deprived of office. Under this new appointment the 
fiscal, instead of being paid by fees, &c., as formerly, was 
to receive an annual salary of 27,000 guilders. Mr. A. 
M. Meertens was also nominated first ezploiteur, or mar{ 


fihal. Governor Carmichael at the same time forwarded 
an application to England respecting the amount of sa- 
lary he was to receive, and was informed that he wasf 
only entitled to 12,000 guilders, being half the amount' 
respectively paid to the former governors, Beaujon and 

The Imperial Government being at this period at war 
with the United States of America, it was decreed that 
any coin or bullion seized in American vessels should be 
delivered over to the senior officer of the commissariat 
department, who was empowered to draw or deposit 
bills on the Lords of the Treasury for the amount. 

Governor Carmichael in the coiurse of this year issued 
a proclamation on his own authority abolishing the ex« 
istence of the College of Financial Representatives, and 
constituting the College of Keizers to act in that capacity. 
He also extended the right of suflrage to all persona 
papng an* income-tax on 10,000 guilders, or who had 
twenty-five slaves in possession. The incorporation, how- 
ever, of the two colleges, or the combination of their 
originally distinct functions into one, was not approved 
of in England; nevertheless, the governor received no 
order to repeal it, but in a despatch dated 25th Novem«> 
ber, 1812, he was censured for exercising such a stretcb 
of authority, and was ordered not to attempt such inno- 
vations in future without the sanction and authority of 
the British Government. This censure was in some 
degree qualified by a complimentary recc^ition of the 
manner in which he had suppressied a feeling of insub- 
ordination which at the instigation of some white per« 
sons had lately displayed itself in the colony, and ex-> 
pressions of approbation were bestowed upon him fc^ 
the system he had adopted for the protection of the co^ 
lony against any attack on the part of the Americans. 

In the same year that Governor Carmichael, having 


grants or allowances whicli might be offered by the co* 

On the 24th August, Grovemor Murray announced to 
the Court of Policy that he had been appointed to Ber- 
bice, and having retired, Colonel Codd was sworn in as 
acting governor, and continued to administer the ordi- 
nary business of the colony until the 9th of DecembeTj 
when Brigadier-General Murray returned from Berbioe, 
and exhibited to the Court of Policy his commission as 
Lieutenant-Governor of Demerara and Essequebo. 

His efforts to obtain so rich an appointment in lien of 
the comparatively insignificant one in point of pay of a 
brigadier-general were at length successful, and he was 
duly installed in his easy and lucrative office. His efforts 
to please were incessant, and he lost no opportunity of 
ingratiating himself in the good opinions both of the 
colonists and the Home Government. .His administra- 
tion continued without interruption until the 26th July, 
1815, when, at an extraordinary meeting of the Court of 
Policy, the lieutenant-governor informed the members 
that, in consequence of orders received from England to 
proceed to another part of the West Indies on offidal 
business, he would be obliged to leave the colony for a 
short time, during which period the administration of 
the government would be confided to the senior military 
officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Codd, who was introduced to 
the court, and took the usual oatibi of office. 

This gentleman continued his services as acting liei^ 
tenant-governor until the 3rd October, when Brigadier- 
General Murray returned and resiuned his duties. 

Among the numerous parties emigrating from Europe 
to this colony a large proportion was from Scotland, for 
the most part of humble extraction, uneducated, and glad 
to accept of any opening that presented itself; they ex- 
emplified the well-known caution and parsimony of their 


face, and, fix)m the humblest, gradually rose to fill some 
of the highest situations. Possessing in a marked manner 
the shrewdness and tact necessary to personal aggrandise « 
ment, they may, as a class, be considered to* have been 
the most successful of all the settlers in the country; and 
it is only where by mixture and association that their 
character became somewhat modified or deteriorated 
that they failed in any instance. Singularly enough, 
however, there is perhaps no class of European emigrants 
that has undergone such changes in their natural habits. 
The reserve, the temperance, the zeal for religion 
which characterised them in their own country, became 
gradually obliterated in their translation to this colony. 
They still associated together, and sustained eadi other 
in the true spirit of nationality, canying this principle of 
cohesion indeed so far that the shrewd n^^jroes applied 
the term of Sootehmen to the large shrimps which they 
were in the habit of hawking about for sale, because of 
the habits of these creatures in clinging one to the other. 
But, separated from the austere influence of domestic 
examples at home, and cast into a community very dif- 
ferently organised, they plunged as readily as others into 
the vortex of dissipation. In reference to a great many, 
it may be observed, that much of this change was owing 
to the fact ci their being introduced on their arrival to a 
footing in society, and to a mode of living to which they 
had been pievioualy strangers in ^ Auld Reekie." Min« 
glingin more pretending and extravagant circles, and 
living in a style superior to that in which they had been 
brought up, they soon came to lose that simplicity and 
sobriety of cliarairit4^r which, as a nation, they have so 
meritoriously maintained. They have been more succesa- 
iul in business notwithstanding than most of the other 
settlers- from Engtond or Ireland, but they have also 
encountered greater reverses, and, although forming a 

X 2 


majority of the white population, they have failed to 
impart their nationality to the colony. 

In reference to the Scotch, it may not be out of place 
here to alltide to an event which occurred about this 
period, and which at once illustrates the characteristic 
recklessness of the Gaelic race, and the abnormal con- 
dition of the society in which they now occupied so pro- 
minent a position. 

When Herr Van Berchel was fiscaal of Demerara and 
Essequebo, he had occasion to prosecute some gentlemen 
from Berbice for illegal conduct; they failed to answer 
the summons for their appearance before the Court of 
Justice, and sentence of outlawry was pronounced against 
them. Determined to be revenged, several of these gen- 
tlemen (for such was their position in life) actually con- 
cocted a conspiracy to proceed to Georgetown and to 
cut off the ears and nose of the unfortunate fiscaal. The 
plan was deeply laid, and very nearly succeeded. The 
conspirators, chiefly from Berbice, arrived in the river at 
night, and when everything was quiet, proceeded to the 
residence of their victim, who, with his family and ser- 
vants, were asleep. The noise they made on entering 
the house fortimately awoke the inmates. The fiscaal, 
apprised of his danger, got out of his chamber, and when 
the conspirators entered his bed-room, they encountered 
only his wife. The lady was an excellent linguist, and 
understanding the language they spoke, listened in terror 
and astonishment to their words, but still, by the force of 
her presence of mind, preserved an appearance of com- 
posure. It is asserted by some, that the lady being of 
rather a masculine appearance, was at first taken for her 
husband, and rather rudely handled. They soon disco- 
vered their mistake, however, and finding that their prey 
had escaped, they were about to search the house, where 
they would assuredly have found their victim, who Jiad 


merely crept out of sight into a lobby, when the sound 
of a gun was heard. Supposing it for the morning gun, 
while, in fact, it proved to be the signal of the arrival of 
the monthly sailing-packet, they were seized with con- 
sternation, and fled. An alarm was immediately given 
by the servants to the military guard, for there were no 
poUce at this period; but no attempt was made to arrest 
the flight of the delinquents, for, as it afterwards ap- 
peared, the officer in command was a Scotchman, and 
evidently aware of the plot. The conspirators were 
thus allowed to make good their retreat; and, although 
a reward of 500/. was offered for their discovery, and 
other efforts were made to trace them, they found meand 
to evade the ends of justice. The incident made a great 
sensation at the time, and shows us clearly the lawless 
state of things that prevailed at that period. 

Among other advantages which the advent of the 
British brought to the colony, must be particularly men- 
tioned the introduction of an increased number of Euro- 
pean women. ' The Dutch had to encounter too many 
difficulties and dangers on their first arrival, to think of 
holding out any inducement to the female members of 
their families to join them in their new abodes. The 
inevitable consequence was the formation of illicit am- 
nexions between the settlers and the native and slave 
women, which led to a most anomalous and depraved 
state of society, and which was destined to entail muck 
subsequent discontent on the social community. If, as 
Lord Bacon has it in his profoimd essays, " wives are 
young men's mistresses, companions for middle age, and 
old men's nurses," it must be apparent, that to seek such 
ties among the rude natives, or the uncivilised African 
slaves, was only to involve the children of such unions 
m degradation and misery. The Dutch, probably, had 
heard of the saying of one of the ancients, who, when 


asked at what time a man should marry, replied, ^' A 
young man not yet, an older roan not at aU;" but it was 
peiiiaps as much from necessity as choice that coloured 
and black women became the mistresses of most of the 
old colonists, and many curious anecdotes are related of 
the companionships thus formed between them. 

The arrival of European females was calculated to 
produce a gradual revolution in the tastes and habits of 
the conmiunity. It could not, however, be expected 
that the individual bred up in the coarser idea of a 
planter's life, could all at once burst the fetters that had 
bound him in his ^^ family ties,^' or hail with the most 
refined emotions the approach of female purity. In* 
veterate habit, too, was not without some influence, and 
many of the colonists had become so much accustomed 
to the coarseness with which they had allied themselves^ 
as to have lost their zest for more refined associations. 
The change, therefore, although sure and decisive in the 
end, was slow and gradual in its progress. By degrees, 
the open exhibition of vice was abandoned; a certain 
sort of sense of shame set in; the practice of pampering 
the passions of visitors and guests, which had been 
estegmed as one of the obligations of hospitality, fell 
into disuse; while the younger branches of the com-* 
munity, having now an opportunity of mixing in a 
society where their ideas and tastes would be improved 
and elevated, exhibited a desire to cultivate a species of 
domestic happiness unknown to their predecessors. The 
ceremony and condition of marriage began to exercise a 
salutary influence even over the lower classes, who, with 
their usual tendency to imitate the example of their 
superiors, soon fell into the new modes of civilised life, 
although at first they neither appreciated nor under- 
stood them. But that which was in the beginning mere 
imitation settled down at last into custom. 


The introduction of white women, however, was not 
unaccompanied by some drawbacks. Their moral in- 
fluence was obvious and considerate; but it brought 
the usual accessories of high civilisation in its train — 
jealousy, envy, and dasssprejudices. So soon as a dis« 
tinct cirde of white acquaintances was complete, it 
became an object with many amongst the coloured 
popidation to associate themselves with it; but, alas I 
for the imperfection of poor human nature I such an 
intercourse was foimd to be impracticable. ^Chaste 
women** (says Bacon) " are often proud and forward, 
as presuming upon the merits of their chastity;" and 
gentle and virtuous as was the European female, she 
was yet tinged with prudery or vanity too deep to. 
allow of her mixing with a colour and a class to which 
she considered herself superior. It is difficult to analyse 
the feelings which prompted this exclusive conduct. A 
variety of circumstances tended to keep alive such senti« 
ments. A virtuous woman was certainly not to be 
blamed for refusing to associate with the lost or degraded 
of her sex; who would censure her for endeavouring to 
avoid as much as possible such contamination ? or for 
showing her repugnance to such intercourse if accident 
happened to throw it in ha: way ? No doubt there was 
much pride, contempt, and rudeness exhibited in the 
bearing of the superior towards the inferior; but how 
otherwise, in such a state of society, was bold-fiftced aa- 
smnption or impudent intrusion to be met, especially 
when it appeared, as it frequently did, that the two 
parties were nearly on an equality in wealth and station ? 
On the one hand there was purity of conduct with of- 
fended vanity; superiority of education with narrowness 
of mind; refinement of manners with bigotry and prudery. 
On the other there was licentious conduct with exalted 


connexion; deficient knowledge with acqidred manners; 
coarseness of conduct with worldly ambition. At first 
these antagonist elements of society were not brought 
much in contact, and in after times many of the points 
of their relative position were changed; but the feelings 
of jealousy still rankled in the heart. Althoug^i an im- 
proved education and more refined maimers insensibly 
elevated the younger coloured females, it did not entitle 
them to the position in society they coveted, and were 
BO often unjustly denied. The same prejudice as to co- 
lour also influenced the men, but never to the same de- 
gree, and in later times more stirring occupations and 
the necessity for closer intimacy in business dissipated 
all feelings of distinction. 

The question of colour has been too much mixed up 
with that of class. In the early social state men were 
necessarily divided, as they are now, by their avocations 
and pursuits. It is no matter of surprise that, at first/ 
the higher classes should be startled to see some of the 
members fi:om the lower order raised, either by con- 
nexion or wealth, to a level with themselves ; and the 
earher the period at which this elevation took place, the 
greater the surprise and the more bitter the resistance. 
At length, however, it became apparent that the circum- 
stances of society were undergoing an organic alteration, 
that whilst one class was sinking the other was rising, 
and that the time would come when they must meet.' 
If the junction was more rapid than had been expected, 
or the collision was too sudden, it certainly did not tend 
to cast them apart again, or to fling them back to their 
original position. The contact caused each at first to 
recoil, but moral laws and adventitious circumstances 
again brought them together. Whilst, therefore, it seems 
hard to taunt the whites with unnecessary prudery and- 


pride in their communion with those of another class, it 
is also wrong to ascribe to the coloured race an unfitness, 
either by nature or education, to rank with the white. 

Longe mihi alia mem eat. 

The superiority in intelligence, morality, and social 
position long remained with the white, and the prejudice 
against colour was chiefly removed by their own ex- 
ertions. Many young men and women of colour were 
sent to Europe, and brought back again with an excellent 
education and polished manners, in the hope of meeting 
the reception to which their respectability entitled them. 
Their expectations were frequently firustrated, and dis- 
appointment and mortification were the only results of 
the effort to improve their condition. They found to 
their dismay that, in spite of high connexions, and the 
refinements they had acquired, they were still excluded 
fixMU what was considered the "first society," and thus 
doomed to solitary seclusion, or to descend to inferior 
intercourse; it is not to be marvelled at that they should- 
lose all the advantages they had gained, and relapse into 
their former degradation. Surrounded by temptations 
of all kinds, exposed to profligacy and to dissipation, they 
fell from their high vantage ground into the lowest and 
most immoral habits. Nor was this all. The very per- 
sons who had driven them into this condition were 
amongst the very first to reproach them with its conse- 
quences. There was nothing left to the coloured race 
but to vindicate their natural claims by the maintenance 
of their own self-respect in the observance of irreproach- 
able morality in their conduct. And it is greatly to their 
honour that they lived down the obloquy and contempt 
which, in this period of transition, was so unworthily 
heaped upon them. Many instances occurred in which 
persons of colour of both sexes, by the mere weight and 


force of their exemplary lives, intermarried with some of 
the most respectable inhabitants of British Ouiana. The 
question of colour was not always to operate as a social 

QatmTU ille niger, qnmuiTit ia eandidiu i 
O, formotus poer! nlDiaiii ne crede ocilori; 
Alba liffwln oidaat, VaocmU nigra teigiiiitsr. 

A new element sprang out of these unions. The 
children, born of parents who were themselves bom in 
the colony, received the name of " Creoles,** and the term 
is applied indiscriminately to all children, whether white, 
coloured, or black. Europeans are apt to attach the 
idea of some particular colour to the word " Creole/' 
This is a vulgar error. The word Creole (Spanish, cri- 
ollo) is derived from the verb " criar," which, both in 
Spanish and Portuguese, signifies to breed, to create, or 
to produce; and is applied ft) native Americans, or, in- 
deed. West Indians descended from "Old. World" parents. 
In Portuguese especially, a creole is understood to be 
" Pessoa nasdda nas Indias ocddentaes ** — a person bom 
in the Western Indias, although singularly enough the 
Portuguese word ^^criola," is often Englishified — a home* 
bom slave.* 

The Creole of European extraction is a compound of 
the nation of his parents, modified greatly by the climate 
in which he is bom, and the habits of life in which he ia 
educated. The intelligence he derives firom his parents 
is quickened by local circumstances, and brought to ma- 
turity at an earlier period of life than in other countries. 
From his childhood he is accustomed to see himself sur- 
roimded by dependents or flatterers, with few persons to 
restrict his inclinations or to correct his judgment. Left 
to himself, without much stimulus to exertion, he wastes 

* The following Temarks are intended chieflr to apply to the endia in tioMi of 
slarery. It ia to be hoped that the Creoles of the praaent day hate mon ntioiiat 


his eiiergy in frivolous pursuits or empty pleasures, oftetr 
approaching to dissipatibn. Under the im{»'essk>n that 
he is exclusive lord of the soil to which he is bom, he 
awaits the approach of fortune without making any efforts 
to seek it. If sent to Europe to study at an early age, he 
is often placed with those who have not the same means 
at command ; and whilst the European child feels he 
has to work for the Aiture, the creole fancies he has 
nothing to do but to enjoy the pleasures of the world. 
Bearing with him fix)m his native country the listlessness, 
languor, and indolence of his temperament, he never 
rouses himself sufficiently to compete with more energetic 
dispositions; hence he is invariably outstripped in the 
race of life. Estranged from his parents' fostering care 
at an early age, he becomes forgetfiil or heedless of their 
love. The master of an ideal imiverse, he lives and dwells 
upon the fantastical creations of his brain rather than 
encounter the stem realities of existence. His heart is 
cold toward his kindred, for he has been long separated 
from them ; his patriotism is languid, because his native 
land equals not in splendour and luxury the nations he 
has visited; generous to a fault, he is unjust to him* 
self ; eager in temperament, he is incapable of exer« 
tion ; impetuous in his impulses, he is deficient in perse« 
veraiice; quick of intelligence, he is slow in judgment 
and reasoning; not wanting physical capability, he is 
lazy in mental and bodily applications; humble in pre- 
tension, he is proud in spirit. ^^ Every indolent nation 
(says the author of the ^ Esprit des Lois') is haughty, 
for those who do not work themselves consider them- 
selves as the sovereign of those who are laborious." This 
philippic was applied to the Spaniards, but is not inap- 
plicable to the Creoles ; their abilities qualify them for 
distinction, but their indolence prevents them from ob* 
tainingit; and when called back to his own country. 


after an experience of European life, lie becomes indif- 
ferent, supercilious, and extravagant, and lias neither the 
will nor the energy to avert present evil or to secure 
future good. 

The Creoles, as a class, have done little towards 
changing in any way the social or moral condition of the 
colony. It is a remarkable fact that all the revolutions 
in taste and habits, in the moral as well as the intellectual 
circle, have been introduced by strangers fix)m other 
countries. So far the mixture of races has effected some 
good; prejudices have worn off by mutual contact, and 
corresponding benefits have flowed in upon all classes. 







The influx of European settlers, and the occasional im- 
portation of African labourers, together with the intro- 
duction of British capital and improved machinery in the 
working of estates, soon led to great improvements. If 
we consider the wealth which could at this period be 
readily amassed (the amount of capital invested in the 
cultivation of cotton, coffee, and sugar, being commonly 
doubled in ten years, and often in five), the luxuries, and 
high style of living among the planters, the gaieties of 
the higher classes, and the contentment and general 
well-doing of the lower, this era may be r^arded as thc^ 

318 Distort of BRitiSH ouiaka. 

commencement of the golden age of the colony, which, 
whilst it was to last for some years, eventually led to a 
great revolution in manners, sentiments, and position. 
But whilst the horn of plenty was full, whilst the heart 
was satisfied with its present gratification, those very 
steps were commenced which afterwards led to misfor- 
tune. The mind, slumbering in its dream of happiness, 
was not fortifying itself against those revolutions which 
time was sure to bring. The lull, of security concealed a 
new and unexpected danger. 

Tired, perhaps, of the monotony of acquiring wealth 
on such easy terms, the proprietors of estates now for the 
first time betrayed a desire to launch into a wider sphere; 
and, leaving their properties in the hands of agents, many 
of them retired from colonial life to live in European 
circles, and vie with the artistocracy of England. The 
agents or attorneys, also called Q. Q/s, upon whom the 
management of their properties devolved, were allowed 
liberal salaries to superintend the working of the several 
plantations, and to forward the produce to their em- 
ployers, or to the merchants in England. This was a 
proceeding fraught with indefinite eviL It was rea- 
sonable that large capitalists, mercantile houses^ or 
companies, investing money in West India property, 
should have their agents on the spot to negotiate their 
business. It was also excusable that parties who had 
already acquired immense wealth, and who really were 
unable to spend their incomes in such a limited com- 
mimity, should return to their native shores; but the 
fascinating example was followed by numbers whose 
positions in life were not so independent^ and who^ by 
establishing a system of living far beyond what was war- 
ranted either by present prosperity or future prospects, 
soon laid the foundation of inevitable ruin to themselves 
and families. The principle of absenteeism, so injurious 


to most oountries, was practised on a small scale in the 
West, and involved the owners of property in all the 
horrors of debt, mortgages, law-suits, and poverty. 

The colonist rejected the name of settler ; he aspired 
to the title of proprietor; the profitable revenue of his 
estate was calculated by him to last for a life of luxury 
and splendour in Europe, and to be transmitted in per- 
petuity to his children unchanged and unimpaired. It 
is true that the remarkable changes of the future coiild 
not then have been predicted; but the discussion of 
questions of vital importance to the West Indies had 
already began ; and, although the change was far off, it 
might even then have been anticipated. 

Moreover, the mind of the slave was undergoing 
gradual alteration ; his condition, looked upon in a physi- 
cal sense, was far from bad ; nay, it was enviable compared 
with that of the peasant in many countries. In health 
he had food, raiment, protection from the weather, with 
days of relaxation and amusement In illness he was 
tended with care and kindness. Old age was not dreaded, 
but awaited without anxiety; when imable any longer to 
work, he was humanely provided for, and he quitted his 
earthly career full of years, and without one care in his 
heart concerning those he left behind. The following is 
a testimonial in &vour of their condition by a visitor to 
that country about this period: — ^ As we passed up the 
river (the Demerara), we landed at several of the small 
plantations, and purchased plantains. The people were 
cheerful and happy. In my opinion they had good cause; 
for they were, indeed, the children of ease and plenty.** 

Again, another writer of a later date, speaking of their 
general condition, stated : — ^ They have comfortaUe 
houses, raise as much feathered stock as they like, have 
their nets to catch fish, and as much ground as they 
eboose to till; tih^ have also oStea a day, or half a dayi 


given them to cultivate yams, cassava, arrowroot, &c., 
for their own use and disposal, besides their allowance of 
food weekly. 

" The working people are not generally sent to work 
till half-past six in the morning, in which case they get 
their breakfast before they go, and come home at twelve. 
After remaining an hour and a half they go out again, 
and come home in the evening about six o'clock. Some- 
times they go out earlier, and have more time in the 
middle of the day: in the time of crop the most able 
people are divided into spells to do the work about the 
buildings, in order that it may not come to their turns 
more than twice or thrice a week; nightwork is as much 
avoided as possible, and the women favoured in every 
way, particularly those with children. I have alwajrs 
thought, and still do think, that the negroes are far better 
off than our labouring class at home, as they are provided 
for in every way as long as they live; they are never pre- 
vented from going to see their friends from one estate to 
another on Sundays, or during the week after work is 
done. Every working negro receives 2 lbs. of good salt 
fish, the head persons 4 lbs., and the children 1 lb. a week ; 
when this cannot be obtained, pork, beef, henings, or other 
things in proportion. Upon those estates where there were 
plantains the proprietors have generally allowed them to 
use as many as they require, and where they would not 
grow in sufficient quantity, they have been purchased, qis 
they prefer them to any other vegetable: the head people 
got two glasses of rum a day, and the rest of the gang gene- 
rally one, and in bad weather, in crop time, sometimes 
two. Salt, pipes, tobacco occasionally, and extra allow- 
ances at the holidays, namely, at Christmas, Easter, and 
Whitsimtide. On these occasions they amuse themselves 
in any way they like without restraint. The working 
people get a coniplete suit of clothes annually, and double 


allowance to the head men. Linen, checks, osnaburgs, 
salem pores, needles and thread to the whole, with a 
blanket to each every second year, and occasionally 
knives, razors, scissors, looking-glasses, iron pots and 
fish-hooks to the grown people, 

" The quantity of labour required firom one able man 
on a sugar estate is to hole or bank for canes across from 
forty to forty-five roods, to weed canes about one-sixth 
of an acre ; in digging out drains in canes, coffee, and 
cotton about twenty-five roods, say two feet wide, and 
one shovel deep; new navigable or draining trenches a 
rood square of about two feet depth; in digging old ones 
it is regulated by the state they are in. Weeding coffee 
one-eighth of an acre, and cotton about the same. Weed- 
ing plantains one quarter of an acre, but it depends upon 
the heaviness of the grass; in fact, these things are regu- 
lated by a person's judgment more than by any particular 
rule; at any rate, I am sure a labourer at home would 
do more than any two of them that I have ever seen. 
There is always a medical man employed to attend the 
sick on every estate, who resides as near the centre of 
his practice as he ,can, and visits the hospital every se- 
cond day, or oftener if necessary ; whatever he orders, 
either as medicine or nourishment, is given to the pa- 
tients, such as wine, porter, beer, bread, flour, rice, sago, 
fowl, &c. 

"They have a comfortable hospital, rooms divided 
with beds and bedding, and careful nurses to attend and 
take care of them. The head overseer goes with the 
doctor to the hospital to see his prescriptions attended 
to, and I have known, where cases required it, of another, 
and sometimes two, medical men being called in, besides 
the one practising for the estate." 

The moral condition of the slave was, however, but 
knper&ctly watched over. The missionaries alone at* 

VOL. I. T 


tended to the religious wants of the negroes, although 
much opposed and objected to by the planters; indeed, 
an antipathy always existed between the latter and the 
former. A planter writing of the labours of this sect of 
Christians, observes, ^' Some attended the missionary 
chapels, which I never prevented, though I never had 
any good opinion as to their doctrine, but have observed 
that they did not teach them anything to their advantage, 
for they did not behave so well afterwards as theiy did 
before." It has been already shown that ever since the 
introduction of the London missionaries, in 1808, there 
had existed feelings of antagonism between them and the 
inhabitants in general. They were regarded, however 
unjustly, by the latter as spies upon their conduct, as the 
paid emissaries of a class in England opposed in principle 
to the system of forced labour in the West Indies. Their 
reception by the planter was cold and formal; their asso- 
ciation with the negro was hailed by them with the most 
cordial and enthusiastic attachment. And no wonder, 
it was the first instance of the white man mixing on 
terms of equality and cordiality with the n^ro dave--- 
the first example of the educated Eiux)pean holding oat 
the hand of fellowship to the ignorant and uncivilised 
son of Afiica. 

The condition of the slave, however improved in phy- 
sical and temporal advantages, was yet notoriously n^- 
lected in a moral and religious point of view. So thought 
the missionaries, and in accordance with such convictions 
they preached. The shout of liberty resounding fix>m 
other and far-distant shores had reached their ears, and 
stimulated by its alluring voice, they took upon them^ 
selves to prepare the way for the contemplated changes 
in the negro race. Estimable as was their charactav 
virtuous as were their intentions, it cannot be denied 
that their conduct was deficient in judgment and pro^ 


dence. Carried away by the enthusiasm and holiness of 
their cause, they grasped too suddenly at the prize, and 
without the patience or the perseverance to prepare the 
mind and heart of the slave for the boon of freedom, 
they offered it abruptly to the feelings and passions of 
uncivilised men. They awakened the slave to a sense 
of his degraded position in the scale of mankind. They 
inculcated doctrines of equality and liberty at variance 
with the laws in existence, and opposed to the spirit of 
authority then so predominant. They could not preach 
the doctrine of Christ crucified to men whose hearts were 
branded with the stamp of slavery without uttering 
anathemas against its injustice and inhumanity. They 
presented the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and 
evil to ever curious man, and persuaded him to taste, 
eat, and live. 

Not indeed suddenly, but by degrees, did the negro 
dare to entertain such flattering views of future happi- 
ness. Slavery began gradually to be felt as a wrong 
and an opprobium, a yoke too hard to be borne pa- 
tiently; but such ideas had not emanated wholly from 
the suffering — ^they had been suggested to and excited 
in him by a class superior to himself The state of free- 
dom, fax fit>m being properly understood and fruthfrdly 
represented, was r^arded wholly as a state of happiness. 
Habits of industry were not inculcated as necessary to 
its frdfilment. Its obligations, its duties, its intentions 
were overlooked. The transition was too startling; the 
object too brilliant to be patiently or gradually waited 
for. Hence arose in the minds of the slaves faint and 
imperfect notions of emancipation; crude and ill-digested 
notions of freedom. Like to a man who has been long 
following a humble pursuit, and who has suddenly pre- 
sented to him an unexpected field of ambition, he soon 
loses all taste for his former homely avocations, and pur- 



flues with eagerness and without discretion the new ob- 
ject so temptingly held out to him. His former toil is 
no longer supportable, his ideas are unsettled, his arm is 
ready to seize what his heart desires, and passive sub- 
mission ceases to be possible. So felt the negro slave, 
and however unwarranted his bearing or opinions, how- 
ever mistaken his object, we should make every allow- 
ance for the frailty of human nature and the working of 
human passions. The spark was kindled which was ia 
a few years to break out into the flame of open rebellion, 
and however unwilling we may be to ascribe it to any 
one particular cause, there cannot now remain a doubt 
that the breath of European eloquence first &nned that 
spark into flame, and added fuel to its fury. 

But how was the white man and the master employed 
at the time when this change was being wrought on his 
dependent? The British, in mixing freely with the oldar 
Dutch colonists, and entering into their views of cul- 
tivation, had also adopted many of their habits, hence 
the practice of the generality was guided by the example 
set them by others. Habits of early rising were acquired, 
and the freshness of the morning air, qualified by a dram 
either of gin or brandy, a system of luxurious and dis- 
sipated living was pursued, and a night of carousing often 
followed. The night of hospitality and conviviality 
continued, perhaps a little modified by the presence of 
European women. The haughty domineering manner 
exercised over their dependents of all classes by the 
Dutch was, if not fiilly adopted by the British, certainly 
not discoimtenanced by them ! With the former, it had 
been always a rule as well as a practice never to allow of 
any familiarity between the white man and the negro. 
The probabilities of such an intercourse leading (accord- 
ing to the well-known proverb) to contempt was evi- 
dently uppermost in the mind of the master. A curioufr. 
instance of this homely adage occurred once in a dispute 


^«rhich took place between an imperious planter and a 
cannie Scotchman, his dependent. There had never 
existed any cordial feeling between the two parties, and 
upon the subject of their difierence the planter, forgetting 
Ills dignity in bis passion, made use of some very hard 
names, which the dependent patiently bore. At last 
some cutting invective roused the Scotchman, who, 
putting himself in an attitude of independence, and 
recalling to a confused memory the little learning of 
bygone years, exclaimed, by way of learned rebuke, 
** Tut, gude man 1 tut 1 ye dinna ken that too much 
familiarity breeds despise." 

The prudent and methodical Dutchman, too proud to 
be familiar, and too serious to ^' make fun" with his slave, 
was surrounded by a halo of colonial etiquette that at 
once enhanced his own importance and subdued the 
spirit of others. The stiffiiess and inflexible gravity of 
his deportment have been chilling to the warm impulse 
of the African negro, and hence the most servile atten- 
tion was proffered by the latter and accepted as a matter 
of course by the sedate Hollander. Such expressions as 
<< Me kiss you bottom foot f ^^ Oh for a mighty massa no 
do so to a-*wee," indicate the abject feelings impressed 
upon the slave in earlier times ; but when the English 
came it was a matter of surprise, if not alarm, to the 
Dutchman to witness the condescension and often hu- 
morous confidence established between the owner and 
his slave, and the one, naturally inclined by his tempera- 
ment to receive the advances of the servant, was checked 
by the example and, no doubt, political conduct of the 
other. The Dutch, however, no longer the only possessors 
of the soil, were gradually yielding to the force of circimi- 
stances, and the habits and situations of authority so 
long belonging to the privileged class, were likewise 
interfered with by the British Government 

An English lawyer, his Honour Jabez Henry, arrived 


£x)m England to fill the appointment of president of the 
courts of justice, and 6x>m this circumstance may be 
dated the first amalgamation of anything like the Engliffh 
laws upon the old Dutch or Boman code, which| however, 
long continued to be the prevailing legal authoxity in this 
colony. In May of the same year, also, was oompletedl 
the final abolition of the slave trade, another circumstance 
fraught with the most important consequence to the 
community. The following year ( 1814), by an additional 
article to a convention between Great Britain and the 
Netherlands, signed at London on the 13th August, 
Demerara, Essequebo, and Berbice were ceded to Great 
Britain, but on condition that the Dutch proprietors 
should have liberty, under certain r^ulations, to trade 
with Holland. Thus gradually were h&ng relinquished 
all pretension on the part of that nation any longer to the 
right and power to exerdse a moral, political, or social 
influence over a land converted by them £ix>m a swampy 
marsh into a cultivated and rich district, and over a people 
transplanted by them from the land of Afiica, to receive 
civilisation and liberty, if not for themsdvesy yet for their 
children. The industry of centuries on thdr part, the 
institution of years, the habits and manners so long 
stamped upon society by the enterprising Hollander, 
were to be given up for ever to the different policy of 
another country, foreign in temperament and in manners. 
A series of British governors had an important effect 
npon the various classes of society, and certainly greatly 
contributed to their advancement and progress. But 
however much the colony has risen in the scale of civili- 
sation, it cannot be denied that, with the supremacy, of 
Dutch power and authority, passed away many solid and 
substantial advantages. It is no idle compliment to the 
old Dutch colonists to remark, that much of the future 
prosperity of the colony arose fix)m the foimdations whichi 
they had laid with so much energy, perseverance, and ekilL 



To their untiring zeal and indomitable industry we 
owe the ezirtenoe of the present plantations; and it is a 
question whether, since die arrival of the British, the 
colony generally has ever presented the same thriving 
and prosperous appearance that it did in the time of the 
calumniated Dutch. 

The following table shows the fixed salaries for the 
service of the year 1815: 

Table showing the Fixed Salaries for the Year 1815 paid hj the 



Lteu»-goT.(puiof hiisftluy) 


Hit honour |Il« prMid«iit 


First tm^l .,.,*-. 


Sef-^nd ditto 


The droMard 


The Koui 


The gaoler 


Tlio wjTcn dieimaw, 1 300 gtiU- 

dera each 


The (TIM J Burgeon , * . , 


Coloiiiai sexton 




Keeper of arcldTcs of Eoie- 



FitiantnAl accountant ^ * , 


K^icordor orphan chamber . 


Clerk to ditto 


Adjutant -gener&t , . . . 


Two town over«eeri^ l&OO 







InapcctoT-ircneTttl . . - . 


Colunj bou»e*keepflT , - - 


Colony aargeon 


AiaiatAot ditto 


Three poatholden, 3200 guil- 

der* each 


Two niibUnli 


Pwtholder Morocco Siid aa- 



loflpector of beacoii . * . 





OolonT apenti in London, 
SOOJ. Exchange. 12 guUdert 

to the 1/. eat'h . . . , 


Master of oiail-boflt . < . 


MflTiajfcr of workhouse - p 


The clock-maker . . > , 


fSuperintendcntof pUot* . , 
Carried forwsni , . 



Brought forward . 
A«^1ataTl^uU^y toaiakstanu 

po#t holder 

Fetuiooa .*,,.. 


Mfljor- general ^ . . < 
Offictre of fiOth Kegiment 
Engineer, ordinance, and ar- 


Oommitfary ditto . . 
Barrack -muter * . . 
Hoipital ataff . - . 
Brigade chAploin . * 
Clergymen . * > . 

NaTy * 

Aide-dc-oamp . . * 
Extraordinary axpenass 
Colony houK eipenaea 
Expcnac of roads . . 
Expenaes of juatice . . 
Hepairn of public buildtngt 
Fre«cata Lo Indiana , ^ 
Colony hoapiial , , * 
Printing expensei ^ . 
Beacon ditto * • . . 
Repairs, public bridgea 
Militia expcnaee . . . 
Poor dic'at * , , ^ , 
ReceiTere* commiaalon 
Sm:n» remitted to trustees for 

fnveittnents tn the fUndt 
Expeniea of mail-boat * * 
S&laries to Dntch clergjmeQ 

Barrack at Capocy . . . 

Annuity to Mra. Robert^m 
Loan to assist projoct<Hl canal 
Extmonlinary repairs^ public 

buildings , > , « i 
CosU of new decpatch boat 































328 HISTORY OF Burrisu quiana. 

In Berbice several officers and civilians successively 
filled the separate appointment of governors of that 
colony, a short notice of which occurs elsewhere. The 
influence exercised by such gentlemen was of an im- 
portant nature : the tone of society was improved ; the 
formality and punctiliousness of former times was ex- 
changed for the usefulness and practical exhibition of 
English authority, not enveloped in unmeaning ha/uteuTj 
or obscured by official etiquette, but showing itself in 
practical measures and social advantages. Through 
them, also, the government ascertained accurately the 
state of the colony, its true position, its wants, as well as 
its capabilities; and through their instrumentality was 
brought about, gradually, such measures of policy as 
seemed necessary to the ultimate object in view with 
reference to the colonies. It is very true that, on the 
other hand, a one-sided view was also taken of the 
actual condition of the new settlement; it is very true 
that official pride and self-sufficiency may have ofben 
given a representation of things not very flattering to the 
inhabitants — possibly not even just — and that in the 
eagerness of command and desire of approval, the one 
class on whose side already, having the sympathy of the 
British nation, were drawn in vivid colours^ whilst the 
other, opposed in England by the " Vox Populi,'* if not 
the " Vox Dei," was sketched out in gloomy and sombre 

One of the first steps taken by the governors was to 
inquire particularly into the numbers and condition of 
the slaves; an act for the registration of slaves was 
passed in 1816, and in the following year a return was 
made of the inhabitants generally"* throughout these 

* This act, on the recommendation of Earl Bathorst, was sabsaqueatty 
amended on the 19th of Angnst, 1818, and the new act was published the fol* 


In Demerara and Essequebo there were, at this time, 
77,163 slaves; in Berbice 24,549 ; total 101,712, The 
free population amounted to about 8000 persons (in* 
eluding the whites); total 110,000. In the following 
year (1817) there was an appraisement and census taken 
of Georgetown, but from this period the number of 
slaves gradually decreased, notwithstanding considerable 
annual importations. The two colonies with such a 
labouring population were decidedly more flourishing 
than they have ever been since; for out of such a number 
of slaves much forced labour was extracted* 

A change came over the agriciJtural prospects of the 
country about this period. It has been seen that a large 
majority of the estates were in cotton cultivation, which 
had long yielded a splendid profit. The author of the 
"History of the West Indies** makes out an annual profit 
of fourteen per cent. ; but it was probably more than 
that. The great and increasing demand for such a use- 
ful article in Europe led others also to attempt its culture 
on a large scale. Among the most successful in this en- 
deavour was the United States of America, who rapidly 
filled the markets, and greatly undersold the West 
Indians (the colonists in this oolony included); a revolu- 
tion in agricultural affairs was the consequence. Some of 
the cotton properties were converted into sugar estates; 
others were converted into cattle fiums. British capitalists 
soon found a profitable investment of money in the manu^ 
facture of sugar, which was gradually to supersede the 
growth of the other. The gold then rapidly poured 
through this channel to the west soon repaid the activity 
and enterprise of speculators* Another sure road to 
fortune seemed to be discovered. The goddess of wealth 
still smiled upon the planter, increased commercial inter* 

lowiDg October. In the- jear 1817 the taUiy of the r^giiinr appointed bj the 
gOTemor WM flze^l^ the Combined Court el SOOf. per annum. 


course ensued, and ever3rthing went gaily as a ^^ mamiage 
belL" The spirit of gain, urging on man to penetrate 
into these long desolate regions, was also unwittingly 
leading him to be the means of civilising a land of such 
promise and grandeur. 

Whilst luxury and comfort, however, abounded among 
the owners or representatives of property, the young man 
who was yet on the first step of the ladder had a weary 
and troublesome ascent before him* Quitting a home of 
civilisation, perhaps of oomfisTt, he commenced life in 
this country as an overseer; that is a kind of superin- 
tendent of the allotted work of the slaves. He. arose at 
dawn of day, and followed his gang of labourers to their 
place of toil, &r away in the back lands, on the verge of 
untrodden forests ; exposed to the burning sun or temp 
pestuous rain, he remained for hours in the open air, 
encouraging the active, stimulating the lazy, and sub- 
duing the refractory. His arm of power was the whip, 
either pUed by himself or by a headman. The deep 
drain had to be dug, the luxuriant soil tilled, the rich 
cane planted, or cut down. Worn out with fiitigue, he 
returned at a late hour to recruit exhausted nature, and 
throw himself into lus hammock or cot It is no wonder 
that the monotony of the day's occupation was too oflen 
varied by the excitement of a night's carousal, which, 
often renewed, laid the seeds of future disease, or hurried 
him to an untimely grave. The house of the manager 
was his only society, and here he was oftener treated as 
an outcast than as a friend or equaL His few friends 
were his brother overseers on the same or neighbouring 
plantations. Isolated from the means of improvement^ 
and gradually becoming indifferent to its pleasures, he 
abandoned them for the grosser ones of sense. The 
Sundays often afforded no day of repose; he was 
expected to copy estates' books, or was otherwise em- 


ployed in writing,, and in inspecting, by way of amnse- 
ment, the plantain walks or provision grounds ; when, 
by degrees, however, a better class of persons arrived to 
fill such situations, considerable improvement was mani- 
fested. The habits acquired in such a school became 
permanent with many. Growing up to fill the rolls of 
managers, attorneys, and proprietors, they still carried 
the practice of dissipation along with them. Excessive 
drii^dng was not regarded as a vice or as prejudicial to 
health, but rather as a proof of thorough colonisation. 
It would have been comddered the height of rudeness 
and indecorum to call upon a fiiend and not to join him 
in hia brandy and water, or ^^ sangaree." No matter what 
the hour, or what the nimiber of visitors, every man's 
health was to be drank. It was, perhaps, owing to some 
such ezdtement that the habit of duelling became so 
prevalent at one epoch in this country ; a look, a word, 
a laugh, often led to a bitter quarrel, which was only to 
be decided by the law of the pistoL Parties have been 
even known to " turn out,*' as it is termed, whilst in a 
state of intoxication, and only to awaken firom their mad- 
ness to find themselves hastening unto death. It is 
possible that something of a military spirit also led to 
this, for, humble and domestic as were the duties of a 
planter or a merchant, yet the fact of being incorporated 
as '^ militia" may have led men to assume some, at leasts 
of the propensities of Mars and ^' honida bella." It has 
been seen that firom an early period the necessity of a 
militia force had been felt, besides the presence of a 
regular military corps, to oppose by their discipline any 
attempt at internal insubordhiation on the part of the 
slaves; and the same precautionaiy principle established 
by the Dutch was likewise enforced by the British as 
early as the year 1799,"* when all firee persons firom the 

* FofflMfflj the ooloojr wm dirided into burglwr dhrUkmi^ eieh hftving a 

832 msTORr of bbitish guiana. 

age of sixteen to fifty-five or sixty were liable to be en- 
rolled in one or other corps of militia. 

The militia force was instituted in consequence of some 
rumours about a threatened attack on tho colony, and 
certain differences arose between members of the Court 
of Policy on this subject. Exceptions were made in 
&your of members of the Courts of Policy and Justice, 
fiscals, and other police officers, keizers, and financial 
representatives, colonial, government, and president's 
secretaries, the receiver of the king's and colonial taxes, 
book-keeper-general, the registrar of slaves, harbour- 
master, and naval officer, the officers of his Majesty's 
customs, persons in holy orders, practising physicians 
and surgeons, except as surgeons or assistant-surgeons to 
the miUtia, vendue-master and postmaster. Of the utility 
of such a body of regularly armed and disciplined men, 
there can be no question at the time, especially when 
they were raised and kept in something like military 
subordination ; and a convincing proof of this will soon 
be brought forward. The number and composition of 
the militia force varied, of course, at different periods. 
It comprised generally a company of artillery, a troop or 
more of cavalry, a rifle corps, light infantry and several 
ordinary companies, each commanded by its proper 
officers, together with a commander-in-chie^ aide-de- 
camps, adjutants ; in fact, a regular staff For the regu- 
lation and guidance of such a heterogeneous mass of 
planters, professionals, and tradesmen, a number of 
articles or rules were drawn up or enacted by the lieu- 
tenant-governor and coundl in each colony, subject, of 
course, to future amendments, or new clauses. By such 
militia regulations were established, among other things, 
the number of regiments and battalions, corps, &c., the 

separate corps, with flags of a distinguUhing colour, as red, blue, &c; but in 
1799 tbese were oiganised into a militia fbice under the British coanmaiider. 


number of companies in each, and geographical division 
of the same; the right of the governor to appoint all 
oflScers, together with their rank and number ; that every, 
estate should furnish a proportion of men fit for militia 
duty; the formation of a medical board to examine per- 
sons claiming exemption. Persons otherwise exempted 
to make oath ; the finding of arms and accoutrements ; 
estates to find means of conveyance for their servants, 
and to be provided with arms, according to the number 
of whites, or fi:ee coloured persons thereon ; the time for 
assembling; persons going to, or returning fix>m militia 
service, not liable to arrests; nature of active service; 
mode of alarms, and how to be communicated ; armed 
expedition forbidden, unless by permission of the go- 
vernor; quarterly returns, how to be made; militia 
officers bound to assist the civil power ; also to maintain 
the peace, and to take cognisance of any criminal act 
done within their division; punishment of sedition or 
disturbance, or misconduct ; penalty of sending chal- 
lenges to fight duels; punishment for non-attendance at 
parades; penalty for not obeying superior officers; or 
not appearing at parades properly armed, clothed, or< 
accoutred; or for quitting parades without leave, &c; 
regimental courts-martial ; general courts-martial ; oaths 
and other rules concerning these ; collection and appro- 
priation of fines ; modes of appeal and redress ; oaths of 
officers, &C. &a 

In connexion with the militia, fire companies were 
also formed, and the whole force in the neighbourhood 
was expected to appear on duty. 

In Berbice similar regulations existed since 1817; all 
white and free coloured male inhabitants from the age of 
16 to 60, residing in the colony and capable of bearing 
arms, were liable to serve in the militia^ such exception 
being made as above-mentioned| &c. 


The hardships of such a body were oflen severely felt 
by individuals; as, besides the expense of dress and loss 
of time, they were made frequently to endure severe 
exercise in the hot sun ; and in some years had actually, 
in consequence of the scarcity or sickness of the troops, 
to perform the duty of guarding the town. 

The ** night duty" was especially irksome; and, in the 
year 1818, a petition of the inhabitants was sent to the 
authorities, prajring to be relieved of such a baneful task. 

The object, however, being for the general good, the 
establishment of such a force was long continued, and 
only done away with by proclamation on the 22nd of 
January, 1839, in obedience to an order from England, 
dated the 29th of November, 1838; and when the neceik 
sity for its continuance was, happily, no longer leqoired.^ 
During the period of its duration^ tlie service of the 
militia waa not often practically tested ; but upon some 
occasions, and one more especially to which we are ra- 
pidly hastening, the exertions of such a body were of the 
most eminent service. As all classes of free persons were 
called upon to serve, it formed, as may be supposed, a 
' rare assemblage of sizes, colours, ages, and figures ; from 
the youthful derk, decked out in gaudy uniform, to the 
more potent captain, privileged with the additional 
ardour of a horse ; from the dark mulatto to the pale- 
&ced aide-de-camp, prancing in spurs, and plumed 
cocked hat. It was an amusing sight to see them march. 

* In the year 1817, the governor read a despatch reoeiTed from Eail Bathorst 
urging the necessity of the colony maintaining its own troops, in consequence o€ 
embarrassments ** at home." The motion to grant the necessary sum was nega- 
tived in the Court of Policy, but it was agreed that an allowance of mon^ 
should be granted to maintain 200 white troops above the number usuallv 
allotted to the colony. At a meeting of the Combined Court, held on the SOtn 
January, this motion was objected to by some of the financial representatives, 
but was carried, four of the members entering their protest. In the following 
year (1818), the Combined Court offered to maintain 300 regular Boldias, pro- 
Xided that 500 more were sent out and supported by the British Oovemment» 
but in the following year (1819) they stipulated for SOO mtn initMd of GOO. 


A profusion of perfume and perspiration filled the air ; 
and undulating lines in height, and width, and depth, 
marked their serpentine courses. There was the burly 
Falataff^ and the meagre Slender — all Shakspeare's 
men, in fact, turned loose, or disguised in various uni- 
forms. It was a pity our immortal bard never witnessed 
them; he would have written another volume of immor- 
tal plays. Another Falstaff YroxAdi. have exclaimed : — 
''If I be not ashamed of my soldiers, I am a soused 

garnet I have misused the king's press d bly. I 

pressed me none but such toasts and butter, with hearts 
in their bellies no bigger than pins' heads: and now my 
whole charge consists of ancients, corporals, lieutenants, 
gentlemen of companies, slaves (oh, no I) as ragged as 
Lazarus in the painted doth, where the glutton's dogs 
licked his sores. No eye hath seen such scarecrows. 
I'll not march thro' Coventry with them, that's flat — 
and the villains march wide between the legs, as if they 
had gyves on. Tut, tut : good enough to toss; £x)d for 
powder, food for powder; they'll fill a pit as well as 
better ; tush, man ; mortal man, mortal man." 

It has been asserted, that upon more than one occasion, 
many a grudge has been paid off by the instrumentality 
of the militia, and a merchant, armed with a ^^ little 
brief authority," has squared an account which in the 
coimting-house was more difiicult to settle. Private 
pique and private jealousy have been attributed to in- 
fluence more than one subaltern of the motley army, and 
a commissioned officer, or one in a position to command, 
often exercised his tongue in the way of abuse to an 
inferior, which, out of the stem discipline of the force, 
would perhaps not have been attempted. If one had 
the leisure or inclination to dwell on the ^^ campaign of 
the militia," many an amuiring and interesting tale would 
be divulged. It is really surprising that no wit from the. 


ranks ever fired a squib in commemoration of the " daya 
when we went soldiering, a long time ago." It is not 
improbable, as before remarked, that it was in fact owing 
to the introduction of something like a military feeling 
among the inhabitants the habit of '^ duelling'' came into 
vogue, although distinctly prohibited in the militia regu- 
lations. Whether it is by coincidence or accident, it is 
remarkable that since the abolishment of such a force 
there has been a gradual decline of hostile meetings, 
although the white population has kept increasing, and 
the causes of quarrel may be presumed to be as frequent 
now as in time gone by. Again, by analogy we are led 
to remark that in those coimtries where a national guard 
or " landwehr" exists, there is a greater disposition to 
the settling of disputes by duel, than in other countries, 
as in England, where no such military organisation 

However, be it as it may, there are too many melan- 
choly instances on record in this colony of the firequency 
and fatality of such meetings among the earlier inha* 
bitants for the present race not to rejoice at the ex- 
tinction of such rude justice, one of the relics of the 
dark or middle ages, when the dispensation of Ftovidence 
was set aside, and men, not satisfied with human or divine 
justice, left to chance what could not be decided by reason. 
" Revenge," says Bacon, " is a kind of wild justice, which 
the more man's nature runs to, the more ought law to 
weed it out; for as for the first wrong, it doth but offend 
the law, but the revenge of that wrong putteth the law 
out of office," &c. 

It is singular, however, with what callousness and 
what indifference the majority of the inhabitants wit- 
nessed the sudden termination of life imder any circum- 
stances. ^ Men have been said to fear death as children 
fear to go in the dark;" but possibly the &ct of seeing 


60 many ^ thus venture in the dark" lessens gradually the 
dread of, or the impression made by, it. The suddenness 
of disease in the colony, the rapidity of its fatal course, 
the uncertainty of its attack or termination, seemed to 
render men accustomed to its severe empire and har- 
dened to its inexorable laws. Among the few epidemics 
which swelled the harvest of the grave, the yellow fever 
was perhaps the most fatal. It is not intended in this 
place to enlarge upon this or any other disease peculiar 
to the colony; the subject is introduced here as indica- 
tive of the listlessness and apathetic feeling which per- 
vaded society in matters of life and death, and to note 
that when a severe visitation of that dreadful plague of 
the west was experienced in the year 1819,* the circle of 
gaiety and dissipation, though frequently interrupted by 
the breaking off of one of its human links, was never 
broken. Death, whilst it lessened the chain of human 
friendships and narrowed the circle, failed to impress 
upon the minds of survivors the necessity for either pre- 
cautionary measures or more prudent living. Whilst a 
few believed that temperance tended to diminish risk, 
there were others who insisted that a free course of 
living was the only chance of escape ; and, judging by 
the results, it is still uncertain which side has the greatest 
claim to victory. Friends in the closest bonds were torn 
asunder, and implacable enemies were unexpectedly laid 
side by side in quiet rest. Robust health ended in a 
speedy death, and the lips which, at the conmiencement 
of a week, had ejaculated " poor fellow** to the memory 
of some parted comrade, were mute and motionless at its 
close. The Dutch had a habit of sending round funeral 
letters to the acquaintances of a deceased individuaL 

* Tbe.popnlmtion of Georgetown, October, 1819, was 10,519, tIs., whitot, 
1683; freeooloured, t7M| tUTetieosOs exdutiTe of Ltc^-toirii and other ratrnxbe 
not incorporatod. 


338 msTOBT OP British guiana^ 

These printed circulars, edged in black, and headed 
"Memento Mori," were called by them " Doed Briefen," 
and the custom obtains to this very time. 

But the tide of himian affairs swept on; fresh hopes 
and fresh desires chased from the mind of society the 
temporary gloom which such events could not but in- 
spire, however transiently. The growing interest of the 
colony,* and its increasing importance, however furthered 
by British authority, were yet fettered by many objec- 
tionable observances. From the year 1 818 to 1821 the ad- 
ministration of the laws and of justice were felt peculiarly 
oppressive. The arrival from England, in 1816, of a new 
president to the courts of justice did not improve matters. 
The name of the new incumbent was W. H. Rough, who 
soon embroiled himself in local troubles. Unpossessed of 
much learning or natural ability, he appears to have 
negligently or inefficiently discharged his duties. At 
first his quarrels with some of the inhabitants rendered 
him only obnoxious to individuals; but, by degrees, he 
was so violently assailed in the newspaper, and had so 
completely forfeited the countenance and good opinion 
of Governor Murray, that he considered himself bound to 
address a memorial or petition to the king's most excel- 
lent majesty against certain grievances at the hands of 
the ** commonalty" of the Court of Policy, and of the 
governor himself, who, in fact, had suspended the 
president from his official duties, and which resulted in 
a temporary stoppage of criminal law proceedings. By 
a strange coincidence it appears that in Berbice, like<4 

* In the year 1818 a colonial agent, W. Holmes, Esq^ with whom A. Gordoiv 
Eeq^ was aisociated to act, was appointed to look after the interests of th* 
colony in England. The Court of Policy recommended a saUrv of 400/. per 
annum; but at a meeting of the Combined Court, held on the S7th of January, 
1819, the financial representatives objected both to the appointment, the grant 
of money, and tc the system ot purdiasing influence for the colony. At the 
same meeting they alto oljected to the support of missionary preachen, but 
•greed to rapport • regular clergy. They weroi howeyer, oatTotod on boCk 


vnse, the president of the same court had also been sus- 
pended by the then governor, and looking at many 
features of the political state of society, it is not to be 
wondered at that the public mind was greatly excited. 
The inhabitants justly complained of the unlawful extor- 
tion of official fees, of the monopoly of so many district 
situations in the hands of a few individuals. Thus the 
situations of receiver of colonial duties on wines and 
spirits, acting comptroller, acting deputy postmaster- 
general, waiter and searcher of customs, were combined 
in one individual, who subsequently had them aU taken 
from him by the governor, and given to a near relative 
of that officer, and to one who already filled the im* 
portant offices of government secretary and private 
secretary, making altogether about fifteen situations 
actually held by one individual 

Many of these situations, it must be remembered, were 
clearly incompatable the one with the other, yet were 
they officially held by one lucky man. Disputes and, 
much angry feeling became common to society. The 
exactors of the disputed fees received every assistance 
firom his honour, William Rough, the then head of the 
judiciary, and to appease matters it became necessary^ 
on the part of the governor, to publish a tariff of 
judicial, secretarial, and marshal's fees; but the ]>ublic, 
once roused, are not easily satisfied : 

Salvi popoli fiiprema l«z. 

A public meeting of the inhabitants was held relative to 
judicial and other abuses, and a petition to the king was 
firamed and forwarded in 1821, founded on the resolu^ 
tions of the meeting, praying his majesty to take into 
consideration the deplorable state of the administration 
of justice, and to order an inquiry into all fees of offices 
connected with the administration of justice, and the 



establishment of reasonable and moderate tBxiSsj Sec 
To illustrate the feelings and the state of society, it may/ 
perhaps, be allowed to introduce a little personal history 
into our narrative, which is as amusing as it is charac- 
teristic of the period. A certain gentleman,* holding a 
number of appointments, was suspected, perhaps un- 
justly, of a defalcation in his accounts, and of general 
impropriety in the management of his official duties. 
Upon such a suspicion ^'a mandament de facto*' was 
issued by the President Rough, and the marshal of the 
court, imder that authority, aided by police officers, with 
a scout and six dienaars, or inferior officers of justice, all 
armed with cutlasses, and accompanied by a negro black- 
smith bearing a sledge-hammer, proceeded to the house of 
the suspected officer, forced and broke it open, seized his 
person, and conveyed him to the colony gaol, where he 
was detained with felons and runaway slaves for about 
130 days. At the same time all his papers, moneys, 
books, &C., were carried away and never returned. 

The same gentleman, when afterwards liberated, un- 
derwent a very narrow escape of again being taken pri- 
soner, and his account of it is too naive to be suppress^ : 
" It appears that the failure of this (a previous) strata* 
gem to arrest Mr. Ross only made his opponents more 
determined to effect their purpose at all hazards, for,. 
having three days afterwards discovered the house where 
Mr, Ross was engaged to dine, a marshal was provided, 
with an additional warrant in the name of the sovereign, 
authorising him to break open the doors if- he should 
meet with any resistance or obstruction. A troop of 
dienaars, soldiers in disguise, and other attendants, ' 
about thirty in number, wer6 put under his order, for 
the double purpose of seeing that he did his duty with* 

* This gentlemaiii Mr. Boss, rcceiyer of colonial wine and spirit duties and 
traoaient traders' tax, was dismissed by the governor in October, 1819. 


^mt bribery or corruption^ and to assist him, if necessary, 
in the execution of it; and about nine o'clock at night 
the house in question was accordingly surrounded. Mr* 
Ross having by the moonlight observed their approach, 
and suspecting the cause, arose from the dining-table, 
and retired to an adjoining room, where he could hear 
whatever passed. The marshal speedily entered, and 
displayed his above-mentioned warrants, the one under 
the sign-manual of his Excellency the Lieutenant-Gover- 
nor, * in the king's name,' and the other under that of 
his Honour the President of the Court of Justice, to 
take the body of G. Ross, declaring at the same tim^ 
that had he not foimd ready admittance he would have 
been justified in breaking open that or any other house 
where his prisoner was to be found, and to search them, 
if he chose, for that purpose. Mr. Ross, hearing all this 
from his place of retreat, within a few feet of the enemy ^ 
would willingly have sold his chance of liberty for the 
next twelve months at a very cheap rate indeed, \mi^fortUr 
nately for him, it so happened that his host had just be« 
fore gone out to make a call in the neighbourhood, and 
had left a friend in his chair to do the honours of the 
house. This visitor, with great presence of mind, and 
with an emphasis that did due justice to the host, rose 
and answered the marshal upon his honour as a gentle- 
man that Mr. Ross was not in his house^ adding that he 
might search if he pleased, but hoped his honour would 
not be disputed. The marshal candidly informed the 
company that he was watched, and that he must do his 
duty, but at the same time, if the gentleman (at the head 
of the table) would pass his word of honour that Mr. 
Ross was not in his house, he could not of course doubt 
the honour of a man of his respectability, and would be 
satisfied without giving any further trouble. The as- 
sertion being most solemaly repeated with great feeling 


,(and also with great truth), the marshal, with a polite- 
ness and graciousness which would have done honour to 
his employer, declared himself satisfied that the defend- 
ant was not there, and, taking a glass of tvine on the 
invitation of the supposed host, immediately withdrew 
with liis numerous suite of assistants, to the no small en- 
tertauunent of the company, and the great joy of Mn 
Ross, who shortly afterwards came forth to exclaim: 

M Celui qui rit le dernkr a le meiHeinr du jeu." 

This ill-treated gentleman, after escaping to England^ 
and preferring charges against Governor Murray and 
President Rough, was subsequently reinstated in one or 
more of his previous offices. The arbitrary proceeding 
and character of President Rough led to his suspension by 
the governor on the 1st of October, 1821, and the Ho- 
nourable Van Ryk de Groot was appointed ad interim^ 
until the arrival from England of his Honour Charles 
Wray, barrister-at-law, who arrived on the 27th of De- 
cember of the same year, and took his seat as President 
of the Court of Criminal and Civil Justice, and sole 
judge of the Court of Vice- Admiralty, &c. 

Under a soimd lawyer and amiable man the legal ad- 
ministriition of the colony proceeded quietly. 

But whilst such changes were agitating the upper 
classes of society, the work of the missionaries had pro- 
ceeded. Their influence had accomplished a change in 
the conduct of the slaves ; a gradual feeling of intelligence 
had been spread; a desire for knowledge b^an to 
abound. Schools for the slave children, although at 
first oi)posed by some of the planters, were established 
upon many of the larger estates. The class of blacks or 
coloured freed men rescued from the bonds of slavery, 
either by purchasing their own freedom or indebted for 
it to tlie liberality of their former owners, was beooming 


larger. Marriages among the slaves were occasionally 
met with, and the few but increasing privileges granted 
to the negroes soon gave a spur to theif desires, and lent 
a charm to their imaginations. 

The desire for liberty, and the attempt to obtsdn it on 
former occasions, had been met with stem and obstinate 
resistance. The passions which then actuated the slave 
were those of revenge and hatred, excited probably by 
aggravated hardship or imfeeling cruelty. The work 
then was of their own contrivance and at their own 
instigation. A natural feeling of physical superiority had 
led to its adoption, but the want of moral or intellectual 
power had caused it to faiL They had rushed gladly 
and suddenly to revolt, but had retired punished and 
humiliated. The desire though repressed was never 
subdued. The fire though smouldering was not extinct. 
It waited for a fitting time and a convenient opportunity. 
The stillness of the storm was to precede its fury. 

nie Etiam c»oiif initare tomultoa. 

The more the mind of the slave became expanded the 
more it appreciated its indignity. The more it was 
instructed and enlightened the more it revolted at the 
stigma of bondage. But the antagonism of intellectual 
influence continued to keep in check the risiog energy of 
the slave; several instances of partial and individual 
revolt had frequently occurred, but the want of judgment 
and unanimity had rendered abortive such attempts, yet^ 
as Bacon expresses himself, ^^ for as it is true that every 
vapour or fiime doth not turn into a storm, so it is, 
nevertheless, true that storms, though they blow over 
divers times, yet may fall at last, and, as the Spanish 
proverb noteth well, * The cord brcaketh at the last by 
the weakest pulL' ^ 
The white man slumbered on the edge of a volcano 


whoso early rumblings and intestine eommotion awoke 
him in time to save himself from the overwhelming lava 
of its eruption. Another crisis was approaching which 
was to let loose the true feelings of all, and to lay bare 
the social condition of all classes in their naked selfish- 
ness. The slave was still at his toil ; the freed man was 
still spuming the race from which he had so recently 
emerged, and yearning for the class above him ; the 
white man was still engaged in his profitable speculations. 
When far away from the scene that comprised these 
varied groups the voice of eloquence and the intellect of 
civilisation were employed in the consideration of the 
momentous subject of emancipation. Within the walls 
of the British Houses of Legislature many an eloquent 
harangue had been heard, many a noble aspiration 
breathed. The theorist and the philanthropist were 
carried away by the greatness of the theme, and were 
anxious to let loose a power, the nature and working of 
which they were unacquainted with. From the time 
that Thomas Clarkson, in 1787, had raised his voice in 
the House of Commons against the traffic in slaves, the 
subject was never lost sight of In the declamations of 
Pitt, Fox, Buxton, Brougham, Wilberforce, and Canning 
we recognise the predominant and lofty sentiments which 
influenced these great men. It was not, however, until 
the subject of emancipation had been more than once dis- 
cussed that, on the 15th March, 1823, Mr. Canning 
passed in the House of Commons his famous ^^ Resolution 
for ameliorating the condition of the slave population 
and preparing tJiem for freedom'^ Intimation of these 
resolutions was forwarded to the governors of the colonies, 
and, amongst others, to Governor Murray, of British 
Guiana. There is no doubt that these "resolutions" 
were intended for general information, and more es- 
pecially for communication to the slaves. These latter. 


as already explained, dwelt on the subject of their 
freedom with delight; anjrthing relative to it was re- 
ceived with unmitigated pleasure and satisfaction. The 
object of the missionaries had not been alone to instruct 
in the Gospel, and the eflfects of their intercourse with the 
people soon became more apparent. What must have 
been the feelings of the negro when first told that not 
only in his own bosom burned the love of liberty, but 
that in distant Europe the hearts of noble strangers beat 
in unision with his own. Such intelligence gave him 
more exalted notions of himself bul»it also awakened 
feelings of bitter hatred against the unfortimate planter. 
Freely admitting the necessity for the abolition of slavery, 
and advocating its cause, we cannot forget that a large 
class of sufferers was to result from the change, and that 
the blow which was to shiver and break asunder the 
fetters of slavery, was also to convulse by its shock the 
length and breadth of the land. Vague and imperfect 
conceptions of the blessings of fi:^edom were put forth. 
Rumours of speedy release were whispered about, and to 
the idle gossiping of a servant we owe the outbreak of a 
bloody insurrection. This time it was not alone the 
impulse to be free which urged on the slave, but the idea 
that he had the co-operation of a superior power to aid 
his own, and that in seizing the cutlass to strike for 
freedom he was only wresting justice frx)m the tardy and 
illiberal hand which withheld it. Secret societies among 
the slaves were gradually formed, and there is no doubt 
that in this they were assisted by some of the mis- 
sionaries, whether for good or evil it were hard to 

Foremost among this sect was MMionary Smithy who 
had established a chapel on the east coast, and who by 
his preaching and manner towards the negro in that 
district had acquired a wonderful popularity and in- 


fluence. The presence, possibly the advice, of the white 
man at such meetings gave an ardour to their hopes and 
to their designs. Feelings of dissatisfaction were here 
openly expressed, loud causes of complaint brought for- 
ward, and expressions of hatred and revenge freely given 
vent to. Communication was established with the 
negroes on the neighbouring estates; and, indeed, with 
many others throughout the whole colony, and unanimity 
and prudence enjoined. The east coast was the focus 
of the revolt; and here were the seeds of a conspiracy 
sown which were .soon to spring up. The whisper of 
rebellion was breathed aroimd, but its echo reached not 
yet the ear of the planter. A report gained ground 
among the head men of several plantations on the coast, 
that in England some great change for their amelioration 
had taken place ; that, in fact, " Freedom had come out,** 
and that the news was withheld by the governor and 
their masters, who objected to it. This rumour is sup- 
posed to have occurred through a servant of the go- 
vernor's, who, whilst waiting at his master's table, had 
heard mention made of the "Resolutions of Mr. Canning,** 
and who had imbibed a mistaken notion of their purport, 
and had circulated the false rumour, which acquired 
strength as it proceeded. 

Fama, malum qua non aliad Velociut ullum: 
Mobilitate yiget, yires que aoquirit Eundo, Ac. 

This little grain of falsehood, borne on the wings of 
credulity, took deep root, and eventually brought forth 
mischief. The opinions of the slaves, swayed backwards 
and forwards by the violence of their passions, at length 
settled down into a determined plot. A pljui was ac- 
cordingly arranged on several estates on the east coast, 
following which, they agreed to arise suddenly, seize, 
bind, and put into the stocks all the white persons on 


the estates, and then go to town in a body, and claiiB 
from the governor "the freedom which was supposed to 
have come out."* The plan of operation appears to 
have been matured on Simday^ the 17th of August, 1823, 
at the Missionary Chapel, on plantation Le Besouvenir, 
and was intended to be carried into effect the following 
day. The principal authors of the scheme were two 
young men; Paris, a boat-captsdn of plantation Grood 
Hope, a negro of superior intelligence and great bodily 
strength ; and Jack Gladstone, also a very intelligent man, 
a cooper by trade, on plantation Success. Almost all the 
slaves on the east coast were privy to the plot, so general 
were its ramifications. The train now was laid, and only 
awaited the application of the match to give it explosion, 
when, by a timely intimation on the part of one of the 
negroes cognisant of the scheme, but who had not joined 
in it, some of the intended consequences were averted, 
but, unfortunately, not in time to prevent the effusion of 
much blood. 

Early on Monday morning, the 18th of August, a mu- 
latto servant, Joseph, belonging to Mr. Simpson, of 
plantation Reduit (now plantation Ogle), about six 
imles from Georgetown, communicated to his master the 
startling intelligence, that all the coast negroes would 
rise that night. It appears this man was one of the very 
persons upon whose authority concerning the rumour of 
" Freedom having come out," the plot had been originally 
formed; he had observed signs of great dissatisfaction 
prevalent among the negroes, and had noticed the fact of 
frequent private meetings ; his suspicions were in conse- 
quence awakened, and he determined to watch their 
proceedings-f Not being a confederate himself, he per- 

* From til that I luiTe been aUe to learn on this tnbject, I do not beliere that 
the intentioni of the ilaTee had an/ xe&renoe to the ejqpnliion or murder of the 
white inhabitanta. 

t Biyant'f aoconnt of the infimeolioo. 


Buaded a negro (Denderdaag), on the same estate, to act 
the part of a spy, by which means he ascertained posi- 
tively the progress of events. Satisfied as to their truth, 
he acquainted his master with the fact; and this gentle- 
man, duly appreciating the infonqation, made no appear- 
ance of alarm, but instantly left his estate for the purpose 
of communicating to the governor the disclosure which 
had been made to him. On his way to Georgetown, he 
called at several plantations on the road, to caution the 
planters of the threatened danger. About ten o'clock, 
Captain Simpson (for he was a burgher ofiicer, and com- 
manded a troop of cavalry in Georgetown), had an inter- 
view with the governor, who at first ridiculed the idea 
of a revolt,* but who prudently directed that the cavalry 
should be assembled ; and, after a consultation with the 
fiscal, despatched a portion of the troop under Captain 
Simpson to plantation Reduit, and shortly after, followed 
himself, attended by the brigade-major of militia, an 
aide-de-camp, and the government secretary. On his 
arrival at the estate, orders were given for a sergeant and 
four troopers to proceed at once to a military post at 
Mahaica Creek, about fifteen miles higher up the coast, 
and directions given to leave word with the other 
burgher officers and planters on the road. The governor, 
having held an investigation on the spot^ in which the 
negro Joseph was closely questioned, and the truth of 
his statement being evident, it was ascertained that a' 
spirit of insubordination and rebellion was in active pro- 
gress among the slave population; almost immediately 
aft;er, a supposed ringleader, Mars, was taken up on sus- 
picion, and the governor and escort proceeded up the 
coast to ascertain the extent and situation of the 

* Af I hare been asffored by Abraham Garnett, Esq., at that time an opulent 
and tniin^ntial planter, who acoompaniod him to town. 


ITie party was met by a large body of anned negroes, 
who on seeing them shouted cut " We have them, we 
have them/' His excellency stopped and demanded 
what they wanted They replied " our right." The 
governor, before entering upon any discussion, insisted 
upon their laying down their arms. At first they posi- 
tively refiised to do so, but by d^ees some few set the 
example. His excellency then stated to them the nature 
of the instructions which he had received fix)m the British 
Government, relative to a proposed amelioration in their 
condition, but warned them that any acts of insubordina- 
tion committed by them would deprive them of the 
benefit intended* Afi;er further admonition and remon- 
strance, he called upon them to disperse, and stated, 
that if they had any cause of complaint, or required any 
further explanation respecting the communication which 
he had received fi:om England, they should call on him 
the following morning. A few seemed inclined to listen 
to his suggestions, but others cried out ^^ No, no,** and a 
blowing of shells followed. Finding further expostula- 
tion useless, his excellency drove offl It cannot but be 
regretted that the explanation thus voluntarily offered 
by the governor had not previously been made. Un- 
accountable as was the cause of delay in announcing the 
intelligence received, it was now set about too late. The 
procrastination of an act of common justice was perhaps 
a proximate, if not an immediate, cause of the calamities 
which ensued. 

The flame of revolt had burst forth, and was spreading, 
not to be extinguished till it had consumed many a 
valuable life. The insurrection had, in point of fact, 
commenced, a large fire on plantation La Bonne Inten^ 
tion was the signal for attack, and its fury was only 
equalled by the excited populace. Towards nightfall 
several white pisrscMis on some of the estates were taken 


prisoners and put in the stocks. On some properties, 
where a defence had been made, fire-arms were had re- 
course to by the negroes, who killed and wounded 
several of the planters. Their plan of attack was to 
surroimd the dwelling-house, and either forcibly enter it 
or set fire to it. Their object was to capture the white 
inhabitants and to confine them. In most cases, how- 
ever, they met with resistance, and hence arose violence 
and bloodshed. Upon one or two estates, however, the 
negroes refiised to assist the insurgents in making pri- 
soners of their masters, and offered a stem opposition to 
their intrusion. It could easily be seen that the spirit 
of unanimity was wanting, and that the present revolt 
was more an outbreak of excited popular feeling than a 
well concocted and determined attempt to overturn all 
rule and authority. The governor, after leaving the 
coast, returned to Georgetown late that evening, and 
seeing the necessity for more decisive measures, instantly 
ordered out a detachment of the 21st N.B. Fusiliers and 
the 1st West India Regiment, and marched them up the 

The bugle soimded to arms through the town, and the 
inhabitants serving in the militia obeyed the summons 
with the utmost alacrity. Soon learning the cause of 
their assembling, they arranged themselves under their 
respective commanders. A number of them were like- 
wise marched up the coast, others patrolled the streets, 
and the remainder were under arms all night. The 
troops sent up the coast were reinforced, and met a body 
of insurgents, who were obstructing the passage to town 
of several oflScers of the country miUtia and other gentle- 
men. The negroes, more intent on watching the latter, 
and not expecting to encoimter any regular troops, were 
astonished at the advance of the body of soldiers under 
Captain Stewart, and immediately on the dificoveiy a 


shot was fired at them by one of the slaves; this was 
instantly followed by a volley fix)m the troops, which 
dispersed the slaves, and they effected a junction with 
the above-mentioned body of gentlemen, one of whom, 
it appears, was severely wounded by the discharge from 
the troops. The imited forces then proceeded up the 
coast, and finHing several parties of the insurgents, fired 
at and dispersed them with considerable loss of life to 
the negroes. 

Early the next day, the 19th August, the drum in 
Georgetown beat to arms, and the inhabitants being as- 
sembled, were addressed by his excellency the governor, 
who prodaimed " martial law." The effect of this was 
immense. Business was put a stop to. The ntiinds of 
all were excited, and, like a hive of bees which has been 
disturbed, the whole town was one scene of tumult and 
confiision. Many of the ladies were conveyed on board 
of vessels in the river, and every preparation was made 
for a sanguinary and protracted conflict. A battalion of 
militia was raised, amounting to about 600 persons, 
whilst a marine battalion was formed from the crews of 
ships in the liver, and mustered about 400. Two pieces 
of artillery were placed so as to command the two prin- 
cipal entrances into town. Meanwhile, nearly all the 
gangs of negroes upon the estates on the coast had as* 
sembled in great numbers ; they were armed with cut- 
lasses, guns, and other weapons, and were headed by 
individuals who carried flags. 

With much noise and bravado they paraded up and 
down the coast, but appeared to have no definite object 
in view beyond capturing the few white persons liiey 
might meet. Encountering, however, bodies of troops 
and militia, they were ea^y dispersed, yet collected 
again in greater numbers, irresolute in conduct, and un- 
certain as to their movements. One party made an in« 


effectual attempt to seize the military post at Maliaica^ 
but were gallantly repulsed by the few persons under 
the commaDd of Lieutenant Brady. Fresh bodies of 
troops continued to arrive from town, and formed a 
tolerably large force under the command of Lieutenant- 
Colonel Leahy, of the 21st, who scoured the country^ 
taking numerous prisoners, and shooting a great many of 
the unfortunate negroes. Upon one occasion the troops 
encountered a band of about 2U00 slaves, when Colonel 
Leahy advanced himself towards them, asking what thej 
wanted, and endeavoured to persuade them to lay down 
their arms. They gave, in answer, that they wanted 
two days in the week for themselves, some said three 
days, others that they wanted freedom, and that the king 
had sent it out, adding that "they would be free." 
Finding no disposition on their part to disperse. Colonel 
Leahy read the proclamation of martial law by the go- 
vernor, and gave a copy to one of the ringleaders. 
Threatening them with fire of the troops if they did not 
retire, he left them, accompanied by Captain Croal, who 
had followed him. After waiting for some time orders 
were given for the troops to advance, who, being defied 
by the negroes, fired at and dispersed them with great 
slaughter. A slight fire was returned on the side of the 
slaves, and kept up for a few minutes on both sides, but 
the latter soon retired to the cotton-fields. The soldiers 
then proceeded onwards, and occupied the neighbouring 
buildings. Most of the bridges forming the line of com- 
munication of the roads had been destroyed by the in- 
surgents, who thought thus to prevent the junction of 
the whites. In the mean time, many of the prisoners 
taken were, aft;er a short trial, summarily executed, as a 
warning to the others. A constant skirmishing was 
kept up along nearly the whole line of the coast, but in 
no one instance had the slaves any advantage. Greatly 


superior in number they wanted organisation, and the 
lack of discipline and defined object rendered them help- 
less to the attack of the roused white inhabitants. 

On the 20th of August, another proclamation was 
issued by the governor, holding out encouragement to 
those slaves not actually concerned in the insurrection, 
and threatening them if an opposite course were pursued ; 
but of what avail to an illiterate mob could such a pro- 
clamation be ? They had already dyed their hands in 
blood ; and, half paralysed at their own exploits, stood 
awaiting with indifference the result. Those who were 
condemned to death, bore their fate with marked 
heroism and fortitude. They experienced no regret for 
their conduct, and deplored only the ill result of it. 
Others of the prisoners were sent under escort to town, 
to await a more formal trial. A great number of the 
fugitive slaves fled to the woods, and it was proposed to 
chase them out with the assistance of the native Indians, 
who upon this occasion came forward with alacrity to 
assist the white inhabitants. It only remained for the 
troops to collect as many of the ringleaders as possible, 
and to prevent any further outbreak by their presence 
and discipline. The masses of negroes began gradually 
to disperse; many who had taken refuge in the cotton- 
fields and woods, returned by degrees to their houses. 
Several gangs of negroes resumed their work as if no- 
thing had happened, and the panic-struck inhabitants 
resumed their former occupations and tranquillity. On 
the 22nd, four days after the breaking out of the slaves, 
the governor issued a third proclamation of full and free 
pardon to aU slaves (ringleaders excepted) who within 
forty-eight hours should deliver themselves up to his 
clemency; and all were enjoined to lay down their arms, 
and return to their duties. 

In other parts of the colony there had been no opea 

VOL. I. 2 a 


demonstration of revolt; but evidently the feelings of 
insubordination had also spread in all directions, and 
undoubtedly would have declared itself had anything 
like success attended the revolt on the east coast. As it 
was, many of the ringleaders escaped and hid themselves 
in the various districts, causing great excitement wher* 
ever their presence was suspected. In a short tune the 
greater part were taken prisoners and brought to George- 
town, where a formal trial was instituted. His excel- 
lency issued a warrant, in the name of his Majesty, for 
assembling and constituting a general court-martia], 
which was opened on the 25th of August, composed o£ 
several officers of the garrison and militia. After an in- 
vestigation, which continued for many days, 45 insur- 
gent negroes were found guilty, and sentenced to death; 
but out of this number, 18 were respited. Of the many 
who perished by the arms of the militia and soldiers, 
the exact number is not known, but it must have been 
considerable; whilst, on the other hand, it does not 
appear that more than a few white persons were killed, 
and several others wounded. 

But the colonists, in thus speedily arresting the insur- 
rection, had not forgotten the supposed instigators. It 
has been stated that to the effect of missionary influenoe 
much of the late evil had resulted. The missionary 
Smith, at whose chapel and in whose neighbourhood the 
plan of revolt had been supposed to have been matured, 
was arrested and put in prison. On the 13th of October 
a general court-martial, similarly constituted as the one 
for the trial of the negroes, was held in order to investi- 
gate the charges preferred against him, which accused 
hiTn of engendering feelings of discontent and dissatis&o- 
tion among the negroes towards their lawful masters; of 
advising, counselling, and corresponding with certain 
ringleaders of the revolt, and of having withheld the 


communication of his knowledge of the intended rebel- 
lion from the proper authorities. After a lengthened 
and important trial, which lasted upwards of a month, 
he was found guilty on some of the charges, and had the 
sentence of death passed on him on the 24th of Novem- 
ber. Meanwhile he was remanded to prison, there to 
await the confirmation of the sentence from his Majesty 
Greorge IV. He, however, became ill shortly after his 
imprisonment, and in spite of every care and medical 
attendance, died on the 6th of February of the year 
1824. The sentence of death was reprieved by his 
Majesty, but the intelligence did not reach the colony 
until ike 30th of March. Directions were, however, 
forwarded to have him dismissed from the colony of 
Demerary and Es^equebo, and to prohibit him from re- 
siding in any of the settlements in the West Indies; but, 
as we have seen, a Superior Power had already trans- 
lated him to another world, there to await the judgment 
of an all-seeing Providenoe, who alone knoweth the 
secrets of the heart. 

However innocent may have been his intention, how- 
ever charitably inclined his endeavours, it cannot be de- 
nied that he acted with great imprudence in encouraging 
rather than subduing the disaffection of the slaves to- 
wards their masters. It was not likely that his voice 
alone could instil into the hearts of his audience a suffi- 
cient knowledge of their position. It vras unwise, nay 
dangerous, to let loose the reins of a power with whose 
working he was ignorant; and to listen with complacency 
to the schemes of a multitude which was about to per- 
petrate a deed of violence. It may be ai^ued that no 
act of bloodidied was intended, that no individual life 
was threatened, and that he only listened with indiscre« 
tion to the proposition of the slave to claim from the 
governor that which was considjored as a zi^t. But 



such a man could have been litde versed in the know«^ 
ledge of human nature to suppose for an instant that the 
planters would quietly stand by whilst they saw their 
bondsmen leave the field of toil and assemble in hun- 
dreds with arms in their hands, for the purpose of 
marching to town. He must have placed too much 
confidence in the virtue of human nature to suppose 
that the principle once allowed of volimtarily quitting 
the estates would have been followed by the quiet re- 
turn of the people to their work. How could he have 
hoped that such a display of armed force would have 
been rewarded by the ^ft of unqualified fi:'eedom ? Little 
could he have reflected upon the effects which in all pro- 
bability would have resulted if in the first instance the 
revolt of the slaves had been attended with success. He 
could have watched the events of ages with but little 
sagacity if he knew not that a conspiracy, once attempted, 
with but the most moderate intention, runs on to vio- 
lence and excess, and none could tell the fury of an un- 
bridled and triumphant mob. The French Bevolution 
commenced only with the unostentatious plea of redress- 
ing the wrongs of the lower classes. It ended, alas, in 
the horrors of a civil war unparalleled in atrocity, in the 
overthrow of the nobles, and in the murder of royalty. 

However unwilling we are to participate in the bitter 
animosity which was displayed towards him and his bro- 
ther missionaries by the colonists, and however little in- 
clined to extenuate their fearful revenge on the mistaken 
slaves, we cannot shut our eyes to the fact that John 
Smith was cognisant of an intended movement on the 
part of the negroes to claim their freedom, and that he 
had it consequently in his power to have averted all 
those evils which his ill-timed silence entailed upon him- 
self, upon his misguided people, and upon the colony at 
large. This one solemn startling fact is sufficient q{ 


itself to cast a stain upon his character, however other- 
wise pure and amiable, and to check us in that deep 
sympathy which we would otherwise have felt for his 
imprisonment, obloquy, and death.* 

Thus ended the insurrection of 1823, which, whether 
we consider the serious consequences which might have 
resulted had the slaves been victorious, or the indiscri- 
minate slaughter of a small party of troops and militia 
against an imdisciplined host, is an era in the history of 
British Guiana which cannot easily be forgotten. The 
crushed spirit and servile demeanour of the slave had 
been flung aside, and he had started up in an attitude of 
manly defiance and haughty daring, whilst the lordly and 
luxurious planter had felt appalled at the novel and fright- 
ful sight of his slave in arms. At the time of the occur- 
rence the land in cultivation was held by about 200 pro- 
prietors, of whom only about 75 resided in the colony, 
showing the extent of " absenteeism," as already noticed. 
The cry of revolt had struck terror into the hearts of the 
owners of the rich soil, and concision and dismay at first 
were spread abroad; but it was not long ere (he clear 
intelligence of the Anglo-Caucasian race saw through the 
mist which at first obscured them, and the courage of 
high descent animated their bosoms; ' calmness succeeded 
to confusion; skill and bravery to alarm. Bapid and 
fearfiil as was the stroke aimed at them, it was parried 
with equal vigour; the weapon of aggression was soon 
wrenched from the threatening arm, and vengeance — ten- 
fold vengeance, inflicted on the assailant. It is easy to 
say that the conquest was not difficult, and that the vie* 
tory was obUdned over feeble opponents. It is possible 
to conjecture that a bloody revolt was actually brought 

* It is also potitirely asterted that Qnanima, one of the leaden in the rebel- 
lion, was harboured by this nnflartiniate misiionaiy after a reward had been 
pubUdy oiEered finr hit captorep 


on, by a warlike defenoe, before evea an actual assault 
had been made, and that the fears andfury of the excited 
colonists made the strife of battle, when only a ample 
war of words was intended. But it is much easier to 
ridicule the exploits of an armed and cUsciplined force 
over untutored savages, and to censure their cruelty, 
than to assert what would be one's own feelings during 
an occasion such as we have described. Had the revolt 
been general throughout the colony ; had its organisation 
been laid secretly and developed skilfully ; had the slave 
population risen suddenly and rapidly as one man, then 
would the generation of planters have, perhaps, been 
swept from the land of British Guiana, and the flag of 
self-accomplished freedom been unfurled, all stained with 
blood, to the Western Isles. The shout of the triumphant 
serf would have drowned the cries of his conquered 
master. But it was not so ; the long possessed power of 
the white man had exercised its influence on his slave. 
The mind, which had bowed in bondage to the will of a 
superior, could not shake off its allegiance in an hour, 
although that hour was one of passion and madness. It 
had deceived itself Excited by desire and persuasion, 
goaded on, perhaps, by insult and wrong, it thought its 
power strong enough to grapple with the £uici^ op- 
pressor; its determination strong enough to resist the 
power of authority ; the hour of trial came, and it was 
found wanting ; the attempt had been made in earnest, 
but had £uled The defeated slave returned humbled 
and self-abased to resume his wonted task, and to serve 
in dogged sullenness and silence. 




ToB rejoicings that followed the suppression of the 
revolt marked a bright page in the dark annals of 
British Guiana. Martial law, after having been put into 
force for a period of five months^ was discontinued on the 
19th January, 1824 ; the terrible executions of the in- 
surgents ceased, and the year opened with a public 
acknowledgment 'from the governor to the officers and 
soldiers, r^ulars and militia, of his excellency's high 
sense of their valuable services. Addresses and tributes 
followed from the Ck>urt of Policy and the inhabitants 
generally to the officers who had most distinguished 
themselves in these unhappy transactions. A costly 
sword was presented by the court to Lieutenaht-Ck)lan6l 
Leahy, worth 200 guineas, and another, of the value of 


fifty guineas, to Lieutenant Brady. To the officers of 
the 21st Regiment a sum of 500 guineas was presented 
for the purchase of plate for the use of their regimental 
mess, and another sum of 200 guineas to the officers of 
the West Indian Regiment for a similar object. A piece 
of plate of the value of 350 guineas was also given to 
Lieutenant-Colonel Leahy, of the 2l8t, by some of the 
inhabitants, and a cheque for 1000/. to Lieutenant Brady, 
by the colonists of the east coast and others. The able 
commandant of the Georgetown militia, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Goodman, received from the inhabitants a sum 
of 400Z. to be laid out in plate, and lOOL for the purchase 
of a sword. The bonds of social harmony were drawn 
closer by the escape from the common dangers which 
had threatened the whole community, and the universal 
alarm and despondency was changed into an outburst of 
popular festivity. 

The expense of the insurrection amounted to upwards 
of 200,000 dollars, which was principally met by a new 
issue of colonial paper money to the amount of 24,193 
joes — raising the total amount issued to 100,000 joes. 

Other important consequences followed in the wake of 
this painful drama. So excited and prejudiced were the 
feelings of the colonists against the class of missionaries, 
that at a public meeting, held in Georgetown on the 24th 
February, it was resolved, *^ That the Court of Policy be 
forthwith petitioned to expel all missionaries from the 
colony, and that a law be passed prohibiting the admis- 
sion of any missionary preachers into this colony for the 
future." It seems hardly credible that the colonists could 
have so far forgotten themselves as to act in so vindictive 
a spirit, or that they should have been so weak as to 
suppose that, by excluding the missionaries, they could 
succeed in extinguishing the desire for knowledge and 
freedom amongst the negroes. That desire once awakened 


is not to be repressed by penal enactments; and, nou- 
rished in the primeval soUtudes of the forests, and upon 
the lonely coast whose waters washed the distant lands 
where men were free, the slave needed no teacher to 
make him aspire to the blessing of liberty. 

Governor Murray, who had become the idol of the 
inhabitants by his late conduct, was not permitted to 
enjoy his triumph long. He was immediately afterwards 
recalled by an order from London ; and on the 24th 
April, Major-General Sir Benjamin D' Urban arrived to 
assume the government. On the occasion of Governor 
Murray*s retirement, he was presented by the colonists 
with a piece of plate of the value of 1200 guineas, " in 
memorial of the happy suppression of the late revolt.'' 
With this popular and able governor a great many of the 
traces of a dave country disappeared, never to return. 
That he was a popular governor, none, I believe, would 
deny ; that he was likewise able and intelligent must be 
admitted, when we consider that he remained about 
elevenyears at the head of the administration of a colony 
which was undergoing the most rapid social changes, and 
that during the term of his government many acts of vast 
public and private importance were introduced by his 
advice and influence. If, in the closing scene of his 
career as governor he displayed some want of judgment 
with reference to the approaching emancipation of the 
slave, the error was of the head, and not of the heart. 
A great step was taken from the period of the insurrection 
in the march of improvement. From the date of its 
fortunate suppression may be traced the dawning of a 
brighter day for the negroes, and a whispering of fore- 
boding evil to the planter. A gap in the ordinary pro* 
gress of events seemed suddenly filled up, and men 
acquired in a short time the experience of years. Eman^ 
cipation was no longer looked upon as chimerical The 


habits of the white man had been too extensively adopted 
by the slave to be easily cast off; and the ideas of inde- 
pendenoe, which had taken deep root in his mind, had 
akeady begun to develop their power over his actions. 
In the late movement he had given a warning proof of 
the fortitude with which he could persevere in the pur- 
suit of the object which ever engrossed his whole life. 
The condition of the negroes was altered. They were 
no longer insensate, stolid, and incapable of combination 
and unanimity ; and, however crude and imperfect their 
first att^npt at co-operation, it was evident that they had 
acquired a dear sense of the importance of union for the 
attainment of the end towards which they stru^ed. 
They were already rising in the social scale; some of 
them were promoted to situations of trust and confidence^ 
and others had in their turn become masters, and actually 
owned slaves. In this character, however, they did not 
appear to advantage, and showed by their harshness and 
severity that as yet they little understood the " duties" of 
property, although they were nothing loth to assert its 

The slave of the slave suggests a painM image of au- 
thority exercised, and toil exacted, by men over their 
equals in birth^ education, and civilisation. The n^ro 
early displayed an anxiety to possess such an authority 
and power, and it will not be inapt to remark that the 
change in condition had also occasioned a change in sen- 
timent, for the individual who in his day of slavery had 
cursed the hated name and scouted its attributes, became, 
when freed, as jealous of his new rights, and as tenacious 
of his privileges, as the European, whom the prospect of 
emancipation scared. Why, then, attribute to either 
race those vices which are inherent in the drcumstancea 
in which they are placed, rather than in their ori^al 
natures? smce it is evident that, had their podtiops 


been reversed, the negro would have made as jealous a 
taskmaster as the white man^ and the European as in- 
dignant and stubborn a slave as the black. The moral 
is obvious, and tells with equal effect on both sides. 

It may be asked how the slave could obtain the means 
of purchasing his freedom ; how the man who lived in 
bondage and toiled for the advantage of another, could 
have contrived to amass the fimds necessary for his re- 
demption from chains. But this can be easily explained. 
It had been long the custom to allow the negro certain 
privileges and hours of leisure, which he mi^t employ 
in any way he chose. Many had naturally turned their 
attention towards supplying the wants which they found 
to exist among their superiors and their neighbours. The 
cultivation of their little patches of land, the raising of 
stock, the catching of fish, were some of the methods by 
which they acquired money. There were also certain 
extra tasks, for which they were sometimes well paid 
In addition to these resources, the most promising of the 
slaves were taught various trades. Some were employed 
as coopers, carpenters, masons, boatmen, &c. ; and it was 
not unusual for persons owning a few slaves to hire out 
their services for a given sum, beyond which anything 
that they made themselves was for their own use. Several 
came to be employed as vendors of different articles for 
household uses, &C., and receiving the name of "huck- 
sters," traversed the country on the business of their 
employers. By such and similar means the negro oc- 
casionally managed to accomplish hb liberation. An 
additional stimulus was now about to be given to the 
advancement of his order by the spirit of European 
liberty. WeU would it have been for the n^ro, and 
the colony generally, had the coming boon been regulated 
by justice and wisdom, and the mind of the slave been 
prepared for his new duties by being duly impressed with 


the paramount necessity of industry, morality, and self- 

The arrival of Sir Benjamin D'Urban from the island 
of Antigua, where he had resided some time, was the 
commencement of a new era. He found the colony still 
unsettled from the consequences of the late outbreak, and 
the planter and the negro both looking forward to the 
changes he had been empowered to introduce. By his 
Majesty's orders, commissioners of inquiry into the ad- 
ministration of justice arrived shortly after, for the pur- 
pose of remodelling those anomalies in the administration 
of the land, to which reference has already been made. 
In the following year, an ordinance, after some opposi- 
tion, was passed by the governor and Court of Policy, 
entitled " An Ordinance for the Religious Instructions of 
Slaves, and for Meliorating their Condition." It was 
dated September 7th, published October 15th, and was 
to take effect on the 1st January, 1826. It provided for 
the appointment of a protector of slaves; secured the 
slaves an immunity from labour (except in certain spe- 
cific cases) from sunset on Saturday to. simrise on Mon- 
day ; limited field work from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., with two 
hours' intermission; prohibited the whip from being car- 
ried into the field ; abolished the whipping of women ; 
limited punishment to 25 lashes ; required a record of 
punishments to be kept ; secured to the slaves the pri- 
vileges of marriage, of acquiring and holding property, 
and of purchasing their freedom. An officer from Eng- 
land, Colonel A. W. Young, was appointed to the new 
office of " protector of slaves," a title conveying a satire 
upon the conduct of the community, and certainly not 
very complimentary to the governor himself. The duties 
required of this officer were vexatious and arduous. His 
position was likely to render him obnoxious to many of 
the colonists, while it required great prud^ice, judgment^ 


and firmness to enable him to deal with the frivolous com- 
plaints of slaves on the one side, and to soothe the offended 
dignity of employers and owners on the other. But 
such qualifications were eminently possessed by Colonel 
Young, and his whole bearing, career, and conduct were 
marked by impartiality, determination, and wisdom. 
The nature of his duties was fully developed in subse- 
quent proclamations and other ordinances, and some of 
their principal features may be thus described : 

Protectors, and assistant protectors, not to own or 
manage slaves; to be warranted in entering into negro 
houses on estates, &c. ; privilege given to slaves to pass 
and repass to protector to make complaints, penalty in 
opposing protector's duties, power to summons witnesses, 
and to examine them; witnesses not attending maybe 
committed to gaol ; protector not to act as magistrate; 
protectors to act as coroners, and also appear in behalf 
of slaves prosecuted ; to prohibit Sunday markets, Sun- 
day labour, and Sunday traffic, under penalties ; (with 
certain exceptions) to determine regulations about use of 
the whip; forfeiture of slaves in cases of cruelty and ill- 
treatment ; slaves made competent to marry, and to ap- 
ply for such license to protector ; slave? not to be pro- 
prietors of boats, ammimition, &c. ; slaves not to be 
proprietors of slaves; relationship of slaves to be attended 
to; fees of office and duties on manumissions abolished; 
slaves may effect the purchase of their fireedom by a 
compulsory process ; evidence of slaves to be admitted ; 
concluding with rules and regulations respecting the food 
and maintenance of slaves ; the duration of labour, cloth- 
ing, medical attendance, religious worship, and other 
important subjects. 

In the year 1825, the districts of Demerara and Esse- 
quebo were divided into parishes, ten in number, distinct 
and separate ; a great improvement from the simple 


division into plantations and burner districts. As a 
natural sequence, churches began to be built» and duly 
qualified dergymen arrived to undertaike the rather 
arduous duty of regenerating the morality of the colony. 
Among the other churches so established was one for 
Boman Catholics, the first stone of which was laid by the 
governor. This church was ultimately endowed by the 
colony. All the regular appurtenances of such establish* 
ments were soon after introduced by the improving efforts 
of civilisation ; such as the formation of vestries, with 
^^ an act to r^ulate them;'' also, at a later period, an act 
for ^' Begulating and preserving Registers of BaptiBm, 
Marriages, and Burials, in the xmited colony of D^ierara 
and Essequebo." An establishment called ^ The Ghurcli 
and Poor's Fund" had been in existence since 182^9 
and different acts for its r^ulation and guidance con- 
tinued to be enforced, till the whole system became com* 
pletely altered. The origin of this fund took its rise 
with the Dutch, who, as we have seen, so early as the 
year 1792, had instituted a consistoiy of at least two 
deacons and two elders, to which consistory the control 
of Church and Poor moneys was to be entrusted, Ac. A 
consistory thus composed existed on each of the inha- 
bited rivers, viz. : — Demerara, Essequebo, and Berbice. 
Afterwards, or in 1793, it was decreed that all '^imports 
leviable for funds of Church and Poor moneys should 
thenceforth be received by the respective receivers of the 
poor's chesty as members administering, and thereunto 
commissioned, out of the consistory." The system thus 
established obtained until 1816, when the ^administrap 
tion thereof was vested in the clergymen of the Esta- 
blished Church of England, in the minister of the Dutch 
Beformed Church, and in the minister of the Sork of 
Scotland within the sud united colonies.*' But as this 


was never authorised or confirmed by his Majesty, an 
order in council in 1824 founded in the united colonies 
a body corporate, styled " The Board of Church and 
Poor's Fund," &c., consisting of a president and six 
members, viz. : — the senior clergyman of the Church of 
England, who acted as president ; the Dutch minister, 
the Scotch minister, the first fiscal, and three other per- 
sons, to be named by the governor, none of whom were 
to receive any salary; a treasurer and secretary were 
appointed with a salary, as well as a clerk. Another 
later act in 1830, for " Eegulating the claims of the 
Board of Church and Poor*s Fund upon the property of 
persons receiving maintenances from the board," enacted 
several clauses relative to persons assigning over their 
property to such funds, &c. &c. A similar body corpo- 
rate was also established at a subsequent period by Go- 
vernor Smyth, for the^district of Berbioe. 

An alteration in the monetary affairs of the colony also 
took place in 1825, when British coin was introduced^ 
and an order in council declared ^^ that a tender and 
payment of British silver money, to the amount of four 
shillings and fourpence, should be considered as equi- 
valent to the tender or payment of one Spanish dollar, 
and so in proportion for any greater or less amount of 
debt,'* &c. Hence, British coin became a legal tender 
for the discharge of debts and other business. ^' And 
whereas the said British silver and copper money has 
been sent out to this united colony, consisting of 

Silyer Half cfowiit, ahilliiigt, and dxpenoet, 

Copper .........«.....*....^ Penoe^bilf-penoe,«DdfiEurthtiig8; 

^It is hereby declared and ordered, that the said 
British silver and copper money shall, fix)m and after the 
24th day of September, 1825, be legal tender and pay- 
ment, at the rate and value following: 


PomiiDgf (oqL iiioii8(j) 














British coin. Gailden. 

Half crowns 1 

Shillings (or 12 pence). 


One pennjr. 



" And all persons are further informed that they may 
demand from the chief officer of the commissariat de- 
partment in this colony bills upon the Lords Commis- 
sioners of his Majesty's Treasury at thirty days' sight, 
in exchange for any sums whatever tendered by them in 
British silver, not less in amount than 100/., at the fixed 
rate of a bill, 1001. for every 103/, of British silver money 
so tendered." 

The legal par of exchange was raised from 12 to 14 
guilders. During the suspension of specie payments by 
the Bank of England, and the consequent depreciation 
of the pound sterling, Spanish dollars had passed current 
in the colony at the rate of three guilders eadi. Upon 
the restoration of specie payments by the bank, the pound 
sterling recovered its original value; but the excessive 
issue of joe notes prevented a similar result in the colony. 
A Spanish dollar was still worth three guilders of the 
paper money, or of the debased silver of the colony; and 
it consequently became necessary to raise the l^al par 
of exchange. Thus the joe of this colony, which was 
originally worth 8 dollars and 40 cents, in consequence 
of the excessive issue of paper, sunk to the value of 7 
dollars 33-|^ cents. Such were some of the principal 
changes effected about this period. 

The social condition of the inhabitants appeared to be 
but little influenced by these innovations, nor did pro- 
perty lose any of its value, either by the threatened ca- 
lamity of the insurrection, or the contemplated measures 
for improving the state of the labouring classes. Specu- 
lations of all kinds were pursued with a determination 


which ensured success. We have seen that the arrival 
<^ Europeans increased after the colonies had been taken 
possession of by the British, but more especially since 
1815 ; and it had long been the custom for persons pos- 
sessed of little capital to purchase estates upon credit, 
trusting to the large profits to be made by their culti* 
vation for the means of pajring off the debt by instal- 
ments. Instances had occurred in which persons without 
any capital at all had made purchases of property, and 
been enabled, in the course of a few years, to become 
the undoubted proprietors of such estates. The way by 
which these transactions were conducted was as follows: 
— A gentleman of good address and connexion would 
offer to take over an estate, giving bills of exchange on 
well-known firms in England or elsewhere; this arrange- 
ment being accepted, he proceeded home at once, before 
the bills could be presented, and explained his object 
and intentions to the firm with whom he might, or might 
not, have had previous dealings or acquaintance; the 
bills being accepted, the money was duly paid, the parties 
advancing the money receiving and selling the sugars or 
other produce, sending out supplies, and making them- 
selves secure by holding one or more mortgages on the 
property, which, in the case of unsuccessfiil speculations 
of this kind, eventually fell into their hands. This system 
of advancing money upon property entailed much misery 
in the long run upon the planters, and although it was 
attended by extraordinary success at first, it led to the 
introduction of artificial principles, which reduced the 
value of property to a mere nominal amount, and finally 
engendered all sorts of abuses. It is now completely 

From this time forward the destte to become con- 
nected in some way or other with landed property 
may be described as a sort of mania. It is not diffi- 

VOL. I. 2 b 


cult to trace the cause of this. In all countries there 
are certain pursuits which entitle those who follow them 
to an aristocratic position. In some, as in Russia, the 
military profession brings particular distinction ; in Eng- 
land, a seat in the Legislature ; and in Europe generally, 
stars, ribands, and titles. Comparing small things with 
great, the grand daim to distinction in British Guiana 
was, and still continues to be, the possession of landed 
property in the shape of an estate. Apart fix)m higher 
walks of ambition, this local glory is regarded as the 
greatest honour. Of course it is not attended by equal 
advantage to all. At the commencement, the race was 
pretty equal, but the passion for estated properties in- 
duced so many persons to plunge into agricultural pur« 
suits without the requisite experience, capital, or acti* 
vity, that in the course of time success, instead of being 
the rule, became the exception. Nevertheless, as the 
possession of land was the only road to the attainment of 
the highest social rank, men who were earning a fair 
livelihood by their employments, professional or com- 
mercial, were still tempted to plunge into agricultural 
pursuits, undeterred by the examples of failures that 
were every day occurring around them. As the sole 
direction of local affairs, formerly but feebly counter* 
acted by the few oflScials, thus became vested in the 
hands of the most wealthy among the planters, the exer* 
cise of authority inevitably took that shape and form 
most conducive to their special interests. Opposed ta 
all kinds of innovations, the object of the planters was td 
provide and enact laws and regulations calculated for 
their own aggrandisement, or for that of their dass* 
Hence it was not enough for a man to find himself gain*: 
ing a reputation and fortune by other employments, so 
long as he felt himself dependent on the patronage or 
success of the planter. So ihat the merchant, the lawyer,. 


the doctor— riay, the tradesman, sought to increase his 
gains and advance his rank by the possession of some 
property. Very often, as might have been expected, 
8uch parties soon became mere nominal representatives 
of property. The shadow was theirs, but the substance 
went to another. 

Quod qoii Tocaie possit dominiuin Indeflnitnm, 
Non formalitu, aed concetfive; non actm, sed potentia. 

Advances of money had to be obtained to carry on 
hopeless agricultural speculations. Lavish expenditure 
or diminished means soon led the proprietors into diffi-* 
culties; fresh sums were advanced, more mortgages en* 
tailed, until by degrees the whole management or dis* 
posal of such property passed out of the hands of the 
mistaken theorist, and beggary and ruin alone awaited 
him. The high-sounding title and imaginary wealth of 
the West Indian proprietor began to be questioned, and 
the sun of prosperity, through this and other causes, 
gradually waned. 

' The most prominent among these causes was the con- 
templated changes in the condition of the negro, and the 
steps already taken towards his future emancipation. It 
was looked upon as unjust to wrest from the planters the 
control oi their purchased slaves, and to cast them un- 
fettered upon sodety. The worst of evils was antici- 
pated by measures which threatened to damage individual 
security, and blight the general condition of the colony. 
Stagnation of business, abandonment of properties, and 
the perpetration of all kinds of crime, were prophesied as 
inevitable. Anarchy and confusion were expected to be 
the result, and strenuous efforts were made by the inha- 
bitants to oppose at its commencement anjrthing like 
what they regarded as an innovation upon their rights. 
Thje open avowal of the contemplated emancipati0n of 



the negro being supported on tlie one hand by the minis^ 
terial party, and by a powerful body, acting under the 
title of the "African Institution,*' was opposed by a 
smaller party with whom, as a matter of course, the colo* 
nists sided. The views of the former, or abolitionists, 
were regarded by the latter as " highly visionaiy i" it 
was asserted that the negroes would retrograde rather 
than advance in civilisation, and a powerful objection 
was started by a member of the legislative body, that the 
colonies would ultimately be lost to Great ^tain. It 
was stated, that among the chief means of dvilisatioii 
two were pre-eminent — ^industry and knowledge ; but 
that the latter might be considered rather as an effect or 
consequence of the former : that as r^ards industry, 
" men will not work without compulsion ; that compul- 
sion is of two kinds, the coercion of ar master and the 
dread of starvation, and that in a country where the 
abundance of food puts the latter stimulant out of. the 
question, the ground, if cultivated at all, must be culti- 
vated by the system of slavery." Again, it was asserted 
that "slavery was doomed to die of its own accord. In 
the progress of society imaginary wants are established ; 
many articles of luxury, in clothing and lodging, are now 
required, and an additional expense is created in teaching 
the handicraft required to produce these articles. Popu* 
lation also is increased; the redundant supply of food, 
therefore, diminishes, and the cost of maintaining a slave 
becomes gradually greater and greater. In due time it 
(connected with other causes) becomes equal to the value 
of his labour; his master, then, finds no advantage in 
keeping him, and, consequently, employs free labourers.** 
It was prognosticated that the negroes never would merge 
into a free working peasantry sufficient for the keeping 
up of cultivation in the West Indies, and that labourers 
from other parts of the world would have to be brought 


to supply their place. Examples were adduced from 
modem and ancient history, nay, from the very Bible it- 
self, to show that the principle of slavery had always been 
tolerated by the most civilised among nations, and that 
the present condition of the slave was far superior to what 
had been pursued either by the Egj^tians, the Israelites, 
the Grecians, and the Romans. Every suggestion was 
offered to postpone or bring about gradually the libera- 
tion of the negro, until, in fact, their industry had been 
roused, and their knowledge rendered sufficient for the 
appreciati&n and the practice of the duties of a free and 
civilised people. How thoroughly and clearly, it must 
be admitted, did the colonists and their partisans, even 
at this period, anticipate many of the actud consequences 
of the emancipation ; but, at the same time, how blindly 
did they conceive that such interested arguments would 
weigh with a nation which had evidently made up its 
mind, at any risk, to blot out the opprobrious epithet of 
slave from its history, and to introduce those blessings of 
liberty which had done so much good to every part of 
the world subject to its sway. The hope that Great 
Britain would pause ere she acted so seriously against 
her interest, nor thus volimtarily resign, or render 
doubtful for the future, the benefits she had derived 
fit)m her West India possessions, was great among the 
colonists. Was this the flattery of self-importance, or 
was it a distrust in the philanthropic greatness of the 
British people ? Possibly both ; but they greatly erred in 
such conclusions. The feeling of anti-slavery had become 
too general to allow of much calm reasoning upon the 
subject A few burning phrases from glowing lips had 
excited the minds of thousands against the system of 
slavery and its supporters. The populace, but little ac- 
quainted with the reality, rent the air with their indig- 
nant protests. The true &ct8 of the case were never 


Stated, the real condition of the two chief parties coo- • 
cemed was never appreciated by the mass who clamoured 
for it. Some well-fcnown instances of undoubted cruelty 
were the hackneyed quotations of every discourse on 
the subject, and became the texts for innumerable anti- 
slavery sermons. '^ Am I not a Christian and a brother?*' 
was the inscription over pictures representing the n^roes 
in every attitude of degradation and suffering. The 
really just principle at stake was cloaked over with all 
manner of extraneous ornament^ and opposition to its 
accomplishment was looked upon as bigoted aflid selfish. 
The battle hitherto had been fought at a distance, but by - 
degrees scenes of contention arose in the colonies ; a party 
fjx)m the mother country had already found their way 
here, and, setting a bold front to the inhabitants, openly . 
avowed their doctrines. The insurrection of physical 
force having failed, a revolution of a moral nature was 
next to be brought about. 

Feelings of alarm began, therefore, to spread among 
the colonists. The strides towards emancipation were 
becoming more rapid. Resistance had been found worse 
than useless, and gloom and dissatisfaction began visibly 
to be evinced; a diminution in the price of sugar about 
the years 1828 to 1832 added to the general panic, and 
throughout the whole of the West India possessions 
there was experienced the deepest despondency. The 
exultation on the part of the slave was now silent, but 
perhaps the more heartfelt. Persons of all professions 
openly avowed their belief in the speedy downfal of the 
colonies, yet still remained spell-bound to the spot. Few 
made any efforts to quit the land thus threatened with a. 
moral earthquake ; while the absent proprietors still con-, 
tinued to live in Europe, in a style of lavish expenditure.; 
Uigent orders were sent out to strain every nerve towardsi 
making the most of the present state of things. On th^ 


part of the planter nothing was left undone to raise the 
last hogshead of sugar. All sorts of plans and projects 
were discussed, with a view to diminish the-necessity for 
manual labour, and to render planters independent of 
the slave; but none of them were put into practice. The 
provision-grounds and plantain-walks on estates were 
lefl unattended to, in order that all the strength of 
physical power should be concentrated in the manu&cture 
of sugar and rum. It seemed as if the proprietors had 
determined that the powers of the slave should be taxed 
to the utmost extremity, and, like the flagging spirits of a 
jaded beast, roused to a last superhuman performance. 
Those whose properties were mortgaged looked on in 
sullen indifference, as if the final stroke of misfortune was 
about to descend on them, whilst in reality it turned out 
that this particular class was the very one which derived . 
the largest benefits from the ensuing events. The smaller 
proprietors and the freed persons, who owned a small . 
number of slaves, upon whose existence they mainly 
depended, were loud in their complaints, and yet they 
also enjoyed afterwards a compensating gift, which to the 
prudent would have enabled thiem to embark in some 
other speculation ; but no, they were themselves about 
to be robbed of their ^^ Aladdin's lamp," and nothing else 
would satisfy them. They had been accustomed to one 
mode of life, and they could not see why the officious- 
ness of strangers should be allowed to interfere with it. 
The negroes were neither conciliated nor congratulated on 
their approaching liberty. The happiness about to be 
conferred on them was the signal of destruction to the 
master. Distrust and vexation pervaded all ranks of the 
community. Every one r^arded his own case as being 
harder than that of his neighbour. One had lately made 
a purchase, why should he not be allowed to derive the 
expected advantages ? Another was about to do so, 


why was he not permitted to carry oat his intention ? 
Others had always lived under the old system, and 
thought the proposed changes especially calamitous to 

Nor were such expressions of complaint confined to 
private remonstrance. As usual, in all colonies where 
the liberty of the press has existed, the grievances of the 
inhabitants are pretty rqundly asserted through the 
diannel of a newspaper. At the period to which we are 
now alluding an angry warfare was carried on with the 
organs of the anti-slavery party, and, in consequence of 
the violent tone displayed by some portion of the press, 
on this and other subjects^ the prerogative of Governor 
D'Urban was exercised in suppressing one paper called 
! the Colonist, and in frequently suspending the publica- 

[ tion of another, the Chronicle. But the voice of the 

colonists could not thus be stifled, and continued to 
declare itself in every possible way. 
j, It has already been noticed that several orders in 

Coimcil had appeared making every provision for the 
benefit of the slaves. In 1830, when the " Ordinance 
for the Religious Instruction of Slaves, &a," was published 
in the colony, the members of the court attempted to 
prevent the operation of this order, on the ground that it 
was imconstitutional and a violation of the rights of the 
colonists as contained in the " Plan of Kedress," and gua* 
ranteed by the articles of capitulation ; but the then 
Colonial Secretary, Lord Goderich, refused to recognise 
these doctrines ; and the next year, by another order in 
Council, the court itself was remodelled.* 

In the year 1831, when William the Fourth ascended 
the throne, the settlements on the three rivers of the 
colony had made great progress, the industry of the 

* Local Guide, p. zzL 


Dutch and British having triumphed over the many 
difficulties attending ^^ the formation of a settlement in 
the Tropics/' The last formed settlement had now 
become the largest and most influential, and Essequebo 
had already resigned the seat of government to the less 
romantic, but more commercial, Demerara ; whilst Berbice, 
left to itself, pursued a similar, but separate colonial line of 
policy. Although, however, thus distinct, and at different 
periods as important, if not more so than either of the other 
two settlements, yet of late it had acted more the part of 
a handmaiden, or younger sister, to thd others; and the 
fortunes of Demerara and Essequebo, whether for good 
or evil, affected also materially the fate of Berbice. We 
have, at different times, given an account of the more 
important circumstances in the history of the district, 
and it only now remains to add a few more particulars 
as to the time when the three colonies were united into 
one, and to be called British Guiana, under the govern- 
ment of bis Excellency Major-Greneral Sir Benjamin 
D'Urban, K.C.B., K.C.H., &c. 

The colony of Berbice, on the retirement of Governor 
Van Batenburg in 1806, was administered by two mili- 
tary officers in succession, as already noticed, who con- 
ducted the affairs of the settlement in peace and tran- 
quillity. There was little in the even and prosperous 
tenor of its way which required to be chronicled ; and 
the few incidents connected with its history at this 
period have been entirely overlooked by contemporaries^ 
nor am I able to contribute much to the scanty re- 
cords of its career. Its form of laws, of government, 
its social condition and cultivation, corresponded nearly 
in every repect to the sister settlements on the Demerara 
and Essequebo. The spirit, energy, and enterprise of 
the Berbiceans were not surpassed by their brother 


A reference to the tables of exports and imports, fix>m' 
1806 to 1831, will show that the industry of its popula- 
tion contributed a fair proportion of colonial produce. 

The cotton raised was considered the finest in the 
West Indies, and commanded the highest price. 

The sugar and rum manufactured were equal to that 
of Demerara; and the article coffee was of the best 
colonial quality. Maintaining its own government, the 
revenue and expenditure were quite distinct firom that of 
the united colonies of Demerara and Essequebo. 

The soil, and its surprising capabilities, were not infe- 
rior to any in the world. Somewhat scattered, as the 
population undoubtedly was, and distant as were -the 
estates one from the other, the utmost industry prevailed 
among its secluded members, who were composed, per- 
haps, of a larger proportion of foreigners than in the 
other two districts; but^ nevertheless, the greatest cor- 
diality and good- will were extended to the inhabitants 
of the sister settlements, in spite of the disagreement 
which at one time had unfortunately existed between 

In the capital of the colony, New Amsterdam (which 
had begun to be built since 1796, and which supplanted 
a town of a similar name a little further up the river), 
the occasions of strife and discord were numerous and 
frequent between the inhabitants and the executive; 
indeed, from some cause or other, the affairs of Berbioe 
were too often complicated with bickerings and animo- 
sity, and the dissensions between the officials and civilians 
have been repeated and violent. 

About this period, the town had resumed an air of 
prosperity and rising importance; there were several 
fine buildings, the old court-house especially, which, to- 
gether with the lively and clean private houses, prettily 


surrounded by lovely tropical finit-trees and shrubs, 
presented an aspect of striking beauty to the visitor. 

After the retirement of General James Montgomery, 
William Woodley, Esq., arrived from England with Ids. 
commission as lieutenant-governor, and was sworn into 
office in March, 1809; there was nothing of any public 
importance during his short administration. Quiet and 
unassuming, and a stranger to the habits and customs of 
the colony, he took no prominent part in interfering or 
altering the ordinary routine of business. About nine 
months after his arrival he was unfortunately attacked 
with a fever, of which he died in January, 1810. 

He was succeeded in the government by the senior 
military officer, Major-General Dalrymple, who was 
sworn into office in the same month, and continued as 
acting-governor until December of the same year, when 
Robert Gordon, Esq., a resident planter of the colony, . 
but who was in England at the time, received his com- 
mission as lieutenant-governor. This gentleman was well, 
known in Berbice as a clever but eccentric character, 
and received the soubriquet of "Mad Gordon" from his 
fellow-colonists. He was of firm and decided character,, 
acting with impartiality and fearlessness towards both 
friends and foes. Upon one occasion he suspended two 
of his most intimate friends, members of the Court of. 
Policy, in consequence of some irr^ularity and subter- 
fuge attempted to be practised on him in regard to their > 
improper appropriation of some money entrusted to their, 
care by a trust deed of a deceased party. 

He quitted the colony for a short tune in June, 1812, 
and during his absence the government was administered 
by Brigadier-Greneral John Murray, who acquired for 
himself considerable popularity and reputation in the; 
course of the discharge of his public duties. 

880 mnoET or bsrish guiiha. 

On the letnm ci laeoteiuait-Goveniar Gordon in 
Febnuuy, 1813, lie resumed the admmistnidoii, and 
Actrng-Govemor Muiray was presented by the inha- 
bitants with a complimentary address on his retirement. 

It was during this year that an attempt was made by 
some irntated planters £rom Berbice to injure, if not as- 
sassinate, Mr. Van Berckel, of which an account has 
been already given. When information was received 
by the lieutenant-governor of this district of the dis« 
graceful outrage, he took every feasible measure to dis- 
cover the perpetrators of so unwarrantable a proceeding, 
and offered a large reward for their apprehension. It is 
said, that immediately after the occurrence a gentleman 
was actually at the dinner-table of the lieutenant-governor 
who, it was supposed, had been implicated in the assault, 
and who listened with some surprise, if not alarm, to the 
angry denimciations of Gt>vemor Gordon on the subject. 

But the lieutenant-governor himself was not without 
his own annoyances in respect to his conduct, having 
strongly recommended a Mr. Frankland, of Berbice, to 
the office of President of the Courts of Justice in Deme- 
rara and Essequebo ; this officer was nominated to the 
situation, but certain objections having been raised in 
respect to his character and qualification, the matter was 
referred to the British Government, who, in consequence, 
wrote a letter of reprimand to the lieutenant-governor 
of Berbice, which so incensed him that he forthwith re- 
signed his office, and Major Grant was appointed as 
acting-governor of the colony in December, 1813. The 
humiliated and eccentric governor shortly after left the 
district, and died in one of the West India Islands. 

In June, 1814, H. W. Bentinck, Esq., was nominated 
lieutenant-governor, and was sworn into office. It 
will be remembered that this officer had already adminis* 
tered the government of Demerara and Essequebo fix>m 


1806 to 1812, but that he had been superseded by an 
order from England, in consequence of his disobedience 
to the instructions received. On his return to Great 
Britain to give an account of his public conduct, he 
seems to have sufficiently extenuated himself, and to 
have obtained a return of Court favour, inasmuch as he 
received a new appointment nearly, if not quite, equal 
in rank and importance to the one of which he had been 
deprived. Generous, good-natured, and conciliatory^ he 
was deficient in that sound judgment which is so requi- 
site in the character of a colonial governor. A man of 
the world, and of considerable experience, he was not 
remarkable for intelligence or skill ; actuated by the 
strong impulse of the moment, rather than guided by 
the dictates of calm deliberation, he frequently embroiled 
himself in disputes with the officers and subjects of his 
administration, and occasionally had to submit to the 
censure of the Government in England. Frank, fEuniliar, 
and cordial in his manner, he was nevertheless rather a 
popular governor; and although advanced in life, and 
broken down in constitution, he continued for several 
years to conduct the affairs of Berbice with some success 
and satisfaction. 

One of the principal evils he had, like most of the 
early governors, to encounter, were the irregularities and 
abuses practised in the judicial business of the colony. 
Extortion, exorbitant fees, subterfuge and deception, 
were prevalent among the courts which had to inves* 
tigate and decide in the complicated monetary transact 
tions arising from the frequent changes, failures, and 
deaths among the possessors of property. It was 
unfortunately too common a practice, both in Berbice 
and Demerara, for persons entrusted with the adminis* 
tration of the estates of deceased relatives or frienda to 
enrich themselves at the expense of the widow and th^ 


orphan^ either appropriating the proceeds tothdr pmnte 
a«e, or never rendering a sati^fiiclory account of them; 
and it was not until the last shilling of profit had been 
extracted from the '' BoedeL** or estate, that the grasping 
executors or attorneys relinquished their hold of their 
profitable speculations. Often has a promising and 
solvent inheritance been handed down to the rightful 
possessor in* an entirely unproductive condition, and 
involved in debt and litigation. No wonder that fixtunes 
were often rapidly and strangely made — ^no wonder that 
colonial properties proved of little benefit to the successors 
of the thrifty and successful planter, and that mortgage 
and debt clung like millstones round the necks of the 
helpless female or the unprotected minor. 

Dark and painful are the stories which yet circulate 
among the old inhabitants on this unpleasant subjects 
One short anecdote will suffice to point the moral of 
these miseries : — A gentleman, possessed of considerable 
property, was once imperatively called upon by the 
Court of Justice of Demerara to submit his accounts and 
vouchers of a certain lucrative "Boedel" entrusted to 
his care. After frequent evasive delays, he said that on 
such a day he would be ready to exhibit them, and with 
some parade and ostentation conveyed himself and his 
books on board his estates' schooner, to proceed to town: 
To the astonishment of the court he presented himself 
before the members without a single document, and 
affirmed on oath that, on coming to town, the schooner 
was unaccountably sunk, and that with some diflSculty 
the crew and himself contrived to escape, but with the 
loss of all on board. 

About the year 1819, Henry Beard, Esq., arrived 
from England, as President of the Court of Justice of 
Berbice. He endeavoured to improve the important 
department committed to his care, but in consequence of 


some trifling disagreement with Lieutenant-Gk)vemor 
Bentinck, he was suspended by that officer. The matter 
was referred to the British Government, who thought 
proper to reinstate Mr. Beard, and to administer to the 
governor a reprimand for his imbecoming interference. 
In the course of the year 1820, Grovernor Bentinck 
died, to the regret of the colonists, who liked him in 
spite of his failings. His health had long been declining, 
so that the event of his decease was more or less antici- 
pated. He was succeeded in November by Major This^* 
tlewajrte, the military officer highest in command here, 
and who had lately married one of the ladies of the 
colony. The career of the acting-governor was brief 
and melancholy. Not long married, and suddenly ap* 
pointed in the prime of life to so lucrative a position, he 
was attacked with malignant fever about a month after 
his taking office, and died in January, 1821. 

While on his death-bed he had to make arrangements 
for his successor ; according to rule, the officer next in 
rank should succeed him, imtil the arrival of a lieutenant- 
governor, by appointment, from England. It so happened- 
that at the time of his illness the officer in command was 
only a lieutenant, a young, wild, and inexperienced lad,' 
evidently unfitted for such an office. The President of 
the Court of Justice, Mr. Beard, accordingly despatched 
his secretary, Mr. J. C. Campbell, to Governor Murray,^ 
of Demerara, requesting him to send a competent mill- 
tary officer to assume the government. Before this was 
completed, however, Colonel Sir John Cameron, having 
heard of Governor Bentinck's death in Barbadoes, pro- 
ceeded quickly to Berbice to enjoy the privileges o£ 
acting-governor. On his arrival he found Major Thistle-' 
wayte dying, but without waiting for his death had the 
Court of Policy assembled, and was sworn into office 
forthwith. He did not, however, long enjoy the coveted: 


honours. It appears that on the death of Governor 
Bentinck) Mr. Beard had exerted his influence, and that 
of his friends at home, to procure the government for 
himself, and with success, for in March, 1821, he received 
his commission as lieutenant-governor of Berbice. 

His administration was by no means popular. He 
had frequent disputes with his subordinates, and with 
the members^ of the Council of Policy, many of whom 
were also members of the Court of Justice. Upon one 
occasion he dissolved the former, and caused other mem* 
bers to be nominated in their place, which caused a great 
deal of excitement and indignation among a certain class 
of the community. The progress made in Berbice was 
not now equal to that of the united colonies of Demerara 
and Essequebo, and it was fast merging into a mere 
dependency of the latter. The same measures which 
had been adopted by the British Government, relative 
to the protection and amelioration of the condition of 
the slaves in the other colonies, were also extended to 
Berbice ; and those steps commenced which were gradu- 
ally to lead to their emancipation from bondage. 

The shock occasioned by the insurrection of the slaves 
in Demerara in 1823, was communicated to Berbice, but 
no display of dissatisfaction was manifested by the negroes 
in the latter district, nor any attempt made by them to 
co-operate in the revolt. It had been too quickly sup- 
pressed to allow of the hope of success to enter into the 
bosoms of the others, and the result only acted as a 
warning to keep them in good behaviour. 

On Lieutenant-Governor Beard's quitting the colony, on 
leave of absence, in March, 1825, it was no longer deemed 
necessary to appoint a separate acting-governor; the 
direction of its affairs was entrusted to Sir Benjamin 
D'Urban, at that time lieutenant-governor of Demerara 
and Essequebo, who continued to act until the return of 


Mr. Beard, in July, 1826. Thd last years of this gentle- 
man's administration were not more encouraging than the 
earlier period of his career. He pulled down the vene- 
rable court-house, so long the pride and ornament of 
New Amsterdam, to the great scandal and mortification 
of the inhabitants, and otherwise acted in a manner any- 
thing but satisfactory to the colonists. He continued, 
however, to hold his situation until 1831, when the union 
of the three colonies, and the appointment of one 
governor, rendered his services unnecessary. He soon 
afterwards quitted Berbice, and returned to England, at 
the close of an eventful and profitable career in the West 

The union of the three colonies, now known as British 
Guiana, was followed by many important results. On 
the 2l8t of July, 1831, the governor exhibited to the 
Honourable the Court of Policy the commission granted 
to him by his Majesty as Grovernor and Commander-in- 
Chief in and over the Colony of British Guiana, com- 
prising the colonies of Demerara, Essequebo, and Berbice, 
and their dependencies ; and on the 5th of August fol- 
lowing, a similar commission was granted to him as Vice- 
Admiral of the same colony ; which appointments were 
duly acknowledged and proclaimed. ITie Court of 
Policy of Georgetown now became the Court of Policy 
for the three districts, and its first ordinary session was 
held on the 25th day of July of the same year. In the 
same manner one Collie of Electors, or Keizers, and one 
College of Financial Representatives, existed for the whole 
ccdony, members fix)m each district being of course quali« 
fied for election.* But the form of the courts of criminal 
and civil justice were completely altered by proclamation, 
and circuit courts established for British Guiana as well 

* Tbe Golleg* of Kdaeri and FiiuuiciAl BepretenUtiTes were inoorpormted ia 
one bodj in 181S, bj Goreraor CarmichMl, irat bj a proclamation of Sir B. 
I^Urban, dated Sltt Jnljr, 18SI, the two colleges were a^ made diatinet. 

^ VOL. L 2 O ' 


as for the Deighbouring colonies of Trinidad and St. 
Lucia, the dvil courts to be held before a chief justioe 
and two puisne judges. However, on November 22nd 
of the same year the circuit courts were abolished, and 
a chief justice and two puisne judges were appointed for 
British Guiana, before whom, also, all civil causes were to 
be heard. The criminal court was to be held by the 
same chief justice and puisne judges, but associated with 
three assessors. In criminal cases, a majority of the whole 
court was required to ensure conviction. The foimer 
president of the court, Mr. Wray, was appointed to the 
high office of chief justice. A " manner of proceeding'* 
was accordingly published, to be observed in the supreme 
courts of civil justice in British Guiana, respecting the 
period and date of the sessions; the establishment of 
roll courts ; the serving of citation ; the renewal of sen? 
tences; the manner of proceeding concerning bills of 
exchange; the taxation of costs; summation and services; 
the sale of movable property; the levy upon and sale of 
immovable property; the appointment of sequestrators; 
the sale of plantations; the obligations of purchasers; 
and position of creditors and mortgagees. An ordinance^ 
the same year, was also passed, providing for a sufficient 
number of assessors for the court of criminal justice. 

It must be remembered that there was one supreme 
court of criminal justice of Demerara and Essequebo, 
and one for Berbice, and the same obtained in the civil 
courts. To the former, twelve assessors were appointed 
by this ordinance for each court of criminal justice in 
Demerara and Berbice. The right to elect them lay 
with the College of Eeizers, and rules for their appearance 
and conduct were enacted. It is also to be remarked 
that the College of Eeizers and of Financial Bepresentar. 
tives, which, as before stated, had been strangely united 
by a previous governor (General Caimichael), were in 
July of the year 1831 again separated by a proclamation 


of Governor D'Urban, who had received orders to that 
effect from Great Britain. 

In the following year, 1832, other important orders 
and judicial enactments came into operation ; as early as 
January the consolidated slave ordinance, already alluded 
to, was published. It provided, as we have seen, for 
the still greater amelioration in the condition of the 
slave, reducing the period of labour to nine hours ; and 
for children xmder four years of age and pregnant women 
to six hours; it increased the allowances; and reduced 
the extent of punishment to fifteen lashes. As a matter 
of course the colonial members of the Court of Policy 
made strenuous exertions to prevent the enforcement of 
this ordinance. In a printed document on the subject, 
addressed to the governor, they say: ^^ From the nature 
of this order in Coundli we are impressed with a firm 
conviction that, if such a publication does take place, 
the utter ruin and desolation of this colony, already 
suffering under the severest calamities, will be con* 
summated.*' Unable to prevent its operation, they were 
still more opposed to its publication, fearful of the in- 
jurious |endency it would have on their privileges, and 
of the insolence and exultation to which it would most 
likely give rise on the part of the slave. In February 
of this year, a curious proclamation made its appearance, 
abrogating the offence of '^ eating dirt;** a propensity and 
practice which the negro had acquired, and for which 
he was rendered liaUe to punishment. It being now 
perceived that such a habit was in itself a disease, the 
punishment died away with the cure of the malady. 
In March following appeared an ordinance ^^ to define 
oflfenoes committed by daves,** and to establish a ^' sum- 
mary jurisdiction for the punishment thereof;" which 
summary jurisdiction was entrusted to fiscals, deputy- 
iiscals, or civil magistrates. 

In September of the same jrear (1882) an ordinance 




was passed ^* to establish and constitute inferior oourito 
of civil justice in British Guiana,'* and to make other 
provisions for the establishment of such inferior courts. 
This ordinance repealed a previous one of May the same 
year, and enacted one inferior court for the district of 
Demerara and Essequebo, and another for the district of 
Berbice, to be held by and before the chief justice, or 
one of the puisne judges, at appointed times; to have 
jurisdiction in cases of the amount or value of twenty 
pounds sterling (20/.) or 300 guilders currency, &c An 
amended ordinance for the providing of assessors was 
also enacted in August of this year, in which two dausei 
were altered, requiring in future that assessors should be 
liable to serve for two years, and to be subject to fines 
in case of non-attendance; but these ordinances were 
again superseded by others. Again, ^' a capitation tax,** 
similar to what was raised in Demerara and Essequebo^ 
to aid the king's chest in providing for the salaries 
of the public functionaries of British Guiana, was also 
enforced, by ordinance of the governor and Court of 
Policy, to extend to the district of Berbice, 

In addition to the foregoing ordinances of |^e year. 
1838, an enactment was passed by Sir Benjamin D'Urban 
and Court of Policy, on the 25th August, to establish 
boards of health in the districts of Demerara and Esse* 
quebo, and of Berbice, in the colony of British Guiana. 

The following table shows the ratio of mortality among 
the negro slave population in these colonies: 


Period over 
which the 



Tou-lj Deathi. 

Annual De&thi 

to IMW liTlDg. 



F, TotaJ, 


P 'ToUL 





mnd £«* } 


ISIS to issi 

Bt4T& 70.4Z4 



W9 68» 







Such were some of the principal changes and occur- 
rences which marked the government of Sir Benjamin 
D'Urban ; and whether we consider the general utility 
of the measures enforced, or the skiU with which they 
were directed, we cannot but admit that the conduct of 
the governor was both vigorous and effective. 

Possessed of the most gentleman-like and affable de- 
meanour, his excellency was characterised by high intel- 
ligence and soldier-like decision. To the agreeable and 
hospitable behaviour of himself and Lady D'Urban the 
society of the colony was largely indebted, and not a 
little improved. The governor had his favourites (how 
few have not?), but it was generally admitted that he 
acted towards all with becoming impartiality and strict 
justice. After about seven years of useftd administra^ 
tion, during which he lost his eldest son (Captain 
D'Urban, who was unfortimately drowned whilst bathing 
up the Essequebo), he retired for ever from these 
shores, universally regretted, but only to receive subse- 
quently from his sovereign a higher and more important 

890 msTOBT or Bsmra ouiaka. 


AxxiYAL or jjEOTEKMjn-QowmaaKOM SIB s. o. imTB, BASTw— «TAm or ooumr— 


The opening of 1838 was a crisis of extraordinaiy in-* 
terest and peculiar difficulty in the history of the colony. 
The changes already effected in the condition of the slave 
and of society generally, and the still more important 
changes which were in contemplation, demanded the ut- 
most firmness and discretion on the part of the Executive 
in dealing with the indignant remonstrances of the 
planters, and the excited anticipations of the slave. A 
rare combination of patience and resolution alone could 
have maintained the ascendancy of legitimate authority, 
and curbed the passions of the antagonistic classes at a 


moment so fraught with danger to the community. Such 
qualities were fortunately united in the person of Sir 
James Carmichael'Smyth, who in the year 1833 arrived 
in the colony, and assumed the government. The 
diflSculties of his position were very great. The circum- 
stances against which he had to contend were novel and 
alarming. He found a large body of slaves emerged from 
a state of barbarism and ignorance into the condition of 
vassals; exhibiting in their character and conduct a 
strange mixture of civilisation and ignorance ; of imperfect 
morab and scanty notions of religion grafted on native 
superstition; of outward humility and obsequiousness 
masking secret feelings of fear and detestation. He found 
them occupied in toil, but enjoying all the physical 
comforts of an European peasantry ; surrounded with 
the blessings of improved laws, and an abundance of the 
necessaries of life. But notwithstanding all these ad- 
vantages, he discovered discontent and uneasiness 
beneath the surface, and a perpetual restlessness and 
feverish desire for a change, which seemed incompatible 
with their actual worldly prosperity. The cause was 
evident ; the slave felt himself on the verge of emanci- 
pation, and was impatient to clear at a bound the chasm 
which separated him from liberty. 

On the other hand, the new governor had to en- 
counter a body of the colonists who were at variance 
with the Executive upon this subject. Naturally anxious, 
and desponding at the approaching changes, they were 
not likely to surrender without a struggle the privil^es 
they had hitherto exercised with impunity. -They were 
to see their means of acquiring wealth wrested from them 
m what appeared an unjust and arbitrary manner. They 
felt themselves about to be triumphed over by the very 
class that had before always trembled at their nod. They 
saw the country which had been raised by them, and by 

302 msTGET or BsmsH gctasa. 

their father?, to its then stale of prosperitj^^ about to be 
torn by iatestine commotkn and factioiis i]iDO¥atioii& 
Thej felt, not altogether unreasonablv, that a stiict line 
of equality was now about to level the distioctions of 
sodety, and that, whilst in all probability they and their 
children would have to descend in poation, ^ i^sgro 
and his race would rise in the scale of power and social 
consideration. Nor were they to be comforted By 
British philanthropists who expatiated upon the justice 
and wisdom of the scheme, and who prophesied that it 
would tend rather to augment than to diminish the 
welfare and progress ci the colony. There were noty 
indeed, wanting many of the colonists whose humanity 
induced them to approve in the abstract of the contem* 
plated emancipation ; but few or none pretended to deny 
that it involved great sacrifices, and that it threatened 
the existence and stability of the country. 

The first act of Sir James C. Smyth was to issue a 
proclamation to the slaves respecting the measures in 
prc^ess for their benefit. Nothing could have been 
more judicious or politic than this act. It at once satis-" 
fied curiosity and restrained impatience, while it afibrded 
to the colonists and to the negroes a candid proof of the 
earnestness and zeal with which the governor was about 
to rule. The former adopted their old and generally suc- 
cessful custom of endeavouring to seciu'e the favour of hia 
Majesty's representative to their side. Unbounded offera- 
of hospitality and support were tendered to him, but he re-: 
ceived them coldly and with suspicion. Advice and com-j 
plaint poured in upon him, and he was alternately me* 
naced with opposition and unpopularity, and tempted by 
flattery, but to no purpose. Displaying an impartiality 
which rendered hopeless all attempts to intimidate or 

* The estimated ralue of Dcmerara and Essequebo, just before the »!«▼» 
cmanciiuition, wai 18,410,480^, while that of Berbice waa 7,415,160/1 Total 
iralue of Britiah Guiana, tB,82(,640/.-*MoKToojiSRT Uartw. 


entrap his judgment, and resolved tbT)e guided by the 
interests and not by the passions of the conflicting classes, 
the colonists soon discovered the inutility of attempting 
to influence his course, and at last ceased to regard him 
in any other light than that of a severe, but strictly just 
administrator. While his manner to the planter and 
merchant was thus cold, studied, and polite, his demea- 
nour to the negro was dignified, courteous, and considerate. 
Conscious of the difficulty of his position, he carefully 
avoided encouraging the approaches of either, formed few 
friendships, and dispensed justice equally to all. We shall 
soon see how such an act was met and regarded by the 
individuals of each party. Oi> the 12th June, 1833, the 
following resolutions passed the House of Commons : — 
That " Immediate and effectual measures be taken for 
the entire abolition of slavery throughout the colonies, 
under such provisions for regulating the condition of the 
negroes as may combine their welfare with the interests 
of the proprietors." Lord Wynford, in 1833, proposed a 
bill for the purpose of preventing the introduction of a/ny 
produce from places where slavery prevailed, but it was 
never sanctioned. 

On the 19th October, " the Act of Apprenticeship" 
passed by the British Parliament. A proclamation im-' 
mediately announced this important measure to the 
colony. It was entitled, "An Act for the Abolition of 
Slavery throughout the British Colonies, for promoting 
the industry of the manimiitted slaves, and for compem 
sating the persons hitherto entitled to the services of 
such slaves.* 

* As the prorlBioiiB of this act bear immediatelj upon the text, an abatract of 
Its clanaea is 8iTen*here rather than in the Appendix, for the conTenience of 


1. All persona on the 1st August, 1S34, being registered as slaTea, six yean 
old and upwards, shall beeome annentice labourers. 

2. All apprenticed labourers to continue to serre their former maitera, :. 

804 mafiOET qp juutihu gitiaxa. 

In January, 1834, an ordinance was pasKd to establish 
inferior criminal courts of justice. Among other pro-^ 

a. Al ilsfw ftm wbcn brvofht to Gml Britaio. 

4. Thne rl of inatuUt ei; nuaOj, Ht> hd 

•Q owiMff^t knds I Sad* pnidialt wattadied. or tbow nol on owmf^i 
Srd, Doa-pffsdial, tiicli ■• tradeimen and odier artiMot. 

5. A p pw o ticMhip of piadial labooicn to Itt Aagm^ 1840. 

6. Apptentioeahip of DOD-pnBdial labooren to Itt Aognat, 1838. 

7. Labooren mliurtarilj diadiaigod after tfak ad wcra l O fuiiiMl to ba 
ported b^ their late emplo^vn^ if aged or inflzm. 

8. ApprentioedlaboncriaUoved to parcfaaae their diadiaige. 

9l Apprentioed labomera not ronorable ftom tihe ooloi^ ; pnBdial labooran 
not renioTabla ftom plantation, except with oonaent of two apBoal joatioeo. 

la B%ht to aerrice of Mprenticed labonrer to be tra u tpor t e d proparty. 

11. Emplojer to anpplj labourer with food, &c. 

11. SatiSect to the aboTO obligation. Slairarj waa to bo aboUabed in 1884. 

13. Bolea abont indentoring cfaildven beknr aiz jeaia in 1834| and tiioia bom 

14. Joatioea of ponee, bgr apedal qpmmiiaion, raqnlrad to glTO aflbot to tliia 
act, Ac 

15. SaUriea granted to them bj hit Mjgeatj. 

16. Recital of regulation neceaaary for giring eflbct to tiiia act» and the mode 
of treating and daasing the labooren. 

17. Whipping on the aathoiitj of the emplojrer abolished. 

18. Coloiual acta not to interfere with appointment of ipedal jnatioe. 

19. Special jnatioea to ezercite ezdnaiTe jnriadlction between employen nad 
apprentioed labooren. 

sa Apprentioed labooren not to be anl^ected to renewal of apprentloadilp^ 
nor to more than fifteen houn' extn labour in an j week for employer'a beneflt. 

21. Apprentioed labooren not to be made to work on Snndaya, or prarentad 
from attending rdigiooa wonhip. 

S2. Not to interfere with colonial laws relatire to apprentioed labooren being 
tzempted from, or diaqnalified for, certain militia or dTil aerrioea and frandiian. 

23. Local acta amending this act to rapereede it, if confirmed by hia Miyeatjr. 

24. Treasnry to raise loan, not to exceed twentj miHiona. 

' 15. Treasury to give notice of tlieir intention to raise the same, &e. 

26. Annuities to be granted for snch loans to be the same as some now 

27. Annuities created by this act subject to same rules as those now existing. 

28. Ckxnmissionere for reduction of the National Debt may subscribe townrai 
raising the twenty millions. Moneys raised to be paid to the bank. 

29. Weat Indian compensation account. 

30. Cashien of bank to give receipts for subscription, &c 

31. Interest and charges of twenty millions to be charged upon Conaotidated 

32. Money for paying annuities to be issued by exchequer to cashier of the 

33. Commissionen to be appointed to distribute the compensation prorided 
for by this act. 

34. Oath of commissioners, 

35. Meetings of commissionen. Appointment of inferior oflloen also to'bt 

36. Any three commissionen to be a quorum. 

37. Remuneration of some of the commissioners. 

38. Colonial or auxiliary commissionen appointed. 

89. Issue of money for payment of the expenaes of the commission. 

40. Commissionen may compel attendance and ^Tff™*"^t<^ of witnesaaa. 

41. Commissionen to take ezaminationi on oath« 


visions it abolished the use of the whip, which was now 
forbidden, except by sentence of a magistrate. Another 
ordinance was also passed for cariTing the Act of 
Apprenticeship into effect; and on the 1st Augost, 1834, 
the sun rose in splendour, and cast its effulgence over a 
land inhabited alone by free men. The dark reign of 
Slavery had vanished with the passed night, never to 
return. Mountain and valley, ocean and river, the 
wildest waste and the most cultivated territory of the 
British West Indies no longer bore testimony to the 
ignominy of man's d^radation, but offered their inex- 
haustible riches to the free arm which should be willing 
and industrious enough to seek them. Never had the 
recording pen of the historian a more grateful task to 
perform than to trace the era of this glorious victory over 

42. Penalties for iwearing fidselr. 

43. Exemption fh>m postage of letten on oommiftion Imfineif. 

44. No compeneation aUowed to aqy oolonj, nnleit endi eoloi^ ftilfil aatm 
of the act. 

45. Compenwit lo n flind dirided into nineteen thafes te eadi of the oolooiea-* 
Bermnda, Bahamai, Jamaica, Hondnraa, Virgin Iilee, Antigna, Montaerrat^ 
Neris, St. Chrietophcr, Dominica, BartMdoea, Grenada, St. Vincent, Tobage^ 
St Lnda, Trinidad, British Onlana, Good Hope, Manritia. 

46. No eompensatioQ allowed for persons illegallj held as slaTes. 

47. Oommissiooers to instltote mqniries, and to adopt mles assigning aqiial 
shares of the compensation fVmd. 

48. Bnks to be poblished in the Lomdm OauUe, and appeals against them 

49. Sncfa appeals to be considered bj bis Iff^jestj. 

60. In the absence of appeal, his Miyeatj and Coandl maj amend soch roles. 

51. Rnles, when confirmed, shall be enrolled in Chancery. 

52. 8nch recorded mles maj be amended. . 

53. Confirmed mles Talid, as if enacted hj Fsriiament 

54. Boles so enrolled to be obserred bj commissioners. 

55. Interested persons to prefer daim before commissioners. 

56. Commissioners to a4jndicate claims; appeals allowed. 

57. His Higestj in GooncQ maj consider soch appeals. 

58. Failing appeals^ the award to be considered final. 

59. Tteasorj mar osder payment of salaries, 

60. Manner In which snms awarded by law to be paid. 

61. Certain British statotes extended to cdkmies, and power of special jostioei 

62. His VUie^ in Coandl may make laws for giTing eflbct to this act in 

68. Word **goTeraaK' defined. 

64. Act not to eztand to East Indies. 

65. When act to come into eflbct at Good Hope and Maoritia. 

66. Isl a n d dspe nd cnt vpon oosooief dee m ed pofi ef eodL 

SOS acnoKT <7 ssttbh coaxa. 

z xmj:& priwsple. — 'xa cccaeaacia to a woild of s 

fiauo>:i'£ rli a fra&k aTorvni^ oc vxC'Cg and injoscioe oa 

tiK pan ^ a jKra-er^ empire :o Uhe pxx* and abject 
kIaTe« — a Tolxmurr ac: of seLf-^hcri&ce and oooiritioD oa 
the part of a haughtr azid ksdlT masfis to the suraiifc 
who for vean bad obeved him in awe and degradation, 
' The ac: oq the part of England was an act of pme 
magnanimity — an example to a world of a great comif: 
tr/s sense of wrong — an example to her own people of 
her sen.% of jostioe. The concession was Tolnntary ; it 
was neither extorted bv threats, nor founded upon sordid 
calculations of profit. The glory still remains to her o£ 
having made a sacrifice to principle, which France al<Hie^. 
of all the nations of Europe, has had the gnoe to 
imitate and adopt 

Let us now see what was th<e immediate effect of the 
^ apprenticeship." The hour had long been watched fiir 
by the slaves; behold it now arrived I How did he ac- 
knowlerlge it? Universal rejoicing commemorated the 
(lay. The churches were opened, and hundreds flocked 
\Ay its altars to offer up a prayer of thanksgiving and 
praise. The militia and troops formed a procession in 
the most public places, where a proclamation and address' 
was read by his excellency, in presence of a multitude of 
persons, and surrounded by a brilliant staff of officers, 
both civil and military. The negroes, dressed out in 
tlicir gayest apparel, paraded the streets and loads. 
Many strolled from house to house, listening to and bear- 
ing the glad tidings. In that one hour seemed buried 
ull the sorrows and forgotten all the indignities of slavery. 
The general bearing of the inhabitants was on the whole 
creditable and moderate ; no disposition of ill-will or 
revenge was exhibited. Many an imprudent speech was- 
uttered indeed; many a witty joke cracked at the ex- 
pense of '^ Massa Buckraf what of that, it was a cheap 


and innocent return for many an act of oppression and 
injustice. The characteristic good-huraour of the negro 
triumphed over his resentments in the moment of new- 
bom hilarious liberty; he forgot his enmity in his fun, 
and the smile and the laugh were rather to be detected 
in his dark features than any expression of malice or 
hatred. But many social' habits were cast off. The ties 
of years were broken in that one day. Old servants*and 
dependents abruptly left their masters. It was diflScult 
to get work done. Carousings, revellings, and public 
balls got up among the negroes, marked their rejoicings.- 
The town itself was like a hive swarming with inhabit 
tants. From all parts of the country they flocked to the 
metropolis, and that movement so simple, so natural in 
itself, established a principle whidi was injurious to the 
more remote districts. No act of violence, however, ac- 
companied the presence of the crowds in the town ; no 
riotous scenes or dissolute behaviour followed. Even 
the discomfited planter could not but outwardly ac-^ 
quiesce in the joy around him ; the cheerfulness of the 
scene was contagious, and he who dated from this hour 
loss of fortune and ascendancy could not help catching 
the infection. The slave of yesterday was revelling in 
the anticipation of a life of freedom. As yet it possessed 
all the charms of an ideal and untried existence. Like 
children who have a holiday granted to them, they 
looked forward with pleasure to the enjoyment of it, but 
had not yet decided in their minds how they should' 
spend it What a startling fact remained then;;^to be told.. 
What a recoil followed the announcement of the^Act of 
Apprenticeship. Apprenticeship ! Still servitude. They 
had yet to linger out a few years of articled toil ere they 
could become free agents; in fact, their own masters. 
The division into presdials and non-prsddials was a hard^ 
lesson for them to learn. -^ 


The wiBclcmi of such an ami^ement was quefltionable. 
It5 intention was undoubtedly good; it had finr its ob- 
ject the gradual adjustment of the relations betwe^i 
master and servant in their new positions, but, strange to 
say, it pleased neither. The former, denuded of his au- 
thority, was at a loss how to treat his dependent, while 
the latter felt as if he had been in part cheated of the 
promised boon; hence arose frequent misunderstandings. 
It is difficult even now to say what would have beea 
the most satisfactory and politic step in bringing about 
the emancipation for the benefit of all parties. It was 
then thought hazardous to convert in one day nearly a 
million of slaves into free subjects. By some it was 
considered unnecessary to enlighten or instruct them 
more fully in their required duties. Some proposed to 
establish a species of feofiage; the Crown to take formal 
possession of all the land, and to grant land under a 
tenure, exacting the performance of certain services to 
the sovereign. In lieu of service, the Grown was to 
exact annually the payment of a sum of money, regulated 
in amount in proportion to the disparity between the ordi* 
nary cost of a man's subsistence and the value of his la- 
bour. To correct thus the evils of habitual idleness of such 
as were desirous of obtaining liberty, until the time when 
artificial wants should be introduced, and sufficient in* 
ducement created to incite men to exertion. To appro- 
priate such money in promoting the improvement and 
education of the rising generation. To establish a va- 
grant law, and to institute punishments for idleness and 
dereliction of prescribed duties. To form the mechanics 
and tradesmen into companies. To invite those already 
free to become freeholders-of property, or to learn trades. 
Such measures having a general tendency to bring about 
a gradual liberty, to keep up the spirit of agricidture and 
commerce by industry and incentives to labour, and to 


be well adapted to the wishes and prosperity of all, and 
to the maintenance of the success of the colonies in their 
integrity, &c. &a Others, again, suggested an immediate 
and unrestricted abolition of slavery; and perhaps, after 
all, this, the boldest of the propositions, would have been 
the best. 

The people of England, who in reality xmderstood 
little of the actual condition and capacity of the slaves, 
but who clamoured for abolition, cared little how it was 
effected, so that it was actually accomplished. Exagge- 
rated and often untrue stories had reached their ears, 
and they were intent on some alteration of the system. 
It would have been a matter of astonishment, perhaps 
of indifference to the majority, if the colonies were to be 
irrevocably ruined, or the planters annihilated; but to 
the Legislature of Great Britain it was a matter of deep 
concern how best to introduce the desired freedom. The 
Act of Apprenticeship was the result of this delibera- 
tion. To have been more politic and just it should not 
have alone provided indemnification for the actual de** 
privation of the services of the negroes, who had been 
collected at an enormous outlay, but it should also have 
contemplated the failure of manual labour likely to result, 
and provided measures to keep up a proper supply of la- 
bour adequate to the wants of the colonies. The planters 
were, it is true, to be compensated for the loss of their 
live stock in trade, but no attention was paid to the loss. 
that would probably ensue to the capital invested ia 
buildings, machinery, and other works, when the moving 
power was withdrawn, as it would be by the retirement 
of the labourers from such properties. 

Had it not been that thi^ colony was too closely con^ 
nected with Europe in monetary transactions, and that 
large capitalists were concerned in its existence, therer 
can be no doubt but tliat ere long it would have reverted. 

4/iO h:?t.>2t :t stmsa (Si^tax: 

to :tt z'jrD^ IixuiiisT box nacahiraied waste, savei per-' 
hip:- :}>e «j:aiitT colnre nt^^esfeirr f :«r ibe wants erf a semi- 
bajtraroTi? =r*A:*e : : 5.>'ie:v. Tbc scheme, howerer, now 
c^erei alio::^^ w::h :he r»5ST iniennons. was found in- 
ju'iic^ious. nnsarisfi-norv. aijd impracticable. The idea 
wa5 :-:o OjiLplica^ei f:r •Jic mind of the negro. It de* 
prired Lim, in his own eyes, of half his expected gloiy. 
Ii left him. as it fjnni him, desponding and dissatisfied. 
It excited him for a moment, bat to depress him after- 
wards. It shook ofi^ it is tnie« the shackles of iron which 
had previously bound him. but it still fettered him with 
restrictioos. The very distinction that was drawn be- 
tween pracidials and non-jHsdials was irksome to reflect 
upon. If (so argued the negro), as was stated, one 
human being was as g<xKl as another, and that all men 
were equal, and should be free, why begin again to form 
new distinctions? They had been told that they were 
worthy to rank with the noblest of God's creation. They 
had been made men, and why were they now to be 
treated as children ? It cast suspicion upon the noble 
gift which had been presented to them. The tear of 
gratitude was checked as it was about to flow ; the hand 
paralysed as it was about to be clasped in thankfuluesa. 
The intelligence of the negro could not as yet perceive 
that the mind had been emancipated, although the body 
had yet to toil. It could not yet appreciate the delicate 
sense of consideration shown to the injured planter, but 
it was quick enough to resent as an insult that which 
was considered as a reflection upon their capacity of firee- 
dom. They thought only of themselves as most men do 
when placed in similar critical situations. They felt that 
their triumpli was incomplete when any consideration was 
shown for the upper classes, which had been so long op- 
posed to them. But, as will be seen, the good effect 
intended fur the planter proved abortivci and the whole* 


scheme failed in its object to satisfyi and in its desire to 
be just. 

Scarcely had the last sounds of revelry and merriment 
ceased which marked the Ist of August, 1834, when an 
unwillingness to submit to the published Act of the Ap- 
prenticeship betrayed itself throughout the greater part 
of the colony, but more especially along the west coast 
of Essequebo, known as the Arabian coast, long deemed 
the garden of the country, from its opulence and beauty. 
It was here that proceeded the loudest complaints against 
the acts from England. A large number of labourers 
refiised to work under the new regulations. In fact, " a 
strike*' occurred, and the feelii^ which prompted to 
this were such as have just been described. Freedom 
was not considered freedom, if it imposed restrictions, 
obligations, duties. How untutored was still the n^ro 
mind I how imconscious of the powerful restraints which 
a civilised commimity impose upon its members of every 
class I How blind as yet not to perceive that the very 
fiict which confers liberty upon each individual is the re- 
gulation of the conduct of dl by certain general and well- 
understood laws ! 

Seven or eight hundred of the dissatisfied labourers 
collected in a churchyard in the parish of Trinity, where 
they hoisted a flag, insisted that the king had made 
diem fr^ and, when ordered to disperse, refused. Seve- 
ral ringleaders, one more especially, directed the disor- 
derly mass. But no violence was attempted ; they were 
armed with arguments and words, perhaps a few blud- 
geons, but nothing more. Beyond hustling a man whom 
they mistook for a constable out of the churchyard, they 
hurt no one. The effect of such an example might have 
been, however, very serious. It naturally enough excited 
the greatest alarm throughout the colony. A repetition 
of the scenes of 1828 was anticipated. The planters and 

VOL. 1. 2d 


their supporters pointed significantly to the oocnrrence 
as a confirmation of their prophecies. The opposite party 
were disturbed and irresolute. The former called loudly 
upon the governor to proclaim "martial law." The lat- 
ter awaited his determination with anxiety. Sir James 
Smyth, unmoved by the suggestions of the colonists, sent 
down a detachment of soldiers to the disafiected coast^ 
and proceeded thither himself, when he admonished the 
people, informed them of their error, and ordered them 
to disperse, which they accordingly did. The labourers 
truly considered him their friend, and found him so. 
The planters regarded him as a tjTant, but found safety 
under his administration. The promptness, moderation, 
and judgment exhibited by his excellency upon this 
occasion merit the highest praise. A similar line of con- 
duct pursued consistently, might upon a previous occasion 
have modified, if not altogether prevented, the insurrec- 
tion of 1823. 

But the band of dissatisfied labourers were not dis- 
missed quietly to their homes. Many of the most active 
in the " strike" were taken prisoners and sent to Greorge- 
town, there to await a trial. After a lengthened and 
deliberate inquiry, during which the colony was in a 
state of fermentation, one of the prisoners, Damon, was 
sentenced to death by the court, four others to trans* 
portation, and thirty-one to imprisonment and whipping; 
a tolerably large proportion, considering the number 
implicated. One of the puisne judges, Mr. Willis, pro* 
tested against these proceedings; but the chief justice, 
Mr. Wray, held that the hoisting of a flag, although by 
I)ersons iiniimiecl, constituted an act of rebellion, of which 
ail were guilty, although by the Dutch law some might 
be punished more, and others less. This decision of the 
court a])peai's, at the present time, somewhat arbitrary 
and severe; but taking into consideration the perilous 


change which had just been eflfected, in fiact scarcely 
effected, reflecting on the excited minds of the populace, 
and the consequences which in all probability would 
have resulted, had not an example been made at first of 
those venturing thus openly to resist the law, there can 
be no doubt that the stem justice of such a step was 
correct. It is always painful to listen to the condemnation 
to death. It is always fearful to witness its execution; 
but the remedy which acts most powerfully is often the 
best ; the knife which cuts the deepest the most service- 
able. Who could have witnessed the sad preparations 
made for the destruction of a misguided individual in 
open day — who could have dwelt upon his fate without 
pain? Who could have known the tumultuous state of 
feeling among all parties at this eventful epoch, the in- 
dignant sorrow of the negro, the commiserating sympathy 
of the upper classes, without being made to feel the 
greatness of the sacrifice? Who could have seen the 
crowded multitude which gathered at the foot of the 
scaffold, in firont of the public buildings, the solenm pro- 
cession, the array of officials and troops, and last, not 
least, the victim that was about to be offered up to the 
justice of an earthly court, only to be arraigned before a 
higher tribunal ? Who could have seen all this, and the 
body^ in a moment after, a lifeless corpse, and not have 
hoped — devoutly hoped — that the last crime of slavery 
had been perpetrated? It was so, in fact; the death of 
Damon was the last homicide committed in the British 
West Indies in defence of the system of slavery. Who 
can tell how many a life has been spared by that one 
expiation of guilt I Sad though it was, it tended to re- 
assure the planter, to explain to the negro, more than a 
volume of ordinances could have done, the real nature 
of his position. Its efficacy has been tested by expe- 
rience; its truth verified by the result The same dis- 


y\'h Tiszzwr 's imT'.sg irr.tyju 

jx^irxn. -v'zu^h, znxi Lrrzxi.iifiraced iraett' imcfui die la 

>:i: .»".»•. '.i' Li."«:i;r. iL-.r':^,: *rn»:ii5 r^tscir^L Tbe recen 

i'.rr-^^i '7 tiic 3:^1^.:-=^?; tiej -:r:cir?;v;r,ei ot' che le 
.v.rrr.ry :■: :!:<: ^-.-^^n^'.^'i Moii.*:- ^iTrari? :ie resi: of chi 
7 :•>• T.-r?. 'j: ■ ".•^-^- "It r-i'zr "s-z..: -ar-rre :»:• be cnmsportec 
•sr^r-- i.Vr I »'".':r: ?:!ii:i-rnH:n- ?et: a« libertj. and tb< 
r :-.-..i„.i..".:L- :>-rrr-::i»r ^ariicei a: :cce bvhi* excellency 
T":...r •-/[ -:-:.':i.-r^L=j:'^ e-rlnzT^i a 'irrsire noc t:* execute ren- 
^j^^,r:fi : >- ;: ':.\-r.r.2 n^:^ ^-ce terrible example of du 
cor/^-:-:;-=r7.'.e- :: :2^-- :-:ri:i^doc the c-chers were lestorec 
to r-vrlet V. to c-^t;/ hai:k :o :heir frien^ls the tale of thei] 
^is<:a:/j, ar.i -r^^ =iui iiZe oi ih^lr (x>mpaiiion. They hac 
Wrri .rufficirrrit-T tAught what would be the result o: 
f\x*uTf: mL=corLduct. But thr: majority of the colonisb 
wf'Tf: far from b^/mg sari^fiei by these late proceedings 
\jA on by =ome of the leading men in the communit} 
who woro ojfijTjjiefl to the governor, and having thei] 
cauv; sidvfX'jiUA in a powerfully-written but scurrilous 
nowf^papor, the Guiana Chronicle^ fierce attacks wen 
UMxf\f', a;.5ainHt hi.s excellency. Personal invectives and 
taiintin^^ reproaches filled the columns of the paper. He 
was iu\<:\xHM\ of partiality, cowardice, treachery. The 
[)rinr;ipal Houroe of annoyance seemed to be the refusal 
of liiH excellency to proclaim martial law when the strike 
oc(!iirrerl. This was a)nstrucd into a negligent affroni 
and insult. Stimulated by the approbation of the ma- 
jority of the colonints, intoxicated by popularity, and 
K'»ii<l<»d l)y tin* cool indifference of the governor, this 
piiprr prorcculed to such lengths, that ultimately a suit 
for libi'l wiw bmught by him against the publication. 
TliiH uction, liowevor, lailed, chiefly in consequence oi 


the governor's own conduct relative to the "freedom of 
the press." It so happened that the year before, in a 
militia "general order," dated December 31, 1833, in 
reference to a sentence of a court-martial which had 
become the subject of newspaper discussion, Sir James 
Carmichael Smyth had observed : 

" The commander-in-chief cannot conclude this order 
without remarking that, generally speaking, too much, 
value appears to be attached by respectable individuals 
in this colony to what may be said for or against them in 
the newspapers. It is certainly pleasanter to be praised 
than abused; and, in a small community, it can hardly 
be expected that the same indifference on these subjects 
shoidd exist as is to be met with in England. Public 
men cannot, however, expect that even the very wisest 
and ablest of their measures will meet with universal 
approbation. A free and public decision of all public 
measures is a great public- good, and frequently does 
more to remove prejudices, to correct errors, and to 
point out the proper mode of proceeding, than any other 
invention of human wisdom. In the attainment of a 
great good, we must submit to a partial^eviL Contro- 
versial writers too frequently confound a public man 
with the measures he advocates; and, in abusing the 
latter, the individual himself is occasionally a little be- 
spattered. Public men must, however, expect these 
things; and they find their reward in the consciousness 
of having done their duty, in the respect and esteem of 
their friends ; and, lastly, in the gratitude of the public 
themselves, who, although they may be misled for a 
time, yet rarely in the end fail to appreciate the merits 
of every man according to his real worth." 

Such was the expressed opinion of the governor upon 
the subject of newspaper abuse the year before he him- 
self instituted a suit against a scurrilous publication ; but 


there is a limit to forbearance. Great was the excite- 
ment of the popular mind ; vigorous the efforts made to 
resist the '^ libel suit."" It was looked upon as a national 
cause. The salvation of every one seemed to depend 
upon the issue; and when the action failed, as we have 
said, on the ground that the governor " had recognised 
the freedom of the press, and given encouragement to 
strictures on public affairs," the joy and triumph of the 
colonists was great. A victory had been acquired for 
them ; henceforward they might abuse the Executive at 
their leisure and with impunity. The proprietors of the 
Guiana Chronicle received by subscription a present of 
3000 dollars, about 600i, and the able lawyer who 
defended the suit, a piece of plate of the value of 250 

. But the triumph of the colonists was not yet complete; 
the exhibition of ill-will not yet expended. A petition 
was prepared and forwarded to the king, signed by al- 
most the whole body of the colonists, praying for the 
removal of Sir James C. Smyth from the government of 
the colony. This document was published by the go- 
vernor's orders, with a list of the names of the petitioners. 
The manner in which the signatures were procured was 
a proof at once of the inattention with which persons 
regarded such a deed, and of the zeal with which his 
opponents sought to overwhelm him. Papers were 
carried through the town and country to every indi- 
vidual who could write, to attach his signature. There 
were very few who signed that document but lived 
afterwards to be ashamed of it, and to regret it* 

* There ib something tingalar in the change that fitnre jean eflbcted. A 
monument, the work of Sir F. Chantrej, erected by the colonists, and dedicated 
to the memoiy of Sir J. C. Smyth, stands conspicuouslj in the cathedral of the 
city of Georgetown; whilst the proprietors of the paper, and the editor who wityte 
for it, hare sank in society, and made good the prophecy in Sir J. C* Smyth'» 
militia order of i683. 


The conduct of the negroes after the late events was 
also a matter of anxiety to the governor. He had shown 
some confidence in them, and had hoped to see it pro- 
ductive of gratitude and respect. The labourers, com- 
pelled by the regulations to remain on the properties 
where they were originally attached, evinced the greatest 
desire in most instances to quit their employers, in the 
hope of meeting with others more agreeable or advan- 
tageous : the novelty of a change was the chief tempta- 
tion. But the older negroes returned afterwards to their 
old haunts, immindfiil of change or circumstance. A 
great many of the women, who before had been com. 
pelled to work, gave up by degrees the labour of the 
field, and occupied themselves more in the duties of 
their household. Let us see the nature of that house- 
hold. The negro, with all his civilisation, had not ad- 
vanced much in domestic improvement; they resembled 
in this respect the French more than any other nation ; 
they spent their means on dress, or wasted it in trifles, 
but rarely thought of adding comfort to their homes, or 
expending it in the wants of the hearth. A wooden 
bench or two did the office of chairs. A common table 
was covered in most singular confusion with glasses, 
plates, cups, earthenware mugs, saucepans, and the uni- 
versal " calabash" (a useful bowl, formed of a species of 
goard, which grows commonly throughout the country) ; 
this latter is a most valuable appendage to the menage 
of a n^ro. It serves him to wash in, to hold water, to 
contain food for himself, wife, or children, to drink out 
of, &c. On the floor, formed very often of the hardened 
earth, lay one or more wooden trays (another household 
god of the negro). The tray seemed nearly for as many 
purposes as the calabash. They carried vegetables for 
sale in it ; they brought it home balanced on the head, 
filled with plantains or fish, and mother food; when it got 


home, ii became a reoeptade for dirty or clean dot&es^ 
or was converted into a cradle, which contained the in- 
fant of the establishment, of which there was sure to be 
one, if not more. The infant so {^ced on the floor was 
considered quite safe ; it was true, thai a sCiay goat or 
dog, or the neighbour's fowls, might constantly be tread- 
ing on him ; but that was nothing, considering he was 
so comfortably ^^ cribbed, cabined^ and confined.** But 
the tray had other uses ; in wet weather it served as an 
umbrella ; in hot weather as a ^^ parasoL** The negrO| 
with his calabash and tray, thought himself ¥rell of^ and 
envied not ^^ Diogenes his tub/' Another artide of do- 
mestic use was a large block of wood, scooped out at one 
end like a mortar, which in fact it was, the use to which 
it was applied being that of pounding of plantains into a 
pasty mass, which, under the euphcxiious name of ^^fou 
fou,'' was (and is still) regarded as the manna of the 
country. The wooden pestle used in the process is five or 
six feet long, and the whole preparation laborious and 
fatiguing ; but nothing proves too troublesome so long as 
the " fou fou" is forthcoming, a large lump of which is 
allotted separately to father, mother, and children, till its 
proportions are visibly aflfected and their appetites ap- 
peased. By way of bed, a mattress of dried palm-leaves^ 
a coarse flannel, or a grass hammock,* answered every 
purpose. Such was the household over which the lady 
of the family had to preside. It certainly did not require 
very great superintendence ; but little as there was to do, 
it was seldom that anything like order or cleanliness was 
met with. This description, applying to those labourers 
living on estates, holds good to the present day; for 
altlunigh by degrees the love of more expensive and use- 
ful ailiclcs, such as bedsteads, chairs, &c., began to be 

* n. Edwimis, reMoninir on tho word hammock, thinks it derired £rom tlie 
Caribboan languagv. BoUngbioke ttom the Dutch ** Hanf-maU" 


felt, it is remarkable to witness the want of order and 
taste which obtains in a labourer's cottage. There may 
be finery, there may be extravagance, but there is rarely 
anything like neatness or comfort. 

Another important circumstance connected with the 
emancipation of the slaves is deserving of notice in this 
place. The British nation, in contemplating the loss 
which would result to the owners of slaves when deprived 
of their services by the gift of liberty, had provided the 
munificent sum of 20,000,000/., to be awarded as ^' com- 
pensation money" throughout the West Indies. Twenty 
millions of pounds were to be divided among the nume- 
rous claimants who shoidd put forward and substantiate 
their claims — a task of no little difficulty and labour. 
The number of slaves for whom compensation was 
claimed in British Guiana was 82,824, as follows: — 
Prsedial attached, 57,807; prsedial not attached, 5475; 
non-prsBdial, 6297 ; total for whom compensation was 
awarded, 69,759. Children under six years of age, 9893; 
aged, diseased, or non-effective, 3352 ; total, 82,824. 
The amount of compensation money received was 
4,494,9892.; viz., for the labouring classes, 4,268,8092., 
and for the children and aged persons, 226,180/. Ac- 
cording to Montgomery Martin, the niunber of slaves re- 
gistered in British Guiana just before the emancipation 
was 84,916 ; the average price of slaves from 1822 to 
1830 was 114/. lis. 5^d. ; the rate of compensation 
granted per slave was 51/. 17s. l^d., and the proportion 
of the 20,000,000/. allotted to British Guiana was 
4,297,117/. It thus appears that, according to the ap- 
praisement which had previously been made of their 
value, in regard to sex, age, strength, health, capabilities, 
business or trade, &c., the aggregate value amounted to 
9,489,559/., thus giving the owners only an equivalent 
of 8s. in the pound by way of a dividend in the general 



bankruptcy of the West Indies. About 3s. Sd. of the 
appraised sum was granted; their estimated value was 
taken from the average of the last ten years, calculated 
from the vendue-office. The use made of this money by 
the proprietor was to pay off old cl^ms against himself, 
and to remove mortgage of his property, and in this 
manner it became of essential service to many an em« 
barrassed planter; but there were, unfortunately, several 
who, even with this assistance, could not completely ex- 
tricate themselves. 

To the middle and free class of persons the compen- 
sation money proved rather a curse than a' blessing. 
Formerly in the possession of a few slaves, they managed 
to live comfortably by hiring out their services j but de- 
prived now of the labour of these people, and made de- 
pendent on their own, they soon got into difficulties, and 
hardships of all kinds eventually pressed upon them. 
Possessed (by the compensation money) of a larger sum 
than they had ever commanded, they either invested it 
in some lawyer s hands by way of trust, from whence, in 
many instances, it never returned, or was seldom fairly 
accounted for ; or else squandered it in fugitive enjoy- 
ments, in support of a style of living far beyond their 
station. There was scarcely a house among the better 
class of coloured people but valuable articles of furniture, 
silver, and plate were found. A few, indeed, purchased 
or possessed houses themselves; but then, again, these 
were leasehold, and when the lease expired most of them 
had to give up their tenements for arrears in ground-rent, 
and other charges which had been allowed to accumulate. 
It is true that they had not at first the opportunity of in- 
vesting in any banking establishments, for as yet there 
were none in the colony ; but the money was rarely 
appropriated to any particular kind of business or traffic 
by which they might have hoped to earn a competency 


for themselves and families. It was left for men of 
another nation, and of inferior education, to reap the 
golden harvests which a change in the social community 
offered to the speculative tradesman, for at the time we 
speak of there were few or no retail shops (except drug- 
gists' establishments). The merchant's store yet con- 
tinued to supply almost every article required for house- 
hold and other purposes at an exorbitant profit. The 
want of a small circulating coin compelled persons to 
purchase larger quantities of perishable articles than they 
absolutely required, and many goods were never sold 
except in bulk, at a necessary loss to the consumer. It 
will soon be seen how such a state of things was turned 
to the greatest personal advantage by an imported and 
new people. Hence the free coloured people, through 
these and other causes, began insensibly to lose from this 
period their middle ^ status" in society. They have, as a 
general rule, sunk into poverty and distress, whilst the 
negro began from this time to rise above them. But 
whilst they gradually lost all hope in the '^ race of life,'* 
or were compelled to struggle on in the most homely of 
occupations, yet there were (and still are) occasions when 
they displayed all their former pride of birth or connexion. 
The distinction that has been shown to their colour did 
not readily become obsolete. At a marriage party, where 
the bridegroom and bride were coloured, the fSmiilies of 
the wedded pair assembled to commemorate it. On 
breakfast being announced, the company proceeded to 
the table, where the whole of the coloured members 
seated themselves, whilst the black quietly, and without 
any appearance of affiront^ diligently waited upon their 
fairer and younger descendants. Such was (if such ia 
not now) the deference paid to colour; but this did not 
long continue to be the case. 

Having thus gone over the employment of the several 


races, let tis now briefly notice their number. The popu- 
lation of the slaves, we have recently seen, was 82,824, the 
number of free people at that time might have been about 
11,000, giving an entire population for the whole colony 
of about 94,000 persons, being a decrease, as the reader 
will recollect, of about 17,000 since 1817. This decrease 
was chiefly, if not altogether, confined to the negro slaves, 
for the free populations at each of these periods mustered 
much about the same number — 9000 or 10,000. The causes 
of such a strange diminution deserve notice, and may be 
traced to several sources. In the first place, the promis- 
cuous intercourse common to the whole race of slaves had 
greatly tended to retard the natural increase of children. 
It was a rare thing to see a woman with a large &mily — 
the ofl^pring of one man ; this is an evil almost peculiar 
to uncivilised countries.* Again, the disproportion be- 
tween the sexes had been formerly very marked, although 
carefully attended to by the most experienced among the 
planters, and of late more approaching to an equality in 
that respect. Again, the fact of the females having to 
work whilst in a state of pregnancy, no doubt led to many 
miscarriages^ or tended to injure the child in some way; 
so that a large number of infants perished at their birth, 
or soon after. Again, the want of proper attendance at 
their confinements, and the pernicious habits of treating 
infants under the authority and the advice of the old 
^^ grannies," caused many to succumb, although it should 
be observed that the planters, if only as a matter of profit, 
took every precaution to avert the loss of progeny in 
a slave. Again, it is to be remembered that in hot cli* 
mates the number of children born is generally not 8o 
great as it is in proportion in more temperate climates. 

* In RomIa, according to Voltaire, among the Zoparavian CoMacka, the 
union of the aezes is indiscriminate, and irrespectire of relationship or age^ and 
the childran are few and unknown to their parents* 


Again, it is notorious that many of the slaves absconded 
and were never afterwards included in registrations, such 
as the Maroons, or bush negroes, formerly adverted to. 
Mai de pays, or home sickness, formerly caused many to 
pine to death ; and also the compulsion to forced labour 
and continuous toil, together with the sameness of diet 
and general monotony of life, is asserted by some to have 
been productive of many suicides. Several other causes 
might be adduced, such as early marriages and conse- 
quent decrepitude, indifference towards ofispring, &c« 
But the above named will comprise nearly, if not all, the 
true explanations of the melancholy fact. Some might be 
inclined to attribute it to unhealthiness of climate; but, as 
will be shown in its proper place, this opinion has been 
much exa^erated, and produced altogether false impres- 
sions on the mind of the public. During slavery, and 
still more after its cessation, it became of frequent 
occurrence that marriages were celebrated among the 
lower classes, but the object and intent were much 
misunderstood. It was considered decorous, nay, fashion- 
able, for black persons to marry, solely because it 
was the custom of the whites. It was prompted by no 
love upon their part; it was not adopted from choice or 
necessity, interest or morality, but was simply an act of 
imitation. Most of the earlier marriages ultimately proved 
a mere mockery of that sacred state, and ended in un- 
happiness and discord. They either took, place between 
parties who had previously been living together, or be- 
tween individuals neither of whom could boast of much 
purity of conduct. It was rarely or never known (and 
the observation still obtains) that a young couple ap- 
proached the altar, the woman conscious of purity on her 
part, or the man determined to obey the vows so solemnly 
entered into on that occasion. The greater number of 
the marriages took place among the old and dissipated. 


I Young men or women seldom presented themselves at the 

church for such a holy union. It required many yean 
j' to make the subject properly understood, and much ex- 

perience and observation to test its efficacy and advan- 
tage. By degrees, a better state of things was observable ; 
but even at the present day it is little more than a pro- 
fanation of the ceremony. 

During this year, an ordinance was passed by the go- 
vernor and the Court of Policy on the 25th of June, ibr 
changing the names or titles of the first fiscal, Crown ad- 
vocate, second and third fiscals, and other officers in British 
Guiana. The first fiscal was to be in future designated 
and styled high sheriff of British Guiana; the second 
fiscal, sheriff of Essequebo; and the third fiscal, sheriff of 
Berbice ; the Grown advocate, legal adviser, and public 
prosecutor, was to be styled his Majesty's attorney-gene- 
ral in and for the colony of British Guiana : the College 
of Keizers was in future to be named the College of 
Electors, and the members thereof electors ; the griffier of 
the board of orphans and unadministered estates of Ber- 
bice, was to be called recorder of said board ; the schout 
was to be styled first officer of police ; and the dienaara 
and night-guards termed policemen ; and the present cipier 
of Demerara and under-sheriff of Berbice were to be 
named keepers of the respective gaols; thus assimilating 
the titles and institutions in this colony to those of the 
mother country. 

In the next year, November, 1835, a Petty Debt Court 
was established for the more speedy recovery of debts not 
exceeding in any case the amount of five pounds sterling, 
or seventy guilders. The jurisdiction of one justice of 
the peace to extend over cases not exceeding thirty^ 
shillings, or twenty-two guilders; and that of two justices 
to cases not exceeding five pounds, or seventy guilders. 

In the year 1835 also, the Act of the Apprenticeship 

I ; 


having done away with the slave capitation tax, which was 
one of the chief sources of revenue to the king's chest, it 
became necessary to establish a civil list. As this sub- 
ject involved serious discussions between the officials who 
were materially concerned in its completion and the 
colonial members of the Court of Policy, or rather Com- 
bined Court, no understanding or satisfactory arrangement 
could be concluded between the two parties; and it 
became absolutely necessary to call in the services of a 
mediator, or umpire. The officer selected for this delicate 
question was Sir Lionel Smith, governor of the Wind- 
ward Islands, who arrived in May, 1835. He was re- 
ceived with every demonstration of loyalty and honour due 
to his rank and character, and he succeeded in negotiating 
a civil list, to continue until December 31st, 1840, as 
follows : 

'* To the Lientenant-GoTemor .... .£3500 

„ Chief Justice 8000 

„ Puisne Judges . . . . . . 2500 

„ Secretary to Chief Juitioe . . . 630 

„ High Sheriff 1250 

„ Clerk of ditto . . . . . . . 300 

,, Sheriff of Berbice ...... 800 

„ Sheriff of Esiequebo . . . . . • 500 

„ Attomey-GeDeral ..... 500 

Ecclesiastical Salaries . . • . • . 850 

To the GoTemment Secretary ..... 600 

n Secretary of Court of Policy . • . . . 500 

„ Assistant GoTemment Secretary .... 500 

To Clerks, stationary, and contingencies for the Secretary-office ) . . _ 

and Court of PoUcy . . • . . . J ^^^^ 

To the grant to schools ...... 150 

„ despatch boat . • . . . . . 150 

Contingencies ....... 2400 

Retirinff allowances to the under-mentioned persons: Messrs.! 

J. SuUiyan, W. D. Farr, flaUum, Collector James, and Col- 1 2400 
lector Nixon . . . • . • -J 

' ^^ To be apportioned among the said individuals in such 
manneras to his Majesty's Government shall seem just; pro- 
vided always^ that on the death of any of the said indi- 
viduals, or the grant to any of them, by his Majesty, of any 
situation or place of emolumeDt, the portion of such sum of 

1 1 


2400/. as shall have been appropriated by his Majesty's 
Grovemment to such person, shall lapse, and the saving 
thereby accrued shall ensue to the benefit of the oolony, 
in deduction of the aforesaid permanent civil list esta- 
blishment of 20,980/."* 

'^ These retiring allowances originated thus: — Soon 
after the re-conquest of Demerara, Essequebo, and Berbice, 
by the British, in ISOS, the offices of colonial secretary 
and provost marshal, in the united colony of Demerara 

I and Essequebo, and of colonial treasurer, colonial secre- 

tary, and vendue^master in Berbice, were granted by 
patent, according to the fashion of this time, to certain 
political favourites. These offices were paid by fees and 
commissions, and were very lucrative. The patentees, or 
some of them, never visited the colony, but performed the 
duties of their offices by deputy. About the year 1831, 
the home Government, in order to get rid of this abuse, in- 
duced the patentees to surrender their patents, on condi- 
tion of receiving certain stipulated pensions shortly after. 
As a means of inducing a quiet submission to the changes 
introduced at that time by orders in Council, Parliament 
granted to this colony a sum of 32,0002. ; but before this 
so-called relief grant was paid over, a dispute arose as to 
the extent of the powers of the Combined Court, and was 
followed by the civil list controversy, and a stoppage of 
the supplies. When the civil list of 1835 was settled, 
the Combined Court refused to make fiill provision for the 
pensions above mentioned, and for some other advances, 

' I in consequence of which, the relief fund has never been 

paid over, but has been appropriated by the home Grovem- 
ment to make up these deficiencies; aqd in this way thie 
greater part of it has been already spent. The only re- 
maining patent office is that of vendue-master of Deme* 

* Local Guide, p. xx. 


!i -I 


rara and Essequebo, which, however, has since been vacated 
by the death of the incumbent." 

In consideration of this civil list, the amount of which 
was 20,980^., the Crown surrendered for that term the re- 
venues theretofore remaining at its undisputed disposal 
under the name of the sovereign's chest, which, however, 
had been materially diminished by the loss of the capi- 
tation-tax on slaves, incident to the abolition of slavery 
in 1834. The Crown further expressly conceded to the 
Combined Court, for the term of the civil list, the power 
of controlling the general estimate which that court had 
for some years exercised without lawful authority. 

In the course of the year 1836 a change took place 
in the judicial appointments of the colony. Chief Justice 
Wray returned to England afler a residence here of about 
16 years ; a period fraught with many important changes, 
both as regards the social and political condition of the 
colony. His conduct during that time was marked by 
urbanity ; and, as a lawyer, he was considered profound, 
and intimately acquainted with the complicated legal con- 
stitution of the country. His long experience rendered 
his opinion decisive and respected. If not very diligent, 
he was always persevering and patient. In his manners 
he was quiet, sociable, and cheerful. His house became a 
rendezvous for the best society. 

He was succeeded in office by the Honourable J. H. 
Bent, who was removed from the chief justiceship of the 
island of St. Lucia to fill a similar situation in British 
Guiana, where he arrived in July, 1836. This gentleman 
brought a high character along with him — acquired as it 
was by a long career of distinguished legal services in New 
South Wales, Trinidad, Grenada, and St. Lucia. A better 
account of his fitness for the judicial chair could not^be 
given than that fiimished by a late pleasing writet.^n St. 
Lucia, and it gives me pleasure to transcribe it, and to 

YOL. I. 2 E 


testify to its truth : — ^* Upright, impartial, and single- 
minded, in Mr. Bent were happily blended, in a high de- 
gree, the ability and tact of the sound constitutional lawyer, 
and that spirit of independence so eminently characteristic 
of the true English judge. £[aving spent many years in 
the exercise of various judicial functions in New South 
Wales, his experience in both hemispheres was only sur- 
passed by his integrity, and that was as much above 
suspicion as it was beyond the reach of slander. Puncti- 
lious to the extent to which punctiliousness is a virtue in 
the judicial character, and yet active to a degree almost 
incompatible with his delicate state of health, he infused 
into the different offices connected with the courts a taste 
for order and regularity, which continues to be productive 
of the most beneficial results, even to this day."* 

This flattering testimonial has been fully borne out by 
the able services rendered by the judge from the time 
of his arrival. Such a character was much wanted at the 
time when he accepted office, and such principles applied 
to law business in this colony have been, as we shall see, 
of essential benefit to the community. 

Party spirit was still running high at the period of his 
arrival. The executive and many of the colonists were 
still warm in mutual animosity. The Guiana Chronicle 
still kept alive the popular feeling of antipathy to the 
governor, and went so far, in the publication of the 10th 
August, as to apply the epithet ^' villain" to his excellency. 
Notice of this outrage was submitted to the Court of 
Policy by the high sheriff, his Honour G. Bagot, which 
thereupon resolved : 

" That the court unanimously coincides in feelings of 
disgust and abhorrence at the epithets applied in the lead- 
ing article of the Guiana Chronicle of the 10th inst. to 

* Brccn*8 St. Lucia, p. 337. 


his Majesty's representative the lieutenant-governor of 
this colony." 

The opinion of the court was then asked by the lieu- 
tenant-governor as to the measures which ought to be 
adopted to put down a newspaper which kept up so dan- 
gerous an excitement in the court, when it was moved by 
an elective member of the court, and seconded by an- 
other: "That, under the circumstances, his excellency 
would be fully warranted in withdrawing his license from 
the printer and publisher of the Gtiicma Chronicle'^ This 
motion was carried ; two of the elective members voting 
against it, on the ground that if the article in question 
were libellous, it might be prosecuted. A third colonial 
member thought that it would be inexpedient for the court 
to offer the governor any advice upon the occasion. H is 
excellency then desired the following paper, which had 
been drawn up prior to the vote above mentioned, to be 
entered on the minutes of the court : 

'^ The lieutenant-governor stated that newspapers were 
said to be the echo of the sentiments of the community. 
He trusted, as there was no rule without an exception, so, 
in the present case, the opinions and language of the 
Guiana Chronicle were not the opinions and the lan- 
guage of the inhabitants of British Guiansu Upon a for- 
mer occasion he had caused the editor of the paper in 
question to be prosecuted; if any gentleman supposed 
that in giving such directions he was influenced by per- 
sonal feelings, that gentleman was mistaken. His sole 
object was to compel the editor to be more cautious and 
circumspect in his conduct, and to abstain from influencing 
the passions and the feelings of this community, at a 
moment at which, of all others, the most perfect calmness 
and forbearance ought to have been inculcated ; if he had 
been convicted, he would no further have been punished 
than to have had the sentence kept euapended aver him 



m terrorem^ to have been enforced against him had lic? 
again laid himself open to prosecution. The result, how- 
ever, of the prosecution is well known ; the person in 
question was looked upon as a martyr for the liberty of 
the press. His acquittal was celebrated by the hoisting 
of flags and the firing of guns from the ships in the 
harbour; apiece of plate was subscribed for and presented 
to the advocate who defended him — the sale of the paper 
rapidly augmented, and the editor was encouraged in sill 
the violence and impertinence with which he renewed Ills 
attack upon the lieutenant-governor' and his measures. 
Under all the circumstances to which the lieutenant- 
governor has alluded, his excellency feels that it would l>e 
a harsh measure to prosecute an individual who has boon 
encouraged by the patronage he has met with to persevere 
in a line of conduct which to him has been a source of 
emolument and celebrity. The good sense of this province 
is now disgusted with his paper; a reaction has taken plai!o; 
and as the character, the conduct, and the measures of the 
lieutenant-governor are better known, and, as he hopes, 
are better appreciated, the extinction of the (}uiana 
Chronicle is easily to be efiected by the same means 
which were employed to promote its circulation. A paper 
cannot flourish* without subscribers, nor can its slander lie 
disseminated without readers ; the same influ^^nce which 
raised the Guiana Chronicle can put it down; if gentle- 
men feel hurt that such a paper should be published in 
this colony, and be forwarded to Europe as a specimen of 
the advantages they enjoy in having a free press in 
Guiana, and of the candid, liberal, and gentlemanly man- 
ner in which public matters are discussed, they have only 
themselves to blame, and the remedy is in their own 

This rather long statement on the part of the lieutenant- 
governor is ineertedy as it gives a candid exposition of his 


views and character, and of the fickle opinions of the colo- 
nists* We have seen more than one proof of their ran- 
cour ; but time and patience had altered in a great mea- 
sure the popular feelings; a "reaction," as the lieutenant- 
governor properly termed it, had in truth occurred. The 
inhnbitants were becoming tired of the unprofitableness 
of newspaper abuse ; they had begun to question its cor- 
rectness, and to appreciate the line of conduct so steadily 
and sternly pursued by the lieutenant-governor.* It is said 
of Socrates, that when a low fellow had ofiered him an in- 
jury, he would not complain of it to the judge, but reckoned 
it (as he said) no more than if an ass had kicked him ; 
.and of Cato, that when upon one occasion he received a 
* Wow on the face, he was so far from resenting the afiront, 
and from desiring satisfaction, that he would not venture 
so fiar as to forgive it, but denied that any such thing had 
been done, thinking it better not to acknowledge the fact 
than to prosecute it. 

The conduct of his excellency towards his calumniators 
was not very unlike this, for he preferred to convince 
them of error rather by his judgment than by their mis- 
takes. We have already seen some of the changes ac- 
complished under his auspices. He found an excited and 
disorderly band of labourers, — he kept them quiet by his 
moderation and counsel; he found a dissatisfied and 
alarmed body of planters, — he kept them restrained by his 
calmness, and hopeful by his consistency ; he found a 
class of officials somewhat remiss in their duties and lax 
in their conduct, — he soon set them an example of strict 
attention to business, and added some broad hints to de« 
linqnents ; he found a number of institutions and laws 
unsuited to the changing features of the times, and soon 

* B4 fore his arriyal, the usnal oflSce hoan were litUe attended to by the ineuni- 
bents, many of whom arriyed at 12, and left at 9 p.m. This was Boon rectified 
by a pi odamation tnm the gorenior. 



modified or altered them to. a more practical purpose. 
Some of the principal of these have been already noticed; 
besides these, he introduced savings banks for the lower 
orders, and suggested the use of regular incorporated 
banking establishments^ which led to the formation of two 
— the British Guiana Bank and a branch of the Colonial 
Bank, in 1837. 

This year was also marked by the incorporation of 
Georgetown, which was placed under the government of 
a mayor and town council, who were constituted a mayor's 
court for the trial of petty ofiences. 

An ordinance passed by the governor and Court of 
Policy on the Ist of March, 1837, provided in this man- 
ner for the superintendence of Georgetown, and repealed 
the former regulations which had been in force since 
1812. The new board of superintendence consisted of 
eleven town councillors, corresponding to the eleven 
wards into which the town was now divided, viz., Eangs- 
ton. North Cumingsburg west ward; North Cumings- 
burg east ward ; South Cumingsburg west ward ; South 
Cumingsburg east ward; Robbs Town east ward; Co- 
lumbia and Lacy Town east ward ; New Town east 
ward ; Stabroek east ward ; Werken Rust east ward ; 
Charlestown east ward. Rules were made for the elec- 
tion of each councillor, who were to elect annually a pre- 
sident or mayor; a secretary and receiver of town taxes 
were appointed, with salaries, and the duties of such board, 
&c., defined.* 

Again, another ordinance was passed on the Srd of 
March to repeal an ordinance intituled " An ordinance 
to establish and constitute inferior courts of criminal jus- 
tice in British Guiana, and to make regulations and pro-^ 
visions instead thereof," in consequence of the changes 

* Local Guide, p. 259. 


brought about by the abolition of slavery. Justices of 
the peace were continued, and their duties defined ; the 
dates of the sittings of such courts were fixed upon ; also 
extent of punishment and fine limited, and rules drawn 
up for the general guidance and working of such courts, 

'Again, the old and obnoxious practice established by 
the Dutch of carrying on the business of the Court of 
Policy and Combined Court with closed doors was done 
away with on the 30th of March, and the sittings (except 
in particular cases) opened to the public. This secret 
mode of conducting important public business was perhaps 
justified and rendered necessary by the former state of 
society, but after the emancipation such a system would 
have appeared repugnant to the new ideas of liberty then 
infused into the general mind. 

** Nous aYoni change tout oeU " 

was to be the rallying cry of the new generation. An 
important change was also effected in the Court of Policy 
itself on the 27th of May. The Government secretary 
and the collector of customs were substituted as official 
members of the Court of Policy instead of the high sheriff 
and the sheriff of Essequebo, or former fiscals. 

Such were some of the more important occurrences and 
changes in the government of Sir James Carmichael 
Smyth, who, in consideration of his valuable services, and 
as a mark of approval on the part of the King and British 
Government, had received in 1836 a commission as go« 
vernor. Hitherto his title, as well as that of the previous 
rulers, had been only lieutenant-governor, indicating an 
inferiority and subjection to the governor-general of the 
West India Islands. 

On the 2nd of December, 1888, an ordinance was 



passed by the governor and Court of Policy for regulating" 
the qualification for the exercise of the elective franchise 
in this colony, and which repealed the former one of the 
2nd of May, 1835. The new qualification entitling to 
vote was the payment of taxes upon 2001 guilders^ or in 
amount not less than 70 guilders ; agents or attorneys for 
absentees were permitted to vote under certain condi- 

It was also during this year that, on the 27th of April, 
a series of rules and regulations for the Combined Court 
of British Guiana were framed and agreed to at their an- 
nual adjourned assembly ; for further informatioti concern- 
ing which the reader is referred to the Local Guide, 
page 24. 

But while another laurel was being added to an already 
rich garland of military and civil honours — whilst the con- 
duct of the governor was being satisfactorily appreciated 
both by the self-willed colonist and the emancipated negro, 
and his measures received with that praise to which they 
were so fully entitled, his useful career was suddenly ter- 
minated by an untimely death. On the 4th of March,1838, 
this excellent governor died after an illness of a few days, 
occasioned by malignant fever. 

His death was a severe blow both to the colonists and 
their dependents; the one mourned him as a chief worthy 
of their regard, the other as a friend and benefactor. The 
universal sorrow evinced for his sudden departure was an 
irrefragable proof of the sincerity of their feelings. All 
ranks assembled to pay the last sad homage to his worth ; 
his funeral was one of unusual pomp and melancholy 

The mortal remains of the departed chief was followed 
by an immense concourse of people to the grave } crowds 
of the inhabitants of all classes joined in the mournful 


procession; and when, the last trace of the solemnity 
passed away, each individual hastened to his home to 
ruminate on the fugitive exhibition of human greatness. 

Thus ended the mortal career of Sir James Carmichael 
Smyth. Possessed of great abilities, he had also the firm- 
ness and decision of the soldier; impressed with the pro- 
priety and justice of his views, he did not seek success 
by conciliation, artifice, or persuasion ; he at once declared 
his intention, and carried his point by perseverance and 
unflinching endurance. There was no subterfuge in his 
policy; his opinion was unmistakable; he did not seek to 
flatter others in order to gain his ends; neither did he 
encourage flattery towards himself He was led by no 
will but his own. No plausibility of address or design 
could deceive him. He saw through motives at a glance, 
and opposed a stem resistance. Personal abuse and mis- 
interpretation were always treated by him with indif- 
ference and contempt. He was, perhaps, too reserved in 
his explanations, too austere in his demeanour. He had 
not the art of softening the hard commandment, or of 
gilding the bitter pill. He might have gained more by 
yielding a little. He would have escaped much unneces- 
sary obloquy by showing his philanthropy more, and his 
desire for the good of all; and would have ensured admira- 
tion and attachment where he always commanded respect. 
His temper was, perhaps, too warm to venture upon an 
argument when he felt convinced of its truth and utility; 
his energy too vehement to wait for the applause which 
would have followed a patient and repeated explanation. 
He thought, perhaps, to have forced forward the emanci- 
pation, when it would have been easier to lead it; that to 
have appeared wavering, would have been cowardice; or 
to have seemed conciliatory, would have been weak. But 
whatever opposition and insult his conduct excited, there 


can be now no doubt of the wisdom of his views, and of 
his sincere desire for the true interest of the colony. His 
character claims this tribute to his memory, and bis con- 
duct this humble attempt to stamp with praise his useful 
career in the annals of a countiy in which he lived and 




It was an old-established custom of the colony, for the 
purpose of averting the interruption of public business, 
that in the event of the death of the governor the oath 
of administration should be immediately taken by the 
commanding officer of the troops, who continued to act 
until a successor was appointed by the Government. Of 
course, the less such officers meddled with the laws and 
ordinances of the colony the better; for as their sway was 
but temporary, it scarcely allowed them time to become 
acquainted with the true condition of a province over 
which they had been thus accidentally called to preside. 
But, occasionally, some mischief was accomplished in the 
brief space of a few months; and probably such mischief 


would have been more frequent^ had not the authorities 
in England countermanded or put a check to any irre- 
gularities on their part. 

It 80 happened that Major Orange, of the 67th Regi- 
ment, was in temporary command of the troops at the 
death of Sir James Carmichael Smyth, and on the 7th of 
March he was sworn in as acting-governor ; but two days 
after he was superseded by a superior military oflScer, 
Colonel Bunbury, of the same regiment, who took the 
oath of administration on the 9th. The character of this 
gentleman was not adapted to the exigencies of the times; 
his views were mere reflections from the opinions of 
others ; and it might have proved dangerous to have en- 
trusted the government of such conflicting interests as 
those between a sinking planter and a rising peasant to 
hands which, though well intcntioned, were too rough and 

Instigated by the colonial party, he passed through the 
Court of Policy an ordinance enforcing a contract law, a 
vagrant law, with very severe clauses, giving great power 
to the local justices of the peace, and abolishing the 
stipendiary magistracy; and also tw^o acts establishing a 
police force, and putting it at the control of the local 
justices to enforce their sentences. It should be remem-i 
bered that, in accordance with a clause in the slavery 
abolition act, the Crown had appointed special justices of 
the peace with fixed salaries from Great Britain, to whom 
was entrusted the exclusive jurisdiction of all matters of 
dispute arising between masters and apprentices. The 
power of these justices was modified and extended by 
various acts of Parliament, orders in Council, and ordi* 
nances. After the termination of the apprenticeshipt 
stipendiary magistrates, consisting generally of the same 
persons who had held the special commissions of the 
peace, were commissioned, to whom was specially en* 


trusted the exclusive jurisdiction of all matters of contro- 
versy between masters and servants. The colony was 
divided into fourteen judicial districts, over each of which 
a stipendiary presided. Besides their commission as sti- 
pendiary magistrates, they also held the ordinary com- 
mission of the peace ; by virtue of which commission 
they sat as members of the inferior criminal courts and 
the petty debt courts, and performed most of the ordinary 
judicial business of the colony. 

The attempt to abolish such a necessary class of persons 
was ill-timed and injudicious. All these ordinances, to- 
gether with a poor-law passed by the court shortly after 
the emancipation, by which relations in the first degree 
were obliged to support their impotent relatives; as well 
as a militia ordinance, disqualifying all who had been ap- 
prenticed labourers from serving in the militia ; and an 
ordinance for a census and registry of the population, dis- 
tinguishing those who had been apprenticed labourers, 
were subsequently disapproved of by the British Govern- 
ment, and consequently annulled. The subjects of con- 
tracts, combinations, vagrancy, and the jurisdiction of the 
stipendiary magistrates, were regulated by an order in 
Council issued for that purpose. 

At a meeting, however, of the Court of Policy, held on 
the 20th of June, 1838, Dr. M'Turk, afterwards knighted 
for this and other services, one of the colonial members, and 
a gentleman of liberal and enlightened views, gave notice of 
motion to bring in a bill to abolish the system of appren- 
ticeship. The effect of example, as already shown by 
the island of Antigua, where the apprentices had been 
liberated shortly after emancipation, and the imperfect 
working of the apprenticeship, no doubt gave rise to the 
proposition, and, as a matter of course, it became imme- 
diately a subject of severe discussion. At the suggestion 
of the chief justicei however, further argument on the 
subject was delayed until the bill was actually before the 


court. Meantime, the opinion of the public became ex- 
cited, and the contemplated measure was examined in all 
its phases. It was reserved, however, for another governor 
to execute so difficult a measure, although credit is cer- 
tainly due to Colonel Bunbury for his willing assent to 
the proposition of Dr. M'Turk. 

On the 28th of June, 1838, Henry Light, Esq.,' having 
arrived from England or Antigua, assumed the govern- 
ment, and was sworn into office. This gentleman, formerly 
in the army, and of considerable attainments, and lately 
governor of Dominica, undertook his difficult task at a 
time when a great crisis had approached. 

In a despatch to Lord Glenelg, dated 9th July, 1838, 
the governor adverted to his arrival on the 26th, and to 
a proposed meeting of the Court of Policy on the 4th of 
July. His excellency alluded also to the conflicting 
feelings among proprietors on the subject, and mentioned 
the receipt of a petition presented to him by a deputation 
from a large body of proprietors of Berbice, deprecating 
the proposed measure. The adjourned meeting of the 
Court of Policy took place on the 4th of July, and after 
a short discussion with closed doors, they were opened to 
the public. Many petitions were read against the measure, 
none for it. The introduction of the bill was opposed by 
three of the colonial members, one of whom protested 
against the eligibility of the court to decide on a measure 
of such importance ; but this was overruled. A first 
reading of the bill was allowed ; it was seconded by Mr. 
Macrae, but was opposed by others. His excellency ad- 
dressed the court strongly in favour of it, after excusing 
himself from taking a part in the discussion, in consequence 
of its important nature; the governor slightly reviewed 
the career of the African, and the late change in the re- 
lative character of planter and labourer. He augured also 
an increase in the value of property with the additional 


industry of ireemen^ and that a more healthy state of 
prosperity would be the result, although very large for- 
tunes naight never again be roade. His excellency also 
reverted to what he had witnessed in Antigua in 1836, 
where slavery had been abolished without the intermediate 
state of apprenticeship, and where the peasantry were 
orderly and industrious. In several also of the Leeward 
Islands he had witnessed a similar result, and stated that 
during his late administration of the island of Dominica 
for thirteen months, steps had already been taken for full 
emancipation. After such considerations, his excellency 
concluded that the proposed measures might be adopted 
in perfect safety in this important colony. 

The second reading of the bill did not take place until 
the 10th of July (on the 9th of July his excellency wrote 
to Lord Glenelg on the progress of the bill), owing to 
the indisposition of the Honourable Mr. M'Turk, when 
it was warmly advocated by the attorney-general, who de- 
cided as to the eligibility of the measure. In the course 
of the debate it was attempted to throw the responsibility 
on the governor and official section, but ineffectually, and 
af^er much angry controversy the bill was sent into com- 
mittee the next day, the usual standing orders being dis- 
pensed with, which usually required a delay of fourteen 
days. On the 12th of July the bill was carried, after the 
third reading, and his excellency had the happiness of 
signing the necessary ordinance. A royal salute was fired 
upon the occasion, and the purport of the bill proclaimed in 
three different parts of the town. Well might his excel- 
lency remark, in a despatch to Lord Glenelg of the same 
date, " I consider it fortunate for me that the first act of 
my public administration has been this measure of grace 
in favour of so large a number of my fellow-subjects." 

However satisfactory to the executive, the planters 
naturally regarded it with distrust and uneasiness. They 


urged that this colony was different from the islands, in- 
asmuch as here all the crops are not taken off until the 
1st of January, while in the islands they are terminated 
on the 1st of August, and that to deprive them of the 
services of their labourers at a most important season 
without compensation would be unjust. Supported, how- 
ever, by a section of the colonial members, the bill passed, 
two colonial members voting against it, and one declining 
to vote. 

The following is the ordinance enacted on that occasion, 
which was passed on the 12th, and published on the 16th: 

'* Whereas the non-praedial apprenticed labourers of this 
colony will be fully freed and discharged from their ap- 
prenticeship on the 1st day of August next ; 

" And whereas it has become necessary and expedient 
that the apprenticeship of the prandial labourers should 
also be terminated at the same time ; 

" Be it therefore enacted, that all and every the persons 
who, on the 1st day of August, 1838, shall be holden 
within British Guiana as prsedial apprenticed labourers, 
shall, upon and from and after the said 1st day of August, 
1838, become r.nd be to all intents and purposes whatso- 
ever absolutely freed and discharged of and from the 
then remaining term of their apprenticeship, created by 
the Act of the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain and 
Ireland, intituled ' An act for the abolition of slavery 
throughout the British colonies, for promoting the industry 
of the manumitted slaves, and for compensating the persons 
hitherto entitled to the services of such slaves,' and of 
and from all and every the obligations imposed on them 
by the said act, and the several pains and penalties there* 
under or thereby incurred." 

The social system being thus materially altered by the 
repeal of the act of apprenticeship, it became necessary 
to frame several new ordinances to meet the coming 


changes. An ordinance was accordingly passed to make 
provision for the due maintenance and support of the aged 
and infirm praedial labourers to be discharged from appren- 
ticeship on the 1st day of August next, as well as for 
other purposes. This ordinance was, however, disap- 
proved of by the Home Government ; and in a despatch 
received by Governor Light from Lord Glenelg, dated 
15th of September, 1838, it was intimated that a royal 
order in Council would appear, providing for the mainte- 
nance of the poor in her Majesty's colonies ; meanwhile, 
the ordinance was to continue in force. Another ordi- 
nance, for the further amendment of the acts and ordi- 
nances of the militia of British Guiana, prohibiting all 
who were apprenticed labourers on the 31st of July from 
serving in the militia, was altogether disallowed at home, 
on the ground of invidious distinctions ^' founded on the 
servile condition in which one class of society was for* 
merly held.'' A similar fate also awaited an ordinance to 
ascertain the number of persons in British Guiana, and 
to establish registries of such persons in the different 
parishes thereof; for here again it was objected to by the 
Home Government that a serious inconvenience would 
result from perpetuating distinctions which were now 
formally abolished. 

It must certainly be admitted that there was no want 
of energy on the part of the British Legislature to eradi- 
cate every vestige of slavery, and to do ample justice to 
a people so long considered as oppressed. Nor was the 
governor wanting in his endeavours to elevate and en- 
lighten the labourers in their new duties. Proclamations 
were issued, inculcating habits of industry, sobriety, and 
morality; exhorting the good to [lersevere in their con- 
duct ; and threatening the bad with punishment. 

On the 2nd of August his excellency set out on a tour 
of inspection through the colony, llie labourers on the 

VOL. I. 2 F 


estates were collected in suitable places, and were ad- 
dressed by the governor, who dwelt on the relative con- 
dition of employer and employed, and advised them to 
prosecute their labour without interruption. In a despatch 
to Lord Glenelg, dated 13th of August, his excellency 
states: ^'The readiness with which I was understood 
surprised me, and the effect has been most satisfactory." 
After a fatiguing tour of nearly a month, his excellency 
returned to Georgetown on the 28th, and reported very 
favourably both of the labouring population and of the 
capabilities of the districts which he had visited. 

The last link of slavery had been thus cast aside by a 
voluntary act on the part of the colonial legislature, and 
the social state of the colony was now to undergo, in a 
few years, changes more rapid and remarkable than could 
possibly have obtained under the old system. The 
planters, lulled into passive resignation by the temporary 
aid of the compensation money, could not, however, but 
feel that, in the deprivation of their slaves, an effect 
similar to the withdrawal of so much capital from their 
properties had been effected ; and whilst many had to 
pay off pressing mortgages and previously-incurred debts, 
a great number, especially of the absentee proprietors, 
squandered away, or neglected to invest profitably, the 
sums thus received. Thus the compensation money, 
instead of being returned to, or spent on, the respective 
estates, was otherwise used; and when the time came 
for paying the labourers their regular wages^ instead of 
supporting them as under the old system, monetary diffi- 
culties of all kinds presented themselves. 

The planters, indeed, foresaw with despondency, that 
if they had to depend solely upon the irregular and 
uncertain labour of the emancipated people, these pros* 
pects would be materially affected ; but they made no 
really useful endeavours as yet to check the advancing 


evil which was to overwhelm them, but went on as usual, 
hopingr, grumbling", and makinor sugar. The only eflTorta 
which were indeed made to ensure the necessary labour 
proved in the end the most injurious to themselves ; — a 
kind of rivalry was set up as to who would give the 
highest wages. The greatest bribes and inducements 
were held out to the negroes to settle on particular 
spots, thus encouraging that already too roving, restless 
disposition so destructive to the practical utility of the 
labourer. It rather served the interest of the negro than 
his master; it exaggerated his self-importance, which he 
was not long in perceiving ; but, in the end, it effectually 
ruined many a planter, and encumbered all. It seemed 
certainly a natural step to take. The surest way to 
ensure labour was to pay high for it; the most certain 
method of making a man work who felt disinclined, was 
to reward him ; but, at the moment, it was forgotten 
what would be the result of such a system. The price of 
produce was remunerating, even at such a means of 
raising it; but it remained for future years to expose the 
falsity of the system and its suicidal tendency. Planters 
knew too well the facilities this colony afforded for the 
encouragement of a race of squatters; they feared the 
too speedy withdrawal of labour, and its necessary 
sequence — the abandonment of property; and perhaps 
thought no remedy too dearly purchased which offered 
to save them. Some still clung with despairing confi- 
dence to the hope that the negro would be compelled to 
work ; - they made up their minds to be, in some degree, 
losers; but still fostered the idea that sugar-making was 
the only road to fortune-making. The colony was not 
regarded as a home, as an adopted country, a field suffix 
ciently worthy of their occupancy, but rather as a pur* 
gatory, through which they must pass to obtain the 
elysiura of their desires. Their exertions to gain wealth 



and depart were incessant, their anxiety about their 
success intolerable; hence, few or no endeavours were 
made to sweeten the cares of life, or gladden with comfort 
the scenes of their industry. We have already seen that 
this was the error of the earlier English settlers, so 
different to the Dutch ; and we now see the same error 
renewed and practised. So long as this continues to be 
the spirit and feeling of colonists, so long will their 
dreams be visionary and their hopes blighted ; so long as 
such a principle is acted up to, so long will disappoint- 
ment and unhappiness result. Exceptions may have 
occurred, and will occur again. Fortunes have beea 
made here, and spent elsewhere; but this, as a general 
rule of practice, is unfitted for the genius of the nine- 
teenth century. And yet, with all the disadvantages of 
such prospects before them, there were many speculations 
among the mercantile and agricultural classes in 1838. 
Several young men, without capital, and trusting to the 
old prestige of West India wealth, engaged in transac- 
tions far beyond their means ; new mercantile establish* 
ments started up in Water-street, only to disappear as 
rapidly ; plantations were bought which were never to 
be paid for ; the system of long credit tended to encou«^ 
rage such proceedings ; and it was not until a commercial 
revolution took place, that the pernicious habit was 
exploded, and only gradually renounced. A great show 
of affluence and of public and private amusement was 
kept up at this period ; but it was artificial and of short 
duration. Balls and parties were as frequent, perhaps more 
so than ever; gay equipages abounded; races were nume« 
rously and fashionably attended ; even the ladies, carried 
away by the ardour of the excitement, condescended to 
bet upon this or that horse ; a pair of gloves, a bonnet, 
were often thus won, for gallantry forbid that the gentle* 
man should triumph. 


Such was the anomalous social state of the planters ; 
whilst, on the other hand, the labourer, now left to his own 
guidance and resources, naturally exhibited some confusion 
and irresolution in his habits. It was not long after its ac- 
complishment that the negro began to feel the advantages 
of the emancipation. Although at first disappointed, and 
dissatisfied at the restrictions of an apprenticeship, he was 
soon made to perceive of how great value he was — how 
absolutely necessary the toil of his arm was for the very 
existence of the colony. A nomade sort of life seemed 
at first natural to him. He seemed anxious to test his 
liberty by wandering about in search of the new happiness 
reserved for him ; many of the labourers left the estates 
to which for years they had been accustomed, especially 
the young and middle-aged, for, as before remarked, the 
older among the people remained fixed to their accustomed 
localities, where the associations of earlier years were 
strongest — a fact much in favour of the toleration practised 
in the last days of slavery. Begular work was for a time 
abandoned, and a very marked falling off in the quantity 
of sugar produced was one of the earliest consequences of 
such changes ; the women generally abandoned the field, 
and the men were only kept to it by necessity. Domestic 
service invited many, and numbers flocked to town to such 
employment. A savage sort of life held out attractions 
to a certain proportion. They depended on the fish that 
the rivers or large trenches afforded, or on the few ground 
provisions they could raise^ such as cassava, ochres, pigeon 
peas, yams, &c., together with a few fowls. Living far 
up the rivers, or on the back lands of estates, they erected 
scanty huts as a shelter firom the sun of the dry season, 
and the torrents of the wet months. Apart from civilised 
scenes and the healthful industry of the plantations, they 
began from this time to relapse into old habits of apathy, 
indolence, and ignorance ; and, withdrawing from the use- 

xanMT vf wsaraoE^ ^^himS^ 

>m. ^f' 'l^'Hetiuii ]«t tHjBriiftft iur sot 2iu: -n lae jiie 
trniw «i#c tSK: Jtindifp^nn vise i tiioms: it^t 

♦yuwiVK yr tint tuw: •jnwmr. uf -ut* 7«fmii&. ^In^ < 

«t t^y; «iii<^p^!xcrtied dfea;:ige« Toe Uboor of :^ i>?fio I 
t// (/f; At a yr^imxnm ; mm eo^taea were built iip<» < 
*^ w% ifidtupfita^it ffjr the people to settle ibete ; 
MV^$AsktU'M mz3t proTKJed frjr tbem as before, oar. 
tti^i^iUftUii ; SfjfKiav and otb^r scbook were estaoKsbed 
f^/r tk^^r C'hil^Jnrn, ^nd Mich wages were allowed tbem as 
in no other c^mniry could be met with. Tbe iodastriooa 
ff/an #y#iild €;am half a dollar a day (2s. Id.) for about six 
houni' UUiiir; the remainder of the day was bis own; be 
frii^ht either commence another task, or in some otber 
way add Us hh (rains by cultivating provisions or stock, 
if anything occurred to displease him, a change to tbe next 
eiitate offered similar, or probably higher, advantages. 

Hut this anomalous position of the labourer was pro* 
ductivc of much bickering at the outset; constant employ- 
ment was found for the stipendiary magistrates to adjust 
differences and disputes. It was a new era in the social 
history of British (jruiana to witness the late slave stand- 
ing on an equality at the bar of justice with his former 
owner. It was one of the earliest privileges which fol- 


lowed in the steps of freedom, and, perhaps, there has been 
no more favourite boon leceived by the negro than this ; 
it was a distinction which they had scarcely anticipated, a 
right which did more to efface all recollections of former 
differences between man and man than any other circum* 
stance. There is no doubt of the necessity of such tri- 
bunals; but, as might naturally have been expected, it 
has frequently since led to much abuse and inconvenieqpe, 
and to this day proves a bitter sort of annoyance between 
the planter and bis emancipated serf. 

These were some of the principal features of the social 
community which marked the advent of the new governor, 
and it demanded on his part the utmost caution and vigi- 
lance not to interrupt the progress of the new system, 
and offend, by partial administration, either the sensitive 
opinions o£ the planter, or the rising ambition of the 
labourer. Already were the home philanthropists pointing 
with triumph at the novel jspectacle of an emancipated 
race of ignorant people working in peaceful order and 
contentment; already were the proprietors of estates de- 
claring that the evils of such a forced state of liberty had 
overtaken them, and that nothing short of strenuous exer- 
tions and concessions on their part could hold together 
the repellent elements of the social system. 

Early in 1838, British Guiana was divided into three 
counties — Demerara, Essequebo, and Berbice, formerly 
called districts or colonies ; and an alteration was also made 
in the number and division of parishes, viz., thirteen in 
Demerara and Essequebo, and six in Berbice. A few of 
these parishes (five) belonged to the Kirk of Scotland, and 
the remainder to the Church of England, to all of which 
clergymen and catechists or clerks were appointed ; be- 
sides these, several chapels and churches were erected^ 
and conducted by Independent and other preachers; these 


vrert eagerly attended, and, in many instances, wholly 
supported by voluntary subscribers ; schools, also, in con- 
nexion with these churches, were established. 

In the course of this year the duties, jurisdiction, &c., 
of the stipendiary magistrates were defined by a procla- 
mation issued on the 1st of November ; and the services 
of these gentlemen were of the utmost importance in de- 
ciding the numerous and vexatious subjects of complaint 
which were submitted for investigation. 

On the 8th of October his excellency the governor 
issued a proclamation addressed to the labourers, in which, 
in judicious and gentle language, he rebuked them for 
their irregularity at work, and for their general idleness 
and discontent ; which, however, effected but little good. 

In the course of an address to the Court of Policy oi^ 
the 6th of November, his excellency reviewed some of 
the social changes, adverted to the number of new ordi- 
nances passed, and explainec^ the nature of those which 
had been disallowed by the Home Government. He aU 
luded also to the renewed commissions of the stipendiary 
magistrates, and to a petition from the inhabitabts of the 
colony praying for an alteration in the mode of electing 
the colonial members of the Court of Policy, and their 
wish to abolish the College of Eeizers. An ordinance 
was also passed by the governor and the Court of Policy to 
consolidate the marshals' offices of Demerara, Essequebo, 
and Berbice, and to make permanent provision for the 
same. By this new ordinance one provost marshal, seven 
ordinary marshals, and two copyists were appointed, and 
their several duties, fees, &c., defined. A vagrant act 
was also passed this year, specifying the nature and defi- 
nition of a term so new to the labourer, and providing 
fines and punishments for offenders, who were to be tried 
before the stipendiary magistrates or justices of the peace. 
An alteration was likewise made in the elective franchise, 


assimilating it more to the altered circumstances of the 
times. At the first meeting of the Court of Policy (17th 
of September) after the 1st of August, his excellency ad- 
dressed the members on the state of the labouring popu- 
lation, and congratulated them on the peaceable and suc- 
cessful working of the act for the abolition of the appren- 
ticeship, on the good feeling between employer and em- 
ployed, on the slight falling off of labour and neglecting 
of estates, and to the few commitments for offences. 

In the following year, on the 12th of January, 1839, 
an ordinance was passed repealing that of 1837, which 
had invested the mayor's court with judicial functions, 
and a Georgetown police-office was instituted for the 
better administration of justice. It provided for a police 
magistrate and clerk, and the powers and duties were 
duly defined and published. Another ordinance in the 
following June provided for an effective system of police 
within British Guiana. An inspector-general, Mr. Crich- 
ton, was appointed, with three inspectors, one for each 
county, together with a clerk and a proper " police force." 
Rules were drawn up for their guidance^ and their powers 
and duties defined. 

On the 19th July, 1839, his excellency addressed the 
members of the Combined Court, and among other things 
remarked : ^^ I defy the most enthusiastic, false or true 
philanthropist, to say that a day's labour, which may be 
completed in five or six hours, or even in less time, is an 
oppressive demand on the labourer, paid as he is, and 
favoured as he is, almost universally with other privileges, 
which place him far above the condition of the labourer in 
Europe. The freedom which leads to the mere supply of 
the common calls of huAger, will never raise the descendant 
of Africa in the scale of human beings which the friends 
of freedom so much desire." The governor also stated, 
that in five years, firom January, 1834, to December, 1888, 


fines amounting to 612,000 guilders have been incurred 
by individuals in the militia, and that the amount saved 
by the reduction of the militia was 30^350 guilders. As 
regards the colony, ^'The importance of this province is 
fully known to her Majesty's Government. With 
improvements in machinery and drainage, the Euro- 
pean may then share in the cultivation of the land; 
unwholesome swamps will disappear ; thousands of acres 
will be reclaimed from their state of nature or abandon- 
ment ; and where we now count our population by thou- 
sands, their hundredfold will lay the foundation of an 
empire with sources of wealth to the mother country 
inferior only to Jber India possessions in the East, with 
this advantage to the former, that the latter will always be 
of more tedious access." 

In 1839, Messrs. Scoble, Ainslie, and Stuart, three 
influential members of the Anti-Slavery Society, arrived in 
Demerara professedly to inquire into the condition of the 
labouring population. The governor regretted their ap- 
pearance at this particular juncture. Mr. Scoble left in 
June ; but squabbles, incident on their proceedings, arose 
between them and the planters. 

On the subject of immigration there occurred difficulties 
between the governor and many of the colonists ; an im- 
migration ordinance was passed by the Court of Policy, 
and it was proposed to borrow the sum of 400,000^. for 
the purposes of immigration ; but his excellency took a 
different view of the question, and on the 26th June, 
1839, wrote to the Marquis of Normanby opposing the 
proposed loan of 400,000/. for immigration purposes, on 
account of its burdening the colony for forty years. Go- 
vernor Light thought that about 2000 labourers annually 
would be sufficient for the wants of the colony and its 
means of accommodation. A tax of two-and-a-quarter 


per cent, on produce would raise about 400,000Z., and cover 
the expense. 

Mr. Rose also argued against the proposed loan, and 
brought forward the following objections : 

1st. That great mortality would ensue should immigra* 
tion in large masses take place. 

2nd. That it would burden the colony with a debt for 
forty years. 

3rd. That the amount of the sum proposed to be raised 
is too large, and would not be required at once. 

4th. No security could be placed on the Combined 
Court granting the funds necessary to provide for the 
interest and redemption of the capital. 

5th. That there was no specific tax or fund out of 
which the money is to be provided. That there was no 
security against it being raised by unjust taxation; and 
that future Combined Courts might alter the proposed 

To which it was replied, that the question of mor- 
tality was distinct from that of the subject of immigra- 
tion; that the sum might be less than 400,000Z., and 
provision made annually for its gradual extinction ; and, 
that the want of faith in future Combined Courts was 
irrational and illiberal. Dr. M^Turk also opposed the 
proposed immigration law. 

The ordinance appeared, however, but was disapproved 
of at home, and disallowed by the Marquis of Normanby, 
who objected to immigration from India, Africa,* and 
the Bahamas, as well as to the proposed plan for intro- 
ducing immigrants here from the isKinds, as recommended 
by Governor Light. 

In spite of this opposition, the subject was again taken 
iip by the colonists, who held public meetings; and a 

* See despatch dated 15tb of August, 18S9, and addretied to Governor Light. 


petition, addressed to the Queen, was signed by 700 or 
800 persons, and was forwarded by the governor 
to Lord John Russell, who then held the office 
of colonial secretary. Lord John Russell, in addressing 
Governor Light on this subject, although admitting the 
falling off in the amount of produce, yet sarcastically 
observed that the word " ruin " made use of by the colo- 
nists did not seem to apply to the poverty of the people^ 
nor to the want of food or raiment, neither to the absence 
of riches or luxury, but simply to the decrease of sugar 

Immediately after the emancipation, the subject of im* 
migration had occupied the attention of the colonists, 
who clearly saw, that without continuous labour, their 
capital and properties would be wasted. Several gen* 
tlemen, both in Demerara and Berbice, determined upon 
sending a vessel to the Bahamas, or Lower Islands, in 
order that persons unable in those islands to pro« 
cure a livelihood should be invited here, where ample 
work and wages would be found for them. A letter 
declaratory of their object was forwarded by Governor 
Light to the governor of the Bahamas, stating the rate of 
wages here at about eight dollars per month, with house 
and garden-ground, medical attendance and medicine. 
Early in September, 1838, the subject was submitted to 
the consideration of Lord Glenelg by Governor Light, 
who forwarded the leading points of a communication re* 
ceived by him from the secretary of the British Guiana 
Bank advocating its necessity on financial grounds, and 
suggesting that extensive immigration ought not to be 
left to individuals. It was also proposed that colonial 
emigrant agents should be appointed, and certain pre- 
miums offered by the colony and proprietors on the irn- 
portation of effective agricultural labourers. Very shortly 
after this, the subject was brought forward in the Court of 


Policy on the 2l8t of September, and certain resolutions 
were adopted calculated^ to combine advantages both to 
the colony and to the emigrant. The assistant Govern- 
ment secretary, W. B. Woheley, Esq., was appointed by 
his excellency agent for emigrants for this colony. These 
resolutions were not objected to by Lord Glenelg, who, 
however, pointed ou| some important modifications in the 
proposed scheme. 

The project of immigration now thoroughly occupied 
public attention, and was doomed to exercise the greatest 
influence on the future condition of the colony. It has 
been the pabulum of all young and aspiring countries, 
has found an episode in nearly every history, and still 
continues to be the panacea for colonial evils. It had its 
origin in necessity ; it flourished in proportion to the civili- 
sation and extent of empires, and has been the theme of 
praise to the statesman, the political economist, and the 
patriot. It has been the desired object of the poor and 
unfortunate, the beacon to many a ^' land of promise," the 
tomb of many a hope. The young and ardent have pas- 
sionately pursued this ^^ ignis fatuus," the middle-aged 
and prudent have confided themselves to its enticing 
rewards, and the old and covetous have groped their way 
along with the rest, in the hope of amassing wealth or 
honour at the '^ last hour." Its votaries have all set out 
buoyed up with the gayest prospects, and embarked on 
the treacherous stream which was to lead them they knew 
not where. Its currents guided some to the east and 
some to the west ; its attractions operated in all directions; 
but the rocks were not indicated, nor the shoals mapped 
out to the mariners of this unknown sea, ere they could 
reach the " gold-bound coast.** From a hazardous specu- 
lation, it has become an established system ; from relieving 
old, it has created new, countries ; the transplanted twigs 
^ve grown into mighty trees, the plucked bud has been 


engrafted on a foreign stem, and the fruit benefited by 
the change. Like the lopped ^members of the inferior 
animals, these members have assumed a vitality of their 
own ; an inherent principle of life was flickering faintly 
in them, until accidental circumstances developed more 
innate strength ; the vigour of self-support was infused 
into the system, and like the " newly bom," it acquired a 
principle of life separate from the parent, but capable of 
like development and increase. Emigration from tho 
"Old World" has acted like the withdrawal of the super- 
fluous blood from a too robust constitution — it has relieved 
the plethora of the system. Immigration, on the con* 
trary, has acted like the transfusion of the vital fluid into 
the veins of a weak and debilitated subject ; it has aroused 
latent power, and infused by its stimulus an artificial but 
useful energy into a helpless and sinking economy; re- 
newal of life has followed its application, and saving health 
resulted from its administration. But, like other human 
inventions, it has led to abuse, and deception and disap- 
pointment have retarded its practical advantages. The 
home deserted has never been replaced by another, and 
the land forsaken never again reached. 

** Nihil est ab omni parte beatam.** 

The men who have relinquished their hearths in dis- 
content have not always encountered better fortunes, and 
the mind dissatisfied with bare subsistence in its own 
clime has not always arrived at affluence elsewhere. 

** Viritur parvo bene, cai pateraum 
Splendet in mensa tenui Salinum, 
JNec levet somnos tinior aut cupido 

Sordidut aufert. 
Quid brevi fortes jaculamur sdyo 
Multft? Quid terras alio calentes 
Sole matamus? Patria ^is exul 

Se guoqut/uffU f 


■ * Scandit aaratas vitiosa naves 

Cura: neo turmaa equitum relinqoit, 
Ocior oervis, et agente nlmboi 

Ocyor euro. 
Lntuf in pnBseni animus, quod ultra est 
Oderit curare, et amare lento 

Temperet risu." ♦ 

It IS scarcely necessary, after what has been narrated as 
to the falling off of regular labour since the emancipation, 
to point out the object of immigration to these shores. 
No act was ever better calculated to relieve the necessities 
under which the planters suffered, and to supply a suffi- 
ciency of labourers at rates which would enable the em- 
ployers to raise and manufacture sugar at a profit. It 
also tended to increase the importance and civilisation of 
the colony. But to the Creole labourer its intent was 
obvious ; it pointed out to him clearly, that if he was un- 
willing to work an attempt would be made to procure 
others to do what he neglected ; but it would be wrong to 
assert that it was an act of retaliation intended to injure 
the prospects of the negro. It was introduced to relieve 
a pressing want ; a temporary remedy for a serious malady. 
The colony was threatened with a paralysis of its motive 
power ; here was a remedy which was to infuse new life 
into the torpid system^ a new agent to bear on the physi- 
cal infirmity of the land. Justice must certainly be done 
by all parties to the Creole labourer, in admitting that 
throughout this important era in a new social state he 
conducted himself with great moderation, liberality, and 
good humour. At first, he showed a great deal of indif- 
ference, if not apathy, to the contemplated scheme of 
introducing people from other lands to compete with him 
in the field ; but his attention was soon attracted to the 
subject by the ever-watchful guardians of his class, " the 
Independent preachers," who^ by whatever feelings ac- 

* Honoe, Lib. ii Ode !•. 


f ■ 




tuated, whether regard for the supposed interest of the 
negro, or prompted by the reference it bore to their own 
affairs (inasmuch as in general they depended upon the 
contributions of their congregations), soon produced a 
general movement on the subject. 

The first efforts of inmiigration (and, indeed, many 
subsequent ones) were hot calculated to alarm a sensible 
and observing people. Setting aside any intention of 
reviewing a few ill-judged attempts to introduce, at dif- 
ferent periods of our history, a few Europeans into the 
colony for the purposes of trade and agriculture, such as 
English, Dutch, and German families, which all ended 
in disappointment, the majority of the settlers having 
died shortly after their arrival, and the remainder, re- 
turning to their native land, we pass on to consider the 
efforts made in 1835 and 1836 to bring labourers to 
British Guiana ; so early after the act of apprenticeship 
was the necessity for them evident. In this year a 
" Colonial Indenture Act " was passed, the object of 
which was to enable private individuals to procure 
labourers from the West India islands at their own ex- 
pense, and bring them to this country under contract of 
servitude for so many years. Small vessels were char- 
tered by some enterprising planters, and at a considerable 
outlay many islanders were added to the population of 
British Guiana. In the course of the years 1836, 1837, 
and 1838, about 5000 labourers were thus introduced 
by ordinances, which were, however, subject to many 
modifications by successive orders in Council of the ori- 
ginal indenture act ; but their utility was questionable, 
the demand upon their labour and their constitutions 
gave rise to disease and disappointment, the greater 
number quarrelled with their " contractors ;" and when 
the ordinance to terminate the apprenticeship was en- 
forced, they absolutely included themselves in its enact- 


ments, and quietly broke off all engagements. These 
people were mostly from the islands of St. Christophers, 
Angola, Montserrat, and Nevis, and, contributing to the 
motley group met with in these regions, they deserve 
some notice. At first their number was too few to attract 
much notice, and their influence on the social state but 
trifling. Many were employed as domestic servants ; 
the rest sent to the field. Of these the majority were of 
little consideration in their own country. Possessed of 
much of the physical character of the Guiana Creole negro, 
they undoubtedly enjoyed more acute, varied, and ex- 
panded intelligence. They seemed to be further advanced 
in civilisation, but also to have imbibed its accompanying 
vices. A marked disposition to cunning, theft, and 
intrigue was manifested among them, and at the various 
criminal courts which were subsequently held it was 
notorious that a disproportionate number of them was 
generally included.* They had not led so simple a life 
as that of the native Creole, had been brought into 
more direct contact with the inhabitants of other coun- 
tries, and had congregated more in towns. They were 
indebted for their advancement, and perhaps their vices, 
to the example of their superiors from Europe. Their 
manners were more polite and studied than the lazy, 
unaffected deportment of the Guiana negro, towards 
whom they evinced a feeling of contempt. Apter in the 
acquisition of knowledge, and more plausible in behaviour, 
they lacked the honesty of purpose which generally 
marked the conduct of the others. Many of the better 
sort were enabled by their industry to return to their 
friends with ample evidence of their success. They 
affected, and still continue to affect, much contempt for 
the new country to which they were brought. With 

* Of 109 ccmTicU (at the clote of 1845) who were lodgvd at the peiia) lettlo- 
ment, upwards of 50 were alieni, or forei^ to BritUh Qoiana. 

VOL. !• 2 G 


feelings of patriotism tbey gave the preference to their 
own lands, but could not deny that greater advantageB 
were open to them here than " at home." The greater 
number of them have, in fact, remained here. 

The imperfect result of the " colonial indenture scheme*' 
being demonstrated, attention was directed to the forma- 
tion of an " immigration loan," but to this scheme, as we 
have seen, the governor refused his consent. These 
circumstances, which, together with the failing prospects 
of the planters, and the diminution of the quantity of 
produce raised, produced feelings of discontent, both 
against the English Grovemment^ and the governor by 
whom it was represented in the colony. 

On the 28th January, 1840, the governor, in address- 
ing the legislature, adverted to the falling off in the 
amount of produce, and offered some explanation to 
account for it. He also alluded to the fact of high prices 
being still paid for estates, and mentioned that the 
receipts of import and other duties had exceeded the 
estimated sum. He congratulated them on the small 
amount of crime, but lamented the failure of laws to 
regulate wages, &c. 

Disagreements, however, arose in the course of the 
session, and the supplies were stopped. Sir M. M^Tnrk 
addressed a letter on this occasion to the clergy and 
others, requesting their co-operation in preparing a peti- 
tion to the Queen against this act of the Combined Court, 
but his proposal was not carried into effect. The 
governor wrote home on the subject, and such was the 
flourishing state of the finances, that the public service 
was sustained to the end of the year without taxation. 

Finding that immigration could not be effected as a 
legislative measure, a very spirited attempt was made 
by the colonists to accomplish it themselves. Several 
private meetings were held in 1840, and at length a 


"Voluntary Subscription Immigration Society" was 
formed, with the intent of introducing immigrants at the 
expense of the individual members. A large proportion 
of the planters and others interested composed the 
society. Fifteen directors were chosen,* and subscrip- 
tions were collected from them to defray the general 
expenses; a secretary was appointed, with a salary of 
400^ per annum, and suitable premises near the water- 
side engaged for the reception of the immigrants, besides 
offices for the transaction of business. 

In the beginning also of this year (21st January, 
1840), two delegates (Messrs. Peck and Price) arrived 
from America, where an intelligent colonist (Mr, Carberry) 
had commxmicated with the Anti-Slavery Society of the 
United States and that of Liberia, and after travelling 
through the colony, they departed in March, and reported 
favourably on reaching Bdtimore. They also visited 
Trinidad, but gave the preference to this colony. 

In the following year (1841) a large steamer of 180 
horse power, the Venezuela, was purchased for 47,000 
dollars (about 10,000/,). This vessel was brought to 
Barbadoes by Messrs. Cavan and Co., but proved perfectly 
useless to the colony, and the whole of this expensive 
scheme ended in jealousies, bickerings, and disappoint- 

The only result of this enterprising scheme was the 
introduction into the colony of about 3000 immigrants, 
who came chiefly from the island of Barbadoes,t and 

* The planters were to paj two per cent on araoont of produce made, and 
other penona in proportion to their incomes. The total amount raised was 

Demerara and Esseqnebo £27,000 

Berbioe 9,266 

t The Skqmrior anired on the 24th of Mav, 1841, with 200 Africans. The 
floremor prooeided on board, and adTising with the immlgratioo agent, located 



were distributed in various parts of the colony as field 
labourers. A few among this number (about seventy) 
were fi'om the United States, but the views of the 
colonists were not satisfied, and, as we have seen, a con- 
troversy broke out between the official and colonial 
members of the Court of Policy and Combined Court. 

The term of the civil list arranged by Sir Lionel 
Smith in 1835 being about to expire, the elective section 
refiised to grant a new civil list, unless the colony was 
guaranteed a fi:ee immigration from all parts of the world. 

His excellency the governor remaining equally firm 
against this measure, the "stoppage of the annual sup- 
plies," as we have seen, resulted, and a recurrence of the 
scenes of 1835 threatened to take place. But in 1841 
a mediator was appointed to arrange the existing dif- 
ferences, and Sir Henry Macleod, governor of the island 
of Trinidad, arrived for the purpose. After some dif- 
ficulty he negotiated the "new civil list," which was 
to continue fi'om the 1st January, 1841, for seven years. 
An ordinance to this eftect was passed on the 6th day 
of January, 1841.* The annual sum thus voted was 
39,572Z. 17s. 4d. sterling, equivalent to 187,549 dollars 
and 33 cents, which was distributed in the following 
proportion : 

CivU List from 1841 to SUt of December, 1847. 

The Governor (besides a residence) .... £5,000 O 

Chief Justice ........ 2,500 o 

Two Puisne Judges ...... 3,000 

Secretarj to Chief Justice . . . . G30 

^'4~aTpoficy} Heldbythe«.megeoUem« .\ Z II 
Assistant Government Secretary . . i,ioo 


them on thirteen of the best estates on the east coast. The same vessel sailed 
on the 7th of June, and returned on the 22nd of October following witii 225 
* Local Guide, p. 679. 



Brought Forward .... .£13,730 

Clerks' stationery for GoTemment Secretary's ofilce and Ckmrt 

of Policy, besides contingencies . 

High Sheriff . . . 

Clerk to ditto 
Sheriff of Berbice 
Sheriff of Essequebo 
Ten stipendiary magistrates, each 700^ 










Retiring pensions ..... 

Ecclesiastical archdeacon of British Quiana £ 500 

Stipendsof ministers of 15 parishes .6,250 Q 

„ rector of St. George . 569 4 10 

„ minister of St. Andrew's . . . 569 4 10 

„ minister of Dutch Reformed Chorch. 569 4 10 

., rector, New Amsterdam 486 2 5 

„ Scotch minister. New Amsterdam 486 S 5 

2,012 18 

Grand Total 

9,429 19 4 
£39,572 17 4 

Such was the liberal provision made by the colony for 
the support of its principal officers and institutions. This 
civil list had a preferent claim upon colonial revenues, and 
was payable quarterly. The " king's chest*' was abolished 
until the 31st of December, 1847, and the Queen's re- 
venues made payable into the colony chest. The regis- 
trar's, marshal's, and sheriff's offices were subject to the 
regulation and control of the governor and Court of 
EoUcy, and all the fees and revenues (except salaries) 
were of course included under such control. The sum 
placed for contingencies was not to be appropriated to 
salaries, &c. 

Ordinances were also passed " to levy a duty upon 
all imports into British Guiana," and for " authorising 
the appointment and regulating the duties of commis- 
saries of taxation, in order to the better collection of the 
revenue." But as a kind of " set-off^' against these ordi- 
nances, and the formation of so expensive a " civil list," 
the colonial party had accorded to them an ^' immigration 



ordinance/' which was first passed in January, 1841, and 
subsequently repealed in 1842, making way for another 
to ^^ encourage immigration into British Guiana,*' &c. 
By this ordinance an annual sum was provided for the 
purpose by the colony; agents were to be appointed at 
several places* whence immigration might be expected, 
and salaries allowed them; an ^^ agent general for immi- 
gration" was also appointed to reside in the colony, at a 
fixed salary. The duties of the several agents were also 
defined ; certain bounties were allowed on all immigrants 
out of the public chest, and the rate of bounty fixed by 
proclamation. Thus by two proclamations, dated 5th 
of August and 10th of December, 1842, the following 
bounties on immigrants were payable under the above 
act, viz., from Sierra Leone, 35 dollars; St Helena, 85 
dollars; Rio Janeiro, 35 dollars; other parts of Brazil, 
25 dollars; Spanish Main and Margarita, 20 dollars; 
United States of America, 30 dollars, &c The labourers, 
on arrival, were to be provided with temporary support, 
and due preparations were made for them. 

Having sketched the history of the immigration ordi-^ 
nance, we come now to consider its working, and the 
character and influence of the new labour-power intro- 
duced under its sanction. A formidable, though hitherto 
untried, competitor made his appearance to share the 
spoils of a country of such reputed wealth. The Por- 
tuguese labourer of the island of Madeira had, so early 
as the year 1835, attracted the attention of the planters^ 
who about that period introduced the number of 429 
into British Guiana. It was supposed, firom their well- 
known industrious habits, and the fact of their being na- 
tives of a warm climate, that they would answer admi- 
rably for the cultivation of the estates. They were 

* The agent at Sierra Leone wag to receire 400/. per annam} the agent at 
Madeira 150/. 


accordingly distributed in various parts of the colony, 
but the result of this, the first experiment, was unsatis- 
factory. A great many of them became attacked with 
fevers, ulcers, and other disorders, and a large propor- 
tion of them died. The survivors, however, amassed by 
degrees large sums of money, with which several returned 
10 Madeira, to excite the wonder and cupidity of their 
countrymen, a circumstance which had a remarkable in- 
fluence on the future prospects both of themselves and 
their compatriots. 

The Portuguese have shown themselves for ages a 
restless and roving people; enterprising in spirit, and 
adventurous in their habits, we have already seen them, 
along with the Spaniards, exploring and visiting this 
country; behold them now again, but in a different ca- 
pacity. Formerly they came to be masters ; now they 
were satisfied to be servants and labourers. Formerly 
they came with the sword and the spear; now they 
were lo wield the shovel and the cutlass. They have 
ever been willing to renounce their vine-clad homes for 
the perils of adventure and the prospects of gain. When, 
therefore, it became known to the simple inhabitants of 
Madeira that a rich tract of land on the not far-distant 
coast of South America was in want of labourers to cul- 
tivate its soil, and busy rumour had announced that 
wages were ten times higher in amount than in their 
own country, it is not to be wondered at that numbers 
of them, with their families, were found willing to em- 
bark for the '^ rich coast." It is not a little strange that 
this land, this same Guiana, so long spoken of for its 
riches by ancient writers and adventurous travellers 
(many, too, of their own nation), should again present 
itself after an interval of about four centuries, as a se- 
cond " El Dorado," and rise up suddenly as it were fi:om 
the ocean to invite them to its shores. Forgotten in one 


moment were their rocky mountaiiis and luxuriant hills, 
festooned with the grape ; without a sigh they \Ad adieu 
to the balmy atmosphere of the beautiful Madeira, and 
set sail with ardour for the mud-flats of the sugar coun- 
try. The new comers were at first introduced at the 
expense of the colonists, until the immigration ordi- 
nances of 1841 and 1842 provided for their arrival, and 
gave a bounty of about 30 dollars, or 6/. per head, for 
each adult. Everything seemed in favour of the new 
immigrants. A vast field of labour was thrown open to 
them, a ready source of wealth to the industrious, and a cli- 
mate in temperature and seasons not unlike their own. 
Possessed of the same character which elsewhere distin- 
guishes their countrymen, both in person and habits, they 
exhibited to the negro a surpassing activity without much 
strength ; light-hearted and merry in their dispositions, 
they were also intelligent, and remarkably keen as to 
their own interests; honourable and upright in their 
dealings, their manners towards their superiors were re- 
spectful and affectionate. Contented without luxuries, 
they cared little for personal appearance ; the most simple 
food, the most humble dwelling, the most indifferent 
clothing seemed what they had been accustomed to ; a 
want of cleanliness was unfortunately prevalent among 
them, and led in this climate to the most serious conse- 
quences. Superstitious and bigoted in matters of reli- 
gion, they yet evinced an indifference towards its pur- 
suit, and an ignorance of its duties which were surprising. 
Very few cared to attend the Roman Catholic church, 
but contented themselves with raising altars and burning 
candles before images and pictures of saints-in their own 
dwellings. Naturally jealous and passionate, they were 
dangerous to quarrel with ; more ready with the knife 
than with either argument or bodily force. Penurious 
in their habits, they hoarded up, or lent out on usury, 


the money which they amassed by their industry and 
intelligence, or else invested it in profitable speculations, 
as we shall soon see. Fond of music, they enlivened 
their homes by the guitar, accompanied by the voice. A 
small kind of guitar, called by them " michette," is a 
very favourite instrument, with which, playing the most 
pleasing airs, they often perambulated the streets. 

The earliest comers were for the most part from the 
very lowest classes of society in Madeira, and wanted 
polish in their manner; but they were all civil. In point 
of features there is a wonderful sameness in most of their 
countenances, the same dark black hair, aquiline nose, 
black eyes, and olive complexion, being common to them 
all. The men generally wore beards, which gave an antique 
cast to the countenance, and reminded one forcibly of the 
paintings of portraits in the sixteenth century. Their 
figures were robust, but not graceful or well-proportioned; 
many of the younger women were tolerably good-looking, 
but almost invariably spoilt by some unbecoming fea- 
ture, or an indifferent figure, which they neglected sur- 
prisingly. The middle-aged and elderly females looked 
more like hags than mothers and wives. As a sameness 
of features obtained, so did the names by which they 
were known; scores of them had exactly the same Chris- 
tian and surnames, which occasionally proved inconve- 
nient in business and money matters; many of them, 
however, assumed fictitious names, and a habit prevailed 
among them of designating themselves by some familiar 
appellation or nickname, indicative of some supposed or 
apparent quality or habit. From the similarity in fea- 
tures, and from the prevalence of the same names, it 
seemed as if they were all descendants of a few original 
families, and to me it has often appeared as if they were 
of good descent, in consequence of the general cast of 
countenance being anything but " plebeian." So much 




for the physical and moral attributes of the new immi- 
grant; let us now consider his influence and career. 

The Portuguese immigrants arrived in great numben 
in the years 1840, 41, and 42.* In the former years 
about 4000 were introduced, in the latter about 400, 
and it must be allowed that they evinced the greatest 
willingness to labour, and considerable aptitude to learn. 
But the nature of the work was new to them, the im- 
plements unhandy, and the negroes did not let the 
occasion pass by without jeering them on their awk- 
wardness. They forgot, in "cutting their jokes," the 
clumsiness of their African forefathers, and the fact that 
a willing hand is often worth more than a skilful one. 
The Madeirans had been able to earn in their own land 
about 4d. or 6d. per day, but in British Guiana they 
found they could earn as much as two to three guilders 
per day's work of six to eight hours (about three or four 
shillings). Their first impulse, therefore, was to tax 
their industry to the utmost. Unfortunately, the de- 
mand for their services was too urgent and general for 
much care to be bestowed upon the locality to which 
they were destined, and to the nature of the work to 
which they were called. Leaving a dry and mountainous 
country, the Portuguese immigrant encountered here a 
damp and marshy land; accustomed in his own island 
to the light work of the vineyard and the farm, he was 
required here to cultivate a stiff and clayey soil, ¥rith 
constant exposure to the sun or to the rain, and in the 
immediate viciliity of stagnant trenches. In his native 
country his diet, although humble, consisted chiefly of 
fresh vegetables and fresh fish, occasionally meat; his 
drink was water and the wine of the country; here his 

* Owing, howerer, to the great mortalitj which occurred about thif tima^ 
the goTeroor and Ck>urt of Policj stopped for a time Portuguese immigratioii 
after March, 1849. 


ordinary food was the farinaceous plantain and the dried 
salt-fish, and he was exposed to all the temptations of 
luscious but, for new comers, unwholesome fruit, which 
abound in tropical countries. In his retired cottage in 
Madeira, dirty and indifferent as it was, he saw little 
around him to excite his envy or cupidity ; he moved 
among others whose lot of life was like his own, and to 
a certain extent he had felt contented; the ignorance of 
riches and the hopelessness of advancement had rendered 
him apathetic, if not satisfied. But in this new country, 
where it had been told to him that the streets were 
paved with gold and silver, he saw enough to stimulate 
his desires, and to urge him to contend for the pos- 
session of wealth. The curse of Mammon had seized 
upon his soul. Home, friends, coxmtry, were forgotten 
in the charm of adventurous enterprise, and thousands 
flocked hither only to meet a grave. Hurried away in 
gangs to the estates, no wise precautions were taken to 
ensure their usefulness. To be sure, experience had not 
yet proved the necessity for any such precautions. It 
was not long in arriving. " To the field — ^to the field,'' 
was the cry. To the field they went, in sanguine spirits 
and excited industry; they returned from it exhausted 
by the sun and fatiguing natiu^ of the work. The 
miasm of an ill-drained laud was immediately alert upon 
such unfavourable constitutions. Intermittent fever and 
ague broke out among them ; the prickly heat (a species 
of lichen or skin disease peculiar to the tropics), and the 
small insects which abounded, attacked their feet and 
legs ; inattention to such insidious and apparently insig- 
nificant assailants led them again to the field, but ulcers 
and disease were the consequence. The money which 
they received for their labour was not spent in good or 
sufficient food necessary to sustain them. They lived 
upon the cheapest plantains and the common salted fish; 


but tlicy paid dear for their economy. The money was 
hoarded until its value became incapable of saving them. 
They tliought to have reached the mark, but the race 
was not yet over ; they thought to have conquered, but 
the victory was not yet complete The fever had be- 
come their daily companion ; it wasted their energies 
and their bodies ; it was followed by sallow complexions, 
congestion of internal and important organs, dropsy, 
emaciation, and death. The small scratch or ulcer, from 
irritation and neglect, spread into foul and sloughing 
sores, which involved in its ravages the tendons, the 
nerves, and the very bones, rendering amputation neces- 
sary. The unseen insect and the unconscious miasm 
]iad destroyed the ambitious and aspiring man. They 
looked to their employers for relief; sympathy was not 
wanting, and medical relief invoked, but where was 
found its benefit? an imperfect system of sanitary at- 
tendance rendered nugatory all their efforts. The dream 
lia:l passed away. Startled into a fearful and stem 
reality, these victims of their own and others' imprudence 
hurried in numbers to the colonial hospital. The staff 
of that institution and the accommodation had to be in- 
creased to meet the augmenting claims. The patients 
crowded into its wards, they filled the apartments with 
their cries, they stretched themselves out upon their 
pallets, and in spite of the best medical skill and at- 
tention, they died unpossessed of that wealth for which 
they had sacrificed a life. Yet was the tale not alto- 
gether untrue which was told them ; the picture had 
been correctly drawn, but somewhat too highly coloured. 
Some of the more careful earned money sufficient to 
enable them to return in a short time to their native 
land, to exhibit their wealth, and to sthnulate others to 
encounter similar scenes such as 1 have attempted to 
describe. We shall shortly have to notice a similar 


episode respecting coolie immigration in this history. 
The impression left on the public mind by the result of 
the Portuguese emigration was, that the inhabitants of 
Madeira was not adapted to this climate. But was the 
climate really to blame for all the evils consequent on 
the earlier emigration from Madeira ? Was it, and is it 
really not adapted to the constitutions of European races ? 
The answer to such an important question must be re- 
served for a separate consideration. Meanwhile, the im- 
portation of more Portuguese immigrants was stopped 
by orders from England, and the bounties discontinued 
in May, 1842, as likewise bounties on immigrants from 
the West India Islands in October of the same year; the 
cost of these immigrants, including the purchase-money 
and expenses of the steamer Venezuela^ amounted to 
about 380,000 dollars.* 

Immigration for the next year or two began to decline, 
in consequence of the recent disasters and experience, 
until attention was tunied to Africa and the east for 
labourers suitable to the country, and about 500 in 
1843 and in 1844 were introduced here, chiefly from 
Sierra Leone, the West India Islands, and a few fix)m 
Madeira, who came at their own expense; but when 
in the following years the bounties were again renewed, 
in accordance with alterations and modifications in the 
several "immigration ordinances," crowds of immigrants 
flocked to these shores from Calcutta, Madras, Madeira, 
and elsewhere. It would be needless to enter upon another 
description of the Portuguese immigration ; it would be 
a mere recapitulation of the first one ; the origin, the 
progress, and the results were the same. The money 
acquired by some of the more fortunate Portuguese who 
had returned with it to Madeira, had again aroused the 

* Local Guide, p. xxzr. 


cupidity of the poor. They had seen paupers go away 
and return comparatively rich. The name of Guiana 
was recognised as a promise of wealth, and a field for 
industry and success. The cherished recollections of 
youth, the sad tales about the pestilential climate, the 
dissuasions practised by the authorities and clergy of the 
island, lost all eflSicacy when contrasted with the display 
of wealth so rapidly acquired by some of their country- 
men in the " nuova terra ;" numbers with their wives 
and families again flocked to British Guiana, in spite of 
obstacles of every kind. The authorities of the island of 
Madeira, when first made aware of the emigration of the 
people, did not interfere to prevent them. TTiey very 
prudently consented to the departure of the refuse of the 
town of Funchal* and its neighbourhood, and connived 
at the removal of the lazy and penurious mendicants, the 
incarcerated thief and vagabond, and the half-starved 
artisan. For these, and such like, formed a large pro*' 
portion of those who first arrived in this colony. When, 
however, it was foimd that agriculturists and people of 
all classes were deserting the island, an attempt was 
made to discountenance it. None were permitted to 
leave without a passport, the price of which was gradually 
raised, until a few or none could purchase one. Evasion, 
as a matter of course, followed, and the people contrived 
to get away without passports. More energetic measures 
became necessary. No vessels were allowed to leave the 
island imtil they had been inspected by officers appointed 
for that purpose. But this also failed; the immigrant 
vessels pretended to depart, but when nightfidl came, 
tacked to another part of the island, where groups of 
Portuguese had been previously assembled by paid agents 

* It is currentlj reported Uiat the town of Funchal hai thrice emptied her 
gaols to faTOor British Qoiana with the oocnpants. 


in the secret, who all eagerly but secretly rowed off to 
the ships, and were thus carried away to British Guiana. 
When this plan was discovered, an attempt was made to 
capture such immigrant ships, but they generally &iled. 
The task was too arduous for the Portuguese navy, 
although instances are narrated where vessels have been 
retaken, and the immigrants brought back to Madeira 
when within a few days' sail of British Guiana. 

It soon, however, became evident that agriculture was 
not ihe forte of the Portuguese ; they were not altogether 
suited for it either by physical constitution or mental incli- 
nation. The hope of gain had driven the emigrant to these 
shores ; necessity and the prospect of gain had kept him 
for the earlier periods of bis sojourn here in the cane-field, 
but in time his continued industry and thrifty husbandry 
found him in the possession of a large sum of ready 
money. Those who had contrived to amass such money 
were not long in discovering the means of investing their 
gains to advantage. From the earliest period of the 
colony it had been the custom of the inhabitants to have 
their wants supplied by the merchants, who, besides 
being engaged in shipping and a general mercantile 
business, kept large stores (as they are here called), 
where almost every article for the household and table 
use could be procured. From a cargo of lumber to a 
paper of pins, almost every necessary article was to 
be sold at one or other of such stores. Some dealt 
chiefly in dry goods and hardware, others in provisions, 
wines, &c. But in after times medicines and groceries 
were disposed of in druggist establishments, called 
^^ doctors' shops,'' whose retail trade consisted chiefly in 
the vending of drugs, spices, paints, groceries^ and other 
similar articles. In times of slavery it was found con- 
venient to purchase wholesale or in large quantities the 
articles necessary for the estate and negroes. The few 


private families who resided in town were also compelled 
to purchase goods at a high price, and in larger quanti- 
ties than were often convenient. It is true that money 
was then plentiful, and this inconvenience but slightly 
felt. Since the emancipation, however, and the striking 
asunder of the great distinctions which formerly existed 
between the master and his dependents, a middle class 
was rapidly rising into notice. Money became less easily 
procured, and parties more careful and attentive to the 
manner of housekeeping. It was soon found that the old 
mode of purchasing articles was inconvenient and expen- 
sive. Those with small means and limited incomes felt 
it ruinous to buy goods at the larger stores, where 
scarcely anything could be procured for less than the 
silver coin, called here a bitt (value 4d. ) The want of 
a smaller coin, copper or otherwise, added to the diffi- 
culty, and had no doubt contributed to the extravagance 
with which money was got rid of by the West Indian, 
both here and abroad, until the sad change in their 
prospect demanded a more careful economy. The want 
of small shops for retailing the necessaries of life, such as 
bread, butter, sugar, candles, soap, &c., was urgently felt, 
but yet it had never entered into the thoughts of the 
Creoles to adopt such a desirable and useful retail business. 
The Portuguese, however, at a glance, saw how money 
was to be made by such apparently insignificant means, 
and accordingly opened a nmnber of petty shops, where 
the smallest possible quantities of perishable articles 
of food, &c., could be procured by the town's people 
with but trifling inconvenience. Water-street was to be 
no longer the only refuge of distressed housekeepers and 
poor people. The most public places, the most crowded 
districts, the corners of streets were soon tenanted by the 
sharpsighted and trafficking Portuguese, who, behind 
their small and dirty counters, began to amass large sums 


of money by the sale, in small quantities, of salted pTovi- 
sions, rice, flour, potatoes, fish, beer^, in fine, everything 
needed by the individual who '* kept house." The want 
of a smaller coin prevented them from doing more than 
they did, but even as it was the poor could procure two 
or three different articles for a bitt^ while those articles 
which before had been always sold in bulk, such as flour, 
beer, rice, &;c., could now be procured in small quantities. 
This was but a prelude to the display of their commercial 
spirit and enterprise. The success attending their town 
speculations led them to adopt the same system in the 
country, where the poorer classes had experienced still 
greater difficulty than those in town of procuring the 
articles necessary to their comfort. Shops sprung up like 
magic in all parts of the country; the most distant estates, 
the most remote districts, were visited by the untiring 
Portuguese,* who set themselves down with as much 
confidence in their new pursuits as if they had been all 
their lives engaged in such a traffic. A few houses, a 
neighbouring estate, were inducements enough for the 
owner of a shop to settle and make sure of a remunera- 
ting profit. It is true that such profits were small, but as 
they sold their goods rapidly, and their expenditure was 
not great, they, most of them, contrived to realise large 
sums. The gross income of such shops was from 20/. to 
30/. per week; of course in time the great competition 
among them diminished the success of such specula- 
tions, but to this day the system is pursued with untiring 
energy and tolerable remuneration. Not content with 
purchasing goods from the merchants' stores, and stocking 
such shops, liquor stores, &c., many afterwards imported 
goods on their own account, and rented houses in Water- 

* A Portiigoete has actually ettabliihed a retail shop in a oorial moored in 
the centre of the river Demerara, at the foot of the Great Fall, about 100 
milea from Georgetown. 

VOL. I. 2 n 



Street, where they either retailed to their countrymen or 
competed with the British merchants. Again, many 
became hucksters, and carried on their shoulders the 
most marketable goods, such as linens, handkerchiefs, 
osnaburgs, shoes, &c., to the different estates and free 
villages which were now springing up throughout the 
colony. They did not wait for the negroes to come 
to them, but fairly went to the negroes, and witb all 
the temptations of a huckster's pack, drew forth the 
silver accumulated in many a miserable-looking hut. 
The money thus acquired was not spent in idle finery or 
unprofitable dissipation, but enabled them either to 
extend their business or to return to Madeira, Many, 
by such and similar means, became affluent and inde- 
pendent in the course of a few years. 

Such is a sketch of the origin, progress, and result of 
Portuguese immigration. With all its impediments and 
accidents it has proved of essential service to the colony; 
it has opened up new resources of enterprise and com- 
mercial advantage, it has introduced an active and in- 
dustrious race, who will not readily yield up the hold 
they have already taken upon society, but who, if I am 
not mistaken, will exercise in future years an important 
influence in the land to which they have emigrated, and 
in which they have now become acclimatised and natu- 
ralised. Upon many estates in the colony gangs of Por- 
tuguese labourers ai*e peacefully and industriously em- 
ployed. The demand for them is evidently on the in- 
crease. Greater care and attention are bestowed on them 
by the proprietors, and to their presence and industry 
the successful working of many fine estates is greatly to 
be attributed. 

Their example and conduct have not been unproduc- 
tive of good to the Creole negro, in whom have been 
excited feelings of emulation and rivalr}\ It was a new 


thing for the newly emancipated slave to find placed on 
the same level with himself a stranger from an European 
and civilised country — to witness the white man com- 
peting with him in the labour of the cane-field, and to 
see him subject to the same necessity of manual labour 
and drudgery. It was a new era in his life to test his 
powers of intelligence and endurance with the European 
labom-er; but still no marked feelings of distrust or jea- 
lousy were awakened in the good-natured bosom of the 
negro. lie had marked the introduction of the stranger 
with an indifference bordering on apathy. His self- 
interest had not materially suffered by the competition; 
his position in society had not been injured by the con- 
tact. His own path to independence and comparative 
affluence was too clear to occasion him any fear. Natu- 
rally good-natured and sensible of justice, the Creole 
negro seemed devoid of the lively, excitable temperament 
of the inhabitant of most warm climates, and, although 
violent when roused, was (and is) generally stoical and 
passive in his philosophy. He would laugh at his new 
rival, and was sometimes shamed by his superior activity 
and intelligence, but rarely opposed him with any se- 
rious intent to do him mischief. Secure in his own self- 
conceit, the negro affects to despise the mercenary and 
hard-working Portuguese; he taunts him with the ap- 
pellation of '^ white nigger," and pretends to be his su- 
perior in education and good breeding ; indeed, it is not 
an unconmion thing to hear the Portuguese address the 
negroes as Sir, Maam, and the terms of black lady, black 
gentleman, are commonly made use of by them. 

We come now to review shortly the history of cooUe 
immigration. The efforts of the planter to procure la- 
bour were directed in this instance towards the east. It 
had been long known to many of them that there was a 
tract of coimtry in India to the north-west of Calcutta, 



between the 23rd and 25tli deg. of north latitude, in- 
habited by a race of hardy agriculturists called " hill 
coolies," Dhangons or Boonahs. These " culi," as they 
are termed by Dr. Prichard, " are found in the hill 
countries of Guzerat," and, accustomed to agricultural 
pursuits, had not sufficient scope for their exertions, and 
it was supposed that they woidd willingly travel to the 
richer and more prosperous shores of Guiana. About 
the year 1838 the experiment had been made of import- 
ing a ship-load of them from Calcutta, who, to the num- 
ber of about 400, soon found employment on the estate 
of a rich proprietor. They appeared to answer very 
well, and, in consequence of the success of the under- 
taking, it became a subject for future consideration how- 
to introduce these people in greater numbers into the 
colony. When, thereibre, the several " immigration or- 
dinances" allowed of such an attempt as a public mea- 
sure, agents were appointed in India to provide the ne- 
cessary supply of coolies, and ships were engaged to 
bring them from the far-distant peninsula of India to 
the fertile lands of British Guiana. The bounty payable 
on each adult coolie was 60 dollars per head, or about 
12/., which, in the event of a vessel bringing 300 or 400 
along with a cargo of rice and other East India products, 
made it a very profitable speculation for shipowners. 
But, unfortunately, the error was again committed of 
shipping an improper class t)f persons. The agents, 
glad to execute their business as summarily as possible, 
did not take the trouble of securing the services of really 
effective labourers, but, indifferent to the interests of all 
but themselves, collected the first people that presented 
themselves. Many were not " hill coolies" at all ; men 
and women, the offscourings of the streets of Calcutta 
and Madras, the indigent, the idle — ^in fact, the very dregs 
of the community, were huddled together and forwarded 
to British Guiana as hardy labourers. Whole families 


of paupers, sickly and emaciated, were glad enough to 
be carried out of India, with the prospect of being sup- 
ported elsewhere. The old and helpless, infants and 
greybeards, were sent to till the soil of the rich country 
that could afford thus to squander away its money. A 
majority of them were never accustomed to field labour, 
but, hanging about the town, had eked out a miserable 
existence as grass-cutters, cattle-minders, grooms, smiths, 
pedlars, and petty artisans ; many were hereditary beg- 
gai's, and several ex-Sepoys: what could be expected 
from such an assortment of ill-chosen people ? Of about 
9000 or 10,000 who formerly arrived here, scarcely a 
tenth part was of the right class of persons. The better 
hands were from Calcutta, and between these and the 
people from Madras a kind of rivalry existed, the former 
looking down with contempt .upon the others. The in- 
dividuals thus added to the social family of British 
Guiana are a true type of the Malay race, one of the five 
principal divisions into which the human race has been 
classed by the scientific Blumenbach. Brown in colour, 
with regular features and long black hair, the coolie 
ibims a remarkable contrast with the original inhabitants 
of these shores, although, as I have before remarked, 
' many persons have traced a likeness between the "Buck" 
or South American Indian, and the natives of the east. 
The " coolie," for so we must still call him, is of a darker 
hue, taller, and more elegantly formed, with long and 
rather thin limbs, capable of much activity and grace, 
but not of strength. His hair is glossy and curling, not 
straight, as with the Bucks. In certain castes, the Ma- 
hommedan, it is shorn, with the exception of a long tuft 
at the crown, by which they hope to be pulled up into 
heaven at a future day. The head of the cooUe is small 
and oval, not large and square, as that of the "Buck;" 
in the one it is well shaped, in the other clumsy. The 
coolies use a variety of languages; each tribe has its own 


separate dialect, but tliey are all, I believe, reducible to 
one common root, the Hindostanee or Sanscrit. Their 
religion also varies; most of them are "Pagans," and at 
first were very superstitious in some of their rites, re- 
fusing to touch particular kinds of meat, and indeed meat 
at all, unless they had previously killed the animals 

There is a great difference, however, between the 
coolies from Calcutta and Madras, which merits a passing 
notice. The Indian from the neighbourhood of Calcutta 
is in general of loftier stature, and of more elegant shape. 
The finely-shoped head, square shoulder, and beautifully- 
rounded limbs, especially of the women, are sometimes 
very striking. The features of many are singularly 
beautiful, and almost classical in outline. Some of the 
women are, indeed, strikingly pretty. Their clear brown 
complexions, bright eyes, long glossy black hair, and 
exquisitely-formed mouths, render them almost a study 
for an artist. Thcu' figures are round, well formed, and 
graceful ; and the picturesque costumes, both of the men 
and women, contrast very favourably with the untidi- 
ness of the negro, and the gaudy finery or dirty garment 
of the Portuguese. The men wear turbans of white 
cloth, or skull-caps of gaily-coloured materials, loose 
jackets, and flowing trousers of white or parti-coloured 
muslin or calico; at other times, long loose robes of 
white or striped raiment, which they have the art of 
disposing to the greatest advantage round their slender 
and elegant figures. Others are contented with folds of 
cloth gu'ding the loins, displaying their well-proportioned 
limbs to great advantage; but when occupied in the 
labours of the field a very scanty wardrobe suffices. 
The women wear no head-dress; the dark glossy hair, 
well oiled and cleaned, is gathered in bands or folds 
around the head, but is never curled ; it is retained by 
pins and fastenings of gold, silver, or other metal. The 


ears aud nose are perforated and loaded yrith rings of 
gold or silver, and armlets, bracelets, and rings on the 
fingers and toes are considered the height of fashion by 
the more favoured coolie belles. Many of the women 
and children have their earnings (dollars and other 
silver coins) melted and fabricated into huge bracelets, 
which in rows encircle their wrists and ankles, attesting 
their own or others' industry and love of finery. The 
bust and waist are fitted with tight vestments of muslin 
or other linen, while full and flowing petticoats of scarlet 
or other bright colour fall in graceful folds down to the 
ankles. Some prefer long scarfs, which are twisted 
gracefully around the bust and body, displaying more 
of the person than is considered becoming among more 
civilised nations. The more indigent, and the Madras 
females particularly, are satisfied with discoloured and 
dirty rags, which are somehow or other disposed mys- 
teriously around their uncleanly persons, and barely pre- 
serve them from the charge of indecency. In their 
actions and conduct, the Calcutta coolies are more dig- 
nified and graceful, and appear to have mixed upon 
more independent terms with the rest of mankind than 
the more abject native of Madras. 

In general, the coolies fi-om Calcutta are preferred for 
field labourers, and on most estates where they have 
been located they have given satisfaction. Indeed, 
many planters speak very decidedly on this subject, and 
contend that there is the gi-eatest difference between the 
two classes of people ; and whilst they would hesitate in 
asking for, or receiving the services of, the Madras coolie, 
would most gladly avail themselves of every opportunity 
of forming their estates' gangs with the more willing and 
valuable labourers fix)m Calcutta. 

The following extract from a report of Sheriff Whin- 
field to Governor Light, writl;en 29th of March, 1840, 
applies chiefly to the Madras coolie : 

472 iirsTOUY of British guiaka. 

" I desire to avail myself of the present opportunity to 
set right the general misconceived opinion that these 
East India labourers are hill coolies. It is quite a mis- 
take, for there is not a hill coolie in British Guiana; 
these people are chiefly from the following places : — 
Agra, Allahabad, Benares, Dacca, Delhi, Ingormauth, 
Lucknow, Naypoor, Patua. No person acquainted with 
their actual state in India could be otherwise than gra- 
tilied to witness their altered and much ameliorated con- 
dition in this country." He also considered them as the 
parias of several large towns; outcasts in relation to 
their native country, and as here in a state of com* 
parative dignity. 

Indolent, dirty, and vagrant in their habits^ the Madras 
coolies were inapt at the work for which they were in- 
tended, irregular in their attendance, and migratory in 
their ways ; numbers abandoned the estates to whidi they 
were appointed to crowd about the town begging, and 
fiUing the most menial situations for a bare pittance. In any 
other country than this they must have perished in hun- 
dreds ; but in this fine land, where nature provides suste- 
nance oven for the most lazy, they managed to subsist in 
many a strange manner. Some of them, not very particular 
as to their food, began to rival animals in their habits, 
and became the scavengers of society. Clothed scantily 
in the filthiest rags, their bodies rendered often disgusting 
by diseases of the skin arising firom want of cleanliness, 
they prowled about the streets and country, picking up 
for food the putrid bodies of dead animals, such as goats, 
pigs, fowls, &c., and gathering from the dirtiest trenches 
a meal of the dead fish which in the dry season are cast 
up on the surface of the half-dried puddles. Such offal 
as was cast away by others as unfit to eat was greedily 
picked up by them, and carried home in triumph. And 
where was their home? The dried leaves of the palm- 
trees formed their bed, their covering was the shade of 


some old building or umbrageous tree ; their kitchen 
was the ground, in which they scooped a hole and made 
a fire of dried sticks or turf; their furniture and sole 
property a few pots of brass, which served them alike 
ibr basin, cup, dish, plate, and pantry. They ate in 
common ; a large mass of whatever their food consisted 
was worked up into a kind of pulpy mess, around which 
they sat, and each of the company in turn thrust in his 
fingers in the form of a cone, with which they seized a 
large lump and duly conveyed it to the mouth; they 
were fond of tobacco, and made an ingenious kind of 
wooden pipe, which could allow of the smoke passing 
through water if desired. 

The coolies in general are gr^arious in their habits; a 
nximber of them fed and lived together, the proportion 
of women being small. The females had rarely large 
families. They recognised as their leaders some few 
persons whom they called " sirdars," and the influence 
which these had over them was incredible. The sirdar 
chose their place of residence, and at his will removed 
them to another. He received the money they earned, 
and arranged the rate of wages, expenses, &c. He com- 
pelled them to obey him by hard words, and often by 
blows. In many instances they were sadly cheated and 
deceived by these " sirdars," who led them in droves like 
cattle over the country, and thus assisted, if it did not 
originate, their unsteadiness of work and conduct. Hence 
has arisen the dissatisfaction and disappointment some- 
times expressed towards them as a class of immigrants, 
and although in many places they have worked well, 
and by their numbers have not failed to be of service, 
yet on the whole the scheme of coolie inunigration can- 
not be considered to have succeeded so well as had 
been anticipated. A similar conclusion has obtained in 
other countries where they have been tried as labourers. 
In Jamaica, the local government has, I believe, discon- 


tinued their introduction at public cost. In Trinidad 
the experiment has not succeeded, and serious contem- 
plation is entertained of not giving it any further trial. 
During the years 1846 and 1847 as many as 7000 
or 8000 have been introduced into this colony, and, 
apart from the expense, what has been the result? 
Owing to them and the Portuguese, pauperism has been 
introduced into a land where, before their arrival, it was 
unknown, establishing, moreover, a bad precedent for 
future races, and setting a miserable example to the lazy 
and worthless. As regarded the coolies, they have like- 
wise suffered from disease, consequent on the change of 
the climate. Eruptive disorders of the skin, opthalmia, 
and dreadful ulcers, have resulted from their want of 
cleanliness; they have become, along with the Portu- 
guese, almost the only occupants of the public and 
private hospitals. But the more cai^eful and intelligent 
among them have had every reason to be satisfied with 
the advantages of their new position. They were brought 
here at public expense, they had wages given to them 
for their work, which in few or no other country could 
have been obtained, and at the end of five years' residence 
here they had the promise guaranteed to them of being 
sent back to their own country y»'^^ of expense. Many 
have already availed themselves of this promise; no 
doubt the remainder will if it be fulfilled. They have 
gone back to distant India with large sums of money, 
the earnings of a few years; they have traversed two 
oceans to find work, and have returned with the profits 
to astonish their countrymen with the almost incredible 

Several of the coolies who have retired from these shores 
carried away from 150 to 200 dollars each (30/. to 40/.) 
— a large sum, considering the short time they had been 
working in British Guiana. 

In 1843, 169 coolies, exclusive of 10 women and 14 


children, embarked in the Zouisa Baillie for Calcutta, 
and entrusted their money, which amoimted to 17,802 
dollars, or about 3700Z., to Captain Rimington. 

In the year 1838 about 400 coolies arrived from Cal- 
cutta; of these 236 returned to India in 1843, with about 
50^. sterling each, about 7 absconded, about 98 died, and 
the remainder preferred to remain here. 

Many have declared it to be their intention to return, 
bringing with them their families and friends ; but it is 
very questionable whether the legislature of British 
Guiana can continue long to hold out such flattering 
terms as to bring a pauper from east to west, a distance 
of 8000 miles, and to offer him such work and wages as 
will enable him to retmn at the end of a few years in 
comparative affluence, and at the expense of the bur- 
dened colony. 

Such have been some of the principal events in the 
history of immigration, and, reflecting upon the circum- 
stance^ we cannot but be struck with the energy and 
determination displayed by the planters to accomplish 
their purpose, and at the reckless and improvident man- 
ner in which it has occasionally been carried on. Never 
. was a colony in greater danger than this for the first few 
years after the emancipation — never was a remedy more 
wisely conceived than that of immigration, to revive the 
drooping energies of the land. The planter may have 
been taunted by the lower classes that the system was 
established to support himself at their expense, and 
many have objected to the public money being appro- 
priated to such a purpose ; but it was wrong to infer that 
the planter alone was to benefit by immigration. The 
merchant, the professional man, the tradesman, aye even 
the labourer, would in the end derive advantage firom an 
increase to the population. Let the cultivation of the 
estates once cease, and which among these classes would 
not have suffered by the occurrence ? What other than 


a vital necessity could have prompted to such expensive 
measures in regard to the introduction of immigrants ? 
What other than impending destruction could have sug- 
gested what appeared so ready an escape ? The creole 
labourer had been offered employment — he accepted it 
casually and upon his own terms, performing it irregu- 
larly ; was it strange that the planter should anxiously 
turn dsewhere for labourers ? None understood this 
better than the shrewd and intelligent negro. Of what 
use to him would have been his emancipation and civili- 
sation if it consigned him to a nomade and vagrant life ; 
if the channels of industry, commerce, and education 
thrown open to him were to be again unavoidably closed ; 
if, with the withdrawal of capital, and the extinction of 
agricultural and commercial employment, the European 
race had been compelled to leave these shores, the 
genius of British enterprise retiring disheartened from an 
anticipated field of active employment? But immigration 
offered to fulfil every want ; its promises were flattering, 
but its performances have been at times dubious. The 
majority of schemes of emigration have commenced in 
disappointment. Let those who doubt this turn to the 
early history of immigration in different parts of the 
world. The Canadas, New South Wales, Algiers, 
Western Afi:ica, the Cape, &c. Certainly, Guiana has 
formed no exception to this rule; and why is this? Not 
because the principle of emigration is not sound and 
advantageous to all parties when properly conducted, 
but because exaggerated and often false descriptions on 
the one hand, and greedy cupidity and worthlessness of 
character on the other, have rendered abortive many a 
plausible system of emigration. In our own case, when 
the inhabitants of other countries had their attention 
directed to British Guiana as a promising land to emigrate 
to, whom principally did it interest ? Certainly not those 


wlio were well off in their own. The circulated descrip- 
tions of its wealth, its resources, and its advantages, were 
not altogether false, or grounded upon inaccurate data, 
but such reports dazzled chiefly the idle, the vagrant, the 
men of least character and usefulness in their own 
country. We have seen how such composed the mass 
of our imported labourers. No foresight in choosing 
them was adopted, no precautions taken in the proper 
use of them. Errors of all kinds crept into the system. 
The bounties offered gave rise to knavery and deceit; 
people actually in the colony have been again re-shipped, 
and the bounty twice received for the same individuals. 
Persons in business, and of respectable connexions, have 
arrived here and been paid for as immigrant labourers. 
Idiots and cripples have been included among those for 
whom bounties were payable, and dwarfs and deformed 
persons brought over on speculation to be exhibited. In 
one instance a miserable object, deformed with " rickets," 
was brought here in a basket three feet long and carried 
about as a sight, until the governor very wisely ordered 
her removal. The mortality among the Portuguese and 
coolies has excited the sympathy and sorrow of all 
classes, and the climate is charged with the whole and 
sole cause ; but other and more important agents were 
accessories, which will be fully explained in the proper 
place. The immigration from Africa was, after all, the one 
most likely to prove of lasting service; but, to become so, 
it must be conducted in a very different manner to what 
it has hitherto been, or upon principles more sound and 
substantial than either that from India or Madeira. The 
majority of Africans who have arrived here have been 
emaciated and half-starved individuals, and more fit for 
the hospital than the field. 

The current of immigration directed towards these 
shores has had obstacles and diflSiculties of all kinds to 


contend against. It has been checked, subdued, and 
perverted ; it has dribbled along at times, and at others 
been enlarged into a great stream. All young colonies 
require immigration ; it is essential to their growth and 
to their strength. Let not the subject be abandoned 
because of its disasters ; let not the system be abolished 
because of its abuses. It is calculated to be of paramount 
importance to a colony situated like this ; it bears in it 
the germ of future greatness. Who can prognosticate 
the influx of such a tide? Its ebb and flow have already 
been marked with singular results. It has borne the 
name of Guiana to many and distant lands; it has 
excited interest and attention in many a humble and 
unknown hearth ; it has instituted inquiry and know- 
ledge. The idea has enlarged itself into a great principle, 
which has extended itself to many shores, and exercised 
its influence in many a heart. It has sustained, however 
imperfectly, the flagging energies of this declining country ; 
it has maintained in its integrity the cultivation of estates ; 
it has propped up a sinking planter, and supplied the 
vacant place of the retiring creole labourer. Without 
past immigration, imperfect as it was,* this colony could 
never have maintained its existence as a country capable 
of exporting sugar to a Jarge extent; without future 
immigration there is little hope that it will ever become 
what it has been so often termed — a "magnificent pro- 

Since the foregoing was written, a number of Chinese 
labourers have been added to the motley group of people 
in the fields of British Guiana. Preparations had long 
been made for their reception ; an active and intelligent 

* " After all that has been said of the levity of human nature, a man is, of 
all sorts of luggage, the most difl9cult to be transported." — Adam ^mith. 

t See Appendix for tables iUustratire of immigration into British Guiana, 
fVom 1835 to 1852. 


agent (Mr, White, formerly an opulent planter of this 
colony,) was appointed in India to superintend the trans- 
porting of these and other Indian immigrants. 

From the 1st of January to the 30th of June, 1853, 
647 Chinese men and boys, but no women, have arrived 
here, and have been located on several estates. It is as 
yet too early to speak of their value as agricultural 
labourers. They appear a sturdy, lively, merr}^-hearted 
race, but are low in the scale of moral advancement. 
They are an ignorant, degraded, and dirty people, but 
may improve under good example and tuition. Their 
characters are reported to be fierce, cowardly, and vin- 
dictive, by those who have brought them, but as yet they 
have manifested no symptoms of insolence or insubordina- 
tion worth speaking of 

They suffered much from illness during the voyage, 
and the mortality has been great. Many since their 
arrival have likewise been attacked by eruptive disorders, 
sores, and fever. Their filthy habits and want of atten- 
tion have contributed mainly towards this circumstance. 
It is to be hoped that the future importation of Celestials 
will comprise a better and more useful class of people 
than that already received. 

The serious evil of stocking the country too rapidly 
with ignorant and degraded barbarians of all nations, may 
at some future day be developed to the misfortune of the 




The main objects of the expensive and persevering 
course of immigration, to which attention has been drawn, 
were twofold: first, to supply the declining ranks of the 
working peasantry ; and second, to lower gradually the 
rate of wages consistent with the altered circumstances 
of the times. Both of these intentions have been par- 
tially fiilfilled ; yet some evil is found mixed with the 
good ; if immigration has not fully realised the results 
expected of it, there can be no doubt it has been pro- 
ductive of many advantages. The best way to estimate 
these advantages is to compare, not what immigration 
has accomphshed with what it was expected to accom- 
plish, but the state of the colony imder its operation 
with what a colony would probably have been left to 
its own unassisted resources. Immigration may not 
have relieved or strengthened a colony to the extent 


anticipated, and even now the prospect of complete suc- 
cess in the future may be considered problematical; but 
it has enabled the country to struggle through a season 
of hazard and calamity, it has confronted the most press- 
ing symptoms of alarm, and averted the impending 
danger. It has perhaps only sustained the machine it 
was brought to propel, but without it the probability is 
that the machine would have become incapable of work- 
ing. It may, indeed, only have allayed the malady it 
was intended to cure, but without its timely assistance 
that malady might have ended fatally. It has supported 
the sinking planter, and inflicted no injury on the indus- 
trious peasant. If it has introduced some objectionable 
elements into society, we should not forget that it has 
also preserved it from anarchy, perhaps from dissolution. 
Anxious to test the supposed power of immigration, 
and fully alive to the necessity of greater economy in the 
management of estates, the planters in 1 842 made an in- 
judicious attempt to reduce the rate of wages; certain 
rules and regulations relative to the quality and quantity 
of work, the emplojonent of time, and the remuneration 
deemed suflSicient, were drawn up by some members of 
the " Proprietary Body," and the introduction of these 
rules was attempted to be enforced. The labourer, 
however, indignantly refused to submit to them, and a 
"strike" occurred in Demerara and Essequebo, which 
lasted about six weeks, and ended by the withdrawal of 
the obnoxious rules and regulations. In this, the first 
conflict on the subject of wages, the labourer proved 
victorious; the prestige of victory was long afterwards 
to remain with him, and the helpless condition of the 
planter was made known to the triumphant peasant. 
This single circumstance speaks volumes as to the altered 
position of the two parties. Eight years had scarcely 
elapsed since the emancipation, and already was the 

VOL. I. 2 I 


labourer independent of his emj^loyer. Still more sub- 
stantial proofs of this will soon be adduced. The com- 
plete helplessness of the planter was revealed by this 
" strike;" the work of the plantation was obliged to be 
continued, however ruinous in price, or else a sacri6ce 
of property would have been the result — a sad alterna- 
tive to the late opulent proprietor, but at the same time 
a salutary lesson, that compelled the introduction of eco- 
nomy and a more careful supervision in every depart- 
ment of the estate. 

The subject of wages was one of the most intricate 
questions that arose out of the emancipation, and being 
a new element in our history, requires some further no- 

Since its general adoption afler 1888, it had always 
been the ground of contention between employers and 
employed — the apple of discord thrown among the in- 
habitants of these colonies by the goddess " Freedom." 
It was the first real evil to the planters, the earliest ap- 
peal from his independence and long-established power. 
The subject has been argued keenly by the two great 
clients in this cause, master and servant. Each has ad- 
vanced arguments satisfactory to himself, but of no effi- 
cacy in settling the point in dispute. The labourer is as 
jealous now of his strength, and as imperative to obtain 
the maximum remimeration for it, as he was at the com- 
mencement of the experiment ; and the planter more 
than ever solicitous to reduce his pay-list. When the 
last trace of slavery had disappeared, and the labouring 
population and the proprietor of land were left wholly 
to themselves, their mutual dependence one on the other 
soon led them to enter into arrangements; but, as was 
very natural, the party whose interests were most at 
stake was the one who had to make the greatest conces- 
sion ; hence, to avoid tlie most serious consequences to 


their property, labourers were employed upon estates at 
rates and upon a system which only the bygone profits 
of slave time could support. It seems anomalous to as- 
sert that the working classes were more independent of 
their employers than the latter of them; but the social 
features of this country differ so widely from those of 
other communities, that reasoning by analogy is not only 
useless, but delusive. Many of the negroes had become 
possessed of small lots of land; others had accumulated 
a little money; others found a ready livelihood in petty 
trading, fishing, and handicraft. The younger children 
and females had retired from the working of the field, 
so that of the 80,000 creole labourers existing at the 
time of the emancipation, perhaps not ^ore than one- 
fourth cared to seek for employment in the field. These 
very persons, too, were without any imperative compul- 
sion to labour; they had been allowed to occupy firee of 
rent the houses formerly appropriated to them whilst 
slaves; they were at liberty to catch fish from the 
trenches ; to shoot over the estate; and a day or two of 
occasional labour supplied them with the necessaries of 
life. The abrupt withdrawal of so much labour was the 
greatest shock that the welfare of the colony could have 
received, and it would require years to rally fix)m its in- 
jiuious effects. 

In engaging the labourer in his new capacity of hired 
servant, the fault was committed of paying him, not as 
it is done in other coimtries, for a fair day's work, but 
by task-work, or jobbing; it may be argued that to have 
paid the negro for a day's work, leaving to his own in- 
dustry and opinion the quantity he might think it ne- 
cessary to do, would have been to encourage him in his 
indolent habits. I do not think so. The dilatory and 
idle could have been refused payment, and by the ex- 
planation and counsel of magisterial authority it would 

2 i2 


most likely in the end have led to the best results. In- 
stead of fixing a fair payment for a fair day's work all 
through the plantations, it became the custom, when a 
job Avas to be done, such as digging trenches, clearing 
and weeding fields, or cutting canes, to apply to a head- 
man, who, having a gang at his conmaand, contracted for 
the work, and, as a matter of course, made it as profit- 
able as possible to the people and himself. These task 
gangs would wander about the country, and even when 
one job was commenced would leave it for another that 
held out more advantages. The bad habit of saimtering 
from place to place was confirmed ; the laboiurers who 
composed these task gangs lived at a distance from their 
work ; they dwelt in small villages, or on the outskirts 
of towns, and, when required by their headman, would 
assemble and travel to the scene of labour, where, after 
working for three or four days, they dispersed to their 
homes, to meet again the next week. A tariff or scale of 
work had been suggested by the late Sir James Smyth, 
and was executed by a committee of planters at the 
commencement of the apprenticeship ; and, although not 
legally binding to either party, was recommended as an 
approximation for the guidance of the peasant and those 
appointed to decide in differences which might arise 
upon the subject. It subsequently became a kind of 
rude model for future agreements, with this exception, 
that the time devoted to labour rarely or ever approached, 
after the abolition of the apprenticeship, to that specified 
in this scale.* 

Description of work. To be performed in 9 hours. Ditto la 7| hours. 

Digging canals 12 feet wide and*^ 

5 feet deep, and throwing the > ... 600 cubic feet ... 500 cubic feet 

ground on both sides . j 

Throwing back a 6-foot parapet ^ 

from the abore, and levelling > ... 72 feet in length ... 60 feet in length. 

the ground . ,j 

* Local Guide. 



Deioription of work. To be performed in 9 hours. Ditto in 7| hovra.* 

Digging new trenches at abore,') 
when the ground is all thrown > ... 480 cubic feet ... 400 cubic ieeC 
on one side . . . ,) 

'^mabo^'''' .^■^'*! ^^J • 48 feet m length... 40 feet in kmgth. 

Diggingdrain8 2x 2, land cleared ... 18 roods ... 15 roods. 

Throwing out small drains shoTel) .^ .« 

deep 4. ... .J - ^ " ••• *^ " 

Holing or banking land 2( x 2^ ... 36 „ ... 30 „ 
ShoTel ploughing new holed land ^ 

one shovd deep, and rounding > ... 72 „ ... 60 „ 

beds ) 

Hoe ploughing, and planting one '^ 

row of the abore, with two rows > ... 60 „ ... 50 „ 

of plants on parapets . ) 

Weeding, moulding, tod supply-) ^^ ^ 

ing plant canes . , ,J ... ^lu „ ... 70 „ 

Weeding and moulding plant,) ^^ ^^ 

2nd time J ... too „ ... 86 „ 

Weeding and moulding ratoons . ... 120 „ ... loO „ 

Weeding and trashing canes ... 120 „ ... lOO „ 

Cutting «.d c-rying c«e. (u7 ^'S^jl^JST*^! ^ ^y^ f^. 
'^^"^ ) (deep (600 cubic feet)) 

^m and trying trash (ra- J ^^ „^ ^^ „^ 

Supplying only first time 120 „ ... 100 „ 

Shord ploughing cane rows two \ ^n k^ 

feet wide J ... 60 „ ... 60 ,. 

Drilling two feet wide, one shovel ) ^^ ^^ 

deep J ... 36 „ ... 30 „ 


Weeding and trimming walks . 5 labourers to 1 acre ... 6 to 1 acre. 
Digging plantain suckers . 200 each labouror ... 160 each labourer. 

Digging holes 15 inches squaro . 120 „ ... 100 „ 

Planting ditto .... 150 „ ... 125 „ 

Cutting flrowood and cording ditto (20 roods), 128 cubic feet, or 8 x 4; 107 
cubic feet, or 8 X 4. 

N.B.— The rood mentioned in the foregoing is nearly equal to 12 feet 4 inches 
of corded wood. 

The tariff* for cotton and coffee cultiyation is not noticed, because little or no 
labour was deroted to their production. 

By following out steadily such an employment, a 
labourer could not only acquire means enough to sup- 
port himself and family comfortably, but a surplus would 
remain to the prudent with which they might purchase 
houses, lands, boats, horses, or whatever they pleased, to 
minister to their comfort or enjoyment. 

Let us see what those means were which were thus 


acquired. For cutting a punt-load of canes he received 
a dollar (4s. 2d.); for clearing a field, which consisted 
in little more than scratching die sur&ce of the soil with 
a hoe — a species of agriculture which would be laughed 
at in other countries — he received at the rate of two 
guilders per 100 roods. For supplying canes (90 or 
100 roods) about two guilders. 

When engaged about the buildings in the manufitcture 
of sugar, the pay was from two to three guilders per 
day; so that the least he received for his day's labour 
was half a dollar. It should not be overlooked, that 
some of the work to be done was heavy, and that the 
rate of living in this country was unusually high; but, 
admitting these facts, let us see what a labourer could 
then do with his money. 

House-rent at that time cost him nothing, fuel nothing, 
clothing very little, taxes nothing.* 

But, independently of their wages, most of the labourers 
on the estates could add to their means by raising pro- 
visions, cutting grass, catching and selling fish.f 

In consequence of the altered position of master and 
servant, a new principle in agriculture (at least to this 
country) was introduced, and one which, in all proba- 
bility, will exercise a great influence in succeeding ages. 
This was the "Metayer" or "Metairie" system; under 

* The following table will giro a rough iketch of his liying:— 

Expenses per week. 

Two bunches of plantains . 2 guilders or Ss. 4d. 

Sugar, 2 lbs. 0| „ Os. 8d. 

Salt-fish, 2 lbs 1 „ is. 8d. 

Bread 1 „ is. 8d. 

Coffee or other drink ... 0) „ Os. 8d. 

Tobacco and sundries ... 1 „ Is. 8d. 

9s. 8d. 

Earnings per week» avenge. 

3 to 4 dollars, 


15s. Od. 
less expenses 9s. 8d. 

5s. 4d. 

t Since the above was written, many changes have taken place; a labourer's 
earnings amounts in ordinary to about two dollars per week, and he has some- 
times to pay for house-rent, but the price of pUmtains, salt-fish, &c., is consider- 
ably less than in the above estimate. 


which the proprietor, finding it impossible or unprofitable 
to advance money in the shape of wages to carry on the 
cultivation, was satisfied with farming a portion, or the 
whole. The arrangement was generally as follows:-^- 
The proprietor divided his estate into lots or small farms, 
which were allotted to intelligent labourers, with the 
understanding that they were to keep in good cultivation 
the land thus taken over by them, and to receive half 
the value of the sugar or other produce raised. The 
farmers had under them, or aiding them as partners, a 
nmnber of labourers who assisted in the work. The 
land was now to be kept in order for the interest of thie 
labourer, and it was expected that they would in conse- 
quence attend to it whilst the proprietor undertook to 
keep the buildings and machinery in good repair. In 
the case of a sugar estate, the whole of the rum made 
was the perquisite of the proprietor, and in case of any 
difierence on the subject of the cultivation, arbitrators 
were appointed, to whom the matter was referred. Such 
is a sketch of the Metairie system, the indication of a de- 
clining planter and a rising peasant, which has received 
the sanction and approval of the Secretary to the Colonies, 
and of which at first so much was expected; but^after 
all it is nothing more than the old system of landlord 
and tenant. With steady, intelligent labourers, and in 
circumstances where the planter was compelled to seek 
such a resource, it has undoubtedly its advantages. A 
property would be thus sustained which might otherwise 
sink. An impoverished proprietor could thus retain his 
estate, which otherwise he might have to i)art with. As 
regards this colony, in several instances where it has 
been tried, the results have been pretty much the same. 
At first it promised well, and answered expectation; 
latterly many disadvantages have been foimd out, and, 
strange to say, the employment of the system seems rather 


a " dernier ressort " to both planter and peasant than the 
adoption of a promising scheme. The reasons for this 
are various. The planter does not easily relinquish the 
idea of fortune-making so long associated with estates. 
He struggles on, and hopes to the last, imder the old 
order of things, whilst circumstances have rapidly altered. 
Again, it is difficult to meet with labourers willing and 
speculative enough to enter upon any such agreement; 
they appear imwilling to believe the advantages which 
would accrue to themselves, and regard such proposals 
with distrust and suspicion. They prefer an independent, 
roving life, with four days' laboiir in the week, to the 
anxiety and imcertainty attaching to such novelties. The 
demand for labour and its remuneration being so great, 
they naturally preferred to work in task gangs or on 
choice estates, to being tied down to one particular spot ; 
and it is very questionable whether, as a labourer, he 
could not and cannot gain more than as a farmer, and he 
therefore feels unwilling to subject himself to the vicissi- 
tudes which he has seen affect the landlord, such as bad 
seasons, short crops, low prices, &c. Again, the rapid 
introduction of immigrants has, more or less, interfered 
with such a scheme, for these latter held out the pros- 
pect of maintaining the cultivation under the old system, 
and, as a class, have evinced little disposition themselves 
to enter upon any such arrangement, although, in all 
probability, when the subject is better understood by 
them, they will gradually do so. 

Even to the proprietor its success has been problema- 
tical. It is true his land was kept in cultivation, his 
account for wages removed, his anxieties perhaps lessened, 
but he stiU suffered from the experiment. His profits 
were necessarily small, the work not always done as he 
wished it; disputes arose about the time and mode of 
cultivation; there was the unpleasantness to have to 


consult with ignorant and suspicious people; and^ after 
a few imperfect and unsuccessful attempts, the Metairie 
sjTstem may be considered to have failed, and to be 
abandoned for the present. ^ 

Early in the year 1843, Lord Stanley wrote to Go- 
vernor Light, acquainting his excellency that it was the 
intention of her Majesty's Government to take under their 
immediate superintendence and control all future emi- 
gration from the west coast of Africa to the West Indies. 
Vessels were soon chartered for this purpose to convey 
immigrants to Jamaica, Trinidad, and British Guiana, 
and the Arabicm^ of 391 tons, arrived here shortly after 
with Africans. 

In the course of this year many usefrd regulations were 
introduced into the colony. A bill was passed for the 
registration of births and deaths, in which it was ordered 
that, if such registration was not performed within forty- 
eight hours, a penalty would be enforced from 25 to 100 
dollars in amount. This bill, however, was not very 
likely to be strictly attended to, and became afterwards 
almost a dead letter. 

A penal settlement was established up the river Esse- 
quebo, for the reception of the convicts within the 
colony ; proposals were subsequently made to the Court 
of Policy that it should also be used for penal convicts 
from Jamaica and other places, but the requests, in 
accordance with the feelings of the public, were reftised. 

In the course of this year the power of refomung the 
courts of justice, the orphan chamber, and office of re- 
gistrar, was granted to the Coiurt of Policy. In an 
address to the court on the 28th of August, his excellency 
the governor stated, in reference to these changes, that 
unlimited authority was given by her Majesty's Order in 
Council of the 3rd of April, and by the Secretary of 
State's despatch of the 12th of April, to amend and 


reform the present system of dvil and criminal juris- 

The orphan chamber was to be abolished, and a new 
office in its stead was to be instituted, both in Demerara 
and Berbice. 

The registrar's office was to be remodelled; the judi- 
cial department was to be separated from that of the 
notarial and registrial. In reference to these changes, 
his excellency observed — " In the changes now pro- 
posed, we need not have the dread of disturbing a system 
transmitted from remote antiquity; we are about to deal 
with partial and temporary alterations, which were begun 
and carried out without being based upon principle, and 
were never framed to work harmoniously together, as 
parts of a connected whole. In altering the constitution 
of the criminal court, an alteration of the criminal laws 
would become necessary; and for any change, therefore, 
we must look to the jurisprudence of England, the result, 
as it is, of the combined intelligence of ages, and im- 
proved and tempered by the humane and enlightened 
spirit of modem times; I propose, then, to adopt the 
whole body of the criminal laws." In these proposed 
important alterations no mixture of Dutch and English 
criminal law was to be allowed. 

In the changes of the civil courts, the objects proposed 
were curtailment of law expenses and delays, and se- 
curity to the creditor; the strict and honest fulfilment 
of trusts was to be required, while protection was pro- 
vided for the widow, orphans, and minors, as well as to 
the honest but unfortimate debtor. 

The thanks of the court were offered to the governor 
for this address, and an earnest assurance of co-operation 
on the part of all the members promised. 

The onerous nature of the duties imposed upon the 
members of the Court of Policy has never been explained, 


and may be here usefully pointed out. The most eminent 
and practical planters and merchants are selected to fill 
the election seats. Frequently nominated without 
previous knowledge or consent, these gentlemen are 
compelled to sit, or suflfer a heavy pecuniary penalty. 
The loss of time and the important fimctions assigned to 
them, are attended with great inconvenience to many, 
whose extensive private business is materially affected 
by their public duties. It must be admitted, that the 
zeal and public spirit displayed by such of our colonists 
has been deserving of much more favourable consideration 
than they have been in the habit of receiving. They are 
liable to out-of-door censure, and to firequent attacks in 
the local newspapers. Their motives are often misunder- 
stood or perverted^ and their public acts and remarks 
excite anger and enmity against, them rather than com- 
mendation. No one, however, who has lived in the 
colony can be ignorant of the vast amoimt of public 
service gratuitously performed by such honoured cha- 
racters as Messrs. Croal, P. Rose, James Stuart, T. 
Porter, A. D. Van der Gon Netscher, J. Jones, A. 
Macrae, J. Grordon, R. Haynes, and many others whose 
names stand conspicuously in the annals of British 

It would be perhaps offensive to these and other 
parties who have contributed their time and talents to the 
interest of the colony, to particularise their acts, but in 
spite of occasional errors their public career has been 
stamped with celebrity, and deserve a more fitting tribute 
than the scanty notice of a cursory historian. 

The year 1844 was marked by many public acts and 
schemes of considerable importance, indicating that some 
progress was being made in the social improvement of 
the colony. 

In the governor's address to the members of the 


Combined Court, his excellency adverted to the incon- 
venience experienced by the fact of the sanction of the 
court as regards the outlay of the public money termi- 
nating with the dose of the past year. He had no 
apprehension that the revenue which would continue to 
accrue to the public treasury until the 30th of June 
next, would not prove sufficient for the ordinary ex- 
penditure, but proclaimed that his reason for desiring 
an earlier attendance of the court was, that its members 
might exercise practical control over the annual expenses 
dating from the commencement rather than the middle 
of the year ; and having submitted the estimate to the 
consideration of the court, he congratulated them on the 
present satisfactory state of the finances, and also on the 
prospects of a good crop for the current year, closing his 
speech with certain proposed measures for the advance- 
ment of the interests of the colony. 

In the answer of the members of the Combined Co\irt 
to the speech of his excellency, they agreed with him 
as to the propriety of the reasons urged on assembling 
the court earlier than usual, but submitted that as one 
of the seats of the colonial section of the Court of Policy 
was vacant, it would perhaps be better for the interests 
of the colony that they should defer discussing the es- 
timate imtil such vacancy be filled up, and imtii they 
had examined the public accounts of the revenue and 
expenditure of the year ending on the 81st of December 

Several old offices were also abolished— as, for instance, 
the vendue-office; and the system of selling by auction 
was thrown open to competition imder certain regula- 
tions. This was in conformity with the wishes of the 
inhabitants, for early in the year a petition of merchants 
and others remonstrated against the continuance of the 
former monopoly, and an ordinance was published the 


next year making provisions for the appointment of 
auctioneers. The boards of orphans and imadministered 
estates being also abohshed, indemnification, in the 
shape of pensions, was granted to the recorders of such 
offices, and the new office of administrator-general was 

But besides these and other important changes, several 
useful societies were instituted and organised during this 
year — ^namely, an Agricultural and Commercial Society 
in March ; the Astronomical and Meteorological Society 
in May; and the Natural History Society of Demerara 
in July. 

The proposal to establish a grammar school was 
approved of by the Home Government; and it was 
suggested that the unclaimed balance of the Slave 
Compensation Fund should be appropriated to that 
purpose. This useful establishment was subsequently 
instituted, and has proved of considerable advantage to 
the younger classes of this community, whose parents 
find it inconvenient or too expensive to send them to 

* Sereral ordinances of great public importance were published during this 
year 1844; and a glance at a few of them may be useful in this place. 

One declaratory of the law of this country concerning bills of exchange and 
promissory notes payable in this colony. Up to the year 1837 the law of Holland 
practised here did not hold endorsers of such notes responsible for their payment, 
but by the new regulation the same practice was to be followed here as obtained 
in England, and in the next year an ordinance appeared to assimilate the practice 
here to that of England. 

Another ordinance was passed to provide for the remuneration of witnesses 
for attendance on trials before the supreme criminal courts of British Guiana. 

Another ordinance extended certain prorisions of a former ordinance, intituled 
" An Ordinance to regulate and encourage Immigration to Emigrants from parts 
or places in Asia, and to repeal the 11th and 16th sections of said ordinances." 
The introduction of Chinese labourers was also provided for by an ordinance 
published early in this year, and also regulations prescribed for their contracts. 
The bounty was to be for every adult thus introduced 65 dollars, and for children 
under 14 years old 32 dollars 50 cents; but it was long ere Celestials condescended 
to visit our shores. A bill was also passed to raise half a million of money for 
the general encouragement of immigration. 

Another ordinance was publish^ to establish administrators-general in the 
colony of British Ouiana, the object of which was to provide oflicet for the looking 
after the estates of insolvent persons, as well as of those who died intestate; 


Early in the year 1845, the governor having fixed a 
meeting of the Combined Court for the 9th January, in 
his address to the members adverted to the fact that the 
ordinance passed by the court last year on the subject of 
the "Immigration Loan" would not receive the royal 
sanction unless modified, and proposed that its reconsi- 
deration should take place at a meeting " dedicated ex- 
clusively to that specific object." There had been no 
objection made to the principle of the loan of 500,000/. ; 
but certain details, which had also been ably pointed out 
by the late acting attorney-general, Mr. Arrindell, had 
been objected to by the Secretary of State. 

In the reply of the members of the Financial Repre- 
sentatives, on the 11th, they expressed their regret at 
the disallowal of the Loan ordinance, and assured 
his excellency that they woxdd proceed in the dis- 
charge of their duties in this important matter with 
every disposition to meet the views of her Majesty's 
Government, consistent with the maintenance of their 

thus conducting, in an improred miumer, the Ainctioni of the old Orphan 
Chamber, which was now abolished. 

An ordinance to abolish writs of '* Cessio Bonomm," to declare who shall be 
considered insolvent debtors, to provide relief for tlie same, and to ensore an 
equal distribution of the estates of such insolvents. 

Ordinance to regulate the offices of the colonial registrars of Demerara, Esse- 
quebo, and Berbice, and to make provision for registering or recording therein 
certain deeds, acts, and instruments. 

Ordinance to consolidate the supreme courts of civil justice, and to provide a 
new manner of proceeding to be observed in the said courts. 

Ordinance to introduce into the colony of British Guiana trial by jury in 
certain cases. 

Ordinance to simplify proceedings in the arrest of debtors leaving the colony. 

Ordinance to regulate and establish tariffs or tables of fees and other charges 
in, and connected with, the supreme courts of criminal and dvil justice in British 
Guiana, and for the remuneration and traveUing expenses of witnesses and 
jurors in civil cases. 

Another ordinance for requiring annual returns to be made and sent in for 
purposes of colonial taxation was likewise enacted. 

In closing the session of the court, his excellency adverted with satisfaction 
to the numerous important acts of legislation passed, and complimented the 
members, both official and elective, but especially the acting attorney-general, 
on their assiduity and successful working out the details of difficult lef^lation, 
and considered that the community owed to each and every one obligations of 
no ordinary kind. 


constitutional rights, and the promotion of the prosperity 
of the colony. 

Upon this very subject, however, began a quarrel 
respecting the power of the Combined Court, which ulti- 
mately ended in an open rupture. 

Earl Grey, in a despatch to Grovemor Light, published 
on the 2nd January of this year, having defined the 
origin and purpose of the* Combined Court, alluded to 
the result of gradual encroachments permitted by suc- 
cessive governors, and contended that, by the Order in 
Council of 3rd June, 1842, that during the continuance 
of the Civil List ordinance of 1841, and no longer, the 
Combined Court should "possess full power and au- 
thority to discuss in detail, freely and without reserve, 
the several items of the annual estimate of the colonial 
expenditure, subject always to the terms and conditions 
of the said Civil List ordinance." In the preamble, 
however, of the Loan ordinance. Earl Grey conceived 
that the Combined Court had defined and declared its 
own powers beyond the authority fix)m which they were 
derived, and their actual provisional and permissive cha- 
racter. In reference to this despatch, a resolution was 
carried by the elective members of the Combined Court, 
" That this court so far acquiesces in the doctrine laid 
down by the Right* Honourable the Secretary of State 
for the Colonies, that its powers over a certain portion of 
the revenue now into the colony chest, but which for- 
merly appertained to the sovereign for the pubUc uses 
of the Colonial Government, are limited to the period 
embraced by the Civil List ordinance, and, therefore, an 
alteration in the structure of the Loan ordinance becomes 
necessary; but this Court maintains that to levy, fix, 
and appropriate the taxes levied in this colony, over and 
above the sources of revenue appertaining formerly to 
the sovereign's chest, and which may be revived at the 


expiration of the Civil List ordinance, is the undoubted 
privilege of this court, and that in point of fact it has 
always been exercised by the passing, rejecting, or modi- 
fying, after full and free discussion, the respective items 
on the estimate^ and the fixing and raising of the ways 
and means by an ordinance of this court." 

The usual meeting of the Combined Court having been 
summoned for February 13th, his excellency, in his 
address to the. members, congratulated them on pro- 
pitious seasons, and their exemption from those evils 
which had visited their neighbours, for which a feeling of 
gratitude was due to the Almighty. He also alluded to 
the introduction of an agricultural chemist, and antici- 
pated great advantage to planters through his advice, 
and the adoption of scientific agriculture. The finances 
of the colony were declared to be flourishing, and his 
excellency adverted with satisfaction to the royal assent 
having been given to the measures of law reform, and 
stated that on the 16th instant all the new ordinances on 
that subject would have the full force and effect of law. 
The governor then handed over the estimates to the 
members, who declined, however, to proceed to business 
until a vacancy occurring in the financial body had been 
filled up ; which act having taken place, the usual reply 
was sent in to the address, in which the governor was 
thanked for his speech, and his views regarding the 
finances and agricultural condition agreed to, as well as 
the advantage likely to result firom the law reforms so 
admirably enacted by the Court of Policy, with the able 
conduct of Mr. Arrindell especially. But, at the same 
time, the members contended that there was an un- 
healthy condition of the labour market, which could only 
be benefited by immigration; and trusted that such pro- 
tective and liberal policy would be pursued towards them 
by the Imperial Parliament, as would enable them to 


compete successfully with slave sugar-producing coun- 

A prospectus was issued this year of a Demerara East 
Coast Railway, to run between Georgetown and Mahaica, 
a distance of about twenty miles. The capital proposed 
was 100,000/., or 480,000 dollars, in 10,000 shares of 
10/., or 48 dollars each; further notice of which will be 
taken in the account of this useful undertaking.* 

The year 1846, if in no other way remarkable in the 
history of the colony, was at least so from the alteration 
in the sugar duties, which the British Parliament, afler 
the memorable discussions respecting free- trade, proposed 
to carry into effect. It would be out of place here to 
enter upon a formal notice of the wisdom or expedience 
involved in the great question of free-trade. That im- 
mense experiment of national policy which, in spite of 
all the dangers that threatened, and the dissatisfaction 
that would ensue, is likely to prove practically successful, 
or at least to remain until a better offers itself — the per- 
manent policy of ministers — even of those who formerly 
assisted to prevent its realisation. 

Among the numerous and valuable articles the im- 
portation of which was subjected to a considerable reduc- 

* The following ordinances were publUlied during the year 1845: 

Ordinance to apply the surplus customs duties in aid of the general revenues 
of British Guiana during the existence of the present, or any future ciril list 

Ordinance for establistung receptacles for lepers, and providing for their care, 
maintenance, and support 

Ordinance to admit the unsworn testimony in certain cases of Africans, coolies, 
and Chinese. 

Ordinance to provide for the payment of the interest for the redemption of a 
loan of 500,000/., to be raised for immigration purposes. 

Ordinance for appraisement of houses and lots of land in the city of Georgetown. 

Ordinance to revive and continue for seven years, from and after 31st of De- 
cember, 1847, on which day it will expire, an oniinance, entitled ** An Ordinance 
for granting to her Miyesty the Queen a fixed Revenue for the support of the 
OivU List Government of British Guiana for a period of seven years." 

Ordinances to confer on certain justices of the peace in the niral districts of 
British Guiana the powers at present exercised by the police magistrate of 
Georgetown, under ordinance No. 2, 1839. 

Ordinance for amending the law of evidence in civil cases in the colony of 
British Guiana. 

VOL. I. 2 K 


tion in duty, that of sugar alone merits notice in this 
place. Up to the month of March, 1845, the duty upon 
colonial Muscovado sugar was 1/. 5s. 2d. per cwt., and 
of foreign free-grown sugar was 3/. Ss. ; while sugar, the 
produce of slave countries, was altogether excluded. 
The sugar bill of 1845 reduced the duty upon colonial 
sugar to 14s. per cwt., and 24s. for foreign; but on the 
20th of July, 1846, the following table of duties was 
proposed, ^nd up to the present time has been acted 

^P to: j^f^ Coloniftl Sugv. Foreign Sngu*. 

1846 to 1847 14b. Sis. Od. 

1847 to 1848 14s 20«. Od. 

1848 to 1849 18s 18s. 6(1. 

1849 to 1850 ISs 17s. Od. 

1850 to 1851 lis 15s. 6d. 

1851 to 1852 108 14s. Od. 

1852 to 1853 108 138. Od. 

1853 to 1854 108 12s. Od.* 

At the usual meeting of the Combined Court, which 
took place this year on the 16th of March, the following 
remarks were made by his excellency in his -address to 
the members of the court: — He adverted in the first 
place to a small increase in the sugar crop of this year 
compared with the last, and to the accession to the 
labouring population by the arrival of 3647 inmfiigrants. 
That, nevertheless, there was a decrease in the number of 
arrests of 15 per cent, in comparison with the year 1844. 
The estimated population of the whole colony probably 
was about 120,000 persons. His excellency further 
stated, that the number of prisoners at the new penal 
settlement was 109 at the close of the last year ; of this 
number 49 were convicted by the Superior Criminal 
Court; whilst 52 out of the whole number of prisoners 
were not natives of the colony. His excellency alluded 
to the approbation manifested by her Majesty's Govern- 
ment to the proposal to arm the police force with rifles, 

* The present duties are — On colonial brown, Us.; yellow, 12s.; equal to 
white clayed, 14s.; and equal to refined, 17s. 4d.; foroi^ brown, lU.; yellow, 
12s.; equal to white clayed, 14s.; and refined, ICn. 


and also to establish throughout the colony a volunteer 
rifle corps. He also congratulated the colony on the 
arrival here of two scientific gentlemen, who proposed 
remaining in the colony some time. The one was an 
agricultural chemist, Dr. Shier, a gentleman of some con^ 
siderable reputation in Great Britain. The other was 
an engineer, Mr. Catherwood, who had attained some 
eminence as a scientific traveller, and who came out to 
superintend the progress of the Demerara Railway Com- 
pany. The balance in the chest to the 31st of December, 
1845, was 262,025.95 dollars. 

In answer to the speech of his excellency, the elective 
members of the Combined Court made the following 
remarks in an address dated €th April: — ^That in their 
opinion there appeared to be a necessity for an increase 
and continuance of European troops, rather than for the 
re-establishment of a militia or volunteer force. They also 
differed from his excellency in making the balance in the 
public chest 2,521.45 dollars more than the sum stated. 

There was nothing of importance which occurred 
during the early part of the year to merit any particular 
notice. The gloom occasioned in the colony by the in- 
troduction of the new sugar duties, and the fact of the 
sugar crops for the present year threatening to be de- 
ficient, owing -to an unusual and protracted drought, 
induced serious considerations among the planters to 
strike a decisive blow at the present rate of wages, 
which they considered beyond their means to continue. 
Attempts were made to reduce them throughout the 
colony with more or less success; but in the island of 
Leguan there was a disposition shown by the peasantry 
on several estates to resist the imposition of the new 
rate. On the 17th September many of the labourers 
refused to work, and, collecting in noisy and angry 
groups, excited some suspicions as to their intentions. 



The local magistrates, with several proprietors and ma- 
nagers; fearing a riot, applied to his excellency for 
assistance. A body of police and troops were imme- 
diately despatched to the disaifected spot, but had no 
occasion to proceed to active measures. A few of the 
ringleaders were placed in custody, and tried, but a 
lenient sentence was passed upon them. The active 
and intelligent Government secretary, Mr. Young, who 
had gone down to the island to inquire into the business, 
described it in a despatch, forwarded to the governor, as 
merely a brawl among civilians. 

A little later in the year, Mr. Young retired from the 
colony, after a residence here of about ten years. This gen- 
tleman, whose father. Colonel Young, had been appointed 
protector of slaves in 1825, was possessed of considerable 
abilities, and by his knowledge of official business, and 
his conciliatory address, was of important service to the 
heads of the Government with whom he acted. Respected 
by the inhabitants as a man of sound sense and practical 
views, regretted by his colleagues as a skUful and expe- 
rienced ally, and feared by his opponents as a profound 
and clever antagonist, Mr. Young left these shores with 
a high character for talent, address, and skill. On his 
arrival in England he was knighted for his services to 
her Majesty's Government, -and appointed lieutenant- 
governor at the Cape of Good Hope ; but has since been 
removed to a government in Australia. 

During the course of this year the important experi- 
ment of thorough, or subsoil drainage, was tried by the 
agricultural chemist Dr, Shier, in order to test its appli- 
cability and efficacy in the cultivation of the sugar cane 
in this colony. Towards defraying the necessary ex- 
penses, the sum of two thousand dollars was granted by 
the Combined Court in 18^5. A plot of ground. on 
plantation La Penitence, the property of J. 11. Albuoy, 


Esq., was liberally granted by his representatives in this 
country to be the field of experiment. The land, about 
fifteen acres in extent, was accordingly cleared, drained, 
and cultivated under the immediate superintendence of 
Dr. Shier, and a committee of gentlemen appointed to 
watch and report on the result. 

Subsoil tiles and a two horse power steam-engine were 
imported from Europe, the latter to assist in the removal 
of the drainage water, in consequence of the want of a 
natural outfall. The use of the plough was put into re- 
quisition, and the canes planted. Nothing could have 
been more promising than the first results; the canes 
were large and healthy, and a larger return of sugar 
was obtained than from a tract of land of the same 
extent worked on the old or open drain system. But 
after the first crop, the experiment disappointed the 
supporters of the new system. The drainage proved 
inefficient, the tiles became choked up, the canes became 
weakly, yielded but little saccharine juice, and many of 
them rotted. After a cost of 5110 dollars, the experi- 
ment was considered to have failed, to the disappoint- 
ment of its scientific superintendent, and the many gen- 
tlemen who were deeply interested in the great bene- 
fits it promised to the agricultural condition of British 

* The following ordinances were published during the year 184G: 

Ordinance to alter and amend the jurisdiction of the inferior criminal courts 
of British Guiana (February). 

Ordinance to extend the jurisdiction of the inferior courts of civil justice of 
British Guiana (February). 

Ordinance t«) repeal ordinance, No. 21, 1844, iniituled ** An Ordinance to con- 
solidate the Supreme Courts of Civil Justice, &c., aud to provide an amended 
manner of protreeding, &c." (April). 

Ordinance to introtluce into the colony of British Guiana the laws of England 
relative to larceny and other oOfenccs connected therewith (.Tune). 

Ordinance to abolish the office of vendue-master in the county of Berbice, and 
to extend the provisions of ordinance No. 9, of the year 1844, and of ordinance 
No. 4, of the year 1845, to the county of Berbice. 

Ordinance to incorporate a company to be called the Dcmcrara Hailwuy Com- 
pany, and to authorise the said company to malie and maintain a railway in tiie 


The beginning of the year 1847 was rendered memor^ 
able by the new criminal laws coming into opm^on. It 
was a novel and pleasing sight for Englishmen here to 
witness the mtroduction of trial by jury; the first case in 
which it was practised, and the excited and crowded 
appearance of the court of justice, will not readily be 
forgotten by those who witnessed it. 

The seasons were good for the prospect of the sugar 
crop, but the feeUngs of the planters were gloomy and 
unsettled. Commercial embarrassments in England; a 
decline in the price of sugar; and the principles of fi:'ee- 
trade and the sugar bill of 1846 becoming practically 
applied to the colonies, had the efiect to depreciate the 
value of property generally throughout the colony; but 
in spite of aU these forebodings the crop of this year 
proved the largest made since the emancipation. De- 
sponding as the planters had become, they were not 
without energy — and thanks to their untiring efforts, and 
to the prompt aid supplied by immigration, this desirable 
result may be in a great measure contributed; they 
applied themselves with diligence to the economical 
cultivation of their estates, they sought earnestly for 
labour wherever it could be procured, and encouraged 
every attempt made to further immigration. Nor were 
their efforts confined to the attention of the plantations 
only. Disheartened at the threatened fatal consequences 
of the new sugar bill, they took measures to try if 
possible to avert the impending blow; by a thorough 
examination of the subject, and by a zealous co-operation 
on the part of the colonists, they endeavoured to obtain 

colony of British Quiana, from the city of Georgetown, the capital of the Mid 
colony, to Blahaica, with extensions and branches, and for other purposes. 

Ordinance to introduce into the colony of British Quiana trial by jury in 
criminal cases; amended in 1847. 

Ordinance for regulating the rights, duties, and relations of employers and 
servants in the colony of British Oniana. 


justice for themselves. Au importaDt meeting was lield 
by the planters, merchants, and others on the 15th of 
October, at the rooms of the Royal Agricultural and 
Commercial Society in Greorgetown, the Hon. Peter 
Rose in the chair, for the purpose of collecting signatures 
to a petition to the Imperial Parliament, prepared at a 
preliminary meeting held on the 24th ultimo. 

In this petition the grievances under which the 
colonists laboured were respectfully but earnestly sub- 
mitted; the serious consequences, if not threatened ruin 
to their prospects, by the sudden and unexpected change 
in the colonial policy, were feelingly set forth, and prayed 
that the following remedial measures should be conceded 
to them: 

1st. A loan to be applied to the carrying out of 
Alrican immigration, under such regulations for securing 
the fair and equitable administration of the same, as your 
Honourable House may deem proper. 

2nd. A loan to be applied under proper regulations 
to the purpose of thorough drainage. 

3rd. The admission into the United Kingdom of 
Muscovado sugar, as a raw material, duty free. 

4th. The free admission of molasses into the breweries 
and distilleries of the United Kingdom. 

5th. The equalisation of the duty on rum and British 

6th. The admission of inspissated cane juice into the 
United Kingdom. 

7th. The placing the refining of sugar in the colonies 
on the same footing as in the British refineries. 

The meeting was numerously and respectably attended, 
and a great many signatures attached to the petition, 
which was immediately forwarded to the Imperial Par- 

The fate of this petition was unfortunate ; it neverthe- 


less drew the attention of the British Grovemment, and 
that of several influential members of the House of 
Commons, to the suflfering interests of the West Indies.* 

The year 1848, the last in which I shall endeavour to 
chronicle the most remarkable events, proved a stormy 
and important one in the annals of this country. At its 
commencement gloom and discontent sat on the faces of 
all, in its progress confusion and discord prevailed in the 
Legislative Chambers, and at its close his excellency had 
retired from the administration of the colony, unhappily, 
however, leaving the community more or less in a state 
of anarchy and perplexity. 

In the Court of Policy, which had numerous sittings, 
the elective members declined preparing an estimate for 
the present year, on the groimds of the imcertain 
prospects of the colony: '* Inasmuch as the state of the 
colony at present is such, that no estimate that would be 
passed could be taken as a guide for the expenditure of 
the country for the financial year 1848-9, and therefore 
it is expedient to postpone it until it be seen whether the 
circumstances of the colony become changed for the 
better before the 15 th of May." A proposal was also 
made in the Court of Policy to reduce all the public 

• The following ordinances were enacted in 1847: 

Ordinance to provide medical attendance and medicines for immigrant labourers. 

Ordinance to provide a new burial-ground for the city of Georgetown. 

Ordinance to extend the provisions of ordinance No. 10, of the year 1845, 
entitled " An Ordinance to provide for the Payment of the Interest, and for the 
Kedemption of a Loan of 500,000/., to be raised for immigration purposes." 

Ordinance to repeal the duties of customs imposed on articles imported into 
this colony, under the Act of Parliament 8 and 9 Vic. c. 93, intituled **An act 
to regrulate the Trade of Hritish possessions abroad." 

Ordinance for the regulation of the ferry across the river Demerara, and the 
steam -boats thereof. 

Ordinance to repeal all laws repugnant to, or at variance with, any of the 
provisions of ordinances Nos. 9, 10, 11, 12, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, and 28, 
of the year 1846. 

Ordinance to establish pounds throughout the colony of British Guiana, and 
to provide rules and regulations fbr superintending and keeping the same. 

Ordinance to indeir.nify the governor and colonial receiver-general, and other 
public officers, for certain proceedings in regard to the depositing of public funds 
with, and receiving as cash, the notes of the two banks established in this colony. 


salaries 26 per cent. — even those included in the dvil 
list; but as this was objected to, on the part of the 
Government, as against the good faith of the colonists, it 
was urged by the elective members that the Civil List 
of 1841, to the 31st December, 1847, but renewed in 
1844 for a further period of seven years, or to the end of 
the year 1854, was only granted under the impression, or 
rather conviction, that the exclusion of slave-labour sugar 
from the home markets were a fundamental principle of 
the policy of the mother country to which the faith of 
the nation had been irrevocably pledged, and that the 
civil list which at present exists would never have been 
granted if a departure from the Imperial commercial 
policy had been contemplated; 

It was therefore resolved: — Ist, That her Majesty's 
Government was therefore prayed that the salaries in the 
civil list should be reduced 25 per cent. 2nd, That 
rigid economy be practised in the public expenditure, 
all salaries above 700 dollars per annum being reduced 
25 per cent. 

These resolutions were seconded by a petition from 
merchants and others in favour of the views expressed; 
but, although forwarded to England, met with no favour- 
able reception at the hands of the Secretary for the 
Colonies, who refused to entertain the prayer of the 
memorial; but before the result was known of an appli- 
cation which was made by the colonists to the British 
Parliament, his excellency had summoned the Combined 
Court for the 20th April, having previously, on the 10th, 
induced the court to pass an estimate, each item of which, 
however, was formally opposed by the elective members^ 
who were anxious to hear the result of their application 
to the British Parliament respecting the civil list before 
proceeding with the business of the Combined Court. 
This step was taken on the part of his excellency in con- 


sequence of certain resolutions which had been brought 
forward in the Court of Policy : viz., to decline framing 
an estimate and to vote the supplies, unless in accord- 
ance with the views of the elective members. At the 
meeting of the Combined Court, April 20th, the go- 
vemor, in liis address, regretted not being able to con- 
gratulate the members on the state of the colony, which, 
however, he did not attribute to the low price of sugar, 
but rather to the monetary failures among West India 
commercial houses. He adverted to the reduced price 
of work on the estates, and called upon members to 
fulfil their pledges in respect to the loans of money, and 
the support of engagements already entered into, closing 
his remarks with the statement that his further adminis- 
tration depended on the usual course being adopted. 

An adjournment of the court to the 25th was asked 
for, to consider matters and furnish a reply; but mem* 
bers did not assemble again until the 26th April, when, 
in the reply to the address, the elective members ex- 
pressed in very forcible and able language their dissent 
from the views of his excellency respecting a reduced 
rate of wages being generally in force, and dwelt on the 
depreciation of property and present prospect of ruin 
occasioned chiefly by the Sugar Duties Act of 1846. 
They further called his excellency's attention to the 
diflferent aspect of the colony now to what it presented 
in 1838, when a tour of inspection had been made by 
his excellency on his arrival here. " In Leguan, in 1838, 
there were twenty-one estates in full cultivation, while 
at present ten are in a state of abandonment ; one estate 
which at the former period sold for 32,000/., has now 
altogether ceased to be cultivated." They complained of 
want of proper legislation in enforcing laws for the pro- 
tection of property and the regulation of social order. 
They expressed their astonishment that his excellency 


should have quoted the language of a free-trade minister, 
^* That the people of England cannot afford to pay three 
millions sterling to keep up the wages of the labourers 
in the West Indies," and felt assured that they should 
be able to establish that Government, and not the colony, 
had violated the compact, and adverted to the following 
facts, viz., that on the 30th December, 1847, the sanc- 
tion of the Secretary of State was asked to reduce the 
salaries on the dvil list 25 per cent That on the 29th 
February, of the present year, the framing of the esti- 
mate was postponed to 15th May, and the reasons of 
the elective members for so doing were placed upon the 
minuter of the court on the 1st March, at his excellency's 
request. That on the 21st March they received Earl 
Grey's refusal to accede to the proposed interference with 
the present civil list. That on the 10th April the tax 
ordinance was renewed, and members subsequently ex- 
pressed their willingness to renew, for a limited time, 
the tax ordinance of 1847 (which would expire on the 
30th June next) ; but declined to proceed with the esti- 
mate until the decision of Parliament upon their case be 
ascertained. Such were the views entertained by the 
elective members; and upon the termination of the reply, 
two resolutions were proposed: 

1st. To defer the consideration of the estimate until 
20th July. 

2nd. To extend the present tax ordinance until 15th 

The court was then adjourned by his excellency, who 
wished to consider this offer, until the next day. 

On the meeting of the court, April 27th, the resolu- 
tions being allowed to be submitted, were carried; all 
the elective members of the Court of Policy and the 
financial representatives voting for them, and the official 
members, with the exception of his excellency, against 


them. The governor then read a minute, declining to 
accede to the resolutions; but stated that he would 
accept a renewal of the tax ordinance for three months, 
from 1st eTuly; but the elective members and financial 
representatives refused their assent, and placed their 
reasons for so doing on the minutes of the court; and 
after some discussion, the governor adjourned the court 
sine die. 

As it was undoubtedly in the power of the Combined 
Court to reduce such salaries as were granted by them 
35 per cent., the proposal to carry such reduction of 
salaries and wages was no longer confined to the Legisla- 
tive Chambers, but operated to a certain extent through- 
out the whole of society. Wherever it was possible that 
such a reduction could be practised, it was put in force ; 
and many individuals among officials, professional men, 
tradesmen, and others, were subjected to its operation ; 
but when, in a like spirit of economy, the attempt was 
made on the part of the planters to reduce the wages 
paid to the labourers at a similar rate, the feeling of 
opposition and resistance was strong and violent. Several 
megass logies were burned throughout the colony, and 
whether owing to accident or design, the circumstance 
lyas so remarkable as to call forth a proclamation on the 
part of the governor ; wherein, after an admonitory 
address to the labourers, he threatened them with the fatal 
consequences of such practices (il* they indeed existed), 
and offered a reward of 2000 dollars to parties, not being 
principals, who would bring the offenders to justice. 

His excellency the governor, finding it unlikely that 
he should be able to overcome the feelings of opposition 
existing in the elective members of the Court of Policy 
and financial representatives, relative to proceeding with 
the business of the session as usual, and having previously 


made arrangements for his departure from the colony, 
took immediate steps for returning to England. 

As soon as it became generally known that his excel- 
lency was actually about to retire from the administra- 
tion, after the unusually long period of service of ten 
years, addresses on the occasion of his departure were 
diligently prepared and forwarded to him from various 
influential bodies in the community, viz.: — from the 
mayor and town council, from the Royal Agricultural 
and Commercial Society, from the Astronomical and 
Meteorological Society, from the lord bishop and clergy 
of the diocese, and another from the Wesleyan ministers ; 
to all of which his excellency returned his acknowledg- 
ments and thanks for the flattering terms in which they 
had addressed him. 

After holding a parting levee, and receiving the fare- 
well and good wishes of a large pumber of gentlemen of 
all shades of politics, his excellency, accompanied by 
Mrs. Light and Mr. and Mrs. Holmes (the elegant and 
accomplished Miss Light having lately been married to 
our popular townsman, Mr. Holmes), and escorted by 
a party of attached friends, proceeded on board the mail 
steamer jESaflfte, on the 19th of May, and amid the saluta- 
tion of a large concourse of persons assembled to witness 
his departure, withdrew for ever from the shores of 
British Guiana. 

Immediately on the departure of Governor Light, 
William Walker, Esq., the late Government secretary, 
was sworn in as lieutenant-governor. 

Great as were the abilities, and extensive howsoever 
the experience of this gentleman, it must be admitted 
that the task which now devolved on him was onerous . 
and difficult. It is not intended to follow up the subject 
of dispute between the executive and the elective mem* 


bers of the Court of Policy and the Combined Coort ; 
it is sufficient to state that various meetings and adjourn- 
ments took place; that the skilly talent, and perseverance 
of the one party was met by the ability, energy, and 
firmness of the other, but ended in no progress bemg 
made on either side ; that society was agitated by the 
conflicting interests, until at last, indiflference took the 
place of anxiety in the minds of the colonists; the 
fruitlessness of the opposition became more and mwe 
evident, but was maintained by the pertinacity of the 
colonial party, who still clung to the slender hope of 
being able to prevail against the wishes of the British 
Government; the negative of the Secretary of State had 
been declared against their endeavour to alter the civil 
list, &c. ; the appeal of a large number of the colonists 
to the consideration of the British had ended in disap- 
pointment and mortification, yet still the refusal to grant 
the annual supplies was persisted in ; the scanty resources 
of the public chest were fast declining; the tax ordinance 
was about to expire, and at length terminated on the 
30th of September, 1848, on which day the stoppage of 
the supplies became positive and complete; and the 
colony was left as a helpless wreck to sink or swim as it 
best could. A few duties, such as the rum duty, and 
those collected by the Crown, were still received ; but it 
required great prudence on the part of the executive to 
carry on the business of the public offices with a rapidly 
declining treasury, and no accession of revenue. 

The truth of the report respecting the appointment of 
Henry Barkly, Esq., late M.P. for Leominster, and an in- 
fluential West India proprietor, as the Governor of British 
Guiana, was confirmed by the arrival of his excellency on 
the 1 3th February, 1 849, accompanied by Mrs. Barkly and 
family, as Avell as his private secretary, G. Dennis, Esq. 


On his airival, his excellency proceeded at once to 
the splendid residence of the late R. M. Jones, Esq., the 
liospitable proprietor of the fine plantation Rome and 
Houstoun, where he remained for some little time, mitil 
suitable accommodation could be made at Government 
House in Georgetown for the reception of his family. 
On the following day, Monday, the 14th of February, 
his excellency proceeded to town, and was sworn in 
with all the honours due on such occasions, and at 
once addressed the Court of Policy assembled to meet 

It is unnecessary to attempt to give in this place a 
detailed account of the steps taken by his excellency to 
relieve the colony from the evils under which it laboured 
at the period of his advent. He found it, in spite of the 
assiduity and imwearied diligence of his predecessor, 
Lieutenant-Governor Walker, who had not had time to 
overcome the difficulties, in a state of gloomy discontent, 
if not of confiision. The prospects of the colony were 
dark and threatening, the feelings of the agriculturists 
and planters generally desponding and dissatisfied, the 
minds of all anxious and uncertain as to the future. The 
finances of the country were in a deplorable condition, 
the public credit was seriously shaken, the ruin of the 
colony, in fact, was in the perspective, and threatened 
soon to arrive. The governor was a planter himself — 
one who had suffered by the eventful changes since the 
emancipation of the slave in 1834, and who naturally 
sympathised with the feelings of the colonists. He 
had already visited the colony in 1846 to see hus 
property in Berbice, and he was already acknowledged 
«s a gentleman of ability, attainments, and expe- 
rience. His career in the British Parliament had been 
marked by success; his character as a man of busi- 


ness, of application and industry, of tact and talent, was 
admitted, and he was selected by Lord John Russell 
to undertake the administration of the Government of 
British Guiana, vacant by the retirement of Sir Henry 
Light.* The prestige of his name, his character, and 
his position, had preceded him to these shores. 

The difficulties of his position were, however, formida- 
ble. He had to allay the storm of strife and contention 
which had been raging in the colony for so long a period; 
he had to restore the public credit, and refill tlie ex- 
hausted coflFers of the public chest; to arouse the dis- 
heartened minds of the planters from the slough of 
despondency in which they were plunged, to energetic 
acts and vigorous efforts. He had, further, to reconcile 
them to a policy which was hateful to them, and which 
they, falsely perhaps, conceived to have been directed 
specially against their interests, whilst it, in fact, over- 
looked them to benefit millions. 

He had to awaken their dormant energies, and to 
urge them to depend more on themselves and their own 
activity than on extraneous means of support; and, 
lastly, he had to attend to the general interests of all 
classes, to repress crime, encourage education and reli- 
gion, and promote the general welfare of society. Such 
were some of the principal objects to be accomplished by 
his excellency, and it only remains briefly to state the 

After multitudinous impediments and vexatious delays, 
the renewal of the supplies took place on the 8th August. 
The computed loss to the revenue firom the commence- 
ment of this unhappy contest, in September, 1848, to the 
period of its cessation, was about 800,000 dollars ; a 

♦ Governor Light, on his return to England, was knighted by her Majest/ for 
his services in this colony. 


large sum to be lost within less than a year by so small 
a community. 

From this period, without attempting to enter into any 
detail on the numerous wise and beneficial measures 
adopted by his excellency, the affairs of the colony 
assumed a more flourishing aspect. Immigration was 
renewed with eminent advantage to the planters, and to 
the labourers imported, who were judiciously located, 
and received all the care and attention that llieir situa- 
tion required. The tendency to crime was repressed by 
the enactment and enforcement of such laws as seemed 
best calculated to intimidate lazy and hardened offenders. 
The dreaded punishments of the treadmill and of flogging 
were introduced, under certain restrictions, to check the 
increasing disposition to lawless and riotous behaviour; 
while a Trespass Bill, for which the colony is chiefly 
indebted to the Honourable A. D. Van der Gon Netscher, 
one of the most talented and energetic elective members 
of the Court of Policy, was framed, and has since been 
in useftil and active operation, to the manifest advantage 
of landowners and others. A sum of money, 260,000/., 
^raised in England, and the payment of which was 
guaranteed by the British Government, was applied to 
the extension of the Demerara railway, and to the pro- 
motion of immigration, which latter project was regulated 
by sound and economical principles. The agitation raised 
by dissatisfied but patriotic reformers was soothed by 
the promise of an improvement in the political institu- 
tions of the colony, of which the new Franchise BUI was 
the precursor; while factious opposition was disarmed 
by the earnest but temperate conciliation of the execu- 
tive. The objects of religion and charity were promoted 
by a Uberal and catholic disposition to foster the several 
Christian institutions of the country. The numerous 

VOL. I. 2 L ■ 

514 msTOBT or bbitish guiana. 

villages and hamlets throughout the country rec eiv 
the benefit of a wise administration. An ordinance was 
passed, which appointed commissioners^ with a chair- 
man, to divide and allot the plots of land hitherto occu- 
pied in common by the proprietors of the property. 
Rural constables were established throughout the country 
for the maintenance of peace and order. 

In order to make himself thoroughly acquainted with 
the entire condition of the colony, his excellency did 
not hesitate to visit each remote district. Exposed to 
the climate, to privations and inconveniences of every 
kind, he journeyed over the deplorable roads of the 
inland districts, and traversed the dangerous rapids and 
currents of the numerous rivers, making himself at home 
in the squatter's settlements and in the primitive bush, 
where, with the feelings of a naturalist, he combined 
pleasure with business. The wants of the humblest 
individuals, and the condition of society, its necessities 
and its obligations, were by such means investigated 
personally without the hazard and doubt attaching to 
the statements of others. 

The usual meeting of the Combined Court took place 
early in 1853, and was attended with results too remark- 
able to be overlooked. 

Not satisfied with concluding the ordinary business of 
the court, in regulating the expenditure and providing 
the ways and means of the ensuing year, in a spirit of 
rare cordiality and unanimity, his excellency further 
was fortunate enough to obtain from the elective 
members the renewal of a new Civil List, on terms as 
honourable to himself as creditable to the liberal feelings 
of the members of the Combined Court. 

The terms of the new Civil List were similar to the 
one about to terminate on the 31st December, 1854. 


The amount of the latter, exclusive of expenses of the 
Ecclesiastical Establishment, was 24,3412. Is. 4d. The 
amount of the new Civil List, which was to commence 
from the Ist of January, 1865, was 22,6412. Is. 4id., a 
deduction being made in the salaries of some of the 
highest oflBcials, the governor included,* 

An ordinance was also passed "to provide for the 
maintenance of Ministers of the Christian Religion in the 
colony of British Guiana." The amount allowed by the 
last Civil List for that purpose was 9,429/. 19s. 4d., or 
forty-five thousand, two hundred and sixty-three dollars 
imd eighty-four cents: but an additional sum was 
annually granted by the Combined Court towards the 
support of other ministers of religion. The new 
ordinance provided. the sum of seventy-eight thousand, 
nine hundred and eighty-six dollars and fifty-nine cents 
(78,986 dollars and 59 cents), for the support of the 
present Ecclesiastical Establishment of the colony (includ- 
ing the sum of 6000 dollars to be granted if applied for 
by other bodies of Christians). 

In the execution of these important measures, 
his excellency was ably assisted by the Honourables 
J. Croal, A. D. Van der Gon Netscher, T. Porter, 
besides the oflGicial members and other gentlemen of the 

The labours of his excellency were now, for the pre- 
sent, conducted to a more successful and triumphant 
close. He had disarmed opposition of its sting and 
danger; he had administered the affairs of the colony 
with a tact and skill, with a courtesy, and, at the s^mo 
time, a firmness which have won for him the unre- 

* Ordinance for granting to her Mi^esty the Queen, a fixed roTcnue (br the 
support of the civil goyemment of British Guiana, for a period of seTen years, 
from the 1st of January, 1855. Demerara, 1 8th of April, l^^9. 


served admiration of all ; he had, moreover, done all 
this without ostentation or display, and in a quiet, simple 

The prospects of the colony had improved during his 
government, the sugar crop had materially increased; 
the spirits of the planter were hopeful, if not sanguine; 
the general condition of the immigrants and Creole pea- 
santry good and promising ; the best interests of society 
and the general welfare of all ameliorated. The system 
and practice of justice had been improved, the amount 
of crime materially lessened, the prospects of education 
and religion more cheering and promising, while public 
and private confidence seemed restored, and the good 
humour and satisfaction of all apparent in the handsome 
and cordial manner in which the inhabitants generally 
acknowledged the success of his excellency on his con- 
templated departure. 

Separated from his family (for Mrs. Barkly and children 
had left the colony in April, 1852, for England), he de- 
termined to rejoin them now that the affairs of the colony 
had been so satisfactorily arranged and settled. A parting 
address to the Court of Policy, having plainly declared 
his intention of his temporary retirement from the colony 
on leave of absence, he was congratulated on the sue* 
cessful manner in which he had brought the public 
business to an issue, and received the good wishes of 
members on parting from them. On paying a farewell 
visit to Berbice, his excellency received a highly com- 
plimentary address, signed by about 300 of the most 
respectable inhabitants — a comparative large number 
considering the short stay made by the governor in that 
district of the country. Meanwhile, at a public meeting 
held in Georgetown, it was proposed to present his ex- 
cellency, on his departure, with a piece of plate of the 


Talue of 500 guineas, accompanied by an address, in 
consideration of "the services your excellency has al* 
ready rendered this colony in extending and facilitating 
immigration, in improving the adminbtration of justice, 
in upholding the public credit, in laying the foundation 
of measures calculated to impress on the minds of those 
who acquire property that they have duties to perform 
to society consequent on the possession thereof^ and in 
supporting all institutions which have for their object to 
promote the welfare of this community, as well as for 
the courtesy and urbanity you have uniformly displayed 
in the dischn^rge of your oflScial duties, and for the 
promptness with which you have on all occasions for- 
warded the public business." 

In a few days the sum of 600 guineas was raised, this 
handsome testimonial being subscribed to by about 280 
of the most intelligent and respectable members of society, 
while the address rapidly received the signatures of about 
600 persons from all classes of the conmiunity, and of 
the most varied political opinions. 

The address and testimonial were presented to his 
excellency on the 9th of May by a deputation of influ- 
ential gentlemen, when his excellency expressed his 
acknowledgments in an eloquent and suitable reply. 

On the 11th of May his excellency, having previously 
held a farewell levee^ which was numerously and respect- 
ably attended, proceeded on board the mail packet, 
JEagle^ at half-past twelve, accompanied by a large party 
of friends, and escorted by a guard of honour from the 
garrison. The steamer left the river about half-past one 
P.M., under a salute from the fort, and having on board 
a large number of influential gentlemen about to leave 
the colony for a short time, among whom were his lord- 
ship the bishop, the Honourables John Croal and John 

VOL. I. 2 m 


Daly. At one p.m. Lieut.-GrOvemor Walker was sworn 
in with the usual honours, and addressed the Court of 
Policy, receiving at the same time the congratulation of 
his numerous friends and admirers. 




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