Berbice around 1780.
|Capital|| Fort Nassau (1627–1785)|
Fort Sint Andries (1785–1815)
|Common languages||Dutch, Berbice Creole Dutch|
|Van Peere family|
|Society of Berbice|
|Abraham van Peere|
|Abraham Jacob van Imbijze van Batenburg|
• Ceded to the United Kingdom
|20 November 1815|
|Currency||Spanish dollar, Dutch guilder|
|Today part of||Guyana|
Berbice is a region along the Berbice River in Guyana, which was between 1627 and 1815 a colony of the Dutch Republic. After having been ceded to the Kingdom of Great Britain in the latter year, it was merged with Essequibo and Demerara to form the colony of British Guiana in 1831. In 1966, British Guiana gained independence as Guyana.
After being a hereditary fief in the possession of the Van Peere family, the colony was governed by the Society of Berbice in the second half of the colonial period, akin to the neighbouring colony of Suriname, which was governed by the Society of Suriname. The capital of Berbice was at Fort Nassau until 1790. In that year, the town of New Amsterdam, which grew around Fort Sint Andries, was made the new capital of the colony.
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|History of Guyana|
Berbice was settled in 1627 by the businessman Abraham van Peere from Vlissingen, under the suzerainty of the Dutch West India Company. Until 1714, the colony remained the personal possession of Van Peere and his descendants. Little is known about the early years of the colony, other than that it succeeded in repelling an English attack in 1665 in the Second Anglo-Dutch War.The colony was a family affair who owned all the plantations on the Berbice River, though they did allow a couple of sugar planters to settle on the Canje River.
A dispute arose between the Second Dutch West India Company, which was founded to succeed the First Dutch West India Company that went bankrupt in 1674, and the Van Peere family, because the family wanted the colony as an immortal loan as agreed with the first Company.This was resolved when on 14 September 1678 a charter was signed which established Berbice as a hereditary fief of the Dutch West India Company, in the possession of the Van Peere family.
In November 1712, Berbice was briefly occupied by the French under Jacques Cassard, as part of the War of the Spanish Succession. The Van Peere family did not want to pay a ransom to the French to free the colony, and in order to not let the colony cede to the French, the brothers Nicolaas and Hendrik van Hoorn, Arnold Dix, Pieter Schuurmans, and Cornelis van Peere, paid the ransom of ƒ180,000 in cash and ƒ120,000 in sugar and enslaved people on 24 October 1714, thereby acquiring the colony.
In 1720, the five ownersof the colony founded the Society of Berbice, akin to the Society of Suriname which governed the neighbouring colony, to raise more capital for the colony. The Society was a public company listed on the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. In the years following, Berbice's economic situation improved, consisting of 12 plantations owned by the society, 93 private plantation along the Berbice River, and 20 plantations along the Canje River.
In 1733, 25 to 30 houses were built around Fort Nassau to house the craftsmen. The next year an inn was added. The village was named New Amsterdam (Dutch: Nieuw Amsterdam).In 1735, a school master was hired to teach the white children. There were medical doctors stationed in New Amsterdam and Fort Nassau, and six local doctors were assigned to the plantations. Epidemics remained a frequent problem in the colony resulting in many deaths.
The religion in the colony was Calvinism.In 1735, a minister was installed in Fort Nassau, but after a personal conflict with the governor, he was transferred to Wiruni Creek. Catholics and Jews were not allowed to become planters or have a government function. In 1738, two missionaries of the Moravian Church had been invited by a planter to teach the people he enslaved. They were treated with suspicion, and received several official warnings. In 1757, the missionaries left, and joined the congregation at the village of Pilgerhut founded in 1740 outside the plantation area, where they lived with 300 Arawak.
The colony had peace and trade treaties with the local Amerindians. The colony was not to intervene in wars between the tribes, and no Amerindian was allowed to be taken into slavery unless they were sold by the Kalina or the Arawak and captured from the interior of the country.
Berbice was supposed to be guarded by 60 soldiers in Fort Nassau, and another 20 to 30 soldiers in other locations.Even when not under attack, wars often caused supply problems. In 1670s, the colony had not been supplied for 17 months, and neutrality as during the Seven Years' War could not prevent supply shortages.
The relatively sound economic situation of the colony was dealt a severe blow when a slave uprising broke out under the leadership of Coffy in February 1763.The enslaved people captured the south of the colony while the whites, who were severely outnumbered, tried to hang on the north. The uprising went on until well into 1764, with Coffy naming himself governor of Berbice. Only with the use of brute force and military aid by neighbouring colonies and the Netherlands was governor Wolfert Simon van Hoogenheim able to finally suppress the uprising, and restore the colony to Dutch rule.
The uprising lead to a steep population decline,abandonment and destruction of many plantations, and serious financial problems for the Society. Fort Nassau had been set on fire to prevent it falling into enemy hands. In 1785 the village was abandoned in favour of Fort Sint Andries, situated more downstream, at the confluence of the Canje River. The new village was again named New Amsterdam, and is still known by that name in contemporary Guyana.
On 27 February 1781, British forces occupied Berbice and neighbouring Demerara and Essequibo as part of the Fourth Anglo-Dutch War, because 34 out of 93 plantations in Berbice were under British ownership.In January 1782, the colonies were recaptured by the French, who were allied with the Dutch, and who subsequently restored the colonies to Dutch rule with the Treaty of Paris of 1783.
The colony was on 22 April 1796 again captured by Britain, however this time without a fight. A deal was struck with the colony: all laws and customs could remain, and the citizens were equal to British citizens. Any government official who swore loyalty to the British crown could remain in function.Abraham van Batenburg decided to remain governor. Many plantation owners from Barbados settled in the colony, doubling the slave population. The British now remained in possession of the colony until 27 March 1802, when Berbice was restored to the Batavian Republic under the terms of the Treaty of Amiens. In 1803, there was a mutiny of soldiers who complained about the rations. They occupied Fort Sint Andries, and raised the Union Jack with a piece of meat on top. The remaining soldiers aided by Suriname and the Amerindians put down the revolt, and executed five soldiers.
In September 1803 the British occupied the territory again, this time for good,and once again without a fight. Abraham van Batenburg, who had been exiled to Europe in 1803, returned for his second term as governor. In the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814, the colony was formally ceded to the United Kingdom, and with the ratification of this treaty by the Netherlands on 20 November 1815, all Dutch legal claims to the colony were rescinded. The plantations and the enslaved people of the Society of Berbice remained under their ownership, but they had already made a decision to sell their possessions in 1795, and they closed their offices in 1821.
In 1812, the colonies of Demerara and Essequibo had been merged into the colony of Demerara-Essequibo.As part of the reforms of the newly acquired colonies on the South American mainland, the British merged Berbice with Demerara-Essequibo on 21 July 1831, forming the new crown colony of British Guiana, now Guyana.
In 1838, Berbice was made one of the three counties of Guiana, the other two being Demerara and Essequibo.In 1958, the county was abolished when Guiana was subdivided into districts.
Historical Berbice was split in 1958to make new Guyanese administrative regions and the name is preserved in the regions of East Berbice-Corentyne, Mahaica-Berbice, and Upper Demerara-Berbice.
Berbice Creole Dutch, a Dutch creole language based on the lexicon and grammar of the West African language Ijo, was spoken until well into the 20th century. In 2005, the last known speaker died. The language was declared extinct in 2010.
British Guiana was a British colony, part of the mainland British West Indies, which resides on the northern coast of South America. Since 1966 it has been known as the independent nation of Guyana.
Dutch colonisation of the Guianas—the coastal region between the Orinoco and Amazon rivers in South America—began in the late 16th century. The Dutch originally claimed all of Guiana but—following attempts to sell it first to Bavaria and then to Hanau and the loss of sections to Portugal, Britain, and France—the section actually settled and controlled by the Netherlands became known as Dutch Guiana.
Demerara is a historical region in the Guianas on the north coast of South America which is now part of the country of Guyana. It was a Dutch colony until 1815 and a county of British Guiana from 1838 to 1966. It was located about the lower courses of the Demerara River, and its main town was Georgetown.
Cuffy, also spelled as Kofi or Koffi, was an Akan man who was captured in his native West Africa and stolen for slavery to work on the plantations of the Dutch colony of Berbice in present-day Guyana. He became famous because in 1763 he led a revolt of more than 2,500 slaves against the colony regime. Today, he is a national hero in Guyana.
The Berbice River, located in eastern Guyana, is one of the country's major rivers. It rises in the highlands of the Rupununi region and flows northward for 595 kilometres (370 mi) through dense forests to the coastal plain. The river's tidal limit is between 160 and 320 km (99–199 mi) from the sea.
The Guianas, sometimes called by the Spanish loan-word Guayanas, is a region in north-eastern South America which includes the following three territories:
Essequibo was a Dutch colony on the Essequibo River in the Guiana region on the north coast of South America from 1616 to 1814. The colony formed a part of the colonies that are known under the collective name of Dutch Guiana.
The colony of Demerara-Essequibo was created on 28 April 1812, when the British combined the colonies of Demerara and Essequibo into the colony of Demerara-Essequibo. They were officially ceded to Britain on 13 August 1814. On 20 November 1815 the agreement was ratified by the Netherlands.
The Berbice slave uprising was a slave revolt in Guyana that began on 23 February 1763 and lasted to December, with leaders including Coffy. It is seen as a major event in Guyana's anti-colonial struggles, and when Guyana became a republic in 1970 the state declared 23 February as a day to commemorate the start of the Berbice slave revolt.
Abraham Jacob van Imbyze van Batenburg was a Dutch governor of Berbice and Essequibo (Guyana) during the period 1789-1806.
Jan van Ryen was a 17th-century Dutch privateer, explorer, and colonist. He was granted a commission by the Dutch West Indies Company and active against the Spanish in the West Indies during the 1620s. He and Claude Prevost attempted to establish Dutch colonies in Guyana, although they both failed with most Dutch colonists being killed by natives in 1627. However, Zeelandian merchant Abraham van Peere was able to found a successful colony in the area shortly after.
The Cassard expedition was a sea voyage by French Navy captain Jacques Cassard in 1712, during the War of the Spanish Succession. Targeting English, Dutch, and Portuguese possessions, he raided and ransomed the colonies of Cape Verde, Sint Eustatius, and Curaçao—factories, depots, and seasoning camps used in the Atlantic slave trade. He also raided and ransomed Montserrat, Antigua, Surinam, Berbice, and Essequibo—wealthy sugar-producing colonies in the Caribbean whose economies were based on the exploitation of slave labor.
Abraham van Peere was a Dutch merchant from Vlissingen in the County of Zeeland. In 1602, a charter was given by the States General of the Dutch Republic to his father Jan van Peere to found a colony on the Berbice River on the coast of Guyana. Abraham van Peere eventually founded the colony of Berbice in 1627.
The Society of Berbice was founded on 24 October 1720 by the owners of the colony of Berbice currently in Guyana. These owners had acquired the colony from the French on 24 October 1714, who in turn had occupied the colony which was previously a hereditary fief in the possession of the Van Peere family.
Pomeroon is the name of a former Dutch plantation colony on the Pomeroon River in the Guiana region on the north coast of South America. After early colonization attempts in the late 16th century were attacked by Spaniards and local Indians, the original inhabitants fled the interior of Guiana, founding the colony of Essequibo around Fort Kyk-Over-Al shortly after. A second, and more serious attempt at colonization started in 1650, but was ultimately unsuccessful, as French privateers destroyed the colony in 1689. In the late 18th century, a third attempt of colonization was started, this time under the jurisdiction of the Essequibo colony.
Suriname was a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands between 1954 and 1975. The country had full autonomy, except in areas of defence, foreign policy, and nationality, and participated on a basis of equality with the Netherlands Antilles and the Netherlands itself in the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The country became fully independent as the Republic of Suriname on 25 November 1975.
Surinam was a Dutch plantation colony in the Guianas, neighboured by the equally Dutch colony of Berbice to the west, and the French colony of Cayenne to the east. Surinam was a Dutch colony from 26 February 1667, when Dutch forces captured Francis Willoughby's English colony during the Second Anglo-Dutch War, until 15 December 1954, when Surinam became a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The status quo of Dutch sovereignty over Surinam, and English sovereignty over New Netherland, which it had conquered in 1664, was kept in the Treaty of Breda of 31 July 1667, and again confirmed in the Treaty of Westminster of 1674.
Laurens Storm van 's Gravesande was a Dutch governor of the colonies of Essequibo and Demerara from 1743 to 1772. He turned Demerara in a successful plantation colony, and the borders of Guyana are mainly based on his expeditions into the interior. He is also noted for his treatment of the Amerindians.
Borsselen is an island in the Demerara River of Guyana, and was the capital of Demerara between 1755 and 1782.
Wolfert Simon van Hoogenheim was a Dutch governor of the colony of Berbice. During his rule, the Berbice Slave Uprising took place.