Essequibo (colony)
Essequibo was from 1616 to 1814 a Dutch colony in the region of the Essequibo river
Essequibo River
The Esequibo River is the largest river in Guyana, and the largest river between the Orinoco and Amazon. Rising in the Acarai Mountains near the Brazil-Guyana border, the Essequibo flows to the north for 1,010 km through forest and savanna into the Atlantic Ocean.-Geography:There are countless...

 on the north coast of South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

. The colony formed a part of the colonies that are known under the collective name of Dutch Guyana.


Essequibo was founded by colonists from the first Zeeland
Zeeland , also called Zealand in English, is the westernmost province of the Netherlands. The province, located in the south-west of the country, consists of a number of islands and a strip bordering Belgium. Its capital is Middelburg. With a population of about 380,000, its area is about...

ic colony, Pomeroon
Pomeroon can refer to either of the following:*Pomeroon River, a river in Guyana;*Pomeroon-Supenaam, a region in Guyana;*Pomeroon , a former colony in Guyana....

, which had been destroyed by Spaniards and local warriors around 1596. Led by Joost van der Hooge, the Zeelanders travelled to an island called Kyk-Over-Al in the Essequibo river (actually a side-river called the Mazaruni
Mazaruni River
The Mazaruni River is a river in northern Guyana, running from its source in the remote western forests of the Pakaraima Mountains to its confluence with the Cuyuni River near Bartica...

). This location was chosen because of its strategic location and the trade with the local population. Van der Hooge encountered an older ruïned Portuguese fort there (the Portuguese arms had been hewn into the rock above the gate). Using funds of the West Indian Company
Dutch West India Company
Dutch West India Company was a chartered company of Dutch merchants. Among its founding fathers was Willem Usselincx...

, van der Hooge built a new fort called 'Fort Ter Hoogen' from 1616 to 1621, though the fort quickly became known amongst the inhabitants as Fort Kyk-Over-Al (English: Fort See-everywhere). The administration of the West Indian Company as well as the governor of the entire colony settled here in 1621.

Initially the colony was named Nova Zeelandia (New Zeeland), but the usage of the name Essequibo soon became common. On the southern shore of the river the hamlet Cartabo was built, containing 12 to 15 houses. Around the river, plantations were created where slaves cultivated cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

, indigo
Indigo is a color named after the purple dye derived from the plant Indigofera tinctoria and related species. The color is placed on the electromagnetic spectrum between about 420 and 450 nm in wavelength, placing it between blue and violet...

 and cacao. Somewhat further downstream, on Forteiland or 'Great Flag Island', Fort Zeelandia
Fort Zeelandia (Guyana)
Fort Zeelandia is located on Fort Island, a fluvial island of the Essequibo River delta in the Essequibo Islands-West Demerara region of Guyana. Not to be confused with Fort Zeelandia in Paramaribo, Suriname, the current brick fort was built in 1743 for the Essequibo colony, replacing an earlier...

 was built. From 1624 the area was permanently inhabited and from 1632, together with Pomeroon, it was put under the jurisdiction of the Zeelandic Chamber of the WIC (West Indian Company). In 1657 the region was transferred by the Chamber to the cities of Middelburg
Middelburg is a municipality and a city in the south-western Netherlands and the capital of the province of Zeeland. It is situated in the Midden-Zeeland region. It has a population of about 48,000.- History of Middelburg :...

, Veere
Veere is a municipality and a city in the southwestern Netherlands, on Walcheren island in the province of Zeeland.-Population centres :Aagtekerke , Biggekerke , Domburg , Gapinge , Grijpskerke , Koudekerke , Meliskerke , Oostkapelle , Serooskerke , Veere , Vrouwenpolder , Westkapelle...

 and Flushing
Flushing, Netherlands
Vlissingen is a municipality and a city in the southwestern Netherlands on the former island of Walcheren. With its strategic location between the Scheldt river and the North Sea, Vlissingen has been an important harbour for centuries. It was granted city rights in 1315. In the 17th century...

, who established the 'Direction of the New Colony on Isekepe' there. From then on Pomeroon was called 'Nova Zeelandia'.

In 1658 cartographer Cornelis Goliath created a map of the colony and made plans to build a city there called 'New Middelburg', but the Second Anglo-Dutch War
Second Anglo-Dutch War
The Second Anglo–Dutch War was part of a series of four Anglo–Dutch Wars fought between the English and the Dutch in the 17th and 18th centuries for control over the seas and trade routes....

 (1665–1667) put an end to these plans. Essequibo was occupied by the British in 1665 (along with all other Dutch colonies in Guyana
Guyana , officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, previously the colony of British Guiana, is a sovereign state on the northern coast of South America that is culturally part of the Anglophone Caribbean. Guyana was a former colony of the Dutch and of the British...

), and then plundered by the French. The following years the Zeelanders sent a squardron of ships to retake the area. While the Suriname
Suriname , officially the Republic of Suriname , is a country in northern South America. It borders French Guiana to the east, Guyana to the west, Brazil to the south, and on the north by the Atlantic Ocean. Suriname was a former colony of the British and of the Dutch, and was previously known as...

 colonies were retaken by Abraham Crijnssen
Abraham Crijnssen
Abraham Crijnssen was a Dutch naval commander, notable for capturing Suriname from the British in 1667 during the Second Anglo-Dutch War. The minesweeper HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen and the frigate HNLMS Abraham Crijnssen have been named after him.-Suriname recaptured:...

, the by then abandoned Essequibo was occupied by Matthys Bergenaar. In 1670 the Chamber of the WIC in Zeeland took over control of the colonies again. The Dutch colonies in the region endured much suffering as a result of the Nine Years' War (1688–1697) and the Spanish Succession War (1701–1714), which brought pirates into the region. In 1689 Pomeroon was destroyed by French pirates, and abandoned.

The Chamber of the WIC in Zeeland kept control over the colonies, which sometimes led to criticism from The Chamber of the WIC in Amsterdam, who also wanted to start plantation there. The Zeelanders however, had established the colony by themselves, and after they retook possession of Essequibo under command of the commander of Fort Nassau Bergen in 1666, they considered themselves as rightful rulers of the region. Under governor Laurens Storm van 's Gravesande, English planters started coming to the colony after 1740.

After 1745 the number of plantations along the Demerara and her side-rivers rapidly increased. Particularly, British colonists from Barbados
Barbados is an island country in the Lesser Antilles. It is in length and as much as in width, amounting to . It is situated in the western area of the North Atlantic and 100 kilometres east of the Windward Islands and the Caribbean Sea; therein, it is about east of the islands of Saint...

 began settling here. After 1750 a commander of the British population was assigned, giving them their own representation. Around 1780 a small central settlement was established at the mouth of the Demerara, which received the name Stabroek in 1784, named after one of the directors of the West Indian Company. From 27 February 1781 to February 1782 the colony was occupied by the French
Recapture of Demerara and Essequibo
The Capture of Demerara and Essequibo was a French military expedition sent in January 1782 as part of the American Revolutionary War. In 1781, the Dutch colonies of Essequibo and Demerara were captured by a British squadron of Admiral Lord Rodney's fleet; the French took possession of these...

. In 1796 it was permanently occupied by the British.

In 1800 Essequibo and Demerara collectively held around 380 sugercane plantations.

At the Peace of Amiens, the Netherlands received the Essequibo colony for a short time, from 1802 to 1803, but after that the British again occupied it. In 1812 Stabroek was renamed by the British as Georgetown
Georgetown, Guyana
Georgetown, estimated population 239,227 , is the capital and largest city of Guyana, located in the Demerara-Mahaica region. It is situated on the Atlantic Ocean coast at the mouth of the Demerara River and it was nicknamed 'Garden City of the Caribbean.' Georgetown is located at . The city serves...

. Essequibo became official British territory on 13 August 1814 as part of the Treaty of London
Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814
The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1814 was a treaty signed between Great Britain and the Netherlands in London on August 13, 1814...

, and was merged with the colony of Demerara
Demerara was a region in South America in what is now Guyana that was colonised by the Dutch in 1611. The British invaded and captured the area in 1796...

. On 21 July 1831, Demerara-Essequibo
The colony of Demerara-Essequibo was created on 13 August 1814 when the British combined the colonies of Demerara and Esequibo. On 20 November 1815 the colony was formally ceded to Britain by the Netherlands....

 was united with Berbice
Berbice is a region along the Berbice River in Guyana, which was between 1627 and 1815 a colony of the Netherlands. After having been ceded to the United Kingdom in the latter year, it was merged with Essequibo and Demerara to form the colony of British Guiana in 1831...

 to create British Guyana.

Governors of Essequibo

  • Adrian Groenewegen (1616–1624)
  • Jacob Conijn (1624–1627)
  • Jan van der Goes (1627–1638)
  • Cornelis Pieterszoon Hose (1638–1641)
  • Andriaen van der Woestijne (1641–1644)
  • Andriaen Janszoon (1644 - 16..)
  • Aert Adriaenszoon Groenewegel (1657–1664)
  • John Scott (1665–1666)
  • Crynssen (1666)
  • Adriaen Groenewegel (1666)
  • Baerland (1667–1670)
  • Hendrik Bol (1670–1676)
  • Jacob Hars (1676–1678)
  • Abraham Beekman (1678–1690)
  • Samuel Beekman (2 November 1690 - 10 December 1707)
  • Peter van der Heyden Resen (10 December 1707 - 24 July 1719)
  • Laurens de Heere (24 July 1719 - 12 October 1729)
  • Hermanus Gelskerke (d. 1742) (12 October 1729 - April 1742)
  • Laurens Storm van 's Gravesande (d. 1775) (April 1742 - 1752; active until 1773)
  • Robert Nicholson (27 February 1781 - 1782)
  • Abraham Jacob van Imbijze van Batenburg
    Abraham Jacob van Imbijze van Batenburg
    Abraham Jacob van Imbyze van Batenburg was a Dutch governor of Berbice and Essequibo during the period 1789-1806.-His life:...

     (22 April 1796 - 27 March 1802)

Commanders of Essequibo

  • Albert Siraut des Touches (1784)
  • Johannes Cornelis Bert (1784–1787)
  • Albertus Backer (1st time) (1787–1789)
  • Gustaaf Eduard Meijerhelm (1789–1791)
  • Matthijs Thierens (1791–1793)
  • Albertus Backer (2nd time) (1793 - 22 April 1796)
  • George Hendrik Trotz (27 March 1802 - September 1803)


  • Laurens Storm van 's Gravesande (1752 - 2 November 1772)
  • George Hendrik Trotz (2 November 1772 - 1781)


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