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Maroons

 

There were large Maroon (African Bush Community) encampments in Guyana prior to the Berbice Revolution of 1763. In an excellent book . . . Maroons of Guyana, Some Problems of Slave Desertion in Guyana, c. 1750-1814, published by Free Press in 1999, Professor Thompson states that in 1744, in the North-West District of Essequibo, there were large encampments of “at least 300” Maroons. A gruesome incident occurred, following an expedition against them. Hands of Africans killed were severed and taken to Governor van Gravesande, who had them “…nailed to posts as a warning…” (Thompson, p. 15 & 21).  Professor Thompson also referred to a letter from a French official in 1782, during the short period of French rule, which estimated that there were “…a little over 2,000 maroons…” in the territories of Berbice, Demerara and Essequibo (Thompson,p. 14-15). He also noted that the status of Maroons was defined by the authorities. In 1806, the Court of Policy of Demerara and Essequibo ruled that “…one year’s residence in the bush…” was the criterion to be applied for legal recognition as a Maroon, and that those persons “…who were resident in the bush for more than two years were regarded as being confirmed in their way of life as maroons.” In 1810, the Court of Policy of Berbice applied the same criteria, and added a clause to the effect that  Maroons also apparently included those “…over sixteen years of age who ran away in groups of ten or more from one plantation, and who stayed away for three months or more…” (Thompson p. 16).

Colin Bobb-Semple, letter to Stabroek News 24 Feb 2009