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'First speculators' (continued)

The evidence below indicates that the Scots who were the first to own plantations in Guyana were:

  • in Essequibo, Douglas Stewart
  • in Demerara, James Douglas and Thomas Cuming
  • in Berbice, James Fraser of Belladrum


Essequibo: Storm van's Gravesande, governor of Essequibo and Demerara, reported that in 1762 there were 68 privately owned plantations in Essequibo, of which eight were owned by 'Englishmen' [includes Scots and Irish]:

  1. Thomas Austin (born Barbados)
  2. John Brownrig
  3. Gedney Clarke snr
  4. William Croydon
  5. Edward Fitzpatrick
  6. Cornelius Leary
  7. James Millikin
  8. Douglas Stewart

In Demerara there were 93 plantations, of which 34 were owned by 'Englishmen'. James Douglas's plantation Weilburg is the first which can be identified as owned and run by Scots.

  1. Thomas Austin (born Barbados)
  2. John Bermingham
  3. Joseph Calloway
  4. Samuel Carter - Barbadian
  5. Francis Clarke
  6. Gedney Clarke Snr.
  7. Gedney Clarke Jnr.
  8. Peter Clarke
  9. William Clarke
  10. John Cox
  11. Richard Bass Dally
  12. Sir James Douglas & Co.
  13. Edward Fitzpatrick
  14. John Fitzpatrick & Co.
  15. Samuel Floyd
  16. Elizabeth Hall
  17. Peter Halley
  18. Isaac Knott
  19. John Maynard
  20. Benjamin Nichols
  21. Edward Nichols
  22. William Roberts
  23. John Rowan
  24. Ralph Sampson
  25. Thomas Simons
  26. John Simmons
  27. Anthony Somersall
  28. John Sutton
  29. John Thomas
  30. William Toppin
  31. Samuel Welsh

Demerara 1785 [Netherlands National Archives] is a list of plantation owners attached to a letter of protest and petition sent by a group of settlers to the Directors of the Dutch West India Company. It gives the nationality of the plantation owners. The 23 'English' [i.e. British] planters named [with some of my identifications] are:

  1. W. Elliot
  2. Waterton – the paternal uncle of Charles Waterton [English], who managed it from 1804
  3. David Elliot
  4. Schepperd
  5. Bermingham – John Bermingham of Dalgan [Irish]
  6. Mansfeld
  7. Cells – John Cells
  8. wed. Roth
  9. P. Brothersen
  10. Cumming – Thomas Cuming [Scottish]
  11. Haslen – John Haslen [English]
  12. Culpeper – Alleyne Culpepper [Barbados]
  13. Osborn
  14. Forbes – John Forbes
  15. F Bogens
  16. Parkinson - William Parkinson
  17. Paxten
  18. Lewes
  19. Kirwan
  20. Dowding
  21. Linc. Rogers
  22. Long
  23. Laurens [Henry Laurens, Charleston]

Lord Seaforth, who invested in Guyana in 1802, credited Thomas Porter, who is not listed above, as the driving force behind the establishment of coastal cotton plantations:
In 1782 Mr Porter, a ruined man from Tobago owing £10,000 more than he was worth, left to recover a debt for 20 Negroes sold to Mr Elliott of Demerary. Having been accustomed to cotton planting, he acquired Lot 27 on the east side of the Demerary. His Dutch friends thought him mad but he succeeded in producing cotton, and that of better quality, and made an immense fortune. Over the next ten years this changed the face of the country. [National Archives of Scotland, GD/46/17/14 p337]

A key early investor among the Scots was Thomas Cuming. In 1794-95 the colony newspaper, the Essequebo en Demerarische Courant, named a number of other Scots with Highland connections, including:

  1. James Baillie,
  2. James Fraser,
  3. George Inglis,
  4. Spencer Mackay,
  5. Lachlan Cuming,
  6. Alexander Macrae,
  7. John Sutherland,
  8. John Fraser
  9. George Munro.

By 1799 the Scots plantation owners in Demerara also included:

  1. Campbell
  2. C Hamilton
  3. Dr Munro
  4. William Grant
  5. Mackenzie of Redcastle
  6. Daniel Stewart

In Berbice in the early 1790s the British planters were:

  1. Thomas Townshend (pl Belmont: sold to Lambert Blair in 1794),
  2. William Townshend (pl Union),
  3. James Hay (La Tante),
  4. Henry Gosling (pl Santa Cruz),
  5. Lambert Blair (pl Welgeleegen)
  6. James Fraser,
  7. Alexander MacCulloch (pl Vriendschap),
  8. William Macfarlane (pl Glasgow: sold to Lambert Blair in 1793),
  9. Matthew Munro (pl Edinburgh: sold to Lambert Blair in 1794)
  10. William Foulis (pl Nest also known as Scotland: sold to George Munro and John Ross in 1806).

[Kaartboek van de navolgende gronden uitgegeven in de kolonie Berbice, 1792; and Naamlyst der bestierders, officieren en bediendens &c. op de Colonie der Berbice, 1794 transcribed by Paul Koulen]

By 1794 Lambert Blair had acquired Belmont and Edinburgh.


Continue to Plantation Weilburg (one of the first Scots-owned plantations in Demerara)



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