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Planters & merchants from Caribbean islands: Cornelius Leary

In 1759 Cornelius Leary owned plantation New Antigua in Essequibo.

He is said to have come to Demerara from Antigua [Stabroek News 15 July 2007] and to have also acquired a plantation at the mouth of the Demerary river:

According to one report Cornelius Leary applied for and was granted a tract of land to cultivate cotton and coffee near the mouth of the Demerara River in 1759. When he died this estate was inherited by his wife Eve Leary. In 1796 when the colony was captured by the British the garrison officers established a village on the Eve Leary estate. Built by the officers at the garrison, Kingston with its small cottages set amidst gardens resembled a little English village. [Stabroek News 24 Jan 2008]

Lear ownership of this plantation is confirmed by the annotated version of the University of Amsterdam's Caerte van de rivier Demerary 1759.

In 1766 the Governor, Storm van ‘s Gravesande, referred to Leary in one of his dispatches as an example of the common practice of making false returns of the number of slaves:

Forty-two slaves have run away from Leary in two lots, thirty-two alone from his plantation here in Essequibo, and it is a very remarkable thing that on the last day of December, 1765, he made a return, in his own handwriting, that he possessed thirty-five slaves ; now there are just thirty-five remaining, whilst thirty- two have run away. From this example alone [you] may now be convinced that I was not far wrong when I had the honour to write that I was sure a great deal of fraud was going on in the slave returns. [Storm van 's Gravesande, The Rise of British Guiana]

Cornelius Leary was a witness to the will of Jean Gordon (Mrs Young) made in Demerara in 1766 [PROB 11/941].

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