History of the Republic of Guyana

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Reports and Letters of Sir Robert Hermann Schomburgk with reference to his
Surveys of the Boundaries of British Guiana.

No. 10: Letter of Mr. Schomburgk to Governor Light.
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Pirara, June [15] 1842.

Shortly after I had dispatched my letters(1) to your Excellency a messenger, arrived with the enclosed Protest from Fort S. Joaquim; and as the coxswain, Henry Chessam, has since returned, l do not hesitate to dispatch him with this document.

This Protest is worded in a tone which augurs the best results for the ultimate ends of my mission. It was naturally [sic] to expect a Protest from the Brazilian authorities near the frontier against my having established certain marks along the River Takutu, and from what I knew of the violent temper of Captain Leal I was prepared to receive a Protest expressed in the strongest terms, in lieu of which the subterfuge is used to consider these marks merely as made during an exploratory and scientific journey.

I am happy to say a favourable opinion with regard to Pirara remaining in possession of the English prevails among the inhabitants of the Rivers Branco and Negro. There is little doubt that the Province of Rio Negro will be separated from the lower Amazon, the capital of which is Para, in which case Manaos or Barra do Rio Negro will be raised to the chief city of the new province, and its commerce flow towards Demerara. The strong currents of the Amazon render the return journey from Para to Barra very uncertain, and an exorbitant duty on produce, the dues of the city, and harbour duties, all combine to render it much more profitable to the trader of the upper Amazon and the Rio Negro to resort to Demerara for their necessities. I know even from good authority that Fray Jose is favourable to the project of transferring the trade to Demerara, and leaving Pirara in undisputed possession of the British, but whether it agrees with his opinion to push the British frontier as far as the Takutu, I have not been able to ascertain as yet. It is certain, however, that there exists no good understanding between the Commandant at Fort S. Joaquim and the missionary of the Rio Branco, and the latter does not espouse the hatred of the former towards the English.

I beg leave to enclose a copy of a manuscript(2) which the late Dr. Hancock addressed to the Royal Geographical Society, in the library of which the original is to be found. His opinion with regard to the south-western boundary of British Guiana deserves some consideration, as Dr. Hancock was no doubt the most scientific and intelligent of the Commission which was sent in 1810-11 by the Government of this Colony to the Rupununi and Rio Branco. His ideas upon the boundary are certainly extensive; nevertheless they are founded upon the Dutch claim and Hartzinck's Map, although, it is my humble opinion, not, admissible at this period.

I have, etc.

A true copy.
(Signed) W. B. WORSELEY,
Assistant Government Secretary.

1- No. 9.
2- Not Printed.

Inclosure in No. 10.

Protest of Antonio de Barrios Leal, Commandant of Fort S. Joachim and Fr. Jose, de Santos Innocentes Missionary, of the Rio Branco.


We protest as we have protested against Lt.-Colonel Robert Schomburgk(1), inasmuch as we do not acknowledge the validity of the boundary, and consider it as a simple scientific exploratory operation, and we take no part in it.

And that this may be known to everybody we make this protest, which is signed by us.

FR. JOSE, Dos Stos. Innocentes.

Fort S. Joachim de Rio Branco,
May 1st, 1842.

1- Colonial Rank as A.D.C. to Governor. (Note in margin of MS.)