Site hosted by Build your free website today!

The Discription of Guyana.

By Major John Scott 1669

British Library Mss No.3662, Fol. 37v.-42V.

This country is bounded between the two great Rivers (not only of America) but of the known World, for Danubo, Rhine, Gangos, Kyam, Nilus, Gambo, Rio Plato, it self does not Coast of such length, such vast islands with its Arms, nor any of the other, for length and breadth both Rivers are Crossed with the Equatorial Line, and its Confines includes the sunns Darts being twice a years a porpondieular, in his Motion from South to North.

The River Amazonas Bounds this Province on the south coast whose north Capo hath only 38 minutes of north Latitude and 335 degrees of Longitude counting from St. Michaels one of the Azores Islands, Oronoque bounds it on the north cost, where Southern Cape hath Eight Degrees and 90 minutes of Latitude and 322 degrees of Longitude; between those two Rivers Guiana Fronts 230 Leagues on the Atlantic ocean, both these Rivers agree and got in the Latitude of 4 Degrees South from the Equator as the author hath soon Informed the Concurrent Stories of the Natives of there points and by the two greatest Travellers that ever were in Guiana of Christians. The one was one Mattoson borne at Gaunt, that had managed a Trade 22 years for the Spaniard from the City of St. Thome in Oronoque, with the Shahones, Sopoyos, and Oaconyos, whose habitations are 200 Leagues South-west from St. Thome north the Mountains of the suten, where they have great Riches. The other was one Hondrickson a Swiss by Nation, that had served some Dutch Merchants in those parts 27 year's in Quality of a Factor with the upland Indians of Guiana. Both those Persons happened to be prisoners to the Author in his Voyage to Guiana 1665. Those men both agreed that two Granchos of the Rivers only mud and yet afterward Oronoque stretched it self westward a bow 200 miles, and would by no means agree with the Description given by Count Pagan in his History of the Amazonas in the Particular.

It is beyond all Controversy that Guiana hath been time out of mind the station of the Carribs, and all the Indians on the Island owe their original from thong & differ in Language one by, as the Inhabitants of the Islands of Jersey, Garnfoy the do from the Inhabitants of France; And the opinion of their coming from Florida is very Frond and Ridiculous, to all persons that know the nature of the minds, and Currants in those parts.

But in presence of the Description of this Country Know that it abounds with many Spacious Rivers, Rivulets, & Creeks which I have and oauoured with great care to Describe in your Chart with their Latitude and Longitude in the two boundaries, Cape north, the northhorne Cape of the great Amazonas and Cape Broma, the southern Cape of Oronoque; by which all your reft may be measured. For Instance, between both the mentioned Capes 28 Leagues raifoth or deprofoth a degree of Latitude without any considerable error. The Course being near oft north-west and south east together with your habitations of the destines natives of that Spacious Provinces which I hope may be of Singular use as well as for do light.

The Rivers and Lakes of Guiana are stored with 30 distinct Species of Fish that are very good for Food, their woods with your Buffalo, Elks and several sorts of Doore; their Savanne especially near the head of the River Parma, are stored with wild Cattle and in all places great plenty Cassava of which they make their bread, Potatoes, Yams and other Rootes, here is indeed every thing now fair for Live. But for as much as Joofigne to satisfied the world in a particular poise touching the distinct Species of Boasts for Trade and of prey Foule, Fish, Trees, Plants, and all insects; therefore I thing it not proper to enlarge upon them in this place. But its certain nature hath been in most parts of Guiana prodigal of her bounty.

I shall proceed to mention here first the Commodities secondly the diseases it is most incident to, and in with points third by the best Judgement I could make of with number there are of Natives, how many of each other Nation and where they inhabited having besides my own observations, taken measures from the before mentioned Mr. Hondrickson and Mattoson and Journals I Fortunes to meet with, Fourthly which Nations of Europe here from time to time settled there and which Fortune thy have had.


The Commodities of Guiana are Gold, Silver, Annotta, (a Due) Rich-Gums, Balsams, Honey, Wax, specklewood Justick, many Physical Drugs, Sugar, Cotton & Rice.


It has been Observed that from the River Amazonas to Sinamare the People are Strongly affected with the Gout & Dropsy and not free from other diseases. From Sinamare westward to Currantoon, greatly Infected with Postilon hall Fevers and Agues and a Certain Sweating Disease to follow attended with numbness in the Joynts when it is most Racing it is a most strong violent Fever burning within and got the whole Body cool without, and the Foot and hands very cold an Dry, But it hath not the same operation on all, nor as the Natives much Troubled with those Distempers but the Europeans.

From Currantoon to the West Side of Dissokoob the Natives as well as others are strangely troubled with the Indian Pox which hath rill of late years brake out into great pustules and Scabs, which they use to dry up with the milk of quality of a Crabo Tree produced from the young migs and Loans in four days the Scabs will be dried up, and there would remain only an akeing in the Joynts which they cured themselves of bathing their Joynts with an oily produced of Borryop from the same Tree, but those that live near the English, Dutch or French and drink wines or strong waters find quite different Symptoms, the disease paining much Inwardly, and the Antient Romodies will not effort the cure, when often inwraps them in great Difficulties.

From Dissokoob to Awarabish a River in the west side of Oronoque I observed the Inhabitants to be full of Children and Subject ( but as in other healthful Countries) to no raging Distemper, except it be in Rainy weather, and then they are Subject to sore Eyes. Women that koopo much with in are not troubled with the distemper, nor men that ago much Exorcise. The River water of Guiana is not so healthful as wells and Springs, that are kept from branches & loaves of Trees, that have a poyfonus quality, with which the Rivers especially those that came from high Lands, and run far are greatly troubled with.

Numbers, and the Habitations of the Natives

The most numerous nacion of Indians in Guiana are the Careibs and those are Inhabited in Aricare about 6000 Careib Families. In Wiapoco, Macoria, & Abrowaco, eleven thousand Careibe Families.

In the River Marrawina, about 800 Careib Families.

And up the same River, and towards the head of Sinnamar lives about 1400 Paricotos, the great Masters of Poison in America, they petond to poyson Fountaines are a people very formal, marry over with their own Nation, have little Commerce but for their Poyson, which they sell to other nations; the Careibs have some Judgement in theart of Poisoning their Arrows, and are great Masters in the cure but short of those people.

In Suranam, Commowina, Suramaco, Coponha & Curriantoon are about 5000 Carreib Families and there lives in Suramaco and the upper parts of Suranam, about 1400 Turroomaes and up Curianteen about 1200 Sapoyos.

From the West Side of Curriantoon to Wina there lives about 800 Families of Arawgoos, the best humoured Indians of America being both very just and generous minded people and in little villages by the Seaside lives about 400 Families of Warooos in Moroca and Wina and in the Islands of Oronoque River and near the mouth of that River lives about 5000 Families of Warooos, The only Ship wrights of those points for all the great Poriagoos are made by them, they make their vessels their Cordage, Saylos, Hammocks, Broad and Drink all of one Tree, they likewise make great Poriagoos of an other wood called white wood. They differ from al other Indians in Life and mane (have nothing for delight whilst all other Indians are great lovers of fine Gardens, Drinking, Dancing and divers other pleasures) are a people blood Trocaorous and not to be conversed with. And therefore Yadviso all people that sail into those parts to discourse with the Warooos nation with their Armours in their hands.

From Wina to the utmost part of Awambish, on the west side of Oranoque and the Rivers Oranoque, Poraema, and Amacora, Are about 20000 Careibs Families: The Ouonyos, Shawhoans, and Somicorals, are great powerful Nations, that Live in the uplands of Guiana, other under the Line or in South Latitude, and there hath none too unversed with them, as to make a judgement of them as to their Numbers. But its most certain they are settled in a most Fertile Country, and Cover a vast Tract of Land beginning at the mountains of the Sun on the West, and north and extending themselves to Rionogroe 500 miles south and East a famous River there ondies itself into the great Amazonas. They have a Constant War with some Nations on the Islands in the Amazonas and are often gauld by the Willoy Careibs who often when they are Engaged a broad visit their Towns to their no small pyudice, And thus much of the Natives.

When First made known to the Europeans and which fortune they Successively have had.

The first Christian that over attempted to set footing on Guiana to the Southward of Oranoque, was Pedro de Acosta a Spaniard, with two small Corvils, 300 men Anno 1530 settled in Paroma, was draw thence by the Indians the same year , many slain and their Goods and Chattels become a booty to the Carreibs.

The second Colonie was settled at Cayan by Gaspor de Sotolle being one hundred & 26 Families, from Spain Anno 1568 but were expelled by the Caroobs and Paracoatos Anno 1573.

The third settlement was by three ships from France at Wiapoco Anno 1607 and being 400 men, began to plant Tobacco, and to think themselves secure, and too frankly to Converre with the natives they were all cut off Anno 1609 except a few Mariners.

The fourth Colonie was of 160 Families from France landed at Cayan and Fortified themselves Anno 1613. The Purceoates began to offer them Friendship, they were in few months many distreyed and the rest force to quit the place and retire for France.

The fifth Colonie consisted of two hundred and eighty Zealanders with two small ships landed their men at Cayan, Anno 1615, but could not bring the Natives to a Trade were often Gauled by the Indians and were at Length forced to quit their Post Returned to Zealand the same year.

The sixth Colonie was undertaken by one Capt. Gromweagle a Dutchman that had served the Spaniard in Oranoque but understanding a Company of Merchants of Zealand had before undertaken a voyage to Guiana and attempted a settlement there he deserted the Spanish Service, and tendered himself to his own Country which was excepted and he dispatched from Zealand Anno 1616 with two Ships and a Gallioto and was the first man that took firm footening on Guiana by the good likening of the natives, whose humours the Gent. Perfectly understood; He erect a Fort on a Small Island 30 Leagues up the River Dissokoob which looked into two great branches of that Famous River. All his time the Colonie flourishes: he managed a great Trade with the Spaniards by the Indians with great Soeroey, he was a great friend of all now Colonies of Christians of which nation soever, And Barbados owed its first assistance both for Food and Trade to this mans special kindness. Anno 1627, at which time they were in a miserable Condition he dyed Anno 16664 and in the 83 year of his Age; a wealthy man; having been Governor of that Colonie. Forty years; In this Colonie the Author had the good Fortune to meet with some Ingenious Observations of the former Governor of which had been Transacted in Guiana in his time; to whom the word is obliged for many particulars of this Story.

The seventh was a small factory at Berbishes about the year 1624 is now a strong Garrison and belonged to two Merchants of Flushing Myn heer van Ra, and Myn heer van Poar, a place that abounds with excellent horses & Cattle and is a good factory for Annotta, Dye and Drugs.

Sir Walter Raleigh's first Voyage 1598 an his last unfortunate Voyage 1618 and the business of Mr. Harecourt at Wiapoco & being writ with their own ponns I shall say nothing of them only that If Sr. Walter Raleigh had lived he would have left matter for a Greater full story he left so good and so great a name behind him with the Native Indians in those parts that the English have often been Obliged to Remember with Honour.

The eight Colonie was a ship and a Bargue from France which landed their people at Moriwona Anno 1625. The next vessels yet came could here no news of their Colony and wore without all doubt destroyed by the Natives.

The ninth Colonie was 3 Ships from Rochelle Anno 1626 with 534 men some Women & Children, they settled at Suramaca lived 3 years in peace, but sickness falling amongst them and the Indians being Troublesome (Those few yet wore left) deserted the Colony and went to St. Christopher's.

The tenth Colonie was two ships and s small vessel from France Anno 1639 with 370 men settled at Suramaca and the year after came to them from France many Families, They lived peaceably until the year 1642 at what time they had great Supplies of men Ammunition & provision from France grew careless spread themselves to Suranam and Curanteen had difference with the Indians and were all cut of in one Day.

The eleventh Colony was one Mr. Marshall with 300 Families of English Imployed by the Earl of Warwick who settled Suranam, Suramaca & Curanteen Anno 1643 lived peaceably until the year 1645 at which time they espoused the Quarrel of the French and were cut of by the natives.

The twelfth Colony was Dutch settled by the Zealand's in the Rivers Borowma, Wacopow & Moroca having been draw of from Tobago Anno 1650 and the year following a great Colony of Dutch and Jews drawn of from Brazil by the Portuguese settled there and being Experienced Planters that soon grew a Flourishing Colonie.

The thirteenth Colony was of French at Suramaca and at Cayan, were the greatest part cut of by the Caribs and Sapoyos Anno 1649.

The fourteenth Colony was Suranam Anno 1650 About 300 people of the English Nation from the Island of Barbados under the Colony of one Lieut. Colonel Anthony Rowse a Gentleman of great Gallantry and Prudence and of long Experience in the West Indies, his making a firm peace with the Indians soon after his Landing, and Reviving the name of Sir Walter Raleigh gave the English firm footing in those parts and it soon became a hopeful Colony.

These people had the Accommodation of a Ship from Francis Lord Willoughby of Parham (then at the Barbados) and the loan of a parcel of Indian Trade; The Lord Willoughby settled a Plantation amongst them at Surinam another at Comewina upon which Disburse at least 26000 Crowns.

Anno 1654 Lieutenant Coll. Rowse having established this Colony left it in a flourishing Condition and perfect chosen Governor A indicious Gentleman and in yet Condition it Stood daily increasing until the year 1660 a what time his Matie being happily restored to his Just Rights Francis Lord Willoughby (amongst other potencies in the West Indies) laid claim to Suranam by fortune of a Compact mends in those Parts And although there was some difference in that point between the Inhabitants and his Lordship it passed in favour of his Lordship and Laurence Hide Esq. Second son to the Earl of Clarendon, as Lord Proprietors of that Province under the Appellation of Willoughby Land. But Major Byam was Continued Deputy Governor to the Proprietors and was Commissioned Lieut. General of Guiana.

Anno 1665 The Lord Willoughby sailed from Barbados to Suranam and upon his Lordships Arrival a Contagious sickness began at the Town called Tararica and spread itself all over the Colony swept away many people & during his stay at Suranam he had like to have been murdered by one Mr. Allen, who was of opinion his Lordship coveted his Estate, Mr. Allen was charged with Blasphemy before his Lordship arrived in those parts but cleared of the fact yet (in his Lordships sense) held strange opinions, as that there could be no Subjects held Lord Proprietors because it both shipped the wings of Monarchy and Infringed the Liberty of the Subject, Mr. Allen cut of two of the Lord Willoughby's Fingers and wounded him in he Head, expecting at the same stroke to have slain him and afterward poisoned himself. Several People this year left Suranam, Strange Jealousies having possess them which brake out into great discontents which his Lordship endeavoured to satisfy them by a kind message sent to the Colony by one Capt. John Parker which proved effectual.

The same year in the Month of October the Author having been Comissionated Commander in chief of a small fleet and a Regiment of Soldiers for the of Hague of the Island Tobago and several other settlements in the hands of the Netherlanders on Guiana as Moroco, Wacopow, Bowroome and Dissekeb and having touched at Tobago in lefts then six months had the good Fortune to be in possession of those Countries and left them Garrisoned for his Matie of Great Britain and sailed thence for Barbados where meeting with the news of the Eruption of War between the two Crowns of England and France. Endeavoured to persuade Francis Lord Willoughby to reduce those several small Garrisons into one strong hold and offered that was the way to make good of Post in those parts having to doe with two potent Enemies but his Lordship that was his Maties Capt. General in those parts was of another opinion & before he imbarqued on the unfortunate Voyage for the Reducing of St. Christopher's in which design he Perished by a Hurricane the ways he had prescribed for supplies to the aforementioned Garrisons proved in effectual; and they were lost the year following to the Dutch after they had induced great Misery in a Long siege by the French.

In the month of March 1665 Lieutenant Genll Byam in pursuance of an order from Francis Lord Willoughby Comissionated one Capt. Pater Wrath (a Kentish Gentleman) with a party of men and Vessels to Attack the Dutch Colony of Approwaco which was prosecuted with success.

In August following Capt. William Cowell from Suranam took the French Colony of Sinamare sacked the Place and brought them away Prisoners. This year the English could boast of the Possession of all that Part of Guiana abutting on the Atlantic Ocean from Cayan on the South east to Oronoque on the North East (Except a small Colonie in the River Berbishes) which is no less then six hundred English miles.

In February 1666 one Capt. Abraham Crynsens arrived at Surinam with a fleet of Seven Sayle from Zealand where the Colonie for want of Supplies and being discontented and having been greatly afflicted with great sharp Sickness and despairing of any relieve Surrendered themselves to the High and Puissant Lords of States of Zealand upon the Articles here to fore Inserted In Wm. Byam's Narrative of the State of Guiana.

Anno 1667 In the Month of April Capt. Crynsens sailed from Suranam for he taking in of the Island Tobago leaving Capt. Ram Commander of his Land Force & Governor for the Lords of Zealand in Surinam.

In August next Henry Willoughby Esqr Commander in Cheife accompanied with Sir John Harman there Land force one Regiment of Foot their Fleet Consisted of nine Sayle Departed from Barbados for the Hague of the Island Cayan under the Command of Monsieur De Leisle Governor there for the French King. In September following they arrived there and the place soon became a Subject of their mercy, they sacked the place carried away some of the People Prisoners but left the greater part seized of the Island but little to Defend themselves with against the Natives as the French have Complained since.

From thence in October they Sailed to Suranam, A River & Country seventy Leagues Northwest from Cayan, laid close Siege to the Fort by Sea and Land and after a sharp encounter (both Sides sustaining lose) Capt. Ram Governor for the States of Holland was forced to Surrender to the Said Henry Willoughby Esq. Who in few Days left the Colonie Carrying Capt. Ram and his Soldiers, Prisoners to Barbados and leaving the Fort and Colonie under the Command of one Colonel Barry.

In January Henry Willoughby returned from Barbados to Suranam and there Destroyed some Plantations and Removed a great part of the Colony to the Island St. Jago or Antigua; putt Colonel Barry by his Government and Comissionated in his Stead, one Sergt. Major James Banister an Inhabitant of the place.

Between the first Retaking of the Colony from the States of Zealand and this month of January the Lord of Zealand had dispatched to Suranam Divers Ships to ascertain their Interest but were Denied possession at which the States Agents made many Protestations, and sent home to Zealand many Complaints. Which accessioned the Lords Ambassadors of the Netherlands; then in England to make their addresses to his Matie for Reparation which after due proof of the Fact his Matie Consented to and likewise dispatched a second order for the Delivery of the said Province to which order Will. Lord Willoughby yielded obedience and Capt. Abraham Crynsens in the Right of his Masters The Lords of Zealand was putt in full possession of all the Province called Willoughby Land the 30th April 1668.

Thus having given an account of all such of the English, Spanish, French or Dutch Nations as have planted or attempted to plant Colonies on Guiana from the year 1630 to the year 1668.

I shall now only mention those brave Spaniards, that from the first Discoveries of the West Indies to the year 1647 some with great Force others with few followers have attempted the Discovery of the many Provinces in the main of Guiana; as well up the great River Amazonas as from the Atlantic Ocean and from the River Orinoco west of which Perished in their Designees and have left little behind them, saying the Remembrance of their brave undertakings, I find them Mentioned in several Authors of Divers Nations and many are carefully Collected by Mr. Hahluyt Viz.

Diego Deordas Juan Corteza Jasper d Sylva

Juan Gonsales Phillip Duverne Pedro d Lympas

Jeronimo d Ortel Himenes Pedro d Orsua

Father Jala Hernandez Diserpa Diego d Vorgas

Caceres Alonzo d Hercra Antonio Sedenno

Augustine Delgado Diego d Lozada Rineso

Ped. d Orsua Pani Montisene Philip d Fonta

Juan d Palma

The original words were altered by the printer to make them readable