Letter #40

The first European colonies on the banks of the rivers Demerara and Essequibo were Dutch. In 1796, when the Netherlands were under French occupation, a British force seized the colony and founded British Guiana, naming the principal town Georgetown in honour of George III. 

‘Captain O’Brien’ may be a reference to the late husband of Aunt O’Brien and father of Mary, but he had died in 1808.

 Demerara 21st Augst 35

My Dear Kate

I have only this morning on landing heard that a vessel will sail at three for England, to Bristol I believe. Altho I give you but five lines, it will be acceptable to learn that the Duke of York came to anchor last night and that I am all right and well. The letter ford from Barbados will have informed you of the date, 10th Inst, we were to sail. Accordingly the Monday of that date, after making farewell visits, getting my horse embarked, baggage & dining early with Capt Tait, Capt E and his sert John Wiltshire, accompanied by the never failing Capt Tait to see me off, went on board, find a Mr Duran or Durant 1st W India Regt, and a Mr Moffat formerly of the RN and an old shipmate of Capt O’Brien’s, as passengers. Plenty of accommodation and lots of everything for a 4 or 5 days’ voyage, but a long passage was to be my fate. Contrary winds, calms and squalls though us out altogether. Of the latter we had more than our fair share, for on the night of the 12 or 13, such a gale came on, or rather in the Tropics termed a Hurricane, that we were suddenly forced to take in all sail. Thunder, lightning and rain in such profusion that I thought all the elements were collected in a focus to annoy us. However, after all it was only to be considered a slight affair by comparison with others the Capt and mate had witnessed in these climes. This was the first and potent cause of our getting seaward and we did not make the land until Sunday the 16th Inst which from sounding it was soon ascertained to be far far to Leeward of Demerara with a current carrying us towards the mouth of the Orinoco River of 3 miles and hour light wind and contrary. The danger was nothing but delay of beating up & not having sufficient for my horse rather vexed me. On Monday we found we had made no way & put into towards the shore & dropped anchor in 4 fathoms at 12 miles from the coast and many leagues below the Pomeron River. Here we sent a boat off in hopes of getting wood and grass with other supplies, but it was observed about ½ past 3 returning but could not make the ship from the rapidity of the current then running. Up anchor & make sail was the result to pick up our crew before dark, or lost! lost!! lost!!! would have been the case. This effected we again put to sea. The boat could not get near the shore after pulling up 5 or six miles – nothing but impenetrable forrests and mud for a mile & a half from the coast. All they saw worth remarking was quantities of beautiful birds. After beating & beating we reached our berth last night at 7 and I landed after breakfast this morning, first receiving visits from my friend Mr Young, Col & Govr’s Secretary, inviting me to his house, & several other officers. Time will not admit of my telling you all the particulars. Called on Sir Car Smith to report & dine there today. My baggage is not yet arrived. I am now seated on the only chair in this large and excellent quarter which I will describe in my next. Some people would feel rather lonely and dismal, but I know not how it is – the devil comes out & the spirit keeps up, but a lot of Mosquittos & Sand flies – Oh my dear Kate, were you here you would go mad. An office desk, pen & paper afford me the delight of writing you this hurried letter. The Packet is due here, therefore tomorrow I may receive tidings of my valued & dear Wickham party. Next week I learn that another vessel sails. The rains here have been incessant. Adieu.

Dear Kate, I think my time will pass well enough here, however a few months will shew. Regards to Mr Hawker & I shd now add Hawkers & their ladies, my good aunt O’B & my wife Mary. Love to the dear girls & boys when you write the letter. I trust Gusto has passed & getting places. My time will be much occupied for some weeks, but hope to find an hour of peace from heat & torment to write to Fred & Augustus. There is a vessel here from Belfast with horses. Adieu again, I must save this charm. Believe me

Your affect Fred E

Did I forget Miss P? No, no, never – God bless her – How is Mrs Parker? And Jane – how does she get on?