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Venezuela-British Guiana boundary arbitration. Digest of evidence arranged according to subjects online

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Honduras, Campecho, the Gulf of Mexico, [etc.], . . . in order to injure and
offer hostility to the King of Spain. B. C, 1, 13-

1648. States General.

We [States General] annul . . . all . . . regulations according to
which all ships . . . have been permitted to sail for private trade [etc.] . . .
to a certain area within the Charter of the West India Company; . . . we
now decree . . . that the vessels of the . , . inhabitants [of the Nether-
lands] shall henceforth be permitted to sail in the West Indies, to wit, from the
River Oronocque westwards [etc.] . . . without permission to go east
along the Wild Coast, much less to the Amazon. Same, pp. 135-136.

1669. West India Company.

The Directors of the . . . IVest India Company . . . grant to His
. . . Excellency [Lord Frederick Casimir, Count of Hanau] a tract of land
situated on the Wild Coast of America, between the River Orinoco and the
River Amazon, which His Excellency, . . . shall be pleased to choose, pro-
vided they remain at least six Dutch miles from other Colonies, there erected and
established by the . . . West India Company or with their permission, of
about thirty Dutch miles in breadth along the sea and a hundred miles more as
the aforesaid Colonists shall in the course of time be able to occupy and cultivate
. . . on condition that the aforesaid district will have to be cultivated along
the sea coast within a period of twelve years, or that what may then remain un-
cultivated along the sea-coast shall again be at the disposal of the Company.

The Company grants the aforesaid district to His Excellency as a lief or
feud with all its prerogatives and rights. B. C.-C, App., 333-334.

1669. States-General.

There was heard the report of . . . deputies in charge of the West India
Company's affairs, having, . . . investigated and examined the petition of
the Directors of the . . . West India Company, requesting . . . approval
of what they, the petitioners, have agreed to . . . with the present . , .
Count of Hanau concerning the establishment of a considerable Colony upon
the wild coast ol America . . . being deliberated upon, it was approved.

Same, p. jj/.
1714. West India Company.

Although Orinoco, Trinidad, &c. is [sic) under tlie power of the Spaniard.s,
still it also lies within the Charter of tlie Company where nobody has the



right to trade except the Company and those to whom the Company gives per-
mission to do so, so that it all is the territory of the Company, although we have
no forts there. B. C, I, 24 j.

1757. Don Jose de Iturriaga.

About fourteen years ago I saw a passport ... in Latin, granted by
the Governor of Essequibo of that date to a Carib Chief who lived within the
river Orinoco. On making inquiries ... I came to learn . . . that the
States-dreueral in their commissions to the Governors of Essequibo also give
them tlie title of Governors of the Orinoco. What is quite certain is that
these Governors style themselves of Essequibo and of the Orinoco in the
licences that they issue. B. C, II, IJJ.


• [""897] George L. Burr.

With the lower Orinoco in general, and especially with the A^nire, they
[Dutch] long maintained relations of trade, and in such sort as to make
doubtful their recognition of Spanish sovereig-nty there. V. C.-C, II, 143.

1599. Zeeland Estates.

In the matter of the request of the Burgomaster of Middelburg, Adriaen ten
Heaft, setting forth how that in the preceding year, 1 598, at heavy cost to himself,
he caused to be investigated on the continent of America many different rivers and
islands, and how that in this voyage were discovered various coasts and lands
where one could do notable damage to the King of Spain,— and how that he
is well minded to send out again two ships. V. C, II, 12.

1 62 1. Cornells Janssen Vianen.

If an attempt were made with superior force to gain the land there [on the
mainland of America between Brazil and the Orinoco] and by such cultivation
introduce products of Brazil and the West Indies, the Spaniards would beyond
doubt seek forcibly to prevent this. Same, p. 17.

1758. Director-General in Essequibo.

That the [Cuyuni] Post of your Lordships' Company was on Spanish ground,
which is utterly and indisputably untrue.

It is my opinion that this river is of the greatest importance to your Lordships,
much more so than any one of the others, and also that it is perfectly certain
and indisputable that they [Spaniards] have not the slightest claim to it.
If your Lordships will . . . look at the map of this country, drawn by Mr.
D'Anville, . . . your Lordships will clearly see that this is so. Our bound-
aries, too, are defined in a way which proves that the compiler was very well
informed. S- C, II, 144.

1759. Director-General in Essequibo.

Cuyuni being one of the three arms which constitute this river [Essequibo]
and your Lordships having had for many years the coffee and indigo plantation
there, also that the mining master, with his men, having worked on the Blue
mountain in that river without the least opposition, the possession of that river
. . . cannot be questioned in the least possible way, and your Lordships'
right of ownership is indisputable, and beyond all doubt. Same, p. iSo.



1759. West India Company (Zeeland Chamber).

We still request you to lay before us everything which might in any
way he of service in proof of our right of ownership to, or possession of, the
aforesaid [Cuyuni] river ; . . . For this purpose there might especially be
of use to us a small map of the River of Cuyuni, with indication of the places
where the Company's Post, and also the grounds of Oud Duinenburg, and of the
Company's coffee and indigo plantations were situated, and, finally, of the so-
called Blue Mountain in which the miners carried on their work. . . . We ask
for this especially, because in your map of Essequibo ... we can find nothing
of all this. B. C, II, iSr.

We see . . . that you extend the boundary of the Colony in the direc-
tion of the Orinoco not only as far as Waini, but even as far as Barima. We
should like to be informed of the grounds upon which you base this conten-
tion, and especially your inference that, Cuyuni being situate on this side of
Waini, it must therefore necessarily belong to tlie Colony ; for, so far as we
know, there exist no Conventions that the boundary-lines in South America run in
a straight line from the sea-coast inland. Same, p. 1S2.

1760. Director-General in Essequibo.

Although I am aware . . . that no Treaties have been made which decided
that the dividing boundary in South America should run inland in a direct line
from the sea-coast, as is the case with the EngUsh in North America, it still ap-
pears to me . . . to be an irrefutable fact that the rivers themselves, which
have been in the possession of your Lordships for such a large number of
years, and have been inhabited by subjects of the State without any or the least
opposition on tlie part of the Spanish, are most certainly the property of
your Lordships. Same, pp. 184-iS^.

1 76 1. Director-General in Essequibo.

The latter [canoe] having been captured this side of Barima, I am of opinion
that it was captured upon the . . . Company's territory, for, although there
are no positive proofs to be found here, such has always been so considered by
the oldest settlers, as also by all the free Indians. . . . Some very old Caribs
. . . told me that they remember the time when the . . . Company had
a post in Barima, . . . and then, lastly, because the boundaries are always
thus defined by foreigners, as may be seen on the map prepared by D'Anville, the

These are the only reasons . . . upon which I base my opinions, because
there are no old papers here out of which any information could be obtained. It
appears to me tliat the Spaniards are not ignorant of this, else they would not
have made so many complaints concerning the behavior of the depredators in
Barima. I believe tliat had tliey considered it to be their territory they
would have found some means for stopping it, especially since they dared to
do so in such a violent manner in Cuyuni, when they were perfectly convinced
that that place was beyond their own jurisdiction. Same, p. 201.

1762. Director-General in Essequibo.

D'Anville's map ... is not only the best but the only one in which
this coast is exactly and truly given. . . . It was published in the year 1751.

Same, p. 211.



1762. Director-General in Essequibo.

They [Spanish] must have great and important reasons to make such at-
tempts to obtain possession of this [CuyuniJ branch of our river, and I have not
the least doubt that such is the case. S. C, II, 211.

. [1764] British Case.

While claiming as Dutch all the territory up to the right bank of the Barima,
the Director-General appears to have thought it inexpedient that the Dutch
passes to traders should purport to include that river. In a . . . letter, said to
have been sent by him . . . [in] 1764, to the Governor of Surinam, the latter
is requested not to name Barima in his passes, as that gave offence to the
Spaniards. The writer adds that they maintained tliat tliat river was theirs,
and expresses an opinion in their favour upon this point, which, in one view,
might be said to be inconsistent with the claim of the Director-General to the
territory up to the right bank, £• ^v 5^-

1764. Director-General in Essequibo.

The reasons that they [Spaniards] had for such unlawful proceedings [de-
struction of Cuyuui post of 1758] must be best known to themselves, because
they can have not the very least shadow of a claim to possession, or it must
have been the chimerical pretentions of the priests in these parts that the whole
of America belongs to His Catholic Majesty, and that all other nations hold pos-
session mtreXy precarw, and by permission. B. C, III, log.

* Mentioning the River Barima in those passes causes complaints from the
Spaniards, who, maintaining that the river belongs to them, in which I
believe they are rig-ht, some of these passes have already been sent to the Court
of Spain. -S^aw^, p. 114.

1770. West India Company (Zeeland Chamber).

As regards the Spanish rodomontades of which you speak, ... of their
desire to come and take possession of all the territory extending to the bank of
Oene, which is situated on the west coast of Essequibo and below which there
are several plantations, under pretext that it belongs to his Catholic Majesty,
we believe that all these threats of the Spaniards . . . will disappear in
smoke. B. C, IV, 44.

The Spaniards . . . openly maintain that Powaron belong:s to them
as far as the bank of Oene, this being quite in our river, several plantations
lying below that bank. Same, p. 45.


1797. Captain-General of Caracas.

The Governor of Guayana, . . . reports, . . . that he has been
informed that the English have apportioned all the lands which stretch from
the Colony of Essequibo to Barima, ... and that from one point to another
they have planted stakes, on the top of which they have affixed Notices,
explaining to whom that portion is allotted, with the name of the owner.

B. C, V, 164.

* Note by editor of British Case. There is some reason to doubt the authenticity of this extract.


ENCE, ETC.-(Continued).

1797. Captain-General of Caracas.

Although this news is not as clear as an affair of so much importance
demands, ... I have dispatched Captain Don Manuel Astor, ... to
proceed at once to Point Barima, reconnoitre it, and make a scrupulous investiga-
tion into the truth of this matter, or obtain proof that it is unfounded.

B. C, V, 164-165.

1798. King of Spain.

The King has learned the news, sent to you by the Governor of Guayana, of
the distribution of the lands wliich they occupy between the mouth of the
Essequibo and that of the Orinoco that has been made by the English, and
of the other matters to which your Excellency refers in the said communication,
and the receipt of which I am commanded by His Majesty to acknowledge.

Same, p. i6g.
1827. Lieutenant-Governor D'Urban.

The Boundaries of the Colony [of Demerary] . . . are—

On the north, the seacoast, from the mouth of the Abary to Cape Barima,
near the mouth of the Orinoco.

On the west, a line running north and south from Cape Barima into the in-

On the south, the Portuguese frontier, . . . generally defined by a line
running east and west along the ridge which Humboldt calls the Cordillera of
Parima, separating the two systems of rivers flowing respectively northward into
the valleys of the Orinoco and Essequibo, and southward into that of the
Amazons. B. C, VI, jg.

1834. Wm. Hilhouse.

A Post deflnitory of tlie jurisdiction westward is indispensable, and
. . . the Post of Pomeroon oug-ht to be maintained on a most respectable
footing ... all the other posts are decided public nuisances ; . . . I
would recommend their immediate abolition, the nearest burgher Captain being
substituted in their charge as Protector. Same, p. jj.

1836. John Wadley.

The extreme western boundary, had been settled at home to be at Point

Barima (east point of Orinoco). Same, p. 60.

1839. Rev. Thomas Youd.

I have visited the Indians who lie still farther south of Pirara, . . . and
between the Riyers Essequibo and Rupununy, in the undoubted English ter-
ritory. Same, p. 64.

1839. Governor Light.

The Columbian Government is desirous of ascertaining their [boundary]
. . . claiming- more than it will be advantageous for Great Britain to
allow. B. C, VII, I.

1840. R. King, Superintendent of Rivers and Creeks.

The [Venezuelan] gun-boat is on the eastern side of the Barima River, and
which river is our boundary.

Some time ago the gun-boat did seize some corials, but these belonged to
persons from the Orinoque, and were taken in the Barima, therefore I did not
report the circumstance, it being beyond my jurisdiction. B. C, VI, gg.



ENCE, ETC.-(Continued.)

1841. R. King, Superintendent of Rivers and Creeks.

May 12. — Accompanied Mr. Scliomburgk and party to the entrance of the
Barima and Amacura Rivers, where Mr. Scliombiirgk planted l)ouii(lary posts ;
the one at Barima, in token of Her Majesty's right of possession, aud the one
at Amacura as claimed by Her Majesty as the boundary of British Guiana. Re-
mained with the expedition at Barima Mouth.

Captain Cabborally . . . informed [me] ... of a murder . . .
Although this murder was committed beyond what [I] always considered to
be the limits of British Guiana, but within the assumed limits of Her
Majesty's Commissioner of Surrey [SchomTaurgk], . . . felt it [my] duty to
have the body exhumed, and accordingly held an inquest thereon.

B. C, VI, 112.

1841. R. H. Schomburgk.

It has been my aim, with the limited resources which I have at my command,
to prove that the Orinoco was, at the 17th century, politically recognized as the
boundary of the Dutch West India Company. B. C, VII, js-

Her 3Iajesty's Government constituted an expedition to survey . . .
the boundaries of British Guiana, based upon the right of primary possession,
either of the English or their predecessors the Dutch.

That the mouth of the Orinoco had always been considered to form the
western boundary of the former Dutch possessions. Same, p. 37.

1843. R. H. Schomburgk.

I consider that Her Majesty has undoubted right to any territory through
which flow rivers that fall directly, or through others, into the River Esse-
quibo. '5'awd', p. 50.

1845. W. C. McClintock, Superintendent of Rivers and Creeks.

Indians of the more remote parts of this extensive district . . . resid-
ing in the Rivers Winey, Bareema, and Amacoora. B. C, VI, 138.

1848. W. C. McClintock, Superintendent of Rivers and Creeks.

Begs leave to suggest now, as the boundary of British Guiana is defined,
and no likelihood of any interference by the Venezuelan Government, that a mis-
sion forthwith be established on the Bareema for the convenience of the
Worrow Indians of that river, and another on the Winey for Accaways.

Same, p. 172.

1849. W. C. McClintock, Superintendent of Rivers and Creeks.

Having . . . represented the . . . miserable condition of the Wor-
row Indians— especially those who inhabit the more remote parts of this exten-
sive district, . . . I . . . proposed ... the immediate establish-
ment of a Mission on Barima, for the Worrow Indians. Same, pp. ijo-171.

1850. Governor Barkly.

I have arrived at the same conclusion as Her Majesty's present Charge
d'Affaires at Caracas, that that offer [of Lord Aberdeen] went far beyond any
concession which the Venezuelans were entitled to expect, and I would,
with the utmost deference, submit that no overtures of a compromise should in


ENCE, ETC.-(Continued).

future meet the assent of the British Government, which iiiTolve the surrender
of Point IJarima.

I need add Httle to what . . . Schomburgk so forcibly stated . . .
of the prospective importance, both in a miHtary and a commercial point of view,
of a site which effectually commands the entrance of one of the mightiest
rivers in the world. B. C, VI, iSj.

1875. Governor Longden.

The arrest of a criminal on the north-western frontier of this Colony, in ter-
ritory . . . always . . . claimed by Great Britain.

Garrett was arrested on the banks of the Amacura river. . . . The
boundary claimed by the old Dutch Colony, namely, a line from Point
Barima, where an old Dutch post subsisted, to the Dutch post on the Cuyuni
(opposite to the ancient fort marked on the map as the " most easterly Spanish
post — Humboldt "), is the boundary which I understand to have been always
claimed by Great Britain. This boundary is indicated ... on the large
map of . . . Schomburgk's Surveys . . . corrected ... by
. . . Chalmers and Sawkins ... in 1872. . . . This line . . .
includes both banks of the Amacura River. Same, p. 212.

1884. Governor Irving, Demerara.

The boHudary between Venezuela and British Guiana being unsettled, the
Colonial GrOTernment has had to determine for itself the limits of its jurisdic-
tion. . . . and it has taken for the purpose the line of compromise sug-
gested by . . . Schomburgk which ... is considerably within the
territorial claim of Great Britain. Although that line has never been officially
recognized by both Governments, it has for a long series of years been taken
for all practical purposes as the settled boundary of the Colony. ... In
criminal cases jurisdiction has been from time to time proved by showing
that the crime occurred at a place on the British Guiana side of that boundary-
line. Same, p. 22^.

1884. Government Secretary, Demerara.

The boundary line at Amacura River . . . No rights can be acquired
within this territory except under the authority of the Colonial Government, and
. . . all persons coming within this territory will be amenable to, and will be
dealt with according to, the laws of the Colony. Same, p. 226.

The whole of the territory . . . between the Amacura and Monica
Rivers, is part of the (Colony of British (juiana, and the Colonial Government
will maintain jurisdiction over this territory. Sa/Jie, p. 22g.

1887. Charles Bruce.

I . . . acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 5th instant reporting
the arrival here on the 31st ultimo of the Venezuelan gun-boat " Centenario,"
having on board Senores Dr. Jesus Munoz Tebar and Santiago Rodil.

I . . . refer you to the notice dated the 21st October, ISSO, published
in the London Gazette by authority of Her Majesty's Government, of which a


ENCE, ETC .-(Continued).

copy is herewith enclosed, and to, state that the districts referred to in the official
note enclosed in your letter are included within the limits defined by the terms of
that Notice, and form part of the Colony of British Guiana. F. C, III, 2^4.

1891. Michael McTurk.

I explained to him (Gen. Bastidas) . . . that there was a dispute
. between her Majesty's Government and that of Venezuela as to the
right to the land on the left bauk of the Cuyimi in that neighborhood (near
Ynriiari mouth) but that we did not admit that there was auy dispute as to
the laud on the rig-lit bauk, and which formed a part of the Colony of British
Guiana, and over which the Government of that Colony exercised jurisdiction, and
would enforce it if necessary ; that it formed part of the district over which I was
appointed Magistrate. B. C, VI, 24S.

I warned all the Venezuelans who were living on the right bank of the
Cnynni that they were residing within the Colony of British (iuiana.

Same, p. 2jj.

By order of . . . the Lieutenant-Governor I have visited this part of my
district [vicinity of the Ekereku Creek] for the purpose of warning such per-
sons, of whatsoever nationality, that may be residing or prospecting for gold on
the right or southern bank of the Cuyuui River, that such persons are resi-
dent within the limits of the Colony of British Guiaua.

It is admitted that there is a dispute as to the right to a part of the
land on the left bauk of the Cuyuni River between her Majesty's Govern-
ment and that of Venezuela, but there is no dispute as to the right bank.

Same, p. 2J4.

1895. Robert Tennant.

The total area of the colony [British Guiana] is estimated at 110,000 square
miles. V. C, III, jjj.


1850. Belford Hinton Wilson to Vice-Consul Mathison.

The Governor has spoken of raising a fort at Point Barima, which is situated
within the territory in dispute between Venezuela and Great Britain.

The . . . debates in Congress . . . and other reports . . .
satisfy me of the desire and tendency in this country ... to secure, by
actual occupation, possession of Point Barima, the mouth of the Amacura, and
all the territory in dispute between England and Venezuela. B. C, VI, iSo.

1880. Lord Salisbur}'.

The boundary which Her Majesty's Government claim, in virtue of ancient
Treaties with the aboriginal tribes and of subsequent cessions from Holland,
commences at a point . . . westward of Poiut Barima.

Venezuela in . . . 1877, put forward a claim . . . to the . . .
Essequibo ... a boundary . . . which would involve the surrender
of a province now inhabited by 10,000 British subjects, and which has been
in the uninterrupted possession of Holland and of Great Britain succes-
sirely for two centuries. B. C, VII, g6.




1 88 1. Earl Granville.

Her Majesty's (irOTeriniieiit . . . are disposed ... to submit
... a line. . . . The initial point to be fixed at a spot on the sea-
shore 29 miles of longitude due east from the right bank of the River Barima.
This boundary will surrender to Venezuela what has been called the Dar-
danelles of the Orinoco . . . and it yields about one-half of the disputed ter-
ritory ... in order to secure to Venezuela the undisturbed possession of
the mouths of the Orinoco. B. C, VII, gg-ioo.

i886. British Foreign Office.

I submit ... a notice published by the London Gazette,

Colonial Office, October 2i, i886.
Whereas the boundary line between Her Majesty's Colony of British Guiana
and the Republic of Venezuela is in dispute.

And whereas it has come to the knowledge of Her Majesty's Government that
grants of land wiihin the territory claimed by Her Majesty's Government as
part of the said Colony have been made, or purport to have been made, by
, . . Venezuela.

Notice is hereby given, that no title to land, or to any right in . . . any
land within the territory claimed ... as forming part of the Colony of Brit-
ish Guiana . . . will be admitted or recognized by Her Majesty . . .
and that any person taking possession of . . . such land . . . will be
liable to be treated as a trespasser under the laws of the Colony. V. C, III, i6i.

1887. F. R. St. John.

I am , . . instructed ... to state . . . that the request by the

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