Early History

The native peoples of the South American continent were first visited by the Spanish in their global quest for gold and riches. The Spanish were searching in Guiana when the Englishman Sir Walter Raleigh visited the country in 1595. Raleiegh wrote a travelogue of his visit entitled "The Discovery of Guiana". The word "discover", in this case means his own personal discovery and not that he was the first European to discover Guiana.. Having found no riches, the Spanish left the territory for others to explore. In the ensuing years, the rule of the territory would bounce between the Dutch, French, and English. Many online accounts of the earliest years can be found online, as well as many copies of Raleigh's travelogue account of his visit to this area.

How did the territory currently referred to as "Guyana" get it's name?

There are many theories and explanations. Among the best is the speech given to the legislature by the Honorable Brinley H. Binn, Minister of Natural Resources. The short speech provides evidence that there were a tribe of indigenous peoples that called themselves "Guarantors" and the name evolved from variations and changes made by the explorers/conquerors. The current name was adopted which was closer in spelling to the original people's name and was easier to pronounce than the original.

Reminiscences of persons growing up in British Guiana

"My Story" by Randall Butisingh -- Randall, the son of East Indians, born in 1912 and raised in Buxton, shares his memories of his life in the Colony. His story is very compelling and provides an insight into life in the early to mid 20th century. A highly recommended read. It is difficult to read just one chapter as one wants to continue reading!

Historical Text Archive – The Discovery of Guiana by Sir Walter Raleigh
  • Bartelby School: This Bartelby School site provides footnotes and therefore, easier reading than those without explanations of terms. Voyages and Travels: Ancient and Modern. The Harvard Classics. 1909–14. Paragraphs 1-49 re Sir Walter Raleigh’s “Discovery of Guiana”
  • Solar Navigator: This site summarizes Raleigh’s account and also provides a summary of his character and short biography.
  • Historical Text Archive: This text was written by Sir Walter Raleigh, accounting for this expedition to Guiana. In his account, when he arrived he found the Spanish already there. This is just one more online source of Raleigh’s account of his trip, circa 1595.
  • Under the Sun - Classics:
  • University of Pennsylvania Professor Steven Thomas' summary of Raleigh's writing: Paper entitled “What Raleigh discovered about Guiana”
  • The Guyana Story by Dr. Odeen Ishmael - a series of essays on the history of the colony leading to the formation of the Republic of Guyana
Other History Sites
  • British Guiana History 1924 - Thanks to Joan Seymour for alerting us all by posting the links on the newsgroup "soc.genealogy.west-indies" on July 28, 2009 as follows: The St. Stanislaus College Alumni Association Toronto has obtained a copy of a book (126 pages) on the history of British Guiana, written in 1924 for the British Empire Exhibition, Wembley, and printed in London by Sanders Phillips & Co., Ltd., at the Baynard Press, Chryssell Road, London SW9. Alumnus John Sparrock, digitized it and placed it on a web-site so as to be accessible for all those interested in the history of their land of birth.
  • Economic History Review Journal An article entitled "The Economic Impact of Slave Emancipation in British Guiana, 1832-1852", by Michael Moohr, New Series, Vol. 25, No. 4, Nov. 1972, 588-607. This article is published online by JSTOR, available at libraries and universities. JSTOR a not-for-profit creator and preserving a digital archive of scholarly journals. JSTOR provides archives of journals for libraries, thus conserving shelf space. Check with your local library for access. The above article clearly outlines the economic impacts immediately after slave emancipation and the years that followed.
  • The Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies This site lists journals and articles available for interlibrary loan