By: Attorney Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth (Fort Lauderdale)



There are still brick ruins of the Dutch’s Fort Zeelandia on Guyana’s Fort Island.


In 1716, the Dutch opened the Essequibo region to anyone interested in the tiny 3 mile-long island. The Essequibo’s fertile lands were attractive to new settlers. As the area transitioned from trading post to colony, there were continued requests for a fort on “Flag Island.” The original name of the island comes from the large flag flown to guide ships; unfortunately, the flag is not known to be in existence today.


The fort was championed to both protect the Dutch’s interest in the Essequibo region and serve as a governing site. In approximately 1720, the Dutch built a poorly constructed wooden fort. The fort was later rebuilt by enslaved Africans in 1743 per orders of General Laurens Storm van's Gravesande. Fort Zeelandia was named after the County of Zeeland in the Netherlands. It has been also suggested that the original Dutch settlers on Flag Island were from the County of Zeeland.


The lower story was used as storage and the top story served as lodging for the soldiers/officers. This became the Dutch’s base of operations subsequent to Fort Kykoveral. The Fort was captured by the British, French, and then again by the Dutch. It eventually fell into disrepair as focus shifted to the Demerara settlement.


General Gravesande died in 1775 and was believed to be buried on Fort Island, though his grave was never found.




Primary sources:

Odeen Ishmael’s The Guyana Story

Tajeram Mohabir’s May 15, 2017 Article in The Guyana Chronicle


Photos:

Things Guyana

Wikipedia (Map)

National Trust of Guyana


Melissa D. Goolsarran Ramnauth, Esq. is a business attorney. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Miami with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, a minor degree in History that focused on the slavery and indentured servitude eras, a minor degree in Criminology, and a Juris Doctor degree.


MDGR Law, P.A.

(305) 684-3647

mdgrlaw@gmail.com

www.mdgrlaw.com


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