INVASIONS OF GUYANA (1665-1712)
The Dutch faced their first serious attacks in 1665 when Major John Scott was sent by the Governor of Barbados, Lord Willoughby, to invade the settlements in the Pomeroon. By that time, prosperous sugar plantations were already established in that area. Scott, in alliance with Caribs, seized Nova Zeelandia and, after leaving 50 men to hold it, he proceeded up the Essequibo and occupied Kykoveral with 20 men.
The occupation of Kykoveral by the English did not last long, for the Dutch Commander of Berbice, Matthys Bergenaar, was able to march overland with a group of soldiers and recapture it. At the same time, a French expedition arrived in Pomeroon to help the Dutch who were their allies. They besieged the English at the fort at Nova Zeelandia and starved the men into surrendering. The prisoners were shortly after massacred by the Arawaks who were allies of the French.
Thus, Essequibo reverted to the Dutch, and Admiral Crynssen, who had earlier captured Suriname from the English, arrived as Commander. He concentrated his attention on redeveloping Kykoveral and the surrounding areas. Pomeroon was not regarded as a priority.
In 1676 the Dutch established a trading post on the Pomeroon River. Ten years later, they decided to appoint a separate Commander to control affairs on that river while maintaining a Commander at Kykoveral. This caused some difficulty because the Commander of Kykoveral refused to render assistance to his counterpart in Pomeroon. Nevertheless, within two years, settlements sprang up and sugar cultivation was established again.
In 1684, as stated before, Santo Thomé, on the Orinoco, was attacked by French buccaneers with the assistance of the Caribs. When the Spanish regained control, the Caribs fled to the regions of the Barima, Waini and Amakura Rivers which they knew were under Dutch control.
It must be pointed out that buccaneers and privateers were authorised by Governments to which they were loyal to attack places controlled by enemies of those governments.
During the late 1680s when another European war was waged, the French privateer, Jean Baptiste du Casse attacked Suriname and Berbice in 1689. The Suriname attack was a failure, but he did some damage to the Berbice settlements. Commander de Feer of Berbice agreed to pay a ransom of 6,000 guilders before du Casse agreed to withdraw.
In the same year, French buccaneers, aided by the Caribs, attacked Pomeroon after first landing at Barima.
The War of the Spanish Succession of 1708-14 again brought military action to Guyana when in October 1708, three French privateers, under the command of Captain Ferry, sailed up the Essequibo and attacked settlements on both banks. The Commander of Kykoveral refused to send help to the settlements saying that he had to protect the Fort. At that time there were only 50 soldiers under his command. The privateers met resistance at Plantation Vryheid (Bartica) from the owner and his African slaves, but this did not last long. Only after Captain Ferry was paid a ransom of 50,000 guilders did he agree to leave with his privateers.
One year later, another group of French privateers again attacked Essequibo. Pomeroon was also attacked the same year by the French and their Carib allies. However, Commander Blake, the Post-holder, and the few soldiers under his command were able to defend the settlement after killing many of the invaders. In December 1712, Pomeroon was attacked again by a combined force of French and Spanish buccaneers, but Blake and his men were able to drive them away.
In November 1712, as referred to before, Berbice came under attack from French buccaneers led by Baron de Mouans. This was part of an expedition organised by Jacques Cassard who was at that time leading an attack on Suriname. The buccaneers inflicted considerable damage on the Berbice plantations and Commander de Waterman was forced to surrender the colony. The buccaneers did not withdraw until they were paid a large ransom. They had initially demanded a ransom of 300,000 guilders from the estates of the Van Pere family, the owners of Berbice, but since only 118,024 guilders could be raised, De Mouans agreed to accept a bill of exchange drawn on the Van Pere's account in Amsterdam.