Capture of Demerara and Essequibo

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Capture of Demerara and Essequibo
Part of the American War of Independence
Dutch colonies Guyana.png
Period map of the area
Date 22 January 1782
Location Demerara and Essequibo, South America
Result French victory,
French occupation of Demerara, Essequibo and Berbice until the Treaty of Paris (1783)[1]
 France  Great Britain
Commanders and leaders
Armand of Kersaint
Comte de Bouillé
Gov. Robert Kingston (POW)
Frigate Iphigénie
4 Sloops
355 men from the Regiment Armagnac and 1st Legion Volontaires étranger de la Marine
28th Rgt.[2]
Casualties and losses
Unknown, Minimum 3 sloops[3]
3 brigs[3]
28th Rgt. surrendered

The Capture of Demerara and Essequibo was a French military expedition sent in January 1782 as part of the American Revolutionary War. In 1781, Admiral Lord Rodney sent two sloops from his fleet, then at Sint Eustatius, to take possession of the Dutch colonies of Essequibo and Demerara. In 1782 the French took possession of these settlements, compelling British Governor Robert Kinston to surrender.[1] The peace of Paris, which occurred in 1783 restored these territories to the Dutch.[1]


In December 1780 Great Britain declared war on the Dutch Republic, bringing it formally into the American Revolutionary War. In early 1781 a large British fleet under Admiral Lord Rodney was sent to the West Indies, and after having made some seizures in the Caribbean Islands, Rodney sent two sloops to take possession of the colonies of Essequebo and Demerara, which they accomplished without much difficulty.[4] The colonies had already de facto surrendered to six British privateer ships by the time the two naval vessels arrived. The governor Van Schuilenburg, having assembled his council and being aware of the want of Dutch protection, surrendered to the British, who upon taking possession found a rich booty; the quantity of produce which had accumulated from the want of shipping proving to be of great value.[5]

French capture[edit]

French naval Captain Armand Guy Simon de Coëtnempren, Comte de Kersaint, with his 32-gun flagship Iphigénie and four lesser ships arrived at Demerara without much opposition. France's 335 men from the Regiment Armagnac and the 1st Legion Volontaires étranger de la Marine, launched an assault against the British garrison and compelled Governor Robert Kinston and his detachment from the 28th Regiment of Foot to surrender. As a result, Essequebo and Berbice also surrendered to the French on 1 and 5 February.[6]

The French seized Royal Navy vessels: the 20-gun Orinoque (Commander William Tahourdin), 16-gun Barbuda (Commander Francis Pender), 18-gun Sylph (Commander Lawrence Graeme), 16-gun Stormont (Commander Christmas Paul), and 16-gun brig Rodney (Lieutenant John Douglas Brisbane).[7]


The Count de Kersaint became governor of the three rivers and their settlements and inhabitants. To guarantee their conquest, the French began to erect forts at the mouth of the Demerara River, one on its eastern, the other on its western bank, and for that purpose compelled the planters to furnish slave labour; they like wise doubled the capitation-tax, all which innovation was severely felt by the colonists, who saw no end to their troubles. The peace of Paris, which occurred in 1783 restored these territories to the Dutch.[8] When Demerara surrendered to the French, the British naval commander being at that place signed the capitulation. Gov. Kingston's proposals for terms contained the following rather singular proposition:

To this the following answer was returned:


  1. ^ a b c Henry (1855), p.239.
  2. ^ Hadden p.64
  3. ^ a b Marley (1998), p.342.
  4. ^ Hadden p.64
  5. ^ Hadden p.64
  6. ^ Chartrand p.5
  7. ^ Marley p.342
  8. ^ Cust p.294
  9. ^ Hadden p.64
  10. ^ Hadden p.64


  • Henry, Dalton G. (1855) The History of British Guiana: Comprising a General Description of the Colony: A narrative of some of the principal events from the earliest period of products and natural history.
  • Hadden, James (2009) Hadden's Journal and Orderly Books. (Applewood). ISBN 1-4290-1685-X
  • Cust, Edward (1862). Annals of the Wars of the Eighteenth Century, Compiled from the Most Authentic Histories of the Period 3. John Murray. 
  • Chartrand, Rene (1992) The French Army in the American War of Independence. (Osprey). ISBN 1-85532-167-X
  • Marley, F. David. (1998) Wars of the Americas: A Chronology of Armed Conflict in the New World, 1492 to the Present. (ABC-CLIO) ISBN 0-87436-837-5

Coordinates: 6°48′N 58°10′W / 6.800°N 58.167°W / 6.800; -58.167