Van Cooten family history progress and collaboration
Extract of a letter from Hy van Cooten Esq to J Forbes dated Barnes 4 Sept 1807
I dare say nine tenths parts of the Plantations in Demerary have English Owners who live upon them and have English Managers and Overseers. Intending to settle there they brought over with them from the English Islands or had them come from thence their principal Negroes of whom the rest new coming from Africa have learnt the same language. Upon the few estates which have or have had Dutch Owners the Negroes mostly speak English from the connections they have together.
In Essequibo the number of Dutch Planters may be greater in proportion to the English but I dare say are not the half & the Dutch Negroes upon their estates understand most all English. The greatest objection Planters would make to contribute to the House of Worship I imagine would be their fears that the missionaries might make the slaves dissatisfied with their political situation but as soon as proofs were given that their instructions did not at all meddle with that or rather tended to make them satisfied and brought to look upon it as a duty to do the work of their masters I suppose most of them would be willing and a sum necessary would then easily be collected.
The expence of a slight or temporary building so as might perhaps be sufficient at first, that is a plain building of wood about 20 by 40 feet dimensions would not exceed £400. The ground necessary for it if in town might cost more, if upon the coast on the front land of an Estate it could perhaps only be had for a yearly rent which would be a trifle if the Planter was disposed to favor the mission or would perhaps allow it there without any rent at all. The above mentioned building is meant for Negroes.
I think a missionary would do best on coming to the colony to take lodging in the town and then inform himself of the situation which he should think best suitable to fix himself.
If he had a family with him some furniture might be wanted but if a single man he could be supplied there and would not risk carrying things with him which might be useless.
It is my opinion if he was a well informed and gentle disposed man he would soon find a house where his stay would cost him very little.
As to the healthiness of the colonies, Demerary, Essequibo and Berbice - I do not think there can be much difference if taken upon the coast which are the greatest extent of either and contain the most people and should therefore be the residences of the Missionaries who were not accustomed to these climates.
The best season for commencing their business would be in the great dry season which begins generally in the August which would make it easy to see the different parts of the [Country?].
Mr Forbes has the pleasure to send Mr Hardcastle the above information which he hopes will be acceptable.
No 2 Copthall Buildings
5 Sept 1807