National Trust of Guyana

Highbury Monument

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Location: East Bank Berbice 

Classification: Historic Settlement & Commemorative Monument 

Period/ Year Built: Before 1838 

Historical Background / Description: 

Highbury is located on the East Bank of Berbice, some 19 kilometres (12 miles) from New Amsterdam. Once known as Plantation Highbury, this estate was the first to receive East Indian Indentured servants on May 5, 1838. On that day, two ships, Whitby and Hesperus, landed in the colony with approximately 396 East Indians. Initially the servants were dispatched on plantations owned by Mr. John Gladstone. These plantations were Highbury and Waterloo in the Berbice region, Belle View on the West Bank of Demerara and Anna Regina on the Essequibo Coast. As time progressed, labourers were imported to work on numerous plantations throughout the then British colony. 

By 1917, Indentureship was abolished by the British Government and approximately 239,000 Indians had arrived in the colony; some of whom chose to return to their homeland at the end of their contracts. Those who remained did so as citizens of British Guiana and began to shape the cultural, social and political landscape of the now independent nation, Guyana. In recent years, activities to commemorate the arrival of the first East Indian servants are held in Highbury. In commemoration of the 175th Anniversary of East Indian Indentureship in the country, a small monument was unveiled in the community. The monument was dedicated on May 5, 2013, in the presence of the Indian Commemoration Trust’s President, Dr. Yesu Persaud; Region six Chairman, Mr. David Armogan; Vice-Chairman, Mr. Bhupaul Jhagroo; Mr. Moses Nagamootoo; Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan; Minister of Culture, Youth & Sport, Dr. Frank Anthony and Chancellor of the Judiciary, the Honourable Mr. Carl Singh.