Passage from India to El Dorado: Guyana and the Great Migration

Passage from India to El Dorado: Guyana and the Great Migration

Passage from India to El Dorado: Guyana and the Great Migration

Passage from India to El Dorado: Guyana and the Great Migration


"Guyana, the only, English-speaking nation in South America, has a long and fascinating history." "In 1832 the planters of this colony were obliged to free one hundred thousand African slaves who worked the plantations on the low-lying coastal strip of Guyana. When freedom came, many refused to remain on the plantations, creating a major labor problem for the landed colonial proprietors, prominent among whom was the Liverpool merchant Sir John Gladstone, father of the great Liberal statesman and social reformer William Ewart Gladstone." "At the instigation of William Gladstone, this challenge was met by implementing a controversial plan he had conceived, namely, the recruitment and importation of indentured workers from various places, but primarily from India, then the "jewel in the Crown" of the British Empire. This book is the story of these immigrants, who were transported from one side of the globe to another, almost exclusively in sailing ships." "Passage from India to El Dorado will also appeal to those with an interest in shipping history and to many American immigrants of Indian origin. This book is a valuable source for members of the Guyanese-American community seeking to learn more about their heritage. It will also interest Indian people who want to know more about the Indian Diaspora, in itself a legacy of British imperial rule in India, a subject which has hitherto received scant attention from British historians." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


Guyana, the only English-speaking nation in South America, has a long and checkered history. Situated on the continent’s northeast coast, it became the colony of British Guyana early in the last century following many disputes with Dutch and French settlers. This country, commonly known as Demerara in the nineteenth century, was in fact Sir Walter Raleigh’s fabled land of El Dorado.

European settlers in Guyana recruited African slaves to work their plantations, but emancipation came in 1832 when these planters were obliged to free 100,000 of their captive workers. Many of these liberated Africans then refused to work on the plantations, so planters began to recruit “indentured” workers to take their place. Some were brought from China and others from Africa and Madeira, but most were recruited in India. in fact, between 1838 and 1917, when the last large batch of these immigrants arrived, British Guyana took in more than 430,000 of these “colonists”—the majority coming from India, then the “Jewel in the Crown” of the British Empire.

Ships of many owners were chartered to transport these workers. However, during the closing decades of the nineteenth century just two shipping enterprises dominated this trade: Sandbach, Tinne & Company of Liverpool, and the Line established by Captain James Nourse, whose sailing ship the Elbe, it is interesting to note, brought Guyanan President Cheddi Jagan’s parents to Guyana in 1901.

The history of Booker Brothers and the Booker Line is also inextricably bound up with the history of indentured labor and Guyana. in fact, the most significant aspect of British colonial rule in Guyana was the phenomenal rise of the shipping, trading, and plantation enterprises established by Josias and George Booker early in the last century. Once employing over 38,000 people in the colony, the history of these companies is consequently inseparable from the history of modern-day Guyana.

This book tells the story of the 430,000 immigrants who were taken to Guyana as indentured labor. It also outlines the history . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.