(Penned by Roy D Singh)
Thanks to everyone for bringing the matter of digitising(digitizing) the records of the Guyana National Archives.
In August 1993, we of the then newly formed ‘Guyana Watch’, conducted the first ‘Medical mission’ acrcoss Guyana’s villages, but also including a visit to the Guyana National Archives, which was the located in Main Street G/Town.
It is now located Homestretch Ave at Durban Park.
Our 1993 visit to the National Archives, arranged by Dr Dhanpaul Narine, was with the intention of petitioning the new PPP Govt to digitize the enormous & humungous volume of records of the Guyana National Archives.
The Govt, was then at the beginning of repairing 28 years of record breaking damage throughout the country of Guyana. There were so many bigger National ‘fish to fry’, that it would have been impossible to engage in such a herculean task. The funding would simply not there at all.
Now in 2024, with some oil-money coming in, we should put a Group together to again petition the Govt of Guyana to once again revisit this issue, this tome with a lot more optimism. He served ih this position for 22 yeara(1858-1880)
Additionally, the records of the ‘Office of James Crosby’, the Immigration Agent General should also be included.
James Crosby, husband of Mary Elizabeth Kearton, the daughter of Mary Gerald Kearton (q.v.) and George Kearton (1775-1827).
James Crosby, formerly of St Vincent but late of Georgetown Demerara, British Guiana, Immigration Agent General, died 08/30/1880
We just had the 175th Anniversary of the presence of East Indians in the Caribbean. While memorials are being erected in Guyana in commemoration of (Indian) Arrival Day we tend to overlook the contributions of ‘forgotten heroes’ who dedicated almost their entire lives to the upliftment of the most exploited group of workers, the indentured Indians, who toiled for nearly 80 years under the iniquitous indenture system. One of these ‘forgotten heroes’ was James Crosby, the longest serving Immigration Agent-General in the recipient colonies.
For 22 years (1858-1880) this indefatigable public official headed the Immigration Dept in British Guiana at a time of planter dominance & Indian helplessness. He so intimately identified himself with the Indian immigrant population that he became “a sort of deity & impersonation of protection,” so much so that the Immigration Dept became synonymous with Crosby.
Despite chronic staff shortages, poor transportation, an ever-increasing indentured population and his ignorance of Indian languages, Crosby “burnt at any sense of wrong and the defenceless at once made him a crusader.” He was a man of exceptional industry, and he discharged his onerous duties fearlessly throughout his long and eventful career. Indentured workers regularly approached him with full confidence that their complaints, no matter how trivial, would be carefully attended to, thoroughly investigated and speedily redressed.
Arrayed against him were the influential plantocracy, who comprehensively monopolized both economic and political power, the pro-planter press, the moneyed interests and imperious Governor Francis Hincks who had a penchant for personal vendetta. In fact, Hincks, from the “dangerous neighbourhood of Belfast,” not only stripped Crosby of his prosecutorial powers but also denied him travelling expenses. This prevented him from investigating the cascade of complaints which warranted his personal attention. It was indeed a herculean task but Crosby never flinched, as he was motivated by a fervent desire to secure justice and fair play irrespective of the consequences. While others, even governors, endeavoured to appease the planting interests, Crosby refused to succumb to pressure in his relentless pursuit of justice.