ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Colonial Voyages

The First Crossing Being the Diary of Theophilus Richmond, Ship’s Surgeon Aboard the Hesperus, 1837-38, edited by David Dabydeen, Jonathan Morley, Brinsley Samaroo, Amir Wahab and Brigid Wells (Coventry: The Derek Walcott Press), 2007; pp 175, price not mentioned. 

This compilation of diaries was written during the course of 1837-38 by the young (22-year-old) British s urgeon accompanying the first batch of indentured labourers transported from India to Guiana. This first batch of workers was recruited from the hill regions around Calcutta: they were known as “hill c oolies”. The Hesperus sailed from E ngland through Mauritius to Calcutta and then took its human cargo of “coolies” to Demerara, British Guiana via the island of Ascension, at which point the diary ends. As the introduction informs us, the 23-year-old Richmond died of yellow fever not too long after he reached Demerara, British Guiana, so that we n ever read of his i mpressions of Guiana when the Indian labourers were first brought there.

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