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Dutch Rule

The Colonies

Dutch Republican Direct Rule

British Rule

British Guiana

Interim Government


Governors / Governors-General / Presidents


Armed Forces





In the 17th century, the Dutch had established two colonies in the area of today’s Guyana: Essequibo, administered by the Dutch West India Company, and Berbice.

The colony of Berbice was founded by Adriaan van Perre, a merchant from Flushing (Vlissingen), by act of 12 July 1627, the Company remaining his liege. He and his descendants owned the colony until 1713 when it was conquered and plundered by the French. The colony was sold by then to four other merchants from Amsterdam in 1714. In 1720 they founded the Societeit van Berbice. (The Society of Berbice). This Society was liquidated in 1795 by resolution of the States General of the Batavian Republic. 

A third colony, Demerara, was established under the West India Company in 1750. Demerara and Essequibo were united in 1787.

The colonies changed hands from 1781 to 1784 when they were returned to their former owners as a result of the Peace of Paris (1783).

After the abolition of the WIC in 1792 the colonies became the property of the Republic of United Provinces and were administered by the Council for the American Colonies. This Council was replaced by an other Council in 1795. 

Effective British control began a year later, in 1796 during the French Revolutionary Wars. In 1802 the colonies were returned to the Batavian Republic under the terms of the Treaty of Amiens. Less than one year later, upon resumption of hostilities with France in the Napoleonic Wars in 1803, the United Kingdom seized the three colonies again. The UK continued separate administration of the colonies until 1812, when the administration of Essequibo and Demerara was combined. The colonies were officially ceded to the United Kingdom by the Peace of Paris of 1814.  In 1831 the administration Essequibo-Demerara and Berbice was combined, and the united colony became known as British Guiana.

In 1928, a new constitution came into effect and British Guiana became a Crown Colony under the control of the Governor.

An Interim Government was installed by the then governor, Sir Alfred Savage on January 4, 1954. British Guiana became an independent State on May 26, 1966, within the British Commonwealth of Nations, under the Guyana Independence Act 1966 of the British Parliament. The new state adopted the name Guyana which is derived from an Amerindian word meaning Land of many waters.

The office of Governor was replaced by the office of Governor General

On February 23, 1970 Guyana was proclaimed the Co-operative Republic of Guyana within the British Commonwealth of Nations. The office of Governor General was abolished and replaced by the office of Ceremonial President of the Republic.




Dutch Rule

1621 - 1803


Dutch Colonies



The seal of the West India Company showed a fluitschip sailing to the sinister. This seal was used, or in any case recognized in Essequibo and Demerara which were under direct rule of the Company.


Seal of  the West India Company

Arms of the owner of Berbice, 1627-1713


The arms of the Van Perre family were:

Arms: Parted per fess Or and Azure, in chief an eagle issuant wings upright Sable, in base three chalices Or, 2 and 1. [1]






The coats of arms of the owners of Berbice in the 18th century


I.                    Jacob Voordaagh; Mr. Iacob de la Bassecour; Philips van der Giessen

II.                 Iacon Alewyn Ghysen; Mr Dalomon Dedel; Mattheus Boendermaker

III.               Jacob Boulen; Joost van Eibergen; Mr. Nicols Hendr van Hoorn


From: Nauwkeurige plattegrond van de staat en de loop van Rio de Berbice. Met de plantages die in de Geoctroieerde kolonie Berbice liggen.

Gemeten en getekend op last en kosten van de Edelachtbare heren directeuren van de kolonie door de ingenieur Jan Daniel Knapp.

De koperen versie is gemaakt door Hendrik de Leth in de Visscher te Amsterdam. (1720) [2]


Fort Nassau in Berbice, ca. 1770

National Archives, The Hague


Dutch Republican Direct Rule



When the West-India Company was abolished in 1791 the three colonies were handed over to the Republic of the United Netherlands.  They came under the jurisdiction of the Raad der Colonien which sealed with the arms of the Republic, and the legend RAAD DER COLONIEN.


Seal of the Colonial Council


Seal of the Committee of the West Indian possessions 1795-1801.


In 1795 the West-Indian colonies came under the jurisdiction of the West-Indian Committee (West-Indisch Committé ) which sealed with a seal showing the Dutch lion, supporting a shield with the name of the service (COMMITTEE TOT DE WESTINDISCHE BEZITINGEN),  some palm-trees, a sailing ship and the attributes of Mercurius. [3]


British Rule

1796 -1966


British Guiana



Royal achievement on a British government  publication for Trinidad, British Guiana and St. Lucie, 1832.


Initially the royal British achievement was used in British Guyana. This was sculptured for example in the tympanon of the Parliament’s House in Georgetown, built between 1829 and 1834. It was soon completed by arms inspired by the seal of the WIC. These showed a sailing vessel, sailing to the sinister. Below is the motto DAMUS PETIMUS QUE VICISSIM (We Give and Demand Reciprocal). In 1851 it was printed on 1 cent stamps.




One cent stamps, 1851 and 1860 (model of 1853).


For a short time the arms and the motto were separated but about 1853 a strap bearing the motto, was added around the arms. In this form the achievement of British Guyana remained in use until 1954. The seal, circular, showed the same device. This was also, as a badge, on the blue ensign from about 1875.

Medal for the Local Exhibition of 1882

The same device, the motto added in base



In 1906 the badge was made identical to the arms.


Interim Government               



On the 8th of December 1954 a coat of arms was granted to the colony which showed a Blackwell-frigate in full sail sailing to the sinister on waves of the sea, all proper. The motto, unchanged, was written on a ribbon placed under the shield.





1966.05.26 - present


On the 21st  of January 1966 a coat of arms was granted by Royal Warrant. On the 25th of February this was adopted by government act.

Arms: Argent, a fess wavy Azure charged with two barrulets wavy of the field; in chief a plant of the Victoria Regia (Nelumbo, Nymphæaceæ) proper, and in base a hoatzin (Opistocomus hoazin - Opisthocomidæ) also proper.

Crest: On a helmet affrontée Or, lambrequined Argent and Azure a native crown with seven feathers parted per fess Azure, Argent and Gules.

Supporters: Two Jaguars (Panthere onca - Felidæ) proper, the dexter keeping a pick proper, the sinister a plant of sugarcane and a plant of rice all proper.

Motto: ONE PEOPLE ONE NATION ONE DESTINY in black lettering on a ribbon Or, lined Gules.


Æ see illustration in the head of this essay.


The proclamation of the Co-operative Republic of Guyana in 1970 was of no effect to the achievement.


Nelumbo, Nymphæaceæ

Opistocomus hoazin – Opisthocomidæ


Governors / Governors-General / Presidents









Emblem of the Governor

20th century

Royal Emblem

For use by the Governor-General in combination with the name of the country on a listel

Presidential Emblem

The crown from the achievement


Presidential arms



Presidential flag, 1970


The Parliament



The Mace

In Guyana, a Mace was used for the first time on 10th September, 1957. It was made of silver gilt.

When Guyana became a Republic on 23rd February, 1970, the head of the Mace, which depicted British Royal Arms, was replaced with Guyana's Coat of Arms. The head of the present mace was designed by the Ministry of Information and Culture. The original stem, which is 145,5 cm in length, depicts a Victoria Regia Lily, one of the largest water lilies in the world, first discovered in British Guiana during the reign of Queen Victoria. The stem also includes a  representation of a rice plant in full bearing and a sugar cane in blossom, representing two of Guyana's cash crops.




The Guyana Police Force was established under Public Ordinance 10 of 1891 and was continued under Chapter 77 of the Guyana Police Ordinance from independence in 1966 until 1977 when it was repealed and replaced by the Police Act, Chapter 16:01. The Force is administered by Commissioner of Police under the control of the Ministry of Home Affairs


British Guiana Police cap badge (1936-1952)


British Guiana Police cap badge 1952-1966


Guyana Police emblem (present)


The motto of the service is SERVICE  AND PROTECTION


Guyana Police cap badge (present)


Armed Forces


Ordinance No. 12 of 1891 provided for an Active Force and a Reserve of British Guiana.


Britsh Guiana Militia cap badge

British Guiana Artillery cap badge


The Guyana Defence Force was formed on 1 November 1965.


Guyana Defence Force emblem


GDF Headquarters flag


Coast Guard


The Coast Guard came into being in February 1990. 

Guyana Coast Guard emblem


Air Force


The air wing of the GDF was created in 1968. In 1970 it was redesignated the Air Command,









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 © Hubert de Vries 2010-02-18. Updated 2018-07-09




[1]  After the arms in the Nieuwe Chronyk van Zeeland by Mattheus Smallegange. Middelburg 1696;  and Rolland, V.H.: Armorial General de J.B. Rietstap, supplement. La Haye 1926-’54. This last author gives the arms Azure, a chief Or etc..

[2]  https://www.digitalcommonwealth.org/search/commonwealth:6t053s22v

[3]  Schutte, O.: Catalogus der zegelstempels, berustende in het Koninklijk Penningkabi­net en enige andere verzamelingen. In: De Nederlandsche Leeuw. 1971, kol 329-370. Nrs. 104-105

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