In 1762, a slave rebellion of 36 male and female slaves occurred onBerbice, then a Dutch colony. But after the slaves repelled a militiaforce sent by the Governor, Van Hoogenheim, the rebellion was finallyrepressed by a stronger force of the Dutch militia. Some of the slavesescaped and at least one was executed. But the repressive techniquesof the planters were bringing matters to a boiling point, and just a fewmonths later, around the 23
February 1763, a more organised revolttook place. This uprising became known as the Berbice SlaveRebellion.The uprising initially broke out at Magdalenenburg, a plantation on theupper Canje River owned by a widow, Madam Vernesobre. The slaveskilled the manager and carpenter, burned down the owner's house andmoved on to neighbouring plantations, and as far as the Corentyne, tourge support from the slaves there, some of whom attacked theirowners and either joined the others or escaped into the forest.Very quickly, the rebelling Africans were organised as a fighting force,led by Coffy, who was a house-slave on another Canje plantation,Lilienburg, where the slaves had also rebelled. Coffy had been broughtto this plantation ever since he was a child and was trained as acooper by the owner, Barkey.On hearing the news of the outbreak of the uprising, the Governor,Van Hoogenheim immediately sent to the planters in the Canje allavailable military assistance he had at his disposal. This was made upof 12 soldiers and 12 sailors from one of the five ships in the harbour.At that time, the entire colony had only 346 Whites (including womenand children) and 3,833 African slaves. Mulattos who also formed asection of the population generally sided with the Whites throughoutthe period of the rebellion.The rebellion, which began on privately owned estates, soon attractedthe slaves on plantations owned by the Berbice Association. The rebelsburned buildings and cane fields and attacked and killed a number of White men and women. Soon they reached plantations on the BerbiceRiver, and among the plantations attacked were Juliana, Mon Repos,Essendam, Lilienburg, Bearestyn, Elizabeth and Alexandria, Hollandia,and Zeelandia. Slaves from these and other plantations joined therebel forces which moved steadily towards the capital of Berbice, FortNassau, located 56 miles up the Berbice River on its right bank. Whenthey attacked the plantations, they seized gunpowder and gunsbelonging to the owners.