RepositoryJesuits in Britain Archives
DescriptionA collection of material relating to the work of the English Province of the Society of Jesus in Guyana from the start of the first formal English Jesuit involvement in 1857 to the present day. The collection contains histories of the mission, correspondence series, material relating to various mission stations and a series of files relating to Guyana which were formerly held in the offices of the Provincial Curia in London. There is also material relating to Jesuit initiatives in Guyana including St Stanislaus College, the Catholic Standard newspaper and GISRA. The collection includes publications, newspaper cuttings, maps, photographs and slides.
Admin_HistoryIndividual Jesuits, most notably Fr Leonard Neale and Fr James Chamberlain, had attempted missionary work in the territory which became known as British Guiana in the late eighteenth century. As the Society was still under suppression these individual endeavours did not lead to the establishment of a Jesuit mission. The first Vicar-Apostolic of British Guiana, Bishop William Clancy, was appointed in 1837. Clancy was succeeded by Bishop John Thomas Hynes, a Dominican, who served until 1857. After prolonged negotiations, the English Province of the Society of Jesus accepted responsibility for the mission in Guiana and James Etheridge SJ was chosen to succeed Hynes.

In March 1857, Etheridge and two Italian Jesuits, Aloysius Emiliani and Clement Negri, arrived in Georgetown to start work. A further eight Jesuits joined the mission in November 1857. The initial focus of their work was on Georgetown and along the coast. The Church of the Sacred Heart was opened in Georgetown in 1861. It became known as 'the Portuguese Church' because it served the sizeable Portuguese Madeiran population in the city. A Catholic grammar school, later to be known as St Stanislaus College, was opened in 1866 in Georgetown. The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Brickdam was completed in 1874. The original wooden cathedral was destroyed by a fire in 1913 and was subsequently rebuilt in the 1920s.

Away from Georgetown, the Jesuits established or revived mission stations in the interior, towards the border with Brazil, and in the north west, towards the border with Venezuela. The Santa Rosa mission in Moruca was founded in or around 1836 by an Irish priest. After a period of neglect the mission was revived by Fr Frederick de Betham SJ and Fr Marco Mesini SJ. In 1896 the Jesuits began working in the North West district and opened a church at Morawhanna. The Takutu mission in the Rupununi was established in 1909 under Fr Cuthbert Cary-Elwes. More recently, a mission was established at Sand Creek in the South Rupununi in 1949 and at Kurukabaru in the Pakairama Mountains in 1956.

Historically, British Guiana and Barbados were linked as one vicariate and were jointly served by the Society of Jesus. In 1956, the dioceses of Georgetown (Guyana) and Bridgetown-Kingstown (Barbados and St Vincent) were formed, effectively ending the long formal association between Guyana and Barbados. The Dominicans assumed responsibility for Barbados, although the Jesuits still maintain a parish and a residence on the island. Guyana's status changed from that of a missionary territory under the care of a Vicar-Apostolic to a canonically established diocese in its own right.

The work of the Jesuits in Guyana in the twenty-first century continues in parishes and residences in Georgetown, Plaisance, Port Mourant, Hosororo, Lethem, Kurukabaru and Aishalton. The Guyana region is due to leave the British Province in 2018 to join a Caribbean regional province.
Related MaterialPersonal papers of Jesuits who served in Guyana:
- Fr Cuthbert Cary-Elwes: SJ/1
- Fr Henry Mather: SJ/38
- Fr Wilfrid Banham: SJ/39
- Fr William Keary: SJ/40
- Fr Frederick Rigby: SJ/41
- Fr Gerard Wilson-Browne: SJ/42
- Fr Bernard Brown: SJ/43
- Fr Alan Fortune: SJ/46
- Bishop James Etheridge: SJ/48
- Fr John Bridges SJ: see index card
- Fr Joseph Sydney Woollett: see index card
- Bishop Anthony Butler SJ: see index card
- Bishop Compton Theodore Galton: see index card

Bound volumes:
- Guiana Mission letters, MSB/33. See calendar.
- Letter of Fr John Etheridge SJ [brother of Fr James Etheridge] to Fr Provincial [Joseph Johnson SJ], 22 July 1857, on the news that the Guiana Mission has been entrusted to the English Province, MSB/55, ff. 470-471.
- Mention of Jesuit activity in Cayenne and the continent of Guiana in Thorpe-Plowden letters: 13 July 1785, MSB/66 f. 229v, and 15 October 1875, MSB/66 f. 255.
- Mention of Fr Chamberlain in Demerara in a letter of September 1772 in English Province Correspondence, MSB/45, f. 38G or 96v.
- Mention of a chaplain for the soldiers in Barbados, 1857, Residence of St Mary MSB/29, f. 123, 124 and 128.

Papers of Bishop John Thomas Hynes OP, Vicar Apostolic of Guiana, 1846-1857: see index card. Letters, papers and diaries (ref: 51/3/10) contain many references to the Guiana Mission. Specifically: possibility of Jesuits going there, [1849] (51/3/10/2: 113); arrival of the Jesuits, 1857 (51/3/10/1: 24v, 27v, 52v, 118r-v); on the Ursulines (51/3/10/1: 3r, 15v, 38r, 52v; 51/3/10/2: 114v, 115r-v; 51/3/10/4: 232-241, 256-257; on the hopes of Italian Jesuits in British Guiana (51/3/10/4: 293-2966, 303, 305, 310-312, 314); the Jesuits in Guiana and Bishop Etheridge (51/3/10/6: 478-492); after the departure of Bishop Hynes frequent mentions of the Jesuits in papers (51/3/10/6-51/3/10/8). Also, papers relating to Hynes's dispute with Bishop Clancy, and other offical correspondence (ref : 56/3/5/1) and extract from the Court of Policy, British Guiana, 1844 relating to the same dispute (ref : 56/3/6/5).

Epistolae Generalium III: P. Beckx 1873-1884: ff. 103, 106, 113, 141-3, 148, 152, 209, 217, 230, 295, 312.
Epistolae Generalium IV: P. Anderledy 1884-1892: ff. 5, 23, 36, 38, 67, 98, 130, 180, 193.

Pamphlet collection:
- Mathew D'Souza SJ, Our Mission (Guyana) (Georgetown, 1986). ALBSI/P/487, #42
- Herman S. de Caires SJ, The Jesuits in British Guiana (London, 1946). ALBSI/P/458, #41
- John Bridges SJ, The Good News on the Wild Coast: Highlights of the early efforts of the Catholic Church in Guiana 1650's to 1850's (nd), #138
- Jesuits in Guyana 1857-1971 [1971], #138
- Amongst the Wapishanas: The Mission of Sand Creek, Rupununi (nd), #138
- The Catholic Church in British Guiana (nd), #138
- Amerindian Integration: A brief outline of the progress of integration in Guyana (Guyana, 1970), #138
- Sr M. Noel Menezes RSM, Amerindian Life in Guyana (Guyana, 1982), #134.
- University of Guyana Bulletin 1970 - 71 (University of Guyana, [1971]), #138.

The British Guiana Mission Journal, 1925-1934.
The Missionary Magazine, 1935-1960.
Guyjest (Guyana Jesuit news), 1975-2011 (with gaps) and Guyana Update, 1983-1984.

For Barbados (associated with the British Guiana mission until 1957), see index cards, Box 65 (in Curia series) and MSB/35 Barbados and British Honduras Mission papers.
Printed document
Printed document
AccessConditionsThe papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to archive material in the Jesuits in Britain Archives.

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