Hilbert Van Cooten Guyana

Biography of Hilbert Van Cooten

Hilbert, whose full name was Theodorus Hermanus Hilbertus Van Cooten, was the son of Anna and Hendrik, a surveyor, originally from the Utrecht area, where he was born in 1750. In Demerara, at that time a Dutch colony, the family grew and prospered, purchasing land and enslaved people.

There was a connection between Hendrik and John Smith, who was tried for the crime of inciting the slave rebellion of 1823. Both men belonged to the Missionary Society and Hendrik testified on his behalf at the trial to the fact that some of the enslaved on the Van Cooten’s plantation had attended Smith’s church and had access through him to books " Hendrik “thought it would do no harm”.

Hilbert was sent to Glasgow to study Medicine and matriculated in 1817. Over the following three academic sessions he enrolled in classes of Anatomy, Materia Medica, Medicine, Surgery and Clinical Practice. He did not graduate from Glasgow, however.

On 8th January 1821 he married Jean McGlashan, of Old Cumnock, at a service conducted by Dr. James McLean, minister of Gorbals Parish Church.

Hilbert died on the 5th June 1837 at the family plantation, Vreyheids Lust. Jean died in 1879.

Hilbert’s father Hendrik died in 1826. 299 enslaved persons at Vreyheids Lust and Sheet Anchor plantations were registered to his heirs, including Hilbert, in 1832. The plantation must have been mired in debt, however, and when the sum of £14,638 18s 6d was awarded in compensation for their emancipation it was to George Rainy as sequestrator.

Van Cooten Voices https://vc.id.au , particularly https://www.vc.id.au/fh/hvcev.html

‘Hendrick van Cooten’, Legacies of British Slave-ownership database, http://www.depts-live.ucl.ac.uk/lbs/persom/view/2146652455


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Hilbert Van Cooten
Born 1750.
Died 5 June 1837.
GU Degree:
University Link: Student
English snippet: Medical Student at the University of Glasgow, 1817.
Record last updated: 24th Jun 2022

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Guyana Guyana

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  • Student