A Dutch account of Liberia
in the Seventeenth Century:
Chevalier des Marchais

Bushrod Island

The result of King Peter having given Bushrod Island in the estuary of the St. Paul’s, to the Chevalier des Marchais was that he formulated a scheme for the establishment of a French colony at Cape Mesurado. This was laid before the Senegal Company, and if it had been carried out a French settlement might have completely anticipated Liberia. The Chevalier, after careful consideration of the best sites for the capital of this colony, finally selected the actual plateau on which Monrovia is now built. He wrote:

“Clay fit for bricks abounds everywhere, and even stone proper for ashlar work. Building timber grows on the spot, and the common country provisions are extremely cheap. Except wine, brandy, and wheat flour, which the Company must supply, everything else is to be had on the spot. Beef, mutton, goats, and hogs cost little, and game abounds. Antelopes and deer graze quietly with the tame cattle in the meadows. There are many species of birds. The basin (i.e. the lagoon), the rivers, and the sea afford plenty of fish and turtles. No river on the coast is as much frequented by sea-horses as the Mesurado. The flesh of these animals is good; and their teeth, whiter and harder than those of the elephant, are scarce and dear.”

Among the goods which he recommends should be sent from France for trade in such a colony are brandy, gunpowder, trade guns, swords, knives, striped linen, Indian cottons, glass ware of all sorts, beads, kauri shells, brass rods, pewter plates and pots, gunflints, iron bars, and coral. The Director of the colony was to have the munificent salary of £150 a year, with a chaplain at £54 a year.


Other explorers

A Dutch account of Liberia in the seventeenth century











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