The Brenda Indian Indentured Ship in British Guiana

Originally Written November 2022; Updated November 1, 2023

The Brenda Indian Indentured Ship

This post is about The Brenda Indian indentured servant ship that arrived in Guyana.

On November 28, 1894, The Brenda Indian indentured servant ship arrived in British Guiana with indentured servants from India.

The immigrants on this ship were given “a crude heap of potash and grease” to be used as soap. Potash is primarily used to produce fertilizer today.

And though it was likely known to be unsafe for bodily use back then, the manufacturers of the soap called it “Superfine Marine Soap.”

The surgeon on the Brenda remarked: “‘Superfine Marine Soap,’ the manufacturers have the arrogance to call it: it would be interesting to learn from the Metropolitan Soap Manufactory what their second class soap is like if this is SUPERFINE.”

A brief glimpse into the conditions that our ancestors endured coming to the West Indies as Indian indentured servants for the British.

UPDATE- A November 6, 1894 Brenda Emigration Pass for passenger No. 295 lists a man named Budram. Budram was 27 years old and married to Jagdai of Gonda. Budram eventually ended up on the Wales Estate sugar cane plantation.

Budram’s great-great-grandson, Ben Samaroo, renounced his British citizenship in 2022 after the Queen’s death:

While renouncing my British citizenship might seem symbolic, it's an important step for me and my ancestors. I have the choice to sever ties with Britain in that way — a choice that my grandfather and ancestors did not have.

This act is for me — and to show myself, my parents, my grandparents that we can choose differently. There is a freedom in that choice, and that's a step forward.

(I found this ship from reading The Coolie Woman. Then I drafted this article and set out to find a picture of The Brenda. I came across Ben Samaroo’s CBC article. It was the same article he sent me a few weeks prior but I didn’t have a chance to read it until I finished drafting this article! What a coincidence…)


Coolie Woman


A similar steam ship: The SS Bruce from the Guyana Archives

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    The First East Indians to Trinidad: Captain Cubitt Sparkhall Rundle and the Fatel Rozack

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    The Discovery of the Large, Rich, and Beautiful Empire of Guiana, with a Relation of the Great and Golden City of Manoa

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