I’ve been trying to think about what is knowable about Hendrik Van Cooten’s early years. I know that he was christened in Doorn Reformed Church on 5 Jul 1750. He was the son of a carpenter, and had six living brothers and sisters. He was the second child of the family, and the eldest son.
I don’t know where he lived, or where he was educated. I do know that by 26 April 1771 Hendrik van Cooten was officially recognized as a chartered land surveyor (“landmeter”) by the provincial government of Utrecht. In his testimony at the John Smith trial he indicates that he arrived in the colony in February, 1773. By 1775 he has assisted in the production of a map of the plantations lying along the west bank of the Demerara River. How did he get to Demerara? What was his motivation?