Wdiai Am 4 o& Sbanoaea.
Provincial Publishing Co. Ltd
Copyright 1946 by
William Arlington Donohoe
All rights reserved. No parts of this book may be
reproduced in any form, without the
UNTIrr 5TAT S
VU CA TAN
1 O .NoM WA OF
i o, P BRITISH HONDURAS
DaIJ p1 7
I 7JATIS LA O U D A U
F'Oi. i^ ^&BIIHHNUA
Phillips Long Caye
.'- Early Ilinhitiats, The MNi.va
II. Iistory 1003 170!)
III. Nineteenth Century
IV. Twentieth Century
V.-Religion, Education, Customs and Music
VI.-Description of British Honduras
THE BRITISH-GUATEMALA CONTROVERSY
I. 0'olonial Period
II.- 18:3 to 1840
III.- Claytou-Bulwcr Treaty to 1899
IV. Twentieth Cenlury
Several friends have asked me why I have
written the history of British Honduras when I
might have selected any one of the many larger
and better known countries in Central and South
America. I chose to write this history because little
is known of British Honduras, and no attempt has
been made to write a modern factual history. Over
sixty years ago Archibald Gibbs wrote an histor-
ical account of the Colony, and in 1931 under
Governor Sir John Burdon the Archives were
compiled. Since then only a few, yearly, colonial
reports have been written.
This quiet Colony should have a place in the
March of Progress. British Honduras will become
known when modern men with modern ideas de-
velop her many natural resources, agriculture, oil,
minerals and her forests.
In writing this book my thanks are due to many
friends. First, I want to thank an elderly man who
told me of the many wonders of the Colony long
before I had made my first visit to its shores. To
Mr. Metzgen, the Information Officer who also
encouraged and helped me gain access to material
in the Colony. I am under a deep debt of gratitude.
The following : Professor B. E. Thomas, Chair-
man of Modern Languages of the University of
Montana; Professor E. E. Bennett of the Higto
Department of the University of Montana; Ora
D. Baldwin; Della Ve Carr and Kora B. Moork
have all read my book and offered helpful ori
My thanks are also due to the staffs of the He
Museum's Library in New York City, The Libra
of Congress, of the Public Libraries of Miami, F.
rida, New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, L
Angeles, Minneapolis, El Paso and University
Miami Library, Newberry Library in Chico
and to the following Libraries outside the Unit
States: Benjamin Franklin Library in Mew
City, the Library in the National Palace, Mex
City, the public libraries in Mexico City a
Vera Cruz; the Canal Zone Library at Ball
Heights, the Panama University Library in I
nama City, Republic of Panama; The Belize
brary and the private library of Mrs. Arias
My debt of particular thanks I owe to my A
other and Father and the following friends wi'
out whose help and encouragement this b(
would have never been written; Mrs. Maud WI
gren, Senor and Senora Angel Caamano and ti.
sister Juanita, Jose Stevens, Robert Phillips, AI
Lizarraga, Carlos Fernandez, Lucian Chavan
Esoandor Bedran, Pablo Andelon, Pearl Saffc
Mr. and Mrs. HI. 0. Wettlin and Matthew Tut
Lying on the East Coast of Central America,
south of Mexico's Yucatan and East of Guate-
mala, is British Honduras. Rich in history, the
refuge of the sailing fleets, her harbor protected
by reefs was once the home of pirates and log-
wood cutters. Seldom visited except by wander-
ing foreign craft, mahogany freighters and small
fleets of boats that carry fruit to Tampa and
New Orleans, British Honduras is the most inac-
cessible place in Central America. Few tourists
have ever visited the port of Belize. No railroads,
or highways connect her Capital with any other
Central American Country.
Hurricanes have taken their toll, tidal waves,
Indian massacres, epidemics and other disasters
have all built the fortitude of a courageous peo-
ple, who after 150 years of struggle for existence
and recognition after their origin, were the only
English speaking settlement in Central America.
The world today knows very little about this
country as only a few books have been written
about her. Yet her people know the world. Thou-
sands of her laborers, enduring hardship in small
boats, went to the Canal Zone during the con-
struction period of the Panama Canal, and during
the 1941 building of the Third Locks Project.
Hundreds of her forest workers went to Engla,
and Scotland to help in the War effort. In 19
more than 1000 workers came to the United Sta"
to help relieve the manpower shortages. Ma
have enlisted in the United States and Brit
As both are in Central America, many peo
often confuse British Honduras with the Repul,
of Honduras. The Republic of Honduras is knc
as Spanish Honduras as Spanish is the langu:,,
spoken there while in British Honduras, km
as Belize, English is spoken.
Romance surrounds the early history of Bri,
Honduras and tales of hidden pirate treas
have drawn many adventurers in search of
buried loot. Deep holes dug on Turneffe and
Phillips Long cayes bear mute witness of ret
attempts to find the forgotten gold.
Over one half of this country has never I
mapped, surveyed or explored. Within this
lie the remains of a once great civilization of
Maya. In some of the small villages in the int,
pure Mayan is spoken and old customs still e
Isolated as British Honduras has been by
riers of language, and distant, dense, tro ,,
boundaries, it has developed a culture of its
Customs, poetry, music, painting, superstit
folk sayings, although influenced by the En K
and by their Spanish neighbours, have all dev
ed distinct from that of any other cou
Creole proverbs are often quoted, and in
homes, the children are still told of the myt
r fingered "Dohenda". Coming from the Mar-
the boys and girls can be heard humming
2e local song or "Breakdown" as they are
ccd. Some of these songs, such as, "Captain
:t's Money Gone" originate here and hare
There are several theories of the arrival of the
Early Maya to the East Coast of Central America.
Although generally accepted that their ancestors
came to this continent across the Behring straits
ten thousand or more years ago, migrating south-
ward, some historians say they originated in
islands to the East (or Atlantis) or come from Eu-
rope through Greenland.
These early explorers probably took several
centuries to arrive in that area which is now known
as British Honduras. Here they stayed hunting,
growing maise, building temples, worshiping their
gods and recording their history.
Of the history of the earliest Mayan little is
known. Early historians gave scant space to the
Maya, and it wasn't until Dr. Gann, Dr. Morley,
J. Eric Thompson, Mr. Blom and others had written
of their discoveries that the average reader ever
heard of these mysterious people.
EARLY INHABITANTS THE MAYA
Today we find their ancient cities in ruins
through out the forests of British Honduras. Des-
erted and covered with tropical growth, with here
and there a monument marking some early era,
they bear witness to a great civilization.
With the growth in Mayan Culture, made poss-
ible by the development of agriculture in the hu-
mid and rich lowlands, temples and pyramids and
homes of the priests were built. Maise was easier
to grow and quicker to mature. This gave the In-
dian more time to manufacture his clay figurines
and idols of atone and to inscribe dates upon his
monuments. According to archeologists, the last
dates on these monuments mark the end of the
early era and a northward and eastward migration
from British Honduras into Yucatan.
What caused the migrations and desertion of
the Mayans from their homes and temples? Histor-
ians have given many solutions to this mystery.
Disease, heavy rainfall, climatic changes, war,
exhaustion of the soil, pressure of increasing po-
pulation and perhaps religious reasons have all
been offered as on explanation.
This movement to Yucatan is shown not only
by dates on a great number of monuments but also
by language structure, sequence in the styles of
pottery, sculpture and architecture.
Whatever the reason may have been for this
mass migration, the arrival of the Spaniards found
the Mayan firmly established with a high degree
of culture, knowledge or architecture, astronomy,
writing, agriculture, pottery, a calendar, sculptural
art and a religion. A great deal of this undoubtedly
had been brought to Yucatan from the south.
The few native books of the Mayas called Co-
dices (that are known) are more or less incomplete.
They are written in hieroglyphics printed in va-
rious colors. Among those preserved in the libraries
Idols Figurines of Clay and Jade
EARLY INHABITANTS THE MAYA 23 "
and museums of Europe before the second World,
War that have attracted the attention of historians,
archeologists and writers of the Maya, are three
books of the period one thousand A. D. until pro-
bably after the conquest.
Other historical written records which throw
some light on Maya history are the Chilam-Baloom
books. These were written in European characters.
The Mayans, having been educated by the priests,
translated the early and original hieroglyphics
into records which today tell us the stories of the
different Maya families. The Popul-Vuh, a book
of the Quiche Indians of sacred writings, was tran-
slated into French by Brosseur du Bourbourg. It
gave the story of creation similar in many respects
to the Old Testament. It also contained legends
and history of the tribe.
Few books survived the destructive hands of the
Spanish invaders who, in an attempt to suppress
the pagan Indian religion and to substitute Christ-
ionity, destroyed with the religious books the re-
cords of whatever literature and history they pos-
Today we can read the dates recorded in their
stelas (stone monuments) marking events such as
the building of a temple, in their system of chro-
nology. The Maya calendar divides the year into
eighteen months of twenty days each. The surplus
five days corresponding to our July 12th- 16th
were considered unlucky. This calendar was made
possible by a knowledge of astronomy and math-
ematics and years of acute observation by their
scientists lacking modern scientific instruments.
It is highly probable that they had a system of
irrigation as they built artificial lakes and sur-
rounded them with steps and temples. One of these
Mayan-made pools can be seen today on Mr. Can-
ton's ranch near Belize, British Honduras.
Drawing of an Idol, by Carlos Fernandez, mexican artist.
EARLY INHABITANTS THE MAYA 25
When the first adventurers landed on the East
Coast of Central America, the cities of the old
Mayan empire had been deserted for five or six
centuries. Today, still untouched thru the silence
of the years, the Mayas may well challenge our
modern civilization because they have experienced
invention, crime, excess, and wars which instead
of preserving them had destroyed them.
A century after the discovery of America, a pe-
riod during which time Balboa discovered the Pa-
cific, and Cortez sacked the Aztec kingdom in
Mexico, Peter Wallace, the pirate, to escape from
the Spaniards, entered the mouth of a river on the
Bay of Honduras, establishing the first settlement.
Peter Wallace, a Scotchman, was not only a pi-
rate and navigator; he was also a politician and
diplomat and had served under Sir Walter Raleigh
as a lieutenant. According to Asturias, the Guate-
malan historian, Wallace was in Belize in 1617,
after having, according to Spanish authorities, left
on May 14, 1603, with six ships from England. Ban-
croft in his History of Central America states that
Wallace arrived with 80 men at the Belize River.
Willia, as he was called, was Ex-Governor of Tor-
tuga, one of the early pirate headquarters. The re-
cords that have survived tell nothing of his arrival
or the Early settlement but only of his return and
28 A HISTORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
death in 1621. His name is supposed to survive in
the town of Belize, which is considered a Spanish
corruption of Wallis. In the Spanish language there
is no "W" and Wallis becomes Vallis and is pro-
nounced Balis or Belize.
The 1829 Almanack states that the first British
settlement was made in 1638 by shipwrecked sail-
ors. The 1839 and 1827 Almanacks give the found-
er of this settlement as Wallace. No contemporary
authorities for the local statements have as yet
British Honduras was not formally established as
a colony by any British authority, and it was an
accident of history that we find an English speaking
colony separate in culture and way of life from that
of the Latin speaking countries surrounding it.
In 1638 a number.of settlers arrived from Jamai-
ca to join the settlement. For the next thirty years
adventurers of all nations joined the outlaw group.
Alexander Olivier Exquemelin, a young Frenchman
who arrived in the West Indies in 1658, wrote a
book which was published in 1678 giving an ac-
count of the lives of the buccaneers of America.
In 1665 by a daring exploit with a crew of twenty-
eight men he captured the biggest galleon in a lar-
ge fleet of Spanish ships, and instead of continuing
his pirate career, he sailed to Dieppe in Normandy
and retired. This book brought many men to the
Indies in search of adventure. They come from
Europe and North America, swaggering men, some
rich and titled, some poor, all looking for freedom
that the life of a buccaneer Could offer.
Among the pirates that infested the Caribbean,
preying on loaded ships at the end of the 16th
century and the beginning of the 17th century, the
principal were : Francis L'Ollonais, Pierre le Gran-
de, Bartholmew Portuguez, Peter Wallace, Van
Hor, William Park and Morgan.
Spanish Monopoly of the Caribbean and the later
struggle to maintain her trade against the ever
growing power of the English found this area a
scene of ceaseless warfare in the early part of the
After Jamaica was captured by Penn and Vena-
nables in 1655 and when Sir Thomas Modyford was
its Governor, he proved to be a warm friend to the
buccaneers. It wasn't long, however, until the nat-
ional interest in a peaceful though illicit trade,
forced the government of William Ill to suppress
the buccaneers that they were compelled to aban-
don their piracies and to turn all their energies to
the gathering of logwood.
In the diplomatic struggle with Spain over the
Bay Settlement (as British Honduras was then
called) the first step was the Treaty of Madrid,
May 23, 1667, which gave Great Britain freedom
of trade. The right to possession of lands already
held in the West Indies was given to England in the
Treaty of Godolphin (1670). Spanish and English
interpretation of the treaty was not the same. Spain
maintained that the words "Hold and Possess" only
applied to established lands and those recognized
by diplomatic consent. Spain held that the British
claim to possession on the grounds of occupation
was invalid. This Treaty which was signed for Great
Britain by William Godolphin in the Archives of
British Honduras is also called the Treaty of Ma-
drid. Later the result of Godolphin's support of Spa-
nish contentions and his recommendation that the
Baymen should continue to cut the wood led to over
a century of ineffectual diplomatic effort on the
part of England, a European war, and a century of
desperate strife and misery to the unfortunate
settlers. By the Treaty of Godolphin, Jamaica was
ceded to England.
30 A HISTORY OF HRITISH HONDURAS
The Spaniards were the first to discover the value
of logwood, which they sold to England at nearly
$500. per ton and on which they had a monopoly.
The Bay settlement owes its origin to logwood,
which is used as a fixing dye. The recognition of
the logwood settlement was urged by Governor
Modyford in 1670.
In 1671, the Settlement's population had in-
creased to 700 whites. As yet no negroes has been
introduced. Among the settlers at this time was the
notorious Admiral Benbow and his partner Jenkins,
who were woodcutters.
Sir Thomas Lynch, Governor of Jamaica writing
in 1671 to Charles II, reports that the Settlement
of Belize "increased his Majesty's Customs and
National Commerce more than any of His Ma-
jesty's Colonies." This statement obviously was not
founded on Statistical information, but as a report,
does show that the Settlement has thus early at-
tracted official notice, and must, therefore, have
attained considerable importance.
Trade with the new colonies to the North began
slowly and was developed as the colonies grew. As
early as 1672, 600 tons of logwood were taken to
Boston. This trading was dangerous. The Spanish
policy of confiscating all ships having logwood
aboard was backed by the Royal Cedula of 1672,
decreeing that trade without license in the ports of
the West Indies should be proceeded against as
The records that now exist tell little Qf the Settle-
ment's internal progress and beginnings. All that
is certain, is that it was not effected from the out-
side or assisted in any way by official action until
the Settlement's self evolved elementary constitu-
tion was codified in 1765 by a British Admiral.
In 1675 refugees from the English settlements
between the River Campeton and Tabasco about
Lake Triste joined the Bay Settlement.
During the latter part of 1682, Sir Thomas
Lynch, Governor of Jamaica, sent Captain Coxen
with vessels to the Bay of Honduras to bring away
the logwood cutters but the crews mutinied anc.
plotted to take the ships to go privateering an.
Captain Coxen joined the cutters.
By the Treaty of Ryswich (1679) Great Britain
agreed to suppress piracy and British pirates were
to settle down as gentlemen traders. But piracy still
continued. Among the most noted pirates of the
18th century were "Teach" or Blackbeard, Low,
Roberts, Kidd and Avery. Some of their descendents
still live in British Honduras and the neighboring
The first quarter of the 18th Century found
many isolated and separate groups of Englishmen
at various points along the Coast without any settled
or organized government and with no legal right
to the lands in which they plied their trade. They
all looked to Jamaica for help and in a loose and
indefinite way the Government of that Island exer-
cised some control over them. Now after two
centuries Queen Elizabeth's boost that neither the
Pope's Gift or the Spanish King's claim could pre-
vent her subjects from settling on lands not oc-
cupied by Spain, had been made good. The settle-
ments in The Gulf of Campeachy, Cape Catoche,
The Bay Islands and the Mosquito Shore were also
The Gulf of Campeachy and Cape Cotoche were
lost by England through enemy action, and the
Bay Islands and Mosquito Shore were given up by
The Treaties at the end of the many wars bet-
ween England and Spain had a direct effect on
32 A HISTORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
the Boymen. Private encounters between the En-
glish and Spanish settlers frequently took place.
By the Treaty of Navigation and Commerce,
"Utrecht," (December, 1713) the two countric
again tried to establish peace in America. Five
years later the Spaniards from Peten, an Indian
town on a lake in the interior, attempted a descent
upon the settlers of Belize and erected fortifications
on the north west branch of the Belize River.
Due to the absence of laborers or natives, negroe:
from the neighboring colonies were introduced tc
help with the rapid growth and extension of the
woodcutting operations. The worst features of sla
very, however, did not exist. The first settlers bein(
too few in number for adequate protection of the
settlement from the Spaniards, armed the negrc
The slaves proved their loyalty and courage. The
fought and worked side by side with the master
sharing with him the unrestricted life of the lumbe
camp their machetes always by their sides.
Spain and Great Britain fought diplomatic battle
and when they declared war on each other, it wc
this small group of settlers that bore the brunt c
the struggle. In 1722 Spain threatened to send a
the British logwood cutters to the Mexican mine
and in 1728 demanded evacuation of the region.
Bancroft gives an account of the sack of Beli;
by D. Antonio de Figueroa of Yucatan with a fle
and land force over 700 strong, 1722 being tl
date assigned by the best Spanish source. Asturi,
relates one more sack of Belize by Salcedo, Gave
nor of Yucatan. The burning of the town, however
failed to drive the settlers out permanently.
The inhabitants of the settlement elected Hen
Sharpe as Governor in 1738. A year later the Kit
of the Mosquito Indians placed himself under tl
protection of England.
Again we find Spain and England at War in 1739
after they had tried to come to an agreement on
the cutting of logwood.
Following an appeal for help from the Inhabitants
of the Bay of Honduras in a letter (found in the
Archives of British Honduras) to Mdajor Caulfield,
Commander-in-chief of the Island of Roatan,
many sought refuge from the Spaniards by going
to the Islands.
The Battle of Labouring Creek, April 5th, 1754,
was another defeat for the Spaniards of Peten by
the settlers and their slaves. After the battle the
The war between England and Spain which com-
menced in 1759 was closed by the Treaty of Paris
(February 10th, 1763). By this treaty Spain recog-
nized British rights to cut, load and carry away log-
wood unmolested and to occupy their homes; howe-
ver, it stipulated that all fortifications must be
demolisltd and reserved Spanish Sovereignty in
The Spanish colonial authorities visited the
woodcutters periodically to see that the treaty
obligations were carried out. They so interferred
with the settlers that when they learned that the
residents of the Hondo river had been ordered to
withdraw by the Governor of Yucatan, the Baymen
decided to petition Jamaica for help. On April 10th,
1764, a petition was sent to Sir William Burnaby,
Commander in chief of His Majesty's Squadron
in Jamaica, requesting relief, protection and
restoration of their old haunts. Notes were ex-
changed between the Governor Estenoz of Yuca-
tan, Lyttleton, Governor of Jamaica and Joseph
Maud, the Chief Magistrate, all of whom Lt. Cook
mentions in his book printed in London in 1769.
Diplomatic manoeuvres, involving authorities in
the contending Mother countries, were carried on
34 A HISTORY OF 14RITISH HONDURAS
during 1764. Finally on September 16th, 1764,
Spain sent an order to Estenoz commanding him
to allow the settlers to reestablish themselves in
the logwood regions. Burnaby accompanied by
Lt. Cook proceeded to the Bay with four ships sent
from England, to see that the conditions of the
treaty of 1763 were carried out. He gave a con-
stitution to the people in 1765 founded on their
ancient forms with legislation by public assembly
and the election of magistrates by the free suffra-
ge of the people. After William Burnaby left the
Bjay settlement, it was again governed by Ma-
In 1779 War broke out again between Spain
and England. The Spanish colonists in America,
because of the non-compliance of the former
treaties, eager to be rid of the woodcutters, attack-
ed the Baymen taking some of them prisoners to
be marched to Merida and then shipped to Havana.
They were kept in dungeons until July, 1782. A
few escaped to Ruotan.
From 1779 to 1784 the settlement was barely
in existence as everything had been destroyed by
The Treaty of Peace at Versailles, September
3rd, 1783, allowed the woodcutters to return and
the settlement again prospered. In 1784 represent-
atives of the two countries exchanged formalities.
This treaty marked the boundaries of the land
alloted for the cutting- of logwood. Additional
articles to the treaty of 1783 were made in 1786
at a convention held in London granting the per-
mission to cut mahogany, reserving to the Crown
of Spain its sovereign rights, thereby admitting
that the Settlement, in name at least, was under
By this same treaty the Mosquito shore was
abandoned and its colonists coming to Belize in-
creased the number of inhabitants in the Bay
In 1786 Colonel Marcus Despard was appointed
as its first superintendent. His duties were to direct
the financial and political affairs of the Settle-
ment. His attempts to introduce certain radical
changes in the constitution met with opposition
from the elected magistrates. His opposition to
the existing government and his compliance with
Spanish demands which were injurious to the sett-
lers, aroused the Boymen. The return to Burnaby's
Code was loudly demanded by the settlers. Colonel
Peter Hunter arrived in 1790 to relieve Despard,
who returned to England. Colonel Hunter restored
Burnaby's Code and the ancient constitution. In
1803, Colonel Despard was executed for high
After the American revolution, many of the
Loyalists settled in the Bay Settlement and in other
ports of the West Indies.
A hurricane on September 2nd, 1787, desolated
the settlement, destroying nearly all of the build-
ings. Many valuable documents were lost in the
St. Georges Caye was one of the chief places of
trade in this part of the world and vessels of many
nations deposited their cargoes on this small island.
In 1798, England being at War with Spain, the
Spaniards attacked the caye, only to be repulsed.
This engagement is known and celebrated as the
Battle of Saint Georges Caye. The slaves, rejecting
freedom offered them by General O'Neil of the
Spaniards, fought side by side with their masters.
The battle action according to Sir John Burdon, a
later governor "of British Honduras who wrote in
an article in "Shoulder to Shoulder," a small book
compiled by Monrad S. Metzgen, lasted only two
and a half hours. Captain Moss defended the caye
36 A HISTORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
with His Majesty's sloop, "Merlin" with 50 men.
Accompanying him were numerous smaller boats
and several hundred men. The enemy consisting
of a far superior force. The Spanish at that time
were routed and sailed off.
An article taken from the Royal Gazette of 1798,
also found in Metzgen's book, states that an Amer-
ican Captain Osmar who had lost his vessel on a
reef helped in the defense of the Island. When
the attack was threatened, he solicited and ob-
tained command of a flat and succeeded in beat-
ing off five of the Spanish Gunboats at one time
and at another attack, against seven gunboats.
Since this invasion, the English pretend to hold the
territory by right of conquest in addition to claims
of occupation. This was the lost attempt to dislod-
ge the British.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century we
find that in the early settlement there has been a
continuous struggle against, not only hostile neigh-
bours, but against the rugged climate and tropical
jungles. In the evolution of British Honduras dur-
ing the first half of this century, there was the
gradual expansion of area under administration
and trouble with neighboring states as to bound-
aries and rights. It was a time of internal excite-
ment of constitutional changes.
The originally confirmed constitution was fre-
quently ruled invalid. The efforts by the Super-
intendents to exercise the powers supposedly at-
tached to the office, often found them arrayed
against the inhabitants trying to uphold the con-
stitution which made no provision for a superint-
endent. This combined with the denial by England
of their status as a dominion and their continuous
struggle to obtain a normal constitution aroused
the spirited Baymen. Each Superintendent follow-
ing the issued regulations of the English Ministers
38 A HISTORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
sought to cuib their ancient laws. Finally in 1862
the settlement was declared a colony.
The administration of justice by courts declared
to be void of authority led to repeated requests for
a judicature, resulting in the institution by an act
of Parliament of a supreme court. In 1819 the
criminal court was established and her Majesty's
superintendent was appointed for the first time
under Royal Letters Patent.
The internal peace of the Settlement was in-
terrupted by the Superintendent, Colonel George
Arthur claiming that the slaves were ill treated
and that Native Indians were held illegally in
slavery. His correspondence relative to the con-
ditions and treatment of slaves was claimed by the
settlers to be unjust and unfounded. In 1822 Co-
lonel Arthur was recalled and the principal in-
habitants addressed a memorial of their grievances
against him saying that they hoped he would not
resume the Superintendency of the Settlement.
The Young King Robert Charles of the Mos-
quito Indians, who in 1805 had been sent to Ja-
maica to school, returned to Belize in 1825. On
April 23rd his coronation took place. His father
had been assassinated by Prince Steven, a brother.
The crowning of the King was followed by a holiday
for all the officials and inhabitants of the Settle-
In 1826 Great Britain made a treaty with Mexi-
co, recognizing the boundaries determined by
Spain in the treaties of 1783 and 1786 to enter
into and occupy Belize upon the same terms and
with the same restrictions as those imposed upon
her by Spain.
After Iturbide declared Mexico free from Spain;
all of Central America north of Panama formed a
republic. Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica,
Honduras and Nicaragua agreed together to adopt
the system of the Government of the United States.
As the Republic of Central America claimed the
power of restricting the limits of the Settlement, a
project of a treaty between Senor Zebadua, the Re-
public's representative in 1831 and England was
The year 1834 markes the abolition of slavery
in the West Indies, about thirty years before the
United States freed their slaves. Total emancip-
ation did not take place in Honduras until a few
years later as the slave owners did not share in the
compensation allowed other possessors of slaves
who manumitted in 1834. On the first of August,
1838 the Settlers curtailed voluntarily, by two
years, the continuance of the intermediate system
known as the apprenticeship of predial laborers.
A statement by the Magistrates in 1836 is re-
corded by Gibbs, that since 1833 when they were
no longer elected by the people but by the nominees
of the crown, they had lost the confidence of the
public. An executive council was appointed in 1839
to assist the superintendent, Colonel A. McDonald.
His high-handed proceedings of assuming full po-
wer of legislation by proclamation and taking over
full control of the revenue was viewed with aston-
ishment and dismay. The inhabitants complained
to the home government in vain. In 1841 they
again drew up two petitions (found in the Hondu-
ras Observer, March 10, 1841 and in Gibbs) de-
scribing the rise of Belize from a few wretched
huts to an orderly town of well-built homes; from
a miserable swamp to a town of flourishing com-
merce. They petitioned for the right to cultivate
the soil, freedom of discussion, the right of enact-
ing local laws for their internal government and
guidance, and control of their finance. Until an
answer was received, the assembly determined not
to transact any business.
40 A HISTORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
A reply was received from Sir Charles Metcalf,
the Governor of Jamaica Stating that "The public
meeting is authorized by her Majesty's Govern-
ment to exercise its legislative powers, harmonious-
ly if it can, with the executive, each taking usage
as the rule by which their respective powers are
to be defined." (Gibbs B. H.)
Colonel Alexander McDonald, the Superinten-
dent, was relieved by Colonel Fancourt. With him
came Robert Temple to assume duties of the newly
created office of chief justice. The Policy of the
superintendents at this time was to skillfully with-
draw from the meeting the constitutional powers
and privileges. The suspension of the free election
of the annually elected magistrates, and their
nomination by the crown, was a serious blow to
the constitution. The struggle between the execut-
ive and the Public meeting continued for nearly
20 years. The withdrawal of the power to originate
motions and freely discuss them was followed by
the gradual increase in the exercise of the veto by
"We take pleasure", says the Honduras Ob-
server of May 18, 1843, in announcing that the
first Steamer built in this settlement was launched
and named the "British Honduras." As the settle-
ment was only accessible by water, this first
launching marked the beginning of a century of
boat building. Metal and machinery were purchas-
ed in the United States and England and the lum-
ber and labor were furnished by the Baymen. Boats
built in the settlement brought the laborers to
Panama and the United States in the 20th century
and carried on the trade between Belize and the
The creation of the offices of Private Secretary
and Colonial Secretary took place in 1845. This
NINETEENTH CENTURY 41
some year Prince George Augustus Frederick was
crowned King of the Mosquito nation.
The year 1847 proved itself one of considerable
internal excitement and dissension. Chief Justice
Temple proved to be unpopular. The registration
of all foreign citizens was made. The war of the
classes in Yucatan drove many refugees into
The United States in 1847 sent a consul to Be-
lize to administer the steadily growing commerce
between the two countries. An act was passed
abolishing the unpaid magistracy and substitut-
ing a paid police magistrate and justice of the
The difference between Great Britain and Ni-
caragua on account of the boundaries of the Mos-
quito Kingdom led to the intervention by the Unit-
ed States, who like Great Britain, was interested
in an inter-oceanic canal and route to California.
Sir Henry Lytton Bulwer and John M. Clayton re-
presenting England and the United States arrang-
ed for an inter-oceanic route in the Clayton-Bulwer
Treaty in 1850.
Great Britain claimed protectorate over Grey-
town (formerly called San Juan del Norte) which
they took from Nicaragua in 1849. The United
States wanted neutrality of the Canal and sent Mr.
Hise and Mr. Squier as agents for the administra-
tion in Washington to negotiate with Nicaragua.
Their work led to complications with England forc-
ing the two countries to come to an understanding.
England and the United States declared in the
Clayton-Bulwer treaty that neither should hold
any exclusive control over the Nicaragua Canal
or build fortifications commanding it, or plant
colonies in, or exercise any dominion over, Nicara-
gua, Costa Rico, the Mosquito Coast or any other
42 A HISTORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
part of Central America. The treaty was ratified
by both countries but no canal was built.
Colonel Fancourt was succeeded by Sir Phillip
Wodehouse. Colonel Wodehouse proclaimed on
August 7th, 1852, Ruattan and adjacent islands,
Colony of Great Britain called the Bay Islands, a
Magistrate to preside over them as governor. ***
In 1860 England withdrew from the Bay Islands
and the Mosquito Coast.
On December 23rd, 1852, a general meeting
took place for the purpose of considering the pro-
posed revision of the Legislative Constitution made
by the home government. *** The remodelling
took place in 1853, and provided that the execut-
ive should consist of a superintendent and a legis-
lative assembly of eighteen elected and three
nominated members. It gave the qualifications
of the voters as having to own real estate, to occupy
land or houses or to receive an annual salary of
about $500, both for a period of six months prior
Great Britain and the United States made a
treaty on October 17th, 1856, called the Dallas
Clarendon Treaty, which brought a protest from
Guatemala as the boundary on the south having
been fixed without the knowledge or consent of
Guatemala. Quoting from Article II :
"That, Her Brila.nnic Majesty's settlement called
Felize or IBltish llondaras, on the shores of the
Bay of Hondura.s, bounded on the north by the
Mexican Province of Yucatan and on the south by
the River Sarstoon, was not and is not embraced
in the treaty entered into between the Contracting
Parties on the 19thl day of April 1850; and that
the limits of the said Belize, on the west, as they
existed on the said 19t.h of April 1850 shall if
possible, he settled and fixed by Treaty between
SIxtract f'rom :I Diar. of Jihn Johnston of 1852.
Her Britannic Majesty and the Republic of Gua-
temala, within two years from the exchange of the
ratifications of this instrument which said bound-
atres and limits shall not at any time hereafter
This treaty was followed by a boundary convent-
ion between Guatemala and Great Britain, repres-
ented by His Excellency, the President of the Re-
public of Guatemala, Don Pedro de Aycinena and
Charles Lennox Wyke of Great Britain. On April
30, 1859, Guatemala agreed to the settling of the
Southern boundary as given in the Dallas-Claren-
don Treaty and Great Britain stated she would help
in the construction of a road from a place near the
Settlement of Belize on the Atlantic Coast to the
Capital of Guatemala.
In the bibliography the author lists for referen-
ce all the books found in several years' research
in the Libraries of the United States, Mexico, and
Central America dealing with Belize and the
Vessels and men were recruited for operations
against the American Filibustering Expeditions.
The most notorious of the Filibusters was William
Walker, who was forced out of lower California by
Santa Anna of Mexico and later driven out of
Central America twice. He was killed in Honduras.
On May 12, 1862, British Honduras was de-
clared a Colony under Jamaica and its Superint-
endent, Mr. Frederick Seymour, appointed Lieut-
enant-Governor by the Queen.
For the next ten years sporadic raids by the
Chichenhos Indians kept the West Indian Regi-
ments busy. These clashes produced a diplomatic
correspondence between the British and the Mexi-
can government over Territorial rights. The pay-
ment of the military expenses left the finances of
44 A HISTORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
the Colony in a deplorable condition. An act was
passed to levy a land tax.
After the Civil War in America, several hundred
ex-confederates, because of unsettled conditions
in the south, left the United States to settle in
Central America. Many came to Belize to establish
themselves in the Toledo District, where land
grants were given them. Among them were Army
leaders doctors and ministers. In January 1867,
the steamer "Trade-Wind" brought a group to the
Colony and a year later one hundred thirteen im-
migrants arrived from New Orleans.
A private immigration agency was establish-
ed in New Orleans by Young, Toledo and Com-
pany. Newspapers throughout the southern states
carried the news of the immigrants. By persever-
ance and courage they succeeded in establishing
comfortable plantations of sugar-cane in southern
British Honduras. In 1868 several died during the
cholera outbreak. In the years following, some
became discouraged and returned to the states
but they were soon replaced by more colonists.
Almost every one of the states of the former con-
federacy contributed a few settlers. As they were
dependent upon sugar-cane, the bounties which
drove down the price of cane sugar dealt a mortal
blow to the planters. They turned to the growing
of bananas. Their children were sent to the United
States for education. During the vacation the
children brought back American-born friends as
guests. Some married and remained in the Colony.
Each year, however, more and more of the children
remained in the United States to take advantage
of greater opportunities there and as the economic
pinch began to be felt.
Marcus Canul, Ycoiche Indian chief gave trou-
ble in the Northern Districts and finally in April
1870 invaded Corozal. Two years later Orange
Walk beat off an attack in which Canul was killed
ending the hostilities.
The change of the Constitution took place in
1871 when British Honduras become a crown
Colony. The Legislative Assembly was replaced by
the Legislative Council of five official and four
unofficial nominated members. The change to a
Crown Colony did not meet with approval by the
majority of the inhabitants and from time to time
efforts were made by them to redeem their politic-
al inheritance. Their efforts met with no success.
In 1890 all of the unofficial members resigned
their seats after protesting of a resolution to award
payment to a Mr. Hunter of over $29,000. They
petitioned England for a better representation in
the Councils of the Colony. Fourteen months later
the Council was changed to four official and five
unofficial members giving the latter a majority of
There was read in Belize at the Council cham-
bers on the 31st of October, 1884, an appoint-
ment of Roger Goldsworth as Governor and Com-
mander in Chief. He had served as Lieutenant-
Governor for three months. This appointment
severed the colony's relationship with Jamaica.
At the close of the Nineteeth century a small
section of the interior was partially explored by
two Americans, Colonel W. T. Mechlin and W. R.
Warren who went from Belize to Guatemala via
Peten and Coban in 1872. Six years later another
movement to explore the unknown ports of the
colony was carried out, partly under private and
partly under government auspices. Mr. Drake, a
sugar planter and Mr. Worth, a miner, ascended
the Cockscomb Mountains to about 2000 feet,
staying away from Belize a month. Due to diff-
iculties they returned without accomplishing very
46 A I1STO'rY OF BRIITISH HONDURAS
much. Great disappointment was felt by them and
the inhabitants. They started out again, staying
away for two months. This time they were ac-
companied by the Colonial Secretary, Henry Fow-
ler. They reported that indications of mineral
wealth were found and described the interior of
the Colony as being a succession of valleys and
hills ranging from 1,200 feet to 3,300 feet above
Other attempts at early exploration were made
by G. H. Wilson in 1886 and in 1888 when Gordon
Allen's party visited the Cockscomb Mountains.
Four years later a trail survey was made by Rail-
way Surveyors from Belize up the Sibun river to
near its source. In 1898 Mr. Monohan opened up
a trail from Stann Creek to the Cayo district.
A change of Currency in 1894 was followed by
a riot and demonstration. Representatives of every
nation were to be found in this little colony. There
were a few Frenchmen; many Spanish in the
Northern districts and a few Swiss and Italian in
the Belize district. Swedish, Norwegian and Danish
inhabitants mingled with an occasional German
British Honduras has over a ninety per cent
colored population. The remaining ten per cent
are white English, Maya Indians, Spanish, more
than one hundred Americans, Northern Europeans
and a few Syrians. Some Chinese and East Indians
were imported as laborers and remained in the
Prominent among the ninety per cent, although
separate in custom and language, are the Caribs,
whose origin is thought to be in the Orinoco region
of South America. According to Bryan Edwards in
his history of The West Indies, the original Carib
had an olive complexion and straight black coarse
hair. Some Red Caribs are found in the Colony.
NINETEENTil CENTURY 47
One peculiarity of their language which has ab-
sorbed French, Spanish and African, is that the
womon use many separate words to express ideas
and name of objects distinct from those used by
the menn. They are good fishermen and in Stonn
Creek the women make a good starch which they
bring to Belize to sell.
The colored race in British Honduras never oc-
cupied the position of plantation slave. He was
early given weapons thus having in his hands that
which commands respect. He is more self reliant
and eager to absorb new knowledge, and has made
gpeat progress in Culture. In Belize there are
numerous clubs and societies promoting social ad-
On December 15th, 1888, the consolidated laws
of the Colony came into force thus bringing to a
cdos a century of struggle.
The first decode of the 20th century was one
.*f internal improvement. Telephone communicat-
ons were installed between Belize and Consejo
near the Mexican border and Punta Gorda near
.he southern border. Light houses and shore lights
as aids to shipping were placed along the coast.
The Bank of British Honduras Limited was est-
'ablished and eighteen miles of the Stann Creek
Railway were built. The streets of Belize were lit
A proposal in the United States Senate that the
Jnited States should buy British Honduras from
England and in turn give it with a sum of money
to Mexico in exchange for lower California and a
portion of the Sonora desert was printed in the
3elize Independent in 1914. In August of that
year England and Germany were at war and the
proposal was soon forgotten. Residents of the
Colony were among those lost in the sinking of
he Lusitania and the First British Honduras War
Contingent sailed for Europe.
50 A 1IS'OrItY o Ti' T NIT1811 InoNuRIAS
A fire in 1918 destroying the public buildings
burned many valuable records. Martial law was
proclaimed a year later when the returning soldiers
clashed with a body of marines brought to the
colony on H. M. S. "Constance" causing a riot
During prohibition in the United States, fast
boats brought Canadian liquor from Belize to
North America. Bootlegging and smuggling were
profitable. Money was easy to get and fortunes
were made. Whiskey bought for $1.00 was sold
in the country to "the North" for $6.00.
After years of unchecked mahogany cutting
and destructive bleeding of chicle, a forestry de-
portment was organized and an appointment was
made of a Conservator of Forest in 1922. This led
to the setting aside of some 12,000 acres in Stann
Creek knowns as the Silk Grass Forest Reserve.
On this tract after a three-year sylvicultural treat-
ment had been applied results achieved made the
Government confident that under scientific treat-
ment the valuable timber could be replaced and
restocked. In virgin mahogany bush, where one
tree per acre was regarded as favorable for log-
ging, now thirty or more trees could be planted.
Forest produce on an average amount to 83 per-
cent of the total exports of the Colony between
1926 and 1935. Mahogany and Chicle (used in
the manufacture of Chewing Gum) are the most
important exports. Scientific experiments on the
technique of tapping the sapodilla tree to obtain
chicle, were carried out preventing the destruction
of many trees.
Communication and travel in British Honduras
was slow, as internal transportation was carried
on its many rivers by means of pitpans and dories
locally-made, paddle-propelled boats. L. G. Cha-
vanne, Mr. Folgarait and Mr. Loria in 1923
entered into a contract with the government for
the Conveyance of the northern and southern
mcils The wharf presented a busy scene piled high
with huge crates, bags of rice and sugar, and a
variety of furniture and animals. Two-wheeled
horse-drawn carts brought the luggage and cargo.
Passengers crowding one another as they boarded
either the "Romulus" or the "Africola," two Cha-
vannes north bound boots were greeted by the
owner and the custom officials.
Baron Bliss Day is celebrated in the Colony on
March 9th each year. In 1927 the colony received
a bequest under the Will of Baron Bliss who died
ofler adopting the colony as his home in 1926.
His tomb is on the promontory, looking out over
the Caribbean at Fort George in Belize.
Fort George, the first permanent fortification,
was constructed in 1803, however, now all traces
of the fort have been lost. Here a large area has
been reclaimed from the sea, forming one of the
best residential sections in Belize. In a small park
facing the sea stands an obelisk of red granite
dedicated to the memory of the men who fell in
the first World War. The late Sir John Burdon
unveiled it on Armistice Day, 1925.
Charles Lindbergh on his Good Will Tour arriv-
ed in the colony December, 1927. A large recep-
tion was held at St. John's College.
While Sir John Burdon was Governor of British
Honduras, the Burdon Canal connecting the Be-
lize and Sibun river was made and the Archives
of the Colony were compiled. M. S. Metzgen or-
ganized in 1928 a bicycle expedition from Belize
to the Cayo to open the way for a new road. The
route was through Pine Ridge and Bush, 90 miles
one way.- Following this expedition fifty miles of
dry-weather road was completed toward Cayo.
Part of the cost of the improvement was met by a
52 A HISTORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
Colonial Development and Fund Grant. There are
no roads connecting the Capital with the southern
parts of the colony.
Among the first periodicals to be published in
the Colony were the "Honduras Almanack" in
1826, the "Government Gazette" in 1835, the "Be-
lize Advertiser" in 1881 and a year later the "Colo-
nial Guardian". A strong press law virtually pre-
vented the establishment of newspapers, however,
British Honduras has a daily paper the "Clarion"
established in 1897. The "Belize Independent" be-
gan printing in 1914. Church papers, "The Hondu-
ras Church Evangel" of the Anglican Church was
printed in 1918. Another, the "Mangrove", St.
John's College magazine, flourished from 1922 to
1931. "The Good News Monthly" financed by6 an
American dentist, Dr. Carcmichael started in 1937.
A hurricane struck the city of Belize on Sep-
tember 10th, 1931 followed by a tidal wave. Nearly
a twentieth of the population were killed and many
more were made homeless. The inhabitants were
celebrating the Anniversary of the Battle of St.
George's Caye and there was to be a parade of
school children. When the storm struck it damag-
ed most of the churches and completely destroyed
the Catholic College killing many of the priests
and students. The American Red Cross rushed
food and medical supplies to the Colony. One
baker in the Capital gave away bread until his
flour was exhausted. One East Indian family lost
forty-five relatives. The Governor, Sir John Burdon,
rescued the Archives which he and the other go-
vernment officials had compiled. Events still date
in the colony from before and after the storm
which so vividly impressed itself upon the minds
of the inhabitants.
Complete control over the Colony and its finan-
ces was taken in 1932 when British Honduras re-
ceived a loan by Great Britain to be used in re-
construction and other purposes after the Hurri-
An ordinance substituted for the old Legislative
Council a new Legislative Council consisting of
the Governor as president, five official .members
and seven unofficial members of whom two shall
be nominated by the Governor and five elected for
four constituencies. The new council met for the
first time on the 12th of March, 1936. All quest-
ions were to be decided by a majority of votes,
with the Governor or presiding member, having
an original vote and a casting vote if the votes
should be equally divided. This ordinance also
provided that if the council fails to pass a bill which
the Governor thinks necessary, he may declare
any such bill, resolution, motion or vote shall have
effect as if it had been passed by the council.
Ordinances were passed establishing a Board
of Agriculture in 1936. Ordinances against Dan-
gerous Drugs and Counterfeit money were passed
the same year.
In 1941 when labor was needed in Panama,
more than one thousand men left Belize for the
Canal Zone, News of the labor shortage reached
Belize when letters arrived from a boat which had
wrecked in the Zone. Its passengers and crew re-
ceived jobs. It is reported that the second boat
entered the Zone at night, unloaded its passengers
and sailed back to Belize. "Panama fever" gripped
the remaining unemployed thousands when letters
came to eager waiting mothers, wives and relat-
ives. Captain Gough and Captain Hill sent the
"LaPlata" as the first chartered boat in the Pana-
ma run. For over a year small boats carried the la-
borers to Panama.
Meanwhile 843 forest workers had signed up
with the Labor Office and had sailed for Scotland.
54 A jllk:'j>ucY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
By March, 1944, all but the 348 had returned to
Belize. Labor was no longer required in the Canal
Zone and of the thousands that went to Panama
only 200 remained. The returning laborers created
a serious unemployment problem in the colony.
Negotiations were tried with the United States
Government for employment of the thousands of
idle men in Belize; however nothing was ac-
complished. Finally in March, 1944, an American
resident in the Colony received an eligibility list
of 1600 available workers from the Labor Office,
went to Tampa and contacted the War Manpower
Commission. Nine months later more than 1000
were working in the United States.
On the 13th of November, 1944, the Legislative
Council approved the estimates of the revenue
and expenditure of the Colony of British Honduras
for the year 1945. The expenditure was estimated
at $2,399,764 and the revenue was estimated at
$1,733,290 to which a "Grant-in-Aid" of $666,474
would be necessary to balance the budget.
The war has brought about many changes in
the Colony. Strict import control on luxuries such
as candy has led to the encouragement of home
industries. Men returning from Panama and Eu-
rope brought back new ideas and skills. Price
control has kept the food prices at nearly a normal
level. Meat still sells for 18 to 20 cents a pound
and is unrationed. Bananas sell at 25 cents a stem,
and grapefruit at one cent each. Wages have been
raised slowly. Domestic services of a maid, cook
or laundry woman with board are paid a weekly
wage of $1.25 to $2.50. Laborers for the Public
Works Department are paid as high as $2.00 a
day. Store clerks receive from $7.00 to $15.00 a
Shortly after the United States entry into the
War against Japan, Germany and Italy, a number
of prominent residents of Belize were seized and
later held in Jamaica as suspected spies. News-
papers and magazines in the United States and
the Americas denounced these men, however,
later, apologizing for their statements when the
supposed spies were freed for lack of evidence.
Great injustice harmed these people as their reput-
ations were smeared and some of their property
was taken from them. With no resentment, they
went back to their homes and work and did a
good job of helping win the War. Among the per-
sons held were George Gough and Mr. Canton,
two of the leading business men who should be
credited with their good effort at winning the war
with their boats which carried men to Panama and
the United States as laborers and the running
through the submarine zones bringing food to the
A great percentage of the world's finest maho-
gany as well as a large percentage of the world's
supply of raw chewing gums comes from British
Honduras. Bananas and coconuts are also two of
the main exports. Wrigleys and the United Fruit
Company both have offices in Belize.
The Taca Airplane Service has a line into Be-
lize from Miami. The Bank of Honduras was
followed by the Bank of Canada. The United Sta-
tes' dollar is discounted in British Honduras. The
Belize dollar is used as a standard.
Some open opposition to existing colonial policy
has been led by Gabriel E. J. Adderley representing
the Knights of Labor. His pamphlets, ore token
seriously by a small minority of the population.
This opposition resulted in several of the leaders
leaving the colony. Carlos Meighan left with the
laborers for the United States. Gabriel Adderley
went to Guatemala. Other went to Panama while
a few remained.
56 A II1sTORY 01 131:ITILII oJI OuL'AS
Mr. Meighan contacted the Honduranian So-
ciety in New York City. This organization is a
group of Belizarians who have formed an associat-
ion among former residents of Belize and their
descendents. Led by Austin Panting, their Pres-
ident and Archibald Arnold, they have kept alive
interest in Belize and it's problems.
Elections for members of the Town Board are
proceeded by outside mass meetings of the various
parties. Two columnists on the Daily Clarion, G. W.
Burks and E. A. Lang offer constructive criticism
on the conditions within the colony and encourage
Tracing British Honduras history from its buc-
caneering beginnings to its contribution to the
20th century war effort, it is interesting to watch
the historical forces that have molded its career.
Its exciting origin with a group to maintain a
democratic form of government and at the same
time to receive the protection of another country.
One could wish for the British Honduras a better
finale than submersion to a little known Colony.
However, British Honduras has enrichened the
world by giving it the finest of woods such as Ma-
hogany, Rosewood and for over a century gave its
richest dyewoods. Now in the 20th century the
valuable timber aids in the building of ships and
planes; its laborers have left home to work in the
fields and factories of the United States. Many of
its men and women have joined the armies of
Great Britain and America. Now once more the
Baymen, having an opportunity to show to the
world the undying courage of their fathers are
fulfilling their traditional destiny.
Customs and Music
Education and religion are closely associated,
as nearly all of the elementary and secondary
schools were established by religious denominat-
ions. These schools are provided with a government
grant and are controlled by a board of education.
The following churches are found in the colony :
Roman Catholic, Church of England, Wesleyan,
Scotch Presbyterian, Baptist, Seventh Day Ad-
ventist and Salvation Army.
The early inhabitants were almost all protest-
ants. The Church of England was established in
the Colony in February, 1777. It was only in 1812
when the city of Belize had been regularly laid out
that an Anglican Church was erected at govern-
ment expense. In the year 1822 the Baptist
Church was built. The Methodist in 1825 and in
1 850, the Presbyterian. There were a few Cathol-
ics in Belize. In Mullins river, a village a few miles
hosvivcw' pgrfirmv of G ... vonmr'fl Lq,,dinp -Shed
7'i f...hI M'1eir i rj
Harbour scene at BeUize
I.JLIGION. EDUCATION, ETC.
south of Belize, there was a small settlement of
Catholic refugees from Spanish Honduras. The
War of the Classes in Yucatan caused many ca-
tholics to come to the Northern Districts of British
Due to misgovernment of their Spanish masters
the Indian population, followers of the Santa Cruz
(which they worshipped) had orison in revolt and
with ruthless barbarity had massacred most of the
inhabitants of Bacalar and adjoining districts.
Those who escaped became refugees on the
Northern frontier of the colony, where they settled.
This new population was entirely Catholic. In the
year 1851, two Jesuit priests were sent to Belize
to take charge of the Catholic congregation.
Membership in the Roman Catholic Church
steadily increased. Six Sisters of Mercy arrived in
Belize in January, 1883, and established a Convent
and an Academy. The school buildings of St.
John's College for High School boys and St. Ca-
therine's Academy were destroyed in the 1931
hurricane. Members of the St. Vincent de Paul
Society do much charitable work among the poor.
Over one half of the inhabitants of the Colony are
now Roman Catholic.
The second church in membership is the Church
of England. There are two churches of this denom-
ination in the Capitol with an Anglican High
School for girls, and a high School for boys. The
Wesleyan Methodists also have schools.
In 1891 the first Seventh Day Adventist Mis-
sionaries arrived in British Honduras. The Herald,
a thirty five ton ship was built for them six years
later. With other missionaries they plied the seas
carrying dental, medical and spiritual help to the
countries and islands in the Caribbean area. An
Advent Church was dedicated in the year 1932.
j~ g "a...nd I i S, pr e.iy Bf I- .
Street scene in Belize
RELIGION, EDUCATION, ETC.
A day school is kept in Belize by the Salvation
Army who came to the Colony in 1915.
There are neither Universities nor normal
schools in the Colony. A pupil-teacher system was
introduced in 1894 to meet the deficiency of
teachers. There is no special institution for the
instruction and training of pupil teachers, al-
though they are required to pass an annual exam-
ination. Student teachers are selected from schol-
ars who have passed in primary Standard V and
are fourteen years of age.
The Churches in British Honduras and Central
America made possible the preservation of the
Indians and a peaceful ending to slavery long be-
fore it was ended in the United States by the Civil
Popular social gatherings are nearly all centered
around the church. The only theatre groups are
those connected with it. A strict law which calls
for a high license, nearly forbids entertainment
outside of that connected with the religious groups.
This probably accounts for the lack of night clubs
in the colony or other types of amusement.
Dances are given by invitation, those attending
sign lists provided by the host or hostess. These
lists are submitted to the police who generally
supervise at the entrance of the dance. An in-
vitation costs the guest usually a dollar and in-
cludes a free supper of rice and beans, meatballs,
sandwiches, potato salad, cake and soft drinks.
A stranger in Belize may be puzzled by a sudden
outburst of gaiety as two or more people pause on
the street and then pass by laughing. If the new-
comer had heard one of the inhabitants say "It's
a rake," it would probably puzzle him, as refer-
ence has perhaps been made to certain unrecongn-
ized winnings. He would be listening to one of the
popular sayings that circulate like wildfire all over
Street scen in Delize
m.- ..r ,f m---- 7
RELIGION, EDUCATION, ETC.
the colony. Another saying that was popular in
1945 was "Nothing wrong with dot."
Creole Proverbs that go back as for as the
Buccaneers themselves contain considerable humor
and protical wisdom. Some of these quaint sayings
well expressed in idiomatic Creole English are :
'Wait break down bridge".
"Ebery man know where'e own house leak"
-Kuss, Kuss never bore hole"
"Time longer dan rope"
"Wise cow know wey weak fence dety"
'Fence has got ears and takada (blind) got eyes"
"When dresser (food container) tumble down,
poor hungry dog laugh"
'Coward man keep sound bone"
"Punkin never bear watermelon"
"Fool dey tawk, but da no fool dey lis'n"
'One One ful Basket"
"Fuss fool dat no fool"
"Big word neber broke man jawbone".
According to the Gospel in Central America, in
1791 the African practices of Obeah which was
introduced by slaves was made punishable by
death. In British Honduras Obeah has little hold,
although it is known and persons dealing in it are
feared. Inquiry into its practice, often meets with
cold disapproval but upon being insistent a few
tales can be heard.
Practice of the black art include such things as
detection of a thief by use of a Bible and a key.
The ritual for this requires that a test is made with
five persons, one of whom is the suspected thief.
According to the theory the kep will move directly
pointing to the culprit. To bring bad luck on some-
one, such as illness a black doll is buried under
the victim's doorstep. The doll is made with a
64 A HISTORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
black stocking, black thread, black headed pii
and feathers from a dark fowl. For good lucl, .3
charm is sometimes carried or worn about ihe
neck. Such charms can be made from a variety .
things. One was made from steel filings and nrc
hogany sawdust and carried in a small bag arou j
the neck. Water was added to the mixture and ti -
charm was supposed to grow and contain li
From time to time more sawdust and filings wer',
added and to the wearer increase in size of the
charm indicated growth in good fortune.
At one time a mahogany cutter was reported V.
be an Obeah man. He slept during the day and
reportedly at night had the spirits working for hi-,
He died a violent death. Although Obeah has a
hold on certain sections of the community, the
greater part of the population does not believe n
it. An Indian belief that the snake had a soul ;
several centuries old. Bush doctors have cures f >r
snake bites and fever including malaria. Medical
practicing physicians have been known to tu r.
over snake bite victims to the snake doctor fi-
cure. Inquiry into the drugs used by the snake
doctor by the author resulted in a long list 1'f
native medicines too numerous to mention hetr'.
However, for snake bites, the plants and food that
would be eaten by the snake in its own cure are
the plants used by the Bush Doctor. Contribo is
used for malaria cure, it being a vine which is
steeped and drunk like tea and originates with the
One Indian told the story of having seen a blue
snake at the foot of an old mound or pyramid. A
few minutes later after walking on, he turned to
see a young woman standing on the top of the
mound in a blue garment with her ankles bound.
Then she disappeared.
RELIGION, EDUCATION, ETC.
Many stories are told of the Flying Dutchman
"Jack 0' Lantern" the phantom pirate ship
giving been seen at Colsons Point near Mullins
ver and Stann Creek. There are also stories of
e "Table" on top of the Cockscomb Mountains
iich when approached always appears to move
Shoes are often crossed before going to bed at
ght to prevent the evil ones from occupying them
id to insure the wearer from harm on the
The Bell Ringer is seen frequently on the streets
Belize as he goes from store to store with a
indwich board (placard on front and on back)
ivertizing an auction sale.
Until recently a white man was called "Backra"
/ his colored friends. This originated when the
early white men in the colony because of the heat
)ok off their shirts and their backs became raw
om the sun.
Words of West Indian Origin now most frequent-
used in English language are avocado, buc-
3neer, carib, guave, hammock, hurricane, maise
This history must include Dohenda the mythical
character that plays such an important part in the
ves of the children in British Honduras. He is a
ery short strong man who lives in the deep fo-
%sts. It is usually on Good Friday that he appears
i the woods and he has only four fingers on each
and. Picnicers are warned not to get lost or stray
,o far away lest they should meet him. "Dohen-
a" can be mean and terrible. To prevent him
rom becoming angry and jealous of an ordinary
erson with a five fingered hand, anyone on meet-
ig him is warned to conceal his thumb in the
aim and extend the back of the hand outward in
alute with only four fingers showing. He may
66 A HISTORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
then grant the greeter a wish, as he can do many
miraculous things and is able to speak all langua-
ges. He may also just pass by or disappear. The
bushmen or dwarfs with feet turned out are other
strong characters to be avoided in the wood.
Another character locally created in British
Honduras is Greasy Man. He supposedly lives in
old houses and comes out at night to frighten peo-
ple. On one occasion half the city of Belize turned
out to chase him.
Among certain sections of the colony old cust-
oms are carried on from generation to generation.
The Spanish dance can be seen at school festivals.
The Caribs also have a dance called the "Sambi"
which can be seen at Belize on holidays and in the
Stann Creek district where a great number of Ca-
ribs live. The East Indian group in one of their
celebrations have a ceremony or dance performed
with sticks and machetes. A procession is formed
with a man carrying a pole with fire on each end.
Following him are four men carrying a small hou-
se. After the parade is over the house is tossed
into the ocean. This is known as the Jose dance.
Notices are posted up in many prominent pla-
ces announcing funerals. They are solemn events
and great reverence is shown the dead. The de-
ceased are generally buried within twenty-four
hours after death. After viewing the body at the
home a long procession, (depending upon the popul-
arity of the person) follows the cart to the Church.
The mourners are dressed in their finest black or
white clothing. As they pass the business section,
the store keepers close their windows and doors in
respect and reopen them as soon as the procession
Boxing entertainments, polo games, football
matches, yacht racing, and horse racing are spon-
RELIGION, EDUCATION, ETC.
scored by the many social clubs in Belize and in
the other cities.
Althoufh the English tradition is taught in the
schools, America's influence is being felt. Most of
the radio programs received in the Colony are
American Broadcasted. The majority of films pres-
ented in British Honduras' two movie houses are
also American made. The music of the Colony is
half native and half foreign. American, Mexican
and English are included in the foreign. The po-
pular native Belise music pieces are called "break-
downs". Usually these songs have local back-
grounds and are about some incident or person or
combination of both. They are played at all the
local dances and some are composed by their well
known band leaders and other musicians such as
William Trapp and Roderick Brown.
The theme of the breakdown is original and
contagious parodies sometime vulgar, are hummed
by the man on the street. A list of the most popular
songs is listed here.
r" Rt TFR TP- r liv C L
m-. .- c, i i EL WW, 4., n, to, ra t
A copy of Breakdown music
"Barn Bam Barn be Rero"
"Boy and Gal Guan down yonder"
68 A TTISTORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
"Captain Foot's money Gone"
"Christmas Day and Judy Drowned"
"Every body come Feel 'em"
Flog 'em, Flog 'em Teach them how to Pray"
"Fido Fido come feet 'Em"
"Good Morning Miss Lady"
"I Lula Gal"
"The Lion burned down the Land"
"Ping Wing Mucha"
"Rockuille is our Happy Home"
"Tie me Donkey down There"
"Todays me means Payday"
"What a Saturday Night"
"What do you Tease me for"
"Why Why Why"
"Why should Alonzo Mourn".
New breakdown songs originate in the maho-
gany works and in Belize during the Christmas
TEA KETTLE IS A LOVELY PLACE
(Composed by Roderick 0. Brown)
Tea Kettle is a lovely place
Funny things you gasto face
When batlass den start to stin
You see old and young di try fu peck.
Old and young do go pan road
Some a dem look like funk
When you tell them fu go pan dump
Den neel right down and start to prey.
I;,ELI!ION, EDUCATION, ETC.
Christmas de come cungo da town
Christmas de come congo da town
Christmas de come cungo da town
Fu go spend good time wid we country gal.
Laud country gal cungo da town
Laud country gal cungo da town
Laud country gal cungo da town
Fu go spend good time wid me country boy.
Ever Dam da wan nasi place
Mud an water to you waste
Me piston ring might liable to bust
But what to do me can't mek no fuss.
Me wouldn't like fu go pan road
Because batlass no fu bite me up
You work so hard and have no say
Because Heitler boy gwen draw me pay.
Cook woman den de up de
Some a them no know fu cook
Hard janny cake and sowa beans
Most of all boy you gasto wate.
CAPTAIN FOOT'S MONEY GONE
Captain Foot's money gone
Nobody know whe 'e gon.
Cocoanut Money gone
Me know no who 'e gon
Some say da sin, Halleluja.
Some say da good, Halteluja,
Captain Foot's money gon,
Lawd, please tell me whe 'e gon.
70 A HISTORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
Two Breakdowns which have similar themes are
"Sly Rusty" and "Sly Mongoose" both were written
around the theft of a chicken.
Sly Mongoose, you name gan da bride
Mongoose gan ina Sarah Kitchen
Tek out two of 'e's biggest chickens,
Jamman in ar' 'E's westcoat pocket
Breakdown music is played at all community
gatherings. The Carib and Spanish also have music.
The Mayas were very fond of dancing and music.
They had drums, whistles and a few horns. No at-
tempt has been known to record or preserve the
breakdown type of music.
*Poetry by the late Mr. Martinex, the Belize poet,
is still read on September 10th, the anniversary of
the Battle of Saint Georges Caye. Later poetry by
W. A. George has been published in the Clarion.
Among the Belize born artists are Manuel Carre-
ro and Mr. Coleman. Mr. Carrero painted the pict-
ure that is used on the four cent stamp depicting
the products of the colony. He also did a painting
which was presented to the President of Guatemala.
There is no art school in British Honduras. Some
art work and handicraft are is taught in the Ca-
tholic and Protestant Schools. A boy artist painting
ancient Maya life scenes lives in Corozal. One of
his pictures is of a huge signal fire being watched
by the Maya Indians in ceremonial dress on.o Maya
pyramid on the Boy of Corozal. Ngvelties are lo-
RELIGION, EDUCATION, ETC.
cally made out of cow horn, turtle shell and wood.
Mr. Stolf of Belize makes beautiful rosewood bowls,
mahogany trays and small boxes of various rare
In the Belize Museum is a collection of dolls made
locally. There is also a collection of the many
fine woods that are found in British Honduras.
Fragments and whole pieces of Maya pottery and
clay figurines are on display in a separate section
of the museum.
When a British Honduranus meets a newcomer
for the first time, he has a greeting that is friendly
and sincere. Instead of saying "How do you do,"
"Please to meet you" or "Glad to know you" the
Belize man or woman says : "I hope we will no
longer be strangers."
In conclusion, mention must be made of Sir
John Burdon, one of the few Governors to take an
active interest in the welfare of British Honduras.
He began the governorship in 1925. Under his
leadership the Archives were compiled, roads were
started and canals built.
Little progress has been made internally under
other governors who have either remained for too
short a period in the colony or have locked interest
or training. Promises have been made but little
has been done toward material progress or educat-
ional and social advancement.
British Honduras has always been a law abiding
colony. Since its democratic beginning, it has
evolved finally into a colony under the complete
control of the Governor. Two courses lie open for
the future. Great Britain can make British Hon-
duras the paradise that its natural setting and
resources entitle it to be and give to the people
the four freedoms, or it can continue a policy of
72 A HISTORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
May the Anglo-American Commission created
in 1942 to encourage new social and economic
policies be successful in dealing with British Hon-
duras problems of housing, labor, agriculture,
water, sanitation, health and education.
Description of British
British Honduras is situated on the Atlantic side
of the mainland of Central America and lies bet-
ween 15' and 19' north latitude and 87' and 90'
west longitude. It is bounded on the north by the
Mexican Territory of Quintana Roo and on the
west and south by the Republic of Guatemala. On
the east lies the Carribean Sea and the Bay of
The Colony is larger than Wales and is divided
up into six districts : Belize, Corozal, Orange
Walk, Cayo, Stann Creek and Toledo districts. The
most important towns are, Belize, Cayo, Corozal,
Orange Walk, Benque Viejo, Punta Gordo and
British Honduras has over 61,000 inhabitants.
The great percentage of the colony's population are
English speaking negroes and people of mixed ne-
gro and white blood. The remaining few are In-
74 A HISTORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
dion, Spanish, Syrian, Chinese, North Americans,
East Indian and European.
Forests occupy over 80 percent of the colony.
The principal products are mahogany and chicle.
In 1940 over 400,000 cubic feet of mahogany was
exported. Chicle is bled from the sapodilla tree
and is used in the manufacture of chewing gum.
In 1939 one and a half million pounds were ex-
ported. The main agricultural products are cocoa-
nuts, corn, bananas, plantains and rice. Forestry
products make up 78 percent of the domestic ex-
ports. Agricultural products are about twenty per-
cent of the exports. Sugar is raised for local con-
sumption; some is imported.
The area of British Honduras including the cays
is approximately 8,600 square miles. The greatest
length from north to south is 177 miles; its great-
est width is about 65 miles.
The principal rivers are : Rio Hondo, New Ri-
ver, Belize or Old River, Roaring Creek, Beaver
Dam, Labouring Creek, Sibun River, Manatee Ri-
ver, Mullins River, North and South Stann Creek
Rivers, Monkey River, Rio Grande and the Sar-
Although British Honduras lies within the tro-
pics, prevailing winds and a long seacoast keep the
climate both cool and healthy. The highest degree
of temperature in the shade is 99 degrees and the
lowest in the winter months is about 62 degrees.
The rainfall varying from 52 inches in the north
to 170 inches in the south averages 82 inches.
The dry season from the middle of February to
the middle of May is sometimes broken by showers.
The water supply of Belize, the Capital, is entirely
dependent upon the rainfall which is stored up in
huge tanks or vats. Large tanks have been built
beside the government buildings to provide water
to inhabitants not having a storage vat and to
DESCRIPTION OF BRITISH HONDURAS
furnish additional water when local supplies run
There is no central sewerage system in any of
the towns in the colony. Most refuse is disposed of
in cesspools and the several canals which bisect
the city of Belize. The tide carries the sewage out
The principal Cays near the Capitol are : Am-
bergris, Cay Corker, North Long, Hen and Chic-
kesn, St. Georges, Sergeants, Water, Coofs, English,
Spanish, Phillips Long, Turneffe, Northern Two,
Half Moon, Bokel and forty or more other cays.
There are over fifty cays in the Stann Creek dis-
trict and over twenty-five included in the Toledo
The Maya Mountains occupy the central and
southwestern portions of the Colony rising to 3,000
feet at its highest point in the Cockscomb ridge.
Leslie H. Ower described the Colony in his report
that thirty-six percent of the land was at five hun-
dred feet or less elevation and fifty-seven percent
exceeded one thousand feet elevation.
I. COLONIAL PERIOD
II. 1803 TO 1849
III. CLAYTON-BULWER TREATY TO 1899
IV. TWENTIETH CENTURY
The controversy over Belize is based on the pact
of 1859 in which Great Britain and Guatemala
undertook certain obligations. Great Britain's part
was to aid in establishing a road from Belize to
Guatemala City in return for recognition of bound-
To understand the convention of 1859, all the
treaties between Guatemala and Great Britain
that have taken place before that date must be
considered as historical background. During the
Colonial period Great Britain received recognition
to cut logwood, however, Spanish sovereignty was
The history of the territorial dispute between
.uctemala and Great Britain over the "Bay Settle-
ent" as British Honduras was then called reaches
ick into the early part of the sixteenth century.
t that time the King of Spain claimed right to
tie to all the Islands and continents discovered
between the Artic and Antartic Poles, 100 leagues
estword of the islands of the Azores as these
!rritories were assigned to Spain as awarded by
* pe Alexander VI. Also Spain acquired by right
F discovery and conquest this territory. It was
hristopher Columbus who discovered the Gulf of
ionduras in his fourth voyage and Spanish con-
uerors such as Hernan Cortez explored these
minds and took possession in the name of the King
Charles V of Germany and Charles I of Spain
1 1536 signed the Royal order which gave legal
tie to the Governor of the Province of Guatemala
) have a port on the Northern Sea even though it
e within the limits of the Provinces of Yucatan and
82 A HISTORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
cotzumel. Here in these few statements we have
the basis of the early Spanish Claims to the Bay
British claims are based upon early occupation.
According to Asturias, the Guatemalan Historian,
Peter Wallace, the Scotch Pirate was in Belize in
1617. The Treaty of Madrid which was the first
step in the diplomatic struggle between Spain and
England. These groups of pirates and logwood
cutters were not, however, recognized by Great Bri-
tain except in a loose way although they looked to
England for protection from the sporadic raids of
the Spanish in their attempts to dislodge them.
The Belize 1829 Almanack states that the first
British settlement was made in 1638 by ship-
The Treaty of Madrid (May 23, 1667) gave
Great Britain Freedom of trade. Three years later
the Treaty of Godolphin signed by William Godol-
phin, Knight of the Golden Spur for Great Britain
and by don Gasper de Bracamonte y Guzman,
Count of Peneranda for Spain stated in Article 7.
"It is agreed that the Most Serene King of Great
Britain, his heirs and Successors shall have, hold,
keep and enjoy forever with plenary right of Sover-
eighty Dominion, Possession and Propriety all
those lands, regions, islands, colonies and places
whatsoever being situated in the West Indies or in
any part of America which the said King of Great
Britain and his subjects do at present hold and
According to Sir John Burdon, former Governor
of Belize in his compilation of the Archives of
British Honduras Godolphins support of Spanish
intrepretation of the Treaty led to over a century
of ineffectual diplomatic effort on the part of
England, a European War and a Century of desper-
ate strife and misery to the unfortunate settlers.
Spanish and English interpretation of this treaty
was not the same. Spain maintained that the
words "Hold and Possess" only applied to establish-
ed lands and those recognized by diplomatic con-
sent. Spain held that the British Claim to pos-
session of the grounds of occupation was invalid.
After Article VII there is a note which includes
all the islands, colonies and regions possessed by
the English of America in which Belize is not in-
cluded. Burdon also says that England at the time
of the Treaty of Godolphin did not possess the
territory of Belize nor did it have any right what-
ever of dominion, possession or sovereignty to that
region which belonged to the Spanish Crown. Bri-
tish Honduras was not formally established as a
colony by any British authority.
Most of the Treaties following the many wars
between England and Spain had direct repercus-
sions in the Americas. England was trying to
break the Spanish Monopoly. British Pirates roved
the seas preying on Spanish ships as well as those
of other nations. These pirates were supplied with
arms and ammunition from the British authorities
in Jamaica. The Spaniards were the first to dis-
cover the value of logwood. The Bay Settlement
owes its origin to logwood. After the treaty of Rys-
wickt (1697) many of the pirates settled down as
woodcutters. This treaty was made for the suppres-
sion of piracy although the pirates continued their
operations along the Atlantic Coast of Central
America for another century.
In 1713, Lord Lexington, British Ambassador at
Madrid, proposed to the King of Spain for the
Treaty of Utrecht, that he should erect customs
houses for the collection of dues to be levied on
each ton of wood and to set forth the limits of the
cutters activities. From the Archives on July 13,
1713, comes the answer from the King of Spain to
84 A HISTORY OF'' .lRITISII HONDURAS
Her Britannic Majesty which expresses an unwilling-
ness to concede any definite right in the matter of
logwood cutting and reafirms the treaty of 1670.
Great Britain, in the Treaty of Paris, February
10, 1763, received the concession to cut, load and
carry away logwood unmolested to occupy homes
with the reservation stipulated that all fortifications
must be demolished and reserved Spanish sover-
eignty of the soil.
The Spanish colonial authorities visited the
woodcutters periodically to see the treaty oblig-
ations were carried out. As the Spanish continued
to try to expel the Baymen, the settlers petitioned
Jamaica for help and restoration to their old haunts.
Governor Estenoz of Yucatan received an order
from Spain in 1764 commanding him to allow the
settlers to reestablish themselves in the logwood re-
gions. Finally the appeal to Jamaica brought results
and Lt. Cook and Sir William Burnaby arrived in
the colony with four ships to carry out the treaty of
1763. Sir Burnaby gave a constitution to the settlers
known as Burnaby's Laws.
Again in 1779 war broke out followed by the
Treaty of Versailles in 1783. By this treaty the
woodcutters were allowed to return to their homes
which they had abandoned. In 1784, after nearly
four years in which the settlement was barely in
existence, the boundaries of Belize were fixed limit-
ing the operations of the cutters from the Rio
Hondo to the Belize river still retaining Spanish
The Treaty of Versailles was signed by the Count
of Aranda and the Duke of Manchester. By this
treaty, Spain granted Great Britain a permit to cut
dyewoods in the small sector, but under the express
condition that said permit limited to its exclusive
purpose, was granted provided that said Spanish
Sovereigny over said sector be maintained inviolat-
ed. Great Britain being further absolutely prohibit-
ed from constructing fortifications, founding set-
tlements or cultivating land under any pretext
At this time Colonel E. M. Despord, British super-
intendent of Belize supported Spanish rights and
his strict compliance with the treaty of 1783 led to
his removal. The cutters, anxious to make their
homes in Belize and their encroachments further
upon Spanish soil led to trouble between the Spanish
and British authorities.
So as to explain and make effective that Spanish
Sovereignty was maintained in Article VI of the
Peace Treaty of 1783, a new treaty was concluded
on the 14th of July 1786 by which it is stated.
"Since all the lands in question being indisputably
acknowledged to belong of right to the crown of
Spain... etc." This convention was signed in Lon-
don by which the area granted for the usufruct was
extended southward as far as the Sibun River and
permission was granted to Great Britain to cut other
kinds of timber, to make plantings and construct
dwellings. But in a definite and absolute manner
Spanish Sovereignty over that zone was maintained.
The British promise to comply faithfully with the
obligations assumed were again ratified.
Secretary of State Grenville explains to Mr.
Merry, British Charg6 d'Affairs in Madrid, Spain
(according to Mr. Burdon in the Archives of British
Honduras) Colonel Peter Hunters replacing of
Colonel Despard as Superintendent of Belize by
saying Great Britain disapproves of any infractions
of the treaties and is taking measures to discourage
everything which may lead to a settlement of a
more extensive kind in Honduras or one resembling
a Colonial Government.
Great Britain has made claims to British Hon-
duras by right of Conquest, maintaining that the
86 A HISTORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
Battle of St. Georges caye in which the Spanish
were repulsed gives her the title to that area.
General O'Neil, Governor of Yucatan made an un-
successful attempt to land on the small island in a
bottle which according to an article in "Shoulder to
Shoulder" compiled by Monrad S. Metzgen, British
Honduras' Information Officer, lasted only two and
a half hours.
If England received a title from this battle she
would have been obliged to restore Belize to Spain
in compliance with the Treaty she signed with Fran-
ce and her Allies (Spain and Holland) known as the
Treaty of Amiens in 1802.
Act 4. "His Britannic Majesty shall restore to
the French Republic and her allies to wit: To his
Catholic Majesty and the Batavian Republic, all
the possessions and colonies whith belonged to them
respectively and have been occupied by his forces
during the course of the war excepting the Island
of Trinidad and the Dutch possessions in the Island
The Treaty of Amiens restored to Spain all the
possessions of its colonies which rightfully belonged
Therefore, in summing up the rights of the Two
Great Powers, England and Spain, at the close of
this first period we find that Great Britain did not
acquire any right whatever over the territory of
Belize having only enjoyed the concessions granted
by the crown of Spain in exercise of her sovereignty.
The conventions of 1783 and 1786 clearly prove
that Belize was Spanish. Great Britain recognized
the sovereignty of Spain in these territories. It is
impossible to consider that England could have ac-
quired the territory of Belize by Conquest when in
the Treaty of Amiens (1802) Great Britain would
have been obliged to restore it to Spain.
PART II 1803- 1849
This period in Central American History is im-
portant because it embraces the breaking away of
the Spanish Colonies from Spain, the building of an
independent Federal Republic, the abolition of sla-
very in the West Indies and plans for an inter-
oceanic canal. Within the settlement it was also
one of internal excitement due to constitutional
changes and expansion of its boundaries.
The Anglo Spanish Treaty signed in Madrid in
1814 restored affairs to the conditions of 1783 and
1786. By the signing of this Treaty, England again
lost any right she might have had to Belize gained
from the Battle of St. Georges Caye.
When Central America became an independent
Republic from Spain she inherited by full right of
sovereignty over the Territories which had once
belonged to Spain. Great Britain recognized the
Republic of Mexico in 1826 through a treaty which
recognized the boundaries determined by Spain in
the treaties of 1783 and 1786 to enter into and
occupy Belize upon the same terms and with the
88 A HISTORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
same restrictions as those imposed upon her by
The British Parliament in 1817 and 1819 clearly
acknowledged that Belize "was not within the
territory and dominion of His Britannic Majesty,"
but it is simply a "settlement for certain purposes
under the protection and possession of His Ma-
jesty." This is proof of Great Britain's good intent-
ions to comply with the Treaty with Spain of 1783
Four Points established by Sir John Burdon in
the Archives of British Honduras by the year 1821
1st Great Britain's rights in Belize were
those granted by Spain to cut logwood
and one of occupational rights.
2nd Prior to 1859 no title existed to Belize
3rd The English had not crossed the frontier
of the Sibun River.
4th Great Britain did not protest against
Guatemala's claims of sovereignty to
the region south of the River Sibun.
Great Britain was one of the first powers to ac-
credit representation to the Central American Gov-
ernment, thereby showing her recognition of the
new Republic's succession to Spanish Rights.
When the Monroe Doctrine was proclaimed in
1823, there began a new diplomatic struggle bet-
ween the government of Washington and London.
Two English maps reprinted in Guatemalo's
White Book substantiate the Archives of British
Honduras. The map of R. D. Homes Lawrie, Charto-
grapher of the British Admiralty pictures the
Settlement of Belize located to the North of the
Sibun River and the Province of Verapaz in Gua-
temala to the south of said river. This map proves
that up to 1825 after the Independence of Central
America the English remained within the limits of
the Spanish concession of 1786. Hall's map made
in London in 1829 shows the British Settlement
within the frontiers stipulated in the Spanish Con-
vention of 1786.
The State of Guatemala in the Federation grant-
ed various concessions to exploit the forests situated
to the south of the Sibun River and to the North of
the Sarstoon River.
CLAYTON-BULWER TREATY OF 1850.
BOUNDARY CONVENTION OF
APRIL 30, 1859.
DALLAS-CLARENDON TREATY 1856.
CONVENTION OF 1863.
To prohibit British Expansion in Central America
or the acquisition of new territories and to set forth
the position of both powers relative to the probable
construction of an inter-oceanic Canal, Great Britain
and the United States signed the Clayton-Bulwer
Treaty of 1850. This treaty averted a war between
the two great powers as complications developed
after the signing of the Monroe Doctrine.
The United States after this treaty was consider-
eded as the protector of the weaker nations and
great rejoicing was felt in Central America. This
feeling was to be short lived, however, when a few
years later the Filibusters, among them being
William Walker, soon brought about a fear of the
Yankee Menace of the North.
England and the United States declared in the
Clayton-Bulwer treaty that neither would plant
92 .-A I 'rutY o' BF3RITISH HONDURAS
colonies in or exercise any dominion over Nicara-
gua, Costa Rica, the Mosquito Coast or any other
part of Central America.
While the Anglo-American (Crampton-Webster)
Pact was not ratified because of Nicaragua's strong
protest, another treaty between the United States
and Great Britain was signed called the Dallas-
Clarendon which weakened Guatemala's defense.
By this treaty British Honduras was extended to the
Sarstoon River and was declared to be not included
in the Clayton-Bulwer treaty of 1850 and further
stipulating that the west limits of Belize be arrang-
ed directly between Guatemala and Great Britain.
The signing of this treaty brought a protest from
Guatemala as legally it did not bind that nation as
she was not consulted.
Great Britain's new plan of imperialism advanc-
ed with the extension of the Boundaries of Belize,
the occupation of the islands in the Bay of Hon-
duras and the Port of San Juan del Norte in Nica-
ragua. Sir Phillip Wodehouse proclaimed in 1852
Ruattan and adjacent islands, Colony of Great Bri-
tain called the Bay Islands.***
THE BOUNDARY CONVENTION
OF APRIL 30, 1859.
The Boundary Convention of 1859 was between
Guatemala and Great Britain, represented by His
Excellency, the Minister of Foreign Relations, Don
Pedro de Aycimena and Charles Lennox Wyke of
Great Britain. On April 30, 1859, Guatemala agreed
to the settling of the Southern boundary as given
*** (From a Diary oF 1852, received by the Author from
Mrs. Arias of Delize, British Honduas.)
CL,AYTON-BULWER TREATY OF 1850
in the Dallas-Clarendon Treaty and Great Britain
stated that she would help in the construction of
a road from a place near the Settlement of Belize
on the Atlantic Coast to the Capital of Guatemala.
The Acts of the Filibusters brought on such an
unfavorable impression on public opinion in Gua-
temala that a treaty with Great Britain represent-
ing a great power was welcomed. Mr. Clarke of
the American Legation in Guatemala protested the
signing of the treaty of 1859 thus proving that
Great Britain could not change her usufructury
condition in Belize to a title because the Clayton-
Bulwer treaty forbade it.
In 1859 Great Britain obtained everything she
wished, that is, she received a title to legalize her
occupation while Guatemala has not been able to
obtain anything as far as Article VII of the Con-
vention and the supplementary Convention that
followed it in 1863.
"Article Vli". "With the object of practically
carrying out the views set forth in the Preamble
of the present convention for improving and
perpetuation the friendly relations which at
present so happily exist between the High Con-
tracting Parties, they mutually agree conjointly
to use their best efforts by taking adequate means
for establishing the easiest communication (either
by means of a cart road, or employing the rivers.
or both united according to the opinion of the
Surveying Engineers) between the fittest place
on the Atlantic Coast near the Settlement of Be-
lize and the capitol of Guatemala : whereby the
commerce of England on the one hand and the
material prosperity of the Republic on the other,
cannot fail to be sensibly increased, at the same
time that the limits of the two countries being
now clearly defined, all further encroachments
by either party on the territory of the other will
be effectually checked and prevented for the
94 A HISTORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
(Quotation of Article VII as written in the Gua-
temala White Book-1938).
On July 4th, 1860, in a letter from Mr. Lennox
Wyke to the Plenipotentary of Guatemala in Lon-
don, it gives the expense of the construction of a
road, and states that this should be divided bet-
ween the two governments.
During the same year Major Henry Wray of
the office of Engineers was sent to the Republic
by the British Government to work with Manuel
Cana Modrazo of Guatemala and they began sur-
veying. They made the Garbutt Land Mark and
would have continued had not the British agent
received orders from his government to suspend
operations until he should receive new instructions
which never arrived.
In a letter from L. Wyke to the Guatemalan
Minister of Foreign Affairs as quoted in the White
Book of Guatemala :
"I hope that you will have received my letter
from Panama on the subject of promoting a good
understanding between you and us relative to
the manner of carrying out the provisions of the
treaty as it is; that is to say, that both Govern-
ments employ their best efforts to execute the
When England learned the cost of the road and
when L. Wyke left for Mexico without having
settled in London all he had promised when the
pact was signed, the difficulties began.
British Honduras became a Colony of Great
Britain on May 12, 1862.
On July 24, 1862, George B. Mathew, British
Minister in a confidential letter to Don Pedro de
Aycinena Great Britain offers the small sum of
25,000 pounds to comply with the compensary
article of the convention of 1859. This letter in
CLAYTON-BULWER TREATY OF 1860
the White Book shows a recognition of Great Bri-
Great Britain acknowledges her obligations to
Guatemala in many ways. When in the preamble
of the Convention ,of 1863 it is made known and
stated in Article I :
"In order to fulfill the obligations contracted by
Great Britain In the Article VII of the Convention
of the 30th of April 1859 the British Government
shall recommend to her parliament, etc..."
In Article VI : "The present supplementary con-
vention shall be ratified and the ratifications ex-
changed at London or Paris in six months or
sooner as possible."
Although the Supplementary Convention of
1863 was not ratified by either Guatemala or
Great Britain within the six months specified, at-
tempts were made to fulfill it. Guatemala being at
War with El Salvador could not ratify it, however,
two years later the President of Guatemala sent
the Convention of 1863 to the Council of State and
the House of Representatives of his country for its
approval. The Minister for Great Britain informs
the Minister of Foreign Affairs for Guatemala that
if the Convention were ratified Her Majesty's
Government was disposed to ratify it on its part.
On June 30, 1866, the British Government in a
note to the Guatemalan Minister in London stated
that they could not consent to the ratification of
the convention since this had lapsed through the
tardiness of the Government of Guatemala who
did not ratify it within the specified time. Neither
Guatemala nor Great Britain ratifiedcthe convent-
ion and both were under the same obligation.
When the Cabinet change of 1866 occurred
placing Lord Stanley head of the British Chan-
celleroy, he answered the Minister of Guatemala
in London by declaring that Guatemala's failure
96 A IISITORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
to ratify the Supplementary Treaty cancelled -
of Great Britain's obligations of the Convention
April 30, 1859.
During the years following the signing of t
complementary convention of 1863 we find thF
neither Great Britain nor Guatemala ratified
within the proper time thus reviving the conti
versy of the nonfulfillment on the part of Gre
Britain of the obligations to compensate Gual
mala for the sacrifice of her sovereign rights o0
part of her territory. On her part, Guatemala jL
ges then that the treaty becomes void and propos
to arrange the controversy by the honorable a,
civilized method of arbitration.
Great Britain in a note signed by Lord Granvi'
on the 18th of August, 1880 rejects orbitrati-.
and insists in declaring that she is exonerated frc ,
all obligations. British contribution, by this tirn
had been reduced to 50,000 pounds.
In the declaration of London of 1871 formula
ed by the European powers including Great Britc
there is stated "no power can disengage hers,
from the Compromises imposed by a treaty r.
modify its stipulations except in the case of mutu:
consent by both parties through a friendly agree
ment." Now, in view of these principles it is r t
possible that either Great Britain or Guatemc'.-
could withdraw from the stipulations of the trec
without a mutual agreement.
The Government of Washington kept a shor
eye on the developments. Mr. Frelinghuysen, ',
cretary of State, advised Lord Granville that :
his Government's mind (the United States), t'.(
control that Great Britain exercised over Briti
Honduras was illegal.
In 1894 the Boundary Treaty between Yucat
and Belize was completed. The British affirmati.
of having possessed the Guatemalan territory co
CLAYTON-BULWER TREATY OF 1850
prised between the Sibun River and Sarstoon River
iince prior to independence (of Central America
1821) has no historical, geographical or juridical
If the convention of 1859 was essentially a
reaty of boundaries, Great Britain by that treaty
obtainedd the title from the state to whom British
Honduras would have belonged had there not been
ny British occupation. Consequently, in agreeing
ao aid in the construction of road that was un-
questionably needed for the progress of Guate-
mala, Great Britain did nothing else but to repay
-he recognition of a right which she had not pos-
sessed. Independently of Guatemala's recognition
)f British Sovereignty as for as the Sibun River she
Iad also obtained from Guatemala the recognition
of the territory situated to the south between the
Rivers Sibun and Sarstoon.
In two acts of the Parliament of the United
Kingdom in 1817 and 1819 it is admitted that
Belize is not within the British Dominion. The
United States while they concede that Great Bri-
tain has rights in Belize positively deny that Be-
lize is a British Province or any part of the British
The preceding statements point out the opi-
nions of the United States and of the British Par-
liament in the nineteenth century.
Then for years Guatemala tried to arrive at a
solution to this problem but Great Britain paid no
attention. On April 5, 1884, a formal protest
*** (Diplomatic correspondence of the United States se-
lected and arranged by Wvn. F1'. Manning I'HD Volume VII
Washington Carnegie Icndownmnt for International Peace.
98 A HISTORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
against her rights being disregarded was made by
Guatemala. From 1884 to the turn of the Century,
the problem remained unsolved.
The turn of the century found the controversy
unchanged with the countries of Central America
nearly at war. In 1907 to prevent hostilities, a
conference was held in Washington to settle all
outstanding difficulties. They met on November
14th, the United States represented by Mr. William
Buchanan. They drew up eight conventions which
were signed by the delegates, one of which estab-
lished a Central American Court of Justice con-
sisting of five judges. This court in 1908 averted
a general Central American war and had sponsor-
ed a spirit of Central American unity. The States
realized more fully their dependence upon one
another and the importance of presenting a united
front to the world.
Guatemala's need for an East Coast Outlet led
to the building of a railroad from the Capitol to
In 1933 the British Legation in Guatemala asked
for the demarkation of the boundary line between
Guatemala and British Honduras. The Guatemalan
100 A HISTORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
Chancellory replied asking if his Majesty's Govern-
ment, would be prepared to carry out the bilateral
stipulations of Clause VII of the 1859 Convention.
During 1934 the matter remained with Great Bri-
tain demanding recognition of the frontier delim-
ited by British Engineers and the Republic of Gua-
temala maintaining its integral compliance with
the convention of 1859. For Great Britain all the
proposals made by Guatemala were unacceptable
to them. Smuggling on the Sarstoon River between
Belize and Guatemala caused an exchange of
letters regarding the boundary.
Following this unsuccessful attempt at formulat-
ing a solution Guatemala finally proposed that the
controversy be submitted to President F. D. Roose-
velt for arbitration. Great Britain would not accept
the United States President as an arbitrator and
suggested that it be submitted to a Judicial decision
of the Court of Permanent International Justice
at the Hague. Guatemala did not wish to resort
to the court decision.
In September 1936, Guatemala proposed a
formula to Great Britain in the following : return
of Belize, and the Republic of Guatemala pays
Great Britain 400,000 pounds, and the Republic
relinquishes absolutely any claims on the part of
Great Britain with the treaty of 1859. In case
Great Britain should not accept from the Republic
of Guatemala the said sum of money, Guatemala
proposes that Great Britain pay the Republic the
same sum, furthermore, a strip of land which it
needs to give Peten an outlet to the sea.
The second formula for a settlement submitted
by Guatemala was : The Republic would approve
the demarkation of the Frontiers made by the
Government of Great Britain; The Republic of
Guatemala relinquishes its claim for non com-
pliance with the treaty of April 30, 1859. In com-
pensation Great Britain would pay the sum of
50,000 pounds plus interest at 4% annually from
April 30, 1859, and Great Britain as further com-
pensation would give a strip of land so that the
Dep't of El Peten bound on Belize may have an
outlet to the sea.
In his note of March 3, 1938, the Minister of
Great Britain informed the Guatemala Minister of
Foreign Affairs that it would serve no useful pur-
pose to pursue the matter further, therefore, the
matter 'returns to the status in which it was when
the treaty was made.
Guatemala finds that non-compliance with the
obligations has caused the convention to lapse
and thqt Great Britain holds illegally the Territor-
ies of the Anglo-Spanish pacts of 1783 and 1786,
and the two large areas of which she took control
by the convention of 1859 prior to repudiating the
For the sake of unity and peace Guatemala said
she would set aside her claims until after the war.
The condition of the controversy at that time was
one of an international dispute unsolved.
Since the Revolution in Guatemala in 1944 a
group of Young Men with progressive ideas have
come into power. In their new Constitution Belize
was made part of Guatemala and its residents
have Guatemalan rights.
Great Britain proposed to refer the territorial
dispute to the United Nations Organization Inter-
national Court of Justice, in 1946.
For 87 years Great Britain did not aid in the
Republic in construction of a road to the Capitol
of Guatemala nor make any payment. Guatemala
now has a railroad from the capital, Guatemalo
City, to Port Barrios. In the Colony a road has
been constructed to the Guatemalan frontier at
El Coyo but it is not passable the entire year due
102 A HISTORY OF BRITISH HONDURAS
to the rains. Great Britain cannot in any way
show a title whereby she acquired territorial sover-
eignty to British Honduras.
Whether Great Britain tried in the treaty of
1859 to conceal a territorial acquisition to which
she had no right in Central America because of
the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty signed with the United
States in 1850 is a matter to be settled by the
United Nations Organization.
The history of this dispute should not only be
based upon historical claims but upon human
rights. Within the boundary of this small colony
live over sixty thousand humans, the greater part
of them dissatisfied with their present conditions.
British Honduras stands alone today, guided by
British born officers and Governor as a 'Crown
Colony isolated on the East Coast of Central
America. Great Britain has done little if anything
to aid in the material progress of the colony,
during the last fifty years. Little is known of this
colony and in only a few libraries can anything at
all be found regarding Belize. This Colony with
its people eager for advancement remain unknown
to the world. Only two books have ever been pub-
lished in the United States that deal with the
colony in 1869 and 1889.
The Anglo-American Commission created in
1942 has had some success. It faces many pro-
blems. Their program for political and economic
regeneration of the Carribean has a sincere basis
which may be too ambitious to be carried out at
once. Evils arising from deep rooted habits and
fundamental social conditions cannot be done
away with by mere international agreement.
The unity caused by the Central American
Court of Justice may account for the backing Gua-
temala has rallied to her defense of the conven-
tion of 1859. Among the prominent men of the
Central and South American countries to submit
articles in Guatemala's White Book are:
Mr. Luis Anderson of Costa Rica.
Lic. Alejandro Alvarado Quiros of Costa Rica.
Dr. Isidoro Ruiz Moreno (Prof. of Public Inter-
national Low at the University of Buenos Aires).
Dr. Ernesto Barros Jarpa of Chile and
Dr. Emilio Alvarez Lejarzo (Prof. of the Law
School of Managua in Nicaragua).
The controversy remains to be settled and re-
volves around the convention of 1859. Guatema-
la's claims as well as England's will have to be
considered. The future of 60,000 or more people
with a culture of their own is also to be considered.
Ninety percent or more of citizens of Belize are
colored with backgrounds different from that of
the American Negro or the White Englishman or
the Central American Spanish. This too will have
to be considered in the future settling of this con-
The facts mentioned in the chapter are based
upon English, American and Guatemalan sources
given in the Bibliography.
The following bibliography is recommended to
the reader who may wish to further study the his-
tory of British Honduras and Central America.
The references are in English and Spanish. More
bibliography helps will be found in works listed
Aspinal, Sir Algernon, The Pocket Guide to the
West Indies. Sifton Proed, London, 1940.
Anderson, Captain George, An Account of the
British Settlement to Honduras. Balwin, London,
Annual Medical and Sanitary Report. Medical
Department, British Honduras, 1912-1941.
Anthony, Irwin, Raleigh and His World. Scrib-
Bancroft, Hubert Howe, History of Central
America. Volume II. A. L. Bancroft and Company
Publishers, San Francisco, California, 1883.
Bell, Herbert C., and Parker, Donald W., The
Guide to British West Indies Archive Materials in
London and in the Islands for the History of the
United States. Washington, 1926.
Bristowe, Lindsay W. and Wright Phillip, Hand-
book of British Honduras, 1888-1889. Wm. Black-
wood and Son, Edinburg and London, 1889.
British Honduras Almanack, 1884, Belize, Bri-
Burdon, Major Sir John Alder, Archives of Bri-
tish Honduras. Volumes I, II and III111 (1931-1935).