Title Page
 Spanish discovery
 Protestant sea rovers
 The Puritan colonists
 Captain Willis
 Buccaneers and pirates
 Attracted by logwood

Group Title: The Beginning of British Honduras 1506-1765
Title: The Beginning of British Honduras, 1506-1765
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00099216/00001
 Material Information
Title: The Beginning of British Honduras, 1506-1765
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Winzerling, E. O.
Publisher: North River Press
Place of Publication: New York
Publication Date: 1946
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Bibliographic ID: UF00099216
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Belize National Library Service and Information System
Holding Location: Belize National Library Service and Information System
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 1892890


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Table of Contents
    Title Page
        Page 1
        Page 2
    Spanish discovery
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
        Page 10
        Page 11
        Page 12
        Page 13
        Page 14
    Protestant sea rovers
        Page 15
        Page 16
        Page 17
        Page 18
        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
        Page 24
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
        Page 30
        Page 31
        Page 32
    The Puritan colonists
        Page 33
        Page 34
        Page 35
        Page 36
        Page 37
        Page 38
        Page 39
        Page 40
        Page 41
        Page 42
        Page 43
        Page 44
        Page 45
        Page 46
        Page 47
        Page 48
        Page 49
        Page 50
    Captain Willis
        Page 51
        Page 52
        Page 53
        Page 54
        Page 55
        Page 56
        Page 57
        Page 58
        Page 59
        Page 60
        Page 61
        Page 62
        Page 63
        Page 64
    Buccaneers and pirates
        Page 65
        Page 66
        Page 67
        Page 68
        Page 69
        Page 70
        Page 71
        Page 72
        Page 73
        Page 74
        Page 75
        Page 76
        Page 77
        Page 78
        Page 79
        Page 80
    Attracted by logwood
        Page 81
        Page 82
        Page 83
        Page 84
        Page 85
        Page 86
        Page 87
        Page 88
        Page 89
        Page 90
Full Text





1506 -1765




New York, N. Y.


Cok'YRIGIT, 1946, By





The Columbus contact with Honduras was made in 1502,
on his fourth voyage to the New World, ten years after he
had landed at San Salvador in the Bahamas. The great Gen-
oese navigator in the service of Spain, seeking a waterway to
India and China through Middle America, touched at Gua-
naja, now Bonacca, in the Bay Islands. There he received
the visit of a huge canoe some eight feet wide, made from a
single log, paddled by two dozen men, and coming from a
region in the northwest called "Maiam." A Maya chief or
trader was lodged in the centre of the dugout, and from the
implements of these visitors, their cotton mantles, gold ear-
rings, pottery, and general deportment the Admiral con-
cluded that he had touched the outpost of a civilization much
more developed than that of the Caribs of the West India
Islands from where he had just sailed.
From Guanaja he proceeded to the mainland, where mass
was said at Punta Casinas, near what are now Punta Castilla
and Truxillo, on Sunday June 14, but as Columbus was ill
he did not land personally either here or at the Rio de la
Posesion on Wednesday the 17th. However, his sons Barto-
lome and Fernando did so. Columbus, as a seaman, was not
much interested in exploring the land, so he continued his
voyage southward, looking for the waterway to Caibay. At
Cape Gracias a Dios he found shelter from a great storm, and
this name perpetuates his thanks to God for escaping from
the area of great depths he called "Las Honduras."

4 The Beginning of British Honduras
The region now called British Honduras was discovered
between December 1506 and March 1507 by the two Spanish
navigators Vicente Yanez Pinzon and Juan Diaz de Solis4 In
three caravels they sailed westward from Guanaja, skirted the
coast to the south, then entered what is now the Gulf of
Honduras, which Pinzon called Bahia de Navidad, and con-
tinued still farther to the west right up to the Rio Dulce.
With them was the pilot Pedro Ledesma, who had been with
Columbus in 1502, when he touched at Guanaja and landed
at Punta Casinas. Herrera y Tordesillas points out in his
history that this point was so named by the Admiral on ac-
count of its having many trees whose fruit are a kind of small
apples that are good to eat and are called "casinas" in the
language of the aboriginals. This is the sapodilla tree.
It can be assumed with certainty that Pinzon and Solis gave
the name "Navidad" because they arrived here at Christmas
time. They remained at anchor for about three months, bar-
tering with the natives and looking for the waterway to the
Spice Islands. Then there was not a single coconut tree in
the Bay of Honduras. Huge mahogany, tubroose, and sapo-
dilla trees grew on the seacoast and many of the cayes, whilst
at Monkey River the loud snoring of the baboons attracted
the gaze of the inquiring Spaniards. In the neighbourhood
of the Sittee River, Pinzon and Solis met many of the Moskito
Indians, comparatively new-comers who were established on
the Cockscomb Coast perhaps only three hundred years and
whose raids had caused the Maya settlements on the coast to
be abandoned. These Indians, who like the Caribs of the
Antilles came originally from the Orinoco and Essiquibo
area lived mainly on the numerous turtles, iguana lizards,
and birds' eggs that then abounded on the cayes. Like the
Peruvians of Incaic times, the concept money was unknown
to them. They knew only the concept value, and this they
used in bartering with their Spanish visitors.
On sailing out of the gulf in 1507, Pinzon and Solis went
north towards Cape Catoche in Yucatan and returned to

Spanish Discovery 5
Hispaniola. From outside the reef they discerned in the west
the jagged, saw-like crest of what are now the Cockscomb
Mountains, to which the name Sierra de Caria, or Cariay, was
applied. Every seaman is impressed by this isolated moun-
tain group which is the colony's most conspicuous landmark
from the sea. The Moskito Indians, the abundance of turtle,
the cayes, the flatness of the coast, reminded Pedro Ledesma
of the Mosquito Coast he had sailed along with Columbus
in 1502, which coast Columbus called Caria, or Cariay, after
the shell of the hawksbill turtle.
The Honduras Almanack of 1829 says-"Turtle eggs are
found in abundance on the low sandy beaches of the cayes
towards the Spanish Main, between the ports of Omoa and
Truxillo. Prodigious shoals of turtle cross the spacious Bay
of Honduras as far as the Grand Cayman to lay, a passage of
about 150 leagues, and it has frequently been asserted that
vessels which had lost their latitude in hazy weather have
often been safely conducted by the noise of their swimming
towards these islands. When they are done laying they re-
turn to the cayes where they recover."
Amerigo Vespucci had helped to prepare this expedition,
but did not go with it on account of the many set-backs in
Spain and the curtailment of its intended scope before the
king gave his sanction in 1505. However, Amerigo Vespucci
had touched the mainland of Honduras in the summer of
1497 on the first of his so-called four voyages to America, and
Pedro Ledesma had been in the Bay of Honduras in 1499
searching for the waterway to the Spice Islands. Sailing be-
yond the assigned latitudes or without the royal permission
caused much animosity with Columbus and his supports,
and so the accounts of these two voyages sometimes took the
dates when they occurred or when the accounts were pub-
In 1492 Vicente Yanez Pinzon had commanded the caravel
"Nina" when Columbus discovered America, and in 1500
he discovered Brazil a few months before the Portuguese un-

6 The Beginning of British Honduras
der Alvarez de Cabral. Juan Diaz de Solis discovered the Rio
de la Plata, Argentina, in 1514.
In 1511 a schooner returning from Darien to Hispaniola
was wrecked on the Vipers Rocks, off Jamaica. The crew took
to the ship's boats and after 13 days were drifted by currents
on the Caribbean coast of Yucatan, where some perished from
hunger and exposure, some were promptly sacrificed by the
cannibal natives into whose hands they fell, whilst the two
women who were amongst the 17 survivors were worked to
death crushing maize. Two of the survivors however escaped
from the cages in which prisoners were kept pending sacrifice.
One of these two was Geronimo de Aguilar, whose lot it was
first to be a slave and then a counsellor to the chief of Chete-
mal in the Bakhalal area into whose territory he had fled
to disappoint the stomachs of his first captors.
In 1517, Hernandez de Cordoba sailed with three vessels
from Cuba to obtain slaves from some of the islands in the
Bay of Honduras. Cordoba had with him .the pilot Juan
Alaminos, who was a native of Palos and had been with
Columbus when he discovered Honduras in 1502. Pinzon
and Solis had brought back a map of this bay to Spain, and
however sketchy and superficial it was, it was now used. This
map made by the cartographer Juan de la Cosa is no longer
extanL. Heavy gales drove Cordoba out of his course, and
after being battered about for three weeks found himself on
a strange and unknown coast. This was the peninsula of
Yucatan, where the fierce Maya Indians had already had news
of the Spanish settlements in the Antilles. When he landed
near Isla Mugeres he found a different race and signs of a
native civilization much higher than that of Cuba and His-
paniola. The fields were better cultivated, the houses were
built of stone and lime, the people wore finely-woven cotton
clothes, and nearly everyone was hostile. In Campeche he
saw temple walls adorned with figures of snakes and painted
idols. Bernal Diaz del Castillo, later the comrade in arms of
Hernan Cortes, 'ok part in this voyage. More was learned

Spanish Discovery 7.
of the coast of North, Central, and South America in this pe-
riod than has been divulged. The rivalry of Spain and Por-
tugal led to a careful secrecy regarding all that was discov-
ered, and there is no doubt that many Spanish contacts were
made with the eastern coast of Central America that were
never revealed to the general public, and this information
perished in the Spanish archives or disappeared on the death
of the navigators and the friends with whom they spoke about
their wanderings.
Cordoba was repeatedly asked whether he came from the
east. He received more than a dozen wounds in one of his
many skirmishes with the Mayas, and after enduring many
hardships and sufferings as he courageously coasted about
the peninsula returned to Cuba with a loss of one half of the
original 110 men he had taken with him. The news of this
contact with the mainland opposite Cuba contained exag-
gerated statements about the wealth of the country which
were mainly based on the few, small, and often curiously
wrought gold trinkets they had obtained from the Indians.
Yet it strengthened those vague rumours which from time
to time were heard in the islands about a great empire lying
to the west. Velasquez, the governor of Cuba, quickly de-
cided to follow up this discovery and he dispatched a little
squadron of four vessels which was commanded by his neph-
ew, Juan de Grijalva. Stopping first at the Island of Cozumel,
he coasted down the Caribbean side of the peninsula as far
as the Bays of Ascension and Espirto Santo, passing Tulum,
and like Cordoba he was struck with the architecture and
other evidences of a higher cultural level.
He also came across large stone crosses that were objects
of worship in various places, and heard reports about six
Spaniards who were being held by the natives. But the peo-
ple were unfriendly, and turning back he doubled Cape
Catoche and went down the Campeche coast, where he bar-
tered copper axes which were supposed to contain gold, and
called at what is now the Grijalva river iu Tabasco. He was

8 The Beginning of British Honduras
now in the territory of the Aztec emperor, and a friendly con-
ference took place between Grijalva and the cacique who
ruled the province as tributary to Montezuma. This native
chief wanted to find out as much as possible about these
strangers and transmit the information to his master who too
had heard about the raids or visits of the white men. The
visitor wanted to find out more about the great Indian em-
pire in the interior of which he had heard. They exchanged
presents, the Spaniards giving trifling objects of European
manufacture like glass beads, the Indians giving gold orna-
ments of careful workmanship and strange forms valued at
15 or 20 thousand pesos de oro.
Grijalva returned to Cuba, and the next visitors came in
1519 with ships, men, horses, cannons, and swords, led by
Hernan Cortes now on his way to conquer Mexico. In Cozu-
mel he caused the stone crosses of the deity to which the
whole neighbourhood made pilgrimages to be rolled down
from their pedestals to prove their inferiority to his religion
which he offered them. On the Yucatan coast he picked up
Geronimo de Aguilar who had received message from his
countrymen to embrace this opportunity of returning across
the forest, and in Tabasco Cortes fought and won a great
battle after which several native girls were given him as a
propitiatory gift. Amongst these girls was a Mexican one,
later named Marina, who with Aguilar rendered service as
interpreters to Cortes and so helped in the conquest of the
Aztec state. Through the Aztec picture-writing Montezuma
received information of the landing of a new kind of people
on the distant shores of his empire, a people unlike his own
because of their fair skins and ample beards. Their coming
from the east instantly reminded him of the promise made
by Quetzalcoatl about his eventual return from that direction
to set up his empire again. Moreover, these visitors were de-
termined centaur-like beings who brought with them a varie-
ty of thunder and lightning. The picture-writing showed
their sharp, death-dealing swords and huge floating bird-like

Spanish Discovery 9
boats that brought them from the east. Kumours of tlir
coming to Cuba which Mont'uma had been hearing for., v-
eral years were at last confirmed. -
In 1523 Cortes sent from Mexico`. -iko9Jr '- id with
6 ships, 400 Spaniards, and 30 horses to the distant coast of
Honduras for the purpose of joining that territory to the
Spanish monarchy. He had heard that Gil Gonzales de Avila
was making preparations in Hispaniola to conquer this ter-
ritory which was already known to pilots and rumoured
to be rich. But on his way Olid was seduced by Velasquez
the relentless enemy of Cortes, and after his arrival in Hon-
duras he emancipated himself from Cortes' authority. There-
upon Cortes dispatched Francisco de las Casas with two ves-
sels to punish Olid, but he was wrecked, and fell into the
hands of the bold rebel. These happenings so angered Cortes
that he decided to undertake an expedition overland to Hon-
duras. He left Mexico in October 1524, accompanied by his
able young lieutenant Gonzalo de Sandoval and followed
more or less the old commercial and military road used by
the Toltecs and Aztecs in their raids on the lowlands.
His army suffered much from hunger and the marshy
nature of the country where the natives in numerous cases
burned their villages and fled. Because of the unfriendliness
of the area he could not get canoes to cross all the rivers. Then
he made that unique bridge of which he said that it had one
thousand tree trunks the smallest of which was about the
thickness of a man's body, to say nothing of smaller logs
which were beyond number, that it would take more than
ten years to destroy unless interfered with by men or burnt,
and that the natives came from far and wide to admire it. He
passed very near Palenque, where Mayas of the Chol branch
of the family live in this neighbourhood from ancient times.
Up to the Usumacinta he found his way with the help of
charts which the inhabitants of Coatzacoalco had given him.
Beyond the Usumacinta he arrived in a region called Acalan
whose inhabitants carried on an uninterrupted commerce

10 The Beginning of British Honduras
and canoe service with Tabasco and Xcalango. In boats which
the Acaltec merchant king placed at his disposal he crossed
the Usumacinta, flowing through marshy land and vast wild-
erness in which the Maya inhabitants were far more numer-
ous than to-day. This is a region of tropical luxurious-
ness and wild beauty. Here, in Acalan, Cortes received pre-
cise information about the Spaniards of Gil Gonzales de Avila
who had settled on the Golfo Dulce. On a piece of cloth the
Indians painted for him all the rivers, lakes, and swamps he
would have to cross on this overland journey to the Golfo
Dulce. Then there was still a noble independence about
these Indian chiefs as they spoke to Cortes as man to man,
extended their hospitality, and reminded him that some inha-
bitants were still hiding in the forests and hills because his
countrymen had burned many places when visiting the coun-
try on an earlier occasion. They also told him of some Span-
iards who were causing the same trouble near the Bay of
Ascension on the other side of the Yucatan coast, had killed
certain natives, and severely injured merchants and traders.
After enduring great hardships and privations Cortes ar-
rived with his little army at the west end of the beautiful lake
of Holtuna or Peten-Itza, where he camped and sent messen-
gers to the Canek in the island city of Tayasal, two and a half
leagues distant, inviting him to an interview. Next day the
Canek came in canoes with a small retinue to Cortes' camp
where he was received with great distinction, and mass was
said. By order of Cortes the region between the Lake of
Peten and the Golfo Dulce was traversed in various directions
as he marched onward, by both Spaniards and his Indian
auxiliaries, but only a few human beings were found, al-
though these regions had up to this time been well-peopled
in parts. This wilderness west of British Honduras was once
a great highway of migratory nations which in the course of
a thousand years moved back and forth between Palenque
and Copan. This extensive region of endlessly concealing
forests through which the Rio de la Pasion and Rio Cancuen

Spanish Discovery 11
flow was probably always on a lower plane of social and ma-
terial development than the regions to the north and south
where lie the ruined cities. In Spanish colonial times, how-
ever, it fell to its present condition through the cessation of
traffic and the submersion of all former existing conditions
in the new economic and colonial orientation of Spain, which
further lessened the population and helped the disintegra-
tion of the social and religious organization of the tribes.
Hereabout Bernal Diaz del Castillo, the future historian, was
sent on a foraging expedition by Cortes, and he must have
passed near the extensive ruins of Lubaantun in Southern
British Honduras.
San Gil de Buenavista, the first European settlement in the
Bay of Honduras, was made in 1524 by Gil Gonzales de Avila,
the discoverer of Nicaragua, the same leader who had set out
a few years before from Panama with men and horses, sailed
northward on the Pacific coast, landed, and entered the fertile
country lying between the Nicaraguan lakes and the Pacific
which was then densely peopled. Here he was hospitably
received by the great chief Nicarao after whom the country
is named. This chief had been informed of the sharpness of
the Spanish swords and was of the same Nahua stock as the
Toltecs and Aztecs, with whose calendar he was familiar. He
presented the Spanish commander with much gold, equal to
25,000 pieces of eight, and garments and plumes and feathers.
Nine thousand Indians were baptised after overthrowing
their idols. Nicarao asked the Spaniards many shrewd ques-
tions about the great flood and the sun, moon, stars, about
their motion, their quality, their distance, and what was the
cause of night and day and the blowing of the winds. But he
also asked them to tell him what so few men as they were go-
ing to do with so much gold. In 1519 Gil Gonzales de Avila
had been given a license from the King of Spain to explore
for 3,000 miles along the Pacific west and north of Panama,
from where he had set out and where he incurred the jealousy
of Pedrarias Davila, governor of Darien, the same fellow who

12 The Beginning of British Honduras
had hanged Vasco Nunez de Balboa the discoverer of the
Pacific Ocean.
Gil Gonzales de Avila had come to the Bay with an expedi-
tion direct from Hispaniola six weeks before Olid. But he
himself was now no longer with his people. He had left,
skirted the Gulf coast, and entered the Olancho valley in
Honduras whereabout he met and routed Hernando de Soto
by a stratagem and took away from him 120,000 dollars in
gold. De Soto was later in the conquest of Peru with Pizarro,
and still later discovered the Mississippi River, but now he
had come overland from Nicaragua as he was connected with
Pedrarias Davila who was operating from Panama northward.
Soon after Cristobal de Olid began to enter the country from
where he had landed at Triunfo de la Cruz fourteen leagues
east of Puerto Caballos. Gil Gonzales, learning of this, liber-
ated De Soto and proceeded toward the coast to meet this new
enemy who had neither priority nor license. But it hap-
pened that both Gil Gonzales and Francisco de las Casas were
made prisoners by Olid who was of strong physique and al-
ways went about unarmed even amongst his enemies. -Las
Casas and Gil Gonzales ate at Olid's table, and one night in
a discussion he was wounded by his two prisoners and later
executed in the market place of Naco, then a populous Indian
centre near the present San Pedro Sula. Shortly afterwards
Las Casas made Gil Gonzales a prisoner, and sent him to
Mexico overland, thus losing his Honduras discoveries and
conquests as he lost his Nicaragua discoveries and conquest.
Soldier and mystic, Gil Gonazles de Avila was a friend of the
powerful Bishop Fonseca of Burgos, head of the Department
of the Indies in the Royal Audience. These extraordinary
meetings of bold and resourceful adventurers before Cortes
came show us the aggressive rivalry and intrigue amongst the
conquistadores. All of them had trouble with scarcity of food
on the Atlantic shores of Honduras, where only the interior
valleys were cultivated and thickly peopled with Indians who
died off quickly and so caused scarcity of labour to the sub-

Spanish Discovery 13

sequent colonists who worked the gold mines of Honduras
which were very rich.
On nearing the coast Cortes wished to take by surprise the
little Spanish settlement of San Gil de Buenavista which Gil
Gonzales had founded at the mouth of the Golfo Dulce, in
the area called "Las Hibueras," because of the number of
calabashess" floating about the Gulf. A local name of this
marine nut which resembles a large fig is still here in the
name Cocolis Point. Cortes fell in with a party of its starving
settlers searching for food in the forest, and shortly thereafter
both groups were pleased to welcome a caravel most oppor-
tunely arriving with much needed supplies from Cuba for
the settlers. A detachment of Cortes' men explored the coast
to the north and entered what is now the Punta Ycacos
Lagoon. Cortes then left San Gil de Buenavista taking with
him some four dozen pale and sickly men and women of Gil
Gonzales' colony and founded a new settlement at Puerto
Caballos, or La Natividad de Nuestra Senora, the spot where
Gil Gonzales had thrown the seventeen dead horses into the
sea when he arrived in the spring of 1524. Then Cortes went
to Truxillo, founded by Francisco de las Casas, and from
there he returned to Mexico by water, thus making a com-
plete circle around what is now British Honduras.
The fathers of these conquerors had fought in that long
series of wars which ended with expulsion of the Moors from
Spain. Religious zeal was strong in their adventurous sons,
and they were ever desirous of converting the Indians to the
Roman Catholic faith. Jealousy of Spain's wealth and power
made her for a long time the whipping-boy of many writers
who often show a lack of familiarity with the strong individ-
ualism in the Spanish character. In Spanish literature and
painting of the Siglo de Oro it is plainly seen, and so the
manner in which the New World was overrun in the first
half of the sixteenth century is thoroughly Spanish in the
reflexion of individual ambitions rather than such as are
meant to serve the community. Such were the forerunners of

14 The Beginning of British Honduras
the 300 years of European occupation which brought to these
people living in the stone age the high civilization of Spain
with its beautiful language, its feudal, legal, and religious
system. After the conquest, the Andalusian influence in
Spain's colonization was stronger than the Castilian, and one
finds it surviving to-day in the pronunciation of the language
throughout Spanish America once ruled by the Royal Audi-
ence and the Council of the Indies at Seville.
Bacalar was founded in 1545 by Melchior Pacheco on the
site called by the Maya Indians Bakhalal, which he named
Salamanca. Father Lorenzo de Bienvenida, who came to
Yucatan in 1534 and died there in 1560 was familiar with
Bacalar where he baptised many Indians. He worked in
Merida and Campeche, returned to Spain three times, and
wrote that Gaspar Pacheco had been given this captaincy on
condition that he should go and conquer some provinces ly-
ing in the direction of the Golfo Dulce. This is a reference
to the Cockscomb Coast. Thus, the two Pachecos, Gaspar and
Melchior, established regular communication for a time on
this coast between Bacalar and the Golfo Dulce, an old Indian
water route which the Spaniards gave up after a generation,
because of the unhealthy climate at both ends, unlike the
healthier Cockscomb Coast which lies between.



The bull of Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI, of May
3, 1493, established the line of partition which divided that
part of the world not possessed by any Christian prince be-
tween Spain and Portugal by a meridian line 100 leagues west
of the Azores. But Francis I of France refused to accept the
division of the oceans between two nations, and he gave or-
ders to his privateer captains to pursue their advantage on
the seas until Spain and Portugal allowed freedom of move-
ment between the lands of Asia, Africa, and America. If
Spain and Portugal would rule the waves, France would
waive the rules. Thus he extended his high patronage to the
filibusters to achieve unhindered freedom of the seas and
make the Spaniards and Portuguese salute his flag.
When Cortes was conquering Mexico, French corsairs
were already off Cuba and Hispaniola, and when he sent
Alonso de Avila with Montezuma's treasures in three caravels
to Charles the Fifth in 1523 they were seized near the Azores
by Jean Fleury, one of the captains of Jean Ango of Dieppe,
and as a result Alonso de Avila was kept three years a prisoner
in La Rochelle. Cortes in his correspondence with the em-
peror rightly laid the blame on the inadequate convoy sup-
plied by Seville. Jean Ango, father and son, owned, built,
and operated a whole fleet of trading vessels from Dieppe,
Le Havre, Fecamp, and Honfleur, of which every one was
a man of war and every captain a pirate. They were very
pious, contributed to charities, and gave stained glass win-

16 The Beginning of British Honduras

dows to the churches of Normandy. In spite of the Spanish
and Portuguese pretensions, French corsairs traded openly
with the natives of the coast of Guinea and the Caribbean
lands, and held their own upon the seas.
Jacques Cartier of Saint Malo made his three voyages to
Terre Neuve and the St. Lawrence from 1534-41. In July
1543 a fleet of French corsairs took Cartagena Indias, and in
1555 the Norman captain Francois Le Clerc, a la jambe de
bois, a friend of Admiral Coligny, commanded the expedi-
tion against Havana. In the same year another Norman
Huguenot captain, Jacques de Sores, sacked and destroyed
Havana. On May 3rd 1537 from ten to a dozen of these
French corsair vessels were seen in the Bay of Honduras by
one Garcia de Celis who stated that they had taken ten ships
and had no less than forty vessels lying in wait for the Span-
ish galleons in those waters. The viceroy of Mexico protested
against the blockade of the Yucatan Channel by French cor-
sairs, and reported to Havana in 1544 the presence of six of
their vessels on his coast. The Bahama Channel was then very
rarely used on account of difficulties with the violent cur-
rents. Hispaniola and Puerto Rico were constantly harassed
by the corsairs. Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, the Isle of
Pines, and the Cockscomb Coast often served them as bases
in the 16th century when their depredations were severely
felt at the Casa de Contratacion in Seville.
In 1553 Francois Le Clerc of St. Vaast La Hougue, Jacques
de Sores, Paul Blondel of St. Valery, and Jean Bontemps with
a dozen vessels and a thousand men harassed the Caribbean
and continued for some twenty years. On September 30,
1558 the viceroy of New Spain reported the capture of Puerto
Caballos and Truxillo by the French. Their vessels were
named in the French equivalent of "cock-eyed-beggar," "red-
haired-hussy," and "mangy dog." Norman and Breton sailors
were early familiar with Brazil, and in 1555 Villegagnon
established a French colony in the Bay of Rio de Janeiro, the
first attempt of Admiral Coligny to found a Protestant set-

Protestant Sea Rovers

tlement in America. De la Ronciere, in his "Histoire de la
Marine Francaise," tells us that Francois Le Clerc, Jacques
de Sores, and Bontemps were also in the service of Queen
Elizabeth, and when the then Earl of Warwick asked for a
pension for them in view of the numerous prizes they had
taken, she replied "Give them their discharge."
In 1562 Jean Ribaut and Rene de Laudonniere established
the French colony in Northern Florida for Gaspard de Co-
ligny, Admiral of France with the consent of Charles IX. The
admiral sought to plant a colony in the New World as a
refuge for his persecuted people from the religious and civil
wars. In 1564 more colonists were brought to Florida from
France. What the English Puritans did in the 17th century,
Admiral Coligny planned to do with the Huguenots in the
16th. But the colonists were always restless and discontented
because they were for the most part Huguenots only in name
and thought less of escaping religious persecution at home
than of enriching themselves abroad. They were haunted
by stories the Indians told them of lands in the interior where
gold was to be found and about other tales about riches on
the Spanish Main to the south. Some soldiers of the first
group revolted and killed the captain Jean Ribaut had put
in charge of their fort. Then a party of sailors stole two pin-
naces and went off on a buccaneering cruise. Then other
mutineers seized the fort and compelled Laudonniere to give
them written permission to sail in a vessel among the Spanish
settlements in the West Indies and the Spanish Main to seek
provisions by purchase or by piracy. Driven back by the
Spaniards, some were hanged by Laudonniere. In September
1568 the French colonists which included Jean Ribot, four
captains, sailors, male and female colonists with children, 873
in all, were massacred by a Spanish expedition under Menen-
dez de Aviles, captain general of Cuba. After the slaughter
he put up an inscription on the spot with the words, "I do
this not towards Frenchmen but towards Lutherans." Some
of the French had been spared in the massacre, some returned

18 The Beginning of British Honduras
to France with Laudonniere, some went to the Lamanay-
Cockscomb area in the Bay of Honduras. The Huguenots
always approached Florida through the Caribbean and the
Yucatan Channel, and as some of the early Spanish navigators
did mistake the Yucatan peninsula for the Florida peninsula
it was but natural at that time that the Huguenots should
have been similarly attracted by certain topographical re-
The Elizabethans not only availed themselves of the ser-
vice of the Venetian and Genoese shipwrights and seamen of
Bristol but of the French seamen who had experience in
American waters. When in London in 1563, Jean Ribot was
offered to turn his colony over to Thomas Stukeley. Laudon-
niere was landed at Swansea by a French vessel after the mas-
sacre, and he went to London where Sir Walter Raleigh and
Richard Hakluyt gave monetary assistance for the publica-
tion of his narrative of the French in the Floridas. Sir Walter
Raleigh had fought on the Huguenot side in the religious
wars in France, was at Jarnac, witnessed the retreat from
Moncontour, and was in Paris during the Massacre of St.
Bartholomew in 1572 which was instigated by Catherine de
Medici and in which Admiral Coligny was killed. It was said
by Phillip II's enemies that he smiled only once in his life,
when he heard the news of this massacre.
Jacques Le Moyne of Morgues, cartographer and draughts-
man to Laudonniere in his second expedition had made a
new descriptive map of what was then roughly called Florida,
and which was mentioned by Hakluyt in a letter to Sir Walter
Raleigh dated London, 1st May 1587. Jacques Le Moyne,
surnamed de Morgues, was then an aged Huguenot refugee
living in Blackfriars and this manuscript map was executed
at the expense of Sir Walter. In 1591 an amplified illustrated
edition of the map with pictures and views was published in
Frankfurt am Main where the great book fairs were held.
This map we have, but the earlier map is no longer extant,
yet there can be little doubt that in its time it influenced

Protestant Sea Rovers

German and Italian cartographers to mark Lamanay or Li-
mayna as we see it on the old maps, and meant to designate
the area between the Manattee lagoon and the islets later
called Turneffe, a land familiar to the Huguenots of Florida,
and later used in the Spanish maps and by Father Lopez de
Cogolludo. Jacques Le Moyne belonged to the same school
of Dieppe pilot-cartographers as Guillaume Le Tetu.
Sir Humphrey Gilbert had commanded an English con-
tingent which helped without authority the Low Countries'
rebellion against Spain, and had lived for five years in Lime-
house. Hakluyt was chaplain of the English embassy in Paris,
where he had listened to colonization stories of the Hugue-
nots of Florida, and had some printed. As Prebendary of
Bristol Cathedral he knew many of the Bristol seamen. He
was a minister of religion animated with imperial ideas, and
sailors were or should be his fellow ministers and crusaders
beyond the seas. The King of Spain maintained a teacher
who learnedly discoursed on the art of navigation and classi-
fied the Spanish sailors into different grades at the Casa de
Contratacion in Seville. Hakluyt, who taught geography,
admired this arrangement for the technical training and edu-
cation of the Spanish navigators, and in 1582 he appealed to
Drake to assist in establishing a similar lectureship for Eng-
lish seamen at Ratcliffe. A tablet erected in Bristol Cathedral
to the memory of Richard Hakluyt "sometime Archdeacon of
Westminster and for thirty years Prebendary of this cathedral
church," says-"His studious imagination discovered pew
paths for geographical science, and his patriotic labours es-
cued from oblivion not a few of those who went dowtr to
the sea in ships, to be harbingers of empire, descrying new
lands, and finding larger room for their race."
Like Christopher Columbus in 1502, so was Sir Francis
Drake at The Guanajas in the Bay of Honduras in 1573, only
Drake then sailed the route in the opposite direction. In
"Sir Francis Drake Revived," we see that on Whitsunday
Eve, 24th May 1572, Drake left Plymouth on the "Pasha" of

20 The Beginning of British Honduras
70 tons with 47 men and boys, also his brother John on the
"Swan" of 25 tons with 26 men and boys, for Nomibre de
Dios, richly furnished with victuals and apparel for a whole
year and all manner of munition, artillery, tools, and three
pinnaces, made in Plymouth and taken asunder and stowed
away to be set up as occasion required.
On July 13, they met at Nombre de Dios an English bark
of the Isle of Wight, under James Rawnse, with some of the
men who had been here the year before with Drake. This
ship now joined them with another English ship under John
Garrett of Plymouth, who, like Rawnse, was a former master
under Hawkins, and was prowling about this area. A French
man-of-war under Captain Guillaume Le Tetu of Le Havre
also met Drake in this Nombre de Dios area in 1573, and
Drake accepted this French aid for a time partly because his
own men had been considerably lessened by fever. This
Huguenot captain gave him a scimitar which had belonged
tu Admiral Coligny, and also brought him the first news of
the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. Guillaume Le Tetu was
one of the most expert pilots of his time and had made an
excellent atlas for the Ministry of War, for he had been sent
to reconnoitre the Caribbean in view of a great expedition
against the Spaniards. Already in 1550 Guillaume Le Tetu
wanted to establish a base in Hispaniola to command the
areas he had surveyed there and on the opposite mainland.
Later he was interested in the Lamanay-Cockscomb and
Mosquito Coasts for a re-establishment of the destroyed
French colony in Florida, which plan did not mature on ac-
count of the murder of Admiral Cologny who was backing
him. I e Tetu was killed at night fighting in the bush to help
his friend Drake hide fifteen tons of silver stolen from the
Spaniards who were pursuing them in the Chagres area. The
well known Diego Flores de Valdes, who was one of the lead-
ers of the Spanish Armada, then commanded in the Nombre
de Dios area.
Drake also used the Cimarrones or runaway slaves to aid

Protestant Sea Rovers

him here. Between February 23rd and March 30th 1573 a
side jaunt was made for treasure and victuals. Drake sent
John Oxenham on the "Beare" to the east, and he went on
the "Minion" to the west towards Nicaragua and the trade
route frequented by the Plate Fleet in that area. Drake cap-
tured a frigate off Nicaragua with a Genoese pilot who had
been at Veragua eight days before and who promised to take
him to a town five leagues within the harbour where a frigate
was ready to come out within a few days with above a million
in gold, and offered to conduct him to it as he knew the chan-
nel perfectly, could enter by night without danger of shoals.
The pilot also stated the Spaniards knew of Drake's presence
in the neighbourhood. When they came to the mouth of the
harbour they heard the report of two guns, and farther off
about a league within the bay the report of two others, where-
upon the Genoese pilot conjectured that they were discov-
ered. Then "the wind which had all this time been easterly,
came up to the westward," and we can conclude that Drake
did not enter deeper into the Bay because he knew about that
calm which Exquemelin described, this being his sixth voy-
age to the West Indies, but the first in independent command.
The "Beare" was more successful than the "Minion" in this
separation for treasure and victuals. "On Sheere Thursday
we met according to appointment with our "Beare" and
found that she had bestowed her time to more profit than
we, for she had taken a frigate in which there were ten men
whom they set ashore, great store of maize, 28 fat hogs, and
200 hens."
In the Archives of the Council of the Indies at Seville is
the Spanish report on this voyage by Dr. Villalobos, President
of the Audiencia of Guatemala, dated May 15, 1573 to the
Catholic Royal Majesty. It says in part, "In the month of
February a little frigate sailed along the coast of Veragua to
the mouth of El Desaguadero. She carried 13 Englishmen.
Her armament was eighteen small culverins and two large
pieces, all ready for action. They seized four frigates which

22 The Beginning of British Honduras
had sailed from the province of Nicaragua and were bound
to Nombre de Dios to sell poultry, maize, and such like. On
Maundy Thursday, in the afternoon, these same English with
a frigate, a pinnace, and a skiff arrived at Guanaja, an island
close to the city of Trujillo. They were guided by Antonio
Vaez, Portuguese. From Trujillo, forty soldiers were sent out
in a small ship in search of these Englishmen. They say they
did not find them, and that they had sailed, steering a north-
erly course. I had written to the town council to be on the
alert and to attack these English if they called, and I warned
Puerto Caballos to be ready, advising that I understood these
people were going to do damage to that place. Similarly they
intended to enter the Golfo Dulce and pillage certain Span-
ish establishments which are at the landing place where there
is a quantity of wine and merchandise." In Hakluyt's de-
scription of this voyage he mentions this Portuguese pilot of
Elves, calling him Lopez Vaz. On this expedition Drake re-
turned home by way of the Yucatan Channel, Florida, and
Newfoundland, on the excellent Spanish frigate he captured,
having abandoned the "Pasha" and the "Swan."
In 1564 Hawkins was in the Yucatan channel and the Isle
of Pines, in 1565 he visited the French Huguenot colony in
Florida, in 1568 he was at San Juan de Ulua, near Vera Cruz,
and Drake was then serving with him as a young man. The
Norman pirate captain Paul Blondel lost his ship the "Don
de Dieu" helping Hawkins in this fight at San Juan de Ulua.
Often the English and French pirates who were hand in glove
formed joint expeditions which as readily broke up once their
purpose was achieved or defeated. Drake, Hawkins, John
Oxenham, and John Lovell knew the Cockscomb Mountains
as a landmark and had called on its coast for food and water.
The highways and byways of the Caribbean were to the
Armada heroes what the playing fields of Eton were to those
of Waterloo. In 1586 Drake took Santiago, Santo Domingo,
Cartagena, and St. Augustine with a fleet of 25 ships and

Protestant Sea Rovers

2,300 men. Drake and Hawkins were not interested in estab-
lishing colonies, but Sir Humphrey Gilbert, Sir Walter
Raleigh, and Richard Hakluyt were most decidedly so, and
to these three men who wished to found an English empire
beyond the seas we have to look for the beginning of British
On the maps of the early 17th century the coast of what is
now British Honduras was designated by four names, Ybob,
Lamanay, Zacatan, and Pantoja, which the German and
Italian cartographers indifferently marked outside the reef
as if they were all islands. This was due to the maps' lack of
space in the deep bay, but in the Florentine map, Sir Robert
Dudley's "Dell'Arcane del Mare, 1646-1647," they are more
correctly placed. Ybob is a degeneration of Hibueras after
passing through the stages Yboreas and Ybueras, and it is the
region between the Motagua River and Punta Ycacos. Lama-
nay is Turneffe and the opposite mainland which includes
the site where Belize now stands and the Manattee Lagoon.
Zacatan or Zaratan, land of sea weed and edible crabs, refer
to Cangrehoy. Pantoja is the Chinchorro reef. The land
called Zaguatan in the Carta Quinta of the conqueror Her-
nan Cortes to the Emperor Charles the Fifth is the region
between the Lake of Peten and the Bay of Ascension. Father
Lopez de Cogolludo, who was born in Alcala de Henares, had
twice visited the Rio Dulce, and had visited convents in
Guatemala as secretary to a high prelate visited here from
Mexico City and Bacalar in the middle of the seventeenth
century and says-"Lamanay or Lamayna has a large lagoon
on its shore which is formed by the rivers and other waters
that adjoin them. It has great abundance of turtle fishing,
and the different fresh water fishes are of very good taste. As
there are not many of the troublesome mosquitos travelling
was delightful on these rivers, the views pleasant, and the
Indians wounded the fishes by means of harpoons without
detaining the journey in so doing. One crosses the lagoon

24 The Beginning of British Honduras
to reach the opposite shore where the boats arc left, and then
the river Tepu is reached by twelve leagues of travel over-
The Cockscomb Coast was known to Sir Humphrey Gilbert
and his thirteen years younger half-brother Sir Walter
Raleigh through the Huguenots, Drake, and Hawkins before
they wrote in 1577 "A Discourse how Her Majesty may meet
with and annoy the King of Spain, etc." In this document
they explained it could be done by sending men and ships to
Cuba and Hispaniola, and the resources of those islands in
cattle, horses, cassava, maize, fowl, and fish were pointed out.
It was a proposition to send out a large number of armed
vessels under the pretense of planting colonies in America,
but when a favourable opportunity was found they should
fall upon the Spanish colonies and shipping in the West
Indies and gain entire possession of both. The accounts of
the first voyage of Gilbert and Raleigh are not clear. In 1581
the Spanish ambassador informed Phillip II that Humfrey
Gylberte was to go with six ships to Cuba with the intention
of fortifying himself in some convenient spot where he may
sally forth and attack the convoys. Queen Elizabeth forbade
Raleigh to sail, and for a time refused leave to Sir Humphrey
Gilbert. However, a part of this expedition did leave for the
"Lee of Cuba." Florida had interested them for establishing
a colony, like the Cockscomb Coast which presented the same
difficulties of food supply.
A little later Sir Humphrey colonized Newfoundland un-
der a patent from Queen Elizabeth, dated June 11, 1578, by
which he was granted the right to discover and colonize "any
new lands not actually in the possession of a Christian prince
or people." Later he was delighted with the aspect of this
northern land and avowed that "it had won his heart from
the south and that he was now become a northern man al-
together." The position of the Cockscomb Coast was good
for "annoying the King of Spain," but it was never settled
by the Elizabethans. However, it was carefully scanned by

Protestant Sea Rovers

these two scholars and gentlemen adventurers who wanted to
found an empire beyond the seas. Sir Humphrey was inter-
ested in a route to China and the East Indies, and later sought
a northwest passage in North America.
Hakluyt tells us of the voyage of Captain Andrew Barker
of Bristol in 1576 to the Bay of Honduras with two ships,
"Ragged Staffe" and "Beare," the latter commanded by Mas-
ter William Coxe of Limehouse, the friend of Sir Humphrey
Gilbert. After picking up oil left by Oxenham in the Darien
area, they attacked Truxillo, had mutiny, and built their
frigate new on the shore of the Honduras. On the secluded
Cockscomb Coast Master William Coxe could build his frig-
ate new and remain secure from Spanish attack. In 1577
Barker was attacked at Guanaja, killed, and his and twelve
other heads displayed in Truxillo, where some thought it was
Drake's for the whole coast had been warned by the Spanish
authorities. In the Archives of the Indies at Seville, Captain
Alonso de Contreras Guevara in a letter to His Catholic Ma-
jesty from Puerto Caballos, dated April 12, 1578, reported
that these robbers took Guanaja and Ruatan, hanged natives,
sought the Golfo Dulce, and had rowing crafts that could not
be pursued when they went in among the shoals. He was in
search of them 20 days and ran along the coast and part of
the Islands of Yucatan. He said that of those Englishmen
who were captured and hanged, the ones who were not bap-
tised asked for baptism. Thus Captain Andrew Barker's peo-
ple sailed the Cockscomb Coast.
There is also the voyage of Captain Christopher Newport
in 1591 with three ships and a pinnace, who took eight ships
in the Bay of Honduras, Puerto Caballos, "their pleasure of
the town," six tons of quicksilver, and much cloth and poul-
try. In 1597 Captain William Parker of Plymouth coming
by way of Venezuela where he ransomed Captain James
Willis met at Jamaica Sir Anthony Sherley who had just
taken the main town of that island. They joined their fleets
and started for the Bay, landed their men at Truxillo where

26 The Beginning of British Honduras
they proposed to entrap the watch and sack the town. But
they were unable to take this place which is on a steep hill
close to the sea, and were repulsed with a loss of 47 men. They
then took Puerto Caballos which was then "poor and miser-
able" as the Spaniards had become wary. Passing Monavique
or Cape Three Points, they went 30 leagues up the Rio Dulce,
to cross overland to the Pacific. They took with them a pin-
nace in six quarters with screws, but returned on account of
the intractable nature of the hill country to their ships which
were waiting in the Bay. Again the Cockscomb Coast gave
the necessary seclusion. Sir Anthony Sherley had fought at
the Battle of Zutphen in the Low Countries in 1586, then in
France where Henri Quatre gave him the order of St. Michael
to the great displeasure of Queen Elizabeth who said-"I will
not have my sheep marked with a strange brand." In 1597
the Earl of Essex sent him on a mission to Italy, and then he
went on his own account to Persia from where he returned
as a Persian ambassador and visited the German Emperor at
Prague in an endeavour to get the Christian powers against
Then Captain William Parker took Campeche, where Fa-
ther Lopez de Cogolludo tells us he was aided by the traitor
Venturate, and that Parker was badly wounded and left many
dead in the streets and on the beach with their booty. Captain
Parker took logwood in Campeche and a Spanish frigate laden
with silver and other treasure, but lost his bark the "Adven-
ture" of 25 tons to the Spaniards in a surprise attack on the
Caribbean coast of Yucatan. The Spaniards hanged her
captain, Richard Hen, and 13 men, and Parker returned to
Plymouth in the "Prudence" of 120 tons. Captain William
Parker was not the only English captain who knew of the
logwood growing in the lower reaches of the Belize River.
In 1601 Parker took Portobello in Panama.
Master William Coxe of Limehouse was master of the
"Golden Hind" under Sir Humphrey Gilbert when they
went home in 1583 from Newfoundland and Sir Humphrey

Protestant Sea Rovers

was lost in a storm on the "Squirrel" which had only 10 tons.
In 1606 a colonizing patent was issued to Sir George Somers
and Richard Hakluyt Prebendary of Westminster adventur-
ers of London, and Sir Walter Raleigh and Captain William
Parker adventurers of Plymouth. Captain Christopher New-
port, the Captain Christopher Newport who took Puerto
Caballos in 1591, was placed in command of the expedition
sent out, and he founded the colony of Jamestown, Virginia,
in 1607, and he was with Sir George Somers in the Bermudas
in 1609 which was colonized before the charter was granted
in 1612. In 1609 Sir George Somers on his way to Virginia
was shipwrecked in the Bermudas, the still vexed Bermoothes
of Shakespeare, and in that year he built there the pinnace
"Patience" of 30 tons. Thus the English contact with the
Cockscomb Coast was never broken, because all of these men
of Bristol, Plymouth, and London I have mentioned were in
common accord on a common policy and their expeditions
were backed by statesmen and merchants in London. Not
every voyage was recorded and published, and then like now
state secrets existed.
Phillip II of Spain had protested against these expeditions,
and there were times when England's great queen was prone
to be conciliatory and listen to the Spanish ambassador's view
on what were lands not actually in the occupation of a Chris-
tian prince or people. She would not grant a patent for the
Lamanay-Cockscomb area on which Sir Walter Raleigh had
an eye, and this was the only reason why he did not plant a
colony there. However, his friend Captain William Parker
used the Lamanay-Cockscomb Coast regularly as a base for
operating against the Spaniards during the twenty years be-
fore he took part in Sir Walter Raleigh's last expedition to
Guiana 1617. In the same way as Sir Humphrey Gilbert re-
garded the Bahamas as an extension of Newfoundland,,o'did
the English settlers of Virginia and the Somers IsleSin Sir
Walter's time regard the Cockscomb Coast as an extension
or one of the "New Found Lands."

28 The Beginning of 'British Honduras
In this time the waters of the colony were regularly hunted
for manatees by boats from Santo Domingo for feeding the
slaves. This very vulnerable animal is about the bigness of
a horse, and some were fifteen feet long in the time when
Captain Dampier, Pere du Tertre, and Exquemelin wrote.
They like brackish water and those that live in the sea go
regularly to the mouths of the rivers. They live on sea grass
of a narrow blade, 7 or 8 inches long, which grows amongst
the cayes near the Main where the shallow water affords
proper pasture and where they feed like beeves in a meadow
on the sea grass. Both the fat and the lean of the flesh are
white, and the fresh flesh is like veal, delicious and whole-
some, but it is made hard and inferior if the least possible
amount of salt is not added to preserve it. The fat is excel-
lent and many buccaneers melted it to use the lard on their
bread instead of butter. The manatee's sight is poor, but
its sense of hearing is of an extraordinary subtlety. Lamen-
tin is the French name, which like the Spanish name refers
to the little fore-fins that resemble hands.
During the Thirty Years War the Dutch privateers were
active in the Bay of Honduras. Portugal was then under
Spain, and the Dutch held seven provinces of Brazil from
where they often came by way of Curacao, anchoring at the
haunted Sapodilla Caye and Caye Bokel, then the two stra-
tegic spots from which they watched the Bay. The Dutch
West India Company had a monopoly for the trade on the
eastern coast of America from Bahia and Pernambuco to New
Amsterdam or New York. This was a semi-official buccaneer-
ing organization with a large number of bases on the main-
land and on the Caribbean islands, more or less fortified and
fixed up to serve the Company's privateersmen as anchorages,
places for barter, and store houses. After crossing from Hol-
land to Brazil the ships used to beat up the coast to New
Amsterdam from where they returned to Holland. The repe-
tition of the names Orange, Nassau, and Amsterdam were
given to make clear their priority if not claim in the same

Protestant Sea Rovers

way as the English privateers repeated the names St. George,
Charlestown, Jamestown. At Pernambuco, on the Xingu up
the Amazon, in Guiana, on the Hudson the Dutch had Forts
Orange and Nassau. So too on the Island of New Providence,
Bahamas. The Dutch West India Company used to load huge
cargoes of salt in the Bahamas, and so too many of the ships
of Admiral Piet Heyn, according to Dutch and Spanish
In 1627, the Dutch seaman Captain Cornelis Jol, called
Houtebeen, Peg Leg Jol, or Pie de Palo, came to the Bay of
Honduras by way of Providence with 8 ships of 400 tons in
all. He was then on the "Otter" of 90 tons, 30 soldiers, 58
seamen, 6 larger and 14 smaller guns. At the same time the
fleet of Captain Hendrick Jacobz, called Lucifer, came from
Flushing to the Bay of Honduras by the way of Grand Cay-
mans, commissioned by the Zeeland Chamber of Commerce.
He was on the "Ter Veere," with Captain Gysz on the
"Kater," and Captain Jan Pieterz on the "Leeuwinne." In
1628 a third Dutch fleet was also in the Bay of Honduras un-
der Dirk Simonsz of Uitgeest. These several divisions of the
Dutch Fleet in Caribbean waters co-operated and separated
as opportunity required.
To "the Lee of Cuba" in 1627 the Dutch met the Almiran-
ta and Capitana galleons from Honduras laden with indigo,
hides and cochineal. With hand grenades the Almiranta was
boarded and taken with great difficulty on account of her
steep sides. Juarros says this fight took place at Puerto Cabal-
los, but the date he gives is a misprint because it differs from
the Dutch, English, French, Yucatec, and Cuban which are
identical with the following entry in the documents of the
Council of the Indies at Seville. "On the 22, November
1627 came news of the arrival of the galleons, less the Al-
miranta ship, from Honduras, which was lost. They arrived
at San Lucar on the 19th, General de la Raspur."
During several years Captain Jol was a regular visitor with
his fleet to the Lamanay-Cockscomb Coast where he left

30 The Beginning of British Honduras
Dutch names at the areas he frequented. The name Caye
Bokel is from the Dutch word "bokel," meaning the hump,
bend, or buckle of the Turneffe group and refers to the
geographic position. Jol's Hole near the buckle is named
after him, for there he anchored many times for weeks. From
there he carried out his forays. One of the Sapodilla Cayes is
called "Hontin Caye," the Dutch for ghost, a name given in
the days when the Flying Dutchman's ghost vessel was often
seen. Haunted Caye and Hunting Caye are subsequent varia-
tions. The name Turneffe is of Huguenot origin. It was
given by a group of Huguenot Walloon colonists brought
there from Holland by the Dutch West India Company in
Captain Jol's time, in the same way as they took other Hugue-
not Walloon colonists to New Amsterdam.
Captain Cornelis Jol was the most daring, persistent, and
enterprising of the Dutch leaders who operated in the Bay,
and because he attacked at so many places the Spaniards
chose to regard him as the Dutch counterpart of Drake. He
was born at Scheveningen in the beginning of the seventeenth
century, and as a lad his left leg was shattered by a cannon
ball. Later he became admiral, and in the service of the
Dutch West India Company in 1638 he commanded three
divisions, each with a dozen ships, and waited in the Yucatan
Channel for the Plate Fleet. Here he was unsuccessful. His
captains, with only two exceptions, refused to support his
attacks through personal envy and through a belief that the
huge Spanish galleons were too heavily armed and too well
prepared for this emergency by Admiral Carlos de Ibarra.
In 1641 he left Pernambuco with a fleet of 20 ships and 3,000
sailors and soldiers, took Sao Paulo de Loanda in West Africa
and died in the same year at Sao Tome of yellow fever.
Lucifer, the constant ally of Captain Jol, was a native of
Havana and had spent his boyhood in Campeche. The Span-
iards called him Diego el Mulato, or Renegado. In 1648 he
and his Dutch crew captured the English missionary Thomas
Gage in the outer Bay of Honduras. Friar Gage who had

Protestant Sea Rovers

worked in Coban, spoke Pokonchi, and had visited the Golfo
Dulce and Puerto Caballos. From the Renegade or Ran-
guana Cayd Lucifer learnt of his coming. In "A Survey of
the West Indies, or the English American, his Travels by Sea
and Land," printed in London 1655, Friar Gage tells us that
"on shipboard Lucifer refused to return the 7,000 dollars in
money, pearls, and precious stones he had taken from the
friar, but invited him to a stately dinner in the frigate where
amongst many other health he drank one unto his mother
and gave his guest a message to her in Havana, which he de-
livered in person in the following year."
In the year 1628, Admiral Piet Heyn with 31 ships, 689
cannons, and 3,900 sailors and soldiers cruised about the Bay
of Honduras and waited for the annual Plate Fleet coming
from Cartagena de Indias, Panama, and Vera Cruz laden with
the treasures of Mexico and Peru. From Grand Caymans,
Caye Bokel, and Providence his fly-boats were directed to
seek information as they retired before the galleons. On
September 10, 1628 he drove this assembled fleet into the
Bay of Matanzas and forced it to surrender. When the booty
was sold in Holland it brought 12 million guilders. For years
before and after other European nations tried to seize this
annual Plate Fleet, but the only nation which ever succeeded
was the Dutch, led by Piet Heyn, now buried in the cathedral
in Delft.
In 1629 Jan Jansz Van Horn, who had distinguished him-
self under Piet Heyn, was cruising with his fleet in the Bay
and in the Yucatan Channel. In 1633 he took Truxillo and
then Campeche after heavy fighting around the convent of
San Francisco. The ransom of forty thousand dollars de-
manded was not obtained in full. In both these raids his ally
and pilot Diego el Mulato took part with his fleet of 10 ships
and 500 men who were mainly Dutch and English, with a
few French and Portuguese. The "Otter" was also in the
fight at Campeche, and the Yucatecs maintained that the
ransom on this occasion was demanded by Captain Jol.

32 The Beginning of British Honduras

During 1550 to 1750 the precious metals sent by Spanish
America to Spain rose from ten to 25 millions annually. But
Holland, like Portugal, had acquired a c onial empire so
vast in Asia, Africa, America, and Australisia, that it could
not be held. The scarcity of man power was too great and
the neighbours in Europe were too jealous. The constant
raids on Truxillo and Puerto Caballos caused the Spaniards
to withdraw into the interior, and only use these places for
warehouses, employees, slaves, and guards when the trans-
ports were expected, but at such short periods there was apt
to be as much as a million dollars worth of produce awaiting
the ships. In 1655 they built Fort San Felipe on the Lake of
Ysabal to protect its then important commerce from the buc-
caneers, and from 1759 onward the Fort of San Fernando de
Omoa was built at incredible expense by the Spanish Crown,
the stone having been raised out of the sea and brought 20
On account of the high dividends derived from the barter
and plunder, the stock of the Dutch West India Company
was popular for a time as a bringer of great wealth, but it was
regarded by bankers as one of the most speculative items on
the Amsterdam Exchange. When it became bankrupt the
Dutch government took over the more important areas like,
New Amsterdam and Curacao, and let the others go. In the
same way as Sir Walter Raleigh took over a part of the wreck-
age of the French Huguenot experiment in Florida, so the
Earl of Warwick now took over a part of the wreckage of the
Dutch West India Company, amongst which were the Nara-
gansett Bay area in Rhode Island, the Bahamas, and the Bay
and Shore of the Mosquitos.



In all the published historical records on the colony, the
British colonization begins at Belize. This is not true. It is
due to insufficient research and the tendency to facile expla-
nation. There are no Spanish geographic names between
Monkey River and Belize. Because of this I decided to search
the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth century records on
insular and mainland Caribbean history in the rare-books'
sections of several of the great libraries of Europe. Works in
Dutch, English, French, German, Latin, and Spanish were
perused. My views expressed in these pages have been tem-
pered in that light, but I have used only such as have a bear-
ing on my subject.
In the Calendar of State Papers, 1574-1660, colonial series,
published in 1860 from the records of Warwick House and
Brook House, there are over two dozen names of officials,
vessels, religious beliefs, and agricultural interests of the
Puritans who colonized the central coastal area of this colony
as an extension of their activities on Old Providence or Santa
On December 4, 1630 there was formed in London a com-
pany authorized by Charles I, "whereby Robert Earl of War-
wick was made Governor in Chief and Lord High Admirall of
all those islands and other plantations, inhabited, planted, or
belonging to any his Majesties the King of Englands subjects,
within the bounds and upon the coast of America. And a
committee appointed to be assisting unto him for the better

34 The Beginning of British Honduras
governing, strengthening, and preservation of the said planta-
tions, but chiefly for the advancement of the true Protestant
religion, and farther spreading of the gospell of Christ among
those that yet remain there in great and miserable blind-
nesse and ignorance."
Amongst the partners in this company were Philip Earl of
Pembroke, Edward Earl of Manchester, William Viscount
Say and Seale, Philip Lord Wharton, Henry Earl of Holland,
Robert Lord Brook, and John Pym. William Laud, Arch-
bishop of Canterbury, also gave them his assistance, as the
Bishops of London and Lichfield had assisted in the Amazon
ventures of Captain Roger North. The Earl of Warwick was
a speculator in privateering, and a group of the wealthy Com-
pany of Merchant Adventurers of London were also backing
him. Privateering was a part of their commercial interests,
and in this they used the Puritans, who were in religious op-
position to Charles I and his friendship for Spain, to assist
them to colonize fortified sites from where they could raid
the Spanish shipping and the Spanish Main.
In the "Travels of Captain John Smith" we read that in
1612 Richard Moore arrived as governor in the Somer's
Isles, and that in 1614 he had a great famine on his hands due
to the arrival of too many colonists, too much fort-building,
too little planting of foodstuffs, and his relatively too great
interest in looking for ambergris. Already in 1613 Captain
Daniel Elfrith had brought the colonists a caravel of meal
taken from his friend Fisher in the "West Indies," and in the
same yeai the company sent Bartlett to overhaul Moore in
mistrust of their allotted share of ambergris. Governor Moore,
who had exploited the Ambergris Caye in British Honduras,
died later in Sir Walter Raleigh's last voyage to Guiana.
In 1613 Captain Powell of the "Hopewell' who was well
acquainted with tfie West Indies went with others from the
Somers Isles to look for fruits, seeds, plants, goats, cattle. The
famine forced them to go out to the Spanish areas where trad-
ing with foreigners was strictly prohibited. In 1618-19 Cap-

The Puritan Colonists

tain Daniel Elfrith was trading in the West Indies and Vir-
ginia from Bermuda. In 1620 the Dutch captain Pieter
Schouten with three ships dropped in at the Somers Isles to
see his old friend Captain Powell whom he had known in
the West Indies. This one of the three Captain Powell of
this time was in the Dutch service, like Hudson. In 1624
Captain Schouten took the town of Sisal in Yucatan. In 1622
there were 1,500 inhabitants in the Somers Isles, in 1628 there
were 2,000. In 1624 Captains Elfrith and Powell had already
reconnoitred the Bahamas, St. Christopher and Nevis, Bar-
badoes, and the Cockscomb Coast.
The "Seaflower" brought the first batch of colonists to
Santa Catalina or Old Providence in May 1631, most of them
Puritans, with their governor, Captain Philip Bell, who had
been governor of the Somers or Bermuda Islands in 1626-
1627. When the colonists arrived this island was inhabited
by some Dutch sea rovers amongst whom were the two broth-
ers Captain William Albert Blauvelt and Abraham Blauvelt.
The Cartauen, Cortown, or Big Cannon Caye, and Hayen,
Hain, or Shark Caye are names left in the Providence-Henri-
etta area by the Dutch. The selection of this island which
lay in the track of the Plate Fleet was made by the Earl of
Warwick's captains because of its position between the two
main objectives, the Plate Fleet sailing from Panama to
Havana, and the Cockscomb Coast as a base for bartering
with the interior of Guatemala. The newcomers wrote the
name of these men who had been formerly connected with
the expeditions of Captain Cornelis Jol, Bluefield or Blufeld.
They became friends and co-operated in many ways, sharing
that dislike for Spain, the cause of which did not escape the
Spaniards. Soon the colonists found out that the soil of Old
Providence was worthless for their agriculture, and they be-
gan to look elsewhere. In 1631 they were active in Tortuga
and resolved that henceforth that island should be called
Association. But the island of Tortuga was also too small and
too exposed to attack, and so they began in the same year to

36 The Beginning of British Honduras
establish themselves in increased numbers on the Cockscomb
Coast, a region from which they could not be expelled but
by a strong Spanish naval force on account of the coral reefs,
while to attack from the land would have been still costlier.
Small plantations were already established here by Captain
Daniel Elfrith who made the preliminary survey and recom-
mendation. They cultivated the fresh soil which was then
right on the beach and grew an abundance of potatoes and
The Calendar of State Papers tells us that in May and July
1633 Captain Sussex Camock was appointed director of a
trade at Cape Gratia de Dios, with Edward Williams and
Nath. Marston agents for such trade "in regard to their
knowledge of those parts," and that Captain Sussex Camock
was also made commander of the passengers on board the
"Golden Falcon," and entrusted with the supplies for Gov-
ernor Bell and his wife. He was further instructed from
Providence to advise of a fit place to establish a colony for
trade, the men, ordnance and ammution requisite, and to
provide needful things for fortification requested by Captain
Axe. No trading post was established at Cape Gracias a Dios
though it then had the best harbour of the whole east coast
surrounded by land and having deep water which was only
made shallow over a hundred years later when the mahogany
cutters dug a canal from the Wanks River so that their logs
could be conveniently moored in this bay which became shal-
lower and shallower from the debris brought in that could
not get out of the narrow entrance. Here they traded from
their ships, as this harbour was too exposed to Spanish attack
and too much out of the way for their best market, the in-
terior of the Kingdom of Guatemala.
In this work the name "Cape Gracias a Dios" is used only
to designate the cape discovered by Columbus in 1502, but
the name "Cape Gratia de Dios" means an area with a strict-
ly maritime orientation which lies between Bluefields in the
south and Belize in the north, comprising within this range

The Puritan Colonists

Old Providence and Henrietta, the cayes off Cape Gracias a
Dios. the Bay Islands of which Ruatan is the largest, and the
Cockscomb Coast. From the Puritan point of view it was
correctly named, taking its name from the cape which was
the most conspicuous landmark to their seamen, as the Cape
of Good Hope gave its name to a vast area in South Africa.
For the trading stand the coast was selected which lies at
the foot of the Cockscomb Mountains in the Bay of Honduras
and is protected by the barrier-reef. Silk-grass grew there in
great abundance in the creeks and lagoons where some Mos-
kito Indians lived. There was nothing casual in this selec-
tion. It was a direct result of the various reports made by the
Elizabethan captains to the statesmen, nobles, and bishops in
the homeland who sponsored, protected, and financed their
expeditions to the Bay. The three main objects of Captain
Camock were to trade with the Spaniards from a fortified
stand or depot he would establish, to gather silk-grass and
plant tobacco on a greater scale with his colonists, with whom
he identified himself completely, knowing that their success
would be his and their failure would also be his. The third
object was to have a safe base from which to undertake pirat-
ical raids on Spanish shipping because a colony must be self-
supporting. Old Providence and Cape Gracias a Dios were
right in the track of the Escuadra de Barloviento and needed
too much outlay in fortification.
Thus the history of British colonization in the Bay began
in 1629 with the privateers of the Earl of Warwick. It began
with silk-grass and tobacco. This area is over 300 years in un-
broken British occupation. They clearly gave the position as
between 10 and 20 degrees north latitude, and 290 and 310
degrees of longitude, which of course was not computed from
Greenwich but from Ferro, and puts Old Providence, Cape
Gracias a Dios, and the Cockscomb Coast within its area,
with the 20th parallel passing at Tortuga. The privateers
used to sail from Old Providence, pass Colson Bay on the
windward side of Ruatan, then to the reef which bears the
the Providence company to Captain Billinger of the "Expec-

38 The Beginning of British Honduras
name of their associate Glover, then to their anchorage at the
fort and the stand by way of the Tobacco Caye channel. The
trade wind dictated this course which was very accommodat-
ing. The Spaniards of the Honduras and Guatemala coasts
were glad to get the English merchandise smuggled to them
from the Stands with the proper contraband formalities like
selling at night and gifts for the commandant.
Already in 1507 did Pedro Ledesma link what later became
"The Shore" and "The Bay" with the word Caria or Cariay,
because he found the Moskito Indians in both areas and was
struck with the many similarities of the coast around Cape
Gracias a Dios and that lying at the foot of the Cockscomb.
The words "shore" and "bay" arose with the Providence
colonists. From their island its meaning could not be mis-
taken. Words like Nicaragua, Honduras, and Yucatan were
foreign and only meant to them places where Spaniards lived.
The "Shore" and the "Bay" were not occupied by these en-
emies, whilst the friendly Moskito Indians were familiar with
both areas for it was their traditional practice to raid the in-
land Maya plantations for booty. They were matchless canoe-
men, paddled distances of 300 miles, invulnerable when they
returned to the depths of their forests. When the European
privateers came along they took to them like ducks to water,
recalling how the Spanish slave raiders had lessened their
numbers at the "Shore" and almost exterminated them at the
"Bay." The region called four times "the Mosquitos" in the
State Papers is not the diminutive Mosquito Cayes off Cape
Gracias a Dios. The Mosquitos, as a geographic designation
for the Bay and the Shore is of Huguenot corsair origin, and
belongs to the same class of names they used for the regions
they frequented like, the Brazils, the Guayanas, the Barba-
does, the Floridas, the Canibales. In Ziock's dictionary the
Moskito name for Belize, the coronation city of the Moskito
king, is given as Bey.
Tobacco was grown by the Mayas in pre-Colombian times.
They rolled the prepared leaves into the form of a pencil

The Puritan Colonists

which they smoked and called "sic'al." But it was more ex-
tensively grown on the opposite island of Cuba, where it was
smoked in a pipe called "abacoa" or "tabacoa" by the abor-
igines. From these two Indian words the Spanish "cigaro"
and "tabaco" are derived. Small isolated patches of tobacco
grow and develop beautifully on this coast, and there can be
no doubt that the Puritan failure was due to their not having
a suitable insecticide for spraying and the acres of cheese-
cloth for giving the plants protection during certain periods
of growth.
In the State Papers, the records of the Earl of Warwick's
colony of Providence and Henrietta are classified as belong-
ing to New Providence, Bahamas. It was not until after pub-
lication that Sir William Lefroy, governor of Bermudas,
pointed out that this was wrong, and that the records proper-
ly belonged to Providence-Mosquitia.
The word "stand" meant a trading post. Here was the
bigger silk-grass creek. Hereabout stood the headquarters
where the great assortment of merchandise from England was
kept for barter with the planters, gatherers, and smugglers.
Here the silk-grass hanks were brought to be combed out,
hung up and dried on lines, where the dry fibre was spun
and bundled, and where the abundance of fresh water in-
dispensable for the washing of the flax was right at hand. In
1634 the company allowed two shillings per pound for this
flax. The word "stand" is also the Dutch for spindle, axle-
tree, and mill-tree.
Commess Bight got its name from Captain Sussex Camock
who established this colony to exploit the silk-grass which
was named "Camock's flax" in his honour. The corruption
of this name to "Commess" was undoubtedly helped by the
fact that the advisers in the preparation of the flax were Cap-
tain Blewfield and others of the Dutch followers, who spoke
more or less poor English. "Commies" is the Dutch word for
company's agent, clerk in authority, or manager, and these
men preferred to call Captain Camock the "commies." The

40 The Beginning of British Honduras
Bayman's Map of 14, July 1787 in the Archives of British
Honduras shows the spelling "Commess Bight" and "Stand
Creek." "Commess Bight" is also shown in Bancroft's His-
tory. Stand Creek and South Stand Creek are the only two
rivers of the colony called creeks. This proves that they be-
long to the phraseology of the same generation of British ad-
venturers. In the British royal proclamations regulating the
planting, trading, sealing, and importation of tobacco from
1620-1639 in Virginia, Somers Isles, St. Christopher and Bar-
badoes "the ports, havens, creeks or places of lading or un-
lading" are often mentioned. And then too, it was the prac-
tice of the Dutch to plant their tobacco in "creeks." At the
South Stand Creek there was the other trading stand. There
too is to-day the Southern Silk Grass Creek, behind Seine
Bight, in the Plascentia Lagoon, called by the Puritans
"Patience Lagoon" and at that time laden with silk grass.
Patience was also the name of one of their pinnaces that often
anchored at their settlement on the site now called Seine
Bight, where a neck of land, 370 yards wide, separates the
lagoon from the sea. What are now called Quamina Caye
and False Caye were then called Patience Islet and Patience
Brother Islet.
The Puritans named their daughters Patience, Faith,
Prudence, Constance, Hope, just- as the vessels of these colo-
nists were named Blessing, Expectation, Hopewell, and there
were the Gladden and Glory Entrances to the Cockscomb
area. The vessels of this company were the admiration of all
who saw them. The "Jonathan" which came here regularly
to deliver cargo and take in produce gave her name to the
point between the South Stand and the Southern Silk Grass
Creek. When this vessel arrived at Cowes in 1651 her captain,
Robert Harding, and three officers were ordered to bring her
to London, without breaking bulk, to be examined for trad-
ing at Barbadoes. It may then have been owned by Governor
Philip Bell who had "a plentiful estate" there and perhaps
still retained his Cockscomb Coast plantation. Robert Hard-

The Puritan Colonists

ing also used to trade to Boston. Scipio Caye took her name
from the "Scipio" of London, a vessel of 300 tons burden,
which brought out merchandise from England for trading.
The name Scipio was then used as a reminder of the struggle
between Rome and Carthage. Sloops Caye, at the Sloops
Caye channel, was another trading post where their vessels
were safe when anchored between the two cayes called "Tom
Owens." Then many of these cayes had more land, and the
erosion by the sea only began after the great quantity of
stones were removed for the building of the Castle of San
Fernando de Omoa by the Spaniards. The Queen Cayes, to
the south of the Gladden Entrance, got their name from the
pinnace "Queen of Bohemia," named after the daughter of
James the First of England. In Governor Butler's Diary,
Providence, February to March 1639, this vessel was "sent
out about 5 weeks before to look out for purchase upon the
coast of the Main." In 1638 Captain W. A. Blewfield and
others were commissioned to purchase two pinnaces in Hol-
land for the defence of Providence.
The company was very much interested in plants and herbs
for medicinal purposes and the colonists were told to plant
certain ones like mulberry, to search for new ones, to gather
a wild potato vine called "mecoachan" for its drug content.
This activity gave the northern and southern Samphire Cayes
their name from the wild parsley or St. Pierre weed which
grew there when there was less erosion of the beaches. Tobac-
co Caye was the place where the tobacco was stored on account
of less dampness, and where it grew beautifully in the fresh
soil. Tons of it were shipped from the colonists' plantations
at 10 to 14 cents per pound. It was the main agricultural
crop. Cotton was next, at a minimum of 6 pence per pound.
Bugle Caye derived its name from the bugle or black coral,
which was gathered like the alabaster coral and the pater-
noster coral. The Dutch West India Company and the Puri-
tans of the Earl of Warwick took them to Europe where they
were made into beads and other forms of trinkets, which with

42 The Beginning of British Honduras
the vast quantities of Venetian glassware and looking glasses
were then used by the traders to barter with the Indians of
America and to obtain slaves on the West Coast of Africa.
This black coral was also obtained near "The Bugles" or
Bajo del Convoy at Old Providence, and Alabaster Island in
the Bahamas supplied her variety. Pearls were then also
found in the waters opposite the Sittee or Pearl River.
Their knowledge of the intricate natural channels of their
Bay plantations and trading stands was the result of a pains-
taking survey of the reef. Near the beach they almost exter-
minated the abundance of silk grass that grew in shady parts
under the forest trees, some of which they planted in the
Bahamas and Virginia. Six servants to each planter, perhaps
indentured, seemed a general rule with them. Many other
Puritan geographic names which had then existed here have
long since disappeared, but these pioneers in empire build-
ing are not dead-they still live in the names they left behind,
names that indicate their contribution to an experimental
phase in colonization from which lessons were deduced in
London serviceable to the leaders of an empire which began
to expand elsewhere.
The company in England, in their letters, never ceased
enjoining on the colonists the necessity of forts. Captain Axe
was in command of the fortifications, and the "Company's
Men of War," as they were called manned the forts and can-
nons. The gunners were well-paid and expressly sent out
from England. Like the mouth of the Belize River, Stand
Creek has no stone easily available for fortifications, and to
this fact we can attribute the absence of remains at Men of
War Town where the "Company's Men of War" were sta-
tioned for several years. The very good cannons, wherever
they must have been protecting the Stand, were carried away
for privateering on the seas by Axe, Blewfield, Colson, and
some were acquired by Captain Willis for his fort.
Walls of about seven feet high and seven feet thick were
made of earth, palisades and logs. Emplacements for the can-

The Puritan Colonists

nons, floor beams, apertures in the front wall to counteract
direct fire from the sea, all were attended to by Captain Axe
who had been in the wars in the Netherlands and was experi-
enced in the siege warfare, engineering and fortification, and
privateering on the seas for which Holland was then famous.
Captain Rudyerd had reported that the forts on Old Provi-
dence could not keep out flat-bottomed boats, and for securi-
ty against them small forts for musketeers should be erected
near the water, built of timber and sand, and that the neck
of a land should be cut for the planters' retreat. Thus we
have Blewfields Road which led from the fort at Men of
War Town to Captain Camock's House in Commess Bight,
and serving both the Silk Grass Creek and the Stand for of-
fensive or defensive protection. The system of defense was
not on a small scale. At Glory Caye, the northern entrance,
a passage-way was cut through the reef, and through that cut,
which led direct to the Stand from Caye Bokel, a bend of 200
miles was eliminated and a secret passage was made available
through the reef, for escape or attack in row boats, in case
the Spaniard came. A good example is offered by the larger
of the two Seal Cayes that are west of the Sapodilla group.
The entrance to this islet, where fishermen gather in the sea-
son, is through a deep natural channel to the north which
leads into the circular coral lagoon or atoll with white sandy
bottom and water clear as crystal, but on the south side an
exit was cut through the reef, and this passage is still visible
to-day, although the coral is closing it up. It was built by the
Spaniards to watch the Puritan traders at Sloops and Queen
Cayes, Scipio and Bugle Cayes, as a bridgehead.
Danger threatened the two Stands from Bacalar in the
north, and Puerto Caballos in the south. At Blewfields and
Colson Ranges a marine patrol guarded the approach from
Bacalar with a northerly wind. At Scipio, Bugles, and Colson
Cayes which are close together the South Stand was guarded
against a descent with a southerly wind from Puerto Caballos
and the bridgehead at Seal Caye. The fleet of Diego el Mula-

44 The Beginning of British Honduras
to, Lucifer, who lived for a time at the Renegade Caye and
Old Providence was their main lookout and ally at this ad-
vanced post. The State Papers of 1632 condemned the in-
discretion of Captain Daniel Elfrith, Admiral of Providence
and father-in-law of Governor Philip Bell, in too friendly
entertaining him against advice of council.
With their well-trained men and well-served cannons they
feared nobody. In God and their weapons they confided. In
any case battle would be avoided and the Spaniards lured to
the ordnance at either the north or the south fort. If the
"Jonathan," "Scipio," or other of their vessels were present
they could fall on the enemy's flank or at least cause them to
split their forces. On August 16, 1634 we find the entry-"If
Captain Camock be removed from the fort at the Main, or ill
success has befallen him, or any enemy is in possession of the
place, to labour by help of the Indians to find him or his com-
pany, and get what commodities you can against the ship's
arrival. Throw these instructions and all other letters over-
board if he fall into the hands of an enemy." Captain Camock
was master of the vessel "Earl of Warwick," 80 tons, in Ber-
muda in 1628. On October 18, 1632 he is mentioned in
Winthrop's Journal. In 1636 he went home, left the com-
pany's service, and became commander of Landguard Fort,
at Harwich, the home port of the "Mayflower," and still daily
linked with the Hook of Holland.
The colony was made up of a series of plantations of differ-
ent sizes, owned by different captains in different degrees of
indebtedness to the company, and of which perhaps the
largest plantation was that of Governor Philip Bell at Pa-
tience near Jonathan Point. This group of plantations around
the Stand and the Southern Stand had an approximate pop-
ulation of 600 Puritan seamen and colonists, 200 Moskito
Indians, and 100 African slaves. It can be taken as the model
used when they proposed to establish a plantation on the coast
of Guiana, or on the Tapayos or Tapaywasoose in the Ama-
zon, needing 1,000 men for settlement and costing ten thou-

The Puritan Colonists

sand pounds sterling which would be returned by the ad-
venturers in cotton, woods, tobacco, and so forth, within one
Twice a place called "dettee" is mentioned in 1636 as suit-
able for the laying out of a new plantation and the planting
of silk-grass. This could only be the Settee River which is
between the two Stands, where the bar is deep and sloops
can go up to where good places were available for the plant-
ing of cotton, tobacco, silk-grass, and sugar-cane for making
rum. There are still numerous people who write a capital
"S" in a way that resembles an old English "d." Fresh water
turtle and fish, wild turkey and deer were then abundant in
this river. Food was right at hand and Moskito Indians were
living there as they were when Pinzon and Solis came in 1506.
In June 1637, Captain W. A. Blewfield, then mate of the
"Expectation," made a personal report in England about es-
tablishing a colony where the town of Blewfields now stands
in Nicaragua. Old Providence was in regular relations with
several West India islands and the North American Colonies.
The "Seaflowere" which traded to Virginia in 1623 was a
sister ship of the "Mayflower" of the New England colonists
and the "Gillyflower" of the Somers Isles. In 1638 the Provi-
dence Company granted land on the island of Ruatan to
William Claiborne, a Virginia planter, and of which the
name "Culkitt's Hole" is a survival. The "Blessing" which
had brought colonists in 1613 to the Somers Isles, took letters
in 1633 from the English governor of Boston to Governor Van
Twiller of New Amsterdam. In 1634 the seamen were to
pay ten shillings for every parrot brought to England "that
so your ships may not be unnecessarily pestered," and in the
next year they were forbidden to truck for any commodities
at the Main. In 1638 shoes and shirts were sent out in hun-
dreds of dozens and colonists were arriving in groups of 150
or so per ship. In 1636 they were to expect 500 to 600 within
a few weeks. To be sure famine and sickness compelled a
separation of such numbers.

46 The Beginning of British Honduras
At Providence endless dissensions characterized the colo-
nists. Nath. Marston was charged with embezzlement for a
wedge of gold and some gold dust. Warrants were issued for
the arrest of Samuel Colson suspected of returning to Hol-
land with their papers delivered to him. Captain Rudyerd
was censured for his excessive drinking and for maltreatment
of a servant who died. Of three of their ministers, Rous
"taught them songs called catches, the meaning of which they
did not understand," Ditloff said he never sang such songs
at Providence on the Sabbath Day, and Sherard "who had an
intended wife," was imprisoned and sent home. From home
they were ordered to send back all cards, dice, and tables
which it was understood had been received in the island.
Also, if Capt. Axe returned and acknowledged his miscar-
riage in opposing the governor he was to be re-instated in his
office, if not, to be at liberty to sell his plantation. All of
these leaders in the colony and its extensions were again and
again pardoned, for they had done nothing that was at vari-
ance with buccaneer procedure, and no religion as practised
can be above the mental capacity of its adherents. This state
of affairs also existed at the Stand, where we find the name
Bawdy Point on the old maps, reminding us of Harlots Creek
which existed in the same period on the Delaware, and Rum
Point near the Southern Stand where sugar cane was planted.
In 1639 Governor Nathaniel Butler, formerly governor of
Bermuda 1619-22 and prominent in Virginia, then their
governor, with mixed English and Dutch ships took Truxillo
by surprise and exacted a ransom of 16,000 pieces of eight,
paid partly in bullion and partly in indigo. This was the
chief port from which the produce of Honduras was shipped
to Spain, and it is built on the ascent of a hill in a noble bay
entered by Columbus.
The year 1638 is the one given in historical works for the
beginning of the English activities at the mouth of the Belize
River, where a party of "shipwrecked" sailors then began to
occupy themselves with logwood-cutting. Directly opposite

The Puritan Colonists 47
Belize is the Swallow Caye, where Captain Samuel Axe with
his ship the "Swallow" came to load logwood, which the Prov-
idence people called "braziletta." They knew the difference
between Brazil and Campeche wood, but the English market
only settled on names a generation later. In 1633 twenty tons
of braziletta and 40 tons of tobacco were on their ship "Wil-
liam and Anne" when wrecked. The word Providence, as
a geographic designation, had a very elastic meaning. The
company in England did not always understand their posi-
tion, and were displeased when Captain Axe told them that
Providence was no good and Captain Rudyerd reported that
it was not worth keeping and the Spaniards valued it not.
Though British activity at the mouth of the Belize River
began in the same year the Earl of Warwick's Puritans estab-
lished the Stand, no settlement was made there until Captain
Willis came in 1640. Captain Axe preferred to stay on board
the "Swallow" at the caye opposite the river, because the log-
wood trees were not far and he lived intermittently at his
plantation at Tobacco Caye near the Stand. The documents
from the Stands never reached Warwick and Brook Houses,
but were lost on the way like many others from sister areas.
In 1641 the island of Providence and its forts were cap-
tured from Governor Andrew Carter by a Spanish squadron
under Admiral Diaz Pimienta, and that colony came to an
end. No more merchandise came from England for trading
or barter. This cutting off of the head of the whole venture
had its natural repercussions on the colony at the Stand,
which began to fall to pieces, because of the already existing
dissensions, the low moral standards, the call from the more
profitable field of privateering against Spanish ships. Then
the Earl of Warwick allowed Providence-Mosquitia and the
Cockscomb Stands to lapse as the Huguenots had allowed
their Florida venture to lapse, and the Dutch their Forts
Orange and Nassau in the Bahamas and their Forts Orange
and Nassau on the Tapayos in the Amazon, for neither one
of these had then gone much beyond the experimental stage.

48 The Beginning of British Honduras
There were many discontented Puritans in New England
who planned to emigrate to Cape Gratia de Dios, a name
though in three languages ranked with Providence and Eleu-
thera. In 1640 John Humphrey,.."a gentleman of special
parts of learning and activity and a Godly man," was ap-
pointed governor of Providence and Cape Gratia de Dios in
Mosquitia, and took with him many who had sold their
estates in New England, and it was "left to his own discretion
to pursue any designs upon Cape Gratia de Dios." We read
of other groups of dissentient Puritans who came at this time
to this area, and it was then that one group colonized the area
where they left the names Seven Hills, after the seven hills on
which the Puritans built Providence, Rhode Island, Golden
Stream, Hope Creek, Middle River, and South Monkey River
or Deep River. The Spanish seizure of Providence in 1641
had caused several shiploads of colonists to deviate to the
Cockscomb Cobast. In the Journal of Governor Winthrop of
Massachusetts we read of the wanderings of the Puritans in
their efforts to find a resting place for their church and com-
munity. In October 1635 Roger Williams was banished from
Salem on a religious dispute, and he founded Providence,
Rhode Island, in June 1636. He was the founder of the
Baptist Church of America, and it is because of these Puri-
tan settlements that the Baptist Church is by far the oldest
Protestant religious denomination in British Honduras. Cap-
tain W. A. Blewfield was a link between Roger Williams
and the Puritan settlers of the Cockscomb area of Cape Gratia
de Dios.
It was their aim to make Bermuda or the Somers Isles a
Puritan sanctuary, and in 1648 the Reverend Patrick Cope-
land and Mr. Goldinge, and others were banished in a reli-
gious dispute from Bermuda and they went with their former
governor Captain William Sayle to his new plantation on
the rocky island they called "Eleuthera" in the Bahamas, for
which he secured his patent in 1646. They also built Charles-
town, near the old Dutch Fort Nassau, on New Providence

The Puritan Colonists

or Sayle's Island, near which there is Goldinge's Island. Here
they set up their own church, but the whole venture was a
failure. The name Nassau is not one originally given to this
spot by the Lord Proprietors. They merely used the name of
the Dutch West India Company's old fort in preference to
the Puritan name Charlestown because they were partly tres-
passing on the remains of a Puritan settlement which still
had local claimants. The eleventh edition of the Encyclo-
pedia Britannica says that the town of St. George, Bermuda,
was founded in 1794, but in the "Historie of the Somers
Islands" by Captain Daniel Tucker, 1620, the "towne of St.
George" is mentioned several times.
At the entrance of Little Abaco Island we still have the
names Ambergris Caye, Powell's Caye and Channel, Carter's
Caye and Bank, whilst there is Moore's Island west of Great
Abaco and Powell's Point southwest of Eleuthera. This shows
that before the Providence grant was made to the Earl of
Warwick on December 4, 1630 Governors Richard Moore
and Andrew Carter of the Somers Isles, Captain Powell of
the Courteen Syndicate, and Captain Daniel Elfrith had ran-
sacked the Bahamas for ambergris. The names Carter and
Powell on Bahama maps are Puritan and not derived from
the pirate Carter and Governor Powell both of whom came
a century later. When in 1670 the Bahamas were granted by
Charles II to the Duke of Albemarle the Puritan tobacco and
silk grass plantations in that area were already abandoned as
they were on the Cockscomb Coast. Andros Island in the
Bahamas got its name at the close of the 17th century from
Sir Edmund Andros, governor of Massachusetts, who was in-
terested in the Bahamas and the Cockscomb Coast. Sir Ed-
wyn Sandys, or Sands, of Bermuda and treasurer of the Vir-
ginia Company, also left his name at Sandys or Sands Point.
Captains Powell and Elfrith with their Dutch colleagues
ranged the whole eastern coast of tropical America. This
friendship was formed in the Amazon where between 1615
and 1625 they often visited the Dutch trading posts, forts,

50 The Beginning of British Honduras

and plantations. When the Portuguese expelled the Dutch
and English from the Amazon these traders began to move
northward in the Caribbean. The Courteen Syndicate, like
the English companies trading in the Amazon and Guiana
areas, were absorbed in the concessions of the Earls of Carlisle
and Pembroke.



The smaller of the Leeward Isles were classed by the Span-
iards as "Islas Inutiles," and so were left alone and more or
less vacant for a hundred years. The man-eating Canibs or
Caribs maintained an effective control. When in the early
years of the sevenetenth century the Dutch, French, and
English adventurers began to be attracted to them, the Span-
iards paid little attention to these few pioneers as they filtered
in. But when they began to plant colonies and invent reasons
for so doing Spain began to throw them out. Alas, it was
much too late, for these islands were lost when the Armada
under Medina Sidonia failed to join hands with the army of
the Duke of Parma in the Netherlands. Then Spain lost
prestige amongst the nations, lost it off the banks of Zeeland
when her ships stood into the North Sea.
The French settlement in the Antilles were made at St.
Christopher in 1626 by Belain d'Esnambuc. On July 2, 1627
the English King created the Earl of Carlisle Lord Proprietor
of all the Caribbee Islands from Grenada northwards to St.
Christopher, which island was occupied by the French and
English jointly from 1627. Nevis was settled by the English
in 1628. Both islands, however, had been previously occupied
for short periods by wandering groups of English and French
adventurers. Sir Thomas Warner was in St. Christopher in
1623, the elder Powell touched there in 1625, and the "Hope-
well' was there in 1626. In 1626-1628 Sir William Courteen,
a British born subject of Dutch extraction, colonized Bar-
badoes. As the little island of St. Martin in the Lesser Antil-
les is still half Dutch and half French owned, so in this time

52 The Beginning of British Honduras
the island of Barbadoes was jointly occupied by the English
and the Dutch, the former planting tobacco and the latter
sugar-cane. The two brothers Captains John and Henry
Powell brought English colonists who planted tobacco, and
they brought roots and seeds from the Dutch trading stations
in the Essequibo area. In 1627 the Powells captured Por-
tuguese sugar ships valued at ten thousand pound sterling,
and about 1640 sugar-cane planting from Brazil financed by
Dutch capitalists salvaged Barbadoes from the tobacco failure.
In September 1629 the Plate Fleet of some 35 galleons and
14 armed merchantmen under Don Fadrique de Toledo
drove out the English and French from St. Christopher and
Nevis. Those on Nevis were taken by surprise, and when
their leaders attempted a defense the indentured servants
threw away their arms. This is the island where Nelson mar-
ried Mrs. Nesbit and where the American statesman Alexan-
der Hamilton was born. On St. Christopher they were warned
by boats escaping from Nevis, and so they dug entrenchments
at the landing place and defied Don Fadrique for a week.
When their resistance collapsed English and French accused
each other of cowardice. Captain Hawley of Barbadoes was
made prisoner and Captain Vallett was amongst those who
fled in panic. Don Fadrique was kind to those who surren-
dered, and as soon as the Plate Fleet was out of sight the Eng-
lish and French returned to St. Christopher, also called St.
In 1631 the Providence-Henrietta company established a
colony on Tortuga which they re-christened Association.
This English occupation lasted until 1636 when they and
their governor, Wormeley, were driven away by a Spanish
expedition from Santo Domingo. Then French adventurers
occupied this island, and sometimes English adventurers oc-
cupied it in part. In 1638 the Spaniards again threw them
out, but left no garrison there as one might expect them to
do, but their empire was too vast to patrol against three gov-
ernments. On April 20, 1635 instructions were issued from

Captain Willis 53
station" to sail from St. Christopher and ascertain whether the
island was still in possession of the English.
In 1639, one Willis began to gather together on his own
account, without commission from anybody, a group of Eng-
lish and a few Scottish adventurers drawn mostly from those
expelled from Nevis and those who had been stalked by bad
luck in their flight from island to island in search of a living.
When these numbered three hundred, he went to Tortuga,
pretended friendship for four months, then suddenly dis-
armed the forty Frenchmen who were there and made them
do his bidding. It was at the same time, 1639-1640, that Cap-
tain Henry Hawley, governor of Barbadoes from 1630-1640,
made a bold attempt to take the island and set up as an in-
dependent ruler. He had reconquered Barbadoes in 1629 for
the Earl of Carlisle with the very same tactics used by Willis
to seize Tortuga. Samuel Colson's secession from the Earl
of Warwick to establish his own post on the Cockscomb
Coast is another instance.
Willis was now master of Tortuga. This, however, caused
jealousy amongst the French who felt that they ought to have
got this Spanish plum. They said that Willis was maltreat-
ing their countrymen. Amongst those who went back and
forth with gossip to De Poincy, Governor of the French An-
tilles at St. Christopher, was Le Vasseur, an engineer naval
officer who had served with Belain d'Esnambuc. He was a
Huguenot, and because the Huguenots were giving trouble to
De Poincy he gave Le Vasseur fifty of them and sent him on
the errand against Willis, promising to bear one-half the
expense. Le Vasseur went with his 50 Huguenot buccaneers
to Port Magot, which is to the windward of Saint Domingue,
and remained there three months in order to become versed
in all that was important to know about Willis, to undermine
his soldiers from this distance, and so remove the plank from
under his feet.
Although his forces were still very inferior to the English,
Le Vasseur resolved to go and attack them, confident that the
few Frenchmen who were amongst them would come over

The Beginning of British Honduras

and range themselves under his banner the moment he ap-
peared. And so it actually happened. He entered the harbour
toward the end of August 1640 and landed all his men with-
out resistance. He advanced in battle formation and sent to
summon Willis to get out of the island with all his English,
in default of which he could count that quarter would be
given to none. Le Vasseur did not neglect to pose as the in-
jured party and to accuse Willis of such cruelties against the
French as appeal to men who take no time to reflect.
"I care nothing about the lamentations of thousands of
your sort," answered Willis. He was a buccaneer, not a
But Le Vasseur's demand was followed by the uprising of
the French who were under the orders of the English general,
whose English and Scottish followers now suddenly felt that
their French would go over to Le Vasseur to their destruc-
tion. Willis was bewildered. He had not the time to inves-
tigate whether Le Vasseur had the means to back up the
haughty tone in which he spoke. As a consequence Willis
decided to withdraw, and he and his men embarked in con-
fusion on a vessel which was in the harbour. Immediately
thereafter Le Vasseur entered into a kind of fort which the
English had built and where there were three small cannons.
"Tortuga, citadel of Saint Domingue, is ours," was the
message sent to Cardinal Richelieu.
It seems as if Willis had belonged for a time to the Earl
of Carlisle's people on St. Christopher and Nevis, for the
French did mix up his name later with Hawley and Vallett.
Both Hawley and Willis were called handsome. Both Vallett
and Wormeley had fled in panic. The overlapping is caused
by our inability to count wounded grouse and partridge. Many
of the adventurers attracted to Tortuga had come to Willis
from Nevis, where Roger Glover was trading. It is however
certain that the other half of his followers were men belong-
ing to the Earl of Wai wick's people who had been expelled
before from thpe Providence colony of Association on Tor-
tuga, and that from some of these, who had previously been

Captain Willis
at the two Stands, Willis heard more about the dye-wood then
called "braziletta" growing at the mouth of the Texach, the
river to which he later gave his name.
Father Du Tertre, of the Ordre des Freres Precheurs, in
his "Histoire des Antilles," 1667, tells us that "the French
buccaneers were twice driven away from Tortuga before
the English were driven away in 1638 by a Spanish general
who put to the sword all the English who fell into his hands.
But shortly afterwards they returned, and having attracted
some French buccaneers they reached the number of 300,
and of which 'un anglais' had made himself the chief."
Father Francois Xavier de Charlevoix, S.J., in his "His-
toire de L'Ile Espagnole ou de St. Domingue," of 1730, which
is mainly based on the memoir manuscript of Father J. B.
Le Pers, missionary at Saint Domingue for 25 years, and on
the original documents of the French naval depot says that
"the buccaneers felt the necessity of defending themselves
against the Spaniards from whom they had no hopes of peace,
and this caused them to think of electing a chief. Amongst
the English who were with them was one named Willis-
"homme de tete et resolution." They tendered him the com-
mand, but quickly repented it. They noticed that this man
was attracting as many as possible of his own nation, and
what worried them still more was his mocking them when
they wished to elect a new general."
In 1678 the Flemish buccaneer doctor Exquemeling or
Oexmelin, who had lived on Tortuga, mentions Willis' ex-
pulsion from Tortuga in his work "De Americaensche Zee-
roovers." Father J. B. Labat, in his "Voyages aux Antilles,
1693-1705," also gives us the story of Willis's expulsion from
Tortuga in the last days of August 1640.
The retreat was the only sensible thing for Willis to do
under the circumstances. There is no doubt he would have
given battle to cover his retreat, but with the disaffection of
such of his men who were waiting for Le Vasseur it would
have been stupid. For weeks he could feel the reins slipping
through his fingers and his mind flashing to the logwood

56 The Beginning of British Honduras
creeks of the Texach. The fact that Le Vasseur did not dare
to pursue to the beach makes us conclude that Willis had
made strategic dispositions for the retreat. With skilful
manoeuvring of his ship and the cannons well served by his
loyal adherents he could take care of the rest. We can con-
clude from the records that he was the type of man whom
others do not clap on the shoulder. They either despised him,
or admired him, according to the bent of their minds, but
could never feel that he was like them. Le Vasseur knew his
mettle from the half-traitors and gossips. As governor of
Tortuga Le Vasseur burnt the chapel of the Catholics and
even expelled the Protestant pastor. He acquired a huge
fortune, surrounded himself with luxury, kept his prisoners
in iron cages in which they could not stand up, until he was
murdered a decade later by two of his lieutenants.
Willis now sailed west, to the opposite mainland. It was
not easy to make men of his kind declare themselves van-
quished. He more than singed Yucatan's beard with his
eighty followers. The first land struck was Turneffe, made
up of innumerable mangrove islands and lagoons with good
passages for boats. Proceeding to the mainland, he stopped
at a caye with sandy soil and magnificent sapodilla trees which
they called "casinas," trees with which they were already
familiar in Tortuga and Providence. Some of these men were
here before as logwood cutters. Here Willis would start anew,
and take all the necessary precautions against being dislodged
in the former fashion, for his outlook was that of a feudal
The Mexican editor, Justo Sierra, whose information was
based on documents long since rotted away, tells us that
"Peter Wallace was a daring and enterprising Scotch buc-
caneer who was moved by the reputation for riches of this
region, and that in association with the most resolute of his
comrades determined to search for a site where he could per-
manently establish his lair. So he made a perfect survey and
diligent examination of all those reefs and shoals and then
found a river entirely protected by a series of cayes and shal-

Captain Willis

low water. At the mouth of this river he landed with some
eighty buccaneers and immediately started to build some
houses, surrounding them with a sort of palisade or breast-
work, in short, a rude fortress. The adventurous followers
of Wallace gave his name to the river on whose banks they
established themselves and which name afterwards degener-
ated into Wallix and ultimately to Belice."
Bridges in his "Annals of Jamaica, London, 1828," "says
that Willis, ex-governor of Tortuga, sought his retreat on
the shores and isles of Yucatan, where a multitude of his sub-
jects or friends quickly joined him, and this notorious buc-
caneer was the first Englishman who settled on the banks of
the river to which he gave his name in 1638."
The founding of this site, where now stands Belize, must
have occurred approximately in September 1640. Willis was
the first to establish himself at this part of the mainland with
which the Puritans were already familiar, as Captain William
Parker before them. In the following year the Earl of War-
wick's colony at the two Stands came to an end by the Span-
ish re-taking of Old Providence, but Willis was not alone.
Samuel Colson and Bluefields were at the Stand, Glover at
his reef, while others of the Earl of Warwick's colonists were
established between the two Stands, cultivating mainly tobac-
co and silk-grass which were sold to visiting vessels from New
England. A section of Comock's Bight is still called Johnsie
Rongoe Bight, and in the Calendar of State Papers we see
that on May 22, 1685 John Rongoe, a Negro, made a declara-
tion for a clandestine shipment of tobacco to New England.
The Indians called the lower reaches of the Belize River,
Texach. The central and upper reaches they called Mopan.
This division was due to the fact that the few Indians who
knew the Texach, gravitated towards Bacalar, and those
around the Mopan gravitated towards the now ruined sites
of the upper Usumacinta. There were also tribal differences.
When Willis came to this one of the "regions Caesar never
knew" the island on which the northern half of Belize now
stands was called "el islote del Texach," from the Maya word

58 The Beginning of British Honduras
for "ford," "cross-road," or "haulover." Xibun, Xabon, or
Jabun means a lagoon or pond-like extension of water, aqd
is found in the names "Peten-ha," and in "Ca-jabon" in Vera
Paz, where in the rainy season the many rivers have lake-
like expansions. The variations in spelling aretlike in Mexico,
Mejico, Messico. The English pronunciations are approxi-
mately Sherboon, Shoboon, and Sibun. Casinas for sapodilla,
cayman or caiman for alligator, caoba for mahogany are words
from the language of Hispaniola.
Justo Sierra says that Willis, "like everybody then, knew
that the introduction of foreigners into the colonies was most
strictly prohibited by the Spanish Crown, and that as a con-
sequence this shelter he had selected could not be permanent
as sooner or later it would be destroyed by the power of Spain.
Therefore Willis went to the head-chief of the Moskito In-
dians and entered into a contract whereby this head-chief
ceded to him the land he had occupied, a land which perhaps
he did not even know and which certainly was never under
his sovereignty." Thus did Willis continue the friendship
with the Moskito Indians and the Puritans. These Indians
came and helped him cut his wood at six-pence a day which
was sold to the captains of vessels. Then the wood fetched
only thirty pounds per ton in England in contrast to the nine-
ty to one hundred pounds sterling it fetched a generation
later. Sierra who wrote in 1849 the articles on the origin of
Belize in No. 48 to No. 51 of "El Fenix" of Campeche did not
know that the Earl of Warwick's people had been at the
Stand, and his statement may refer to an understanding be-
tween Willis and the Providence colony made immediately
after Willis had built his fort on land they claimed. It may
refer to Captain William Jackson who visited the Bay for
the Earl of Warwick in 1643. Anyway, it is in line with his-
torical truth, and it led me to the perusal of the State Papers
on Providence.
As a British subject he was not trespassing on Spanish land,
for he was within the Earl of Warwick's concession. In 1564
Queen Elizabeth in a Latin speech which she addresse&- to

Captain Willis

the Chancellor and Fellows of Cambridge Universjty quoted
the passage from Demosthenes that the sayings of ptinces re-
tain the authority of laws with their subjects. It is wrong to
assume that Captain Willis was a low adventurer asid an out-
sider. He was in my judgment one of the Puritans of the
Earl of Warwick who had been active in his earlier days in
the Somers Isles, Bahamas, Providence-Mosquitia, also in. the
Lesser Antilles where he had been more or less connected
with Captain Hawley of Barbadoes and Roger Glover of
Kitts-Nevis. Many of the Puritans emigrated in whole fam-
ilies, and he was very likely a close relative of that Willis who
was his contemporary and the first governor of Connecticut,
and one of the numerous Willis family in and around Fenny
Compton in Warwickshire. Nor is it possible to deny that he
may have been a son or nephew of that Captain James Willis
who was ransomed from Spanish captivity off the coast of
Venezuela by Sir Anthony Sherley a few weeks before he
joined Captain William Parker off Jamaica in 1597 and both
went to the Bay and tried their luck at Truxillo, Puerto
Caballos and the Golfo Dulce.
In 1642 Bacalar was taken by Diego el Mulato, Lucifer,
with a fleet of shallow draft. In 1648 it was again taken by
pirates who carried off the women to Cayo Muger, now
Mauger Caye, where these women were held prisoners until
taken away by the Spanish captain, Bartolome Palomino,
with severe reprisals. On May 29, 1652 the pirates returned
and completely destroyed Bacalar, cruelly depriving Captain
Palomino of his life. After the capture of Providence-Mos-
quitia Captain W. A. Blewfield began to trade with the Dutch
colony of New Amsterdank ,now New York, where he re-
ceived financial backing. As commander of the privateer
frigate "La Garza," he captured two Spanish prizes in the
Caribbean laden with sugar, tobacco, wood, and wine after
a '-vere contest and brought them to New Amsterdam on
May 29, 1644. The Dutch manuscripts in the New York
State Archives give us the rfames of the shareholders of the
"La Garza" and tell of the shares varying in value from 1100

60 The Beginning of British Honduras
and 1773 guilders, and how provisions were made by Blew-
field that his share of the proceeds of a cruise in case of his
death should go to his wife Dorothy, or his son Anthony, re-
siding in London. In 1649 the very valuable Spanish bark
"Tabasco" was captured, but then came the Treaty of Muen-
ster in Westphalia, 1648, which ended the Thirty Years War
and the Dutch activity in Honduras waters. Nevertheless,
Blewfield took his prize to Newport, Rhode Island, where in
a letter to Roger Williams we learn that "there were great
bickerings about the ship, that Blewfield was carrying it away,
and had promised the governor to answer for it to the Span-
iards if demanded because she was taken against the treaty."
But in New Amsterdam he and the shareholders of the "La
Garza" got their prize money from the capture. "Strike for
the Prince of Orange," was his battle cry, and the name Blew-
fields Bay and Orange Point in Jamaica are only two of the
geographic names that carry on his memory.
In 1858, G. E. Squier said Blewfields and Belize both de-
rive their names from pirate chieftains, but then he also said
the name Belize "is variously derived from a famous free-
booter who resorted here, named Wallace, (pronounced by
the Spaniards Walice or Balice) and from the French "balise,"
a beacon, and that the last derivation is probably correct,
since no doubt some signal or beacon was raised here to guide
the freebooters to the common rendezvous, after they had
eluded pursuit behind the dangerous reef, dotted with cayes."
The first derivation is historically accurate. The second der-
ivation is wrong. It cannot with truth be hung around the
neck of Belize. It can only serve to'prove that if we repeat
an untruth or copy a facile explanation long enough we
eventually learn to believe it. No old writer ever used this
beacon origin.
In Squier's time there was at the Southeast Pass of the
Mississippi bar a large blockhouse with a lofty signal post
called the balize, or beacon, which served as a guide to the
entrance and anchorage in this former French colony. This
had a reason for existence in legitimate aid given to vessels

Captain Willis 61
with the guard ship and pilots co-operating. But the pirate
Lafitte had his own entrance to the Mississippi river and
bayous. He needed no such mark. Anything like a buoy or
beacon in the roadstead of the then unlawful settlement of
Willis and his successors would be the very negation of the
reason why the retreat came into being and was continued.
With all respect for Squier's valuable work we have to say
that his assumption in this instance shows insufficient re-
search, lack of knowledge of the buccaneer manner of living,
and the early logwood cutters' instincts of self-preservation.
Any such mark was to betray them to their pursuers. They
themselves needed no artificial mark which a renegade could
use or remove. They were men not insensitive to ridicule.
No buccaneer and no captain of a logwood vessel in the early
days trusted a buoy in the day time or a light at night. The
revolving and alternately flashing lights were precisely put
up to insure that the fixed lights were not pirate decoys. The
beacon on the Seranilla Bank was erected in 1835, more than
200 years after the four Spanish galleons were wrecked there.
Many houses built of teak in the olden days on the outer
cayes in the Bay or the Cayman Islands were often the result
of deceiving pirate lights that wrecked the ships. One of the
oldest professions in Belize, one with a high amount of trust
and founded by Captain Willis, is that of the pilot who brings
in and takes out foreign vessels.
The Escuadro de Barloviento consisting of six or seven sail
of stout ships from 20 to 50 guns visited all the Spanish sea-
port towns once every year, chiefly to hinder foreigners from
trading and to suppress privateers. From Cartagena Indias
to Vera Cruz, Havana, Hispaniola, Panama they ranged. The
privateers kept out of their way, having always intelligence
where they were. They had chased English vessels right up
to Caye Bokel. Often did the Honduras flotilla come to the
area between Glovers Reef or Arecife Largo and Southern
Four Cayes or Los Cuatro Cayos. Always did the early log-
wood cutters know through their lookouts who were often
hidden in the sea grape trees. On the islet west of Pauchgut

62 The Beginning of British Honduras
Caye there is a strategically important spot called Spanish
Lookout. Lookouts were also kept on the land.
Early in the 18th century when Marlborough and Prince
Eugene were proving to Louis Fourteenth that the Pyrenees
had not ceased to exist, the captain-general of Yucatan, Alvaro
Rivaguda, sent out men to make a careful reconnaissance of
the settlements of the English logwood cutters and the waters
thereabout in order to find out the exact approaches. When
he disclosed his desire to attack the little fort at the mouth
of the Walis he was told by these surveyors that such was not
possible because the surrounding waters were still insufficient-
ly known to them, and that the region was full of reefs and
cayes which made dangerous the entrance to the settlement.
Yet these surveyors informed him that the logwood cutters
were in relations with Jamaica and that they had seen some
large vessels frequenting the place without any inconvenience
whatever, though they could not discover the intricate chan-
nels that were being used. Nobody who was not in their
confidence could enter the place.
The Archives of British Honduras show the evolution of
this name. In 1705 the river Bullys, 1737 Beleze, 1742 Bel-
lese, 1743 Belize. The Bayman's Map of July 4, 1786 gives
the River Wallis or Belleze, and Cayo Casina. In Chapter 63
of Coxe's Memoirs of the Spanish Bourbon kings, under date
of December 1763, the Rios Hondo, Nuevo, and Wallis are
mentioned. The Spanish Government in a communication
dated 2, June 1727 asked Manuel Salcedo, captain general of
Yucatan, about the state of affairs in Rio Walis. In a letter
from Captain the Hon. John Luttrell of H. M. Charon, writ-
ten on October 27, 1779 from the harbour of Omoa to the
Admiralty the River Belez is twice mentioned. The Hon-
duras Almanack of 1829 says-"the town of Belize, situated
at the mouth of the river of the same name, was so called
after its first discoverer, Wallice, a noted buccaneer who made
this the place of his retreat. The Spaniards wrote it Waliz,
corresponding with the English name, but it subsequently
became corrupted into Balleze, or as it is now called, Belize."

Captain, Willis 63
John Lloyd Stevens, Padre Lara, and above all the Baptist
minister Frederick Crowe are only three of a long list who
proclaimed the Willis origin.
The Spaniards took great care to use the "W" in this name
to show that it was of non-Spanish origin and belonged to the
other side of the barricade. When they substituted the "B"
it was because foreign words are treated phonetically, as for
instance Draque, Aquines, Guataral, for Drake, Hawkins, and
Walter Raleigh. An instinctive sense of harmony and pro-
portion characterize their language.
The mere similarity of two words does not prove relation-
ship. Relationship is only proved if the two words can stand
up to each other when weighed in the light of historical and
philological development. The modification of the name
Willis to Belize has numerous parallels in the colony. For
example, "gibnut" from "gibier aux nattes," game hunted
on the coast by the buccaneers and roasted on twigs before
taken aboard ship, and "clap and sawyer" from "le serpent
saillant," the snake which sallies forth or lances away.
On Ruatan there is the ruin of a fort, built perhaps in
1641-42 by Captain Samuel Axe with those who had escaped
from Providence and such as had left the Stands intent on
going privateering on the seas from this base. Captain Axe
then returned to England and came back as vice-admiral un-
der Captain William Jackson when he took Jamaica for a
time in the spring of 1643 and raided Truxillo. They too
were commissioned and financed by the Earl of Warwick and
came by way of Barbadoes with three ships, "Charles," "Val-
entine," and "Dolphin." Captain Axe then had many volun-
teers from St. Christopher and the expedition had much
trouble with fever in the Bay. The Spanish ambassador,
Alonzo de Cardenas, protested at the English Court in April
1645 against Jackson's doings and this commission granted
to the Earl of Warwick.
Captain Philip Bell, whose governorship of Providence
lasted until 1636 became governor of Barbadoes with the
rank of major and gave that colony the benefits of his experi-

64 The Beginning of British Honduras

ence from 1641-50. Colson remained in the colony at the
Stands and carried on in a new way that was consonant with
the changed conditions, and we find his name at four differ-
ent islets and points. The trader Glover, of the Company of
Merchant Adventurers of London, gave his name to the
Moskito Indian headman whose son Paddy Glover was well
known on the Wanks or Walloss River in 1699 as a "sookyer"
or "walloss" as the witch doctors were called. Roger Glover
of London and Nevis, merchant, was "long an adventurer to
the Caribbee Islands" and in 1629 made a petition to the King
"to give him time to pay his debts and again adventure to
those plantations." As a merchant he sailed to the Amazon
in the ship "Marmaduke" where in 1631 he picked up six
survivors of the fall of Captain Roger North's fort. He knew
the "Hopewell' at Nevis, from which island Captain Willis
had many men on Tortuga. In his will dated 14 November
1636 when he was at Nevis, his brother Richard Glover, of
London, merchant, was mentioned with his sisters, nieces,
partners, the Indian servant Roger, and considerable trading
in tobacco, with the ship "Increase" which was the successor
of the "Marmaduke." In November 1666 Sir James Modyford
was appointed by letters patent governor of the island of
Providence or St. Catherine, and his brother Sir Thomas
Modyford who was first in Barbadoes as governor became
governor of Jamaica 1668-71. Both were partners of Lucifer
who now preyed on the Spanish shipping between Havana
and Mexico.
The settling of British Honduras had its origin with Eng-
lish adventurers from Providence-Mosquitia and Kitts-Nevis.
Jamaica had nothing to do with it. After the conquest of this
island by Penn and Venables it began to play the role of step-
father to the colony and to act as though the Puritan activities
had not taken place or had not prepared the way for them,
because the new rulers of Jamaica disliked the Puritans. It
was this very hostility which had caused the Purilans to leave



A favourite buccaneer resort was the islet called Casinas,
now St. George's Caye. Here in 1677 Father Jose Delgado, a
Dominican, met Captain Bartholomew Sharpe. The priest
had come from Cajabon in Vera Paz, overland by way of
Manche, to the region between the Boom and the mouth of
the Texach or Belize River with a dozen Indians on his way
to Bacalar. Late one evening they reached a spot where a fire
was built to warm themselves and their clothes. The priest
was nearly dead from hunger, and the rain had wet him all
that night. At 5 o'clock in the morning he went to the water's
edge to dry a towel in order to have something warm over the
stomach. While putting on the towel five English pirates
saw him, fired a load of shot when he asked for quarter, and
so his raised left arm received a shot lengthwise.
The milk of a tree was put on the wound- which bled pro-
fusely. The pirates took the rope from his hammock, tied
his hands behind his back, and half hung him up to the
branch of a tree. Then another Englishman came and de-
manded patacaa." The priest replied that he had only a box.
"Pataca, pataca," the pirate insisted in anger and knocked the
priest senseless with a blow on the chest with the butt of his
musket. Soon the pirate returned with vile oaths, made a
circle by joining the tips of his thumb and index finger, and
again demanded patacaa." Now the priest understood, said
"plata, plata," and gave this pirate his box with sixty dol-
lars in change and some church ornaments. Here we see that

66 The Beginning of British Honduras
the word patacaa" or "patacones" for pieces of eight was not
general throughout Central America, just like casina for
sapodilla. This was Sunday 20, August, and all that day the
flies sucked and swelled the priest's face and legs, for the
pirates had taken away all his clothes and left him only a pair
of underclothing.
The Indians from Bacalar were given a dozen lashes with
manatee hide. Then the pirates became playful after having
loosed the priest through loss of blood, and this made him
ask them for food. They laughed, and gave it to him. One
night they got drunk, and the captives thought of doing away
with them, the priest to attend to a Moskito Indian who had
been especially obnoxious, but they gave up this plan. After
three days the pirates took them to Cayo Casina where their
captain, Bartholomew Sharpe, was well-disposed and asked
Father Delgado the number of Spaniards, arrows, spears, and
wild Indians he had with him. He was satisfied with the re-
ply, ordered their release, issued letpasses for use in case
they met others, and on the ninth day turned them loose on
the beaches where they gathered amber. In the night the flies
were so numerous that they buried their bodies in the sand.
They did not know that their lives were spared because Cap-
tain Bartholomew Sharpe was very religious. Later he had
a ship named the "Most Blessed Trinity."
That Earl of Carlisle who was governor of Jamaica from
1678 to 1681 had given Captain Sharpe letpasses to go into
the Bay of Honduras to cut logwood. Captain Dampier and
Justo Sierra say that in those days when the privateers met
no prizes at sea it was their common practice to steal the log-
wood from the enormous piles at Champoton and Playa San
Ramon until the Spaniards stationed soldiers there. After-
wards Captain Sharpe, called Betcharpt by the French and
Barte Charpa by the Spaniards, went with Captain Coxon
and Basil Ringrose by way of Panama for an extensive cruise
in the Pacific. In 1684 Basil Ringrose had been supercargo
under Captain Swan of the "Cygnet" of London, a ship of

Buccaneers and Pirates

180 tons and 16 guns. The Santanillas or Swan's Islands was
a favourite privateer station.
Dampier and Coxon could not have been far off on this
occasion, for this was one of the two periods during which
Captain Dampier was with the logwood cutters at Campeche,
Chiquibul, and the Bay of Honduras. In 1681, when chased
by Spanish men of war, Captain Dampier had left on the
island of Juan Fernandez, off Chile, the Mosquito Indian
called William, and William stayed on this island as the only
inhabitant until Captain Dampier picked him up in 1684.
In February 1709 Captain Dampier had also helped Captain
Woodes Rogers to rescue a certain Alexander Selkirk from
over four years sojourn on the island of Juan Fernandez. To
what extent is the sojourn of the Moskito Indian called Wil-
liam interwoven with that of the Scotsman Alexander Selkirk
to make the story of Robinson Crusoe? To the English the
Bay was always a more important sphere of activity than the
Shore, and William might very well have been one of the
Moskito Indians from the Sittee River in the Cockscomb area.
Anyway, only the Bay and the Shore can share in a contro-
versy as to William's native land.
In August 1682 the French buccaneer ship "La Trom-
peuse," called in Belize and Jamaica "the big trampoose,"
then forming part of the fleet of the Fleming or Dutchman
Laurent Graff, had taken in at Belize a load of logwood for
Hamburg. On August 29, 1682 Sir Thomas Lynch, governor
of Jamaica, told the Lords of Trade and Plantations in his
report "I have forbidden our cutting logwood in the Bays of
Campeche and Honduras, your lordships having justly de-
clared that the country being the Spaniards we ought not to
cut the wood. There is not the least pretense or reason for it.
It is now become a greater drug than fustic, and almost all
carried to Hamburg, New England, Holland, etc., which in-
jures us and the customs and trade of the nation."
Laurent Graff was tall, of erect bearing, with a bold and
handsome face. He had golden brown hair and a long mous-

68 The Beginning of British Honduras

tache twirled in the Spanish fashion. Amongst the filibusters
he was distinguished for his fine manners, good taste, and
matchless ability as a cannonier. He liked to play the violin
on shipboard to entertain himself as well as his crew and the
visitors who often came to see him and hear him play. The
Brethren of the Coast called him a Fleming, but one writer
said he came from Hamburg. The Moskito Indians in the
Bay called him Filimingo and his vessel the big trampoose.
In October 1682 Lynch sent the buccaneer captain John
Coxon to the Bay Settlement to fetch away the logwood cut-
ters in his ships, for Coxon had temporarily come to terms
with his government. In that atmosphere at Casinas the men
plotted to take the ships and go privateering, but Coxon
valiantly resisted, killed one or two with his own hand, forced
eleven overboard, and brought three back to Port Royal who
were condemned. Coxon formerly had a French commission
and had commanded the squadron which took Santa Marta
in June 1677 when he carried off the bishop and governor to
Jamaica for ransom. In 1683 he and Captain Bartholomew
Sharpe seized from a warehouse in the Gulf of Amatique
500 chests of indigo that were waiting to leave for Spain on
two ships.
In 1683 Laurent Graff had two ships, a barque, 300 men,
and a sloop belonging to the English which Lynch requested
him in a letter to hand over. The buccaneers were all joining
him in the Bay, and Lynch then sent Coxon to offer the
Dutch sea-rover Captain Yanky, or Janke, or Janquais, men,
victuals, pardon, naturalization, and two hundred pounds in
money to him and Coxon if they would destroy the ship "La
Trompeuse," which was then also waiting for the Spanish
ships from Guatemala. But the offer was too small for this
Dutchman who had a French commission and knew that his
ship "La Dauphine" of 15 cannons and 150 men had a reputa-
tion for swiftness and his cannons for destructiveness. Like
Childe Harold, these men "n'er in virtue's ways did take de-

Buccaneers and Pirates

light." Instead, Captain Yanky, who had once sailed with
Captain Dampier and had taken 50,000 pieces of eight off
one Spanish ship, went and helped the Fleming Van Horn
in 1683 to seize and plunder Vera Cruz with 1200 men and
where the booty amounted to sixty million pieces of eight.
Nicolas Van Horn was small in stature, with a face burnt
brown by the sun. His bravery was such that in action he in-
spected his ship and if he came across a man with any sign
of weakening he was so irritated that he shot him on the spot.
But he was extraordinarily generous and compensated brav-
ery with open hand. He used to wear a string of pearls of
extraordinary size and value, with a ruby of astonishing beau-
ty. In 1683 he assembled the different buccaneer captains
and their fleets in Ruatan and Belize. Never had these waters
seen happier men. They were full of the joy of anticipation
and were amply compensated on taking Vera Cruz. Laurent
Graff helped Van Horn at Vera Cruz, and the exploits of the
"big trampoose" were long remembered in the Bay. Van
Horn died from neglecting a slight wound on the hand he
received in a duel with Laurent Graff, and left a huge for-
tune to his widow in Ostende. They buried him at the Log-
gerhead Cayes near Cape Contoy. The Sieur de Grammont's
men went to Jamaica, others went to Saint Domingue, all had
a wild fortnight. They landed with bags of money on their
shoulders, bundles of silverware on their heads, piles of silk
in their arms. In that festive week many a tempestuous hussy
found the pretext for changing her lord. In 1685 Laurent
Graff and the Sieur de Grammont who was called Senor
Ramon in Campeche, the former mainly with Englishmen
and the latter mainly with Frenchmen, took Campeche, and
Padre Lara lists this as one of the five piratical invasions
which resulted in the plunder of this town and caused that
then flourishing centre to begin building a strong wall the
following year. Because of the terror he inspired Laurent
Graff was included in the prayers of many Spanish coastal

70 The Beginning of British Honduras
towns. His wife was a native of Brittany, had worn a brace
of pistols with her wedding dress, and had the pleasing name
of -Marie Dieu Le Veut.
In November 1683 Coxon again rebelled against his gov-
ernment and went privateering, for the part of spy and gov-
ernment agent did not please him. But in January 1686 he
again became reformed and gave himself up for trial at
Jamaica, which trial was ordered held at Santiago de la Vega,
the old capital of Jamaica, where "there will be few sympa-
thizers among the jury." Somehow, Coxon got away, and
next year he was cutting logwood in Campeche. A man of
war was ordered to make a diligent search for him, but he
put to sea and eluded pursuit. In September of the same year
he surrendered to the governor of Jamaica, and was sent to
Lynch. Sir Thomas Modyford, half pirate governor of Jamai-
ca, gave Morgan a commission in 1668, and Coxon was not
worse than Morgan, but the most successful buccaneers be-
came potential candidates for high office, and the dice were
loaded in certain influential quarters against Coxon. The
buccaneers paid duty in Jamaica on the plunder they brought,
and Coxon now threatened a withdrawal of the French and
Dutch buccaneers to Saint Domingue which was just as good
for carousing. The presence of so many successful buccaneers
with commissions from Petit Gouave was disconcerting to
Lynch let Coxon go again, and for ten years thereafter he
lived mainly at Coxon-Hole in Ruatan, from where in his
sloop he traded with the Moskito Indians who at times ac-
companied him in his raids. Two pirates, Christopher Goffe
and Banister, gave their names to two cayes opposite Belize
and were contemporaries of Coxon and Laurent Graff. In
1684, Banister, whose ship of 50 guns, the "Golden Fleece,"
had a French commission, was put on trial at Jamaica, but
he bribed the evidence, delayed the jury, and so got off, for
they all knew that the grievance centered only around his
French commission. Next year he escaped with his ship from

Buccaneers and Pirates

Port Royal one dark night with a fine breeze, putting 50 men
in the hold with plugs to stop shot-holes. Nobody suspected
this and when the sentries were aroused he had already passed
fourteen of the guns, and they could only place three shots
in his ship. He then went to the Bay Settlement of Belize for
logwood, anchoring at his caye.
In 1686 three warships were out for him, the "Ruby" with
Captain Mitchell, the "Drake" with Captain Spragg, and the
"Falcon" with Captain Talbot. From Campeche to the Baha-
mas, from Hispaniola to the Mosquitos, they sought him. In
one encounter Captains Spragg and Talbot had to give up
the battle because all their powder was spent. Only later they
found out that Banister's ship was so disabled by their shot
that she had to be abandoned, and the crew took to a smaller
vessel. Not until February 9, 1687 could Captain Spragg
bring him with three others to Port Royal hanging at his
yard-arm, "a spectacle of great satisfaction to all good people."
Opinion was divided, for the competition for Spanish booty
was great amongst many departmental chiefs whose salaries
were in arrears on account of the state of the English treas-
ury. In 1688, the Duke of Albemarle, governor of Jamaica,
wrote these words to the Home government-"Had I the
honour of pardoning pirates, which formerly was usual here,
I could have done the King good service." In July 1718 Gov-
ernor Woodes Rogers of the Bahamas returned to New Prov-
idence from England with the King's pardon for all pirates.
Before this date no pirate was harmed in the Bay Settlement.
Each pirate had his special lair at a caye and this was general-
ly respected amongst them. Before this time accesses of virtue
had come sporadically to Jamaica. After 1718 they rapidly
melted away, for the strengthened government at Belize
started to hang from time to time at Gallows Point such as
were caught.
It was at the Snake Cayes that the French buccaneer
L'Ollonois anchored for three months. His real name was
Jean David Nau, but he was called L'Ollonois by the Breth-

72 The Beginning of British Honduras
ren of the Coast because he was a native of Les Sables d'Ol-
lones in La Vendee. The Spaniards called him Francisco
Ollones. As a youth he had embarked from La Rochelle as
an indentured servant to a planter in the French Antilles,
from where he ran away because he resented the treatment
which some called good and some called bad. Then he joined
the buccaneers on Tortuga, amongst whom he quickly rose
to leadership. At Campeche he was wounded and made pris-
oner by Spaniards who killed most of his people, but he
smeared himself over with blood, hid amongst the dead
bodies, crawled away when the Spaniards left, washed him-
self at a river, and escaped. Assisted by Michel le Basque in
1666 he had led the expedition to Maracaibo which brought
him fame and two hundred thousand dollars worth of plun-
der from the rich convents, churches, and private homes,
though they all had much trouble with fever.
Men flocked to him when he made known at Tortuga his
plan to go on another great expedition. Only after they had
started did he make known to the members of his fleet that
his destination was the interior cities of Nicaragua. But off
the Bay of Honduras the ships were taken by a persistent
calm, and the current which ran to the west made them drift
deeper into the Bay out of which they could not emerge in
spite of all their efforts during a whole month. Hunger be-
gan to affect them, and so they put out some canoes and sent
them up the Xagua or Sars river in the Truxillo area under
the guidance of some of the crews who had been there before.
They pillaged the native hutments of their maize and poul-
try, but this was not enough when divided with all the vessels.
Experienced men said this calm sometimes lasted four months
and proposed meantime to pillage the towns on the coast, so
they left the Xagua or Sars river and went further westward
into the bay to Puerto Caballos. Here they used short meth-
ods to get the natives to show them the way to San Pedro Sula.
News of his coming had preceded him, causing half the
town to take to the bush. The other half answered that they

Buccaneers and Pirates

could pay no ransom, and so L'Ollonois applied the torch to
the town. This area was too poor for such a big expedition
to mark time, but news came that the annual transport from
Spain was expected so he retired further into the gulf, anchor-
ing his big vessel to the lee of Punta Ycacos, called by the
French "Sous le Vent," now corrupted to Sullivan Caye. From
here he sent picket boats to watch the Rio Dulce. They car-
eened their vessels, made nets and fished for turtle, hunted
wild pigs, parrots, iguanas and baboons for miles around,
suffering all the time from hunger during the three months
they stayed. Sometimes they went in their canoes to what are
now Belize and St. George' Caye for a holiday. Exquemeling
calls this area "Sambales" like on Captain Dampier's map,
which was the seventeenth century Spanish name for the
Belize-Cockscomb area called by the Huguenots and Puritans
"The Mosquitos." When the transport came they decided to
let her pass and wait for her return as then she would have
money. But the Spaniards knew of the buccaneers presence,
mounted 56 cannons at the Rio Dulce, and detained the
transport. The discontented men now talked of returning to
Tortuga and began to league against each other. The vice-
admiral Moise Vauclain left in the very seaworthy vessel they
took at Puerto Caballos which was said to be the finest in all
America in 50 years. He got wrecked on a reef, but he soon
found another vessel with 150,000 pounds of cacao near
Havana. Then Pierre le Picard left, the same one who was
later with Morgan at Maracaibo.
L'Ollonois with his big ship and 300 men on his hands
went to Cape Gracias a Dios on his trip to Nicaragua, but his
vessel which drew much water struck a reef at Corn Island
when he wanted to approach the coast. L'Ollonois discharged
his cannons, took the ship to pieces, tried to make a longboat,
planted beans and potatoes, fished, and exhorted his men to
take courage. But the neighboring Indians were unfriend-
ly, sullen, and long known as cannibals to the Spaniards.
After ten months he ascended with his new crafts the San

74 The Beginning of British Honduras
Juan or Desaguadero, where hostile Indians inflicted heavy
loss and almost barred his passage into Nicaragua. Despair-
ing of a chance to return to Tortuga, they had to separate
against dying from hunger, and so one group went to Cape
Gracias a Dios where the Moskito Indians were ever fond
of pirates, and L'Ollonois went south towards Darien. He
had to land to pillage for food, got very little, and fell into
the hands of wild Indians who hacked him into quarters
which they roasted and ate. He was 41 years old and it was
Two of the fundamental customs of the buccaneers were
the election of their captain and officers and the sharing in
true and regular form of the prizes taken in an expedition.
Every buccaneer swore to observe these rules of the code and
signed to their oath by marking the cross. The pain of death
was given to any comrade who brought a woman aboard in
disguise, as the custom prescribed no woman had the right to
remain on their vessels on account of quarrels. Some Vikings
too had the rule that no woman was allowed within the fort-
ress. Theft from a comrade was severely punished according
to the code, and when it happened the colleague's nose and
ears were cut off and he was marooned on an uninhabited is-
land. Not without pride did they call themselves "les Freres
de la Cote," or brethren of the coast, but the Spaniards called
them "los mendigos de la mar" or beggars of the sea. On
entering this fraternity one lost his name, forgot his past, and
became a unit in a troop again and again decimated and re-
newed. Many were deserters from the vessels of the French
navy, younger sons of noble houses of Gascony, Normandy.
and Flanders, Protestants from La Rochelle and Dieppe, Eng-
lish Catholics and Scotch Puritans, and indentured servants
of three years who had broken their contracts. French was
the language mainly spoken, with a little English and Dutch.
This moving mass was always ready for some hardy enterprise
against a richly laden Spanish galleon or against an opulent
town drowsing on the Spanish Main. The governors of the

Buccaneers and Pirates

French Antilles, like their English and Dutch colleagues,
often utilized the services of the filibusters whenever the war
raged in Europe between their countries and Spain. Then
they gave "Letters of Marque" to the buccaneer captains and
so legalized their situation. These bandits of the high seas
were often cruel, sometimes they were generous, never were
they coward. Nor did they neglect their religion.
Pere Labat tells us that on March 6, 1694 he was very busy
all that morning confessing a crew of filibusters who had ar-
rived at Les Mouillages, Martinique, with two prizes they
had captured from the English. "The Mass of the Virgin was
celebrated with all solemnity, and I blessed three large loaves
which were presented by the captain and his officers, who ar-
rived at the church accompanied by the drums and trumpets
of their corvette. At the beginning of the Mass the corvette
fired a salute with all her cannons, at the Elevation of the
Holy Sacrament she fired another salvo, at the Benediction
a third, and finally a fourth when we sang the Te Deum after
Mass. All the filibusters contributed thirty sols to the sacris-
ty, and did so with much piety and modesty. This may sur-
prise people in Europe where filibusters are not credited with
possessing much piety, but as a matter of fact they generally
give a portion of their good fortunes to the churches. If
church ornaments or church linen happen to be in the prizes
they capture the filibusters always present them to their
parish church." It was the custom of many of the English
buccaneers to read a chapter from the Old or New Testament
and to recite the Psalms.
It has been the practice to exclude details about the buc-
caneers from the history of the colony. This presents an in-
complete picture. The buccaneers fought mainly Spain, the
power with which their countries were nearly always at war.
Some had licenses from the great rulers of their time who
were jealous of the wealth of Spain, and most of them had the
active or tacit support of the Dutch, English, and French
establishments in the Caribbean. The fortunes of the bucca-

76 The Beginning of British Honduras
neers entered into the highest circles of Western Europe. The
situation is to be viewed in the light of that time. These men
contributed after their fashion to the building up of the
colonial empires in the West Indies. On the other hand, the
pirates were always regarded as criminals who carried out
their misdeeds against anybody, even their own countrymen.
A few paragraphs on them taken from various histories and
treatises will help to show to what extent they pestered the
logwood vessels to and from the Bay Settlement of Honduras.
Edward Teach was a native of Bristol. In the spring of
1717 he and Captain Ben Hornigold cruised together, and
made the tour of the West India Islands and the whole Carib-
bean section of the Spanish Main. Amongst many prizes they
took was a large French Guineaman laden with slaves for
Martinique. Hornigold gave her to Teach, and he returned
with his sloop to New Providence where he surrendered to
mercy pursuant to the King's proclamation on the arrival of
Captain Woodes Rogers, the governor, the same man who
with Captain Dampier had been at Juan Fernandez.
Off the Hornigold and Ned Thomas Cayes in the Cape
Gracias a Dios area he was joined by Major Stede Bonnet,
lately a gentleman of good reputation and estate in Barba-
does who as Ned Thomas decided to try a roving life on the
high seas in a pirate ship of 10 guns and 70 men which he
fitted out at his own expense. Teach soon found out that the
major knew nothing of seamanship, took him on board his
own ship, and put Richards to command Bonnet's ship which
was named the "Revenge." In this same year Teach engaged
H.M.S. "Scarborough" of 30 guns for several hours, and the
man of war gave over the engagement after testing the pirate's
strength, and returned to Barbadoes. Then they sailed to the
lee of Turneffe, and anchored at that Water Caye which lies
between Goffe and Banister Cayes, to take in water from the
wells that are there. While at anchor they saw the sloop
"Adventure," David Harriot, master, coming in from Jamaica.
Teach sent out Richards to her on the "Revenge." He hoisted

Buccaneers and Pirates

the black flag with the white skull and cross bones and let it
flap to the breeze. The ship chose to surrender, and came to
under the stern of the commodore's ship. On September 9th
after a week's stay, they left Turneffe and sailed along the reef
to the Sapodilla Cayes, meeting the ship "Protestant Caesar,"
from Boston, Captain Wyar, commander. Teach's quarter-
master and eight of his crew plundered and then burnt her
because she belonged to Boston where some Mien had been
hanged for piracy to the resentment of Teach. They also met
four sloops which Richards secured, three were from Jamaica,
and the fourth they burned out of spite to her owner Captain
Teach's subsequent career belongs elsewhere, but we may
add that at Ocrecoke and Topsail Inlet, near Cape Hatteras,
he had his headquarters, and his accomplice was Charles
Eden, governor of North Carolina, with whom he shared the
plunder in cargoes of tobacco, rum, slaves, and sugar. This
governor performed the ceremony, and was present at the
feast Teach gave when he married his fourteenth wife, who
was very young. The night before he was killed by Lieuten-
ant Maynard, who cut off his head and hung it on the bow-
sprit, one of his men asked him, in case anything should hap-
pen to him, whether his wife knew where he buried his
money? Teach answered "that nobody but himself and the
devil knew where it was, and that the longest liver should
take all."
Edward Low was born in Westminster, and could neither
read nor write. As a street boy he used to rob or fight his
fellows for their farthings, and later he cheated in a low way
when gambling with the footmen of the lobby of the House
of Commons. He had a brother who when but seven years
old used to be carried in a basket upon a porter's back into
a crowd to snatch the wigs and hats, and later ended his days
on a gibbet at Tyburn. Edward worked for several years in
Boston, and in 1722 came to Belize for logwood where he
had a quarrel with his captain about the loading of the ves-

78 The Beginning of British Honduras
sel. After shooting and firing, he and his friends started
pirating, and went to Grand Caymans to fit themselves up
still better. Here he met Captain George Lowther on the
"Happy Delivery," who paid his compliments to Low and
proposed an alliance.
As admiral and commodore they sailed with their fleet for
the Bay of Honduras, and took the "Greyhound," 200 tons,
Benjamin Edwards, commander, belonging to Boston. The
fight lasted an hour, and when the pirates came on board they
cut, slashed, and whipped from right and left. Cruising along
the reef towards the Sapodilla Cayes they took two brigan-
tines from Boston and a sloop each from Connecticut, Vir-
ginia, and Jamaica. Of these five vessels they sank two, burnt
two, and unloaded one which they gave back to the master
who owned her. Then they seized a 100 ton sloop belonging
to Rhode Island which they kept and mounted with 8 car-
riage and 10 swivel guns. Harris, the second mate of the
"Greyhound" decided to join them, and the fleets went to
Port Moho, or San Fernando de Omoa, to careen. Here they
did a foolish thing. They took off sails, made tents by the
waterside wherein they put their plunder and stores. When
the ships were on the heel and they were occupied in heaving
down and scrubbing the Spaniards attacked from the land.
The pirates were in no condition to defend themselves, and
had to flee to their ships and leave their spoils which were of
great value on the shore. The Spaniards even burnt Low-
ther's flagship the "Happy Delivery."
The pirates knew that the logwood sloops brought rare
European and other merchandise from Jamaica and New
England for the interior cities of the Spanish Main where
these goods were contraband. The Sloops Caye Channel was
used to elude the Spanish guardiacosta and to discharge to
the Spanish agents who paid for the cargoes. Lowther's pirat-
ical activities after he left England were mainly on the West
African coast, and he was not familiar with the waters of this
new area. He and Low now parted, but several hundred

Buccaneers and Pirates

ships and cargoes fell to them in the wide spaces between New
England and the Lesser Antilles. Next year, 1723, Low came
back to the bay in March, and met a sloop which he boarded
and took. This was a Spaniard of 6 guns and 70 men who
had that morning seized five English sloops and a pink, and
brought their six masters away as prisoners for the ransom of
the logwood which the Spaniards deemed stolen. On rifling
the Spanish vessel the six captains and some English mer-
chandise were found in the hold. Low was consulted, and he
without further investigation ordered the whole company
killed. His men fell pell-mell to execution with their swords,
cutlasses, axes, and pistols. Some Spaniards jumped into the
hold to avoid the massacre, some leaped overboard to swim
ashore. But Low ordered the canoe to be manned for pur-
suit. One Spaniard knelt on the beach as he emerged from
the sta, and begged to be spared for God's sake, but the pirate
put the muzzle of his gun into this man's mouth and pulled
the trigger. About a dozen of the 70 men escaped to the other
cayes for the pirates were holding their sports and pastimes
on one only. At their leisure they set fire to the Spanish ship,
forced away the carpenter from the pink, and restored the six
masters to their respective vessels, on the clearest understand-
ing that they were not to steer for Jamaica, where the men of
war sought intelligence, but to New York.
For two years Low now terrorized the Atlantic from New-
foundland to the Azores, from Brazil to Mexico, up and
down the Caribbean. He took a French vessel, transferred
the crew with the exception of the cook whom he declared
to be "a greasy fellow who would fry well," and tied him to
the main mast and set fire to the ship. The captain of a Por-
tuguese vessel which fell in with him put his 11,000 moidores
in a sack and hung it in the sea from a rope in the cabin win-
dow. When he saw that capture was inevitable he cut the
rope and dropped the treasure into the sea. Low heard of it.
He slashed off the captain's lips and ears with a cutlass,
broiled and peppered them, and made the mate of the cap-

80 The Beginning of British Honduras
tured vessel eat them sizzling hot. A moidore was worth 27
shillings. For a time Low cruised in concert with Farrington
Spriggs, another notorious pirate who on one voyage took
sixteen ships in the Bay, and was also associated with Lowther
at one time. One day, Spriggs and Low, the former in a
schooner, the latter in a sloop, were chased by H.M.S. "Mer-
maid." The pirates crowded on sail, but do what they might
the man-of-war gained on them rapidly. In desperation the
schooner and the sloop separated, and the man-of-war went
after the sloop which Low was commanding for the man-of-
war doubtless had information which decided this selection.
When the two ships were within gunshot and things began
to look hopeless, the pirates played a trick. One of his crew
told Low of a shoal near by over which the sloop which drew
very little water could pass. Low ran his sloop over it, the
man-of-war tried to follow, and grounded. So he lived for a
few years and took on an average 100 vessels a year on the
high seas, until one night he murdered his quartermaster in
his sleep, and in consequence his crew threw him overboard.
Lowther was later found dead on a lonely beach, where he
apparently died by his own hand. Israel Hands, just as he
was about to be executed, was set free because a ship arrived
in Virginia with a proclamation prolonging the time of the
King's pardon to such of the pirates as should surrender, and
he lived on in London begging his bread in the streets.
Harris was taken by a man-of-war and hanged after an en-
gagement in which Low coolly left him in the lurch. Stede
Bonnet was hanged in South Carolina.



In 1765 Sir William Burnaby came to Belize from Jamaica
to organize the Bay Settlement, regulate the wood cutters'
lands, survey channels for the approach of larger vessels,
promulgate laws, and rebuild what became Fort George.
Then the waters of Port Honduras were surveyed to enable
ocean vessels to load the great quantities of mahogany then
exported from the southern area and included in the statis-
tics as coming from Belize.
Though we find no record one of his major recommenda-
tions must have been the introduction of new grasses from
the Guinea Coast and from Para in the Amazon estuary to
feed the cattle used for the trucking of mahogany. Later,
after the Mutiny on the Bounty, the colony received her
quota of breadfruit and bougainvillea plants which throve
readily in the new surroundings. More than two centuries
before the Portuguese had brought mango and forbidden
fruit from Ceylon to Brazil from where they spread north-
ward into the Caribbean.
It was in Burnaby's time that the Moskito Indians of the
Cockscomb Coast became absorbed in the local population,
and thus ceased to exist in the colony as a separate racial
entity. Yet there are still Moskito geographic names on the
coast. Sittee or Pearl River is derived from "sita" or "siti"
the Moskito name for the pearl oyster. Ranguana Caye means
"the anchorage" or place where the anchors were often
thrown overboard by the trading vessels, derived from "rung-

The Beginning of British Honduras

wan" and "rungwaia" the Moskito for "to hurl under water"
or "to submerge." The Snake Cayes were called "pewta,"
"piuta" or "puta" meaning snake in Moskito, and still found
at Caye Piuta or Puta in that area.
Were the maps of Newfoundland and British Honduras
published according to Act of Parliament 10th May 1775 by
Thomas Jefferys made by the same men? Captain James
Cook, circumnavigator of the globe and explorer of the Pa-
cific Ocean entered the navy from the Grimsby coasting trade
in 1755, and served under Captain Palliser of H.M.S. "Eagle"
which was one of a fleet of 12 men of war under Admiral
Boscawen. He took part in the capture of Louisbourg and
the fall of Quebec. On September 22, 1759 Mr. Cook was
appointed master of H.M.S. "Northumberland" by Lord Col-
ville at Halifax, where he first read Euclid and applied him-
self to the study of astronomy. In April 1760 he received a
commission as lieutenant. In September 1762 he was in New-
foundland assisting in the recapture of that island from the
French by the forces under Lieut. Colonel Amherst, and
stayed some days at Plascentia during which time he mani-
fested great diligence in surveying the harbour and heights
of that place.
In 1763 Sir Hugh Palliser, then governor of Newfound-
land, appointed Lieutenant Cook "Marine Surveyor of the
Coast of Newfoundland and Labrador," and this office he
held until 1767. In 1765 he was with Sir William Burnaby
on the Jamaica Station, and Archibald Gibbs tells us that he
was in Belize. In 1769 Lieutenant Cook published "Remarks
on a Passage from the River Balise, in the Bay of Honduras,
to Merida; the Capital of the Province of Yucatan, in the
Spanish West Indies. By Lieutenant Cook, Ordered by Sir
William Burnaby, Rear Admiral of the Red, in Jamaica, with
Dispatches to the Governor of the Province; relative to the
Logwood Cutters in the Bay of Honduras, in February and
March 1765." The inimitably individualistic style in which
the great navigator wrote in this period of his life is readily

Attracted by Logwood 83
recognizable in the text. This renowned seaman and his
friend, fellow surveyor and cartographer Michael Lane were
familiar with Halifax harbour where Acadian prisoners were
put to work and where George and Grenville street are still
in the shipping centre. For his labours in the pilotage of the
St. Lawrence estuary Cook was awarded fifty pounds by Lord
Colville, and a brig H.M.S. "Grenville" was placed under his
command by Sir Hugh Palliser for the surveying and chart-
ing of the coast of Newfoundland. By whom else was the
Grennel Channel surveyed than by Lieutenant Cook? The
"v" in the brig's name is mute like the "w" in Greenwich. To
anchor a ship near English Caye by bringing Curlew, Ser-
geant and Paunchgut Cayes, which lie to the north of Goffe's
Caye, a little open to the east of Goffe's Caye, so as to make
the ship visible from the court house at Belize, 12 miles away,
was long known, and the surveying and charting of this chan-
nel was surely the work of Lieutenant Cook who was an ex-
pert in triangulation. We recall that his subsequent first
voyage to Australia was made under secret orders from the
Some of the French fishermen deported from Newfound-
land and Nova Scotia in 1755 were landed in the Bay of
Honduras. A dozen geographic names taken directly from
French North America are still there in daily use. These
names are foreign incursions in the Bay, not born out of the
experiences of the local population. By the Treaty of Utrecht,
which ended the war of the Spanish Succession in 1713,
France lost Terre Neuve and Acadie to Great Britain. The
Nova Scotia State Papers show that "the inhabitants were
permitted to remain in quiet possession of their lands upon
condition they should take the oath of allegiance to the King
within one year after the Treaty of Utrecht by which this
province was ceded to Great Britain, and that with this con-
dition they refused to comply." In 1755, 42 years later, from
Whitehall, Sir Thomas Robinson gave the order for their
deportation, and Governor Charles Lawrence of Nova Scotia

84 The Beginning of British Honduras
carried it out with the help of Admiral Boscawen. The story
is best known to English readers from Longfellow's "Evan-
geline." The Battle of Quebec between Wolfe and Mont-
calm in 1759 revealed that this was merely a part of the mil-
itary strategy of an advancing army which deemed it unwise
to have seven thousand French speaking people on its left
rear flank.
According to the official instructions, dated 11th August
1755, "it was resolved that they shall be dispersed among his
Majesty's Colonies upon the Continent of America that the
inhabitants may not have it in their power to return to this
Province nor to join in strengthening the French of Canada
or Louisbourg." They were landed in Boston, Connecticut,
New York, Philadelphia, Maryland, North and South Caro-
lina, and Georgia. New Jersey refused her consignment and
Virginia re-directed hers to England. Some boatloads were
supposed to be lost at sea. Later some of the deportees wan-
dered into, Louisiana, and some to Saint Domingue and
Guyanne. In 1763 a French mission gathered 750 from every-
where and took them to France. In Newfoundland the
French government had removed with the garrison to Louis-
bourg in Cape Breton Island and taken most of the civilians
with them, but many did not want to leave their homes. They
stayed behind with the new people, and at least 500 of the
fisherfolk were deported in 1755. Of those sent to England
where, like elsewhere, they were unexpected, 300 were landed
in Bristol where they spent three nights on the wharf and
were then confined in old houses where smallpox carried
many away. Of 366 landed at Liverpool there were only 224
after seven years, according to the report of the Duke of
Nivernais, French ambassador, who sent his secretary to see
them in 1762.
French North American exiles had turned up like drift-
wood on the beach in nearly every insular and mainland
Caribbean country. Some even went as far south as the Falk-
land Islands. In the southern part of the Cockscomb Coast

Attracted by Logwood 85
we have the names Seine Bight, Point Plascentia, the Virgins,
Point du Diable, and Cat Fish Nose. At the Snake Cayes are
the Cayes Manche and Cognee, half translated and half cor-
rupted to Cayo Macho and Cockney Caye. "Jeter la manche
apres la cognee," is an old saying of the Breton fishermen and
refers to the islets' position like a helve and a hatchet. The
Virgins and the Manche islets are also at Plascentia, Nfld. In
Ruatan we have French Harbour, Flevelle's Harbour, and
Anthony's Caye as shown on Jeffery's Map of 1775. Dixon's
Cove and Fort Frederick are also there as they are still at
Plascentia, Nfld. where Fort Frederick was built after the
Treaty of Utrecht and before the French were removed. Rua-
tan was held for long periods by the British in the 17th, 18th,
and 19th centuries, and is inseparable from the early history
of the colony. Listeners cared little whether they came direct
from French North America or from the docks in England
on the logwood vessels, and at that time the world's news did
not circulate in any way comparable to the present time.
Thousands of miles of land and water without trade com-
munications or post offices intervened. Extreme scarcity of
food hastened the coming of smallpox and dysentery. They
rapidly melted away, some going to the Spanish lands to the
south. They were known as the "Frenchwers" in the south-
ern part of the colony.
The southern cayes got their names mainly from the mili-
tary and political prisoners who were brought there after the
defeat of the Stuart pretender at the Battle of Culloden. Thus
we have Reid, Douglas, Stuart, Hall, Colquhoon, Leslie,
Anderson, Grant, Harvey, and Ellin cayes. The Scottish His-
torical Society publications show us that contractors were
used in carrying out the transportation to.some of his Majes-
ty's Colonies or plantations in America. Men of 70 as well
as boys of 13 and women shared this fate, and in 1747 and
1748 ships left the Thames and Mersey at intervals with
prisoners for Antigua, Barbadoes, St. Kitts, Jamaica and her
dependencies. The contractors got seven pounds sterling per

86 The Beginning of British Honduras
man on delivery, and one firm of contractors, Smith 8 Gil-
dart, made a claim to the Treasury for their compensation
on eight of these prisoners who were drowned in Liverpool
harbour when a boat upset with the hand-cuffed men. The
luckiest were 150 on the "Veteran" which left Liverpool on
July 8, 1747 for the West Indies where they were captured
off Antigua by the French cruiser "Diamant," Paul Marsal,
commander, and the governor of Martinique released them
all. They had transportation with indenture, simple trans-
portation without indenture, and pardons on condition of en-
listment. In October 1747 Rear Admiral the Hon. Edward
Boscawen took with him to the East Indies two "independent
companies" of these Jacobites. "If they do not enlist then this
our pardon shall be altogether void and of no force." His ob-
jective was then the taking of Pondicherry from the French
under Dupleix. To the Jacobite exiles and the subsequent
voluntary immigration from Scotland of many of their friends
was due the Scottish preponderance in the colony's commerce
during the whole of the 19th century.
Then the Caribs from St. Vincent in the Lesser Antilles
were thought of to supply labour. In 1767 the council of St.
Vincent required the Caribs to come and take the oath as
faithful subjects of the King and to abandon the practice of
carrying on illicit trade with the French islands and bringing
fire arms and ammunition from them. Fires and massacres
characterized their rebellions, and in 1768 their leader Joseph
Chatoyer and his prime minister Jean Baptiste were killed.
In "Authentic papers relative to the expedition against the
Charibbs, and the sale of lands in the Island of St. Vincent
of 1773," we read that they refused to give up their lands to
the British planters on St. Vincent, and in letters from the
Earl of Hillsborough, one of his Majesty's principal secre-
taries of state, to the Lords of the Admiralty in April 1772
and to the governors of St. Vincent, Dominica and Grenada,
we read of their declarations never to submit themselves as
subjects to his Majesty and of their declaration of attachment

Attracted by Logwood 87
to the Crown of France. The Caribs had applied in 1770 to
Count d'Ennery, governor of Martinique, for assistance of
men and arms to drive the English from the island, and pro-
posed to him on their part to set fire to their settlements.
In 1772, the Earl of Hillsborough, "had looked forward to
the eventuality of their conveyance to some unfrequented
part of the coast of Africa with great reluctance, and had in-
structed the commander on the Leeward Station, in case the
measure for their removal be adopted, to appoint a proper
convoy for the transports and take care that they be treated
with every degree of humanity their situation would admit
of, and that when put on shore they be supplied with pro-
visions and whatsoever may be judged necessary to subsist
them for a reasonable time and with such tools and imple-
ments as may enable them to provide for their future sub-
At great cost they were assembled and brought to Ruatan
by British warships in 1797, but the scheme did not work as
expected because it was made to include the holding of this
island by the Caribs as a sort of garrison to be resident there
with their families. The Spanish government regarded this
forcible landing as another invasion. Amongst the Caribs
was their young chief, Sambula, then a lad of about 12 years
of age.
In 1779 Nelson commanded H.M.S. sloop "Badger" at the
capture of the castle of San Fernando de Omoa, where ac-
*cording to the report of Captain Dalrymple a tar who was
not content with one cutlass had scrambled up the walls with
two, and meeting a Spanish officer without arms had the gen-
erosity not to take any advantage, but, presenting him one of
the cutlasses, told him, "you are now on a footing with me."
Half the Europeans who landed here died in six weeks. It
was again the old idea of Sir Anthony Sherley, to cut the
Spanish American dominions in two. The next year 1780, an
expedition under the governor of Jamaica, General Dalling,
made another trial at the San Juan River, Nicaragua, the bar

88 The Beginning of British Honduras
of which was crossed by Nelson on H.M.S. "Hinching-
The Archives of British Honduras have an explanatory map
in three colours. Red defining limits of treaty of 1783, yel-
low that annexed by treaty of 1786, blue that held by force
of arms since 1798. This is glaringly contradicted by another
map published in the same archives and taken from Jeffery's
Atlas, geographer to his Majesty, dated 20, February 1775,
which shows the whole of this land in British occupation,
coloured red, in contradistinction to the Spanish yellow, and
bounded on the south by the Rio Gordo, sometimes spelt
Gado by the English, which river cannot be mistaken on
charts for it still holds the Gordo Caye in its mouth. This
official atlas also pointed out in the preface that this particular
map is based on accurate information. It was thus approxi-
mately between 1786 and 1798 that the southern rivers lost
their old names which are shown in Kichin's Maps London
1804, Thomson's Atlas Edinburgh 1817, Pinkerton's Atlas
Philadelphia 1818, and Vandermaelen's Atlas Brussels 1827.
We find the new names in Arrowsmith's Atlas London 1840,
with Temash and Sarstoon the southernmost rivers. The
mahogany industry was then flourishing and these southern
rivers were laden with gangs of cutters.
The names Alpine, Scotsmentown, and Maceroni Hill in
the Stand Creek area were given by the colonists of Gregor
Mac Gregor of Clan Alpine. He was born in 1786, and his
grandfather who served in the Semphill Highlanders was
called Gregor the Beautiful, in Gaelic. His wife, Josefa, who
accompanied him in many of his adventures was a relative of
Bolivar. Miranda made him a colonel in the cavalry, and he
so distinguished himself in battle that he was promoted gen-
eral-of-division, received the thanks of Bolivar, the insignia
of the order of Libertadores, and a place reserved for him in
the Pantheon at Caracas. Then he went to Henrietta, the
sister island of Providence, and in 1817 he was in Florida
scheming to take it away from Spain for himself.

Attracted by Logwood 89
On 29, April 1820, King George Frederick of Mosquitia
granted to His Highness Sir Gregor Mac Gregor, Cacique of
Poyais, several thousand square miles of land on the Black
River or Rio Tinto. The bonds and securities turned out to
be a sham and a loss to speculators on the London Stock Ex-
change. "The Times" and "The Scotsman" had articles, an
inquiry was held, lawsuits and actions for libel came up, but
Gregor Mac Gregor had powerful backers to stand bond for
him after his imprisonment. Colonel Francesco Maceroni,
who had been an aide-de-camp to Napoleon's brother in law
Murat, King of the Two Sicilies, and a brigadier in New
Granada was a fellow schemer in London.
Colonel Hector Hall, Baron of Rio Tinto, was appointed
governor of this colony. In February and March 1823 two
vessels, the "Honduras Packet" and the "Kinnersley Castle"
landed about 200 colonists on the coast of Poyais "where sil-
ver is more common than clay." They had little provisions,
and the natives took them across the lagoon to the desolate
site where the capital was to be. On the first night they re-
mained in the heavy dew with their astonishment and the
insects. Most of them were Highlanders and sheep farmers.
Meanwhile Mac Gregor was living in luxury in England and
the Baron of Rioc Tinto at the Royal Court on the Wanks
River. Scarcity of food and clothing, heatstroke and fever,
bad water and dysentery, caused them to lie on leaves under
ill-constructed palm shacks in the midst of great uncleanli-
ness and shiftlessness where a dozen died. Belize heard of it,
and the commander-in-chief, General Codd, sent for them in
June, and the women and children of these deceived people
were properly cared for in twos and threes in private houses
in Belize.
When the brig "Skeen" arrived off the Black River from
Leith with the third shipload of 105 immigrants and found
no sign of a settlement they refused to land on the lonely
shore, and they induced their leader Campbell to land them
at Belize. But such an unusual influx of immigrants threat-

90 The Beginning of British Honduras
ened a scarcity of provisions and in a council held at Govern-
ment House it was decided that such as had suitable profes-
sions could remain at Belize and the others taken to healthy
sites up the Old River and along the Cockscomb Coast where
they would be cared for until plantations were established.
Already in 1824 discontent brought their settlements at Scots-
mentown and Alpine to an end. Some scattered on the coast,
and in London the Lord Mayor and Scottish Corporation
attended to the repatriation of a great many.
Gregor Mac Gregor's main idea did not agree with the
money-making scheme of his backers, for he had ordered
40,000 uniforms for the cavalry of H. H. the Cacique of
Poyais, "a country where silver is more common than clay."
With Bolivar and Miranda he had helped to bring five states
into being. Around their camp fires he had taken part in dis-
cussions on what political form Central America should take
after separation from Spain. And Mac Gregor knew to han-
dle rough cavalry in difficult terrain.

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