During the eighteenth century when William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, dominated English political life, a distant relative, also named William Pitt, established an unofficial English colony on the Mosquito Shore of what is now the Caribbean coastline of Honduras. It is unlikely that the two Pitts ever met. Nevertheless, had they done so, they would have discovered a common bond in their desire to undermine Spanish political and economic pretensions in America.

Although the Mosquito Shore never attained official colonial status, by 1787 it contained approximately 2,600 British subjects scattered among a dozen small settlements on a 550-mile strip running east along the Honduran coast to Cape Gracias a Dios, and then south and east to Nicaragua’s San Juan River. Together with Belize and Jamaica, the Shore formed an important triangular British power base, threatening the weakest link in Spain’s New World empire.1

The small town of Black River, founded by William Pitt in 1732 near Cape Cameron some 80 miles east of the Spanish frontier town of Trujillo, became the Shore’s administrative center and a major, frustrating irritant to Spanish colonial administrators when, after 1740, Jamaican governors encouraged Pitt to develop his settlement into an entrepôt for contraband trade and a staging area for attacks on Spain’s Central American possessions.

Prelude to Colonization: 1633-1732

Columbus discovered the Shore in 1502, landing near Black River; but Spanish attempts to colonize its rugged mountains, jungles, and swamps were half-hearted at best because of the lack of readily accessible mineral wealth and the implacable hostility of the native tribes, of which the Mosquito Indians were the most fierce.2

Although English, French, and Dutch buccaneers occasionally landed to repair their ships, no Europeans settled on the Shore until 1633, when the ill-fated Providence Company, formed by Puritan merchants to colonize the islands of Providence and San Andrés off the Nicaraguan coast, sent a ship to the mainland to trade with the Mosquitos. John Pym, the company’s treasurer, cautioned the expedition “to endear yourselves with the Indians and we conjure you to be lriendly and cause no jealousy.”3 The Indians, contrasting British behavior with Spanish, helped the newcomers establish trading posts at what is now Bluefields and near Cape Gracias a Dios.4 When in 1641 Spanish forces captured the islands, a few Englishmen found refuge with their Mosquito friends, whom they probably encouraged to raid Spanish settlements.5

Around this same time, the Mosquito racial composition began to change when a Dutch or Portuguese slave ship foundered near Cape Gracias.6 Initially enslaved by the Indians, the shipwrecked Africans mixed with their captors to form a new amalgam, the zambos.7 Ironically, these former slaves and their pure-blood Mosquito Indian allies were soon raiding neighboring tribes and Spanish settlements to capture less warlike Indians to sell to planters in Jamaica and Curaçao.8

Pirates also found the Mosquitos helpful allies. In 1666 Mosquitos led British buccaneers up the San Juan to Lake Nicaragua to devastate Granada,9 and in 1671 buccaneers marched from Panama to Cape Gracias where, according to an eighteenth-century writer, “they met with a most hospitable reception from the Mosquito Indians, among whom many of these rovers remained, and taught them the use of fire-arms, at which they are now remarkably expert.”10 The pirate John Esquemeling, returning from Morgan’s sack of Panama, stopped at Cape Gracias to reprovision, because “for thither do usually resort many Pirates, who entertain a friendly correspondence and trade with the Indians ….”11

More respectable individuals realized the Indians might prove useful in helping to establish an English foothold on the Caribbean mainland. Around 1637 the Earl of Warwick, sponsor of the Providence Company, took a young Mosquito to London. Upon returning to the Shore three years later, the Indian became the principal chief and requested that his territory be placed under British sovereignty.12 Soon after the conquest of Jamaica in 1655, another Mosquito chief, called Oldman, visited London, where he was given a “crown” in the form of a laced hat. He also received a commission, which, according to an eye-witness, was a “ridiculous piece of writing, purporting ‘That he should kindly use and relieve such straggling Englishmen as should chance to come that way, with plantains, fish and turtle’.”13

The Mosquito friendship was taken a step further in 1687 when Oldman’s son visited the Duke of Albemarle, Jamaica’s governor, to renew his allegiance. The governor commissioned him King Jeremy and provided a uniform and other paraphernalia of royalty. King Jeremy is then reported to have shed his new coat and scaled a palm tree to survey the island.14 Thereafter each new Mosquito leader would travel to Jamaica (and later Belize) to be crowned before he would be acknowledged by his subjects. These bizarre ceremonies involved considerable rum consumption, gifts of uniforms, swords, and medals, and commissions as admirals, generals, colonels for the king’s advisers. Many Mosquitos adopted English names, such as the Duke of York or Captain Morgan.15 A “royal” succession was established, and King Jeremy was succeeded by Kings Jeremy II, Peter, Edward, George I, and George II. Young princes were often sent to Jamaica or even England to be educated, and the alliance was kept lubricated by gifts of firearms, trinkets, and rum.16

English cultivation of the Mosquitos was directly related to the need to protect the lucrative dyewood or logwood cutting industry that had developed in Belize and northern Yucatán. When, after 1670, the British government sought to suppress the buccaneers,17 many sea rovers “reformed” and began cutting logwood for export to England, where its extract was vital to producing blue, black, and purple textile dyes.18 The logcutters received support from governors like Sir Thomas Modyford, who urged the secretary of state to accord official recognition to “these new sucking colonies,” and opined that the former-privateers would “be always ready to serve His Majesty in any new rupture.”19 Although Spanish privateers seized any vessel suspected of carrying logwood, nevertheless, by 1687 more than twenty ships regularly ran the Spanish gauntlet to carry the valuable wood to Jamaica, New York, London, and Amsterdam.20

In the early eighteenth century, few Europeans actually lived on the Shore, although it was periodically visited by traders from Jamaica and Belize. Any foreign residents were usually fugitives from justice;21 and when the shipwrecked Captain Nathaniel Uring visited Black River in 1711 he found it inhabited only by Indians ruled by a Mosquito Captain Hobby. They spoke English and traded tortoiseshell with Jamaica for firearms and ammunition. Farther east along the coast, however, at the Plátano River, he reported eight or nine Englishmen living in a small village where an English flag was flying.22 These were probably itinerant traders like those who in the War of Spanish Succession armed and encouraged Mosquitos to raid Spanish settlements in Honduras and Nicaragua. Haciendas were burned, churches desecrated, and captives sold into slavery in Jamaica.23 Costa Rica, the weakest Spanish province, was a prime target, and at times paid tribute to avoid attack.24

When the war ended, Mosquito ferocity was only temporarily diverted elsewhere. In 1720, Jamaica’s Governor Sir Nicholas Lawes, threatened by a slave rebellion, contracted with King Jeremy II to bring fifty of his warriors to Jamaica “to pursue and destroy the rebellious negroes lurking in the mountains….”25 In return, the Indians received supplies, money, and firearms, which they took back to the Shore to use against the Spaniards.26

The Establishment and Growth of Black River: 1732-63

Mosquito depredations alerted the Spaniards to the serious dangers inherent in the Indians’ cordial relations with Belize and Jamaica, and by 1722 harsh reprisals had driven the Yucatán logwood cutters down to Belize.27 Even here they were not safe; Belizeans repeatedly had to flee for refuge to the tangled waterways and swamps of the Shore when Spanish raiders swooped down to burn their settlements.28 Although the logcutters would generally return to Belize once the Spaniards had departed, one refugee, the aforementioned William Pitt, a trader who had emigrated to Belize from Bermuda, decided around 1732 to remain at Black River.29

Pitt, although most likely of illegitimate birth, apparently came from a family of distinguished colonial administrators. His great-great-grandfather probably was Thomas “Diamond” Pitt, who founded the family fortune while governor of Madras, and who in 1716 became governor of Jamaica. A great-uncle, Thomas Pitt, was appointed captain general of the Leeward Islands in 1728; his grandfather, John Pitt, was governor of Bermuda between 1727 and 1737. He was thus quite likely related to Prime Minister William Pitt the Elder, who was the son of John Pitt’s older brother Robert, also a great-uncle.30

After arriving in Belize around 1725, Pitt amassed considerable wealth in the logwood trade, undoubtedly aided by family connections. These same relationships enabled him to attract the attention and support of Jamaica’s governors for his new colony at Black River, into which he now invested his time and capital. During his long life, he transformed the Indian settlement visited by Captain Uring into a prosperous town and became the Shore’s acknowledged leader and elder statesman.31

The savannahs surrounding Black River were well suited for raising cattle and sugarcane. Sarsaparilla root, a supposed cure for maladies from gout to venereal disease, grew wild in the jungle, as did bananas and many varieties of tropical fruit. Nearby rivers, coasts, and lagoons yielded immense quantities of turtle, fish, oysters, and manatees, “so that with respect to food, the inhabitants of this country seem almost to be exempted from the general curse entailed on our first parents.”32 The forests provided tall pines and other trees for masts and spars, and logwood grew in abundance. What most impressed itself upon Pitt’s commercial instincts, however, was Black River’s ideal location as a base for a smuggling trade with the Indians and Spaniards of the interior, whereby British cloth and ironware imported from Jamaica could be exchanged for gold, silver, mules, indigo, and cacao. A network of navigable streams led inland through the mountains, and, subsequently, along one tributary of the Black River a road was cut for nearly 100 miles to the Spanish frontier.33

Most important, Black River was secure from attack. The town lay on a wide lagoon 3 miles long through which the Río Tinto joined the Caribbean. The sole entrance from the sea into the lagoon was through a narrow channel and over a shallow, shifting sandbar, which precluded seaborne invasion, while jungle and Pitt’s Mosquito friends discouraged land assaults. Gradually the little town grew, attracting more settlers with slaves and dependents.34 Pitt married a shipwrecked Spanish woman whom he had rescued from her Indian captors and who was to bear him five children.35

The British foothold at Black River so close to Trujillo and the presence of Jamaican traders on the Shore infuriated the Spaniards, and in 1739 the Council of the Indies, noting with alarm the British presence at Black River, urged assembling a powerful naval force to assure its destruction. Spanish inefficiency, however, thwarted any plans for positive aggressive action.36

By 1739 it was clear that Spanish seizures of British logwood ships and Mosquito raids on the Spanish frontier would lead to war. Jamaica’s Governor Edward Trelawney was eager to exploit the strategic advantages offered by Pitt’s settlement at Black River and the Mosquito friendship. An official British presence on the Shore could be expanded to dominate any route connecting the Caribbean and Pacific, and make possible a more extensive contraband trade with the Central American interior. Accordingly, Trelawney sent agents to the Shore to seek promises of Mosquito cooperation in the event of hostilities,37 and in 1740, soon after the War of Jenkins’s Ear began, he dispatched Captain Robert Hodgson of the 49th Regiment of Foot to consult with Pitt at Black River, and with his aid, to reaffirm the Mosquito alliance.38 On March 14, Hodgson met King Edward and his chiefs at Sandy Bay, the royal residence south of Cape Gracias. Although some Mosquito luminaries such as Captain Jumper, Admiral Dilly, Colonel Morgan, and General Hobby were absent, those chiefs present did not object when Hodgson prepared an agreement by which King Edward would transfer the Shore to Great Britain. Hodgson read the document to his listeners “in a solemn manner under the colours, and at the end of every article fired a gun, and concluded by cutting up a turf, and promising to defend their country and procure for them all assistance from England in my power.”39 The following month Hodgson wrote Trelawney requesting blank commissions for additional Mosquito admirals and generals, as well as regular troops to act as his bodyguard, for “my life is in more danger from these Indians than from the Spaniards.”40

Hodgson took his assignment seriously, and spent the next few years organizing raids on Spanish settlements.41 In 1742 he and Pitt sailed to Roatan, the largest of the Bay Islands, some 35 miles offshore, where, with the aid of the Mosquitos, they fortified Port Royal Harbour as a general headquarters for British military operations along the Shore.42 Pitt brought over settlers from Black River to Roatan, where he remained as superintendent for the duration of the War of Jenkins’s Ear.43

In 1744 Black River’s small white population44 was augmented by an infantry company from Jamaica,45 and in 1747 Trelawney sent artillery.46 The Mosquitos, excited by the new military preparations, embarked on a series of raids of particular viciousness from Honduras down to Costa Rica, slaughtering and enslaving Spaniards and their Indian allies.47 Often they were accompanied by shoremen, and Hodgson is accused of being their instigator.48 But William Pitt, according to both Spanish and English sources, rescued “numbers of the Spaniards from execution, and often prevailed on the Indians to accept a ransom for a part of their prisoners, when he was unable to procure the liberty of the whole number.”49 The Spanish king in vain ordered his Central American commandants to obliterate Black River and the Mosquitos.50 The war’s conclusion, however, found Black River untouched and with the beginnings of an effective administration centered around magistrates and courts of quarter session authorized by Jamaica’s governor, who appointed Pitt and Hodgson justices of the peace authorized “to hold sessions for the trial and punishment of murder, burglaries, felonies, and all other offences ….”51

The 1748 Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle required a return to the territorial status quo ante, a solution that satisfied no one.52 Although the British abandoned Roatan, London argued that because the Shore had always been British, there was no requirement to surrender it to Spain.53 Foreseeing that Spanish attempts to seize the Shore would continue, the Duke of Bedford in 1749 appointed Hodgson the first superintendent of the Mosquito Shore, reporting directly to Jamaica with orders to promote the commercial interests of His Majesty’s subjects on the Shore, and “to cultivate such a union with the Indians as might induce them to prefer His Majesty’s alliance and protection to that of any other power.”54 Construction began on a fort a half mile east of the town, and a 1748 map of Black River depicts a structure shaped like a seven-pointed star controlling the lagoon’s entrance with its guns.55 A 1751 plan of the fort allocates space to officers’ quarters, barracks, storerooms, and a powder magazine. Beaten earth parapets strengthened with fascines were encased by thick wooden planks and pierced for cannon and swivel guns at regular intervals. A dry moat crossed by a drawbridge surrounded the fort, which was as yet unfinished. A small battery of eight guns was built on a sand-spit 200 yards farther east to provide a cross-fire.56 But the fort was so undermanned that in 1751 the settlers requested withdrawal of the twenty-soldier garrison, reasoning that the small contingent was inadequate for defense but large enough to provoke attack. Trelawney reluctantly agreed.57

The following year Trelawney realized his error when William Pitt intercepted a Spanish messenger with information of a new attack. The soldiers were returned, along with reinforcements.58 When the expected assault came in 1754, however, it fell upon Belize, as the Spaniards struck overland from Guatemala. About 500 settlers and slaves escaped to Black River.59 The Belizeans, however, soon returned to reconstruct their houses and fortifications, assisted by twenty soldiers Hodgson had sent.60

Spanish spies now were active on the Shore. In 1752 a Spanish naval captain confirmed that the main British establishment was at Black River, where William Pitt, the leading settler, lived with his wife, three daughters, and an eighteen-year-old son. The town was defended by two forts. One at the river’s mouth was armed with eight six-pounders and twenty-four swivel guns. The second, located upriver, mounted six six-pounders and twelve swivel guns. The artillery was manned by some of Pitt’s 300 slaves because Hodgson and the British garrison had been withdrawn the previous year.61 This information was surprisingly accurate and tallies with contemporary English accounts, suggesting that Spanish sympathizers had infiltrated the small community.62

In 1756, as the Seven Years’ War broke out in Europe, the Jamaican governor ordered a proper fort built at Black River, noting that “the settlers here could raise one hundred fifty fighting men, and that £500 Sterling and twenty slaves would build a defensible place, something between a small fort and a blockhouse, and two batteries. ”63 The Spaniards soon learned of the new fortifications, and a 1759 report to the captain general of Guatemala confirms Black River’s defenses as consisting of two batteries, one at the bar and the other closer to town, the first mounting four cannon and thirteen swivel guns, and the second containing six cannon and two swivel guns. The commandant, Robert Hodgson, lived in a three-story fort in town, which mounted twenty-five swivel guns. An adjacent barracks accommodated thirty soldiers, two sergeants, and a lieutenant. The writer reports 213 palm-thatched houses in the immediate vicinity, with at least one two-story dwelling. Within a one-mile radius, smaller settlements totaled about a hundred additional houses, accommodating British, mestizos, and Indians. The total Black River area population was estimated at 100 whites and 600 slaves, with 3,000 well-armed Indians, zambos, and Mosquitos living nearby.64

A more detailed picture of Black River twenty-five years after its establishment is provided by Superintendent Hodgson’s 1757 report. He describes the white settlers as differing from the more nomadic Belizean logwood cutters in that they were mostly traders living in scattered areas with their dependents. Although they had no legal system, “they live with admirable regularity; most of them have been sobered with misfortune. … They live after the European manner in all respects. The houses in general … are of wooden frames, thatched, and the sides of lathe and plaster, white-washed. But there are some that make a good appearance, built entirely of wood, two stories high.”65 The Shore’s total “British” population, excluding military and free Indians, was 1,124, of which 800 were Indian and African slaves, 170 were mulatto or mestizo freedmen, and 154 were white, all scattered in small groups from the Río San Juan up the coast through Bluefields to Cape Cameron. Most were concentrated near Black River, where there were 115 white settlers, along with 609 slaves and 90 freedmen. Hodgson ascribed Black River’s preeminence to its being “the nearest retreat and place of security” for the Belizean logwood cutters, “both on account of the friendship of the Indians, and of the bars of the rivers, which are hazardous to pass to those who are not acquainted with them …. ”66 Although by now disease and alcohol had reduced Mosquito fighting men to 1,500, nevertheless they were “enemies to all other people except the British, to whom they are so well inclined as to be pleased with considering them as possessing an equal right to the country with themselves.”67

Hodgson calculated that Shore exports totaled £25,000 per annum, shipped in twelve merchant vessels belonging to William Pitt and other settlers, three of which sailed to Europe, while the others plied between the Shore and New York and Jamaica. The leading export was sarsaparilla, of which 120,000 pounds, valued at £12,000, were exported yearly. Mahogany and other hardwoods amounting to 200,000 feet also left each year, valued at 6 pence per foot for a total of £5,000. The superintendent also records the annual export, valued at £5,000, of 125 mules from the interior plus “some small quantities of money, brute silver, indigo, cacao, hides and tallow, got from the Spaniards, and other small articles” in exchange for English manufactures.68

Of course, all the Shore’s imports and exports were illegal in Spanish eyes, given Madrid’s claims to an economic monopoly of the trade and products of the New World. Nevertheless, protected by the Shore’s swamps and waterways, Pitt and his colleagues had engaged with impunity in contraband trade since the establishment of Black River. Indeed, in the settlement’s early years captains bound for Belize would sometimes “cast away their vessels in some convenient place,” appropriate the cargoes for their own use, and settle at Black River. Others ordered goods from Jamaica or New York on credit, and then did not pay. “By these means greater quantities of European goods were brought hither than the inhabitants had occasion for; which induced them to open an inland trade. This trade has been carried on to a large amount, and proved highly advantageous to the undertakers … . ”69 Illegal imports circulated up the Black River into the interior, passing through several sets of Indian middlemen before reaching their ultimate destinations. Even the Mosquitos profited, forcing inland Spanish merchants to pay them twenty cattle per annum for the privilege of trading with the British through their territory.70 While incensed at the economic losses caused by contraband, the Spaniards were also infuriated for ideological reasons by the English presence at Black River. In 1745 the Spanish king noted with alarm that “some of the inhabitants of that province Honduras in their vicious trade with the English seek to obtain books which have not been passed by the censorship board of the Tribunal of the Holy Office which could result in the introduction of beliefs contrary to the purity of our Holy Faith.”71

Spanish concern over English Protestant inroads on the Shore was not misplaced. Mosquito hostility discouraged even dedicated Spanish missionaries, and in 1739 Kind Edward wrote Governor Trelawney requesting English schoolmasters for the Shore “to instruct our Young Children in the Christian Faith.”72 Trelawney apparently forwarded the request to the Rev. Mr. Peat, rector of Jamestown, Jamaica, who that same year wrote to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in London that the Mosquitos considered themselves subjects of Great Britain “with whom they earnestly wished to be united both in religion and Government.”73 The first missionary, posted to the Shore in 1747, died within the year. No replacement was found until in 1767 the Society sent a catechist, Charles Frederick Post, to Black River. 74 There was no church or parsonage, services were conducted in the superintendent’s house, and the settlers were just as much in need of Post’s ministrations as the Indians. 75 The Rev. Thomas Warren joined Post in 1769 and baptized some 100 Indians and mestizos, including the Mosquito king (probably George I), his queen, three of their sons, and other chiefs. The missionaries were less successful with the whites, among whom there were “neither marriages nor baptisms.”76

Meanwhile, since 1756 France and Britain had been warring in Europe and North America. By 1760, in spite of initial British reverses, it appeared that Britain would dominate the Caribbean, thereby menacing Spain’s lifeline to the Indies. Playing upon these fears, French diplomats persuaded Spain’s Charles III to sign the Bourbon Family Compact and join the war against Britain. He ordered his governors in Yucatán and Cuba to attack Belize and Black River, but the British struck first, and in 1762 they captured Havana. Nor were the Mosquitos idle. They raided Costa Rica, then sallied up the Bluefields River to sack Nicaragua and Honduras. 77 Hodgson was by now dead, and the superintendent at Black River, Joseph Ottaway, could do little to control the Indians. Indeed, he probably had limited effective power even over the settlers and, according to a Nicaraguan historian, “continued governing under the counsel and direction of William Pitt, the old and powerful colonist of the Mosquito Coast.”78

The British negotiators who helped draft the 1763 Treaty of Paris ending the Seven Years’ War were more concerned with securing Florida and Canada than with resolving the problems of Belize and the Mosquito Shore. 79 At best, the treaty was ambiguous. Spain conceded the British the privilege to cut logwood, and in return Britain agreed to remove fortifications in the Bay of Honduras and, without more precise definition, in other parts of “the territory of Spain” as well. 80 Belize’s fortifications were demolished, but when, in September 1763, Jamaica’s governor ordered Ottaway to raze the Shore’s forts, the settlers protested that Black River and the Shore never had been in “the territory of Spain,” but always had been British possessions. Governor William Henry Lyttleton was adamant, however, and the troops were withdrawn to Jamaica. Black River’s fortifications were at least partially dismantled. Then two weeks later a letter from the Earl of Halifax, the secretary of state for the colonies, arrived at Black River and confirmed that the Shore was not within the treaty’s scope. 81 Although the troops did not return, one may imagine the settlers quickly rebuilding the fort and batteries. When Colonel Luis Diez Navarro arrived from Omoa in February 1764 to supervise observance of the treaty, Ottawa showed him Halifax’s letter and refused to destroy the fortifications. Indeed, it was only through Ottaway’s and Pitt’s intervention that the Mosquitos were dissuaded from slaughtering the Spaniards, who were forced to take refuge for the night in Pitt’s house. 82 Diez Navarro left the next day, vowing to return. 83 These acts of defiance underlined the most unpalatable consequence of the Seven Years’ War—with France’s defeat, Spain would in the future confront Britain unaided in the Caribbean.

Black River’s Years of Prosperity: 1763-76

Although by 1763 the logwood market was glutted, demand for mahogany and other tropical products increased, and contraband on the Shore flourished as never before. 84 Cloth, ironware, gunpowder, shot, brandy, and Jamaican rum were shipped to Black River, and any surplus after local consumption, recorded a late eighteenth-century writer, was “disposed of to the Spaniard who frequently brings ready money for such commodity as he stands in need of, and sometimes Indigo.”85 In 1763 the Board of Trade decided to continue a superintendency on the Shore “as it would be for the national interest and that it is essential for securing the affections of the Indians and preventing any thing that might disturb public peace.”86 Ottaway died in early 1767, and was replaced by Robert Hodgson, Junior, who married Pitt’s daughter Elizabeth and became his father-in-law’s partner in the contraband trade. 87

Although Hodgson’s appointment was to disrupt the Shore for the next eight years, initially life ran smoothly at Black River. Sugar plantations and mills expanded, and indigo was planted. Cattle flourished at Black River and along the Shore, leading one settler to remark that “The Beef I have killed here would not disgrace Leaden Hall Market.”88 Exports for 1769 showed a significant increase over 1757 figures, with 800, 000 square feet of mahogany shipped abroad, in addition to 200, 000 pounds of sarsaparilla, and 10, 000 pounds of tortoiseshell. 89 Between twenty and thirty ships were involved, “without reckoning the American interlopers who carried flour thither and carried logwood and Mahogany to Great Britain.”90

The Rev. Thomas Warren, now comfortably situated as rector of St. Elizabeth’s in Jamaica after his term on the Shore, reported to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel that in 1771 the Shore’s population, excluding Mosquitos, was composed of 206 whites, with “free persons of mixed blood” numbering 200, and approximately 900 slaves. Of the whites, 150 were males. The population continued to be concentrated in the Black River area, where there were 90 white men, 24 white women, and 111 “Mixtures.” He divided the Mosquitos into two categories. The first, the zambos, “are generally false, Designing, treacherous, knavish, impudent and revengeful.” The second group, the pure Indians, were quite different, and “their Modesty, Docility, Good Faith and Disposition to Friendship and gratitude ought to engage equally our regard and protection, for the same Virtues that render them amiable will be likely to bring on their destruction from the enterprising ambition of the Samboes.”91

Increased prosperity caused Black River’s settlers to overestimate their importance to London. Perhaps they believed that if their trade and commerce expanded, Britain would recognize them as an official colony. Unfortunately, the manner in which they now began to evidence their economic and political ambitions eventually helped persuade policy-makers at home that their continued maintenance was more trouble than it was worth. Although the colonists had always purchased land from the Mosquitos, they now began to buy on an unprecedented scale, acquiring large tracts upon which to plant sugarcane, indigo, cacao, and cotton. Blocks of 50, 000 acres were not uncommon, and one settler held more than 150 square miles. 92 Speculation, rather than cultivation, often seemed to dominant motive behind the purchases. In early 1771 a group of investors including Captain James Lawrie, a regular officer in the 49th Regiment of Foot who had been stationed on the Shore several times since 1751, acquired a tract up the Black River about 70 miles long and 30 wide called Alberopoyer and said to be rich in gold. 93

Superintendent Hodgson considered these purchases “a growing evil of great importance” because the Indians complained of being cheated “and there was great appearance of alarm and discontent among them.”94 Ostensibly Hodgson feared that the Mosquitos would become alienated at a time when Spanish agents were already negotiating with their leaders to subvert the English alliance. 95 From his later career, it might be concluded that he was far more interested in protecting his own land investments. Nevertheless, he established a registry at Black River where all titles acquired could be recorded and their validity examined. Without registration, future grants would be invalid. 96 The settlers were infuriated, and began a series of bitter quarrels that led ultimately to Hodgson’s recall.

Hodgson’s task was not enviable. Black River’s settlers were a quarrelsome lot, impatient with authority. Traditionally they had led a quasiindependent life, governed by those of their own number who exercised a loose judicial authority through appointment by Jamaica’s governors. Generally, prior superintendents had not interfered with the Shore’s internal administration, limiting their functions to defense and maintaining good relations with the Indians. In fact, Hodgson’s father had profited considerably from his assignment, thereby earning the disapproval of Jamaica’s Governor Charles Knowles. 97 Young Hodgson, however, lacked his father’s tact, and even sought to replace the traditional informal political structure with an elected council, reserving considerable powers for the superintendent.

Lawrie encouraged other Black River settlers to challenge Hodgson’s authority, thereby provoking him to request the governor to revoke their commissions as justices and magistrates. The governor refused, and instead sent new authorizations appointing William Pitt chief commissioner. Meanwhile, however, the settlers had decided to elect their own magistrates and proceeded to hold assemblies. William Pitt, who might have calmed the situation, had just died, and Governor Trelawney had no alternative but to censure the settlers severely for their rebellious attempt at self-government. 98

The settlers then devised a different tactic to destroy Hodgson. They wrote powerful friends in London accusing him of numerous petty or palpably false shortcomings, including illegally assuming the position of chief magistrate and justice of the peace, speaking against the governor of Jamaica, general neglect of duty, and maintaining his base of operations at Black River instead of at a more suitable location. Their petitions eventually succeeded, especially after a delegation of Mosquito chiefs arrived in London to complain that Hodgson was enslaving and selling Indians. 99 In August 1775, Lord Dartmouth wrote to Sir Basil Keith, the new governor of Jamaica, recalling Hodgson. Nevertheless, Dartmouth admitted that Hodgson was not responsible for “the whole of the disorder and distraction which now prevails on the Mosquito Shore,” and thought “it is chiefly owing to the restless and ungovernable spirit and temper of its inhabitants, which have manifested themselves in acts of usurpation, very little short of open rebellion against the King’s Government …” Dartmouth left to Keith’s discretion the form of government to be established, “for it is the King’s intention that the affairs of the Shore should continue to be, as they ever have been, under the control and direction of his Governor of Jamaica, with the advice of the Council.”100

When John Fergusson, the new acting superintendent, arrived at Black River, he read out Keith’s proclamation prohibiting future attempts to constitute a local civil government and condemning further enslavement of the Indians as had been done in the past “through an ungoverned and insatiable desire of lawless gain.”101 Fergusson then convened Black River’s “white inhabitants” to elect a twelve-man council of which he was to be president, with power to make regulations “for the internal police of the settlement; such regulations to be in force till rejected by the Governor or Commander-in-Chief of Jamaica.”102 One of the Council’s first acts was to pass on August 22, 1776, a law prohibiting future enslavement of the Indians. The legislation had no retrospective effect, perhaps because Lawrie and other leading citizens already owned numerous Indian slaves. 103

Although the Shore could now look forward to a period of internal political stability, a new external threat developed when the preoccupation of Britain with the war against its North American colonists tempted Spanish King Charles III to seek his revenge on the Shore for the humiliations of 1763. New Spanish attempts to form alliances with Mosquito chiefs were uncovered, 104 and British slaves increasingly were encouraged to desert in return for freedom once they reached Spanish territory, a practice to which Spain had been resorting for years in order to undermine the Shore’s economy. 105 Spanish coastal fortifications and garrisons were strengthened, and in early 1776 Spanish ships seized a British sloop, the Morning Star, in a daring operation near the mouth of Black River, thoroughly alarming the settlers. 106

The Decline of a Colony: 1776-87

Anticipating the coming conflict, Secretary of State Lord George Germaine appointed James Lawrie superintendent on May 17, 1776, reflecting the government’s belief that in the crisis ahead the colonists should be led by someone they regarded as one of their own, rather than by an outsider. 107 The appointment was highly successful, and in his eleven years as superintendent, Lawrie kept the unruly settlers in order and eventually supervised their evacuation from the Shore. During his tenure, British policy opposed unequivocally the establishment of any independent local legislature. British law was to prevail, and if circumstances required special local regulations, Jamaica would supply them. Lawrie regained the confidence of the Mosquitos, who in 1777 sent their heir apparent to Black River to be crowned George II. 108

Lawrie was a keen observer. His November 10, 1774, reply to enquiries by the Rev. William Robertson of Edinburgh, two years before he became superintendent, describes Black River and the Mosquitos in their final stages of development. The natives were by now thoroughly corrupted by contact with the whites. “Chastity is a virtue in no great esteem among these people in general.” They did not survive to any advanced age due to their “savage manner of living,” while alcoholism, measles, and smallpox had greatly reduced their numbers. Women and slaves did all the hard work, raising corn and a few cattle. “As for the men, they do nothing but hunt and amuse themselves, excepting when they come to Black River to work for such necessities as they and their families are in want of.”109

Mosquito administrative divisions developed in the early 1700s still persisted. Zambos and Indians occupied the area between Black River and Cape Gracias and were ruled by a general. The Cape Gracias area was under the king, and was principally zambo in composition. Two other provinces, mainly of Indians under a governor and an admiral, stretched south and east down the coast to the San Juan. Each general, admiral, and governor held a separate commission from Jamaica and was semi-independent of the king, who enjoyed a slight preeminence because of the British connection. Lawrie wrote that when not fighting Spaniards, the Mosquitos warred on neighboring tribes, compelling them to pay tribute and selling their captives as slaves. “One great inducement is no doubt the demand these Indian slaves are in with the English who purchase them at the Rate of from £15 to £20 each payable in goods at a considerable advance. These slaves when sold again at Black River fetch from £30 to £35 cash.”110

According to Lawrie, the logwood trade had been hard hit by the low prices prevailing in Europe, but sarsaparilla was still plentiful, “the greatest part of what we ship being purchased from the Spanyards.”111 Nevertheless, by 1776, Black River was the undisputed economic, as well as political, center for the Shore. Spanish Captain Gastelu, who had captured the Morning Star off Black River, saw from his vessel some twenty-five houses near the shore, including four large wooden ones, painted and with shingled roofs. There were a hospital and a shipyard. He reported that Spaniards from the interior came regularly to Black River to trade with the English, and that 50 miles down the coast to the east, the Indians raised horses, cattle, and pigs to exchange at Black River for powder, rum, and firearms. The local Mosquito chief was Captain Tempest, who each year received clothing, powder, and firearms to be distributed to his people. Gastelu reported there were sawmills in the area, some even water-powered. 112

Not all British decision-makers, however, were persuaded that the economic and strategic value of the Shore outweighed the constant friction the British presence caused with Spain. This led to an ambivalent, shifting policy, as illustrated when in 1777 Lawrie requested “a blockhouse, arms, ammunition and a few of the cannon formerly taken from the Shore, and a free company of a hundred, or even fifty men.” Lord George Germaine rebuked Lawrie, asserting flatly that granting his request would violate the 1763 treaty. 113 Nevertheless, in the same dispatch Lawrie was instructed “to apply himself to establish good order among the inhabitants, to promote the prosperity of the settlements, to improve the commercial advantages which may be derived from them, and to cultivate a strict union and friendship with the Indians in those parts.”114 Still, as Germaine wrote Keith, the crown did not wish to go so far as “to establish a Colony or erect a legislature on the Mosquito Shore, as Mr. Lawrie and others appeared to entertain notions of …”115 Refusal to accord colonial status may have been due partially to pressure from Jamaican interests, which did not wish an independent plantation economy to develop on the Shore, where tropical products could be grown considerably more cheaply than elsewhere in the Caribbean. 116 Consequently, many Jamaican traders and planters wished the Shore to remain an economically underdeveloped, dependent area from which to obtain logwood and mahogany, like Belize, and into which they could funnel manufactured goods for the contraband trade. 117

In May 1779 Spain declared war, having already decided to ally itself with England’s rebellious North American colonies. It accused England of violating the 1763 treaty by refusing to abandon the Shore in 1763, of arming and inciting the Mosquitos to revolt against Spain, and of encouraging smuggling outposts such as Black River in Spanish territory. 118 As usual, the first attack fell on Belize, where on September 15 the settlers were taken by surprise, unaware even that war had begun. Some 300 prisoners, including women and children, were marched through the jungle to Merida and sent into eventual captivity in Havana. 119 Governor John Dalling, fearing just such an attack, already had dispatched ships via Black River with news of the outbreak of hostilities. Unfortunately, the ship dispatched by Lawrie from Black River to warn Belize arrived too late to be of any use. 120 Some Baymen fled to Black River, but most went to Roatan, which had been retaken earlier that year. From there, reinforced by troops and ships sent by Dalling, they returned to the coast and, aided by James Lawrie, Jr. and other settlers, as well as Indians from Black River commanded by Mosquito General Tempest, captured the Spanish fort of Omoa to the west of Trujillo. 121

But the Omoa operation was of secondary importance. Dalling planned to cut Central America in half by launching a massive attack up the San Juan River and across Lake Nicaragua to the Pacific, thus securing for England what he considered the best route for an interoceanic canal. 122 A force of nearly 2, 000 assembled in Jamaica in early 1780, including transport vessels and the frigate Hitchinbrooke commanded by Captain Horatio Nelson. 123 In addition, Dalling was relying heavily upon the Black River settlers to provide local military support, with levies of slaves and Indians to serve as porters and guides. Accordingly, he promoted Superintendent Lawrie to “Major Commandant of all Volunteers raised on the Mosquito Shore and Bay of Honduras, likewise of all the Indians.”124

By the time the combined British forces assembled at the San Juan, however, Lawrie was fearful of a Spanish attack on Black River during his absence in Nicaragua. Consequently on March 5, 1780, Brigadier General Stephen Kemble, the expedition’s commander, was persuaded to order “A captain, subaltern, and 28 men of Major Lawrie’s corps” to “hold themselves in Readiness to march to Black River on the Shortest Notice.”125 Meanwhile, Mosquito King George II had arrived with his chiefs and 400 men, thirsting for action and loot, thereby further weakening Black River’s defenses. Dalling, anxious to retain Mosquito goodwill and appreciating the assistance they could provide in a hostile jungle environment, decided to keep the Indians with the expedition and cautioned his officers “to avoid giving any Disgust to the Indians by depriving them of their private plunder, which might occasion a general defection and prove fatal to the Enterprise.”126

In early April 1780, Lawrie’s apprehensions were confirmed when Spaniards from Trujillo raided poorly defended Black River. They spent two days spiking cannon and burning houses, crops, and sugar mills before retreating. 127 Some settlers and slaves escaped to Roatan; others fled into the jungle, including Charles Frederick Post, where, as he subsequently wrote, he and his wife lived with the Indians “travelling the desert … where we have had the canopy of heaven mostly for our shelter.”128

When he learned of the raid, Dalling penned a vitriolic message to the governor of Honduras, warning “that for every house you burn, a Village shall submit to our flame; for every Village, a Town; and for every Town, if you have sufficient, a City.”129 Dalling urged Kemble to organize the refugees on Roatan into a force to be concentrated at Black River, and advised sending Lawrie back to the Shore to persuade the Indians to operate up their rivers against the Spanish. 130 By mid-September, most of Black River’s settlers had returned, but only after first having to quell a slave rebellion that had erupted after the Spanish departure. Lawrie and the remainder of his men arrived shortly thereafter, “much reduced [in number] and in a precarious state of health.”131

Meanwhile, after initial successes, the Nicaraguan expedition was immobilized by disease. Even the gallantry of officers like Nelson, who, as he later wrote, “boarded” and captured a Spanish island stronghold, was unavailing against malaria and dysentery. 132 British losses were appalling. 133 By mid-1780 many Mosquitos wanted to leave, annoyed at British refusal to hand over Black and Indian prisoners. Dalling reacted by sending presents “to conciliate their affection by removing any misunderstanding which may have arose [sic] in consequence of their having been refused the prisoners of colour taken at the Fort of St. John …”134 In late 1780 Dalling admitted defeat and summoned the surviving troops back to Jamaica, where he now feared a Spanish invasion. Nevertheless, he spared a hundred men to be sent to reinforce Lawrie at Black River, where another attack was anticipated. 135

Within the next year Black River’s garrison was reduced, for when the Spanish attacked in March 1782, only 21 regulars remained to confront a simultaneous land and sea assault. Some 1, 350 Spanish infantry and 100 horses, with 350 Indian guides, approached from the south. Then 1, 000 men arrived from Trujillo to the west, and under covering fire another 500 troops landed from seven ships. The first objective was Fort Dalling, a smaller strongpoint on the Plátano River about 20 miles east of Black River. With few defenders, Fort Dalling fell quickly, but resistance at Black River was more spirited. Finally, Lawrie, outnumbered and with little ammunition, on March 31 spiked his fort’s guns and with the remnant of his men escaped through winding lagoons and waterways to Cape Gracias. 136

Soon after the main Spanish force withdrew to Trujillo, disease and desertion weakened the garrisons they had left at Black River and Fort Dalling. Communication lines with Trujillo were overextended and vulnerable to attack. Supplies ran low and foraging parties were massacred by Mosquitos, while seaborne reinforcements were captured by British ships. 137 Lawrie, apparently an able commander, accumulated some 800 settlers, Mosquitos, and freedmen at Cape Gracias. Soon they were joined by ships from Jamaica bearing arms, ammunition, presents for the Indians, and 130 men of the Loyal American Rangers. 138 The small army left the Cape and headed west on August 26, landing at the Plátano River on the 28th; there they were joined by 140 Mosquitos who, with two English officers, had just retaken Fort Dalling and massacred its garrison. 139 When the British reached Black River, 715 Spanish troops with their 27 officers quickly surrendered rather than suffer the same fate as their comrades. 140

Britain, France, and Spain all now wanted peace, and the Shore became a minor pawn in more important territorial exchanges agreed upon in the 1783 Versailles treaties. Britain granted independence to its North American colonies, but recovered Grenada, St. Vincent, St. Kitts, Montserrat, Nevis, Dominica, and New Providence. East Florida and Minorca were returned to Spain, but British troops remained at Gibraltar. Britain did not question Spain’s sovereignty in Belize, but contented itself with a reaffirmation of the logcutting privileges conceded by the 1763 treaty and by a more precise definition of the limits of the concession. 141 The Belizeans, however, complained that the treaty did not allow mahogany cutting, now more economically important than logwood. Nor were fishing and turtling permitted, or even growing crops for local consumption. Also, St. George’s Key, the principal trade depot and administration center, was to be evacuated. 142

The treaty contained another principal source of discord by requiring evacuation of British settlements, excepting Belize, from all parts of the “Spanish Continent.” The Mosquito shoremen protested that the Shore did not fall within this provision since it was part of the “American” rather than “Spanish” continent, and had never been subjected to Spanish rule, thus echoing earlier arguments advanced to frustrate the 1763 treaty. 143 Spanish authorities rejected British complaints, and the governor of Guatemala was instructed to dislodge the shoremen by force if they did not leave within the treaty’s eighteen-month grace period, “because it is the definite wish of the King that not a single individual of that nation remain in any other part except that provided in the definitive treaty for logcutting.”144 It was a time of great uncertainty for the Black River settlers. Frederick Post wrote the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel: “We have every reason to believe that in the month of March next we shall be forced to quit the Country and God only knows where I shall go …. God forbid that at this time of life I fall into the hands of such Cruel Enemys as the Spaniards ….”145

In early 1785 Spanish threats impelled Jamaica’s governor to send artillery and 600 men from Jamaica to the Shore. Black River’s fortifications were strengthened, and troops and cannon were stationed at two islands in Brewer’s Lagoon, 30 miles east of Black River. 146 Confronted by this overwhelming force, the Spaniards agreed to suspend hostilities while discussions in Europe sought to clarify, if not amend, the 1783 treaty. 147 Robert Liston, the British minister plenipotentiary appointed to negotiate a solution to the dispute, reported from Madrid in May 1786 that while both the Spanish king and his First Minister, the Count of Floridablanca, were anxious “to hasten the conclusion of the Mosquito Affair,” the French wished to prevent a settlement and “will make a new effort to disappoint the Mosquito Business and set Spain and us by the Ears.”148 As Liston observed, it was in Britain’s interest to cultivate good relations with Spain to prevent its joining a proposed French and Dutch alliance. Floridablanca was willing to refrain from joining, provided Britain agreed not to conclude an alliance with Russia and Denmark, “the object of which was said to be hostile to the House of Bourbon.” Nevertheless, the Spanish minister was intensely skeptical of Britain’s willingness to abide by any agreement, and the French eagerly fueled his doubts. 149

Finally, on July 14, 1786, British and Spanish representatives in London signed a convention to prevent “even the Shadow of Misunderstanding which might be occasioned by Doubt, Misconceptions, or other causes of Disputes between the Subjects on the Frontiers of the two Monarchies, especially in distant Countries, as are those in AMERICA …”150 Britain agreed to evacuate the Shore, and in return Spain extended Belizean logwood cutting boundaries, agreed to permit mahogany cutting and fishing, and conceded the right to occupy St. George’s Key and other islands.

Evacuation of the Shore began in March 1787, and was completed smoothly and efficiently under the direction of Superintendent Lawrie and his assistant, Captain Marcus Hunter, with the support of men and ships from Jamaica. Lawrie was the last to leave Black River and arrived at Belize aboard HMS Camelia on July 7, 1787. 151 Of the 2, 650 people evacuated, 537 whites and freedmen, and 1, 677 slaves went to Belize. The remainder elected to be taken by English warships to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Roatan. 152 Formal possession of the Shore was delivered on August 29, 1787, by William Pitt Lawrie, son of the last superintendent and grandson of William Pitt, and the Spanish flag was unfurled at Black River. 153 Although some shoremen complained, and a few daring souls remained, it was a peaceful finale to a turbulent existence. The greatest opposition to the convention was expressed not on the Shore but in London, where, in the House of Lords on March 16, 1787, Lord Francis Rawdon sought a vote censuring the government for abandoning the Shore. But his motion “That the terms of the Convention with Spain, signed on the 14th of July, 1786, do not meet with the favourable opinion of this House,” failed by a vote of 53 to 17. 154

The Mosquitos were bewildered by the British departure and concerned at the treatment they might expect from the Spanish, despite Spain’s undertaking under Article 14 of the convention to “not exercise any act of severity against the Mosquitos … on Account of the Connections that may have been fulfilled between the said Indians and the ENGLISH ….” Indeed, at a major war council in April just before the British departure, the Mosquitos vowed to resist the Spanish takeover, and sent their women and children into the mountains for safety. 155 In early 1787, Spanish Commissioner Lieutenant Colonel Gabriel de Hervías, hoping to persuade the Indians of Spain’s peaceful intentions, requested Lawrie to arrange an interview with Mosquito King George II. The old king replied to Captain Hunter at Black River that he was too indisposed to travel to the proposed meeting place, recounting obviously fabricated complaints ranging from skin disease to fever. In a postscript, he asked to be sent sheets of writing paper because “I wish with all my heart to see and bid farewell to all my English friends who have been living on the Cape.”156


Spain acquired a functioning colony with a respectable economic infrastructure. Contemporary accounts confirm that Black River boasted painted, clapboard houses, and had a main street about a mile in length running along the side of the lagoon, intersected by five cross streets. There was a wide distribution of sugar and indigo plantations stretching 15 miles up the Black River and its tributaries, with at least two sugar mills in the vicinity. 157

But it was evident the Shore would rapidly revert to wilderness without new settlers to replace the departed English. Simply renaming Black River as Río Tinto and building a Catholic church were not enough. Consequently, arrangements were made to bring 210 families from Spain and the Canary Islands to repopulate the Shore from Cape Cameron to the San Juan. 158 After a long sea voyage, forty families of Canary Islanders reached Black River, where they and the garrison of forty infantrymen and eight artillerymen lived in constant fear of Indian attack. 159

Río Tinto settlement was not an economic success, mainly because its new occupants were intent on replacing a profitable local contraband trade with a legitimate, although hopelessly inadequate, commercial regime. Indeed, the Spanish economic system was so inefficient that Hervías was compelled to persuade three English traders—Francis Meany, John Pitt, and Robert Kaye—to remain behind at Black River as commercial agents to import supplies and trade goods that Spain itself could not produce. 160 Invoices for articles shipped in 1794 and 1796 and valued at over £6, 500 demonstrate the wide variety of goods that had to be imported from England—saws, shovels, hoes, files, hatchets, cups, saucers, plates, buckles, clay pipes, pots, calico, and “white dimity waistcoats.”161 Hervías even had to obtain an English doctor, Robert Sproat, to manage Río Tinto hospital and serve as the community’s medical officer. 162

Initially Hervías seems to have won the Mosquitos’ grudging respect. But when he died in 1788, his successors alienated Mosquito leaders by breaking promises to keep them supplied with trade goods, 163 while the efforts of Meany and his associates to maintain a steady flow of imports were impeded by wrangling with the colony’s commandants over trading rights. 164 Unlike the English, the Spaniards paid the Indians for their skins, wood, and tortoiseshell in money, rather than in manufactures that they could trade into the interior. When Indians wanted cloth or other articles, they had to purchase them from Spanish stores at prices arbitrarily fixed by local commandants. Meanwhile, traders from Jamaica and Belize continued smuggling along the Shore, reminding the Indians of their more lucrative old alliance. The inevitable occurred between two and three in the morning of September 4, 1800. Mosquito General Tempest and his men silently paddled their canoes up Black River to overwhelm the town from the rear. The survivors of the massacre, clad in their nightclothes, fled through the jungle to Trujillo, leaving Río Tinto burning behind them. 165

Spain never reoccupied Black River. Today its site is covered by the small hamlet of Palacios, a meager collection of palm-thatched huts facing onto the lagoon where the Río Tinto winds into the Caribbean as it did in the days of William Pitt and James Lawrie. Scant tangible evidence recalls the British and Spanish occupations. Nevertheless, bits of bottles, brick, china, musket balls, and ironware frequently surface in the villagers’ fields, while corroded iron cauldrons up to six feet in diameter have been found in the jungle at the sites of long-vanished sugar mills. At the edge of town, low, grass-covered mounds outline the ramparts of the fort over which so much blood was spilled, and three spiked iron cannon bearing George III cyphers embossed on their breeches lie half buried along a nearby path. In a neglected brush-covered cemetery, lying flat amongst the weeds, three tombstones are yet visible, including those of William Pitt and his family. Little else remains of this once important, but now forgotten, outpost of empire.


Inland the area varied in width and was separated from Spanish settlements in Honduras and Nicaragua by a mountain chain extending diagonally from Cape Honduras to the San Juan River, giving it a roughly triangular shape. Thomas Jefferys, The West Indian Atlas, or a Comprehensive Description of the West Indies (London, 1780), Plate 16, p. 16; John Wright, Memoir of the Mosquito Territory as Respecting the Voluntary Cession of it to Great Britain (London, 1808), pp. 10-11.


G. A. Castañeda, “Desembarco en Río Tinto," Revista del Archivo y Biblioteca Nacional (Tegucigalpa), 6 (1927), 231 (hereinafter cited as RABN). Hubert H. Bancroft, History of Central America, 3 vols. (San Francisco, 1883-88), II, 597-598. Sixteenth-century colonization grants were never successfully pursued. Ephraim G. Squier, The States of Central America (New York, 1858), pp. 630-631. Sofonías Salvatierra, Contribución a la historia de Centroamérica, 2 vols. (Managua, 1939), II, 398-399.


Arthur P. Newton, The European Nations in the West Indies, 1493-1688, 2d ed. (New York, 1967), pp. 172-173; James J. Parsons, San Andrés and Providencia (Berkeley, 1964), pp. 5-6, 11; Arthur P. Newton, The Colonizing Activities of the English Puritans (New Haven, 1914), pp. 141-143.


Newton, Colonizing Activities, p. 182. A number of Mosquitos visited Providence, where they “learned the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed and Ten Commandments, which they repeat with great Devotion.” Hans Sloane, A Voyage to the Islands Madera, Barbados, Nieves, S. Christophers and Jamaica, 2 vols. (London, 1707), I, lxviii.


Parsons, San Andrés, pp. 8-9.


John Esquemeling, The Buccaneers of America (New York, 1898), pp. 250-251; Fray Benito Garret y Arloví, Bishop of Nicaragua, to the King of Spain, Granada, Nov. 30, 1711, Archivo General de Indias, Seville (hereinafter cited as AGI), est. 65, caj. 6, leg. 50, reprinted in Manuel María de Peralta, Costa Rica y Costa de Mosquitos, Documentos para la historia de la jurisdicción territorial de Costa Rica y Colombia (Paris, 1898), pp. 43, 57-58; José Dolores Gámez, Historia de la Costa de Mosquitos (hasta 1894) (Managua, 1915-39), p. 78.


“Zambo” or “sambo” is a generic term used to denote an Indian-African mixture. On the Shore, the zambos became part of the general Mosquito social and political structure, and principally settled in the Black River to Cape Gracias area. Early writers did not always distinguish between them and the Indians, simply calling them all “Mosquitos.” The latter usage is followed in this article.


Garret y Arloví to King, Nov. 30, 1711, reprinted in Peralta, Costa Rica, p. 59; Francisco de Paula García Paláez, ed., Memorias para la historia del Antiguo Reino de Guatemala, 3 vols. (Guatemala City, 1852), II, 162-163.


Newton, European Nations, p. 260; Stephen L. Caiger, British Honduras, Past and Present (London, 1951), pp. 43-44.


Edward Long, The History of Jamaica, 2d ed., 2 vols. (London, 1970), I, 315.


Esquemeling, Buccaneers, p. 249. The Mosquito Shore was close to rich Spanish settlements, yet its winding rivers, shoal waters, shifting sands, and bars made it an excellent refuge. Clarence H. Haring, The Buccaneers in the West Indies in the Seventeenth Century (London, 1910), p. 76.


Sloane, A Voyage, I, lxxvi-lxxvii; George W. Bridges, The Annals of Jamaica, 2 vols. (London, 1828), II, 138-139.


M. W., "The Mosqueto Indian and his golden river … being a description of the Mosqueto Kingdom in America,” in Awnsham Churchill and John Churchill, eds., A Collection of Voyages and Travels, 6 vols. (London, 1732), VI, 288. The famous navigator, sometime buccaneer, William Dampier, visited the Mosquitos in 1681, and affirmed that “they acknowledge the King of England for their Sovereign.” A New Voyage Round the World (London, 1937), p. 17.


Sloane, A Voyage, I, lxxvi. Early, pre-1670 territorial cessions by the Mosquito kings were later invoked to justify British claims to the Shore, when in 1670 Spain conceded that the king of Great Britain would have sovereignty over “any part of America” that he or his subjects “do at this present hold and possess.” “Treaty between Great Britain and Spain, signed at Westminister 8 [18] July, 1670,” Clive Parry, ed., The Consolidated Treaty Series, 231 vols. (Dobbs Ferry, 1969–), XI, 383, 398.


“This custom is extremely politic on our side, and serves to promote a mutual exchange of civility and good offices; which may strengthen their particular attachment towards the English.” Long, History of Jamaica, I, 316; Thomas Jefferys, A Description of the Spanish Islands and Settlements on the Coast of the West Indies (London, 1762), p. 46.


House of Commons, “Correspondence Respecting the Mosquito Territory,” Accounts and Papers, LXV (London, 1847-48), Appendix A, iv. Lists of the Mosquito kings are provided in Troy S. Floyd, The Anglo-Spanish Struggle for Mosquitia (Albuquerque, 1967), p. 214; and in Francisco Flores Andino, “El Reino de la Mosquitia,” Revista Ariel (Tegucigalpa) (May 1976), 12-13.


Lindsay W. Bristow, The Handbook of British Honduras for 1892-93 (London, 1892), pp. 24-25. In a 1670 treaty, Britain and Spain agreed to “forbear” from injuring or pillaging each other “in whatever part of the world,” and to revoke all privateering commissions. Parry, ed., Consolidated Treaty Series, XI, 397.


Newton, European Nations, pp. 289-290. “Some Thoughts Relative to the Trade lately Carried on in the Bay of Honduras and Mosquito Shore by British Merchants (1783),” National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh (hereinafter cited as NLS), Liston Papers, MS 5528, ff. 89-95.


Modyford to Lord Arlington, Secretary of State, Mar. 18, 1670, reprinted in John A. Burdon, Archives of British Honduras, 3 vols. (London, 1931-35), I, 49.


“Some Thoughts,” NLS, Liston Papers, MS 5528, f. 93; George L. Beer, The Old Colonial System, 1660-1754, 2 vols. (New York, 1912), II, 64-77. Spanish attempts to frustrate British participation in the logwood trade embittered relations between the two countries for the next 200 years. “Petition … from merchants, planters, and others interested in British Plantations in America” (undated), University Library, Cambridge (hereinafter cited as ULC), Cholmondeley (Houghton) Papers, Add. 84, f. 39.


García Peláez, Memorias, III, 72-73; M. W., “Mosquete Indian,” p. 299.


Nathaniel Uring, The Voyages and Travels of Captain Nathaniel Uring (London, 1928), pp. 121-125.


Gámez, Historia, pp. 80-83; García Peláez, Memorias, II, 162.


Gámez, Historia, pp. 83-87.


The June 25, 1720, contract between Lawes and King Jeremy is reprinted in House of Commons, “Correspondence,” pp. 60-61. See also W. Noel Sainsbury et al., eds., Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, America and West Indies, 39 vols. (London, 1860-1969), XXVII, March 1720-December 1721, 127-128.


Bancroft, History, II, 600.


Burdon, Archives, II, 7; Bancroft, History, II, 623-624.


Robert Hodgson, Some Account of the Mosquito Territory (Edinburgh, 1822), p. 17.


Robert Hodgson, Jr., Pitt’s son-in-law, gave the year of Pitt’s arrival in Black River as 1732 when he was questioned by his Spanish captors in 1783. Enrique S. Pedrote, “El Coronel Hodgson y la expedición a la Costa de Mosquitos,” Anuario de Estudios Americanos (Seville) 23 (1967), 1205, 1215, citing material in AGI. Hodgson’s father wrote in 1759 that after the 1730 raid on Belize some refugees “who were dissatisfied with their turbulent life settled here.” Hodgson, Some Account, p. 17. A history of the Mosquito Shore prepared in 1775 by the Secretaria de Despacho de Indias states that Pitt founded Black River around 1730. Archivo General de Simancas (hereinafter cited as AGS), Estado, leg. 8133, fol. 8.


Pedrote, “El Coronel Hodgson,” p. 1215; Robert Beatson, A Political Index to the Histories of Great Britain and Ireland, 3 vols. (London, 1806), II, 454; Arthur Collins, The Peerage of England, 9 vols. (London, 1812), VI, 45-47; Arthur Collins, The Book of Dignities (London, 1890), pp. 770, 797.


William Pitt’s lifespan (1699-1771) parallels very closely that of the Earl of Chatham (1708-78). Chatham’s Spanish policy is summarized in Kate Hotblack, Chatham’s Colonial Policy: A Study in the Fiscal and Economical Implications of the Colonial Policy of the Elder Pitt (London, 1917), pp. 124-137.


Bryan Edwards, “Some Account of the British Settlements on the Muskito Shore (Drawn up for the Use of Government in 1773),’’ Appendix, The History, Civil and Commercial of the British West Indies, 5th ed., 5 vols. (London, 1819), V, 208. Wright, Memoir of the Mosquito Territory, pp. 12-14.


“An Account of What has been done at Black River on the Mosquito Shore…,” C.O. 323/11, f. 65, quoted in George Metcalf, Royal Government and Political Conflict in Jamaica 1729-1783 (London, 1965), p. 74. See also Richard Pares, War and Trade in the West Indies, 1739-1763 (Oxford, 1936), p. 545.


Black River’s earliest white inhabitants, driven from Belize by the Spaniards, “chose this asylum, where they might lead a lawless, abandoned life with impunity … ,” Long, History of Jamaica, I, 325.


Pedrote, “El Coronel Hodgson,’’ pp. 11-12.


“Consulta del consejo de Indias sobre los Mosquitos y los establecimientos ingleses en la costa,” AGI, est. 65, caj. 6, leg. 33, reprinted in Peralta, Costa Rica, pp. 98-113. Salvatierra, Contribución, II, 442.


Pares, War and Trade, pp. 97-101; Gámez, Historia, pp. 90-91.


Bancroft, History, II, 601; Pares, War and Trade, p. 98; Squier, States of Central America, pp. 744-745.


Hodgson to Trelawney, Sandy Bay, Apr. 8, 1740, reprinted in Squier, States of Central America, pp. 744-745.


Hodgson to Trelawney, Chiriqui Lagoon, June 21, 1740, reprinted in Squier, States of Central America, p, 746. Trelawney sent Hodgson “about 30 soldiers. Trelawney to Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, Jamaica, May 24, 1743, Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts Archives, London (hereinafter cited as SPGA), Letters Received, B.13, f. 1.


Memorial of Lieut. Robert Hodgson to His Grace, the Duke of Newcastle, to Succeed Capt. Robert Hodgson as Superintendent on the Mosquito Shore (1760), British Museum, London (hereinafter cited as BM), Newcastle Papers, CCCLXX, Add. 33055, f. 294; Conrado Bonilla, Piraterías en Honduras (Tegucigalpa, 1955), p. 303.


C.O. 123, f. 9, reprinted in Burdon, Archives, I, 69; Pares, War and Trade, pp. 103-104; Salvatierra, Contribución, II, 437.


William Davidson, Historical Geography of the Bay Islands, Honduras: Anglo-Hispanic Conflict in the Western Caribbean (Birmingham, Ala., 1974), pp. 54-57; Long, History of Jamaica, I, 335.


According to Trelawney, when he wrote to the Duke of Newcastle proposing to establish the British on the Shore, there were in 1740 about 100 Englishmen in the area, “mostly such as could live nowhere else.” Quoted in Squier, States of Central America, p. 635. Privy Council Minutes for June 19, 1744, recording a Board of Trade report, state that there were only “about Fifty British Families” on the Shore. W. L. Grant and James Munro, eds., Acts of the Privy Council of England, Colonial Series, 1720-1745, 6 vols. (London, 1910), III, 773.


Acts of the Privy Council, III, 774; “Mosquito Shore” (undated), ULC, Pitt Papers, Add. 6959.


In July 1747, the Council of Jamaica recommended sending to the Shore “some of the artillery, the four pounders, with a proper person to direct the Building of a fascine battery at Black River … .” Frank Cundall, The Governors of Jamaica in the First Half of the Eighteenth Century (London, 1937), p. 192. By 1746, a Spanish official was warning that Black River was the strongest of the British settlements on the Honduran coast, and only 18 leagues from Trujillo. Pedro de Garaycoechea, Relación de las poblaciones que tienen los ingleses en la Costa de Mosquitos, perjuicio que causan a los españoles con la unión de los indios y el modo de desalojarlos (1746), Museo Naval, Madrid (hereinafter cited as MNM), MS 487, fol. X243.


Gámez, Historia, pp. 97-100; Salvatierra, Contribución, II, 437, 443.


Bonilla, Piraterías, p. 305.


Long, History of Jamaica, I, 317; Bonilla, Piraterías, p. 312.


For example, on Aug. 23, 1745, the king instructed the new governor of Honduras, Don Juan de Vera, to give precedence to the task of eliminating Black River. Reprinted in Revista de la Academia de Geografía e Historia de Nicaragua (Managua) (hereinafter cited as RAGHN) 2 (Dec. 1939), 113.


Edwards, “Some Account,” V, 206; House of Commons, “Report of the Commissioners of Legal Inquiry on the Case of the Indians at Honduras,” Papers Relating to the Slave Trade, Part 2, Parliamentary Papers, 27 vols. (London, 1828), XXVI, 1, 15.


“General and Definitive Treaty of Peace between France, Great Britain and the Netherlands, signed at Aix-la-Chapelle, 18 October 1748,” Parry, ed., Consolidated Treaty Series, XXXVIII, 297.


John H. Parry and Philip M. Sherlock, A Short History of the West Indies, 2d ed. (London, 1963), pp. 120-121; Pares, War and Trade, p. 540. The argument was based on pre-1670 cessions of the Shore by the Mosquitos to the British.


“Mosquito Shore,” ULC, Pitt Papers, Add. 6959; John MacGregor, “Commercial Tariffs and Regulations of the Several States of Europe and America … The Spanish American Republics,” in House of Commons, Accounts and Papers (1847), LXIV, 1, 29.


“Black River and the Mosquito Shore with the Parts Adjacent and the New Fort,” Public Record Office, Kew (hereinafter cited as PRO), C.O. 700, British Honduras, No. 3.


“Plans and Profiles of the Fortifications Near Black River on the Mosquito Shore and the State they were in on 28th May 1751,” PRO, C.O. 700, British Honduras, No. 5.


“Mosquito Shore,” ULC, Pitt Papers, Add. 6959; Gámez, Historia, p. 97.


Three companies of regulars from Jamaica were now stationed at Black River. “Extract of a Letter from Bristol, December 16, 1754” (unsigned and no addressee), BM, Newcastle Papers, CCCXLIV, Add. 33029, f. 154.


William Pitt to Governor Knowles, Black River, Aug. 1, 1754, C.O. 137, f. 60, reprinted in Burdon, Archives, I, 80.


Orders from Captain Hodgson to Lt. Lawrie, Black River, May 14, 1755, C.O. 173, f. 69, reprinted in Burdon, Archives, I, 82.


Quoted in Bonilla, Piraterías, pp. 313-314.


In May 1751 the total armament of the fort and battery was fourteen cannon and thirty swivel guns. At that time there lived in Black River and its satellite settlements but 60 whites (only 10 of whom were women), 59 free mulattos, 260 Mosquitos, and 414 negro slaves. “Part of the Moschetto Shore from Cape River to Brewers Lagoon, with the Number of Inhabitants Residing on that part of the Shore and the Fortifications of Black River,” May 28, 1751, PRO, C.O. 700, British Honduras, No. 4.


Hodgson, Some Account, p. 18. Perhaps the governor had already heard of the Guatemalan captain general’s preparations for an attack on Black River. Memorandum of Sept. 5, 1755, Archivo General de Centro América, Guatemala City (hereinafter cited as AGCA), A1.1, exp. 187, leg. 8.


The Spanish agent reported the British treated the Indians well, giving them presents and “sitting them down to eat at their tables.” “Razón individual de la que comprende la situación donde habita don Guillermo Pit, de nación inglés, llamado Río Tinto … ,” reprinted in Boletín del Archivo General del Gobierno (Guatemala City) (hereinafter cited as BAGG), 5 (Jan. 1940), 137-140.


Hodgson, Some Account, pp. 16-17.


Ibid., pp. 15, 17.


Ibid., pp. 49, 51-52.


Ibid., p. 20.


Long, History of Jamaica, I, 325.


Ibid., I, 323. Vera Lee Brown, “Anglo-Spanish Relations in America in the Closing Years of the Colonial Era,” HAHR, 5 (Aug. 1922), 351, 378, describes the debilitating effects of contraband upon Spain’s economy.


Royal Instructions to Don Juan de Vera, Governor of Honduras, Aranjuez, Aug. 23, 1745, reprinted in RAGHN, 2 (Dec. 1939), p. 112. The bishop of Comayagua accused Pitt of distributing Protestant Bibles among the Indians. Bonilla. Piraterías, p. 313.


SPGA, Letters Received, B. 13, f. 2.


Quoted in C. F. Pascoe, Two Hundred Years of the S. P. G.: An Historical Account of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, 1701-1900, 2 vols. (London, 1901), I, 234. Trelawney in 1743 wrote the SPG that the Mosquitos deserved a mission "as they have learnt most of their vices, particularly cheating and drinking, from the English.” SPGA, Letters Received, B. 13, f. 1.


Pascoe, Two Hundred Years, p. 235.


A Philadelphia clergyman hoped Post might "promote some order, decency and religious attendance from the white people who are at present loose and disorderly.” The Rev. Richard Peters to the Rev. Burton, Secretary of SPG, Philadelphia, May 18, 1768, SPGA, Letters Received, B. 21 (a), f. 182.


Pascoe, Two Hundred Years, p. 235.


Gámez, Historia, p. 101; Salvatierra, Contribución, II, 443.


Gámez, Historia, pp. 100, 101.


Although Spanish sovereignty was not challenged, “neither the boundaries of the settlements nor the rights of the cutters were defined, and the precise standing of the English in Honduras remained a matter of dispute.” John H. Parry, The Spanish Seaborne Empire (New York, 1966), p. 303.


Article XVII, “Definitive Treaty of Peace between France, Great Britain and Spain signed at Paris, 10 February 1763,” Parry, ed., Consolidated Treaty Series, XVII, 279, 329-333.


Brown, “Anglo-Spanish Relations,” pp. 353-354. Long, writing in 1774, comments: “we greatly over-acted our parts by recalling the troops we had posted at the Mosquito Shore, and razing our fortifications there, although the district was undeniably not comprehended within the Spanish American territory …,” History of Jamaica, I, 342.


Salvatierra, Contribución, II, 449; Robert White, To the Right Hon. Lords of Trade and Plantations, The Reply of H. M. Subjects, The Principal Inhabitants of the Mosquito Shore to the Printed Pamphlet, Entitled "The Defence of Robert Hodgson" (London, 1780), pp. 5-6; George Dyer to Alexander Munro, Mar. 17, 1783, BM, Add. 36806, f. 194.


Diez Navarro subsequently sketched a rough map of Black River, depicting a large stockaded fort/residence for “The Commandant,” and two batteries commanding the entrance to the lagoon. William Pitt’s residence is shown within a fortified stockade. “Plano a la vista que demuestra la situación del Establecimiento de Río Tinto llamado comunmente por los Ingleses Black River en la Costa de Honduras” (1764), Servico Histórico Militar (hereinafter cited as SHM), Servicio Geográfico e Histórico del Ejército, Estado Mayor Central, Cartografía de Ultramar, 4 vols. (Madrid, 1957), IV, América Central No. 33.


Salvatierra, Contribución, II, 452.


“Some Thoughts Relative to the Trade,” NLS, Liston Papers, MS 5528, f. 92.


“Mosquito Shore,” ULC, Pitt Papers, Add. 6959 (undated but probably 1770-1780).


Robert Hodgson, The Defense of Robert Hodgson, Esq., Late Superintendent, Agent and Commander in Chief of the Mosquito Shore, Humbly addressed to the right honourable the Lords of Trade and Plantations (London, 1779), p. 53; White, To the Right Hon. Lords, pp. 33, 67. In 1760 Hodgson had applied unsuccessfully to the Duke of Newcastle for his late father’s position as superintendent. Memorial of Lieut. Robert Hodgson to His Grace the Duke of Newcastle, BM, Newcastle Papers, CCCLXX, Add. 33055, ff. 294-295.


“Report on the Mosquito Country,” in Stephen Kemble, The Kemble Papers, Collections of the New York Historical Society, Vol. 17, 2 vols. (New York, 1884-85), II, 425.


Edwards, “Some Account,” V, 102.


“Some Thoughts Relative to the Trade,” NLS, Liston Papers, MS 5528, f. 93.


Warren to the Rev. Dr. Hind, Spanish Town, Oct. 27, 1774, SPGA, Misc. Mss., C/WI Box.


Hodgson, Defense, p. 40.


A Treasury investigation in 1787 described this transaction in detail. 32 Geo. ii, Commons Journals (1792), XLVII, 430-431.


Hodgson, Defense, p. 39.


Ibid, pp. 65-66. The Spaniards sought to exploit the natural rivalries among the Mosquito generals, governors, admirals, and king. Salvatierra, Contribución, II, 455-456.


Hodgson, Defense, p. 39.


Pares, War and Trade, p. 546. The Rev. Warren thought a Black River posting would prove lucrative for clergyman as well. Warren to the Rev. Dr. Hind, Spanish Town, Oct. 26, 1774, SPGA, Misc. Mss., C/WI Box.


For details of the intricacies of the dispute, see, generally, Hodgson, Defense, and White, To the Right Hon. Lords.


The delegation included the heir to the Mosquito throne, young Prince George. MacGregor, “Commercial Tariffs and Regulations,” pp. 31-32. Salvatierra, Contribución, II, 462-463. The Mosquitos for years had been enslaving neighboring Indians and selling them to the English settlers, so their accusations ring false. House of Commons, ‘ Correspondence Relative to the Condition and Treatment of Slaves at Honduras, 1820-23,” Papers and Correspondence Relating to the Slave Trade, Parliamentary Papers, 19 vols. (London, 1823), XVIII, 351, 391.


Dartmouth to Keith, London, Aug. 2, 1775, reprinted in House of Commons, “Report of Commissioners of Legal Inquiry,” pp. 10-11.


“Proclamation of His Excellency Sir Basil Keith, dated Jamaica, 29th December 1775,” reprinted in House of Commons, “Report of Commissioners of Legal Inquiry,” pp. 11-12, 32.


House of Commons, “Report of Commissioners of Legal Inquiry,” p. 4.


Ibid., pp. 9, 18.


Salvatierra, Contribución, II, 454-456; García Peláez, Memorias, III, 101-106.


MacGregor, “Commercial Tariffs and Regulations,” p. 32; Brown, "Anglo-Spanish Relations,” pp. 356-357.


The Morning Star had just returned from England with the Mosquito delegation that earlier had sailed to London to complain of Hodgson. The Spanish sought to intercept her in hopes of capturing the Mosquito leaders, but when the sloop reached Black River, her important passengers had already disembarked at Cape Gracias. Salvatierra, Contribución, II, 462-463; MacGregor, “Commercial Tariffs and Regulations,” pp. 32-33; Bancroft, History, II, 602 n. 10.


House of Commons, “Report of Commissioners of Legal Inquiry,” p. 16. Like Hodgson, in 1760 Lawrie had petitioned the Duke of Newcastle to be made superintendent. James Lawrie, Memorial to the Duke of Newcastle, BM, Newcastle Papers, CCXVI, Add. 32, 901, f. 216.


Wright, Memoir of the Mosquito Territory, p. 22.


NLS, Robertson-MacDonald Papers, MS 3942, f. 173. The Rev. Robertson was a noted historian and principal of the College of Edinburgh.


Ibid., MS 3942, f. 174.




Salvatierra, Contribución, II, 462-463.


MacGregor, “Commercial Tariffs and Regulations,” p. 33.


Reprinted in Ibid, p. 34.


Reprinted in Commons Journals, p. 431.


NLS, Liston Papers, MS 5528, f. 115.


Not everyone agreed. Edwards, writing in 1773, criticized government’s failure to give “form and permanency to the settlement” on the Shore. “Some Account,” V, 211-212.


The Annual Register for the Year 1779 (London, 1780), pp. 367-368.


Capt. George Henderson, An Account of the British Settlement of Honduras … to which are added Sketches of the Manners and Customs of the Mosquito Indians (London, 1809), p. 4.


Lawrie to Dalling, Black River, Oct. 11, 1779, C. O. 137, f. 75, summarized in Burdon, Archives, I, 129.


José Calderón Quijano, El Fuerte de San Fernando de Omoa: Su historia e importancia que tuvo en la defensa del Golfo de Honduras (Madrid, 1943), Pt. 2, pp. 7-15; Kemble, Papers, II, 165-185, reprinting The London Gazette, Dec. 18, 1779.


In 1773 Edwards wrote that “The Lake of Nicaragua … presents the most obvious channel of attacking the Spanish with success in the richest of their South American settlements … it is of more value than even the possession of Gibraltar itself.” “Some Account,” V, 214. (Emphasis in original.)


Kemble, Papers, II, 196-197.


Ibid., 75, 76.


Ibid., 77. Also, Dalling to Capt. Polson, Jamaica, Oct. 29, 1779, reprinted in ibid., I, 196.


Dalling to Kemble, Jamaica, May 27, 1780, reprinted in ibid., II, 235. A medical officer who accompanied the expedition commended the Indians’ “spirited exertions and perseverance.” Thomas Dancer, A Brief History of the Late Expedition against Fort San Juan (Kingston, 1781), p. 12.


An eye-witness account of the raid is provided in a letter by Daniel Young, a shoreman, to Governor Dalling, Port Royal, Roatan, Apr. 8, 1780, reprinted in Kemble, Papers, II, 204-206.


Frederick Post to SPG, Black River, Dec. 15, 1784, SPGA, Misc. Mss., C/WI Box.


Dalling to Gov. of Honduras, Kingston, May 29, 1780, reprinted in Kemble, Papers, II, 236.


Dalling to Kemble, Jamaica, June 23, 1780, reprinted in ibid., II, 241.


MacGregor, “Commercial Tariffs and Regulations,” p. 34.


Bancroft, History, II, 610.


Of “about 1, 800 people” who went to Nicaragua, “not more than 380 ever returned.” Benjamin Moseley, A Treatise on Tropical Diseases; and on the Climate of the West Indies, 4th ed. (London, 1803), p. 163.


Dalling to Kemble, Jamaica, June 17, 1780, reprinted in Kemble, Papers, II, 244-245.


Ibid., II, 52; Kemble to Dalling, Bluefields, Jan. 18, 1781, reprinted in ibid., II, 384.


MacGregor, “Commercial Tariffs and Regulations,” pp. 34-35; Manuel Rubio Sánchez, Historia de Trujillo, 3 vols. (Guatemala City, 1975), II, 273.


Rubio Sánchez, Trujillo, II, 275-276, quoting from original reports; Gámez, Historia, pp. 140-141.


MacGregor, “Commercial Tariffs and Regulations,” p. 35.


Ibid; Rubio Sánchez, Trujillo, II, 276.


“Artículos de Capitulación puestos por don Tomás de Julia … al Teniente Coronel Despora … y el Major James Laurie …, ’’ Archivo General de Centro América, Guatemala City (hereinafter cited as AGCA), A. 1. 60, leg. 5365, exp. 45370.


Article 6 of “Treaty of Peace between Great Britain and Spain, signed at Versailles, 3 September 1783,” Parry, ed., Consolidated Treaty Series, XLVII1, 481, 484-485.


Caiger, British Honduras, pp. 89-90; O. Nigel Bolland, The Formation of a Colonial Society: Belize from Conquest to Crown Colony (Baltimore, 1977), p. 27.


MacGregor, “Commercial Tariffs and Regulations,” pp. 35-36; Gámez, Historia, pp. 143-144.


“Reales Ordenes sobre evacuación por los Ingleses de la costa de Mosquitos,” San Ildefonso, Aug. 25, 1785, AGI, est. 101, caj. 5, leg. 1, reprinted in Peralta, Costa Rica, pp. 213, 215-216.


Post to SPG, Black River, Dec. 15, 1784, SPGA, Misc. Mss., C/WI Box.


The Times (London), Feb. 9, 1785, p. 2; Apr. 25, 1785, p. 2.


Lord Sydney to Governor Clarke, Apr. 9, 1787, C. O. 137, f. 35, cited in Burdon, Archives, I, 150; “Reales Ordenes de El Pardo, 20 de enero de 1785, sobre que se suspendan las hostilidades contra los mosquitos é ingleses … mientras duran las negociaciones con la Gran Bretaña, etc.,” AGI, est. 101, caj. 5, leg. 2, reprinted in Peralta, Costa Rica, pp. 242-248.


Liston to Francis, Madrid, May 8, 1786, ULC, Pitt Papers, Add. 6958, f. 100.


ULC, Pitt Papers, Add. 6958, f, 100; Add. 6958, f. 163.


“Convention between His Britannick Majesty and the King of Spain. Signed at London, the 14th of July, 1786” (London, 1786), Parry, ed., Consolidated Treaty Series, L, 47.


The Times (London), Apr. 5, 1787, p. 3; The Honduras Almanack for 1830 (Belize), p. 68.


Bolland, Formation of a Colonial Society, pp. 31-32; “Disposal of Mosquito Shore Settlers” (July 1787), C. O. 123, f. 6, summarized in Burdon, Archives, I, 162.


Rómulo E. Durón and Augusto C. Coello, Las Islas del Cisne (Tegucigalpa, 1938), p. 35.


The Annual Register for the Year 1787 (London, 1789), pp. 111-114.


The Times (London), June 29, 1787, p. 3.


Gonzalo Vallejo, Diario de Ocurrencias Particulares en dos Viajes a la Costa de Mosquitos (1787), Biblioteca Hidrográfica de Madrid, ff. 159-172 (Noticias Hidrográficas de la América Septentrional, c. 2a, tom. iii), reprinted in Manuel Serrano y Sanz, Relaciones históricas y geográficas de América Central (Madrid, 1908), pp. 222-224, 229.


Gonzalo Vallejo, “Descripción del Río Tinto y del de Mustees, delineada por disposición de D. Juan de Nepomuceno de Quesada, Gobernador e Intendente de la Provincia de Comayagua en el mes de mayo de 1787,” MNM, Ba. XI-Ca-C-No. 17-18.


Salvatierra, Contribución, II, 483-485.


Rubio Sánchez, Trujillo, III, Annex 5, pp. 623-626.


Francis Meany to Marqués del Campo, Black River, May 20, 1783, AGS, Estado, leg. 8135, no folio number.


“Sundry Merchandise shipped by Bridgeman, Coombe & Bridgeman to Black River … on account and risque of Francis Meany & Co. by Virtue of a Trading Grant from the Court of Spain …,” June 28, 1794, and Feb. 26, 1796, AGS, Estado, leg. 8135, no folio number.


Sproat applied for the post at the suggestion of James Lawrie, proposing a three-year contract at a salary of 120 pesos per month. Sproat to Hervías, Black River, Nov. 24, 1787, AGS, Estado, leg. 8135, no folio number.


Francis Meany to the Marqués del Campo, Bay of Honduras, Oct. 24, 1788, AGS, Estado, leg. 8135, no folio number.


Robert Kaye to Marqués del Campo, Black River, May 20, 1791, AGS, Estado, leg. 8135, no folio number.


Rubio Sánchez, Trujillo, III, Annex 6, p. 669; Thomas Young, Narrative of a Residence on the Mosquito Shore (London, 1842), p. 54.