Belize in the Early 1700s

From the early 1700′s there are numerous reports referring to logging in the northern Belize area. Logging was focused in the areas of southern Corozal Bay, and along the Hondo, New, and Belize Rivers. A 1705 report (F) mentions “River of Bullys”, referring to the Belize River; before this time it is uncertain as to how the area was called. During the early 1700’s there were a number of trading posts established along the Central American coast, the settlers living and working at these locations were called Standers. They traded European goods with the native populations. One of these “stands” may have given rise to the name of Stann Creek. (H:42)

By 1724, the Baymen were acquiring African slave labor from West Africa, via Jamaica and Bermuda. In that same year, a Spanish missionary reported that the population of the settlement consisted of, “about 300 English, besides Mosquito Indians and Negro slaves, these latter having been introduced but a short time before from Jamaica and Bermuda…” By 1745, slaves made up 71% of the population.

1730 – The Spanish attacked the British logwood cutters in Belize. The settlers fled to the Black River settlement in present-day Honduras.

1739 – Due to increasing tension between England and Spain, and an increase in British commerce along the Central American coast, the governor of Jamaica appointed a Superintendent of the Shore to be located at Black River. The Bay Islands were occupied and fortifications were built in Belize, Bluefields, and several other locations along the coast. (H:54) By 1757, Black River had grown to the largest British settlement on the Central American coast with a population of 750, the majority of which were slaves. (H:49)