Author: Francis M. Vernon, Sr.
I have been reading a series of bedtime concocted and Anancy stories in regards to The Battle Of St. Georges Caye - unsubstantiated, unfounded and utterly false, totally disregarding written history. The likes of Ernest Cain, Simon Lamb and Emory King must be turning over in their graves to see this kind of rubbish published in this nation’s largest newspaper. It is about time to set the record straight as this has gotten way out of hand.
Absurd and ridiculous as these claims are, it begs the question as to the motives of such outright fabrications. These stories fly in the face of historical documents, Belize archives, Mexican archives, British newspapers, Jamaica dispatch: there is no mention of Caribs. If, as you say, the Caribs surrendered to the British at St. Vincent in 1795 and the British sought their help to fight the Battle of St. George’s Caye, two years before anyone knew there would be a Battle of St. George’s Caye. “The British who were in Belize settlement got their orders from Roatan where in Roatan the British with higher authority live.” As part of a treaty with Spain, England had to move from the Mosquito Shore and Roatan all British subjects to the nearest English settlement in 1786 “ Constitution Town.” So there were no British of higher authority in Roatan period.
Flowers Bank 14 is no lie. Along with the British settlers removed from the Mosquito Shore were Flowers’ Negroes freed in 1756 when their owner, William Flowers, went back home to Bristol, England. After some trouble with their master’s descendants about their ownership, the superintendent, Colonel James Pitt, declared them free and had been free for 30 years. William Flowers, Caesar Flowers, Joseph Toney, Adam Flowers, William Scott, William Pindar, George Grant, James Hercules, William Croft, David Dawson and Joseph Smith cast the deciding votes, breaking a 51 to 51 tie. To stay and fight 65 to 51, are we now to disavow their existence and heroism? I don’t think so. We owe our debt of gratitude to the late Dr. Garbutt for his dying contribution of the Flowers Bank 14 Monument at Flowers Bank carved in stone for all to see. (See Mosquito Shore records, Belize archives, Belmopan; Public Meeting June 1, 1797 in Belize archives, Belmopan).
“ Carib Bay men won The Battle of St. Georges Caye and freed slaves”? Obviously the Flowers Bank 14 did not need to be freed as many others who were already free before the Battle. Slavery ended in Belize in 1838 on the eve of emancipation July 31, 1838 Baptist preacher Alexander Henderson conducted services at midnight thanking God for the first hour of freedom. (Ref. Christianity in Belize page 238). As a matter of a fact the Caribs did not come to Belize until 1802, four years after the battle, being expulsed from St. Vincent by the British with starvation staring them in the face. They petitioned the superintendent for land to grow food “life or death”. They were given land in Stann Creek to settle and plant food averting certain death by starvation, courtesy of the Baymen white, free and slave.
If in your story that the Baymen were black and Spain was giving protection to defectors from Belize, freedom from slavery upon becoming Catholics - so who fought at the Battle of St. Georges Caye in 1798? It could not have been the black Caribs for they were already free and Spain would not fight against itself “Black Catholic Baymen”. They would not have wasted a year and a half of time and money to rid the settlement of those hated “los Engles”
“The Spanish fleet was sighted at the end of August and both sides began making preparations to fight. On September 5Th for the third day in a row the Spanish have been frustrated in their attempts to land at St. George’s Caye. Captain Moss, Captain Asa Hosner made ready to fight the Towser, the Teaser, Tickler, Swinger, Mermaid and His Majesty’s Sloop the Merlin also seven gun flats for the defense of the settlement against 31 Spanish ships.” Given under my hand at Honduras this 9th day of August 1798, Thomas Barrow Lt. Col and Commander and Chief. Again NO Caribs mentioned.
(Source; the Great Story of Belize Volume 1 by Emory King Page 48).
Archives of British Honduras by Sir John Burdon Vol 1 Page 254 Posts, Battle account September 25th 1798. Details Battle Of St. George’s Caye 15 days; “From the tops of our houses those who remained there could see the smoke and fire the atmosphere appeared in a blaze,” No Caribs Mentioned.
The English Chronicle and Universal Evening post. From Tuesday, January 22nd to Thursday, January 24th, 1799; London Gazette, On Tuesday, January 22 Whitehall letters of which the following are copies were yesterday received from the Earl of Balcarras by his grace the Duke Of Portland, one of his Majesties Principle Secretaries of State, Jamaica November 7, 1798: “My Lord on the 31st of October I received a dispatch from the Bay of Honduras Lt. Col Barrow informs me that the settlers have been attacked by a flotilla of 31 vessels.” Still no Caribs in sight.
London Gazette True Copy To the Earl Of Balcarras Admiralty Office January 22 extract of a letter from Vice Admiral Sir Hyde Parker Ker, Knt. Commander of his Majesties Ships and vessels at Jamaica Evan Nepan ESQ dated on board his Majesty ship Avergavenny in Port Royal Harbor November 6, 1798; “Sir you will be pleased to acquaint the Right Honorable the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty that I received dispatches from Captain Moss of his Majesty Sloop Merlin dated Honduras 27th of September a copy of which describing the defeat of the Spanish Flotilla is herewith enclosed.” No mention of Caribs.
Admiralty Office January 22nd extract of a letter from Sir Thomas Williams Knt. Captain of his Majesty Ship Endymion, Evan Nepean, ESQ dated on the downs the 20th instant “you will be pleased to inform your Lordships that the Endymion has captured two Spanish Privateers La Prudencia schooner of one six pounder eight swivels and 34 men, La Casualidad of fixed six pounders eight swivels and forty men”.
From a historical and Patriotic stand our forefathers the Baymen weren’t Caribs but a mixture of white, men of color free slaves and slaves who sacrificed their lives time and again against Spanish attacks 1702-1703-1730-1737-1754-1779 prevailing in 1798 ending hostilities. Our brave and noble heroes the free Flowers Bank 14 casting their votes into history, giving us Belize our cherished homeland; as they voted to stay so will we their descendants stay and fight. LONG LIVE THE BAYMEN!
Francis M. Vernon, Sr.