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Baron Bliss #459879
03/10/13 08:17 AM
03/10/13 08:17 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 71,964
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP
Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss, commonly known as Baron Bliss (16 February 1869 – 9 March 1926), was a British-born traveller who willed some two billion U.S. dollars to a trust fund for the benefit of the citizens of what was then the colony of British Honduras, now Belize.

Every year, on the 9th March, wreaths are placed on the tomb of Baron Bliss in memory of the great benefactor. The day is celebrated as a public and bank holiday, and a harbour regatta is held in remembrance of a man who loved the sea and who left Belize over a million dollars for its use. Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss was an Englishman born in England. Before leaving England he lived at Quarry Court, Marlow, in the County of Buckingham, England. He was an Engineer by profession, and was married to Ethel Alice Baroness Bliss to whom he left a settlement covenant before traveling abroad.

Nothing is known about how Baron Bliss acquired his wealth, whether through his profession, business, or inheritance, or all three. At some time in his adult life he inherited the title of the 4th Baron Bliss of the Kingdom of Portugal, succeeding to ancestor relative who held the position before.

Tragedy struck the Baron when, in 1911, at the age of 42 he was attacked by paralysis, which affected him from his waist downwards. He had always been a keen fisherman, and although confined to a wheelchair, he maintained his enthusiasm for his favourite sport.

It was in search of big game fishing that he came to British Honduras, after spending much time cruising in Caribbean waters. The Baron stayed in the Bahamas for five years until a disagreement with government officials caused him to search for new waters. After a brief period in Trinidad where his health began to fail, he decided to try the fair climate of British Honduras which was recommended to him by his friend and then Attorney General of the colony, Willoughby Bullock. Early on January 14, 1926, Baron Bliss arrived in Belize and took up residence on his luxurious steam yacht the “Sea King“ which was anchored in the Belize City harbour.

Upon his arrival in Belize, he was welcomed by Customs Officials and introduced to the Governor, Sir John Burdon who paid him a courtesy call and tendered any assistance necessary. The health of the Baron seemed to improve over the following weeks and he took the opportunity to sample the fishing in the nearby waters. Every morning the crew lowered him in his wheelchair to a small boat which took him out to the cayes and barrier reef, where he seemed happy and contented.

This period of improvement lasted briefly, and shortly after his arrival his health began to fail. Baron Bliss was just a few days from his 57th birthday when, on February 10, his nurse was sent ashore for a doctor. One report states that “the illness from which Baron Bliss was suffering was not an illness just beginning; things were getting serious, and it must have been in existence for some time. He was ill in Jamaica and he had come from Jamaica in a state of great illness.” During the doctor’s examination, the Baron asked “Is this the beginning of the end?” The doctor advised him of the likelihood. On February 10 he called for the Governor to whom he expressed his wish for a will which would leave the bulk of his estate to then British Honduras.

The Governor consented to the ideas and conditions which were outlined by the ailing Baron. He took the notes ashore and on February 17, one day after the 57th birthday of Baron Bliss, the will was executed and signed aboard the “Sea King”. The will named Governor John Alder Burdon, Colonial Secretary Charles Crawford Douglas Jones and Attorney General Willoughby Bullock and their respective successors as Executors of his will that would comprise a “Baron Bliss Trust”. Baron Bliss wrote to his brother-in-law on the 18th February telling him about the will and his decision. He was visited by the doctor once more on the 25th of February and died on March 9, 1926.

The will of twelve pages of Baron Bliss which was signed abroad the yacht the “Sea King” was probated in the Supreme Court of Belize on the 15th March, 1926. The will surely indicated that Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss, 4th Baron Bliss of the Former Kingdom of Portugal, 57 years at his death, was a courageous nobleman, rigid, meticulous, and a well-arranged character, who at all times, in spite of unexpected changes had order in his life style. On top of this, where Belize was concerned, he seemed to have been able to sample and appreciate the sincerity, scenery and society of Belize, the environment of the country and the qualities of its peoples at short notice, and so revoked any former will in order to leave his presence and his money for the good of his newly found home.

Baron Bliss stipulated in his will that his body should be embalmed and brought ashore and buried near the sea in a granite tomb surrounded by iron fencing, with an obelisk or lighthouse nearby which would be available for visitors and citizens. He agreed that he could be buried temporarily in a garden until the tomb by the sea was ready. All expenses for his tomb and for his funeral should be borne by his money. He even left a plan of the tomb and railings. Along with his many requests, the Baron requested that 100 pounds be set aside annually for a sea or river regatta in one or two towns in the country.

The first projects completed from the interest obtained from the Baron Bliss Trust were those that concerned the stipulations of his will. Apart from the annual amount for the regatta, the Baron Bliss Garden was set up and the erection of his permanent tomb and the Bliss Lighthouse was completed.

Over the decades, the Baron Bliss Fund has used money from the savings accumulated on many projects for the benefit of Belize. The projects completed have benefited all parts of Belize in different spheres. The Trustees examine and consider carefully requests for capital expenditure on projects; and they ensure that the project is in conformity with the will, can be maintained by the recipient, and will be of ongoing benefit for the people of Belize. Some projects completed in the past century with the help of the Fund were The Baron Bliss Institute and Promenade, The Bliss School of Nursing, Belize City Water Supply System, Intransit Lounge at Belize International Airport, the Corozal Town Hall and the purchase of land for the building of Belmopan.

The many projects realized by the Baron Bliss Trust have benefited thousands of citizens and were all completed in conformity with the desires of the will of Baron Bliss. It is safe to say that there will be many more ways and projects through which the practical kindness and affection of Baron Bliss will continue to aid Belize, for years and years to come.

Belize celebrates Baron Bliss Day each March 9 in his honour. The holiday was renamed National Heroes and Benefactors day in November, 2008.

Bliss's early personal history as well as the origin of his "Baron" title is uncertain. He styled himself "Fourth Baron Bliss of the Kingdom of Portugal"; there is some speculation that the original Portuguese title was Barão de Barreto. He was born into a wealthy Suffolk family and was rumoured to have been disinherited for keeping a hansom cab waiting. He subsequently made a substantial fortune speculating in petroleum shares. Unfortunately, he contracted polio and decided to travel the world in a luxury yacht. After spells in the Bahamas, Trinidad and Jamaica, he arrived in Belize harbour, where he found a climate which suited him. He was extremely fond of the local people and bequeathed the bulk of his fortune for the benefit of the people of British Honduras.

Re: Baron Bliss [Re: Marty] #459927
03/10/13 08:40 PM
03/10/13 08:40 PM
Joined: Aug 2012
Posts: 50
daddywags Offline
daddywags  Offline
2 billion seems about much to me -maybe 2 million

Re: Baron Bliss [Re: Marty] #487022
02/28/14 10:29 AM
02/28/14 10:29 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 71,964
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

Marty  Offline OP

Very little is known about the early life of Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss. He was an Englishman born on 16th February, 1869. Before leaving England, he lived at Quarry Court, Marlow, in the County of Buckingham, England. He was an engineer by profession and was married to Ethel Alice Baroness Bliss, to whom he had left a settlement before travelling abroad.

Nothing is known about how Baron Bliss acquired his wealth of almost a million pounds, whether through his profession, business, or inheritance, or all three. At the time of his death, he had, besides his properties, a large amount of securities and shares. He must have been community-minded, as he was appointed a Justice of the Peace.

At some time in his adult life, Baron Bliss acquired the title of the 4th Baron Bliss of the Kingdom of Portugal, succeeding his ancestors, who held the position before him. At this time, he changed his surname from Barretts to Bliss. Most likely an ancestor of Baron Bliss was awarded the title of the 1st Baron of the former Kingdom of Portugal, and Baron Bliss succeeded to this title as the 4th Baron.

Tragedy struck the Baron when, in 1911, at the age of 42, he was attacked by paralysis, which affected him from the waist downwards, consigning this brave man to a wheelchair. However, he was still active and later acquired a yacht for leisure travel in the United Kingdom. This yacht was commandeered for war purposes during the First World War. After the war, he acquired his famous yacht the “Sea King II,” which was built to his specifications for use in tropical waters.

In 1920, he sent the “Sea King” to the Bahamas and followed it to live on board while fishing, even if he was physically handicapped. Baron Bliss stayed in the Bahamas for five years, acquiring property there. However, he grew weary of the social and administrative life in those islands, and in 1925, he traveled to the other end of the Caribbean, to Trinidad, where he again lived aboard the “Sea King”.

While in Trinidad, his health began to fail from a bout of food poisoning. Trinidad did not appeal to him and he began thinking of elsewhere to go where he could enjoy fishing, and where the atmosphere was more to his liking. After hearing of the fishing potentialities of Belize and after learning about its coastline, barrier reef, and small cayes, he decided to sail to Belize. Still a sick man, he stopped in Jamaica for a few days, and arrived in the Belize City Harbour on 14th January, 1926.

For the next few days, the Baron’s health appeared to improve, and he took every opportunity to sample the fishing of the nearby waters. He often used his small launch, also named the “Sea King”, and in the company of local fishermen, visited the cayes and barrier reef, where he seemed very happy and content.

But soon the Baron’s health began to deteriorate. Just a few days before his 57th birthday, he took seriously ill and his doctors advised him that the end was near. He asked the Governor, Sir John Burdon, to visit him aboard his yacht, and informed that he wished to leave the bulk of his estate for the country of Belize.

On the 17th of February, one day after his 57th birthday, his will was executed and signed aboard the “Sea King”.

A few days later, on the 9th March 1926 Baron Bliss died aboard his yacht in the Belize City Harbour, never having set foot on Belizean soil.

After a funeral, attended by the Governor and his staff, the Chief Justice, members of the Executive and Legislative Councils, and a wide-cross section of the Belize City society, the Baron was buried in the Bliss Park on the evening of 17th March, 1926.

This location was a temporary arrangement. In his Will, the Baron had ordered that his body should be permanently buried near the sea in a granite tomb surrounded by an iron fencing, with an obelisk or lighthouse nearby which would be available for visitors and citizens.

In his Will, the Baron meticulously set out the arrangements under which his executors would invest his money and use the income from such investments for the permanent benefit of the country Belize and all Belizeans. His will called for the formation of a trust, headed by the Governor, and comprised of the Colonial Secretary and the Attorney General. He stipulated that the trust’s main bankers should be Messrs Coutts & Co. of the Strand in London, and that Messrs Alexander Clapperton, C.A. should be its auditors. Almost 75 years later, the Baron Bliss Trust is still dealing with these two firms.

After allowing for lifetime annuities for his wife, a few close relatives, and his faithful staff, the bulk of his estate was left to Belize. At the end of the first year, the estate was valued at about $1.8 million Belize dollars. However, a ruling in the British courts ordered that the Baron’s estate was liable for the payment of estate duties in the United Kingdom, which claimed some $480,000 of the legacy.

He also stipulated that a sum of 100 pounds sterling should be set aside annually for a sea or river regatta in one or two towns in the country.

Shortly after his death, the day, March 9th, was declared an annual public and bank holiday in this country. In the ensuing years, the trust has spent well over two million dollars on various capital projects across Belize. The Bliss Institute, the Bliss School of Nursing, the old Intransit Lounge at the International Airport are but a few of the contributions of the Baron’s trust.

In more recent years, a multipurpose center in Punta Gorda, a library in Santa Elena, and a bathing pier in Progresso have all been funded by the Baron Bliss Trust.

Three years ago, the Belize Maritime Trust, with financial support from the Baron Bliss Trust, rehabilitated the Baron’s small launch, which accompanied the “Sea King II”, and has placed it on permanent display on the grounds of the old Government House for all to see.

Today, the capital of the trust remains at about BZ$1.5 million, most of which is held in UK stocks and securities and other term deposits, as required by the Baron’s will.

In 1995, through the efforts of His Excellency the Governor-General, Chairman of the Baron Bliss Trust, and with the assistance of Belize’s High Commissioner in London, contact was established with the surviving relatives of the Baron, living in the United Kingdom. This resulted in a visit to Belize by the Rev. Rupert Bliss, a nephew and most direct descendant of the Baron, and his wife in March, 1996. While in Belize, Rev. Bliss participated in the annual Wreath Laying Ceremony on the 9th March.

As we gather for the short and simple ceremony of laying wreaths on the Baron’s tomb, we indicate by our actions the respect that thousands of Belizeans have towards Henry Edward Ernest Victor Bliss, J.P., the 4th Baron Bliss of Portugal. The annual Harbour Regatta is another sign of the honour and respect that Belizeans, over the years and through the generations, have had for the Baron.

By his entry to the Belize City Harbour on January 1926, and by the impressions he quickly formed of Belize and Belizeans, a great bounty was inherited by Belize for countless years.
We would like to believe that Baron Bliss could not have left his money for a more deserving country and people. He is indeed Belize’s greatest benefactor.

(Ed. NOTE: The above article is extracted from Baron Bliss and His Bounty to Belize, by Leo H. Bradley, J. P., Government Printery, 1986. The article was first published in the Sunday, March 9, 2003 issue of Amandala.)


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