Lieutenant-General Sir George Arthur. Lieutenant Governor of British Honduras (18141822)
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Thursday May 9, 2013

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Lieutenant-General Sir George Arthur. Lieutenant Governor of British Honduras (18141822)

This was the Lt. Governor who tried to regulate the issuing of land titles. BUT was frustrated because the very regulators were all large Land Owners

Even when we became a crown colony, our Lt. Governor was answerable to the Governor in Jamaca as Belize was considered a part of the Jamaica colony

Top Five Colonial Governors

If I was requested to name the top five most influential Colonial Governors of Belize, this is what I would say:

Belize's supervision by Superintendents, Lieutenant Governors and Governor Generals spanned some 232 years from 1767 to 1981. We saw 52 Colonial Administrators come and go. Some left their marks, and some did not. If I was asked to name five of my favorites, rank them, and say why, here is what I would say:

1) Thomas Barrow: our 10th Administrator from 1797 to 1800 and 1803 to 1805. He is first on my list because if it wasn't for Thomas, we would all be speaking Spanish as a first language and we would not be as unique as we are today, which has become a pillar of our development. He was sent to British Honduras just before the Battle of St. Georges Caye to prepare the settlement for the attack and with the help of the Baymen and enslaved Africans were able to defend the Colony from a Spanish invasion.

2) Sir George Arthur: our 15th Administrator from 1814 - 1822. The reason he is second on my list is because under his administration, we saw the construction of the Court House, St. John's Cathedral, the first bridge to connect north and south sides, the first free school and the Government House. He was also instrumental in the ending of slavery in the British Commonwealth through his many reports to the Colonial Office.

3) Robert Hodgson Jr: our 4th Administrator from 1767 to 1775. At the time Robert was an Administrator, he did not live in Belize, he lived at Black River, Honduras, but he was responsible for the entire Mosquito Coast, which included the Bay of Honduras. I believe he is significant because he was able to develop a very strong friendship with the Mosquito Indians and made them into a British ally. Without the Mosquito Indians, the British would not have been able to survive in the region.

4) John Alder Burdon: our 38th Administrator from 1925 to 1932. He was a Colonial Secretary turned Governor. Colonial Secretaries made the best Governors. Colonial Secretaries made better Governors because they did most of the work and developed better people skills since they dealt with the public on a day to day basis. If it were not for the top three having historically significant contributions, Governor Burdon would have been #1. His contribution has to do with him creating our Archives Department. Much of the research we have done about the Belize/Guatemala dispute was made possible by us having an Archives Department with historical records. He also built the Burdon Canal which was created to help the farmers of Southern Belize transport their crops to the market in Belize City.

5) Edward Marcus Despard: our 7th Administrator from 1787 to 1790. He was the first Administrator to physically live in Belize and supervised Belize exclusively. We could say that if the ICJ decision should go sour and we have to give up some territory, say from the Sarstoon to the Sibun, if it were not for Despard, we could lose up to the Belize River. Why? Because all that area between the Belize River and Sibun was obtained during his tenure. At that time, most of that area was given to the Mosquito Indians that were forced to vacate the Mosquito Coast. Although Despard was only following King George's orders, the white settlers of British Honduras did not approve and this invariably caused the Colonial Office to recall him. This was the start of Despard's downfall, which ended with him being executed for treason. It was sad though, because he was a very courageous British Officer, and at the end, the Monarchy turned against him and showed him no mercy. Despard was the only Colonial Administrator that married a Creole lady and took her with him when he went back to England.

Photograph courtesy Belize Abroad

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