A 1863 five pound share in the British Honduras Company, precursor to the Belize Estate and Produce Company
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November 30, 2022

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Belize National Historical Society
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A 1863 five pound share in the British Honduras Company, precursor to the Belize Estate and Produce Company

The British Honduras Company became the predominant landowner of the Crown colony. It was formed through a partnership between old settler families and a London merchant, and was registered as a limited company in 1859. British Honduras Company was the precursor to the Belize Estate and Produce Company Ltd and was the single largest landowner in the colonial period. In 1875, the British Honduras Company became the Belize Estate and Produce Company, a London-based business that owned about half of all the privately held land in the colony.

Suzette Zayden: The old settler classes sold logwood and mahogany primarily to England. The way it worked was that they would put it "chits" (a short official note, memorandum, or voucher, typically recording a sum owed.) as advances against future sales to buy supplies etc. But Logwood sales dipped with the advent of synthetic dyes then Mahogany sales also dipped when our neighboring Central American countries (having gained their independence from Spain 1821) also started to export mahogany at lower prices to England. At the end of the day, they could not regain those chits (mostly their land deeds they had put up as collateral) and that's how a company or some companies in England ended up eventually holding land title to most of Belize. (The birth of the British Honduras Company) With nothing else to do, these merchants proceeded to see how they could make back some money from their chits. Being English merchants and needing to make their money back from the land, they were not happy about England's agreement with Spain to not to work the land ..so they are the ones who lobbied the Crown to make Belize a protectorate.. So we became the formal colony of British Honduras in 1862.. one year before the dates on the shares issued here .. This they did because they needed protection from the British against the Spanish when they set about farming the land. They are the ones who began growing sugarcane and pushed us on the road to becoming a colony of England. And yes. That was the name before it became Belize Estate and Produce. And yes it was the single largest landowner in Belize as per my explanation above. Belize Distributors belonged to Belize Estate and Produce.

Emilio Zabaneh: I'm told that a consolidation of all the bonds were valued and 1/3 of Belize ended up as private land and that one Emilio Zabaneh inherited it all but cannot substantiate the claim because of Hurricane Hattie. His grandson Emilio is still dreaming of collecting the inheritance.

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