74 F
Belize City
Sunday, March 29, 2020
Home Publisher From The Publisher

From The Publisher

“Instead of discussing the ending of slavery in the Northern states or dealing with more recent interpretations of the French Revolution, they turn toward the end of their book to some fascinating personal stories, such as the lives of Catherine and Edward Despard, a mixed-race couple who lived in the Caribbean and Central America during the War of Independence and then became involved in a radical plan to capture London. Edward, an Irishman who was finally arrested in 1802, had been accused of holding the ‘wild and Levelling principle of Universal Equality’ and was eventually hanged and beheaded as a traitor. No less interesting is the better-known story of Robert Wedderburn, a mulatto Methodist and Spencean who moved from the Caribbean to England, where he advocated a joint colonial slave revolt with an uprising of the English proletariat.

“A crucial point about men like Despard and Wedderburn is that they wanted to extend the concepts of ‘slavery’ and ‘emancipation’ to all forms of oppression. Linebaugh and Rediker fail to note that the British antislavery movement, by attracting conservatives like William Wilberforce, James Ramsay, and James Stephen, to say nothing of Anglican bishops and Parliamentarians, isolated chattel slavery as a unique evil, the single if distant flaw in what they defended as an otherwise fair and moral system. Thus while the French revolutionaries wanted to restructure nearly everything, including the Christian calendar, the British could feel ‘progressive’ by concentrating their energies on the abolition of a seemingly pre-Christian and pre-capitalist anachronism. For Despard, Wedderburn, and Thomas Spence, however, the agitation over Negro slavery revived the ideals of mid-seventeenth-century radicals, such as the Levellers, who demanded emancipation and equality on a more generalized level.”

– from a book review by David Brion Davis, of The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic, by Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, in the July 5, 2001 issue of The New York Review of Books

“The vital statistics of men and women in Belize during the period are almost non-existent. So I made up some of them. Fortunately, I am not a qualified historian, and, therefore, not bound by the rigid restrictions of the professional. I am an entertainer and a propagandist. The object of my propaganda, pure and simple, is the glorification of Belize in the hearts and minds of today’s Belizeans and future generations.”

– pg. 3, Belize, 1798: The Road To Glory,by Emory King, Tropical Books, 1991

“Ariadne, or Adney, was the daughter of Eve Broaster, a ‘native of Mandino, in Africa,’ according to the memorial erected by her daughter at her death in 1821.”

– pg. 231, Elite reproduction and ethnic identity in Belize, a doctoral dissertation by Karen H. Judd, City University of New York, 1992

My paternal grandfather, James Bartlett Hyde, was the great great grandson of a Scotsman, James Hyde, who fathered a son – George, with a colored lady named Ariadne “Adney” Broaster, George Hyde being born in 1795 in the Settlement of Belize.

Adney Broaster was the daughter of a slave lady named Eve Broaster, originally from the Niger in West Africa, but, as far as I know, no one in the modern era was sure of who Adney Broaster’s father was until a Canadian of Scottish descent named Forbes Morlock visited Belize in January this year.

Forbes Morlock is descended from the Scot James Hyde’s sister, Elizabeth, from way back there in the late eighteenth century. His Morlock ancestors had migrated to Canada. He had run up on the Black Hydes of Belize through the one George Hyde (son of James and Adney) while doing family research.

Through a will made by one John Broster (that is the spelling in the will) in 1779 just before he died in the Mosquito Shore area of Nicaragua, it was established that Adney Broaster was John Broster’s daughter with Eve Broaster, whom John Broster described in his will as “my negro woman.” In his will made out to Adney (and her brother) as his heirs, John Broaster leaves his slave, Eve Broaster, in care of her daughter, Adney, as her property. (Adney was only six or eight years old at the time of her father’s will.)

The important thing about this historical information, in the tangential context of the present Guatemalan claim’s history, is that Adney and her mother, Eve, would have had to move from Nicaragua to Belize sometime in the 1780s, probably 1787. The British settlers who moved from Nicaragua to Belize at that point in time, under duress, were referred to by the late Emory King in his 1999 publication, THE GREAT STORY OF BELIZE (Volume 1), as “Shoremen.”

A controversial Irishman by the name of Edward Marcus Despard enters the history of the Settlement of Belize in 1784, when he was appointed to be the Superintendent of the Settlement of Belize. He did not arrive in Belize from Jamaica until June of 1786. Eve and Adney Broaster were likely sailing north to Belize in 1787, along with the rest of the Mosquito Shore people. Despard was the only European whom the one Emory King, President of the Belize Historical Society, had seriously and consistently maligned and condemned in all his various writings on the Settlement of Belize leading up to the 1798 Battle of St. George’s Caye.

The story of how Emory King, a white American from Jacksonville, Florida (a Confederate state), who landed as a  shipwreck in British Honduras in 1953, became Belize’s foremost, unquestioned authority on the Battle of St.George’s Caye and relevant history in the Settlement of Belize, is a classic of the workings of white supremacy in Belize. There were eminent Belizeans in that Belize Historical Society, including Ph.D. academicians, but Emory King had the absolute blessing of the ruling (until 1984) People’s United Party (PUP), led by Rt. Hon. George Price. It appears to me that King lorded it over the Belizeans in the Belize Historical Society. Emory was a business partner of the leading family of attorneys in Belize (W.H. Courtenay & Co.); he was a pal of the Landivar Jesuits; he was patronized by the late business magnate, Barry Bowen; and later came under the benevolent protection of the British billionaire, Lord Michael Ashcroft.  Whenever a prominent foreigner of European descent arrived in Belize, he was directed to Emory for local updates. For example, when the people who shot The Dogs of War in Belize arrived here, Emory King was their adviser on all things Belizean, including pay scales.  Emory even acted in the movie.

A jovial, urbane, witty gentleman, Emory married a Belizean beauty from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye and made a nice living for himself in Belize. He died in 2007.

Six years before Emory King died, I drew his attention to something I had stumbled upon, quite accidentally, in the July 5, 2001 edition of THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS: Edward Marcus Despard’s wife was a colored woman from Jamaica, Catherine Despard. I thought this added a new and significant twist to the story of Despard’s experiences in Belize. Mr. King completely ignored my discovery insofar as mentioning it publicly, until he passed.

In seeking to make a very long story a bit shorter, we would say that Despard got caught between the Baymen establishment in Belize, who were looking to grab more land, and the Shoremen arriving in Belize from Nicaragua after being forced out of the Mosquito Shore by the 1786 London Convention signed between England and Spain.

So it was with the Baymen. They had begged England to get them more rights in the Settlement. They wanted to live on St. George’s Caye, careen their ships on Robinson’s Point, catch fish and turtles in the sea and they wanted more land added to the Treaty.

So England went to bat for them and Spain agreed to grant them these new rights. But there was a price. England would have to give up the Mosquito Shore and the Baymen would have to take in the 2,100 or more British subjects displaced from the Shore. That was in 1786. These new terms were presented by a formal Convention signed in London and added to the Treaty.

Despard had come to Belize to organize the transfer and supervise the settlement of the newcomers. He had come also to enforce the terms of the Treaty and the additional Convention and to bedevil the lives of the existing settlers.

If the Belize Settlement still had the 3,500 inhabitants which lived here before the Spanish captured St. George’s Caye in 1779 the advent of 2,100 new people may have been an aggravation, but not a serious threat to the Baymen.

However, there were not 3,500 Baymen at that time. There were only 450 (100 free people and 350 slaves). They were about to be outnumbered by about 5 to 1. They immediately took actions to protect themselves and their property from the newcomers.

They designated a piece of land about ten miles up the Belize River as a separate town for the Shoremen. They called it Convention Town, after the Convention of 1986 added to the Treaty of 1783.

They ruled that no man could have a Logwood or Mahogany Work who did not own four able-bodied slaves. This eliminated most of the Shore people.

They voted that anyone who had holdings in the Settlement prior to 1779 who was no longer here or who did not have a personal representative here was deemed to have abandoned his property. This gave the Baymen the opportunity to pick up more land for themselves before the Shoremen arrived.

By these and other restrictions, the Baymen would claim about 75% of the land within the Treaty Limits.

The Shoremen came and, of course, there were difficulties with the Baymen. Despard played one group off against the other one and kept the whole Settlement in a turmoil. His motive was strictly for personal power.

( — pgs. 32, 33, THE GREAT STORY OF BELIZE – Volume 1, by Emory King, BRC Printing, 1999)

The fact of the matter was that Marcus Despard had been a British war hero in the fight against the Spaniards both in Jamaica and Nicaragua. It is manifest logic, I would suggest, to conclude that Marcus Despard had friends and acquaintances amongst the Shore people, and that he incurred the wrath of the Belize Baymen for trying to be fair. The fact of his having a Black wife would not have added to Despard’s popularity in the Bay.

His story is an extraordinary one. Edward Marcus Despard was a revolutionary Irishman who believed in the equality of human beings. He ended up being hanged and beheaded by the English for his beliefs and actions. If you want to pursue this story, you can Google Despard and examine his biography.

I would say he was treated unfairly by the late Emory. But Emory publicly declared that he was not writing history. He was dealing in propaganda, on behalf of the established, white supremacist power structure in Belize. Admission of propaganda on the part of Emory King, incidentally, brings into question, I am sorry to say, the authenticity of his Flowers Bank concoction.

Power to the people.

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Saldivar detained

Attorney Arthur Saldivar detained over alleged Facebook post  

Belize “under quarantine”

BELIZE CITY, Thurs. Mar. 26, 2020-- COVID-19 (coronavirus pandemic) has seized the world and turned it upside down, creating new social norms around the...

Woman charged for “Spreading False News” amid COVID 19 crisis

ORANGE WALK, Thurs. Mar. 26, 2020-- An arrest for “spreading false news” happened today in these times of COVID-19 crisis. In a report this evening,...

Some bus owners suspend runs

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Mar. 25, 2020-- In the wake of social distancing guidelines set by government, which include a rule that prohibited more than...