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Some Belizean genealogy, history/politics, roots, etc.

FeaturesSome Belizean genealogy, history/politics, roots, etc.

by Marie-Therese Belisle Nweke

BELIZE CITY, Wed. Jan. 17, 2024

Regular Amandala contributor, Marie-Therese Belisle Nweke noted the eulogy of the late Hugh Donald McCain, who recently passed and was buried in the USA; and then she followed with some tidbits on her own blood relationship with the publisher, Evan X Hyde, to whom her email was addressed, and other observations on matters related to Belizean genealogy, history/politics and our colonial legacy. Quite interesting! (N.B. Eva Lindo Belisle was the X’s maternal grandmother.)

Below are Marie-Therese Belisle Nweke’s comments:
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Hugh McCain’s maternal grandmother was Mrs. Birdie Gibson Barrow. She and Mrs. Eva Lindo Belisle’s mother were sisters. They were the younger sisters of my maternal grandfather, Crispin Arthur Gibson. There were 13 of them in all. 

Their father was a white American named Francis Gibson, who had stowed away as a young man from the US to Central America with his friend, one Brackett. Francis Gibson thereafter married a half-Miskito Indian woman, Susan Ferrell (from the Miskito Royal Family of part of Nicaragua which was a former protectorate of Britain). Susan Ferrell was also half Irish (her father was an Irish surveyor, actually from Liverpool, who became the Chief Surveyor in Belize. Ferrell’s Lane, off Albert St., was named after him). Susan Ferrell Gibson and Francis Gibson had 13 children. Some looked white, others looked Indian, and a few like Rodwell [Roddie] Gibson looked Arab. I met quite a few. 

Both Eva Lindo Belisle and my late mother, Nelly Gibson Belisle, were said to look uncannily similar, like sisters. Actually, they were very beautiful women! Both their husbands, Willie and Robbie Belisle, were renowned in their time as great guys “playing the field” in Belize in those days, before settling down. Later, Willie was said to be so strict with his wife that the only visitor allowed to their home up country was Nelly, her first cousin. 

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In Britain, the Irish have always been the underdogs and for generations humiliated. That’s why, when they were starving and dying during the great Irish famine, many emigrated to the US, where they carried on their hatred of everything English or British. Has it dawned on you that the Jesuit priests who came to Belize were second-generation Irish, German, and Italian — people who traditionally hate the British? Italy’s Mussolini was a major ally of Germany’s Hitler in WWII. 

I told you once that George Price’s [GP] anti-British and anti-colonial stance was more PERSONAL than IDEOLOGICAL, because he was anti his light-skinned Creole father, Captain Price. Captain Price was of British and African ancestry. He [GP] resented the way his Price Belize City Creole relatives despised his Mestizo mother of the Escalante family from “up north”. Then Price [GP] was also under the influence for a long, long time of the Roman Catholic Jesuits, who were naturally anti-British and anti-colonial, because of their ancestral antecedents. Added to that was the influence of Bob Turton, his employer, the son of a Black- skinned Creole woman whom a white adventurer from Britain, named Turton, impregnated and abandoned. Bob Turton, as you well know, had his business interests threatened at various points in time by the powerful colonial government — which was British. I think you, more than anyone I know, can create an epic poem or a play about all this! Just saying. . . 

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Potato in Britain was usually fed to animals. But that was all the benighted Irish ate, and that’s why we in Belize call it “Irish potato”!

Up to the 1960s, landlords throughout England would have “To Let” notices in front windows of their houses, stating “No Blacks, No Irish and No Dogs”. Many of the Irish emigrated from Ireland to seek their fortunes in England. They settled in places like Liverpool, like Susan Ferrell’s father. The uneducated ones remained in Liverpool, while the educated ones left for Britain’s colonies like British Honduras to take up jobs. Recently, a Ferrell cousin of ours in Liverpool reached out to my son, Nwakasi Belisle-Nweke, who, like her, is interested in family history and genealogy. 

The English have always respected the Scots. One, the Scots were the main administrators, explorers, etc. of the British Empire, while piracy and buccaneering were the key hallmarks of the English and Welsh. The Scots successfully fought the English in many battles and were held in some awe. When England had no monarch after Elizabeth 1’s death, as she had never married and had no children, the Scottish throne had to be merged with England’s, and King James V1 of Scotland — Mary of Scot’s son, he became James I of England. Actually, Mary, his mother, had had more substantial claims to the English throne than Elizabeth 1, who imprisoned her for many, many years and later beheaded her. 

Balmoral Castle in Scotland is the most cherished home — personally owned — of all British monarchs. And that’s where Elizabeth II elected to spend her last days and even died there. The Scots — not so much the other three nationalities — had the biggest role in the woman’s funeral obsequies. Her mother was also Scottish, while her father — all the Georges –was actually German. 

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