The Journal of Caribbean History: Volume 37, Issue 2

Article 1
St George’s Cay: Genesis of the British Settlement of Belize – Anglo-Spanish Rivalry

Mavis C. Campbell


The history of Belize is one of the most neglected of the Caribbean. First occupied by the Maya Indians and claimed by the Spanish during the early days of European colonization, it soon became a haven for corsairs and buccaneers from various countries, only to be dominated by the British finally. The rough-andready life that these individuals pursued served admirably the English purpose of creating breaches in the phalanx of the Spanish empire. The buccaneers continued their “wayward” life until the tide turned dramatically against them and they were forced into more sedentary activities by the mid seventeenth century. Those who remained on the various cays gradually settled down to the business of logwood cutting, first at St George’s Cay, which became the centre of their administrative and commercial activities. The history of this cay has been even more neglected than that of the country at large, although it represents the origin of British settlement of that part of Yucatan which is present-day Belize. This essay seeks to fill some of these gaps.