George Frederic Augustus I

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George Frederic Augustus I
King of The Miskito
Reign 1801–1824
Coronation 18 January 1816
Predecessor George II Frederic
Successor Robert Charles Frederic
Died March 1824
Father George II Frederic

George Frederic Augustus I served from 1801–1824 as a mostly titular king of the mixed-race Miskito Sambu or Mosquitos Zambos, as the Spanish called them, an indigenous people of Honduras.[1] Although the title and office were hereditary, the putative "kings" were mere puppets of the British Crown, managed by British agents and superintendents.[2]

Succession and regency[edit]

George Frederic was quite young when his father and predecessor George II Frederic was murdered, according to the later visitor George Henderson, an act "attributed very openly to the designs of his brother Stephen." George II was pro-British, while Stephen was alleged to be pro-Spanish, and the so-called "General" Robinson, a chief and person of consequence in the native hierarchy, managed to organize a regency to prevent Stephen from taking power until George Frederic was of age.[3] George Frederic maintained a fairly close connection to British authorities in Belize, for in 1802, British officials in Belize gave "the young King Frederick" and three of his chiefs gifts worth ₤40.[4] At some later point before 1804, he was sent to Jamaica to be educated.[3] When Henderson visited in 1804, the regency was still in practice, with a balance maintained between Stephen and Robinson. A sea captain named Peter Sheppard, who regularly traded between Jamaica and the Mosquito coast during the period 1814 to 1839, testified that he had carried certain chiefs of the kingdom and its subject peoples to visit the young king in Jamaica.[5]

Regency[edit]

Stephen made overtures to Spain, and the struggle between Stephen and Robinson continued in spite of Spanish attempts to treat Stephen as king. Stephen, for his part, continued raids on Spanish territory. On 14 November 1815, Stephen, styled the "King Regent of the... Shore" and "of the most principal inhabitants commanding the different townships of the south-eastern Mosquito Shore..." gave their "consent, assent, and declaration to, for, and of" George Frederic as their "Sovereign King".[6] George Frederic was crowned in Belize on 18 January 1816.[7] According to the Superintendent Sir George Arthur, George specifically requested that he be crowned in Belize, "in the presence of your chieftains," the 18 January being the Queen of England's birthday.[8] This coronation in Belize marked a shift from coronation in Jamaica to Belize.

Reign[edit]

George Frederic, by virtue of the long time he spent in Jamaica and his absence from the so-called court (more a council of sometimes rival chieftains), found it difficult to establish his authority upon his return. His two most powerful subordinates, with their own self-chosen titles, had used the regency to build local power bases. "General" Robinson, who ruled the Black River region, had not signed the act accepting George Frederic as king. "Governor" Clementi, who ruled the territory just south of the royal court was also very powerful and refused to participate in many acts of government. Thanks to George Frederic's alleged rape of one of the wives of "Admiral" Earnee, there was tension between the king and him as well.[9]

George Frederic made a number of grants to various foreign groups; one of the most notable was the grant of a huge tract he made to Gregor MacGregor in 1820, an area called Poyais, which encompassed lands once granted by King George I to a group of Englishmen. MacGregor then created a fraudulent colonial scheme to bring European settlers there; when the settlers arrived, the king revoked the grant and required them to pay allegiance directly to him.[10] He agreed to allow the Black Caribs, or Garifuna who were dissatisfied with their lives among the Spanish at Trujillo, to settle in his lands.[11]

He died on 9 March 1824, either strangled by his wife and his body thrown into the sea, or assassinated by a "Captain Peter Le Shaw".[12][13]

References[edit]

  1. ^ John Macgregor (1847). The Progress of America from the Discovery by Columbus to the Year 1846. Whittaker. pp. 751–752. 
  2. ^ Frederick Crowe (1850). The Gospel in Central America; Containing a Sketch of the Country ... a History of the Baptist Mission in British Honduras, and of the Introduction of the Bible Into the Spanish American Republic of Guatemala ... With a Map, Etc. Charles Gilpin. pp. 209–211. 'Skipper Mudge, who arrived at this port from Honduras last week, in his smack Nancy, reports that he had an interview, before sailing, with his Majesty the King of the Mosquitoes. His Majesty wore a splendid cocked-hat and a red sash, and had very large gilt spurs buckled about his ankles; but I regret to say that the remainder was, as the painters say, without drapery. We must make allowance, however, for difference of customs and climate. His Majesty, who cannot be more than twenty years old, was slightly intoxicated. His suite consisted of a one-eyed drummer-boy, and two gentlemen with fifes, one of whom acted as an interpreter. The King of the Mosquitoes received Skipper Mudge seated on an empty whisky-cask. He motioned to the skipper to take a seat on the ground or wherever he chose.' The writer then goes on to describe the further proceedings of the interview, in the course of which his Majesty's laughter having been excited, the cask rolled from under him, and he fell to the ground. 
  3. ^ a b George Henderson (1811). An Account of the British Settlement of Honduras: Being a View of Its Commercial and Agricultural Resources, Soil, Climate, Natural History, &c. R. Baldwin. pp. 219–220. 
  4. ^ Magistrates' Meeting, 2 August 1802, Archives of British Honduras (ed. J. A. Burdon, 3 vols., London, 1931-35) 2: 57.
  5. ^ British and Foreign State Papers. H.M. Stationery Office. 1862. p. 689. 
  6. ^ British and Foreign State Papers 1862, p. 687
  7. ^ Honduras Almanack ... 1829 ... Belize: Published by authority of the Legislative Assembly of Belize. 1829. p. 56. 
  8. ^ British and Foreign State Papers 1862, p. 679.
  9. ^ Olien, "Miskito Kings," pp. 217-218.
  10. ^ Proceedings of an Inquiry and Investigation...by Major General Codd...Relative to Poyais (London, 1824)
  11. ^ Thomas Young (of the British Central American Land Company.) (1842). Narrative of a Residence on the Mosquito Shore, During the Years 1839, 1840, & 1841: With an Account of Truxillo, and the Adjacent Islands of Bonacca and Roatan. Smith, Elder and Company. p. 130. 
  12. ^ Deborah Robb Taylor (2005). The Times & Life of Bluefields. Academia de Geografía e Historia de Nicaragua. p. 425. ISBN 978-99924-846-2-3. 
  13. ^ British Survey. British Society for International Understanding. 1960. p. 9.