George Frederic Augustus I
|George Frederic Augustus I|
|King of The Miskito|
|Coronation||18 January 1816|
|Predecessor||George II Frederic|
|Successor||Robert Charles Frederic|
|Father||George II Frederic|
Succession and regency
He was quite young when his father and predecessor George II Frederic was murdered, according to the later visitor George Henderson, "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 General, Robinson managed to organize a regency to prevent Stephen from taking power until George Frederic was of age. 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. At some later point before 1804, he was sent to Jamaica to be educated. When Henderson visited in 1804, the regency was still in practice, with a balance maintained between Stephen and Robinson.
Although subject to a regency, George Frederick did carry out some royal duties while he lived in Jamaica, as a shipper named Peter Sheppard, who regularly traded between Jamaica and the Mosquito coast during the period 1814 to 1839, testified that he carried various officials of the kingdom and subject peoples to visit the king in Jamaica, and the very least, he signed commissions to his officials.
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 33 "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". George Frederic was crowned in Belize on 18 January 1816. 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. This coronation in Belize marked a shift from coronation in Jamaica to Belize.
George Frederic, by virtue of the long time he spent in Jamaica and his absence from the court found it difficult to establish his authority upon his return. His two most powerful subordinates had used the regency to build local power bases. General Robinson, who ruled the Black River region, had not signed the act accepting his 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 the Admiral, Earnee, there was tension between the king and him as well.
George Frederic made a number of grants to various foreign groups. One of the most famous was the grant of a huge tract he made to Gregor MacGregor in 1820, an area called Poyais, which encompassed lands once granted by George I to some 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. 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, and gave them commissions.
He died in March 1824—according to the Honduras Almanack, strangled by his wife and thrown in the river.
- George Henderson, An Account of the British Settlement in Honduras...(2nd ed., London, 1811), pp. 219-20.
- Magistrates' Meeting, 2 August 1802, Archives of British Honduras (ed. J. A. Burdon, 3 vols., London, 1931-35) 2: 57.
- George Henderson, An Account of the British Settlement in Honduras...(2nd ed., London, 1811), p. 220.
- Deposition of Peter Sheppard, 2 December 1844, in United Kingdom, Foreign Office, (1862) British and Foreign Papers. London. p. 689.
- Great Britain. House of Commons. Correspondence Respecting the Mosquito Shore...(London, 1848), p. 46. The names of the signatories are printed on pp. 46-47.
- Honduras Almanack 1829, p. 56.
- George Arthur to Prince George [of Miskito], 14 January 1816 in United Kingdom, Foreign Office, (1862) British and Foreign State Papers vol. 38 (1841-50) London, p. 679.
- Olien, "Miskito Kings," pp. 217-218.
- Proceedings of an Inquiry and Investigation...by Major General Codd...Relative to Poyais (London, 1824)
- Thomas Young, Narrative of a Residence on the Mosquito Shore (London, 1842), p. 129.
- Honduras Almanack, 1829, p. 61.