They Came to Belize, 1750-1810


Compiled from Records of Jamaica, the Mosquito Shore, and Belize at the British and Belize National Archives

Sonia Murray has devoted much of her adult life to the extraction and transcription of records pertaining to nation of Belize (formerly British Honduras). We have previously published her transcriptions of the earliest parish registers of Belize. This book is her most ambitious work yet, as it incorporates sources found over a twenty-year period at London’s Guildhall, the Belize National Archives, the British Library, the Colindale Newspaper Library, and the National Heritage Library at Belmopan, Belize. In all, Ms. Murray identifies over 7,500 persons who lived or came to Belize from the middle of the 18th century to the first decade of the 19th century.

Belize’s population for this period was a mixture of Native American, African, Spanish, Scottish, English, and Irish, as well as a smattering of American Loyalists. This admixture, in part the result of Belize’s active trade in mahogany, is reflected in the scores of documents itemized in this volume’s contents, including the following: Amerindian Ancestors; Indian Slaves; American Loyalists; Spanish Inspectors in the Bay; Heads of Household in Belize; Spain and the Slave Trade; Traders on the Shore; Militia Lists; Trading with America; and much more. Ms. Murray has not only transcribed the source material but has also added lengthy [in some cases] and erudite annotations that shed light on the events and persons who figure in the story. In all cases the records place individuals in Belize at a moment in time; however, in many cases we also learn of family connections. For instance, the last will and testament of Bridge Bourke, dated 1806 and proved in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury in 1809, names Catherine Robinson, a widow, as her sister.

In short, They Came to Belize, 1750-1810 is an achievement of the first order. It belongs on the bookshelf of everyone who entertains a serious interest in Caribbean history and the genealogy of Belize.

Sonia Bennett Murray

2017, paper, 456 pp.

ISBN: 9780806358406