One immense problem for the Spanish occupiers of Honduras was the incessant activity of the English along the northern Caribbean coast. These activities began in the late sixteenth century and continued into the nineteenth century. In the early years, Dutch as well as English pirates attacked the Caribbean coast, but as time passed the threat came almost exclusively from the English. In 1643 one English expedition destroyed the town of Trujillo, the major port for Honduras, leaving it pretty much abandoned for well over a century.
Destructive as they were, raiding expeditions were lesser problems than other threats. Beginning in the seventeenth century, English efforts to plant colonies along the Caribbean coast and in the Islas de la Bahía threatened to cut Honduras off from the Caribbean and raised the possibility of the loss of much of its territory. The English effort on the Honduran coast was heavily dependent on the support of groups known as the Sambo and the Miskito, racially mixed peoples of native American and African ancestry who were usually more than willing to attack Spanish settlements. British settlers were interested largely in trading, lumbering, and producing pitch (resin). During the numerous wars fought over centuries between Britain and Spain, the British crown found any activity challenging Spanish hegemony on the Caribbean coast of Central America to be desirable.
Major British settlements were established at Cabo Gracias a Dios and to the west at the mouth of the Río Sico, as well as on the Islas de la Bahía. In the year 1759, a Spanish agent estimated the population in the Río Sico area to be at 3,706.
Under the Bourbons, the revitalized Spanish government made several efforts to regain control over the Caribbean coast. In 1752 a major fort was constructed at San Fernando de Omoa near the Guatemalan border. In 1780 the Spanish returned in force to Trujillo, which they began developing as a base for expeditions against British settlements to the east. During the 1780s, the Spanish regained control over the Islas de la Bahía and drove the majority of the British and their allies out of the area around Black River. A British expedition briefly recaptured Black River, but the terms of the Anglo-Spanish Convention of 1786 gave definitive recognition to Spanish sovereignty over the Caribbean coast.
Piracy around Honduras.
Honduras, was well-situated in the centre of pirate stalking grounds during the ‘Golden Age of Piracy’, which took place throughout the Caribbean region from Florida to Venezuela. The Golden Age of Piracy is when historians make reference to the period lying between the 1650s and the 1730s, during which maritime piracy played its part as a significant factor in the histories of the Caribbean, Indian Ocean, North America, and West Africa.
The Golden Age of Piracy can be subdivided into three separate periods:
- The buccaneering period (approximately 1650 to 1680), characterized by Anglo-French seamen based primarily on Jamaica and Tortuga attacking Spanish colonies and seabound vessels.
- The Pirate Round (1690s), associated with long-distance voyages from the Americas to rob Muslim and East India Company targets in the Indian Ocean and Red Sea.
- The post-Spanish Succession period (1716 to 1726), when Anglo-American sailors and privateers left unemployed by the end of the War of the Spanish Succession turned en masse to piracy within the Caribbean, the Indian Ocean, the North American eastern seaboard and along the coast of West Africa.
Two notable pirates, who plagued the Spanish coasts of Honduras, were a Frenchman and a Welshman, the latter who is said to be an ancestor of mine (Ben Anson, founder of Lempira Times). François l’Olonnais and Sir Henry Morgan operated their avaricous and wicked expeditions across Honduran shores, waters and islands. They were without any doubt, two of the most infamous buccaneers.
Information obtained from reports submitted to the US library of congress.