George I (Moskito)
|King of the Miskito|
|Successor||George II Frederic|
|Children||George II Frederic, Stephen|
According to a report on the country written in 1773 by Brian Edwards, his lands were divided into two population groups, the "Samboes" (Miskito Sambu) who were mixed indigenous and African, and "pure Indians" (Miskito Tawira); and was further divided into four domains: the domains of the king and the general in the north and west, inhabited by "Samboes" and the domains of the governor and admiral inhabited by "pure Indians."2 British settlers first reported this four fold division in 1766 and it is possible that George created or consolidated it.3
Edwards also observed that in 1770, George's kingdom had a population that he estimated numbered between 7,000 and 10,000 fighting men,4 which at a ratio of four civilians to one fighter would make 28,000 and 40,000 people. In addition to Miskitos, the population included 1,400 British inhabitants, of which 136 where white, 112 of mixed race and about 600 slaves, mostly concentrated around the British settlement of Black River, but other concentrations were at Cabo Gracias a Dios and at Bluefields.5
One of the tensions within the Miskito domain was that between the Zambu and Tawira, since the Zambus controlled the north and west (primarily in modern day Honduras) and were vigorously pushing their authority southward into Tawira domains (which lay mostly in today's Nicaragua). This pattern was resisted by Dilson, who was the Admiral and thus controlled the extreme southern parts of the Miskito domain. In June 1769 the Zambu Admiral, Israel Sella, warned the king that Dilson's brother, Jaspar Hall along with two "Mosquito men" named John Chord and Vizer visited the Spanish at Cartago and received gifts as a part of a plan to displace the English from the shore. 6 Spanish officials declared that Dilson was the "governor of the Miskito nation."7 Dilson also involved Briton, the Governor, who also controlled a Tawira population, in his cause.
At the same time, Tempest, the Zambu General traveled to England attempt to persuade the king of England to separate the administration of the English living in Central America from Jamaica,8 a move which led George to believe he was plotting his overthrow.9 The threat was sufficient that George sought aid from both Dilson and Briton, but only Briton agreed to assist him.10
George also gave many generous land grants to Englishmen to establish plantations. He gave many around Black River, their largest settlement, but also gave them around Bluefields, which was in land ruled by the Tawira Admiral, a definite move to establish his authority throughout the Miskito Kingdom. Among these grants were ones given to Dr Charles Irwin, who sought the assistance of Olaudah Equiano to recruit slaves in 1776. In exchange, the Tawira Admiral, Dilson II continued negotiations with the Spanish.11
Perhaps as a result of the earlier negotiations undertaken by Tempest, George visited Jamaica in 1774 to place his kingdom under the "sovereignty of his Majesty" the king of England, and received gifts in exchange.12 He is said to have sent the king of England a barrel of soil from the Miskito Kingdom and promised to supply 5,000 fighters to the English suppress any revolt that might break out in North America.13
George died during a smallpox epidemic in 1777, and was succeeded by his son George II Frederic.
- Michael Olien, "The Miskito Kings and the Line of Succession," Journal of Anthropological Research 39 (1983), p. 209.
- Brian Edwards, "Some Account of the British Settlements on the Musquito Shore" (10 November 1773) in The History, Civil and Commercial of the British West Indies (5 vols., London, 1819) 5: 210 (a separate pagination as an Appendix).
- "Inhabitants of the Mosquito Shore to the late Earl of Chatham in 1766 (31 May 1766), in Defense of Robert Hodgson (London, 1779) Appendices, p. 5 (a separate pagination).
- Edwards, History 5: 210 Appendix.
- Edwards, History 5: 207-208 (Appendix).
- Inhabitants of the Mosquito Shore to William Trelawny, 7 October 1769 in Defense of Robert Hodgson, appendix, pp. 17-18.
- "Titulo de gobernador de la Nacion Mosquitia..." 1769, in Leon Fernandez, ed, Colección de documentos para la historia de Costa Rica (15 vols, 1907) 10: 23-25. The emissaries were called Yasparal, Yani and Versa (p. 24).
- Inhabitants of Mosquito Shore in Defense of Robert Hodgson, p. 5
- Olien, "Miskito Kings," p. 211. The original source of this is National Archives (United Kingdom) CO 137/64, fols 3-8, "Account of the late Expected Insurrention of the Indians."
- Olien, "Miskito Kings," p. 211.
- Karl Offen, "The Miskitu Kingdom: Landscape and the Emergence of a Miskitu Ethnic Identity, Northeastern Nicaragua and Honduras, 1600-1800" (PhD dissertation, University of Texas at Austin, 1999) pp. 409-411.
- Acts of the Privy Council of England, Colonial Series (6 vols, 1902-12) 5: 385.
- Olien, 'Miskito kings" p. 211, quoting William S Sorsby, "The British Superintendency on the Mosquito Shore," PhD Dissertation, University of London, 1969), p. 203.
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