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Battle of St. George’s Caye: Why Belize is an English Speaking Country
Have you ever wondered why English is the first and official language of Belize? The victorious defensive Battle of St. George's Caye in 1798 may have a lot to do with it.
Battle of St. George’s Caye: Why Belize is an English Speaking Country

The Battle of St. George’s Caye on September 10, 1798 is the most historical battle to happen in the land that is now known as Belize. This battle, however, was the final one of (at least) six attempts by the Spanish to conquer the Baymen (resident woodcutters), which ended in victory for the Baymen, as the Spaniards withdrew when ravaged by sickness during the two and a half-hour fight.

If any of the attempts by the Spanish were successful, Great Britain would not have been able to establish British sovereignty over British Honduras, which is now known as Belize. If the British had not colonized the land, Spanish would be the official language of Belize, much like its neighboring countries (Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras).

Read below more information about the battle(s) of St. George’s Caye:

Prior to this historic final battle, the territory of (modern day) Belize was under dispute by Great Britain and Spain. Although Spain never officially occupied Belize, they considered it a part of its Central American territories, which include Mexico and Guatemala, after a war between England and Spain left much of Central American to be reigned by the Spanish. However, the British had entered the territory as early as 1638 to harvest logwood and mahogany. The British settlement was abandoned between 1779 and 1782 and many of its settlers, known as the “Baymen”, were deported to Cuba following a Spanish attack.

This series of events and attacks led to the final battle of St. George’s Caye as follows (according to

  • March 28th, 1798 – Colonel Barrow’s request for permission to attack Bacalar is denied. The British who were at war with Spain did not want the Baymen to irritate Spain.
  • April 10th, 1798 – three companies of the 6th West Indian Regiment arrive in Belize and were placed in the New Town Barracks (210 men).
  • June 1798 – Captain John Ralph Moss replaces Captain Dundas as captain of the HMS Merlin in the Belize Harbour.
  • July 18th, 1798 – Spanish Fleet reported sighted at Cozumel by turtle fishermen.
  • July 22nd, 1798 – Public Meeting agrees to “Out-fit” the gun flats, and not charge the Navy or Army for any services or materials rendered by the private sector.
  • July 26th, 1798 – Fishermen report great preparations underway at Cozumel for immediate attack on the Baymen settlement. Public Meetings approve Martial Law. The entire settlement mobilized and on “Full Alert”.
  • August 8th, 1798 –Public Meetings recommends destruction of all houses and water tanks on St. Georges Caye.
  • August 9th, 1798 – All houses and water tanks in St. Georges Caye Destroyed.
  • August 13th, 1798 – Spanish fleet sighted by Basil Jones approaching Ambergris Caye.
  • September 2nd, 1798 – In the morning the Spanish fleet enters through a channel between Caye Caulker and Caye Chapel and comes in behind the reef and anchors behind Caye Chapel. Captain Moss sends the sloop Towser and the Schooners Teaser and Swinger to St. George’s Caye Harbour

Read the full details of this series of events by clicking here:

or Click here to read about the Battle of St. George’s Caye on

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