History Files
 

 

The Americas

Central American Native Kingdoms

 

 

 

Miskito Kings (Mosquitia)
AD 1631 - 1894

The Mosquito Coast today forms the eastern, Atlantic border of Nicaragua. The first sustained contact with the dominant tribe or tribes on the Mosquito Coast came in the 1630s, when the Providence Island Company from the English Colonies of North America made contact, establishing friendly relations with the king. The company founded bases in two cays and remained in place for a decade, between 1631-1641. The company also aided the son of the Miskito king in paying a royal visit to England during the reign of King Charles I, after which, when he had returned home and succeeded his father, he placed his land under English protection.

Contact with the English not only Anglicised the Miskito kings, it also introduced a sizable degree of Anglicisation to eastern Nicaragua itself. English surnames and Christian names became common on the Atlantic coast, and at least one British cemetery still exists there. English names among Nicaraguans are still not uncommon today, albeit English names in the Spanish style, with two first names and two surnames.

1589

With little or no Spanish control, the Mosquito Coast along the Atlantic makes a perfect haven for Dutch and English pirates who are searching for safe bases from which to launch attacks on gold-laden shipping from New Spain.

1638

The kingdom of Mosquitia is officially recognised by England.

Mosquito Coast
A traditional view of the Mosquito Coast

? - c.1650

?

First known Miskito king, name unknown.

1641

Providence Island is captured by Spain, leaving England without a base in the region. It is during this period, the mid-1600s (and perhaps in 1641 itself), that a slave ship is apparently wrecked along the coast and the surviving Africans make it safely to shore. They find a new home there, and their mixed race descendants become known as Mosquito Zambos (or Sambu), but whether they remain slaves or freely form part of Miskito society is unclear. A separate group of Africans from the wreck prospers to the south, becoming known as the Tawirs, or straight-haired, Miskito. Less cross-bred with the natives, this group forms a strong rivalry with the Zambos which sometimes leads to open warfare.

c.1650 - c.1687

Oldman

Son. Paid a visit to England in the 1640s.

1655

English troops take Jamaica from New Spain, adding it to their New World Colonies and making it a hub for rum production and slave trading. It also allows renewed contact with the Mosquito Coast.

c.1687 - 1718

Jeremy I

Son. A Zambo. The first to use 'His Majesty' as a form of address.

1699

The kingdom is described at this time as a loose collection of settlements strung out along the coast, peopled by a mixture of natives and Zambos living in a relatively egalitarian state. The king is only empowered as a war leader, but there seems to be scope for that as Zambo raids towards the Yucatan and Costa Rica reach their height. Slaves are taken and sold to the English settlements along the Mosquito Coast for shipment to Jamaica.

1710

Britain concludes a formal treaty of friendship and alliance with the Miskito king. A protectorate is established over the coast. Records of the Miskitos (or Moskitos) for this period are sketchy and little is known of the kings.

1718 - 1729

Jeremy II / Bernabé

1729 - 1739

Peter I

1739 - 1755

Edward I

1755 - 1776

George I

1776 - 1801

George II Frederic

Poisoned by his brother, Stephen, who is prevented from ruling.

1783

At the conclusion of the American Revolution, Britain is forced to withdraw from the Atlantic Coast, including that of Central America and Mosquitia. However, Spanish attempts to establish colonies in the area come to nothing.

1801 - 1824

George Frederic Augustus I

1821 - 1823

New Spain achieves independence from Spain, bringing 300 years of governance of the colonies to an end. On 3 October 1821, the captaincy general of Guatemala (Chiapas, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua) is annexed to the Mexican empire. However, just two years later the southern Central American states form their own federal republic.

1824 - 1842

Robert Charles Frederic

1842 - 1865

George Augustus Frederic II

Son.

1842 - 1845

Prince Wellington

Regent.

1842 - 1845

Lowry Robinson

Regent.

1842 - 1843

Johnson

Regent.

1848 - 1860

The Miskito natives seize the colony of Greytown (now renamed as San Juan del Norte), with British support. The event is noticed by the USA, but a minor action of reprisal in 1854 achieves nothing. The 1850 Clayton-Bulwer Treaty ensures that neither power will fortify the coast or attempt to colonise it and, in 1859, Britain delegates its protectorate to Honduras. The Miskito revolt against this decision the following year, so suzerainty of the entire coast is passed to Nicaragua, with the Miskito confined to a limited Mosquito Reserve and their kings now recognised only as chiefs, a dictate which has little effect as no outside power is able to exercise its authority along the coast. The British Union Flag is lowered on the Coast for the last time.

1865 - 1879

William Henry Clarence

Nephew. First 'hereditary chief' of Miskito. Poisoned.

1865

Although King George Augustus had managed to negotiate a Nicaraguan acceptance of his kingship, the Nicaraguans refuse to recognise his successor. Even so, he reigns, and initially does so under a regency council owing to his young age.

1879 - 1888

George William Albert Hendy

Cousin. Grandson of George Frederic Augustus I.

1888 - 1889

Andrew Hendy

Abdicated. Died 1905.

1889 - 1890

Jonathan Charles Frederick

Cousin. Grandson of Robert Charles Frederic. Alchoholic.

1890 - 1894

Robert Henry Clarence

Cousin. Last 'hereditary chief'. Deposed and retained title in exile.

1894

The Atlantic Coast is incorporated into Nicaragua by President Jose Santos Zelaya. Robert Henry Clarence is deposed by the Nicaraguans and rescued by a British warship, along with a core group of two hundred supporters. He retains his title, and remains head of the royal house until his death.

British cemetery
The British Cemetery still exists

1894 - 1908

Robert Henry Clarence

Former hereditary chief. Died 1908.

1908 - ?

Robert Frederick

Cousin. Hereditary chief apparent.

1908

Robert Frederick succeeds as head of the royal house and heir apparent, but nothing more is known of him or his successors.