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The Americas

Central American Native Kingdoms


Mosquitia / Miskito Kingdom
AD 900 - 1894
Incorporating the Mosquito Reserve (1859-2009), & Community Nation of Moskitia (2009-On)

The peopling of the Americas remains a complicated subject, and one which is open to a great deal of debate. While earlier migrations are especially scrutinised, it is generally accepted that there was a broad phase of migration (involving several individual waves of migration) into the 'New World' of the Americas between 25,000 and 15,000 years ago.

These first arrivals made the most of the Bering land bridge which joined Asia to North America during the most recent ice age. Others may have followed the coastline in canoes, moving much more quickly than they would on foot. Over thousands of years these new arrivals filtered eastwards and southwards to produce the Native American civilisations which are known to archaeology and history.

Elements of modern native American society prefer to propose that they have always been living in the New World and that a migration simply did not take place, despite overwhelming evidence which places human evolution firmly in Africa.

The Mosquito Coast today forms the eastern, Atlantic border of Nicaragua. The people here are a combination of indigenous natives (possibly related to the Maya), an Afro-Miskito mix (largely dominant towards the north of the territory), plus Afro-Native Americans and English.

The Miskito royal family itself gradually interbred with African arrivals to produce a line of descent which, by the early nineteenth century, was almost entirely pure-African in its ethnic origin. The original Miskito language is still extant, although it exists alongside Creole English and Spanish, the latter of which is now the language of officialdom. Their traditional territory stretches from Cape Camarón in the north (now on the coast of Honduras) to the River Rio Grande de Matgalpa in the south (approximately central on Nicaragua's coastline).

The earliest recorded name of a king of the Miskito natives along the coast dates from around AD 900, with tradition claiming him as the unifier of the local tribes. The first sustained contact with the dominant tribe or tribes on what became known as the Mosquito Coast came in the 1630s, when the Providence Island Company of the British Colonies of North America made contact. They established friendly relations with the king, and founded bases in two cays in the region.

The company remained there for a decade, between 1631-1641, and also aided the son of the Miskito king in paying a royal visit to Stuart England during the reign of King Charles I. Afterwards, when this Miskito prince 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.

The modern name of this territory, 'Mosquito Coast', bears no relation to the insect of the same name - the native Miskito gave their name to the coastline while the insect bears a Spanish name which has a different origin. The Miskito name has also been rendered in various forms, including Moscos, Moustiques, Musquetos, Mosquito, Miskitia and, by the Spanish, as La Mosquitia.

The early twenty-first century AD claimant to the now-lost Miskito throne is Josephenie Hendy Twaska Clarence Robertson. She is related to the Miskito royal family on her mother's side, her mother being Ketura Hendy Hebbert (the Miskito follow matrilineal descent when selecting their rulers). Created a reverend in the Moravian Church in 1999, in her work on documenting Miskito history claims a North African connection for Miskito King Oldman (circa 1650-1687).

Oldman's grandfather is stated as being O'man Muscat Khaldoun, a descendent of 'al-Wazir' of medieval Egypt (a 'wazir' was an official title for a minister or advisor to the ruler). There was indeed an Ibn Khaldun, born in 1332, who spent much time in Egypt and adventured as a scholar from Muscat in Oman to the kingdom of Ghana and across North Africa.

He was part of the court of Granada which participated in a peace mission with the Christians in 1359. The ship which carried his wife and his son, Muhammed, disappeared and was lost off the coast of Gibraltar.

The inference is that the royal house of the Miskito is descended from the lost Muhammed, whose ship must have been blown off course to make landfall on the Mosquito Coast. If any written proof existed it was lost when the Nicaraguans destroyed Miskito records following their armed takeover of the kingdom in 1894. Nicaraguan control has, however, always been tenuous. Today Mosquitia holds itself as an independent nation following a declaration in 2009. So far no other nation has recognised it.

Central American beach

(Information by Peter Kessler, with additional information by Karla Hammond, from Endangered Peoples of Latin America: Struggles to Survive and Thrive, Susan C Stonich (2001), from Sambu and Tawira Miskitu, Karl Offen (2002), from Yapti Tasbia - The Miskitu Motherland, Reverend Josephenie Hendy Twaska Clarence Robertson, from In the Shadow of Empire - The Emergence of Afro-Creole Societies in Belize and Nicaragua, Wolfgang Gabbert, and from External Links: Miskitu Nation, Royal Ark by Christopher Buyers, and BBC News.)

fl c.900

Boopam Kuum Kukras

First known Miskito king to unite the region's tribes.

According to tradition - oral, as no writing exists until the Europeans arrive - Boopam is responsible for uniting the various native tribes along the Mosquito Coast (twelve in total, according to the author of Yapti Tasbia).

These amount to around half a dozen ethnic groups split into as many as thirty tribes (the latter according to early Spanish explorers of the seventeenth century). Apparently, at this time the 'white city' is a place of learning, with art, homeopathy, and herbal remedies all being studied.

Mosquito Coast
A traditional view of the Mosquito Coast shows what could be a 'dream holiday' view of the Atlantic coast in this part of Central America, making it an ideal residence for the coastal natives groups who made this their home prior to the arrival of Europeans


Little or no Spanish control has been established in the region, thanks largely to Misquito warriors chasing off any attempt to make landfall here. As a result, 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 coming out of New Spain.

1631 - 1641

Proceeding outwards from the British Colonies of North America, the earl of Warwick's Providence Island Company is formed on Providence Island in the Caribbean (now part of Colombia). The company makes contact with the Miskito and establishes friendly relations with the king and his people. Two English bases are founded in the region and, in 1638, the kingdom of Mosquitia is officially recognised by England.

? - c.1650


Name unknown.


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 it is unclear whether they remain slaves or freely form part of Miskito society.

Warships of the English Civil War
Warships at the time of the English Civil War, with ninety of them mustered in Plymouth Sound in 1625 (with the kind permission of the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, Library of Toronto)

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.


Having established friendly relations with the Miskito, the earl of Warwick persuades the king to send his son, Oldman, to England. Oldman is received by King Charles I, but he returns to Miskito to find that his father has died during his absence. Oldman is now king in his place.

The records of Reverend Josephenie Hendy Twaska Clarence Robertson show Oldman's reign of almost four decades as two different kings, Oldman I and Oldman II, with the first reigning from around 1640-1677 and the second reigning until 1687.

No other available source shows this, and with the sudden adoption of English Christian names from Jeremy I onwards, even the possibility that 'Oldman' is a title which is reserved for the ruler cannot be explored.

Jamestown parish church
The 1617 Jamestown parish church is in a location which today is increasingly at risk of flooding due to global warming, but its early existance as part of an English settlement was also far from certain in the seventeenth century

In another version of the same records, one King O'Man Muscat Nani is given a reign between 1631-1686 and it is his father who is the one to visit England in 1634-1637, now named as King Kukra, the son of the unnamed king shown above (this again provides for two kings during the reign shown here of Oldman). O'Man Muscat Nani also visits England, in 1666.

This rather confusing array of possibilities has all been pieced together following the destruction of Miskito records in 1894, so none of it can be guaranteed to be accurate.

c.1650 - 1686

Oldman / Oldham / O'Man Muscat Nani

Son. Paid a visit to England in the 1640s. Two kings in one?


English troops take Jamaica from New Spain, adding it to their New World British Colonies and making it a hub for rum production and slave trading. It also allows renewed contact with the Mosquito Coast. The English governor of Jamaica now forms the direct link of authority between the Miskito king and the English crown. The holder of this office also provides official recognition of each new Miskito king, with Jeremy I being crowned in Jamaica.

Miskito natives
Part of a series of postcards from Nicaragua entitled 'Memories of Bluefields' which was issued around 1900-1910, this one records 'Miskito Indian girls at wooden mortar'

1686 - 1718

Jeremy I

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


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, 1699 being the first of their attacks against New Spain to be recorded. Slaves are taken and sold to the English settlements along the Mosquito Coast for shipment to Jamaica.


Britain concludes a formal treaty of friendship and alliance with the Miskito king. A protectorate is established over the coast. However, during this century competition between the Creole Spanish groups in the north and the less racially mixed Miskito in the south sometimes heats up into open warfare.

Perhaps for this reason, records of the Miskitos (or Moskitos) for this period are sketchy and little is known of the kings. The Spanish claim a Bernabé ruling at the same time as Jeremy II is known to reign, so either they are the same man with different names (in native and Christian forms), or Bernabé is a rival king.

1718 - 1728

Jeremy II / Bernabé


1728 - 1755

Edward I

Son. A minor at accession.

1729 - 1739

Peter I

Brother of Jeremy II. King-regent during Edward's minority.

1740 - 1749

Seemingly a second formal treaty of friendship and alliance is concluded between Great Britain and the Miskito king on 8 April 1740. Effectively speaking, Britain takes command of the Mosquito Coast. The impetus at this date is to enlist Miskito support in the War of Jenkins' Ear, which pitches Britain against Spain between 1739-1748.

Miskito natives in 1894
These Misquito natives were photographed in 1894, when their territory was being forcibly incorporated into Nicaragua

In 1749 a British 'Superintendent of the Shore' is placed in a residential post on the coast so that Britain can more directly advise the king in drawing up legislation and aid him in moving the kingdom towards closer relations with Britain. In effect, the Miskito are now part of a British protectorate, although it may also be argued that it is more of an agreement of cooperation.

1755 - 1775

George I

Brother of Edward I. Died during a smallpox epidemic.

1776 - 1801

George II Frederic / George Frederic Aug I

Poisoned by his brother, Stephen, or by friends of a wife.


The Miskito have aided Britain greatly during the American Revolution, scoring notable victories over the Spanish who have been supporting the revolutionary forces. Now, however, Britain is forced to withdraw from much of the Atlantic Coast, including that of Central America and Mosquitia. Some native families and their slaves are relocated by their departing allies to British Honduras (modern Belize).

Subsequent renewed Spanish attempts to establish colonies in the area still come to nothing, and Britain maintains more distant relations with the Miskito despite being forced to withdraw physically from the region. A number of British advisors are soon reintroduced into the state from the colony at British Honduras, which serves to keep the Spanish colonial government at bay, along with the USA which soon develops an interest in the region.

1801 - 1824

George (III) Frederic Augustus II

Son. A minor at accession. Strangled by his wife.

1801 - 1815


Brother of George II. King-regent during Augustus' minority.

1821 - 1823

New Spain achieves independence from Spain, bringing three hundred years of governance of the colonies to an end. On 3 October 1821, the captaincy general of Guatemala (modern 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.

Map of Central America in the 1830s
The Federal Republic of Central America was formed of Chiapas, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. This lasted from 1823-1841, by which time Mexico had grabbed much of Chiapas and the republic itself dissolved into the separate nation states known today - although Nicaragua did not control the independent Mosquito Coast until the end of the century, and British troops occupied eastern Belize (click or tap on map to view full sized)

1824 - 1841

Robert (I) Charles Frederic

Son of George Frederic Augustus I. Half-brother of GFA II.


Having already forbidden the practise of enslaving people on 1 November 1832, Robert Charles Frederic now proclaims the total abolition of slavery, on 27 August. It is one of his last acts as king before his death on 8 October 1841 due to alcoholism.

1841 - 1849

George (IV) William

Son. A minor at accession.

1842 - 1845

Prince Wellington


1842 - 1845

General Thomas Lowry Robinson

Regent and grandfather by his daughter, Queen Juliana.

1842 - 1843

Colonel Johnson


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.

With interest in the region waning, 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.

Commodore Perry's second visit to Japan, 1854
After having forcibly ended Japanese isolation in 1853, Commodore Perry's second visit to Japan in 1854 on behalf of the USA was recorded on this hand scroll which is now part of the collection of the British Museum - possibly not the time to become heavily involved in Miskito affairs

1849 - 1865

George (V) Augustus Frederic II

Nephew of George IV. 'Hereditary Chief' from 1860.

1866 - 1879

William (I) Henry Clarence

Brother. First full 'Hereditary Chief' of Miskito. Poisoned.


Although King George Augustus had managed to negotiate a Nicaraguan acceptance of his kingship, the Nicaraguans refuse to recognise his successor or pay the agreed subsidy. Even so, he reigns, and initially does so under a regency council owing to his young age. His life is prematurely ended after he is poisoned by a Nicaraguan Spaniard.

1879 - 1888

George (VI) William Albert Hendy

Cousin. Grandson of George F Augustus I. Accidental death.

1888 - 1889

Andrew Hendy Clarence

Cousin. Proclaimed by Nicaragua. Abdicated. Returned 1894.

1889 - 1890

Jonathan Charles Frederick

Cousin. Grandson of Robert Charles Frederic. Fell from horse.

1890 - 1894

Robert (II) Henry Clarence

Cousin. Last 'hereditary chief'. Deposed. Kept title in exile.


The Atlantic Coast is forcibly incorporated into Nicaragua by President Jose Santos Zelaya. Robert Henry Clarence, son of Chief William Henry Clarence of the Twaska-Miskito group, 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. In Miskito itself, hundreds of deaths are alleged during the Nicaraguan takeover, along with the burning of libraries and records. The kingdom is renamed as the department of Zelaya, and claimants to the throne are shown with a shaded background.

British cemetery
The British Cemetery which commemorates the country's role in Miskito's survival as an independent entity until the nineteenth century still exists and seems to be relatively well maintained

1894 - 1908

Robert (II) Henry Clarence

Former hereditary chief. Died 1908.


While Robert Henry Clarence remains the accepted chief of the Miskito, the Nicaraguans attempt to remove even his title by appointing their own claimant. They choose Andrew Hendy, their established puppet of 1888 who had already been forced to abdicate by his own people after about a year in office.

Now, on 20 November 1894, he is formally re-installed in office at the government palace at Bluefields. He and his successors are shown below in green text on a green tinted background as rivals for office against the accepted claimant (in black). Miskito rebellions against his presence in 1896 and 1899-1900 do nothing to change the situation.

1894 - 1914

Andrew Hendy Clarence

Restored by Nicaragua as a puppet rival. Died.


Great Britain acknowledges the full sovereignty of Nicaragua over the Miskito lands by means of a treaty which is concluded on 19 April 1905. Britain's own interests are now firmly fixed on its empire in South Asia.

1908 - 1928?

Robert Frederick

Cousin. Born c.1855. Hereditary chief apparent. Died after 1928.


Robert Frederick succeeds as head of the royal house and heir apparent to the Miskito throne. He is the son of Princess Mathilda and the grandson of King Robert Charles Frederic (1824-1841). His accession apparently dates from 6 January 1908, but very little is known of him or his successors. He dies some time after 1928, at Aubrayeri, Wanks River, Honduras.

US Marines in Nicaragua
US Marines were sent to occupy Nicaragua in 1912 and remained until 1933, ostensibly to protect US citizens there during the country's period of instability

1914 - 1960

Valazco Hendy Clarence Oracio

Son of Andrew Hendy Clarence. Rival claimant. Died 2008.

1928 - 1960s?

Herbert Henry Clarence

Relationship unknown. Claimed to be next in line after Robert.

1928 - 1960s

The otherwise unknown Herbert Henry Clarence is claimed as being next in line to the hereditary title following the death of Robert Frederick. Nothing more seems to be known of him, although he leaves behind a daughter born in 1949 who passes on the title to one of her two sons, a Sean Henry Clarence. Again, nothing is known of this claimant.

Mairin Celina Hendy Diaz Clarence is the daughter of rival claimant, Valazco Hendy Clarence Oracio, and granddaughter of Andrew Hendy (died 1914 - this rival line of claimants is shown in green, while further rival claimants are shown in red).

While not a claimant herself, it is her son, Jose Miguel, who forms a twenty-first century heir to the Miskito throne. He is next-in-line to his cousin, Reverend Josephenie Hendy Twaska Clarence Robertson, who in 1960 is selected as the chief claimant by the royal family and elders of the Miskito, with the backing of a large exile community.

Reverend Josephenie Hendy Twaska Clarence Robertson is the daughter of Princess Keturah Magdalane Fermina Hendy Jeremiah Clarence Hebbert, who is herself the daughter of Princess Fermina Cetruah Mairianas Margarettee Peener Hendy, the niece of Robert I Peochee-Petchenega-Mongrol Jeremy Clarence. Which exact Robert I this may be in the list above is entirely unclear.

Modern Mosquitia natives
The standard of living in modern Mosquitia is low, with few opportunities available for the young to improve their lives and complaints that the central government of Nicaragua has sidelined this 'occupied' kingdom

fl 1970s - 1980s?


Unnamed daughter. Born 1949. Claimant?

fl c.1990s?

Sean Henry Clarence?

Son. Born 1970s?

fl 1977

Norton Cuthbert Clarence

Unverified rival claimant additional to the existing claims.


One Norton Cuthbert Clarence claims to be regarded as the recognised heir to the Miskito throne. Living in Pearl Key at the time, his claim seems not to be backed up by any external verification. He may be a grandson of one of the last chiefs or kings of Miskito. Either way, the hereditary kingship of the Miskito seems to fade into utter obscurity and ambiguity.

1960 - Present

Josephenie Hendy Clarence Robertson

Current claimant, replacing Valazco Hendy Clarence Oracio.


On 19 April a group of Miskito elders declare the independence of their people from Nicaragua. Their territory is still isolated - a ninety minute flight from Managua, the Nicaraguan capital, or a twenty-hour road trip.

Now they announce they will not pay any heed to the government in Managua, and will not pay any taxes to it. Instead their loyalty is to the 'Community Nation of Moskitia'. A flag is unveiled and a national anthem composed, but international recognition is entirely lacking.

The leader of this movement is Hector Williams (the 'White Tara' or 'Great Judge'), although the impetus behind the attempt seems largely to be driven by increasing unemployment in the region and a sense that Managua is somehow cheating the locals of their true worth. Hector Williams is not a claimant to leadership of the Miskito himself, nor to the Miskito throne, but he does appear to be allied with those claimants who are shown in green here.

Modern Mosquitia native takes up arms
The declaration of independence in 2009 - albeit unrecognised by the world - has resulted in Miskito natives taking up arms to defend their territory from Nicaraguan incomers, a task which is made easier by the poor connections to the rest of Nicaragua


'HRH Prince Jose Miguel Coleman Hendy Clarence' is stated by Reverend Josephenie Hendy Boopam Twaska Clarence Robertson as being the present heir to the royal throne (in 2014). He is the son of HRH Princess Mairin Celina Hendy Diaz and her spouse, Maximo Coleman McLean. Princess Mairin is the granddaughter of the Nicaraguan puppet ruler, Andrew Hendy Clarence, who had died 1914.

Jose Miguel Coleman Hendy Clarence

Son of Mairin Celina. Cousin and heir to Josephenie.

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