Basil Jones History
After the Maya
Who was Basil
In the 20th Century
Basil Jones in the Spanish Colonial Period
From early in the sixteenth century Spain maintained
territorial claim to the New World including the
Western Caribbean and Ambergris Caye. But the Dutch
and English began exploring the area as early as 1569
. From that point on Spanish sovereignty was
frequently challenged and by the beginning of the
seventeenth century, pirates were attacking the ships
and towns of the Spanish Empire in the New World.
These pirates were made up of many different
nationalities and colors, black and white, English,
French, and Dutch. The Pirates probably used
Ambergris Caye as one of their remote retreats and
safe harbors. Here they could care for their boats,
rest their crews, hide their treasures and obtain
food and water for their next raid. The discovery of
small treasure-troves on the island and of gold coins
washed up on the beach together with old bottles
suggest that it was visited often and its abundant
resources utilized. But through the years Spanish
influence lessened and so did the number of Spanish
merchant ships, the pirates adapted and turned to
more commercial means of making money. They became
wood cutters, logging the rich tropical and
subtropical rain forests, for the precious hardwood,
and became known as The Baymen.
One of the Baymen was named Basil Jones, he was said
to be a local magistrate and most likely a Welshman.
Around 1790 Basil owned a lease on the plateau at the
north end of Ambergris Caye where he had a
plantation. On the plantation they grew food and
coconuts with a work crew that probably consisted of
slaves. By then the Baymen were claiming territorial
rights to the area too and there had been many
confrontations and disputes with the Spanish. Basil
Jones may have played an important part in the battle
that followed, known as the Battle of St.
In 1798 it was apparent that the Spanish were
planning to invade, Basil Jones assisted the Baymen
acting as a lookout, from his plantation on Ambergris
Caye. When the inevitable arrival of the Spanish
Fleet, did occur, some where around September 10,
1798, Basil spotted the approaching Fleet and went by
boat to St. Georges Caye to warn the Baymen
The Spaniards had spent two years preparing an
Invasion Fleet of thirty-two ships and twenty-five
hundred men, arrived at St. George's Caye, where
the Baymen, though badly out numbered, were waiting
for them. In the battle, on September 10, 1798, the
Spanish were decisively defeated, ending Spain's
dominance and territorial claims forever. The battle
was there after known as The Battle of St.
George's Caye. Basil Jones is said to have
contributed to the victory by reporting the arrival
of the Invasion Fleet. From there old Basil fades into history.
Basil Jones Area Blake
On September 13, 1869, Ambergris
Caye was auctioned off to settle the estate of former
owners. James Hume Blake bought Ambergris Caye for
$625 in gold, and that began the Blake Dynasty that
lasted for some ninety years.
On 10th February 1887 Registry records show that the
Blakes gave a twenty-one year lease of the Robles and
the Basil Jones Savannah, at an annual rent of twenty
dollars to George James Parham. Parham was an
expatriate Englishman, a merchant and chicle
contractor, who later married Juanita Blake, one of
Blakes two daughters.
The unexpected advent of the Blake Dynasty radically
changed the lives of the islanders. Overnight they
found themselves without any legal rights to remain
on the land they had lived on and farmed for several
decades. From small but independent fishermen and
farmers they became wage laborers working for the
ruling families in a succession of new industries -
logwood, chicle, coconut - their lives transformed
into a grinding monotony, guided only by their
employers' need to accumulate more wealth. During
this time there were transient Maya settlements at
Basil Jones and it was said, desperate bachelors such
as Natividad Guerrero could get a bride from them in
exchange for a box of groceries from Belize City.
The erosion of this Blake Dynasty began in 1943,
with the Colonial Government initiating the fore
runner of the present day village council. But it
took years more to break the Blakes' economic
Basil Jones in the 20th Century
In the 1950's Gulf Oil drilled an exploratory
oil well at Basil Jones. They eventually drilled
through 2,500 feet of solid bedrock. But there was no
Black Gold to be found at Basil Jones. To facilitate
construction of the drilling rig and the drilling
that followed, Gulf built Ambergris Caye's first
airstrip, from which they flew equipment in and out
of the site.
By 24th of June 1996 an American company, Breeze,
Inc., a Nevada State Corporation, owned the former
Basil Jones Plantation. As late as June 10th, 1997,
the Government of Belize was working out the details
for reacquiring the property for "public
purpose." from Breeze, Inc. Breeze was bankrupt
and in receivership. Also agreements by the
Government of Belize dated the 24th of June 1996
appear to give Dolphin International the right to
develop the Basil Jones airstrip.
Dolphin International issued a press release on June
10th, 1997, stating that so far, a 20' X 50'
pier has been built and 3 acres of land have been
cleared. June 19, 1997 Nova Companies Belize Ltd
presented their plans for the Shrimp Hatchery at
Basil Jones. The North Ambergris Caye Development
Corporation, (NACDC) and Dolphin International
(apparently part of NACDC) held joint meetings, with
the San Pedro Town Board and the Ambergris Caye
Planning Committee, where they outlined plans to
develop the area with a $65 million resort casino and
airport, just south of Nova Shrimp at Punta Azul. But since then the project with Dolphin has died and a new $50 million project is in the works. Perhaps it to will go away quietly too.
On October 1, 2000, Hurricane Keith made a bee line
for Ambergris Caye and the Basil Jones Area. Keith
was classified a category four hurricane with wind
gusts up to 155MPH and sustained winds of 125MPH. The
killer hurricane parked on Ambergris Caye for some
twelve hours and the eye wall (where the highest
winds are) went right through the Basil Jones area.
On Ambergris Caye there were only a few non-life
threatening injuries, but the lee side of the island
sustained heavy damage, mostly to wooden structures,
even putting a boat in the middle of the runway in
San Pedro. A fly over of Basil Jones made a couple of
weeks after Keith confirmed only minor damage to the
undeveloped land. A visit by some of the Basil Jones
Neighbors in January 2001 found just a few palm trees
missing some leaves. All over the beach were parts of
a dock from up north and a little further towards
Robles Point they found a beached and wrecked
writings of Emory King
San Pedro Sun
Ambergris Caye History by Glenn
The Early History of Belize by Silvia Pinzon
BA, MLS and Ray Auxillou
Please, we welcome
any corrections or additions, so please email to
the address below.
At Basil Jones Central, we are always interested in meeting and making contact with neighbors and other owners. We are also looking for any news you may have of North Ambergris Caye and Basil Jones, please email us.
Postal address will be
Basil Jones, Ambergris Caye, Belize, Central America
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Last modified: September 10, 2001
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