History[edit | edit source]
The Miskito first came into contact with the English when the Second Earl of Warwick established his colony on Providence Island in 1639. The Earl persuaded the Indian King to send his son to England as an emissary. This prince, known to his descendants as Oldman (or Oldham in old documents), was received in by King Charles I, who gave him noble title. He later returned to the Mosquito Coast to find that his father had died during his absence, and that he was now King. His son and successor, Jeremy, visited Jamaica in February 1688 and placed himself and his people under English protection as a result of Spanish aggression. Thereafter, all his successors were confirmed king by virtue of a certificate of recognition from the Governor of Jamaica.
In the years that followed, small numbers of English and American settlers, escaped convicts and slaves, settled in several centres along the coast, many of them intermarrying with the local tribes of Indians. They left offspring who took part in the military and administrative affairs of the Miskito kingdom.
Consequently, The Mosquito King and the British concluded a formal Treaty of Friendship and Alliance in 1740, followed by the appointment of a British Superintendent in 1749. His brief tenure included the establishment of a more formal protectorate over the Miskito nation, giving advice to the King, codifying the islands legal system, and formalising a system of land grants.
Another reason for the pro-British stance of the Miskito was that relations between them and the Spanish were poor, worsened the increasing number of settlers. English commercial interest in hardwood logging in nearby Honduras exacerbated Spanish antagonism and apprehensions towards the Miskito as well.