DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purposes of review and I have received other books from Genealogical Publishing Company, also for review. However, my opinions are my own and not influenced by outside sources.
It never ceases to amaze me that so many new resources for genealogical research keep appearing.
Belize is a country in Central America, bordered on the north by Mexico, on the west and south by Guatemala and by the Caribbean Sea on the east.
It’s a beautiful country – I visited several years ago while on a cruise.
Although it has been inhabited for centuries, the country was previously part of the British Empire, with the first British arrivals about 1716, but Belize became fully independent on 21 September 1981.
However, its long history, like that of other Caribbean nations, includes partaking in the slave trade.
Sonia Bennett Murray, while acknowledging the contributions of many fellow researchers, has published 600+ Wills & Administrations of Belize 1750-1800s: Compiled from Belize National Archives, Registry Private Records, Magistrate’s Minutes, Emancipations, The End of Slavery, Baptisms 1868-1880, Family Records, which has been a book many years in the making.
Murray also mentions in the Acknowledgements that this book is a complement to the First, Second, and Third Parish Registers of Belize (2010+) and the history, They Came to Belize 1750-1810 (2017), all of which were compiled by Murray herself.
Wills of the Mosquito Shore and Belize, proved in the P.C.C.: p. 1
Original Wills at he Belize National Archives, p. 71Wills and Estates at the Registry and at the Archives: p. 112
The Private Records of Belize: Wills, Estates, Deeds, Manumissions: p. 207
Magistrates Minutes: Court records, Estates Manumissions and more: p. 384
Ending the Slave Trade, p. 430 William Usher’s Memorial, p. 431, Freedom for Enslaves Amerindians, p. 434, A Fatal Scam, p. 455
The Press attacks Slaver, p. 461, A government Inquiry, p. 462: Manumissions and Sales for Debt, p. 463, Support for the Poor, p. 474, George Hyde Demands Equality, p. 476, Seduction and Death, the story of Maria Middleton, p. 484, Shipping Lists, p. 485
The End of Slavery: The Abolition Act of 1833 and the Records Created, p. 490, Slave registers, Sales 1823-30, Index to the 1834 Registry of Slaves, p. 491, Returns of slaves, p. 494, Belize Slave Compensation Claims and Awards, p. 512, Government Expenses and Pensions disbursed in 1836, p. 525, Cholera in Belize, p. 527, Reports of the Apprentices, p. 527
Belizeans in British Censuses, p. 531, The Honduras Land titles Act, p. 547
The lost 1861 census, p. 548
Baptisms at St. John’s, 1868-80, p. 549
Notes on Early Families, p. 601
Index to Registry Willis 1760-1900, p. 634
Index to this book: p. 648
One comment about the Contents – The font is quite small and capitalization and punctuation isn’t consistent throughout the page. My old eyes had to really read carefully to type out this list.
Aside from that small criticism, this 647-page book is packed with details about hundreds of residents of Belize. I have to admit that I read many portions of this book – the details were fascinating – but I did not read every single page.
While there are some mentions of men from North America (e.g. “Portland in the County of Cumberland’ (which I take to be Maine, but it was not stated), most of the men mentioned who had second homes elsewhere lived in England or Scotland.
However, historically, Belizeans who emigrated elsewhere mostly settled in the United States or the United Kingdom.
Based on this author’s library of published works, Murray has made a major contribution to the genealogy world by making so many Belizean records easily accessible for research.
This book should be on the home reference shelf of anyone with ties to Belize.
600+ Wills & Administrations of Belize 1750-1800s by Sonia Bennett Murray, newly published in 2022 by Clearfield Company, Baltimore, Maryland can be ordered online from Genealogical Publishing Company for $70.00.
That is a lot of money, but if your family tree has historical roots in Belize, this book is worth every penny!