In 1763 a treaty was signed between the British Government and the Spanish Government which gave the settlement of Belize some kind of status.
This treaty allowed the British the “occupation of cutting, loading and carrying away logwood”. It asserted Spanish sovereignty over the area.
The Spanish government again reasserted their sovereignty of Belize in subsequent treaties of 1783 and 1786.
In the Treaty of Versailles, which was signed by the British and Spanish governments, the concessions given by Spain to Britain to cut logwood were defined more precisely than in the Treaty of 1763. The Spanish made it very clear that the British were to cut logwood only between the Hondo River and the Belize River and the New River was to be the westerly boundary beyond where no wood was to be cut.
In 1786 another Treaty was signed, referred to as the Convention of London. The Spanish gave permission to the British to cut logwood and also Mahogany as far south as the Sibun River. It expressly forbade the British from building any fortification, setting up any formal government or doing any agricultural works, or any other productive economic activities apart from wood cutting.
The setters (Baymen) were allowed to gather “all the fruits or produce of the earth, purely natural and uncultivated”. But they were not to establish “any plantation of sugar, coffee, cocos, or other like articles.”
For further emphasizing Spain’s ownership over the settlement the Convention of London provided for Spain to send Commissioners to check-up and examine the settlement twice a year.
The Convention of London also specified that in return for the concessions Spain had made, the British was to give up all its other settlements in the region, notable the Mosquito Shore and the island of Roatan. As a result, the inhabitants of these areas had to be evacuated. The British brought them to Belize.
It is written that the evacuation of the settlers and slaves from the Mosquito Shores to Belize was an important event in the social history of the Belize settlement.
There was no longer war between Britain and Spain and they signed the peace Treaty of Versailles on 3 September 1783. After this, some five hundred to seven hundred persons came to settle in Belize including “several loyalists from the American (USA) States”.
In 1787, some 2,650 persons were evacuated from the Mosquito Shore of which 2,214 were brought to Belize. They outnumbered the residents in Belize by five to one. Over three quarters of those who were brought were slaves.
By the time of the attack on the settlement in 1779, there were 3,500 persons living in Belize, of which three thousand were slaves.
This was quite a contrast to 1735 when there were about five hundred “merchants and slaves.” Or to 1725 when the population had been reduced to a small quantity of people, “not exceeding above fifty white men and about a hundred and twenty negroes.”