Dispatch 1: Mahogany trade in Belize and Honduras / by Martin Toft

Today I will be heading out to Belize and Honduras to conduct research in national archives and make new photographs in response to the lucrative mahogany trade established by Jerseymen, such as Joshua Gabourel and Thomas Philip Pickstock in the late 18th century and early to mid 19th century.

Mahogany wood was used as ballast on ships in the Atlantic carrying trade and was used extensively by Jersey carpenters, ship builders and furniture makers. This work is part of The Seaflower Venture - a transatlantic project exploring the history of Jersey’s cod fishing trade with Canada and its international merchant networks in the West Indies, South America and Mediterranean.

Through the prism of colonial and family history it seeks to examine Jersey’s original wealth and contemporary prosperity as an International Finance Centre. It proposes to re-address parts of the legacy upon which the islands’s economic growth and development in the past, present and future has been told.

I have been researching this trip to Belize and Honduras for the past year and would like to acknowledge a team of excellent researchers who has assisted me in this endeavour Doug Ford, local Maritime Historian, Anna Baghiani Lewis (former Library Assistant at Société Jersiaise), Marian Kirkbride, Jersey-Gaspé enthusiast and Jane Edwards author of several books, including Philippe d'Auvergne a British Naval Officer born in Jersey. Collaboration also extends internationally to Daniel Finamore, The Russell W. Knight Curator of Maritime Art and History Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, Massachusetts and several invaluable family historians and descendants of both Joshua Gabourel and Thomas Philip Pickstock residing in USA and Belize. Hosted by Photo-Archive Societe-Jersiaise and Société Jersiaise #theseaflowerventure