Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Jonas Wilson Glenton - first Brit in independent Nicaragua

Jonas Wilson Glenton (1800-1857), son of Jonas Wilson Glenton Snr and Betty Becca Kelsall, and my 5x great uncle, was the first Briton to enter Nicaragua after it gained Independence from Spain. He became first British Consul to Nicaragua, and owned the rights to all tobacco and many rubber plantations in the country.

He became very rich, and very nearly caused a war between Britain and Nicaragua
, when the government refused to pay him, so the British Navy blockaded all Nicaraguan ports (see later in this post) until they gave in. (First few pages of this Link discusses the final settlements between Jonas, his friend Mr Manning and the Nicaraguan government)
The following is taken from This link and gives an account of the port blockade of 1844.
A case was a gross denial of justice to two
Englishmen, Messrs. Jonas Wilson Glenton and Thomas Manning, residing at Leon. Originally they had been partners in some concession with regard to which a person named Solorzano had obtained a judgment against them.
This decision was subsequently set aside for fraud but,
as in the meantime Solorzano had been acting upon
it to the fullest possible extent, considerable damage had been caused to Messrs. Glenton and Manning.
They had obtained the delivery of an award against Solorzano, but four years had elapsed without their being able to issue execution, as the Nicaraguan Government took his side. They had 'tried every method prescribed by law', but without avail.
The British representatives in Nicaragua took up these
matters, but were unable to obtain a settlement.
Finally, on August 26, 1843, Lord Aberdeen wrote to Mr. Chatfield, the British Consul-General in Central America, instructing him to demand compensation for Mr. Bridge and compliance with the demands of Messrs.
Glenton and Manning, and to state that in case of non-compliance recourse would be had to the assistance of the fleet to obtain satisfaction.
On the same date Lord Aberdeen also wrote to the Admiralty with the Queen's commands that the Commander-in-Chief in the West Indies should proceed to the coast of Nicaragua to obtain immediate redress for the above demands. The dispatch continued : ' In the case of refusal it will be proper to make reprisals by capturing the vessels belonging to the inhabitants of Nicaragua, and, if redress cannot
otherwise be obtained, to blockade the port of San Juan ; ' but the latter measure was only to be used as a last resort.

The Nicaraguan Government persistently refused to
comply with the British demands, and on February 26,
1844, the British vice-consul wrote to Sir Charles Adam:
'Every attempt to induce the Government of Nicaragua to arrange these matters [of Glenton and Manning, and Bridge] has been ineffectual ; in fact, nothing short of the appearance of a force at the Boca San Juan and the consequent stoppage of their trade in that quarter will have the desired effect.'
The next day the vice-consul also wrote to the commander of the Oriffon, which had been sent by Sir C. Adam to San Juan with a view to the establishment of a blockade, requesting him to put the blockade in force. He adds:
I do not consider it necessary that you should take any measures to make public the blockade beyond the precincts of the port, as I forward a notice to that effect to the authorities of the city of Granada, which is the principal town in that vicinity.' On the same day he also wrote to the Principal Secretary of the Nicaraguan Government, stating that the commander of the Oriffon had been ordered to blockade the port of San Juan del Norte and the coast adjacent ', which would not be raised until satisfaction had been obtained for the British demands.
The letter, however, to the British naval officer, authorizing him to institute the blockade, had, with other letters, been detained by the Government officials.
He was aware of its contents, and knowing also that the three principal cargoes of the year — from France, Genoa and Jamaica respectively — were daily expected, and that if they were allowed to enter the port the blockade would be of little avail, he declared a blockade of the port on March 23, 1844, 'so long as the despatches are withheld.'
The same day an English merchantman from Jamaica appeared off the port and was warned of the blockade. The Government now released the dispatches, and on March 30 they reached the British naval officer, who at once made a fresh declaration of the blockade of the port. It was notified ' that the measures sanctioned by the law of nations will be adopted and executed with respect to all vessels and cargoes attempting to violate the said blockade '.
Notice was sent to the Principal Secretary of the State of Costa Rica,'' and apparently also to the Governor of Jamaica, for official publication.
On April 7, the (Genoese vessel arrived and was turned
away, and a like fate befell the French vessel. The Consul-General of France requested a relaxation of the blockade in favour of this vessel, but this was refused.
Nothing further is known of the blockade, or whether it actually achieved its object, save the bald statement of the British admiral, in a dispatch dated October 2, 1844, that it was no longer in force.
In this case, as in the earlier blockade of San Juan, there appears to have been no resistance whatever by Nicaragua, and it can therefore be unquestionably regarded as a pacific blockade.

Further information on Jonas Wilson Glenton:
My great great great great great uncle, Jonas Wilson Glenton (1800-1857) was born on 4 March 1800 (christened two days later at St George's church, Liverpool) to Jonas Wilson Glenton (1763-1844) and Betty Becca Glenton (nee Kelsall)(1764-1822). His older brother, Henry, is my greatx4 grandfather.
In 1823, Jonas, together with his business partner Mr Manning, saw a business opportunity in the newly independent (from Spain) central American state of Nicaragua.
They established themselves in the second city Leon, and were the first Britons to live in Nicaragua.
Jonas married Theresa Gonzales-Sol, daughter of Spanish settlers Pedro Gonzalez and Dorothea Sol.
Glenton and Manning soon established rubber plantations, and other businesses with trade links to the USA and Britain. Jonas also acted at British Consul to Nicaragua.
In 1840, Manning and Glenton took a man named Soconosco to court for fa going to pay for a cargo of 200 bales of tobacco (each bale weighing 150 lbs). They won the case, but the Nicaraguan government, not happy with the Glenton-Manning monopoly on tobacco trade in the country, blocked the payment for the goods of £40,000 (approximately £250,000 in today's money). As a result, a British warship blockaded all trade through Nicaraguan ports for nine months in 1844. This was lifted when the government decided to pay on Soconosco's behalf. Many years later, the Nicaraguan government were still paying off this debt.
Jonas and Theresa had many children. Some stayed in Nicaragua, others settled in Marblehead, Massachusetts. Their eldest daughter, Paula Theresa Glenton married Buenaventura Selva-Ugarte, and their son Solomon Selva-Glenton married Evangelica Escoto. One of their sons, (Jonas' great grandson) Salomon De la Selva, became a world famous Nicaraguan poet. Another son (Jonas' great grandson), Rogelio De la Selva was chief advisor to the Mexican President in the mid 1900s. Their daughter, (Jonas' great grand daughter) Evangelina De la Selva Escoto, married the mayor of Leon Joaquin Sacasa. Joaquin was a close cousin of the dictatorial Nicaraguan President, Juan Batista Sacasa, who it appears had many of his enemies murdered, before he was ousted in a coup and spent his remaining years in exile in Los Angeles.
Jonas Wilson Glenton never returned to Britain. He died in Leon on 20 June 1857, six days before his wife, both dying of cholera.
The Glenton family is still established in Nicaragua, and are major agricultural landowners. Unfortunately none of their wealth has come this way.
Me..dad..George Ernest Heywood..Ellen Eliza Hindley..Richard Henry Hindley..Harriet Glenton..Henry Glenton (brother of Jonas Wilson Glenton).

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