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Monrad Metzgen: Wikis


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Monrad Siegfried Metzgen (1894- 13 May 1956, Belize) was a well known national hero of Belize having been a leading citizen in the Colony of British Honduras.




He was born in Belize (Town) in 1894 and died, suddenly of poisoning, on 13 May 1956. Monrad was of humble parentage and a Belizean Creole. Monrad Siegfried Metzgen's mother, Esther Almira Bevans (born on 17 January 1869 in Belize and died in 1944), was the second wife of his father (the first one was Estelle Greene). His father, Karl Alexander Metzgen (born on 24 July 1860 and killed in Petén on 13 March 1930). His grandfather, Charles Alexander Metzgen, was born in Denmark. Monrad had three children: Louise, Humphrey and Frederick (Bill). He attended St. Mary’s Primary School, continued to private secondary education. Monrad became an erudite person by his own private studies.

Government Service

Monrad joined the Government Service in 1910 as a Copyist. After 10 years he was appointed an Internal Revenue Officer.

Subsequently he acted as District Commissioner in Orange Walk, an Auditor and then Director of Colonial Audits. He was Treasury Superintendent in 1932 and District Commissioner in Stann Creek in 1935. A serious, near-fatal accident eventually caused his retirement in 1939.

On 17 September 2009, Captain Metzgen was posthumously awarded the Order of Distinction from the Government of Belize in recognition of his dedication to Community and Public Service.[1]

Military Service

In 1918 he was 2nd Lieutenant in the Territorial Army of British Honduras and was promoted to full Lieutenant when the Defense Force was formed in 1928.

Following the Hurricane of 1931, he was put in charge of the rescue of the trapped, the feeding of the homeless and the burial of the dead. For that heroic work he was promoted to Captain and awarded the M.B.E. by King George.

In 1935 he was given the Military Efficiency Medal for British Honduras.

Civil Society

Monrad Metzgen was one of the founders of the British Honduras Agricultural Society; producing an Agricultural and Industrial Exhibition in 1928 and 1931. In 1927, he convened an Agricultural Conference which brought together Planters from all over the Colony. Subsequent to this conference, the Governor of British Honduras appointed an Agricultural Advisory Committee with Monrad as one of its prominent members.

During World War II, he traveled the Colony making speeches on the dire need for agricultural development and become synonymous with his matra: “grow what we eat and eat what we grow".

Sporting legacy

In 1928, on a bicycle ride in the country on the Northern Highway, Monrad Metzgen conceived the idea of what became the first Cross Country Cycling Classic having been struck by the number of bicycles Belizeans used to attend weekly cricket games in rural areas. He developed idea for a cycling "expedition" to San Ignacio in order to test cyclists' ability to cope with a then-badly built Western Highway. The Governor immediately pledged support and offered a cup as a prize to the winner of the race — a race that continues annually to this day. He enlisted the support of such notables at Matron L.M. Roberts of the Public Hospital, Royal Bank of Canada local manager Charles Beattie, Frans Dragten, Reverend Cleghorn, medical officer Lieutenant Colonel James Cran and that of a young surveyor, Henry Fairweather. Within a month he had the whole programme together and launched.

On April 2, 1928, a parade and inspection of the cyclists was organized by Monrad Metzgen and attended by the Governor, Superintendent of Police and others, who congratulated the cyclists and sent them on a parade through the town's streets. The official race kicked off on April 5, 1928 from in front of the courthouse at 5:00 AM. The trail was along the Western Highway to Orange Walk (55 miles from Belize City). The first rider into Cayo (90 miles in total), Elston Kerr, was cheered for making it into town in about 13 hours. The men stayed through the Easter holidays, feasting, eating, playing cricket and soaking up the accolades of the Cayo faithful. They also visited Benque Viejo and San Jose Succotz, the westernmost settled areas in Cayo. On April 9, the expeditionists set off at 5:00 AM to return to the City, their progress reliably reported through of all things, the telephone service. Kerr, of Burrell Boom, finished first in 21 hours 29 minutes, 81 minutes ahead of second place Norris Wade, also of Boom. Race organizer Metzgen finished in 30 and a half hours.

Subsequent to the race, Monrad Metzgen formed and chaired the British Honduras Cyclists Association in June 1928. As a result of his experience in the race, he was a key proponent of improved public roads ensuring that successive Governors of the Colony became interested in road building.

Board positions

Metzgen served on numerous Boards and Committees, including: Three terms on the Belize Town Board; the Belize Electricity Board; Chairman of the St. George’s Caye Day Celebrations Committee; Secretary of the Welcoming Committee when Colonel Charles Lindbergh flew into Belize in 1927; Secretary of a committee to promote the building of a really first class hotel for the town; President of the Native Jockey Club; and President of the Eureka Band.

He belonged to the Belize Literary and Debating Society and gave speeches and wrote papers on the value of educating the masses, including campaigning for a Public Library in Town.


In 1925, with H. E. C. Cain, he wrote “The Handbook of British Honduras”. The book includes over fifty Creole proverbs, proverbs like, Cuss-cus neber bore hole & Dawg hab liberty fi watch gubnor.

In 1928 he wrote “Blazing Trails in British Honduras” about the first Cross-Country race. (The book was recently reprinted by the Belize Historical Society).

In the late 1920s he worked on the “Archives of British Honduras”, edited by the Governor, Sir John Burdon and compiled the great patriotic pamphlet "Shoulder to Shoulder or The Battle of St. George's Caye."

The Handbook of British Honduras, by Monrad Metzgen and H.E.C. Cain, the Brief Sketch of British Honduras, by John Burdon, former governor and the Book Shoulder to Shoulder by Monrad Metzgen, all talk about the wonderful exploits of the Baymen. These are all out of print and have been officially suppressed in favour of new revisionist history-making.

Further reading

  • Handbook of British Honduras: Henry Edney Conrad Cain and Monrad Metzgen
  • Monrad Metzgen: Notes on British Honduras.
  • Monrad Metzgen: Shoulder to Shoulder or the Battle of St George's Caye, 1798.


External links


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