Wallace, Peter

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Wallace, Peter

Peter Wallace (fl. 1630s), Scottish buccaneer. According to popular legend, Captain Peter Wallace (Willis) was the first European to harbor inside the barrier reef along the coast of present-day Belize. His base of operations was said to be founded in 1638 near the mouth of the Belize River. Wallace captained the Swallow, out of Tortuga Island, and Swallow Cay off the coast of Belize City is said to have been named after his ship. His name in Spanish became "Wallix" and later "Valis" or "Ballese" and was used as the name for the settlement at the mouth of the Belize River. Emory King, president of the Belize Historical Society, favors this thesis and notes that documents discovered from the Bay Islands refer to the area as "Wallix" or "Wallis."

Other theories suggest that Belize may be of Maya origin from the word belix, meaning "muddy water" or belakin, meaning "land that looks toward the sea." It is also possible that the name Belize is derived from the Spanish term baliza or the French term balise, meaning "lighthouse" or other sea marker indicating dangerous conditions, the mouth of an important river, or the site of previous wrecks. In the eighteenth century, for example, the Spanish referred to a small settlement at the mouth of the Mississippi River as the belize.

See alsoBuccaneers and Freebooters .


Narda Dobson, A History of Belize (1973), esp. pp. 47-52.

Emory King, I Spent It All in Belize (1986), esp. pp. 9-10.

Tom Barry, Belize: A Country Guide (1989), p. 1.

Additional Bibliography

Garber, James F. The Ancient Maya of the Belize Valley: Half a Century of Archaeological Research. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2004.

Leslie, Robert. A History of Belize: Nation in the Making. Benque Viejo del Carmen, Belize: Cubola Productions, 2002.

Thomson, Peter. Belize: A Concise History. Oxford: Macmillan Caribbean, 2004.

                                            Brian E. Coutts

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Wallace, Peter

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