Columbus, on his fourth voyage on July 30, 1502, discovered the Bay Island of Guanaja. Shortly thereafter, Spain enslaved the natives on each of the Bay Islands (Guanaja, Utila and Roatan). Evenutally, English pirates invaded the Bay Islands in search of Spanish treasures, and many pirates made Utila their home. In 1642, an agreement was made between the supreme authority of Guatemala, the Govenor of Havana, and the President of the Audience of Santo Domingo, to send an expedition to the area to expel the English pirates.
In 1742 the British tried to take possession of the Atlantic Coast of Honduras and the Island of Roatan. England and Spain fought over these territories for quite some time, and eventually, a peace treaty was signed wherein the English agreed to leave the Bay Islands to the Spaniards. Fighting over the Bay Islands was not limited to England and Spain; even the Dutch and French attempted take overs of these Islands.
The Captain General of Guatemala at last gave an order to the Governor of Honduras to rescue the Bay Islands, and on August 28, 1814 Spain and England adjusted their peace treaty to leave the Islands under the jurisdiction of Honduras.
In May of 1830, however, the Superintendent of Belize took possession of Roatan on behalf of the English Crown. It was not until April 22, 1861, that a decree was finally issued that proclaimed the Bay Islands to be part of the Republic of Honduras. In 1872 the Bay Islands (Nicknamed “The Garden of the West Indies”) became politically and geographically, a Department of Honduras.