Explore the records of investors in The Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies, also called the Scottish Darien Company. It was funded by investments from people across Scotland. This collection contains information on those who invested money and their representatives.
Each record includes a transcript of the original record, the amount of information listed varies, but the records usually include a combination of the following information:
Place of subscription
On the 26 June 1695, the Scottish Parliament passed an Act establishing the Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies, the company was financed entirely by public subscription.
Opposed by commercial interests from England, the company of Scotland raised subscriptions for the scheme in Amsterdam, Hamburg, and London.
English investors soon raised their share but withdrew their money after King William and the English Parliament turned against the venture. However, by August 1696 the Scottish investors raised £400,000 themselves.
On the 14 July 1698, the company left the port of Leith bound for what is now Panama on their first expedition. Around 1,200 people were on board the five ships that had set sail. After docking at Madeira and the West Indies, the fleet eventually reached Darien which they called ‘New Caledonia’ by November 1698.
The land was cleared for growing crops and a settlement was built however, agriculture proved difficult and the local Indians were unwilling to purchase goods offered by the colonists. There was also the failure to sell any goods to the passing traders who docked in the bay. Meanwhile, King William had instructed the English colonies in America not to supply the Scots settlement
In July 1699, the colony was abandoned due to inadequate provisions, the unfamiliar hot and humid climate had caused fever to spread, and many settlers died. Of the 1,200 settlers, only 300 survived.
The Darien scheme was a disastrous failure. Around one quarter of Scotland’s liquid assets was lost in the venture and some 2,000 people perished. Queen Anne and her predecessor King William pressed for the union of the Scottish and English Parliaments. This was finally achieved by the Acts of the Union 1707.
Under the Treaty of Union Article 15, Scotland was paid £398,085 10s to offset future liability towards the English national debt for the Darien losses and to support Scottish industries, which seemed vital to the country’s economic survival.
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