Rare first hand account of a Poyaisian settler
By HASTIE, James, 1823
Narrative of a Voyage in the Kennersley Castle from Leith Roads to Poyais. 1823.
- Author: HASTIE, James
- Publication place: Edinburgh
- Publication date: 1823.
- Physical description: First Edition, 8vo (206 by 122mm), 22pp., blue half calf, marbled boards, dark red label, top edge gilt.
- Inventory reference: 10775
The Poyaisian Scheme (or Fraud) was the brainchild of the Scottish soldier Gregor MacGregor (1786–1845). He began his life of adventuring in Venezuela and Colombia. In 1820 he visited what is today Honduras and obtained a grant of eight million acres from George Frederick Augustus, king of the Mosquito Indians. Returning to London, MacGregor styled himself as Gregor I, Prince of the Independent State of Poyais. He set about publicising his fictitious state, setting up a land office in London and selling bonds to investors. The scheme began to unravel when, echoing the Darien scheme of the late seventeenth century, a group of around two hundred settlers, mostly Scots, sailed to Poyais. Discovering only a barren and inhospitable swampland, they were saved by a British rescue mission. MacGregor fled to Paris in late 1823 only to continue his activities there. After acquittal in a French fraud trial he returned to London in 1827 and once again began issuing bonds for a watered down version of his Poyaisian Scheme.