The Darien scheme

Letter from the Commission of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland to the Honourable Council and inhabitants of the Scots Colony of Caledonia in America.

Social & Political
  • Publication place: Glasgow
  • Publisher: Robert Sanders
  • Publication date: July 21st, 1699.
  • Physical description: First edition (210 by 160mm), [ii], 16pp., text soiled and stained, modern half-calf over brown cloth boards, spine lettered in gilt.
  • Inventory reference: 1294


The Darien scheme was an unsuccessful attempt by Scotland to become a world trading nation by establishing a colony called “New Caledonia” on the Isthmus of Panama in the late 1690s. In practice the undertaking was marked by poor planning and leadership, lack of demand for trade goods, devastating epidemics of disease, and increasing shortage of food; it was finally abandoned after a siege by Spanish forces in April of 1700. As the Darien company was backed by about a quarter of the money circulating in Scotland, its failure left the nobles and landowners – who had suffered a run of bad harvests – almost completely ruined and was an important factor in weakening their resistance to the Act of Union of 1707.

Despite being harassed by the Spanish, a report was sent back to Edinburgh requesting supplies and portraying an upbeat tone. This document is the official reply to that report.


  1. Wing C4231.