Early Scottish Imperial Ventures: The Darien Scheme

Fuelled partly by the success of the London-based East India Company, Scottish imperial aspirations gathered momentum towards the end of the seventeenth century. While several Scots were engaged in the East India Company in London, or worked for it in India itself, demands for Scotland to have its own imperial venture grew in the late seventeenth century. With the passage of the 1693 Act for Encouraging Foreign Trade, Scottish merchants and businessmen were attracted by the prospect of trading under the Great Seal of Scotland. As a result, the Company of Scotland, Trading to Africa and the Indies, was established two years later on this day (26 June).

The new Company moved quickly to secure a piece of the imperial cake – not least because overseas trade promised greater …