and Sold for English Gold
The story of the ship Caledonia is inextricably entwined with the loss of Scotland's nationhood, largely a result of the failed Scottish Colony of New Caledonia on the Isthmus of Darien, now Puerto Escoces, on the Caribbean coast of Panama. The ship also carried many immigrant Scotch families to New York and New Jersey.
England had virtually cut Scotland off from world trade. Scotland was anxious for its own world empire. The first Scottish attempt at colonization in the Americas is often called the Patterson Expedition. William Patterson, one of the founders of the Bank of England and the first Governor of New Caledonia, had said that, "Darien would be the door of the seas, the key of the universe, reducing by half the time and expense of navigation to China and Japan, and bringing peace to both oceans without the guilt of war."
The plan was to cut a road through the Panamanian jungle, link the Pacific and Atlantic and set up a trading post on the coast of Darien. This was a good idea, but New Calidonia was not a hospitable place. The colony failed miserably.
As a result of the financial fiasco caused by the failed colony, Scotland lost its nationhood and was forced into union with England in return for compensation to individuals who had lost fortunes. About 1707 the poet Robert Burns refered to the Scotland's entry into the union as "being bought and sold by English gold."
The Ship "Caledonia"
The Caledonia was one of the five ships in the glorious First Darien Expedition Fleet in 1698. Near the end of her usefulness in 1715, she had been a ship for prisoners expelled by the British government to the American Colonies for political reasons. She was old and leaking badly. Not worth repairing, her planks worm-eaten in the tropics, she was blown ashore in a gale at Perth Amboy, New Jersey.
There were two ships named the Caledonia. The Caledonia sailed under the command of Robert Drummond, and is the ship referred to here. Caledonia was an old name for Scotland. The other ship was the Ann of Caledonia, originally named the Anna, purhased for the Darien Company in New York by Thomas Drummond, brother of Robert, and sailed back to New Caledonia.
The Voyages of the
The hyperlinks point to
The names of passengers are taken from secondary sources only, and some of the information is not documented.
William Hoge, distinguished in state and church, came to America in 1682, He was the son of Sir James Hoge of Scotland, who lived in Mussleburg near Glasco. On board the Caledonia, the vessel that brought him over, was a family named Hume, consisting of a father , mother and daughter. They were Presbyterians, leaving Scotland to avoid the persecution.
The Humes were from Paisley,Scotland. The
father was a knight and a Baron. Both mother and father
died during the voyage to America, leaving their daughter
in the charge of young William Hoge, who placed her with
relatives, the Johnsons, in New York City, while he
decided to make his home in Perth Amboy, New Jersey on
land owned by a Scotch company, at the head of which was
Gov. Berkley, and of which he was a member.
John LaRoue or LaRoux,
with members of his family including sons
Among the various families of this name
to settle early in the vicinity of Staten Island was John
LaRoue or LaRoux who, with several members of his family
(including his sons John and Matthew), arrived from
Glasgow, Scotland, in the ship Caledonia, in 1680. The
ship, driven by storms into Raritan Bay, New Jersey,
eventually went ashore, it is said, at South Amboy. The
relationship of the various members of the La Roue
families on this ship has not been definitely
established, but it is known that Matthew La Roue,
ancestor of this branch of the LaRue's, was onboard and
married, during the voyage to America, Margaret Dor. The
similarity of names among the children of these first
families is very strong evidence of their close
relationship, and their descendants became the principal
families of this name in the United States, allied by
marriage to many early Colonial families in New York and
In 1682 he sailed from southern Ireland with other
Quakers from northern Ireland to Perth Amboy, New Jersey.
They settled in Upland, now Chester, Pennsylvania, later
moving down the Delaware River to settle near the
Brandywine Creek. He was granted 200 acres in one of
William Penn's principal manors, Rockland Manor, in 1683,
and 400 acres on January 26, 1684. Here he built a log
cabin, which he called "Strand Millas." He died
at the age of about 45 and was buried on his own land in
Christiana Hundred, New Castle, Delaware.
Henry W. Young descended from Scotch Ancestors. During
a period of persecution occurring in the reign of King
Charles the second, about a hundred men that had been
spared the sword were put on the Caledonia, an
unseaworthy old craft that leaked so badly that it was
evident expectation that all on board would go down, ere
they were out of sight of land. But a competent man was
chosen Captain, and by dint of constatnt bailing a kind
of Providence brought the ship safely to Perth Amboy, New
Jersey, in 1685.
The original progenitor of the Megie
family in this country was John Megie, who came from
Scotland to Perth Amboy in 1685. The modern Scottish
spelling for this surname is McGhee.
John McGhie was banished in 1685 from Scotland to New
Jersey in a wave of anti-Presbyterian persecution. A book
The Black Book of Kincardineshire lists a John
Mckghie as a prisoner of Dunnottar Castle during the
summer of 1685.
The Karr family (There is no record
of their names.)
William Davison and his
wife (He will be #48198 in the database soon.)
1698, 26 Jul
The Caledonia, which had been launched at Hamburg, but was probably already an older ship, was under the command of Robert Drummond, who later commanded the Speedy Return. The colonists founded the settlement New Edinburgh, and Fort St Andrews.
One quarter of the settlers were lost to disease and misfortune, discouraged and not able to adjust to the the tropics. they left for Scotland via New York on 20 Jun 1699. Only one of the five ships, the Caledonia, and 300 of the 1,200 that had left Scotland would return. Some of the colonists had stayed in New York.
1698, 26 Jul
James Christie, born in Scotland in 1670, presumably
at St. Ninians, Stirlingshire, on October 9, 1670; died
at Schraalenburg (now Dumont), New Jersey, April 16, 1768;
supposed to be the second son of John Christie and Anna
Ramsay, of Stirlingshire, and a member of the family of
Christie, which first appeared as a surname in northern
Scotland in the 12th Century and in the southeastern
counties in the 15th Century, that acquired "the
lands and barony of Canglar, commonly called
Charterhouse, in the parish of St. Ninians;" joined
the ill-fated Darien Expedition, organized by William
Patterson, the founder of the Bank of England, and sailed
from Leith, Scotland, in the Caledonia, for the
Colony of New Caledonia, Isthmus of Darien, July 26, 1698;
sailed from the Isthmus of Darien in the Caledonia, June
18, 1699, for New England, en route back to Scotland;
arrived at New York, August 3, 1699, and resolved to
remain in the American colonies; settled at
Schraalenburgh (now Dumont), New Jersey; married at
Hackensack, New Jersey, September 18, 1703, Madeleine des
1699, 3 Aug
1699, 18 Aug
When they arrived 30 Nov 1699, Captain Thomas Drummond was waiting for them at deserted New Edinburgh on New Caledonia Bay with the ship Ann of Caledonia, which he had purchased at New York. The second fleet was welcomed by four hundred lonely graves
Captain Alexander Campbell, the Governor of New Caledonia, took a small force of men to attack and defeat a Spanish force that was approaching the colony. On 25 Feb 1699, a fleet of eleven Spanish ships blocked the port and more troops, arrived overland from Panama. The surviving colonists, many of whom were very ill, sailed home to Scotland on 11 Apr 1700.
1699, 9 Oct
1700, 9 Mar
Captain Patrick MacDowall found the Spanish in possession of New Edinburgh, and was forced to flee to Jamaica. This was the end of hope for New Caledonia.
Frederick Buckalew (He may have boarded the Caledonia in New England.)
Benjamin Jennings, who came with seven relatives (They may
have boarded the Caledonia in New England.) This
is a family tradition.
The American ancestor of this branch of
the family, often called the New Jersey branch, is not
certainly known although they are credited with having
come from Suffolk Co., England. There is a family
tradition to the effect that this ancestor was a Benjamin
[Jennings], who came in the ship Caledonia with
his seven sons, but that the ship was wrecked near the
coast of Perth Amboy, and the "seven brothers"
were scattered and were never reunited. The log book was
found or saved and is preserved in the New York Records.
There is no record of the list of passengers landed, but
tradition speaks of the "seven brothers",
naming them as Joseph, Zebulon, Jacob, Benjamin, Jr.,
Jonathan, John, and David. Although they are called
"brothers," many think their relationship is
not so close, some of them being not nearer than cousins.
John Gaston emigrated from France to
avoid religious persecution. He was a Hugenot. He went to
Scotland and then to Ireland to live with his sons John,
William, and Alexander. They sailed from Scotland with
four other families. The Gaston, Mount, Rue, Rew, and
Davidson families sailed from Inverness, Scotland on the
ship Caledonia, under the command of Captain
John Anderson in 1715.
Thomas Talmage married Mary, daughter of Captain Goyn
McCoy, a Scotchman who had come to America in the "Caledonia"
early in the 18th Century. The ship was wrecked off Perth
Amboy, but all on board were saved.
Nathaniel Manning is said to have belonged to the
family that came to Perth Amboy in the Caledonia
from Scotland in 1715. He received his medical education
under the tuition of the "Faculty of Philadelphia ;"
he presented testimonials from them as to his proficiency
in medicine when he joined the State Medical Society in
1767. He first practiced in Metuchen and was considered
an able physician. He graduated from the College of New
Jersey in 1762, and is noted in its catalogue as a
clergyman. In 1771, being about to leave the province, he
applied to the State Society for a certificate of
character as a physician, which was granted. He went to
England in 1771 and was soon afterward ordained by the
Bishop of London for Hampton Parish, Virginia. In 1775 he
was its incumbent.
Year of voyage not identified
Abraham, John, and Peter Burbanck and two sisters
Abraham, John, and Peter Burbanck and
two sisters, came from the Netherlands, Holland, in the
ship "Caledonia." The vessel was partly wrecked
on the passage, and the sisters were lost. The brothers
landed in New York in the latter part of the Seventeenth
century, and Abraham settled on Staten Island.
Jonathan Combs (He will be #48218 in the database soon.)
The ancestor of Jonathan Combs, it is said, came from
Scotland, in the old ship Caledonia, which
brought the first emigrants from the land of stern
Presbyterianism; they seeking a home in the wild conntry
from the intolerance of Papal and Episcopal power and
Alexander Laird, the pioneer ancestor of the Laird
family in this country, emigrated to America, making the
voyage in the sailing vessel Caledonia. He came
from the county of Fife in Scotland, and made his home in
Englishtown, Monmouth county, New Jersey, where all his
descendants in a direct line have been born. Among his
children was a son, William.
One of the those to travel to Darien was Robert Balnaves, a steward's mate onboard the ship Caledonia. His brother James was appointed executor for his estate in 1707. He may have sailed with the first expedition.
Among the wills in the Scottish Archives is that of
Daniel Sinclair or St. Clare. The will states he was a
seaman aboard the ship Caledonia. The will is
dated January 2, 1709.
The End of the "Caledonia"
Lying in shoal water, nearly in front of the brick-yard of Mr. Hall, are the remains of a vessel which used to be much resorted to, and may still be, in consequence of their harboring numbers of fine fish.
The vessel Caledonia, and her
name has become very generally known, and it may be
said - reverentially spoken of, from her having borne to
New Jersey many Scotch families immigrating from Scotland
during the troubles that agitated that country in 1715.
She was commanded by Robert Drummond, and, for some cause
not now known, the captain and crew deserted her while
lying at the wharf at Amboy, and, a storm rising, she
broke from her moorings and drifted to the spot mentioned.
It is probably that she was an old vessel and
unseaworthy, which will account for no measures being
adopted for her preservation.
(There are many fabulous stories current
relative to the vessel and her passengers, possessing as
much foundation in truth as the assertion of an old negro
woman in Amboy; who was wont to date the advent of a
certain old citizen as corresponding with the arrival of
"Ham and Colombo (Columbus) in the old Caledonia.")
Insh, George Pratt, The Company of Scotland Trading to Africa and the Indies, London & New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1932, octavo, 343 pages, frontispiece and 4 other illustrations, 4 maps.
Prebble, John, The Darien Disaster; A Scots Colony in the New World, 1698-1700, New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1968. 366 p. illus., coat of arms, maps, 22 cm.
Scotland's Pre-UK Colonial Misadventure