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Bought and Sold for English Gold
The "Caledonia" and the Darien Disaster
Some Scottish Immigrants

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.

The Isthmus of Darien, Panama
The red dot identifies the harbor of New Caledonia

Caledonia Bay, the harbor of New Caledonia
The town of New Edinburgh is the lighter area in the center.

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 "Caledonia"
including partially reconstructed passenger lists

The hyperlinks point to the
Roll Family IGM Database

The names of passengers are taken from secondary sources only, and some of the information is not documented.

The Caledonia sailed from from Glasgow, Scotland to New York City, New York.

Passengers included
William Hogue
(or Hoge), his future wife
Barbara Hume, and her father
Sir James Hume (died on ship), and her mother
Mrs. Hume (who died on the ship)

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.
D.E. Johnson, History of the Middle River Settlements, West Virginia.

John LaRoue or LaRoux, with members of his family including sons
John LaRoue
Matthew LaRoue, and a relative
Matthew La Roue, who married onboard to
Margaret Dor

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 New Jersey.
Bullard, Edgar J., Bullard and Allied Families, Detroit: Private publisher, 1930.

William Gregg

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.
Kendall, Hazel M., The Quaker Greggs, pages 19-21.

His neighbors were Henry and Thomas Hollingsworth, Thomas Woolasten, George Hog, William Hoge, John Hussy and William Dixon.
Kendall, Hazel M., The Quaker Greggs, pages 26-28.

The Caledonia sailed from Scotland to Perth Amboy, New Jersey.

Passengers included
Henry W. Young

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.
Biographical and Genealogical History of Morris County, New Jersey, 1899, page 48.

John Megie

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.
Biographical and Genealogical History of Morris County, New Jersey, 1899, pages 139-140.

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.

Published passenger lists show a John McGhie as a prisoner passenger on the sailing ship Henry & Francis which left Leith, Scotland on September 5. 1685 and arrived in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, in December, 1685.

The Karr family (There is no record of their names.)
Walter Ker (He is presumed to be a Caledonia immigrant.)

William Davison and his wife (He will be #48198 in the database soon.)
Margaret Oliphant and her siblings (She will be #48199 in the database soon.)
William Oliphant and (He will be #48210 in the database soon.)
Janet Oliphant (He will be #48211 in the database soon.)

1698, 26 Jul
The First Darien Expedition Fleet
the "Patterson Expedition" sailed from Leith, Scotland, with five ships, three 500-ton ships and two others, the Caledonia, Dolphin, Endeavor, St. Andrew, and Unicorn. Aboard were 1,200 colonists. The fleet arrived at Caledonia Bay, New Caledonia, 2 Nov 1698.

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
The Caledonia sailed from Leith, Scotland, to New Edinburgh, New Caledonia, with the First Darien Expedition Fleet.

Passengers included
James Christie
(He will be #43359 in the database soon.)

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 Marets, 1684-1749.
Huidekoper, Frederick Louis. The American Ancestry of Frederic Louis Huidekoper and Reginald Shippen Huidekoper, 1930, Reprint, Geneva, Switzerland: Imprimerie Albert Kundig, 1931, pages 22-23.

1699, 3 Aug
The Caledonia sailed from the New Edinburgh, New Caledonia to New York, NY, abandoning the Colony of New Caledonia.

Passengers included
James Christie
(He will be #43359 in the database soon.)
John Stewart
He had arrived in New Caledonia aboard the Unicorn.

1699, 18 Aug
While the Caledonia was at New York with the evacuated colonists, The Second Darien Expedition Fleet sailed from Scotland with four relief ships and 1,300 settlers. They had left a scant 12 days before news would arrive from New York theat the colony had been abandoned.

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
The Caledonia sailed from New York to Scotland.

1700, 9 Mar
Margaret of Dundee formed The Third Darien Expedition, which arrived at Caledonia Bay on 16 Jun 1700.

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.

The Caledonia sailed from Inverness, Scotland, to Perth Amboy, New Jersey. This was the last voyage of the ship, which was wrecked in a storm and driven ashore at Perth Amboy.

Passengers included
John Brecount
(He may have boarded the Caledonia in New England.)

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.
Benjamin, Jr.,

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.
White, Lillie Pauline, Jennings, Davidson and Allied Families, Seattle, WA: Sherman Printing & Binding Co., 1844, page 7. 269 pages, 23 cm.

John Gaston and his family
Joseph Gaston
John Gaston
William Gaston
Alexander Gaston
Mary Gaston and her husband
James Cauldwell and their son
William Cauldwell

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.
Mackenzie, George Nonbim. Colonial Families of the United States of America, Baltimore, Maryland: Seaforth Press, Genealogical Publishing Co., 1912, Vol. III, pages 175-176.

Mount family

Davidson family

Duncan McCoy and his son
Gavin McCoy

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.
Somerset County Historical Quarterly, Vol I, page 216.

Nathaniel Manning

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.
John P. Wall and Harold E. Pickersgill, Eds. History of Middlesex County New Jersey 1664-1920, Volume I, New York And Chicago: Lewis Historical Publishing Company, Inc., 1921.

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.
Morris, Ira K., Morris's memorial history of Staten Island, New York New York: Memorial Pub. Co., c1898-c1900, 996 pages, Vol. II, page 60.

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 persecution.
Bergen, Teunis G., The Bergen Family, New York: Bergen & Tripp, 1866, page 174.

Alexander Laird

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.
Lee, Francis Bazley, Ed., Genealogical and Personal Memorial of Mercer County New Jersey, page 310.

Robert Balnaves

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.

Daniel Sinclair

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.
Scottish, <>

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.

This view of the case is confirmed by the fact that in a despatch of Lord Bellamont to the Board of Trade, in the New York Colonial Papers, dated October 20, 1699, a ship named Caledonia is mentioned as having made voyages between Scotland and America (He says that "When the two Scotch ships, called the Caledonia and the Unicorn, came to New York, they were in miserable conditions, having lost great number of people on their voyage from Caledonia by famine and sickness") and, if she were the same vessel, of which there is every probability, it is not surprising the laps of sixteen years should have rendered her no longer serviceable. There are several relics of the old vessel in parts of the State, in the possession of those who claim descent from those she brought to our shores.

(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.")
Whitehead, William A, The Early History of Perth Amboy, Appleton & Co., 1856, pages 265-266.


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.

Darien: Scotland's Pre-UK Colonial Misadventure
The ship Caledonia is mentioned in this interesting narrative describing the end of Scotland's dream of a colonial empire.