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The Darien Adventure

Company of Scotland minute book title page, 1696

In 1698 the Scots tried to set up a trading colony in Darien (now part of Panama) in an attempt to evade the increasingly negative effects of the English Navigation laws on the Scottish economy. The Darien Adventure failed with disastrous implications for the Scottish economy. Its failure became one of the contributory economic factors in the abolition of the independent Scottish Parliament and the Act of Union in 1707.

Curiously, The Royal Bank of Scotland grew out of the failure of the colony, as its origins lie in the banking ambitions of the Commissioners of ‘the Equivalent’ – the sum awarded to Scotland under the Union in compensation for the losses incurred by Darien. As a result the archive collections of RBS include many papers relating to the Darien Adventure and its consequences.

This resource provides pupils with the opportunity to study an appropriate historical event, adopt methods of historical enquiry and use historical documents to develop their knowledge of the political and economic past.

As most of the sources are Scottish, for pupils in England and Wales this activity will develop an understanding of the role of interpretation in the writing of history by examining an aspect of British history from a non-English perspective.

Teachers’ notes

A history for teachers

Information sheets and worksheets for pupils

Images and sources

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