THE GREAT POYAISIAN FRAUD £100 BOND
single sheet, folded, 14½ x 17½ ins. 37 x 44.5 cms. folded, small whole in a crease joint, with a section of seven 3 per cent Dividends of £1 10s payable on the 1st of January and the 1st of July each year, cut off to be cashed in, signed in ink Gregor MacGregor, R.B. Cooper, James Marshall & Daniel Mocatta,
Gregor MacGregor was a Scottish soldier, adventurer, land speculator, and Colonizer who fought in the South American struggle for independence. After his return to Britain in 1820, he claimed to be cacique of Poyais (also known as Principality of Poyais, Territory of Poyais, or Republic of Poyais), a fictional Central American country that MacGregor had invented which, with his promotional efforts, drew investors and eventually colonists. London high society welcomed MacGregor's colourful figure, and he and his Spanish-American wife received many invitations. The Lord Mayor of London Christopher Magnay even organized an official reception in London Guildhall. MacGregor claimed descent of clan MacGregor and that Rob Roy MacGregor had been his direct ancestor. MacGregor also claimed that one of his ancestors was a rare survivor of the Darien Scheme, the failed Scottish attempt of colonization in Panama in the 1690s. In order to compensate for this, he said, he had decided to draw most of the settlers from Scotland. For this purpose, he established offices in Edinburgh and Glasgow. He also enhanced his allure by embellishing his exploits in the Venezuelan War of Independence in the service of Francisco de Miranda and Simon Bolivar. MacGregor returned to London in 1820, where he announced that he had been created cacique (highest authority or prince) of the Principality of Poyais, an independent nation on the Bay of Honduras. He claimed that native chieftain King George Frederic Augustus I of the Mosquito Shore and Nation had granted him the territory of Poyais, 76,000 mi (122,000 km) of fertile land with untapped resources, a small number of settlers of British origin, and cooperative natives eager to please. He painted the picture of a country with a civil service, an army and a democratic government, which needed English settlers and investors. MacGregor was also reunited with Major William John Richardson, an old comrade-in-arms from the revolutionary wars in Venezuela, and by the winter of 1821 he had made Richardson legate of Poyais. He moved to Oak Hall on Richardson's estate in Essex, as befitted his station as a prince, so-called. An office for the Legation of the Territory of Poyais was opened at 1 Dowgate Hill in London. MacGregor threw elaborate banquets in Oak Hall and invited dignitaries, foreign ambassadors, government ministers and senior military officers.
In Edinburgh in 1822, MacGregor began to sell land rights for 3 shillings and 3 pence per acre (a worker's weekly wage at the time was about 1 shilling). The price steadily rose to 4 shillings. Many people willing to help colonize the new land signed on with their families. By October 23, 1822, MacGregor had secured a £200,000 loan on behalf of the Poyais government, in the form of 2,000 bearer bonds worth £100 each. No dividend was ever paid to the bondholders, and the bonds became unsaleable. The "Republic of Poyais" offered the bondholders land in exchange for these obligations, but the offer was accepted by none of them. In 1839, Gregor MacGregor moved to Venezuela where he received Venezuelan citizenship, and a pension as a general who had fought for independence. He died in Caracas on 4 December 1845.
Stock ref: 13608