In 1820 a Scotsman named Gregor MacGregor pulled off one of the most audacious cons of all time. MacGregor claimed to be descendant of Rob Roy and ancient kings of Scotland, and also claimed to have been granted a certain amount of land in what is now modern day Honduras. Calling his new (and entirely fictional) country “Poyais,” MacGregor began to solicit investments for his new, up-and-coming Central American country.
The image below is a landscape of the supposed country of Poyais, taken from Sketch of the Mosquito Shore, a book that MacGregor penned under the pseudonym Thomas Strangeways. MacGregor promised that his land in the New World was filled with libraries, cathedrals, and a native population who were eager to welcome Europeans. There was nothing of the sort, and when colonists showed up in what is now modern day Honduras, they found nothing.
For more on Scotland’s failure to have Central American colonies, check out Episode 20, The Lost Empire of Scotland.
Read Sketch of the Mosquito Shore by “Thomas Strangeways.”
The Economist article cited in the episode, on why MacGregor’s investors could have been so credulous.
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