Colony Of Darien, founded on the isthmus of Panama, near the close of the 17th century, by William Paterson, a Scotchman, and the founder of the bank of England. (See Pater-son, William.) In June, 1695, a charter was granted by the Scottish parliament and ratified by the king. In a short time the subscription for stock amounted to £400,000 in Scotland, while £300,000 was taken by the English and £200,000 by the Dutch. The English and Dutch subscriptions were almost wholly withdrawn in consequence of the severe measures against the enterprise which were passed by the English parliament at the instance of trading corporations. The Scotch, however, favored the enterprise with increased zeal, and on July 26, 1698, 1,200 men, in five ships, sailed from Leith for Panama, where they arrived after three months. They founded a colony at Acta, now Port Escoces, about 30 m. N. W. of the gulf of Darien, giving it the name of New St. Andrew, and calling the country New Caledonia. They purchased lands of the natives, sent messages of amity to the nearest Spanish governors, and published a declaration of freedom of trade and religion to all people.
They had brought with them only a short supply of provisions, trusting to obtain what they needed from the English colonies; but the Dutch and English East India companies had united in procuring orders from the king forbidding any one to render them any assistance. Thus abandoned to the resources of the country and the effects of the climate, their numbers were rapidly reduced by disease. Paterson lingered eight months, waiting for assistance from Scotland, and not till almost all had died or departed did he abandon the settlement, which he was the last to leave. Meantime, 1,300 men under Capt. Campbell had left Scotland, but did not arrive till after the departure of the colonists. Upon their arrival they were threatened by a Spanish force of 1,500 men and 11 ships. On the second day after landing, Capt. Campbell with 200 men attacked and dispersed the Spanish camp; but on his return to the fort he found it blockaded by the Spanish squadron, and all hope of retreat or aid dispelled. After a siege of nearly six weeks the colonists capitulated, except Campbell, who escaped, reached New York, and sailed for Scotland. Not more than 30 of the colonists returned to their native country; among these was Paterson, who afterward made an unsuccessful attempt to renew the enterprise.
The story of the colony is told in Eliot Warburton's novel, "Darien".