The Cocos (Keeling) Islands Were Settled By A Hostile Takeover Of A Pimp

Cocos Islands
Pimpin ain’t easy atoll (Wikimedia Commons)

The Cocos (Keeling) (why the parentheses?) Islands is an Australian-owned archipelago in the middle of the Indian Ocean and home to about 600 people. Its founding myth is much more interesting than that:

After the discovery of the islands by Captain Keeling, their first
notable visitor was Captain John Clunis-Boss, who in 1814 touched in
the ship Borneo on a voyage to India. Captain Boss returned two
years later with his wife and family and his mother-in-law, Mrs.
Dymoke, and eight sailor-artisans, to take possession of the islands,
but found there already one Alexander Hare, who meanwhile had marked
the little atoll as a sort of Eden for a seraglio of Malay women which
he moved over from the coast of Africa. It was Boss’s own brother,
oddly enough, who freighted Hare and his crowd of women to the
islands, not knowing of Captain John’s plans to occupy the little
world. And so Hare was there with his outfit, as if he had come to

On his previous visit, however, Boss had nailed the English Jack to a
mast on Horsburg Island, one of the group. After two years shreds of
it still fluttered in the wind, and his sailors, nothing loath, began
at once the invasion of the new kingdom to take possession of it,
women and all. The force of forty women, with only one man to command
them, was not equal to driving eight sturdy sailors back into the sea…

From this time on Hare had a hard time of it. He and Ross did not get
on well as neighbors. The islands were too small and too near for
characters so widely different. Hare had “oceans of money,” and might
have lived well in London; but he had been governor of a wild colony
in Borneo, and could not confine himself to the tame life that prosy
civilization affords. And so he hung on to the atoll with his forty
women, retreating little by little before Ross and his sturdy crew,
till at last he found himself and his harem on the little island known
to this day as Prison Island, where, like Bluebeard, he confined his
wives in a castle. The channel between the islands was narrow, the
water was not deep, and the eight Scotch sailors wore long boots. Hare
was now dismayed. He tried to compromise with rum and other luxuries,
but these things only made matters worse. On the day following the
first St. Andrew’s celebration on the island, Hare, consumed with
rage, and no longer on speaking terms with the captain, dashed off a
note to him, saying: “Dear Ross: I thought when I sent rum and roast
pig to your sailors that they would stay away from my flower-garden.”
In reply to which the captain, burning with indignation, shouted from
the center of the island, where he stood, “Ahoy, there, on Prison
Island! You Hare, don’t you know that rum and roast pig are not a
sailor’s heaven?” Hare said afterward that one might have heard the
captain’s roar across to Java.

The lawless establishment was soon broken up by the women deserting
Prison Island and putting themselves under Ross’s protection. Hare
then went to Batavia, where he met his death.

-history from Joshua Slocum’s 1900 “Sailing Alone Around The World” (available for free on Project Gutenberg). Seraglio is a word that needs to come back.