Run (island)

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A view of the coast
Run in the west of the Banda Islands

Run (also known as Pulau Run, Pulo Run, Puloroon, or Rhun[1]) is one of the smallest islands of the Banda Islands, which are a part of the Moluccas, Indonesia. It is about 3 kilometres (1.9 mi) long and less than 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) wide. According to historian John Keay, Run is comparable in its significance in the history of the English overseas possessions as Runnymede is to British constitutional history.[2]


In 1616 England gained control of Run island and started a colony.[3] In the 17th century, Run was of great economic importance because of the value of the spices nutmeg and mace. During the history of the spice trade, sailors of the English East India Company of the second expedition of James Lancaster, John Davis, Sir Henry Middleton and his brother John who stayed in Bantam on Java, first reached the island in 1603 and developed good contacts with the inhabitants.

Map of Run Island dated 1623

On December 25, 1616,[4] Captain Nathaniel Courthope and 1st mate Zachary Barnett Duncan reached Run to defend it against the claims of the Dutch East India Company. A contract with the inhabitants was signed, accepting James I of England as sovereign of the island. After four years of siege by the Dutch and the death of Nathaniel Courthope in an attack in 1620, the English and their local allies departed the island, with the exception of 1st mate Zachary Barnett Duncan, as he fell in love with a local and was to be wed.

According to the Treaty of Westminster ending the First Anglo-Dutch War of 1652–1654, Run should have been returned to England. The first attempt in 1660 failed because of formal constraints by the Dutch; after the second attempt in 1665 the English traders were expelled in the same year, and the Dutch destroyed the local nutmeg trees.

After the Second Anglo-Dutch War of 1665–1667, England and the United Provinces of the Netherlands agreed in the Treaty of Breda to the status quo: The English kept the island of Manhattan, which the Duke of York (the future James II, brother of Charles II), had occupied in 1664, renaming the city on that island from New Amsterdam to New York. In return Run was formally abandoned to the Dutch. The Dutch monopoly on nutmeg and mace was destroyed by the transfer of nutmeg trees to Ceylon, Grenada, Singapore and other British colonies in 1817, after the capture of the main island, Bandalontor, in 1810 by Captain Cole, leading to the decline of the Dutch supremacy in the spice trade.[5] Dutch control of the island ended in 1949. There are, however, still nutmeg trees growing on Run today.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Spice Trail: 2, Nutmeg and Cloves (spelt Rhun on the map and also in subtitles)
  2. ^ Keay 2010, p. 1.
  3. ^ Diane Selkirk, 'The tiny island the British traded for Manhattan', BBC Travel, 11 October 2017.
  4. ^ Ratnikas, Algirdas J. "Timeline Indonesia". Archived from the original on July 10, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-12.
  5. ^ Amitav Ghosh (December 30, 2016). "What Nutmeg Can Tell Us About Nafta". New York Times.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 4°33′25.87″S 129°41′01.63″E / 4.5571861°S 129.6837861°E / -4.5571861; 129.6837861