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John Clunies Ross


1786 - 1854

Seaman, explorer and adventurer. Born in Weisdale (Shetland Islands). Captain John Clunies Ross is best known for his connection with the Cocos (or Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean, where he arrived with his family, crew and several boatloads of Malays to establish coconut plantations. He built a settlement in 1827 and set up commercial trade based on copra. Clunies Ross claimed the islands as his own and ruled them until his death as a feudal fiefdom.

Queen Victoria formally gave the islands to the Ross family in 1886, who immediately proclaimed the islands as their kingdom. This situation was never accepted by the British or the Australians. Suffering financial difficulties and subject to diplomatic pressure, King Ross V (John Cecil Clunies Ross) sold most of the islands to Australia in 1978, for AU$6.25 million. The islanders voted for full integration with Australia in 1984.


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