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In the 17th century, Run was of great economic importance because of the value of the spices nutmeg and mace which are obtained from the nutmeg tree (Myristica fragrans), once found exclusively in the Banda Islands. 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.
On December 25, 1616, Captain Nathaniel Courthope reached Run to defend it against the claims of the Dutch East India Company. A contract with the inhabitants was signed accepting the James I of England as sovereign of the island. As a result, Run is considered to be the first English overseas colony. 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.
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 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; while 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. There are, however, still nutmeg trees growing on Run today.
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