This is one of my dregs of history series
Iain Boyd lived in Exeter. He thought the government was spying on him. When he saw people standing on street corners or having a drink on their own in the local tavern, seemingly oblivious to him and minding their own business, he immediately knew that they were in the employment of Them.
He wasn’t quite sure They were, but he knew that he was being watched. What he did know was that They worked for the government. Boyd also knew that They included teams of witches and warlocks who were doing their best to read his mind. They would surely be, right at this minute, looking at their crystal balls, searching entrails, or making potions for this very purpose. For that reason he made sure that he carried a dried piece of mouldy bacon. His one trusted confidant, Loopy Lilliana the Fortune Teller, had assured him that this mouldy piece of bacon would protect him. The good, and very patient, people of Exeter nicknamed him Paranoid.
Realising that there was strength in numbers, he decided to form his own secret society, The League of Boyd. This posed some problems; Boyd didn’t trust anybody else. How would he recognise government agents? He would certainly need to find a way of making sure none joined his society. To solve this problem Boyd invented a riddle that members would have to answer; a riddle that only he knew the answer to. This took some time – about 6 months. Boyd finally settled on ‘What am I thinking about right at this moment?’
He put an advert up on the town noticeboard, in code, inviting people to join. Nobody understood the notice because Boyd’s code was gibberish. He eventually settled for asking likely looking people if they wanted to join his new secret society and ended up interviewed over one hundred. Only three could answer his riddle. Then Boyd realised that if they knew what he was thinking they were probably government agents, so they were unsuitable for his society.
By the time Boyd was twenty-eight he knew that there were so many people watching him that he had to leave the country. He persuaded a group of 115 people that were going to the island of Roanoake off the east coast of America that he should tag along. He had a choice of sailing on The Dorothy, The Elizabeth, The Lyon, The Roebuck, or the The Tyger. He chose to sail behind The Tyger in a dinghy.
So it was in 1585 that he left Plymouth for Roanoake. Things went badly. The crops failed, there wasn’t much water, and local Indians were far too friendly and were quite obviously in the pay of the British government. The other settlers thought he was a nutter. They soon left, but without Boyd. He chose to stay, finally away from the prying eyes of Them. Another group of settlers arrived two years later. They disappeared without trace.
There is allegedly a local Croatan Indian story – it says that when they arrived they were met by a raving man who convinced them that if they wanted true freedom that they should follow him inland to the mountains where nobody could interfere with their lives. Of course, it’s more likely that he just died a lonely death somewhere on Roanoake, or went swimming and got eaten by a shark, or contracted some horrible disease and died a spectacular death. But maybe, just maybe, he went on to found the Melungeon community in the Clinch Mountains of Tennessee. It’s as good a story as any, but we’ll never know. But They almost certainly do.
This is an extract from The Complete Dregs of History At this site