21st July 1865: Island of Redonda in the West Indies formally claimed by Matthew Dowdy Shiell of Montserrat, as his kingdom, to exploit phosphate deposits and to celebrate his descent from the ancient Irish Kings of Tara, and the birth of a male heir. (Recorded by the son, later in life).
1869: Annexation of the Island of Redonda by the British Government. M.D.S. lost control of the island, but retained the Title of King. Exploitation of phosphate deposits began, by U.K. lease to British company. Island placed under jurisdiction of Antigua. (Annexation Document in Royal Archive.)
21st July 1880: Matthew Phipps Shiell (son) became second King of Redonda, on his 15th birthday. Coronation ceremony held on island. (Folk-memory survived on Montserrat until recently; event recalled by M.P.S. in various writings, later in life. Corroborative evident in Royal Archive.)
October, 1936: M.P.S. drafted a witnessed document, passing Title of King of Redonda, at his death, to T.I.F. Armstrong ("John Gawsworth"). (Original document in Royal Archive.)
17th Febrary, 1947: M.P.S., 2nd King of Redonda, died, succeeded by T.I.F. Armstrong (Gawsworth), who endorsed the original document. The Will of M.P.S., when proved, created T.I.F.A. as his Literary Executor ; Redonda was not mentioned in the Will, having been otherwise disposed of. (Copy of Will in Royal Archive.) Gawsworth took the Title of King Juan I.
1954: T.I.F.A., better known as Gawsworth, drew up an Irrevocable Covenant with his friend and patron W.R. Hipwell; by its terms, the Title of King of Redonda was to pass, at Gawsworth's death, to Hipwell and in succession to his son David, as 4th and 5th Kings of Redonda. (Copy with Hipwell correspondence in Royal Archive.)
July, 1958: Following a quarrel with the Hipwells, Gawsworth advertised the Title of Kingship for sale, in "The Times" newspaper, for 1,000 guineas. (Copy in Royal Archive, together with a massive quantity of letters from all over the world, in reply.)
August, 1958: Following threat of a Legal Injunction by Hipwells, and having sought advice from his own solicitor, Gawsworth withdrew the Title from sale, thereby restoring the rights of the Hipwells to the Succession. (Correspondence and telegram in Royal Archive.)
June, 1966: Death of W.R.Hipwell, predeceased by his son David. The Irrevocable Convenant of 1954 was thus void, and Gawsworth was able to pass the Title on to Arhur John Roberts. (Hipwell Papers in Royal Archive, presented by W.R. Hipwell's window, Mabel.)
October 1966: Bequest of Title of King of Redonda to Arthur John Roberts, on death of Gawsworth. (Signed by three witnesses; document held in Royal Archive.)
Late October, 1966: On Gawsworth's instructions, a new Irrevocable Covenant was drafted by Professor Alan Fogg, by which he abdicated as 3rd King of Redonda in favour of Arthur John Roberts, to take effect on 17th February, 1967, being the twentieth anniversary of Gawsworth reign. This was signed by five witnesses, who also provided their addresses and occupations; three were known personally to the present King Leo of Redonda. (Document held in Royal Archive.)
February, 1967: The Abdication of King Juan I was widely publicised, and the succession of A.J.R., who took the title of King Juan II of Redonda, was acknowledged by all. (Press-cuttings, correspondence and numerous items endorsed by Gawsworth in Royal Archive, from 1966 to 1970, when Gawsworth died.)
April, 1970: by the terms of his Will (drawn up in Italy and not proved until some time after his death in Kensington in September, 1970) Gawsworth appointed Dr Iain Fletcher of Reading University and Mr J. Wynne-Tyson of the Centaur Press as his Joint Literary Executors for the Literary Estates of M.P.Shiell and himself. There was no mention of Redonda in this Will. (Copy of Will in Royal Archive.)
By this time, A.J.R. (4th King of Redonda) had moved away
from London, and was developing the Kingdom of Redonda, on his own terms,
further North. Contact with Gawsworth's remaining friends was broken,
and in consequence, the exact whereabouts of the reigning King was a
mystery. False stories began to circulate, and King Juan II eventually
prevailed upon Professor Fogg to issue an Open Letter to clarify not
only the legality of the descent of the Title, but also to state that
Gawsworth was in full possession of his faculties when the Irrevocable
Covenant of October 1966 was drawn up. This Open Letter, which may be
viewed on the Kingdom of Redonda's Website, has never been challenged,
nor has any legally-valid proof of other claims to the Title ever been
produced or submitted. The Title of King of Redonda has survived from
its inception in 1865 as a legal entity, and is regarded in Law as Incorporeal
Property, i.e. property without substance (as, for example the Lordship
of an English Manor or Scottish feudal barony, where the land which
formed its patrimony has passed into other hands.) As such it may be
bought or sold, passed on by deed of gift or inheritance, or by Irrevocable
Convenant or other legally-tructured device.
Without the legal proofs demonstrated above, claims by others to be "The King, (or Queen) of Redonda" are totally false, and deserve to be despised. Furthermore, these "claims" go contrary to the express wish of Gawsworth himself. It is so easy to denigrate the dead.
The present King of Redonda sought a legal opinion on the key documents, concerning the descent of this unique and harmless quirk of history known as the Kingdom of Redonda, when he took over from his predecessor King Juan II in 1989.
Professor Fogg's assessment of the proofs of Title was confirmed, and a recent review by legal opinion reiterates what has been said already: the Title is genuine, and its ownership is sound. The present owner of the Title of King of Redonda regards himself merely as its trustee, to protect and preserve its charming uniqueness, and to pass it on for posterity in due course. He welcomes any balanced expert advice or qualified opinions that members of the Realm may possess, or have access to, that will enable him, on behalf of the Membership, to ensure a happy future for us all, free from the misconceived and deliberate interference of impostors and others.
A record of those deluded people is already on this website, under the title "Delusions of Grandeur". The Royal Archive contains extensive evidence of thier attitudes and preposterous claims, often contradictory, since the present genuine owner of the Title has always laid the truth before them, in an attempt to find out why they pretend otherwise...and always, Professor Fogg's invitation remains ignored.
William L. Gates (Leo, Fifth King of Redonda)
June 3rd, 2000