The term “finder’s keepers” is normally thrown around when you find $10 on the ground. We’re not sure if it holds up with a deserted island. For one person, their attempt to seize the land almost led to a battle between two countries.

A whole new world

Born in San Francisco, James Harden-Hickey was an esteemed author with 11 books published. During the peak of his career, he was happily married to Countess de Saint-Pery. Following their divorce, Harden-Hickey became enamored with traveling.


While making the rounds in Tibet, he spotted a tiny island near the South Atlantic. At the time, nobody claimed ownership of this land. In 1893, Harden-Hickey decided to take it upon himself to acquire this open space, which he called the Principality of Trinidad. If that wasn’t enough, he decided to give himself a proper title: James I, Prince of Trinidad. As expected, he made himself a crown for his new royal status.

A slight roadblock

With some new land in his possession, Harden-Hickey decided to go all out. He sold government bonds and opened a nifty office in NYC. Harden-Hickey managed to become the biggest heel in the area for his actions.

E. F. Knight/Wikimedia

In 1895, Britain decided to pay him a surprise visit in order to claim his land. While it may seem peculiar, they had a good reason. In 1700, British astronomer Edmund Halley scouted the spot for a possible takeover. Using a near 200-year-old incident in a situation is something you’d expect out of a relationship. Regardless, Harden-Hickey decided it was best to give up the land.

Here comes a new challenger

Before he could sign it away, Brazil made the case that it was legally their property. They stated the area was discovered in 1502 by their people and some Portuguese folk. With two countries looking at this piece of land, it almost became a tense situation.


Fortunately, Britain simply let Brazil take over the area and walked away. As for Harden-Hickey, he was only left with that same crown he created. We’re not sure if he continued asking people to address him as Prince, though.