At various times France, Denmark, Austria and Great Britain all had more or less shadowy rights to the islands, the Danes being the most persistent in their efforts to occupy the group, until in 1869 they relinquished their claims in favour of the British, who at once began to put down the piracies of the islanders, and established a penal settlement, numbering in all about 350 persons, in Nancowry harbour.
Some English merchants had violated the shadowy claim of Spain to the whole west coast of America by founding a settlement at Nootka Sound.
Prince Bismarck looked upon the rights of Spain over the Caroline Islands in the Pacific as so shadowy that he sent some German war-ships to take possession of a port in the largest island of the group. The action of Germany caused great indignation in Spain, which led, in Madrid, to imposing demonstrations.
The heroic but foolhardy attempt of the brothers Bandiera, Venetians who had served in the Austrian navy against the Neapolitan Bourbons in 1844, was the first event to cause an awakening of Venetian patriotism, and in 1847 Manin presented a petition to the Venetian congregation, a shadowy consultative assembly tolerated by Austria but without any power, informing the emperor of the wants of the nation.
Irish records preserve the names of three shadowy pre-Patrician saints who were connected with south-east Ireland, Declan, Ailbe and Ciaran.