re: Croy

Cathleen Spence (OFHS) put me touch with Heather Croy whose husband Jim descends from a Robert Croy and Mary Brock who were married in Stronsay ca. 1755.

This Robert Croy was however not the same man as a contemporary Robert Croy –also on Stronsay- who was the Pandora’s William Croy’s father Robert, married to a Margaret Chalmers.  Possibly however, these 2 Roberts Croy were 1st cousins, with a common paternal grandfather.

Heather Croy subsequently advised me that her genealogy of her husband James Croy’s ancestors went back as far as Robert Croy and Mary Brock; her e-mail dd. 23 Sept said she was

‘able to trace a direct line from my husband to Robert Croy / Mary Brock – but it is through Jean Croy, a daughter of Magnus (son of Robert & Mary) But: Jean Croy (daughter of Magnus) married James Croy. I have some evidence to suggest that James is possibly a son of Robert Croy (your William’s brother). So my husband may have a direct male line if James is a son of Robert Croy jnr.’

A later email from Heather said that there was also  ‘evidence to suggest that the same William’s brother Robert also had a son called William who married Margaret Croy (Jean’s Sister) and emigrated to Australia with their family. They emigrated in 1851 on the Oregon to Adelaide. If this correct then brother and sister married brother and sister. There were at least 6 Croy families in Stronsay + Sanday and mainland Orkney at that time with families and a lot of Roberts! but not so many Williams. Using the Christian names is a good indicator of which belong together’ 

Confused? …..errr yeah a tad!  Especially as there appear to be several generations discussed in Heather’s mail. Even so, it strikes me that if the James Croy who married Jean Croy is indeed Pandora-William’s nephew, then Heather’s Jim Croy should have the same Y chromosome DNA.

HMS David’s muster book 1790 (Adm 36/11085)

The vessel was called a “tender”. The book contains weekly muster tables (25 May – 30 Aug 1790) taken on board while ‘at sea’ or in Montrose,  Leith, Peterhead and Kirkwall Roads. She had a crew of 14 and initially carried a (press) “gang” of 4 under command of a Lt John Yetts; the sailing master was Joseph Wilson.

By the time recruiting began in Kirkwall Roads, Yetts’ “gang” numbered 10 supernumaries (“borne for wages and victuals”)  First Orcadians to be recruited were William and John Gaddie (entered on 28th  July under nos 116 and 117)  All men entered under nos 118 -140 were from Orkney; they included George Eglington (#132)  and Hugh Houston(#135)  Men entered under nos 141-143 were not from Orkney.

More Orcadians were recruited under nos 144-160 and 162 -188, including Richard Mackie, Robert Fea, James Scott, James Miller, Wm Cray and James Murray. Most men were entered as being recruited in Kirkwall Roads although several are annotated as having been “entered at Stromness by Lt Yetts”

Yetts and Wilson’s signatures under the last muster dd 31 Aug 1790

68 Orcadians were “pressed” during this period. They were taken south to The Nore, off Sheerness in September where 8 of them were subsequently assigned to the Pandora. The others were distributed to other warships being manned at The Nore.

Another Orcadian, called James Sibasteen,  was initially also assigned to the Pandora but was ‘discharged’ by Admiral Rodham’s order – probably because he was able to show he had “protected employment” status.  Sibasteen wasn’t the only Orcadian recruit to be ordered out. A John Corrigle was discharged from the David on 24th  August with the annotation “insane” against his name.

Science Festival paper

I am excited about going back to Orkney in a few days’ time  to present a general overview of the project at the International Science Festival –  OISF.   But I will first spend a few days in London at the National Archives in Kew to check on a few Admiralty sources – e.g HMS David‘s books (Adm 36/11085)

My paper is scheduled for 5 pm on  12 Sept.


The ‘other’ Orcadians

There are also the Pandora’s 2 Orcadians who died during other voyage events and were also “discharged dead”: James Murray (21) who died of illness on the way home after the wreck and James Scott (19) who was posted as missing (assumed dead)  with 4 other men before the wreck. Clearly neither could  be Tom, Dick or Harry!

And, although he survived the voyage and therefore cannot be either, Hugh Houston is also of interest, as I am wondering whether he can be traced historically and whether his name was also misspelled by the Pandora’s clerk? Was his name Hourston, instead of Houston?

More importantly, is there a memory in Orkney of his account of the Pandora’s last voyage? Howie Firth recalls speaking to someone in Orkney (an ‘old timer’) decades ago who apparently referred to a whisper (‘rumour?’)  about George Stewart that was significantly different from one that has gained general currency. Unfortunately Howie did not pursue the source;  regretably the ‘old timer’ has since passed away.



 The Pandora’s Robert Bowler had a sister called Theodosia to whom, according to the Pandora’s pay book, his ‘neat wages’ were paid out. This fact identified the Pandora’s Robert Bowler among at least 4 other people in Britain listed in the Latter Day Saints’ IGI named Robert Bowler who were roughly the same age, i.e. born ca. 1765 ± 1 However, only one of whom had a sister with the uncommon name Theodosia!

The Pandora’s James Cullimore could also be identified by a sister, among at least 5 other like-named people in Britain, listed in the IGI who were born in roughly the same period. In Cullimore’s case he had nominated his sister Eleanor as the beneficiary of a will he had lodged with the Admiralty prior to the Pandora’s departure; in which moreover, his sister was described as a ‘milliner and mantua-maker from Bromley.’ (Adm. 36/11136)

Hugh Houston

Hugh Houston – 33 years old, from Orkney; recruited in Kirkwall Roads on 17th August 1790 and assigned to the Pandora as an able seaman on 8th September 1790. He was the only man of the 8 Orcadian recruits among the Pandora’s crew to survive the voyage.

He left Batavia  with the group of survivors under 3rd Lt Thomas Hayward’s command in VOC ship Hoornweg. It is assumed he eventually made his way home -via Holland or Zeeland- to Orkney where he would have told family and friends about his South Pacific adventures in the Pandora; and also perhaps have passed on messages and given a first-hand account to the Stewarts about George Stewart’s final months.

Edward & Robert Croy

There’s good (IGI) evidence that Wm. Croy had two brothers (Edward & Robert) …. very encouraging actually.  But Lynda Hodgkinson’s research -she’s the SLQ’s resident Orkney genealogy ‘oracle’ b t w- indicated to me in a flurry of emails from Lynda that neither brother appears to have been married….ergo no lawful offfspring (which would have been recorded)

Is this going to be a brick wall?

Orkney research trip (June 2012)

Stromness high street

I made a preliminary trip to Orkney to discuss my project with the Orkney Family History Society (OFHS) as is it likely I will continue to require assistance, hints and guidance from local genealogists.

During my brief visit I met with Howie Firth, whom I have been in email and phone contact with since mid April.  Howie is the convener of the annual Orkney International Science Festival (OISF) – his  enthusiasm for further research about the Pandora’s Orkney connections has been very stimulating and rewarding in terms of good local contacts and helpful suggestions. Howie also invited me to present a paper at the 2012 OISF.

I also had positive discussions with OFHS members George Gray and Cathleen Spence and noted the facilities offered by the Orkney Library & Archives to help track Orcadian ancestors. George helped me find the baptism record of Richard Mackey (Stronsay, 1765)

I hope to continue comparing notes with family historians –in Orkney and elsewhere- who may already have constructed family trees with the names of the Pandora’s Orcadians who died in the wreck.

Scotland on Sunday article

Howie Firth’s recent press release made a bit of a splash in Scotland on Sunday

The Orcadian

The project seems to be generating some interest.  Howie’s press release is being picked up