Archival research has revealed more details about some of the Pandora’s men –especially about the lengths they would go to avoid being pressed into naval service and about the substantial number who ‘ran’ (deserted) at the first or any good opportunity. Good examples are Henry Nichols and possibly Robert Orchard who both ‘ran’ in Cape Town having survived the wreck.  Orchard had been transferred  from the VOC ship Zwaan to Capetown hospital when on the way home with Lt Larkan’s group. Presumably he had recovered sufficiently and was strong enough to ‘run’.

Pronouncing Cray’s name

Wm.Cray’s name may have been misspelled by the Pandora’s clerk as it may have been pronounced to sound that way but was usually spelled as ‘Croy’- a well-established Orkney name. (Pers.comm. Kay Davidson)

Mackey and Mackie or Miller and Millar are often also found to be interchangeable as there were no consistent spelling rules.

Tom & Dick

Most likely, Tom & Dick are the two men who died before the ship sank.
Although he did not mention the names of the two men, Surgeon Hamilton’s account describes their deaths in detail. 
“… she now took a heel, and some of the guns they were endeavoring to throw over board run down to leeward, which crushed one man to death; about the same time, a spare topmast came down from the booms, and killed another man.”

 (Hamilton, 1998:105/6)

This is the only reference to these fatalities, so we cannot be sure about what happened to these two men afterwards. It is assumed that they were taken below decks, to be buried at sea after the crew had saved the ship. Probably to the surgeon’s cabin. This scenario can be considered a fairly likely one, as Tom and Dick’s remains were found in the vicinity of the surgeon’s cabin. The two unnamed men were included in the tally of 31 crew who perished during the wrecking.

Robert Fea

The project’s viability was demonstrated by the assistance I received from local Orkney family historian Bill Rendell, whom I e-mailed a few days ago in re the Fea name.

Bill instantaneously put me in touch with a correspondent of his (Thomas W. Fea) in California who claims direct descent from a C18th Orcadian, James Fea (born about 1770) – this immediately presented the possibility that this James Fea was a brother or a first cousin of the Pandora’s Robert Fea, another of the Pandora’s Orcadians.

So, Thomas W. Fea’s DNA profile being to hand already, I forwarded it as a pdf. to Bond University on the Australian Gold Coast .

And for a short time –while Sheree Hughes checked her results against ‘California’ Thomas Fea’s DNA signature – there was the very real and exciting prospect that an incredible stroke of pure beginner’s luck was about to happen with a positive match… But alas, word from Dr Hughes advised that Thomas’ Y chromosome signature neither matched Tom nor Dick or Harry’s!

I wonder, does this indicate now definitively that neither Tom and Dick nor Harry was Robert Fea?


First Steps….

While visiting Barcelona on holiday I happened to meet Kay Davidson and in the course of casual conversation my nascent Orkney descendants project came up; it transpired that Kay knew people in Orkney whom she suspected would be as thrilled and fascinated as she had been to hear about the Pandora’s connection with Orkney and the relatively large number of Orcadian men on board.

I am therefore indebted to Kay, whose contacts, enthusiasm, good offices and advice were very encouraging and in no small degree contributed to the ‘genesis’ and development of this project. One of the people she put me in touch with was Alf Baird, who suggested contacting Howie Firth, the convenor of the Orkney International Science Festival.



Project genesis

This project is the result of my awareness of the research potential presented by the relatively large number (6.12% or 8 out of 133) of men from Orkney among the Pandora’s crew. Initially I had been considering conducting research into group dynamics in Royal Navy (RN) exploration vessels in the 18th century; specifically an investigation of discernible differences due to differing cultural -i.e. ethnic and linguistic- backgrounds among naval crews of C18th exploration vessels; as a foil to differences attributable to socio-economic factors.

However, after hearing about the break-through in DNA research by Sheree Hughes-Stamm at Bond University,  a pilot-project on a different tack suggested itself.

Instead I opted for this ‘reverse genealogy’ project to trace living descendants of the Orcadians who had died in the Pandora, with a view to finding descendants to provide matches with the DNA signatures sequenced by Sheree Hughes-Stamm from the Pandora’s 3 degraded skeletons: ‘Tom, Dick and Harry’. And thereby possibly identify Tom, Dick or Harry as an Orcadian.

This was not only predicated by the Pandora’s eight Orcadians as a culturally distinct group from a remote part of Britain who were, moreover, all recruited –i.e. ‘pressed’ – in the same month in Orkney by HMS David. But there was also the fact that their origin and age at the time of their impressment had been noted against their names in the ship’s books kept by the David’s clerk (Adm.36/11085)
This circumvented the practical difficulty I had encountered when -using the Church of Latter Day Saints’ International Genealogical Index (IGI)’s Family Search Internet feature- I had attempted to research the names of other Pandora crew; in most cases I had been presented with several persons with the same Christian name and surname, who had been born in different locations within one to two years of each other. In cases where relatively ‘common’ names were involved, e.g. William Swan or Henry Thompson, results obtained by the IGI occasionally exceeded 50 men with the same name in the UK, making the correct identification nigh impossible!

With the Orkney data from HMS David to hand, I was able to start my search using the IGI on the Internet, searching for data about the names of the 6 Orcadians who died during the wreck using accurate ages, i.e. accurate birth years.

One name was Orcadian mutineer-suspect George Stewart, one of the 4 prisoners from “Pandora’s Box” who died in the wreck along with 5 other Orcadians among the 31 Pandoras who died. Bligh’s descriptions attest Stewart was 23 at the time of the mutiny, so he would have been 25 years old when he died in the Pandora in 1791.

Another Orcadian was Richard Mackie (Mackey) who was recruited in Kirkwall Roads and rated as an ‘ordinary seaman’ just before he joined the Pandora. The David’s musters gives Mackey’s age as 24 when he was recruited, so he would also have been 25 years old when he died.

My initial IGI search turned up useful name and age matches for the search criteria (‘baptism in Scotland between 1760 and 1770 where father’s name =xxxx and mother’s name =xxxx’) I used:
IA) George Stewart, male; D.o.b: June (?) 1766, South Ronaldsay, Orkney
Father’s name: Alexander Stewart (IV) of Masseter; mother’s name Margaret Richan
3 brothers:
IB) Walter (1764) m. 1806 Christine Taylor (1779) ? 2 sons (see IIA and IIB)
IC) Robert
ID) Alexander
IIA) James Stewart (1806) m.1839 Jane Wishart (1815) ? 3 sons (see IIIA-C)
IIB) John Stewart
IIIA) John (1843)
IIIB) Orman (1849)
IIIC) Peter (1859) m. 1876 Ann McKay (1856) ? 1 son (IVA)
IVA) John Bruce Stewart (1899)


IA) Richard Mackey, male; D.o.b: 11 Feb 1765
Baptism date & place: 17 Feb 1765, Stronsay, Orkney
Father’s name Peter Mackey; mother’s name Elspeth Wasson. No apparent siblings.