George Stewart’s siblings

One of George’s sisters was Mary Stewart (born in the White House in Stromness ca 1780)  The 1841 Scotland census attests that at age 60 she was living in the Manse of Shapinsay; her husband being Revd. John Barry (b: 1783)  – a Presbytarian minister. There were no names in the census record of any dependant children living with them in this household at the time. But they did have  a son : Lt Robert Barry RN.

With several of her sisters  (Williamina, Jean and Isabella) Mary also inherited c. 1813 the Masseter estate in South Ronaldsay upon the death of their brother Robert (‘without issue’) She may have lived there ( or in Stromness) – even after her marriage to John Barry in 1810. Her brother-in-law Rev. George Barry (born c. 1796) was also recorded as a member of the household at the Manse, together with three ‘female servants’.

Williamina Stewart also married a clergyman – Robert Sands. They had a daughter who was named Wilhelmina – presumably for her mother; two of George’s sisters Jean and Isabella apparently remained spinsters.

According to Major Clapperton-Stewart, Wilhelmina Sands also married a man of the cloth (the Rev Turnbull of Tingwall)  Their daughter Grace Turnbull-Stewart -one of 15 children- eventually inherited Masseter when Mary Barry -Stewart’s heir Henrietta Stewart (b. 1796) George’s niece died c 1880 – she was a daughter of George’s brother Walter.

Unfortunately this female lineage is not useful in terms of my search for male Pandora wreck descendants.

George’s brother Walter’s line  may provide useful clues; although Major Clapperton-Stewart would have it that Walter Stewart died in 1782.  Yet there appears to be documentary evidence that indicates Walter Stewart had several sons who carried on into mid 19th C the male line from George’s father Alexander Stewart of Masseter.


Torquil:nursling of the northern seas

I found the following reference to George Stewart in the 3rd edition (1851) of

 Guide to the Highlands & Islands of Scotland by George Anderson & Peter Anderson, (Adam & Charles Black, Edinburgh  1851)

Section IX – The Orkney & Zetland Iss, Part 1: The Orkney Iss  §22


“Although Stromness is of such modern origin, it is singular that the first novelist, and the first poet of the age, have obtained each a hero from its natives, or, at least, from those who are so connected with it as to be considered such. As to Gow or Smith, the hero of “The Pirate,” we do not wish to save him from the same ill-gotten fame as is attached to the memory of the jarls, or sea-kings, who preceded him; but we may remark, that some interesting details regarding his history will be found in Mr. Peterkin’s “Notes on Orkney;” and the remains of his father’s garden may still be seen on the cast side of the harbour of Stromness. But on “Torquil, the nursling of the northern seas,” we must, in justice, offer a few observations. The traveller will perhaps recollect the poet’s description of him, in Canto II. of Lord Byron’s “Island:”—

And who is he? the blue-eyed northern child,
Of isles more known to man, but scarce less wild,
The fair-lian’d offspring of the Hebrides,
Where roars the Pentland with his whirling seas;
Rock’d in his cradle by the roaring wind,
The tempest-born in body and in mind;
His young eyes, opening on the ocean foam,
Had from that moment deem’d the deep his home,” &c.

“As Byron has not condescended to enlighten the reader as to his real history, we shall endeavour very briefly to do so. The hero, George Stewart, was a son of Mr. Stewart of Masseter. who resided on a property on which was one of the first houses built with lime in Stromness; hence it is still called the White House, and here his sisters lately lived highly respected.

“He went to sea about the year 1780, and was a midshipman in the Bounty with Bligh, when he went to transplant the bread-fruit tree of Otaheite to our West India Islands, and he remained on board after the mutiny, contrary to his own wish. Stewart took no part in that transaction; and he is vindicated, in a late publication on the subject, by one who had access to the best information. He was one of those who perished on the sinking of the Pandora in the following August. We have been favoured with a perusal of two interesting letters, exculpating this handsome and promising youth, which were written to his father in 1792.”

It would of course be more than useful to  know who showed the Andersons these letters AND, more importantly, to know who wrote the letters to George’s father.

The “late” publication the Andersons refer to is probably Edward Tagart’s 1832 ‘Memoir‘ of Capt. Peter Heywood or Sir John Barrow’s 1831 ‘Mutiny & Piratical seizure...’

If so, it is probable that the 2 letters to George Stewart’s father in 1792 were from George’s Bounty ‘messmate’, fellow midshipman Peter Heywood who  – after the Royal pardon he had received- wrote an open letter to Fletcher Christian’s brother ‘exculpating’ Fletcher Christian. This open letter was published in a local (Cumbrian) newspaper and contributed to the ensuing controversy between Bligh and Christian’s brother Edward about ‘WHO WAS REALLY TO BLAME’ for causing the infamous mutiny: a subject that still can stir up debate and controversy and has been the stuff of more than 200 years of history- and mythmaking. Some of it fanciful, overdramatised and inaccurate.

It is noteworthy that the Andersons apparently felt (in the early 1830s when they were compiling their book) they should touch on George Stewart’s “True History” because it was ‘just’  to make their observations.

As if they were righting some wrong they felt may have been done; as if the Stewart family’s reputation had been indelibly stained by the accusation of piracy against their son. Readers are assured that no such perceptions properly exist in Orkney, where his  well-respected sister had lived all her life and 2 letters exist, that are testimony that George had had no hand in the mutiny. That notion moreover, recently re-inforced by the well-informed author of the”late” publication.

The Stewarts’ headstone in Stromness cemetery (Doug Allen 2005)

One of the sisters the Andersons referred to is George’s sibling Isabella, who never married and lived in the Stromness ‘White House’ until her death in 1821. She was buried in the Stromness cemetery in the same plot as her parents Alexander & Margaret Stewart.


Davidson re Miller/Millar


Some correspondence below with Kay Davidson on 29 Mar last. re Miller/Millar.

I’m now inclined to think the Pandora’s James Miller/Millar may be the fourth listed as this James’ father was William Miller – to whom the Admiralty paid James Miller’s “neat wages” in 1792 (Adm 35/1360)  “Neat” wages were the nett wages owed to a sailor who had been “discharged dead” during a voyage – i.e. after deductions had been made for  purchases of goods he had made or for services he had received – e.g. clothing and bedding (“slops”) tobacco or VD treatments.  Noted in the ship’s “pay book”.

>>>>>>…… “Hi Peter
I thought I would send you the following as I think it may provide a possible match for James Miller from Orkney. There are four possibles on this list but the second one seems the most likely. The information you sent me says that James Miller was 21 when he was recruited. If the second James Miller was christened one or even two and a half months after he was born then he would still have been 21 when he was recruited on September 8th 1790.
The first and third James Millers would have been 22 and the fourth one is a Millar with ‘a’.This information comes from
I was redirected to this site while searching on the IGI index.
I forgot to say that I think it’s unlikely that George Eglington will turn out to be Orcadian. The name sounds very English and I couldn’t find any Orkney births of that name at all.
Best wishes,
James Miller

Scotland, Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950
parents: Alexr. Miller, Ann Brough
James Miller

Scotland, Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950
christening: 20 Nov 1768 HOLM AND PAPLAY,ORKNEY,SCOTLAND
parents: John Miller, Helen Bewes
James Miller

Scotland, Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950
parents: John Miller, Katharine Yorston
James Millar

Scotland, Births and Baptisms, 1564-1950
parents: William Millar, Margaret Reid


“Hi Kay
Thx for the details re Miller (Millar?)
I think you’re probably right abt Eglington – But if I remember correctly from my notes, there was one b in Caithness!  I’ll have to check – moreover it shows that just because someone was recruited in the Orkneys, doesn’t necessarily mean he was b. there;  seafaring men were notoriously mobile and stopped somewhere for a while after arriving there upon a previous voyage
The Miller/Millar example is a good illustration of how complicated this research will be – I guess it shows that we will have to be exact about the ages found in the sources – makes you wonder whether someone who was 1 month or a few weeks shy of his 21st b/day when recruited would have given 21 instead of 20!  also it shows that having more information to hand will help deciding which is whic – e.g. the 4 Rbt Bowlers I found could be narrowed down because i had reliable source material saying he had a sister called Theodosia!
It’s all grist for the mill!……” >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


The National Library of Australia manages a  digital archive of Australian websites . It came together as a result of a project called PANDORA  and now encompasses  a growing collection of Australian on-line publications; it was initiated by the NLA in 1996. PANDORA is an archive of sites considered to be of significance and having long-term research value. The Queensland Museum’s Pandora wreck project -including the feature ‘Who was Harry?‘ – was also archived at the time.

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 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)

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.


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’.

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.

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.