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.

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