We have a new archive display in the Archive Searchroom! Its all about pirates and particularly Orkney's famous pirate John Gow.
Gow was born in Wick in 1697. His family then moved to Stromness where he grew up before running away to sea. He rose to be second mate on the ship The George by 1724. When sailing from Santa Cruz on 3rd November that year, he and a few others of the crew mutinied, took over the ship and renamed it Revenge. They plundered around the coast of Spain and Madeira for a while, then came up to Orkney in 1725. Gow wanted to plunder the houses of the gentry. They raided the Honyman mansion, the Hall of Clestrain in Orphir and then headed up to Carrick House on Eday. It was here at the Calf of Eday that his ship ran aground and he was captured. He was later tried and hanged in London.
Gow was the inspiration for Captain Cleveland in Sir Walter Scott's novel The Pirate.
Another pirate mentioned in the display is John Fullarton who, according to Ernest Marwick, possibly came from Stromness or Orphir and was known to be smuggling around the Channel Islands in the 18th century before becoming a privateer for the Royal Navy. This means he had permission from the government to rob enemy vessels at sea. He soon became greedier and became a partner in a pirate ship with a Royal Navy captain called Keppel. He made a lot of money, some of which he spent on an estate in Orkney for his family. He was eventually shot by the wife of Captain Jones of the Isabella. She was then known as 'Mary Jones, the Pirate-Slayer'.
If you are in Orkney, please come along and see our display. It will be up until the end of June 2011 in the Archive Searchroom and I hope to put a copy of it on the wavy-wall in the library soon too.
References: D31/2/5 Ernest Marwick Collection - Orkney's Other Pirate John Fullarton and D36/3/5 R.P. Fereday papers - extract from The Pirate's Who's Who by Philip Gosse, 1924.