Name: Isobel GOW
Given Name: Isobel
Birth: in Caithness,Scotland
Chambermaid at Scotstarvit, near Cupar, Fife
Change Date: 18 OCT 2001 at 01:00:00
"Isobel Gow came from Caithness, and had seen better days; at the age of 13 she was sent to Edinburgh to be put to a boarding-school, but her father's business went wrong, and in place of being put to school, she was put to service."
Persistent but unauthenticated family legend has it that Isobel's father was Gow, Goffe or Gough the pirate, prototype of Walter Scott's "Pirate".
About the end of this mouth, the people of Orkney were thrown into some excitement by the arrival of a suspicions-looking vessel among their usually quiet islands. She professed to be a merchantman bound for Stockholm; but her twenty-two guns and crew of thirty-eight men belied the tale. In reality, she was a pirate-ship, recently taken under the care of a reckless man named Gow, or Smith, who had already made her the means of perpetrating some atrocions villainies in more southern seas. His alleged connection with Caithness by nativity, and Orkney by education, was perhaps the principal reason for his selecting this part of the world as a temporary refuge till some of his recent acts should be forgotten. His conduct, however, was marked by little prudence. He used to come ashore with armed men, and hold boisterous festivities with the islanders. He also made some attempts to enter into social relations with the gentlemen of the country. It was even said that, during his brief stay, he made some way in the affections of a young gentlewoman, who little imagined his real character. It was the more unaccountable that he lingered thus in the islands, after ten of his people, who had recently been pressed into his service, left his vessel, and made their escape in a boat—a circumstance that ought to have warned him that he could not long evade the notice of the law. In point of fact, the character of his ship and crew were known at Leith while he was still dallying with time in the taverns of Stromness.
At length, about the 20th of February, Gow left the southern and more frequented part of the Orkney group, and sailed to Calf Sound, at the north part of the island of Eday, designing to apply for fresh provisions and assistance to a gentleman residing there, who had been his school-fellow, Mr Fea, younger of Clestran. Chancing to cast anchor too near the island, the pirate found that his first duty must be to obtain the assistance of a boat to assist his men in bringing off the vessel. He sent an armed party of five under the boatswain to solicit this help from Mr Fea, who received them civilly, but immediately sent private orders to have his own boat sunk and the sails hidden. He took the party to a public house, where he entertained them, and so adroitly did he manage matters, that ere long they were all disarmed and taken into custody. The people of the country and some custom-house officers had by this time been warned to his assistance.
Next day, a violent wind drove the vessel ashore on Calf Island, and Gow, without a boat, began to feel himself in a serious difficulty He hung out a flag for conference with Mr Fea, who consequently sent him a letter, telling him that his only chance now was to yield himself; and give evidence against his company. The wretch offered goods to the value of a thousand pounds for merely a boat in which lie could leave the coast; but Mr Fea only replied by renewing his former advice. Some conferences, attended with considerable danger to Mr Fea, took place; and Gow ultimately came ashore on Calf Island, and was secured. It is narrated that when he found himself a prisoner, he entreated to be shot before lie should have to surrender his sword. His men were afterwards made prisoners without much difficulty.
Gow and his company were transported to London, and tried by the Court of Admiralty on the 27th of May. Himself and eleven others were found guilty, and condemned. There was at first some difficulty in consequence of his refusing to plead. The court, finding him refractory on this point of form, at first tried to bring him to reason by gentle means; but when these proved ineffectual, he was ordered to the press-yard, there to be pressed to death, after the old custom with those refusing to plead. His obstinacy then gave way, and his trial proceeded in due form, and he was condemned upon the same evidence as his companions. Nine were executed, of whom two—namely, Gow and his lieutenant, named Williams—were afterwards hung in chains.’
The Scottish newspaper which first narrated the singular story of the capture of these men, remarked: ‘The gentleman who did this piece of good service to his country, will no doubt be taken notice of; and rewarded by the government.’ Sir Walter Scott relates from the tradition of the country what actually happened to Mr Fea in consequence of his gallantry. ‘So far from receiving any reward from government, he could not obtain even Countenance enough to protect him against a variety of sham suits, raised against him by Newgate solicitors, who acted in the name of Gow and others of the pirate crew; and the various expenses, vexatious prosecutions, and other legal consequences in which his gallantry involved him, utterly ruined his fortune and his family.’
Father: Finla GOW
Mother: Isabel GILBERTON
George COWAN b: 2 DEC 1695 in Saltoun (E.Loth) Scotland
20 MAY 1727
- Lucy COWAN b: 1728 in Scotland
- David COWAN b: 1730 c: in Kilrenny,Fife,Scotland
- George COWAN b: 1731 c: in Kilrenny,Fife,Scotland
- John COWAN b: 1733 c: in Crail,Fife,Scotland
- Charles COWAN b: JUN 1735 c: in Crail,Fife Scotland
- Margaret COWAN b: 1739 c: in Kilrenny,Fife,Scotland
- Murray COWAN b: 1741 c: in Crail,Fife,Scotland
- Murray COWAN b: 1742