John Gow

1698 - 1725

Mutineer and pirate. Born in Wick, Gow was raised in Stromness (Orkney) but soon went to sea. In 1724, he joined the merchant vessel Caroline as Second Mate but was soon part of a mutiny, shooting the ship's captain and throwing his body overboard. Gow led the crew in acts of piracy in the Bay of Biscay but, with the authorities on their trail, they headed for Stromness to lie low. Unfortunately, the locals became suspicious and they were forced to leave. They raided the Hall of Clestrain, then attempted to steal from the remote mansion of another wealthy landowner, but ran aground on the Calf of Eday and were captured. Gow and his crew were hanged in London four months later, their bodies being left in the River Thames and then tarred and suspended on its banks as a warning to other would-be pirates.

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