By George Watson
On a vist to Orkney in 1814, Sir Walter Scott collected some tales about John Gow from an old Stromness moman, Bessie Millie,
He latter incorporated many of the themes into one of his less succesful novels called 'The Pirate', which was published in 1821.
He set the purely fictional plot in Shetland and called his prate Captain Cleveland. Scott's narrative has been re-absorbed into
the native folklore and has confused factual traditions about Gow. In fairness it must be admitted that Scott's novel also preserved
Gow's name from oblivion.
At the beginning of the present century, Allan Fea, an historian with Orkney conections, unravelled the true story of Gow's exploits.
He unearthed the trial newspaper accounts, a contemporary book on Gow's piracy Witten by Daniel Defoe and various items from private
Orkney papers and letters. The results of this research he published in 1912 under the title 'The Real Captain Cleveland'. This book,
unfortunately, has been long out of printand in its original form seems likely to remain so. The object of this booklet is to retrieve,
from this wealth of material, the broad outfine of Gows adventures and present them in a more condensed form.
John Gow The Orkney Pirate
Publisher: Caithness Field Club
Version: Paperback 1978 3rd Edition