Category Archives: Family history

Sir Richard Tangye & the Cornubia: Steam Age dreamtime

Once upon a time (1833) in a small Cornish village (Illogan, near Redruth) two brothers had sons they called Richard. This in itself was not unusual in that time and place as the same names keep cropping up, over and … Continue reading

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Tracing James Camm, hung for piracy in Hobart 1832

It was a slight shock to discover I was descended from the man who may well be the last person in the British Empire to be (legally) hung for piracy. James Camm was hanged at Hobart in April 1832 for his part in the prisoner mutiny and piracy of the brig Cyprus from Recherche Bay in 1829. Piracy ceased to be a capital offence in the British Empire in 1837, although the new offence of Piracy with violence became a capital offence and remained so until late in the 20th century. Two of Camm’s fellow pirates hanged at Execution Dock in London in 1831 were the last people hung for piracy in Great Britain. A fellow escapee was sentenced to death for his part in the piracy of the Cyprus in Hobart six months after Camm, but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment and he was transferred to Norfolk Island.

When I have outlined the story of the Cyprus to people they have suggested that it has the makings of a ripping yarn and should be written up. And that thought has occurred to a number of people before now; Marcus Clarke For the term of his natural life and Richard Flanagan Gould’s book of fish (2001) have dealt partially with these events in their novels about the Macquarie Harbour penal settlement. A number of more factual accounts are provided in Warwick Hirst The man who stole the Cyprus (2009) and Chapter 11 of John Mulvaney The axe had never sounded: place, people and heritage of Recherché Bay, Tasmania (2007). Mulvaney is fairly dismissive about the factual accuracy of an earlier effort from Clune and Stevenson, The pirates of the brig Cyprus (1962), which he describes as undocumented ‘faction’. Further, Mulvaney tells us that David Sissons has disproved one of the assertions of the pirates that they sailed to Japan in a recent paper in the Journal of Pacific History.

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