On the evening of August 14, 1829, an Australian government brigantine, the Cyprus, was sheltering in Recherche Bay, on the remote southeast coast of Tasmania, when she was captured by 18 convicts under the leadership of William Swallow, a prisoner for life. After marooning the crew, military guard, and passengers on the desolate shore, Swallow skillfully sailed the brig across the Pacific to Tahiti, then back to the Tongan Islands, and on to Japan before finally scuttling her off the Chinese coast. This epic of endurance was matched by the adventures of the people left behind in Recherche Bay. They were saved from starvation, not by their vacillating officers, but by an enterprising little cockney convict named John Pobjoy, who one year later would do his best to betray Swallow and his companions. Five of the Cyprus convicts, including Swallow, eventually made their way to London where they were recognized and put on trial for piracy at the Old Bailey. The chief witness against them was Pobjoy, who had turned up in England after receiving a pardon for his efforts in rescuing the castaways. In this book, author Warwick Hirst has written a fascinating account of a rogue whose undoubted leadership, determination, and resourcefulness might, in different circumstances, have led him to a far more favorable fate.
History, Australia & Oceania, Australia,