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Pirate Bill


On the night of Tuesday, May 29, 1838 between 12 and 1 o’clock one of the inmates of the ladies cabin on the Sir Robert Peel upon awakening, was alarmed at the death-like stillness which seemed to pervade the boat…

Posted in: History, People
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Shaun McLaughlin
Comment by: Shaun McLaughlin ( )
Left at: 1:19 PM Monday, June 28, 2010
A good article on Bill Johnston overall but a few mistakes or nuance issues.

The apron belonged to Mrs. Sampson, the wife of the Kingston mayor and the same woman who you wrote asked Bill for a few minutes to get dressed. Hardly the type of woman to drop the apron screaming. It fell on deck as she departed in haste, according to the excellent biography of Johnston by John Northman.

Bill Johnston spent very little time in the cave at Devil's Oven Island. It is cramped and is far too close to Alexandria Bay to be a good hideout. In 1839, he was hunted by both the British and American navy—Devil's Oven was too obvious. (It is still there--go for a visit to see.) This misfact often appears in stories about Bill. The British found two of Bill's small island hideouts. He knew better. He likely spent his time on the big three islands—Grindstone, Hill and Wellesley—safe in their deep forests, and arranged food-drop locations with his daughter Kate and sons James, John, Samuel Decatur, and Napoleon.