Aussie journalist sets sail on a pirate chase of a different kind

18 Oct 2023

Aussie journalist sets sail on a pirate chase of a different kind featured image

Timothy Stone, Victorian journalist and new recipient of a Churchill Fellowship is about to embark on a pirate chase, looking for a very different type of treasure, including in Samurai records of Japan.

Tim will retrace the journey of escaped convicts who sailed a hijacked ship from Tasmania across the Pacific to Japan, before their return to England in 1830.

“When five escaped convicts on trial for piracy in London in 1830 claimed they visited Japan, their daring escape from Tasmania across the Pacific made headlines around the world,” said Tim.

Already an accomplished storyteller, Tim is excited to expand on this tale of daring as he embarks on his Churchill Fellowship to Japan, Marshall Islands, the UK, and Tonga to research the Cyprus Brig pirates in archives across these nations.

“Convict William Swallow would testify at his 1830 trial at London’s Old Bailey that he and four other escaped convicts mutinied and hijacked the Cyprus Brig in Van Diemen’s land. Swallow’s account detailed a voyage across the Pacific to England, with an 11 day sojourn in Japan along the way,”

The Pirate’s story was not substantiated until 2017 by Japan based historian Nick Russell. Nick unearthed and translated a series of illustrated Samurai manuscripts, adding immense detail to what had previously been dismissed as a pirate’s tall tale. Tim intends to expand on Nick’s work, digging deeper into this fascinating episode of history.

Adam Davey, CEO of the Churchill Trust said “Fellowships like Tim’s are incredibly engaging, and we at the Churchill Trust are excited to watch on as Tim delves into this intriguing moment in history,”

Retracing the convict’s steps will take Tim deep into archives across the Pacific, Japan and the United Kingdom. Tim hopes to unearth artefacts connected to what he calls “Australia’s greatest convict escape story.”

“We wish Tim the best of luck on his travels and cannot wait to see what treasure he unearths from those archives!” said Adam.

Tim will be bringing this tale of mutiny and adventure back to Australia where he, along with Aya Hatano intend to develop it into a major touring exhibition.

“These discoveries and the exhibition will shed new light on Australia’s first cross-cultural contact with Japan and our Pacific neighbours.” said Tim.

This project will allow a glimpse of Australia’s first contact with Japan and earliest encounter with the Pacific to be staged at major Australian cultural institutions ahead of the bicentenary of the Convict’s daring escape.

Tim is one of the newest group of Australia’s most passionate and determined people and proud recipients of the prestigious Churchill Fellowship for 2023. Each of the 104 people awarded a Churchill Fellowship is driven by the desire to make positive change in Australia in an area of importance to their communities.

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