Saturday, October 07, 2006

An Unrequited Love Affair

Pamela Stephenson—whom you might remember from Saturday Night Live or the BBC series Not the Nine O'Clock News, and whom comedian Billy Connolly might remember as his wife of 16 years—is on a genealogical quest. She's written a book and made a documentary about her great-great-grandfather, Samuel Stephenson.

Known as Salty Sam, he was an entrepreneurial British Master Mariner who vanished in the treacherous Indonesian waters in 1821. According to family legend, Salty Sam’s crew mutinied, seizing his ship, The Rosalie, and throwing him overboard.

“But by the weirdest piece of destiny I found myself in a little bar in Gozo a couple of years ago and I met an Englishwoman who claimed that one of her ancestors had also been on board and that Salty Sam had been murdered by pirates, not his crew.

“It was, perhaps, the most surprising thing that has ever happened to me. I was so shocked that I almost didn’t embrace the full importance of it. But then I became entirely passionate about finding out what had really happened. It was like embarking on a full-blown love affair with a man who has been dead for 200 years.” [Link]

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