By Bob Krauss
Ask an old island family about its ancestors and you'll turn up a sea story. One of the most fascinating involves the Australian penal colony at Botany Bay, a shipwreck at Kawaihae and a high chiefess from O'ahu.
It all came out over the dining room table while I was eating pizza with Alika and Robert Piper and Auntie Eleanor Naleileihua Lindsey Pietz on Booth Road.
The family story begins in 1778 with Robert Fay, who grew up a street urchin in London. In the 1790s, Fay spoke against the government and was convicted of treason and sent off to the Botany Bay convict colony, the hellhole of the world.
"He was my great-great-grandfather," Piper said. "The story handed down in our family is that he and two other convicts stole a ship and escaped. They landed at Kawaihae about 1825. One version is that the ship wrecked on the North Kohala coast."
The men scattered into the Waimea uplands. Fay signed on with John Parker, founder of Parker Ranch, who was hunting bullocks for their hides in mountain country.
On a trip to O'ahu, Fay fell in love with the high chiefess Kaipukailaiikapuokamehameha. Her father, a seer, had welcomed Kamehameha when he came to conquer O'ahu. During the welcome feast, Kamehameha told his host to name his daughter after him.
Fay won her heart and took her back to Waimea. Active and resourceful, he started a saw mill, sheep ranch and ice factory. His wife gave birth to one child, Mary Kaala Fay. They sent her to the Priory in Honolulu.
The scene now shifts back to London, where Thomas Weston Lindsey was born in 1818. He grew up, went to sea, and eventually landed in Hawai'i as master of the square-rigged bark Don Quixote.
Guess what? Captain Lindsey fell in love with Priory student Mary Fay. Hawaiian law forbade marriage between a girl of royal blood and a foreigner unless he became a citizen of the kingdom. The captain was more used to giving orders than taking them.
He whisked 16-year-old Mary onto his ship, took her off port and married her aboard a British man-of-war. It appears that Mary made no objection to her abduction. They went to live on the Big Island. Wait, there's more.
They had one child. Then Thomas Lindsey fell incurably ill and went back to England so to die at home. He asked his oldest brother, George Kingston Lindsey, a barrister, to go to Hawai'i and care for his wife and child.
You guessed it. George fell in love with Mary. They had 10 children whose descendants, the Lindsey clan, have scattered into every nook and cranny of Hawai'i.
The Hawai'i Maritime Center collected about 30 stories like this at the Honolulu Harbor Festival. There are hundreds more: immigrant voyages, honeymoons on the Lurline, trips on interisland steamers, yacht races. The center wants to hear yours. Call Carla at 523-6151 or me at 525-8073.