James Russell McCoy

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James Russell McCoy
Born(1845-09-04)September 4, 1845
DiedFebruary 14, 1924(1924-02-14) (aged 78)
Resting placePitcairn Islands Cemetery
TitleMagistrate of the Pitcairn Islands
Term1870-1872, 1878-1879, 1883, 1886-1889
Spouse(s)Eliza Young Coffin-Palmer-McCoy

James Russell McCoy (4 September 1845 – 14 February 1924) served as Magistrate of the British Overseas Territory of Pitcairn Island 7 times, between 1870 and 1904. McCoy was among the first wave of settlers to return to Pitcairn from Norfolk Island in 1859. He was the son of Matthew McCoy and Margaret Christian. His son Matthew Edmond McCoy also served as Magistrate, and was among the last islanders to hold the surname McCoy. Through his daughter Adelia, he is a grandfather of Warren Clive Christian, and Ivan Christian, and a great-grandfather of Steve Christian and Brenda Christian.[1]

Literary reference[edit]

He appears as Magistrate "James Russell Nickoy" in Mark Twain's 1879 story "The Great Revolution in Pitcairn." There he is forced to resign his post through the political intrigue of an American interloper, Butterworth Stavely.[2]

Jack London reinvented McCoy as a mythic hero and agent of redemption in the short story "The Seed of McCoy," based on a true incident of piloting a burning ship to safety in 1900.[3]


  1. ^ James Russell McCoy The Peerage
  2. ^ Twain, Mark (1879). "The Great Revolution in Pitcairn". The Atlantic Monthly. 43 (257): 295–302. Retrieved 01-02-2010. ...the chief magistrate, James Russell Nickoy; a man of character and ability, and possessed of great wealth, he being the owner of a house with a parlor to it, three acres and a half of yam-land, and the only boat in Pitcairn's, a whaleboat Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  3. ^ London, Jack (2006). Gary Riedl and Thomas R. Tietze, eds. Jack London's tales of cannibals and headhunters: nine South Seas stories by America's master of adventure. UNM Press. pp. 33–37. ISBN 0-8263-3791-0. Retrieved 2011-09-28.CS1 maint: Uses editors parameter (link)