John Anderson, also known as Abyssinia Jack and Isaac Winterbourne, were part of a wild band of men who moved into the archipelago in the 1820’s. John Anderson, an American negro, was a violent, lawless man. He based himself on Middle Island, freely plundering the archipelago islands. Anderson hunted and processed whales and seals.
Trading opportunities existed for oil and fur (New Zealand fur seal) and hairy (Australian sea lion) skins. This industry was extremely lucrative, as fur was in high demand. Anderson was a free man, despite being tried by the resident magistrate at King George’s Sound.
Anderson is believed to have been murderous, capturing aboriginal woman and killing their husbands. He confined them on Middle Island to serve him. A white woman, Dorothy Newell, a passenger on board the cutter Mountaineer when it was wrecked in Thistle Cove in March 1835, stayed on Middle Island with Abyssinia Jack, after she and the other survivors reached the Island. Several Mountaineer survivors and some sealers then set out in a whale boat for Albany. They never arrived in Albany and the boat was presumed wrecked.
John Anderson also known as Black Jack, put James Manning and James Newell ashore from Middle Island, to walk back to King George’s Sound in 1835. The pair had fallen in with him when their ship, the schooner Defiance ,was wrecked on Cape Howe Island on its way from Sydney to the Swan River settlement. With the help of aborigines the pair survived to walk the distance to King George’s Sound. With oil for lighting being increasingly used, as well as the death of the pirate Black Jack Anderson and colonial law enforcement, the sealers disappeared from the Recherché islands.