The book was written by Allan Fea and published by Martin Secker, Number Five John Street, Adelphi, London in 1912. The idea of the book came to him following a visit to Orkney. Nearly 100 years earlier (1814), Sir Walter Scott had also visited the islands. According to J G Lockart in his "Memoirs of the Life of Sir Walter Scott", the author had heard the story from an old woman who managed to get what she could be selling winds to sailors. Sixpence would be paid to ensure a favourable wind. The old lady claimed that she had known John Gow.
Sir Walter Scott used the story as the basis of his book "The Pirate", which was published in 1822. In that book, which was very much a fictionalised account, Captain Cleveland was the name given to theJohn Gow character.
Allan Fea in half of "The Real Captain Cleveland", tells the true story of John Gow who was born in Caithness and turned pirate, finally being executed in London on 9th June 1725. He referred to many of the local historians of the day and also made use of Daniel Defoe's account from the time.
The remainder of the book includes a chapter on the correspondence of James Fea VI of Clestrain, covers the period both before and after the 1745 rebellion and the involvement of the Orkney lairds, and gives a history of the Feas of Clestrain and the Whitehall branch. It concludes with a chapter entitled "A Side-light on the Stuarts", which includes some tentative suggestion of a connection with Feas in Italy.