Islander Fiona Luck is writing a family history and it highlights the adventures of her ancestor Henry Roberts. *Photo supplied
Islander Fiona Luck is writing a family history and it highlights the adventures of her ancestor Henry Roberts. *Photo supplied

She has always been a maverick.

One of the most well-known women in insurance, Fiona Luck is admired across Bermuda and in London and the US, too. 

Achievement is in her blood. So is the sea. The theme will flow through a book she is writing on her family history.

Fiona has lived on the island for more than two decades and her affinity to the ocean comes from her dad.

“My father comes from a long line of sea captains dating back to the 1500s,” she says.

“He was aware from an early age that a member of the family, Henry Roberts, had sailed on the second and third voyage with Captain Cook and was an eyewitness to his murder.

“Henry was also responsible for preparing the official maps for the Admiralty for the last two voyages.”

As a Captain in the British Royal Navy, Roberts must have been thrilled to sail with the famous Captain Cook, who, through his epic voyages not only discovered the Hawaiian Islands but changed the way the world saw the entire Pacific region.  

In addition to his navigation skills, Roberts was a talented painter who himself was once the subject of a portrait by the renowned artist Thomas Gainsborough. His ties to Captain Cook went beyond seafaring.

“It is believed the painting ended up in an auction in New York where the purchaser thought it was a portrait of Captain Cook,” says Fiona. “[Now] It hangs in Floors Castle in Scotland and in a recent TV programme, the curator says it’s her favourite picture in the whole collection. There is no doubt he is a very handsome fellow,” says Fiona.

Roberts had a son, Daniel, who proudly followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming an officer in the Royal Navy as well. But it was his personal life that shone as brightly if not more than his military one as he mingled with the famous literary lions of his day.

“Henry’s youngest son Daniel Roberts ended up being part of the Shelley/Byron group in Italy,” says Fiona. “Daniel built the yacht The Ariel that Shelly died on and Daniel was also eyewitness to his death. It seems quite extraordinary that father and son were at the deaths of two famous but very different men. Daniel retired to La Maddelena off the Sardinia coast – and became close friends with [the famous general] Garibaldi who was in exile from Italy at the time,” says Fiona.

Treating others as equals

She is writing her book as a birthday present for her two sons. She hopes they and other readers will learn valuable lessons from the characters of these two naval men.

“A sense of adventure and treating other men as equals,” is how Fiona describes the essence of her famous relatives. 

Fiona’s own adventures in the often-turbulent insurance arena has seen here serve as an executive at Marsh, ACE and XL. She is currently a non-executive director of the Catlin Group. Having been such a high achiever in a field that was male dominated when she arrived, Fiona credits some of her career success to her ancestors. “I wish I were as fearless as they were, but I probably have some of that,” she says. “My overwhelming sense is one of sheer admiration – they left for years at a time ‘to go where no man had gone before’ — just like Captain Kirk.”

Like her forefathers, Fiona loves the sea, but she did not inherit their talent for art. Those genes skipped a few generations: “Both my sons are very artistic,” she says. “One is at University studying Architecture and the other, Product Design — so it probably has passed down through the generations!”