General History Of The Pyrates by Daniel Defoe - is a 1724 book published in Britain containing biographies of contemporary pirates, influenced shaping popular conceptions of pirates. It is the prime source for the biographies of many well known pirates.
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A General History of the Pyrates
HAVING taken more than ordinary Pains in collecting the Materials which compose the following History, we could not be satisfied with our selves, if any Thing were wanting to it, which might render it entirely satisfactory to the Publick: It is for this Reason we have subjoined to the Work, a short Abstract of the Laws now in Force against Pyrates, and made Choice of some particular Cases, (the most curious we could meet with) which have been heretofore tried, by which it will appear what Actions have, and what have not been adjudged Pyracy.
It is possible this Book may fall into the Hands of some Masters of Ships, and other honest Mariners, who frequently, by contrary Winds or Tempests, or other Accidents incident to long Voyages, find themselves reduced to great Distresses, either through Scarcity of Provisions, or Want of Stores. I say, it may be a Direction to such as those, what Lengths they may venture to go, without violating the Law of Nations, in Case they should meet other Ships at Sea, or be cast on some inhospitable Shore, which should refuse to trade with them for such Things as are absolutely necessary for the Preservation of their Lives, or the Safety of the Ship and Cargoe.
We have given a few Instances in the Course of this History of the Inducements Men have to engage themselves headlong in a Life of so much Peril to themselves, and so destructive to the Navigation of the trading World; to remedy which Evil there seems to be but two Ways, either to find Employment for the great Numbers of Seamen turn’d adrift at the Conclusion of a War, and thereby prevent their running into such Undertakings, or to guard sufficiently the Coast of Africa, the West-Indies, and other Places whereto Pyrates resort.
I cannot but take Notice in this Place, that during this long Peace, I have not so much as heard of a Dutch Pyrate: It is not that I take them to be honester than their Neighbours; but when we account for it, it will, perhaps, be a Reproach to our selves for our want of Industry: The Reason I take to be, that after a War, when the Dutch Ships are laid up, they have a Fishery, where their Seamen find immediate Business, and as comfortable Bread as they had before. Had ours the same Recourse in their Necessities, I’m certain we should find the same Effect from it; for a Fishery is a Trade that cannot be overstock’d; the Sea is wide enough for us all, we need not quarrel for Elbow-room: Its Stores are infinite, and will ever reward the Labourer. Besides, our own Coast, for the most Part, supply the Dutch, who employ several hundred Sail constantly in the Trade, and so sell to us our own Fish. I call it our own, for the Sovereignty of the British Seas, are to this Day acknowledged us by the Dutch, and all the neighbouring Nations; wherefore, if there was a publick Spirit among us, it would be well worth our while to establish a National Fishery, which would be the best Means in the World to prevent Pyracy, employ a Number of the Poor, and ease the Nation of a great Burthen, by lowering the Price of Provision in general, as well as of several other Commodities.
I need not bring any Proofs of what I advance, viz. that there are Multitudes of Seamen at this Day unemploy’d; it is but too evident by their straggling, and begging all over the Kingdom. Nor is it so much their Inclination to Idleness, as their own hard Fate, in being cast off after their Work is done, to starve or steal. I have not known a Man of War commission’d for several Years past, but three times her Compliment of Men have offer’d themselves in 24 Hours; the Merchants take their Advantage of this, lessen their Wages, and those few who are in Business are poorly paid, and but poorly fed; such Usage breeds Discontents amongst them, and makes them eager for any Change.
I shall not repeat what I have said in the History concerning the Privateers of the West-Indies, where I have taken Notice they live upon Spoil; and as Custom is a second Nature, it is no Wonder that, when an honest Livlyhood is not easily had, they run into one so like their own; so that it may be said, that Privateers in Time of War are a Nursery for Pyrates against a Peace.
Now we have accounted for their Rise and Beginning, it will be natural to enquire why they are not taken and destroy’d, before they come to any Head, seeing that they are seldom less than twelve Men of War stationed in our American Plantations, even in Time of Peace; a Force sufficient to contend with a powerful Enemy. This Enquiry, perhaps, will not turn much to the Honour of those concern’d in that Service; however, I hope I may be excus’d, if what I hint is with a Design of serving the Publick.
I say, ’tis strange that a few Pyrates should ravage the Seas for Years, without ever being light upon, by any of our Ships of War; when in the mean Time, they (the Pyrates) shall take Fleets of Ships; it looks as if one was much more diligent in their Affairs, than the other. Roberts and his Crew, alone, took 400 Sail, before he was destroy’d.
This Matter, I may probably set right another Time, and only observe for the present, that the Pyrates at Sea, have the same Sagacity with Robbers at Land; as the latter understand what Roads are most frequented, and where it is most likely to meet with Booty, so the former know what Latitude to lie in, in order to intercept Ships; and as the Pyrates happen to be in want of Provisions, Stores, or any particular Lading, they cruise accordingly for such Ships, and are morally certain of meeting with them; and by the same Reason, if the Men of War cruise in those Latitudes, they might be as sure of finding the Pyrates, as the Pyrates are to find the Merchant Ships; and if the Pyrates are not to be met with by the Men of War in such a Latitude, then surely down the same Latitude may the Merchant Ships arrive safely to their Port.
To make this a little plainer to my Country Readers, I must observe that all our outward bound Ships, sometime after they leave the Land, steer into the Latitude of the Place they are bound to; if to the West-India Islands, or any Part of the Main of America, as New-York, New-England, Virginia, &c. because the Latitude is the only Certainty in those Voyages to be found, and then they sail due West, till they come to their Port, without altering their Course. In this West Way lie the Pyrates, whether it be to Virginia, &c. or Nevis, St. Christophers, Montserat, Jamaica, &c. so that if the Merchant Ships bound thither, do not fall a Prey to them one Day, they must another: Therefore I say, if the Men of War take the same Track, the Pyrates must unavoidably fall into their Mouths, or be frighted away, for where the Game is, there will the Vermin be; if the latter should be the Case, the trading Ships, as I said before, will pass unmolested and safe, and the Pyrates be reduced to take Refuge in some of their lurking Holes about the uninhabited Islands, where their Fate would be like that of the Fox in his Den, if they should venture out, they would be hunted and taken, and if they stay within they must starve.
I must observe another Thing, that the Pyrates generally shift their Rovings, according to the Season of the Year; in the Summer they cruise mostly along the Coast of the Continent of America, but the Winters there, being a little too cold for them, they follow the Sun, and go towards the Islands, at the approach of cold Weather. Every Man who has used the West-India Trade, knows this to be true; therefore, since we are so well acquainted with all their Motions, I cannot see why our Men of War under a proper Regulation, may not go to the Southward, instead of lying up all the Winter useless: But I shall proceed too far in this Enquiry, I shall therefore quit it, and say something of the following Sheets, which the Author may venture to assure the Reader that they have one Thing to recommend them, which is Truth; those Facts which he himself was not an Eye-Witness of, he had from the authentick Relations of the Persons concern’d in taking the Pyrates, as well as from the Mouths of the Pyrates themselves, after they were taken, and he conceives no Man can produce better Testimonies to support the Credit of any History.
It will be observed, that the Account of the Actions of Roberts runs into a greater Length, than that of any other Pyrate, for which we can assign two Reasons, first, because he ravaged the Seas longer than the rest, and of Consequence there must be a greater Scene of Business in his Life: Secondly, being resolved not to weary the Reader, with tiresome Repetitions: When we found the Circumstances in Roberts’s Live, and other Pyrates, either as to pyratical Articles, or any Thing else, to be the same, we thought it best to give them but once, and chose Roberts’s Life for that Purpose, he having made more Noise in the World, than some others.
As to the Lives of our two female Pyrates, we must confess they may appear a little Extravagant, yet they are never the less true for seeming so, but as they were publickly try’d for their Pyracies, there are living Witnesses enough to justify what we have laid down concerning them; it is certain, we have produced some Particulars which were not so publickly known, the Reason is, we were more inquisitive into the Circumstances of their past Lives, than other People, who had no other Design, than that of gratifying their own private Curiosity: If there are some Incidents and Turns in their Stories, which may give them a little the Air of a Novel, they are not invented or contrived for that Purpose, it is a Kind of Reading this Author is but little acquainted with, but as he himself was exceedingly diverted with them, when they were related to him, he thought they might have the same Effect upon the Reader.
I presume we need make no Apology for giving the Name of a History to the following Sheets, though they contain nothing but the Actions of a Parcel of Robbers. It is Bravery and Stratagem in War which make Actions worthy of Record; in which Sense the Adventures, here related will be thought deserving that Name. Plutarch is very circumstantial in relating the Actions of Spartacus, the Slave, and makes the Conquest of him, one of the greatest Glories of Marcus Crassus; and it is probable, if this Slave had liv’d a little longer, Plutarch would have given us his Life at large. Rome, the Misstress of the World, was no more at first than a Refuge for Thieves and Outlaws; and if the Progress of our Pyrates had been equal to their Beginning; had they all united, and settled in some of those Islands, they might, by this Time, have been honoured with the Name of a Commonwealth, and no Power in those Parts of the World could have been able to dispute it with them.
If we have seem’d to glance, with some Freedom, at the Behaviour of some Governors of Provinces abroad, it has been with Caution; and, perhaps, we have, not declar’d as much as we knew: However, we hope those Gentlemen in the same Station, who have never given Occasion for the like Censure, will take no Offence, tho’ the Word Governor is sometimes made use of.
P. S. It will be necessary to add a Word or two to this Preface, in order to inform the Reader, that there are several material Additions made to this second Impression, which swelling the Book in Bulk, must of Consequence add a small Matter to its Price.
The first Impression having been received with so much Success by the Publick, occasioned a very earnest Demand for a second: In the mean Time, several Persons who had been taken by the Pyrates, as well as others who had been concerned in taking of them, have been so kind to communicate several Facts and Circumstances to us, which had escaped us in the first Impression. This occasioned some Delay, therefore if we have not brought it out, as soon as wish’d, it was to render it the more compleat.
We shall not enter into a Detail of all the new Matter inserted here, but the Description of the Islands St. Thome, &c. and that of Brasil are not to be passed by, without a little Notice. It must be observed, that our speculative Mathematicians and Geographers, who are, no doubt, Men of the greatest Learning, seldom travel farther than their Closets for their Knowledge, &c. are therefore unqualified to give us a good Description of Countries: It is for this Reason that all our Maps and Atlasses are so monstrously faulty, for these Gentlemen are obliged to take their Accounts from the Reports of illiterate Men.
It must be noted also, that when the Masters of Ships make Discoveries this Way, they are not fond of communicating them; a Man’s knowing this or that Coast, better than others, recommends him in his Business, and makes him more useful, and he’ll no more discover it than a Tradesman will the Mystery of his Trade.
The Gentleman who has taken the Pains to make these Observations, is Mr. Atkins, a Surgeon, an ingenious Man in his own Profession, and one who is not ty’d down by any narrow Considerations from doing a Service to the Publick, and has been pleased generously to communicate them for the good of others. I don’t doubt, but his Observations will be found curious and very serviceable to such as Trade to those Parts, besides a Method of Trade is here laid down with the Portuguese, which may prove of great Profit to some of our Countrymen, if followed according to his Plan.
It is hoped these Things will satisfy the Publick, that the Author of the following Sheets considered nothing so much as making the Book useful;—tho’ he has been informed, that some Gentlemen have rais’d an Objection against the Truth of its Contents, viz. that it seems calculated to entertain and divert.—If the Facts are related with some Agreeableness and Life, we hope it will not be imputed as a Fault; but as to its Credit, we can assure them that the Sea-faring Men, that is all that know the Nature of these Things, have not been able to make the least Objection to its Credit:—And he will be bold to affirm, that there is not a Fact or Circumstance in the whole Book, but he is able to prove by credible Witnesses.
There have been some other Pyrates, besides those whose History are here related, such as are hereafter named, and their Adventures are as extravagant and full of Mischief, as those who are the Subject of this Book.—The Author has already begun to digest them into Method, and as soon, as he receives some Materials to make them compleat, (which he shortly expects from the West-Indies). If the Publick gives him Encouragement he intends to venture upon a second Volume.
THE Danger of Commonwealths from an Increase of Pyrates, 17. Pyrates in the Times of Marius and Sylla, 18. Takes Julius Cæsar, 19. The Barbarity of those Pyrates, ib. They spare Cæsar, and why, ib. His Behaviour amongst them, ib. Cæsar obtains his Liberty for a Ransom, ib. Attacks and takes the Pyrates, 20. Hangs them at Troy, ib. They increase again to a prodigious Strength, ib. Plunder at the Gates of Rome, 21. The mock Homage they paid the Romans, ib. Pompey the Great, appointed General against them, 22. A prodigious Fleet and Army assign’d him, ib. His Conduct and good Fortune, ib, The Gallantry of those Pyracies, 23. Receive an Overthrow, ib. Barbarouse, a Pyrate, his Beginning, ib. His great Strength, 24. Selim Eutemi, King of Algiers, courts his Friendship, ib. Makes himself King, and how, ib. The King of Tunis overthrown by him, ib. Leaves the Inheritance to his Brother, ib. The West-Indies commodious for Pyrates, and why, 24, 25. The Explanation of the Word Keys, 25. The Pyrates conceal their Booty on them, ib. The Pyrates Security in those Parts, 26. The Rise of Pyrates since the Peace of Utrecht accounted for, 26, 27. An Expedition from Jamaica, to plunder the Spaniards, 28. The Spaniards sue for Justice to the Government of Jamaica, ib. The Plunderers turn Pyrates, 29. The Spaniards make Reprisals, ib. The Names of Ships taken by them, ib. The plunder’d Seamen join the Pyrates, ib. Providence fixed on as a Place of Retreat by them, 30. That Island described, ib. The Lords Address to her late Majesty for securing Providence, ib. An Order of Council in this Reign to the same Purpose, 31. A List of Men of War employ’d for the Defence of the Plantations, 32. Captain Woods Rogers made Governor of Providence, ib. The King’s Proclamation for suppressing Pyrates, 33, 34. How the Pyrates used the Proclamation, 34. Great Divisions amongst them, 35. How made quiet, ib. Several of the Pyrates surrender to the Governor of Bermudas, ib. The Fate of the rest, ib. Woods Rogers his Arrival at Providence, ib. Vane’s Behaviour, 36. Woods Rogers employs the pardon’d Pyrates, ib. Their Conduct, ib. Some of them hang’d for new Pyracies, 37. Their strange Behaviour at the Place of Execution, ib. Some Proceedings betwixt the English and Spaniards, 38. The Spaniards surprize the Greyhound Man of War, and how, ib. Quit her, 39. The Crew of a Spanish Guarda del Costa hang’d at Jamaica, and why, ib. Sir Nicholas Laws his Letter to the Alcaldes of Trinidado, 39, 40. Mr. Joseph Laws, Lieutenant of the Happy Snow his Letter to the Alcaldes of Trinidado, 41. The Alcaldes Answer to the Lieutenant’s Letter, 41, 42. The Lieutenant’s Reply to the Alcaldes Answer, 42, 43. The Alcaldes Answer again, 43. Some Account of Richard Holland, ib. Prizes taken by him, 44.
Of Captain AVERY, and his CREW.
ROmantick Reports of his Greatness, 45, 46. His Birth, 46. Is Mate of a Bristol Man, 47, For what Voyage design’d, ib. Tampers with the Seamen, ib. Forms a Plot for carrying off the Ship, 47, 48. Executes it, and how, ib. The Pyrates take a rich Ship belonging to the Great Mogul, 50. The Great Mogul threaten the English Settlements, 51. The Pyrates steer their Course back for Madagascar, 52. Call a Council. Put all the Treasure on Board of Avery’s Ship, ib. Avery and his Crew treacherously leaves his Confederates; go to the Isle of Providence in the West-Indies, 53. Sell the Ship, go to North-America in a Sloop, 54. They disperse, Avery goes to New-England, ib. From thence to Ireland, ib. Avery afraid to expose his Diamonds to sale. Goes over to England, ib. Puts his Wealth into Merchants Hands, of Bristol, 55. Changes his Name. Lives at Biddiford, ib. The Merchants send him no Supplies, ib. Importunes them. Goes privately to Bristol, they threaten to discover him, ib. Goes over to Ireland, sollicites them from thence, 56. Is very poor, works his Passage over to Plymouth, walks to Biddiford. Dies a Beggar, ib. An Account of Avery’s Confederates, ib. Their Settlement at Madagascar, 57. They meet other Pyrates; an Account of them, ib. The Pyrates arrive to great Power. The Inhabitants described, 58. Their Policy, Government, &c. Places describ’d, 59. The Arrival of Captain Woods Rogers at that Part of the Island, 61. Their Design of surprizing his Ship, 62. One of these Princes formerly a Waterman on the Thames, 63. Their Secretaries, Men of no Learning. Could neither write nor read, ib.
Of Captain MARTEL, and his CREW.
WAY to suppress Pyrates, 64. The Increase of Pyrates accounted for, 65. Where Martel learned his Trade, ib. The Names of several Prizes taken, by him, 65, 66, 67. His Strength at Sancta Cruz, 67. His Manner of fortifying himself there, ib. Is attack’d by the Scarborough Man of War, 68. His defence by Land and Sea, ib. His desperate Escape, 69. His miserable End, ib.
Of Captain TEACH, alias BLACK-BEARD.
HIS Beginning, 70. His Confederacy with Hornygold, ib. The Confederacy broke, 71. Takes a large Guiney Man, ib. Engages the Scarborough Man of War, ib. His Alliance with Major Stede Bonnet, ib. Deposes his new Ally, ib. His Advice to the Major, ib. His Progress and Success, 72. Takes Prizes in Sight of Charles-Town, 73. Sends Ambassadors to the Governor of Carolina, upon an impudent Demand, ib. Runs his Ship aground designedly, 74. His Cruelty to some of his own Companions. Surrenders to the King’s Proclamation, 75. The Governor of North-Carolina’s exceeding Generosity to him, ib. He marries, ib. The Number of his Wives then living, ib. His conjugal Virtues, 75, 76. Makes a second Excursion in the Way of pyrating, 76. Some State Legerdemain betwixt him and the Governor, ib. His modest Behaviour in the River, 77. His Frolicks on Shore, ib. The Merchants apply for a Force against him, and where, 78. A Proclamation with a Reward for taking or killing of Pyrates, 79, 80. Lieutenant Maynard sent in pursuit of him, 80. Black-beard’s good Intelligence, 81. The Lieutenant engages Black-beard, ib. A most execrable Health drank by Black-beard 82. The Fight bloody; the Particulars of it, 82, 83, 84. Black-beard kill’d, 84. His Sloop taken, ib. The Lieutenant’s Conduct, 84, 85. A Reflection on the Humours of Seamen, 85. Black-beard’s Correspondents discover’d by his Papers, ib. Black-beard’s desperate Resolution before the Fight, ib. The Lieutenant and Governor no very good Friends, 86. The Prisoners hang’d, ib. Samuel Odel saved, and why, ib. The good Luck of Israel Hands, 87. Black-beard’s mischievous Frolicks, ib. His Beard described, ib. Several Instances if his Wickedness, 88, 89. Some Memorandums taken from his Journal, 89. The Names of the Pyrates kill’d in the Engagement, 90. Of those executed, ib. The Value of the Prize, ib.
Of Major STEDE BONNET, and his CREW.
BRED a Gentleman, 91. Supposed to be disorder’d in his Senses, ib. His Beginning as a Pyrate, ib. Takes Prizes, 92. Divisions in his Crew, ib. Meets Black-beard, ib. Is deposed from his Command, 93. His melancholy Reflections, ib. Surrenders to the King’s Proclamation, ib. His new Project, ib. Saves some Pyrates marroon’d, 94. Begins the old Trade again, 95. An Account of Prizes taken by him, 95, 96. Colonel Rhet goes in Quest of Pyrates, 97. Yates the Pyrate surrenders, 98. An Engagement betwixt Colonel Rhet and Major Bonnet, 100. An Account of the kill’d and wounded, ib. The Prisoners carried to Charles-Town, ib. The Major and the Master Escape, ib. Taken again by Colonel Rhet, 101. A Court of Vice-Admiralty held, ib. The Names of those arraign’d, 102, 103. The Form of their Indictment, 104. Their Defence, 105. The Names of those who received Sentence, 106. An excellent Speech made by the Lord Chief Justice on pronouncing Sentence on the Major, 107 to 112.
Of Capt. EDW. ENGLAND, and his CREW.
HIS Beginning and Character, 113, 114. A most barbarous Action of his Crew, 114, 115. The Names of Prizes taken by him, 115, 116. The Misfortunes of his Confederates, 116, 117. England’s Progress half round the Globe, 117, 118. A short Description of the Coast of Malabar, ib. What they did at Madagascar, 118. Takes an East-India Man, ib. The Particulars of the Action in Captain Mackra’s Letter, 119 to 122. Captain Mackra ventures on Board the Pyrate, 122. Is in Danger of being murder’d; 123. Preserv’d by a pleasant Incident, ib. The Pyrates Generosity to him, ib. Captain England deposed, and why, 124. Maroon’d on the Island Mauritius, ib. Some Account of that Island, ib. The Adventures of the Company continued, 124 to 126. Angria, an Indian Pyrate, 127. his Strength by Land and Sea, ib. The East-India Company’s Wars with him, 127, 128. The Pyrates go to the Island of Melinda, 129. Their barbarous Behaviour there, ib. Hear of Captain Mackra’s Designs against them, ib. Their Reflections thereupon, 130. Sail for Cochin, a Dutch Settlement, ib. The Pyrates and the Dutch very good Friends, 131. Mutual Presents made betwixt the Pyrates and the Governor, ib. The Pyrates in a Fright, 133. Almost starv’d, ib. Take a Prize of an immense Value, 134. Take an Ostend East-India Man, ib. A short Description of Madagascar, 135, 136. A prodigious Dividend made by the Pyrates, 136. A Fellow’s Way of increasing his Diamonds, ib. Some of the Pyrates quit, and join the Remains of Avery, ib. The Proceedings of the Men of War in those Parts, 137, 138. Some Dutch Men petition to be among the Pyrates, 138. The Pyrates divided in their Measures, 139. Break up, ib. What became of them, 139, 140.
Of Capt. CHARLES VANE, and his CREW.
VANE’s Behaviour at Providence, 141. The Names of Prizes taken by him, 141, 142. Is deserted by his Consort Yates, 143. Yates surrenders at Charles-Town, ib. A Stratagem of Vane’s, 144. Black-beard and Vane meet, 145. They salute after the Pyrates Manner, ib. Vane deposed from his Command, and why, 146. 15 Hands degraded, and turned out with him, ib. A Sloop given them, 147. They sail in Quest of Adventures, and take Prizes, ib. Vane cast away upon an uninhabited Island, ib. Meets with an old Acquaintance, 148. Vane seiz’d with a Qualm of Honour, ib. Ships himself on Board a Vessel, passing for another Man, ib. Is discover’d, with the Manner how, 149. Carried to Jamaica, and hang’d, ib.
Of Capt. RACKAM, and his CREW.
RACKAM’s beginning as a Pyrate, 150, 151. An Account of Prizes taken by him, 151. Is attack’d by a Spanish Guard Ship, ib. His Stratagem to escape, 152. More Prizes taken by him, 153. Is taken, and how, 154. Tried, condemned, and executed at Jamaica, ib. The Names of his Crew condemn’d with him, 154. An extraordinary Case of nine taken with him, ib. Some Account of the Proceedings against them, 154, 155.
The LIFE of MARY READ.
MARY Read’s Birth, 157. Reasons for dressing her in Breeches, 158. Waits upon a Lady; goes into the Army, 159. Her Behaviour in several Engagements, ib. She falls in Love with her Comrade, ib. Her Sex discovered; the two Troopers married, 160. Settles at Breda, ib. Her Husband dies, she reassumes the Breeches, ib. Goes to Holland. To the West-Indies, 161. Turns Pyrate. Anne Bonny, another Pyrate, falls in Love with her, 162. Her Adventures to 165.
The LIFE of ANNE BONNY.
ANNE Bonny born a Bastard, 166. Her Mother’s Intrigues strangely discover’d, 167. Her Father lies with his own Wife, by mistake, 169. She proves with Child; the Husband jealous, 170. He separates from his Wife; lives with Anne Bonny’s Mother, 171. Anne Bonny put into Breeches for a Disguise, how discovered, ib. The Father becomes poor. Goes to Carolina, 172. Improves his Fortune. Anne Bonny marries against his Consent. Her fierce Temper, ib. Goes to Providence with her Husband, ib. Enticed to Sea in Men’s Cloaths, by Rackam the Pyrate, 173. Reproaches Rackam with Cowardice at his Execution, ib.
Of Capt. HOWEL DAVIS, and his Crew.
THE Original of Davis, 174. Is taken by the Pyrate England, ib. England’s Generosity to him, 175. Is cast into Prison at Barbadoes, and why, ib. Goes to Providence, ib. Employ’d in a trading Vessel, seizes the Ship, 176. An Instance of his great Courage and good Conduct, 177, 178. Goes to Cape de Verd Islands, ib. Take several Prizes, ib. Take the Fort of St. Jago by Storm, 180. A Council call’d, ib. Sail for Gambia, 181. Takes Gambia Castle by Stratagem, 181 to 184. Meets La Bouche, a French Pyrate, 184. His Adventures with Cocklyn the Pyrate, at Sierraleone, 185. The Fort attack’d and taken, by three Confederate Pyrates, 186. The Pyrates quarrel and part, ib. The laconick Speech of Davis to them, ib. His fierce Engagement with a large Dutch Ship, 187. An Account of several Prizes taken by him, ib. A Description of the Island of St. Thome, Del Principe, and Annobono, from 188 to 204. The Dutch Governor of Acra taken by Davis, 205. Davis well received by the Governor of Princes, ib. His Stratagem to come at the Wealth of the Island, 206. Is counterplotted and kill’d, by an Ambuscade, 207.
Of Capt. BAR. ROBERTS, and his CREW.
HIS Beginning, 208. Elected Captain in the Room of Davis, 209. The Speech of Lord Dennis at the Election, ib. Lord Sympson objects against a Papist, ib. The Death of Davis reveng’d, 210. Roberts sails Southward, in Quest of Adventures, 211. The Names of the Prizes taken by them, ib. Brasil describ’d, from 211 to 221. Roberts falls into a Fleet of Portuguese, 221. Boards and takes the richest Ship amongst them, 222. Make the Devil’s Islands, 223. An unfortunate Adventure of Roberts, 224. Kennedy’s Treachery, 225. Irishmen excluded by Roberts and his Crew, 230. Articles sworn to by them, ib. A Copy of them from, 230 to 233. Some Account of the Laws and Customs of the Pyrates, 233, 234. An Instance of Roberts his Cunning, 234. He proceeds again upon Business, and takes Prizes, 235. Narrowly escapes being taken, 236. Sails for the Island Dominico, ib. Another Escape, 237. Sails for Newfoundland, ib. Plunders, sinks and burns 22 Sail in the Harbour of Trepassi, ib. Plunders ten Sail of French Men, 238. The mad Behaviour of the Crew, 238, 239. A Correspondence hinted at, 240. The Pyrates caress’d at the Island of St. Bartholomew, ib. In extream Distress, 241, 242. Sail for Martinico, 243. A Stratagem of Roberts, ib. The insolent Device in his Colours, 244. And odd Compliment paid to Roberts, ib. Three Men desert the Pyrates, and are taken by them, 245. Their Tryal, 245, 246. Two executed, and one saved, 247. The Brigantine deserts them, 248. Great Divisions in the Company, 248, 249. A Description of Sierraleone River, 250. The Names of English settled there, and Way of Life, 251, 252, 253. The Onslow, belonging to the African Company taken, 254. The Pyrates Contempt of Soldiers, ib. They are for entertaining a Chaplain, ib. Their Skirmish with the Calabar Negroes, 256. The King Solomon, belonging to the African Company, taken, 258. The Frolicks of the Pyrates, ib. Take eleven Sail in Whydah Road, 259. A comical Receipt given by the Pyrates, 260. A cruel Action of Roberts, 261. Sails for Anna Bona, 262. The Progress of the Swallow Man of War, in Pursuit of Roberts, from 262 to 267. Roberts his Consort taken, 267. The Bravery of Skyrme, a Welch Pyrate, 268. The surly Humour of some of the Prisoners, 268, 269. The Swallow comes up with Roberts, 270. Roberts his Dress described, 271. Is kill’d, 272. His Character, ib. His Ship taken, 273. The Behaviour of the Pyrates, when Prisoners, 275. A Conspiracy of theirs discovered, 276, 277. Reflections on the Manner of trying them, 278, 279, 280. The Form of the Commission for trying the Pyrates, 281. The Oath taken by the Commissioners, 282. The Names of those arraign’d taken in the Ship Ranger, 282, 283, 284. The Form of the Indictment, 284, 285. The Sum of the Evidence against them, 285, 286. Their Defence, 287, 288. The Names of the Prisoners of the Royal Fortune, 288, 289, 290. Proceedings against them, 291 to 304. Harry Glasby acquitted, 304. The particular Tryal of Captain James Skyrme, 304, 305. Of John Walden, 305 to 308. Of Peter Scudamore, 308 to 311. Of Robert Johnson, 311, 312. Of George Wilson, 312 to 317. Of Benjamin Jeffries, 317, 318. Of John Mansfield, 318, 319. Of William Davis, 319 to 321. The Names of those executed at Cape Corso, 321, 322. The Petition of some condemn’d, 323. The Courts Resolution, ibid. The Form of an Indenture of a pardon’d Pyrate, 324. The Names of those pardon’d upon Indenture to serve seven Years, 325. The Pyrates how disposed of, 326. The dying Behaviour of those executed, 326 to 329.
Of Capt. ANSTIS, and his CREW.
HIS Beginning as a Pyrate, 330. A most brutish Action supposed to be committed by his Crew, 331. Civil Discords amongst them, 332. The Pyrates Term of Round Robin explain’d, ib. They land on an uninhabited Island, ib. A Petition for Pardon agreed on, ib. The Form of that Petition, 333. Their Diversions, and Manner of living on the Island, 334, 335. Their mock Tryal of one another, 336 to 338. They put to Sea again, 338. Their Petition not answer’d, ib. The Morning Star Wreck’d, ib. Anstis narrowly escapes being taken, 339. A Plot discover’d, ib. The Crew gathers Strength again, 340. Surprised by the Winchelsea Man of War at Tobago, ib. Fire one of their Ships, ib. Anstis escapes, ib. Is killed by a Conspiracy of his own Men, 341. The Ship surrender’d at Curaco, ib. Several hang’d there, ib. Fen hanged at Antegoa, ib. The good Luck of those who fled to the Woods, ib.
Of Capt. WORLEY, and his CREW.
HIS mad Beginning, 342. His Success, 343, 344. Bind themselves by Oath to take no Quarters, 344. A false Alarm at James-Town, 345. Worley catches a Tartar, ib. The desperate Resolution of the Pyrates, 346. Worley hanged, ib.
Of Capt. GEO. LOWTHER, and his CREW.
HIS Beginning, 347. Plots with Massey, 349. Massey’s Conduct, 350, 351. Lowther’s Proposal, 351. A Copy of Articles drawn up, and sworn to, 352. The Pyrates going by the Ears, 354. How Rogues are made Friends, ib. Lowther and Massey part, 355. A Digression concerning Massey’s mad Conduct, 355 to 357. Lowther and Low meet, 358. An Alliance betwixt them, ib. A List of Prizes taken by them, 359. An unlucky Adventure at Cape Mayo, 359, 360. Lowther and Low break the Alliance, and part, 361. The Bravery of Captain Gwatkins, ib. The Pyrates much reduced, 362. Winter in North-Carolina, ib. Put to Sea again, ib. Make for the Island of Blanco, 363. The Island described, ib. Are surprised and taken, 364. Lowther escapes, ib. The Names of the Prisoners, and Fate, ib. Lowther’s Death, 365.
Of Capt. LOW and his CREW.
LOW’s Original, 366, 367. The Virtues of his Family, ib. His bold Beginnings, 368. Declares War against the whole World, ib. His Success, 369, 370. Like to perish by a Storm, 371, 372. Sail for the Western Island, 373. Treats with the Governor of St. Michael for Water, ib. Several Instances of their wanton Cruelty, 374. Low’s Consort taken, and how, 376. A horrid Massacre committed by Low. 376, 377. Takes a Multitude of Prizes, 377. Another barbarous Massacre, 379. More Cruelties, 379, 380. Low and his Consort attack’d by the Greyhound Man of War, 380, 381. Low deserts his Consort, 381. The Consort taken, ib. Carried to Rhode Island, 382. The Names, Age, and Places of Birth, of the Prisoners, 382, 383. A Compliment paid to Captain Solgard, by the Corporation of New-York, 384. The Resolution of the Mayor and Common-Council, ib. The Preamble of the Captain’s Freedom, 385. More Instances of Low’s Cruelty, 388, 389. His Adventures continued to 390.
Of Capt. JOHN EVANS and his CREW.
BEGINS with House-breaking, 391. Seizes a Sloop, 392. Robs a House the same Night, ib. Put to Sea, and take valuable Prizes, 393. Evans shot dead by his Boatswain, 394, His Death reveng’d, ib. The Company breaks up, 395.
Of Capt. JOHN PHILLIPS, and his CREW.
PHILLIPS his Original, 396. How he became a Pyrate, ib. His Return to England accounted for, ib. Ships again for Newfoundland, ib. Deserts his Ship in Peter Harbour, 397. He and four others seize a Vessel, ib. Sail out a pyrating, ib. Articles sworn to upon a Hatchet, ib. A Copy of the Articles, 397, 398. Ill Blood amongst them, and why, 399. Are almost starved, ib, Take Prizes, ib. Phillips proposes to clean at Tobago, and why, ib. Meets an old Acquaintance, 400. Frighten’d from the Island, ib. A Conspiracy to run away with the Prize, ib. A Skirmish, ib. The Carpenter’s Dexterity in cutting off Legs, ib. Fern kill’d by Phillips, and why, 401. The Danger of attempting an Escape among the Pyrates, ib. Captain Mortimer’s Bravery, and hard Fate, 401, 402. Captain Mortimer’s Brother escapes, and how, 402. Cheeseman’s Steps for overthrowing the Pyrates Government, 403. A Digression concerning Newfoundland, and its Trade, 403, 404. The Pyrates recruited with Men from thence, 405. Phillips his Conscience pricks him, ib. Dependence Ellery, a Saint, oblig’d to dance by the Pyrates, 406. A brave Action perform’d by Cheesemen, 407. Carries the Pyrate Ship into Boston, 408. The dying Declarations of John Rose Archer, and William White, 408, 409.
Of Captain SPRIGGS, and his CREW.
SPRIGGS his Beginning, 411. How he set up for himself, ib. Sweats his Prisoners for Diversion, 412. The Pyrates mistake in drinking Healths, 413. Take Hawkins a second time, 414. Burn his Ship, and why, ib. An odd Entertainment given him by the Pyrates, ib. Captain Hawkins how disposed of, 414, 415. Spriggs barbarous Usage of his Prisoners, 415, 416. Takes a Ship loaden with Horses, 416. An odd Frolick of the Pyrates, ib. Two particular Relations of Pyracy, from 417 to 424.
AS the Pyrates in the West-Indies have been so formidable and numerous, that they have interrupted the Trade of Europe into those Parts; and our English Merchants, in particular, have suffered more by their Depredations, than by the united Force of France and Spain, in the late War: We do not doubt but the World will be curious to know the Original and Progress of these Desperadoes, who were the Terror of the trading Part of the World.
But before we enter upon their particular History, it will not be amiss, by way of Introduction, to shew, by some Examples drawn from History, the great Mischief and Danger which threaten Kingdoms and Commonwealths, from the Increase of these sort of Robbers; when either by the Troubles of particular Times, or the Neglect of Governments, they are not crush’d before they gather Strength.
It has been the Case heretofore, that when a single Pyrate has been suffered to range the Seas, as not being worth the Notice of a Government, he has by Degrees grown so powerful, as to put them to the Expence of a great deal of Blood and Treasure, before he was suppress’d. We shall not examine how it came to pass, that our Pyrates in the West-Indies have continually increased till of late; this is an Enquiry which belongs to the Legislature, or Representatives of the People in Parliament, and to them we shall leave it.
Our Business shall be briefly to shew, what from Beginnings, as inconsiderable as these, other Nations have suffered.
In the Times of Marius and Sylla, Rome was in her greatest Strength, yet she was so torn in Pieces by the Factions of those two great Men, that every Thing which concerned the publick Good was altogether neglected, when certain Pyrates broke out from Cicilia, a Country of Asia Minor, situate on the Coast of the Mediterranean, betwixt Syria on the East, from whence it is divided by Mount Tauris, and Armenia Minor on the West. This Beginning was mean and inconsiderable, having but two or three Ships, and a few Men, with which they cruised about the Greek Islands, taking such Ships as were very ill arm’d or weakly defended; however, by the taking of many Prizes, they soon increased in Wealth and Power: The first Action of their’s which made a Noise, was the taking of Julius Cæsar, who was as yet a Youth, and who being obliged to fly from the Cruelties of Sylla, who sought his Life, went into Bithinia, and sojourned a while with Nicomedes, King of that Country; in his Return back by Sea, he was met with, and taken, by some of these Pyrates, near the Island of Pharmacusa: These Pyrates had a barbarous Custom of tying their Prisoners Back to Back and throwing them into the Sea; but, supposing Cæsar to be some Person of a high Rank, because of his purple Robes, and the Number of his Attendants, they thought it would be more for their Profit to preserve him, in hopes of receiving a great Sum for his Ransom; therefore they told him he should have his Liberty, provided he would pay them twenty Talents, which they judg’d to be a very high Demand, in our Money, about three thousand six hundred Pounds Sterling; he smiled, and of his own Accord promised them fifty Talents; they were both pleased, and surpriz’d at his Answer, and consented that several of his Attendants should go by his Direction and raise the Money; and he was left among these Ruffians with no more than 3 Attendants. He pass’d eight and thirty Days, and seemed so little concerned or afraid, that often when he went to sleep, he used to charge them not to make a Noise, threatening, if they disturbed him, to hang them all; he also play’d at Dice with them, and sometimes wrote Verses and Dialogues, which he used to repeat, and also cause them to repeat, and if they did not praise and admire them, he would call them Beasts and Barbarians, telling them he would crucify them. They took all these as the Sallies of a juvenile Humour, and were rather diverted, than displeased at them.
At length his Attendants return’d with his Ransom, which he paid, and was discharged; he sail’d for the Port of Miletum, where, as soon as he was arriv’d, he used all his Art and Industry in fitting out a Squadron of Ships, which he equipp’d and arm’d at his own Charges; and sailing in Quest of the Pyrates, he surpriz’d them as they lay at Anchor among the Islands, and took those who had taken him before, with some others; the Money he found upon them he made Prize of, to reimburse his Charges, and he carry’d the Men to Pergamus or Troy, and there secured them in Prison: In the mean Time, he apply’d himself to Junius, then Governor of Asia, to whom it belonged to judge and determine of the Punishment of these Men; but Junius finding there was no Money to be had, answered Cæsar, that he would think at his Leisure, what was to be done with those Prisoners; Cæsar took his Leave of him, returned back to Pergamus, and commanded that the Prisoners should be brought out and executed, according to Law in that Case provided; which is taken Notice of, in a Chapter at the End of this Book, concerning the Laws in Cases of Pyracy: And thus he gave them that Punishment in Earnest, which he had often threatned them with in Jest.
Cæsar went strait to Rome, where, being engaged in the Designs of his own private Ambition, as were almost all the leading Men in Rome, the Pyrates who were left, had Time to increase to a prodigious Strength; for while the civil Wars lasted, the Seas were left unguarded, so that Plutarch tells us, that they erected diverse Arsenals full of all manner of warlike Stores, made commodious Harbours, set up Watch-Towers and Beacons all along the Coasts of Cilicia; that they had a mighty Fleet, well equipp’d and furnish’d, with Galliots of Oars, mann’d, not only with Men of desperate Courage, but also with expert Pilots and Mariners; they had their Ships of Force, and light Pinnaces for cruising and making Discoveries, in all no less than a thousand Sail; so gloriously set out, that they were as much to be envied for their gallant Shew, as fear’d for their Force; having the Stern and Quarters all gilded with Gold and their Oars plated with Silver, as well as purple Sails; as if their greatest Delight had been to glory in their Iniquity. Nor were they content with committing Pyracies and Insolencies by Sea, they committed as great Depredations by Land, or rather made Conquests; for they took and sack’d no less than four hundred Cities, laid several others under Contributions, plundered the Temples of the Gods, and inriched themselves with the Offerings deposited in them; they often landed Bodies of Men, who not only plundered the Villages along the Sea Coast, but ransacked the fine Houses of the Noblemen along the Tiber. A Body of them once took Sextillius and Bellinus, two Roman Prætors, in their purple Robes, going from Rome to their Governments, and carried them away with all their Sergeants, Officers and Vergers; they also took the Daughter of Antonius a consular Person, and one who had obtained the Honour of a Triumph, as she was going to the Country House of her Father.
But what was most barbarous, was a Custom they had when they took any Ship, of enquiring of the Person on Board, concerning their Names and Country; if any of them said he was a Roman, they fell down upon their Knees, as if in a Fright at the Greatness of that Name, and begg’d Pardon for what they had done, and imploring his Mercy, they used to perform the Offices of Servants about his Person, and when they found they had deceived him into a Belief of their being sincere, they hung out the Ladder of the Ship, and coming with a shew of Courtesy, told him, he had his Liberty, desiring him to walk out of the Ship, and this in the Middle of the Sea, and when they observed him in Surprize, as was natural, they used to throw him overboard with mighty shouts of Laughter; so wanton they were in their Cruelty.
Thus, while Rome was Mistress oft he World, she suffered Insults and Affronts, almost at her Gates, from these powerful Robbers; but what for a while made Faction cease, and roused the Genius of that People, never used to suffer Wrongs from a fair Enemy, was an excessive Scarcity of Provisions in Rome, occasioned by all the Ships loaden with Corn and Provisions from Sicily, Corsica, and other Places, being intercepted and taken by these Pyrates, insomuch that they were almost reduced to a Famine: Upon this, Pompey the Great was immediately appointed General to manage this War; five hundered Ships were immediately fitted out, he had fourteen Senators, Men of Experience in the War, for his Vice-Admirals; and so considerable an Enemy, were these Ruffians become, that no less than an Army of a hundred thousand Foot, and five thousand Horse was appointed to invade them by Land; but it happened very luckily for Rome, that Pompey sail’d out before the Pyrate had Intelligence of a Design against them, so that their Ships were scattered all over the Mediterranean, like Bees gone out from a Hive, some one Way, some another, to bring Home their Lading; Pompey divided his Fleet into thirteen Squadrons, to whom he appointed their several Stations, so that great Numbers of the Pyrates fell into their Hands, Ship by Ship, without any Loss; forty Days he passed in scouring the Mediterranean, some of the Fleet cruizing along the Coast of Africk, some about the Islands, and some upon the Italian Coasts, so that often those Pyrates who were flying from one Squadron, fell in with another; however, some of them escaped, and these making directly to Cilicia, and acquainting their Confederates on Shore with what had happened, they appointed a Rendezvous of all the Ships that had escaped at the Port of Coracesium, in the same Country. Pompey finding the Mediterranean quite clear, appointed a Meeting of all his Fleet at the Haven of Brundusium, and from thence sailing round into the Adriatick, he went directly to attack these Pyrates in their Hives; as soon as he came near the Coracesium in Cilicia, where the Remainder of the Pyrates now lay, they had the Hardiness to come and give him Battle, but the Genius of old Rome prevailed, and the Pyrates received an entire Overthrow, being all either taken or destroyed; but as they made many strong Fortresses upon the Sea Coast, and built Castles and strong Holds up the Country, about the Foot of Mount Taurus, he was obliged to besiege them with his Army; some Places he took by Storm, others surrendered to his Mercy, to whom he gave their Lives, and at length he made an entire Conquest.
But it is probable, that had these Pyrates receiv’d sufficient Notice of the Roman Preparation against them, so as they might have had Time to draw their scattered Strength into a Body, to have met Pompey by Sea, the Advantage appeared greatly on their Side, in Numbers of Shipping, and of Men; nor did they want Courage, as may be seen by their coming out of the Port of Coracesium, to give the Romans Battle, with a Force much inferior to their’s; I say, had they overthrown Pompey, it is likely they would have made greater Attempts, and Rome, which had conquer’d the whole World, might have been subdued by a Parcel of Pyrates.
This is a Proof how dangerous it is to Governments to be negligent, and not take an early Care in suppressing these Sea Banditti, before they gather Strength.
The Truth of this Maxim may be better exemplified in the History of Barbarouse, a Native in the City of Mitylene, in the Island of Lesbos, in the Egean Sea; a Fellow of ordinary Birth, who being bred to the Sea, first set out from thence upon the pyrating Account with only one small Vessel, but by the Prizes he took, he gain’d immense Riches, so that getting a great Number of large Ships, all the bold and dissolute Fellows of those Islands flock’d to him, and listed in his Service, for the Hopes of Booty; so that his Strength was increased to a formidable Fleet: With these he perform’d such bold and adventurous Actions, that he became the Terror of the Seas. About this Time it happened that Selim Eutemi, King of Algiers, having refused to pay the accustomed Tribute to the Spaniards, was apprehensive of an Invasion from thence; wherefore he treated with Barbarouse, upon the Foot of an Ally, to come and assist him, and deliver him from paying this Tribute; Barbarouse readily came into it, and sailing to Algiers with a great Fleet, he put part of his Men on Shore, and having laid a Plot to surprize the City, he effected it with great Success, and murder’d Selim in a Bath; soon after which, he was himself crowned King of Algiers; after this he made War upon Abdilabde, King of Tunis, and overthrew him in Battle; he extended his Conquests on all Sides; and thus from a Thief became a mighty King: and tho’ he was at last kill’d in Battle, yet he had so well established himself upon that Throne, that, dying without Issue, he left the Inheritance of the Kingdom to his Brother, another Pyrate.
I come now to speak of the Pyrates infesting the West-Indies, where they are more numerous than in any other Parts of the World, on several Reasons:
First, Because there are so many uninhabited little Islands and Keys, with Harbours convenient and secure for cleaning their Vessels, and abounding with what they often want, Provision; I mean Water, Sea-Fowl, Turtle, Shell, and other Fish; where, if they carry in but strong Liquor, they indulge a Time, and become ready for new Expeditions before any Intelligence can reach to hurt them.
It may here perhaps be no unnecessary Digression, to explain upon what they call Keys in the West-Indies: These are small sandy Islands, appearing a little above the Surf of the Water, with only a few Bushes or Weeds upon them, but abound (those most at any Distance from the Main) with Turtle, amphibious Animals, that always chuse the quietest and most unfrequented Place, for laying their Eggs, which are to a vast Number in the Seasons, and would seldom be seen, but for this, (except by Pyrates:) Then Vessels from Jamaica and the other Governments make Voyages, called Turtling, for supplying the People, a common and approved Food with them. I am apt to think these Keys, especially those nigh Islands, to have been once contiguous with them, and separated by Earthquakes (frequently there) or Inundations, because some of them that have been within continual View, as those nigh Jamaica, are observed within our Time, to be entirely wasted away and lost, and others daily wasting. There are not only of the Use above taken Notice of to Pyrates; but it is commonly believed were always in buccaneering pyratical Times, the hiding Places for their Riches, and often Times a Shelter for themselves, till their Friends on the Main, had found Means to obtain Indemnity for their Crimes; for you must understand, when Acts of Grace were more frequent, and the Laws less severe, these Men continually found Favours and Incouragers at Jamaica, and perhaps they are not all dead yet; I have been told many of them them still living have been of the same Trade, and left it off only because they can live as well honestly, and gain now at the hazard of others Necks.
Secondly, another Reason why these Seas are chose by Pyrates, is the great Commerce thither by French, Spaniards, Dutch, and especially English Ships: They are sure in the Latitude of these trading Islands, to meet with Prizes, Booties of Provision, Cloathing, and Naval-Stores, and sometimes Money; there being great Sums remitted this Way to England; (the Returns of the Affiento, and private Slave-Trade, to the Spanish West-Indies:) And in short, by some one or other, all the Riches of Potosi.
A third Reason, is the Inconveniency and Difficulty of being pursued by the Men of War, the many small Inlets, Lagoons and Harbours, on these solitary Islands and Keys, is a natural Security.
’Tis generally here that the Pyrates begin their Enterprizes, setting out at first with a very small Force; and by infesting these Seas, and those of the Continent of North-America, in a Year’s Time, if they have good luck on their Sides, they accumulate such Strength, as enables them to make foreign Expeditions: The first, is usually to Guiney, taking the Azores and Cape de Verd Islands in their Way, and then to Brazil and the East-Indies, where if they meet with prosperous Voyages, they set down at Madagascar, or the neighbouring Islands, and enjoy their ill gotten Wealth, among their elder Brethren, with Impunity. But that I may not give too much Encouragement to the Profession, I must inform my maritime Readers, that the far greater Part of these Rovers are cut short in the Pursuit, by a sudden Precipitation into the other World.
The Rise of these Rovers, since the Peace of Utrecht, or at least, the great Encrease of them, may justly be computed to the Spanish Settlements in the West Indies; the Governors of which, being often some hungry Courtiers, sent thither to repair or make a Fortune, generally Countenance all Proceedings that bring in Profit: They grant Commissions to great Numbers of Vessels of War, on Pretence of preventing an interloping Trade, with Orders to seize all Ships or Vessels whatsoever, within five Leagues of their Coasts, which our English Ships cannot well avoid coming, in their Voyage to Jamaica. But if the Spanish Captains chance to exceed this Commission, and rob and plunder at Discretion, the Sufferers are allowed to complain, and exhibit a Process in their Court, and after great Expence of Suit, Delay of Time, and other Inconveniencies, obtain a Decree in their Favour, but then when the Ship and Cargo comes to be claim’d, with Costs of Suit, they find, to their Sorrow, that it has been previously condemn’d, and the Plunder divided among the Crew; the Commander that made the Capture, who alone is responsible, is found to be a poor raskally Fellow, not worth a Groat, and, no doubt, is plac’d in that Station for the like Purposes.
The frequent Losses sustain’d by our Merchants abroad, by these Pyrates, was Provocation enough to attempt something by way of Reprisal; and a fair Opportunity offering it self in the Year 1716, the Traders of the West-Indies, took Care not to slip it over, but made the best Use of it their Circumstances would permit.
It was about two Years before, that the Spanish Galleons, or Plate Fleet, had been cast away in the Gulf or Florida; and several Vessels from the Havana, were at work, with diving Engines, to fish up the Silver that was on board the Galleons.
The Spaniards had recovered some Millions of Pieces of Eight, and had carried it all to the Havana; but they had at present about 350000 Pieces of Eight in Silver, then upon the Spot, and were daily taking up more. In the mean time, two Ships, and three Sloops, fitted out from Jamaica, Barbadoes, &c. under Captain Henry Jennings, sail’d to the Gulf, and found the Spaniards there upon the Wreck; the Money before spoken of, was left on Shore, deposited in a Store-House, under the Government of two Commissaries, and a Guard of about 60 Soldiers.
The Rovers came directly upon the Place, bringing their little Fleet to an Anchor, and, in a Word, landing 300 Men, they attack’d the Guard, who immediately ran away; and thus they seized the Treasure, which they carried off, making the best of their Way to Jamaica.
In their Way they unhappily met with a Spanish Ship, bound from Porto Bello to the Havana, with a great many rich Goods, viz. Bales of Cochineal, Casks of Indico, and 60000 Pieces of Eight more, which their Hands being in, they took, and having rifled the Vessel, let her go.
They went away to Jamaica with their Booty, and were followed in View of the Port, by the Spaniards, who having seen them thither, went back to the Governor of the Havana, with the Account of it, who immediately sent a Vessel to the Governor of Jamaica to complain of this Robbery, and to reclaim the Goods.
As it was in full Peace, and contrary to all Justice and Right, that this Fact was committed, they were soon made sensible that the Government at Jamaica would not suffer them to go unpunished, much less protect them. Therefore they saw a Necessity of shifting for themselves; so, to make bad worse, they went to Sea again, tho’ not without disposing of their Cargo to good Advantage, and furnishing themselves with Ammunition, Provisions, &c. and being thus made desperate, they turn’d Pyrates, robbing not the Spaniards only, but their own Countrymen, and any Nation they could lay their Hands on.
It happened about this Time, that the Spaniards, with three or four small Men of War, fell upon our Logwood Cutters, in the Bay of Campeachy, and Bay or Honduras; and after they had made Prizes of the following Ships and Vessels, they gave the Men belonging to them, three Sloops to carry them home, but these Men being made desperate by their Misfortunes, and meeting with the Pyrates, they took on with them, and so encreas’d their Number.
The LIST of Ships and Vessels taken by the Spanish Men of War in the Year 1716.
The Stafford, Captain Knocks, from New-England, bound for London.
Anne, ——— Gernish, for ditto.
Dove, ——— Grimstone, for New-England.
A Sloop, ——— Alden, for ditto.
A Brigantine, ——— Mosson, for ditto.
A Brigantine, ——— Turfield, for ditto.
A Brigantine, ——— Tennis, for ditto.
A Ship, ——— ——— Porter, for ditto.
Indian Emperor, Wentworth, for New-England.
A Ship, ——— Rich, Master.
Ditto, ——— Bay.
Ditto, ——— Smith.
Ditto, ——— Stockum.
Ditto, ——— Satlely.
A Sloop, ——— ——— Richards, belonging to New-England.
Two Sloops, ——— ——— belonging to Jamaica.
One Sloop ——— ——— of Barbadoes.
Two Ships ——— ——— from Scotland.
Two Ships ——— ——— from Holland.
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