The History of the Pyrates, by Daniel Defoe

Of Capt. Thomas Howard, And his Crew.

WE have said in another Life, viz. White's, that he was a Lighterman on the River Thames, his Father was of the Business, and had the Character of a very honest Man. After his Father's Decease, he grew very extravagant, and squander'd away not only what he had left his Son, but what he had allotted for his Widow Mother to our Adventurer, whose Indulgence putting every Thing into her Son's Hands, was follow'd by being her self turn'd out of Doors, for he sold the House over her Head. After having ruin'd himself and Mother, his Friends fearing the Wickedness of his Inclinations would bring a Scandal upon them, persuaded him to go to Sea, and procur'd him a Voyage to Jamaica, on board a Merchant Ship. At this Island he ran away from his Ship, and associating himself with some desperate Fellows, they stole a Canoe, and went away to the grand Camanas to join some others of their own Stamp, who lurked thereabouts, with Design to go on the Account, the Term for Pyrating: They met those they look'd for, made up a Company of 20 Men, surprized and made themselves Masters of a Turtling Sloop, and set out in Search of Booty.

The first Prizes they made were only Turtlers, which, however, encreas'd the Number of their Crew, some being willing to join them, others being forced, with Threats of being set ashore on some desolate Key.

They after some Time cruizing met with an Irish Brigantine, who had Provisions and Servants on board. They made an Exchange with the Master, gave him Provision to carry him to Jamaica, and allow'd five Hands to go with him; the rest (except the Servants, who readily took on with the pyrates) were all forced.

Not long after, they surprized a Sloop which had been trading on the Spanish Coast; as she had 6 Guns, and was a fit Vessel for their Turn, they chang'd her against the Brigantine; several Hands belonging to this Sloop enter'd Voluntiers, and several more were obliged to join them by Compulsion.

After this Capture, they steer'd for the Coast of Virginia, and, in their Way, met with a large New England Brigantine, laden with Provisions, bound for Barbadoes. This they made Prize of; and shifting their own Guns on board her, sent the Master away in the Sloop; after forcing some of his Men with them. They had now a Vessel of 10 Guns, and a Crew of 80 Men, of whom one James was Captain, and Howard Quarter-Master.

While they lay on the Coast of Virginia, they made Prize of several Ships from England, out of which they took Men, Liquors, Provisions, Cloaths, and whatever else they either liked or thought necessary. As these Ships had several Felons on board, who were Transports, they had out of them a Number of Voluntiers, beside forced Men; so that they had a large Complement. Among other Virginia Ships which fell into their Hands, they made Prize, with little Trouble, of a fine Galley, mounted with 24 Guns, which afforded them a great many Voluntiers, as she had a Number of transported Malefactors and Servants on board. They changed their Brigantine for this Ship, and soon after, the Man of War, which waited on this Coast, heaving in Sight, they thought proper to take their Departure.

From the Coast of Virginia, they shap'd their Course for that of Guiney, where they took a great many Ships of different Nations, all which they rifled of what they thought fit: Out of these Ships they forced on board a Number of Men, equal to the Number of those formerly compell'd, who desired, and whom they permitted, to be discharged, after much Entreaty.

After they had been some Months on the Coast, they spied a large three deck'd Portuguese Ship from Brazil, mounted with 36 Guns; they gave Chase and came up with her: The Captain would make no Resistance, but his Mate, who was an Englishman, named Rutland, thinking it Shame to give up such a Ship, resolved to defend her; which the Portuguese Captain consented to, but went himself out of Harm's Way. Rutland, who had been Master of an English Brigantine, taken from him on the same Coast by another Gang of pyrates, fought them the better Part of a Forenoon; but the Portuguese flying the Decks, and only thirty Men, who were English, Dutch, and French, standing by him, he was obliged to ask Quarters, which were given. When the pyrates came on board, they asked Rutland, if he was Commander? he answer'd, No. They enquired after him, and being told, he was somewhere in the Hold, they search'd, and found him hid in the Powder-Room; whence they hawled him up, and whipp'd him round the Deck for his

Cowardice. Rutland, and those who fought the Ship, they forced on board, and their Complement being now 180 Men, they exchanged their Galley for the Portuguese Ship, carried her in Shore, and ripping off her upper Deck, made her deep wasted, and much snugger, by cutting down some of her Gunnel. This Prize they named the Alexander.

They went down the Coast in this Ship, and made several Prizes, some of which they discharged, and put on board such of their forced Men as begg'd their Discharge; others, they sunk, and burnt others; but forced on board all Carpenters, Cawlkers, Armorers, Surgeons, and Musicians. In their Way to Cape Lopez, where they designed, and afterwards did clean, they found a large Bristol Ship at an Anchor, which had lost a great many Men by Sickness, and had then but few healthy on board, who got into the Boat, and endeavoured to get to Shore, but were prevented by the pyrates: Here they changed some more of their forced Men, and did intend to change their Ship; but on a Survey, found the Bristol Man too old for their Purpose, and therefore left her at an Anchor, after they had taken what they thought of Use to them; this Ship belong'd to one Mr. Godly of Bristol.

They met with nothing else in their Way to Cape Lopez, where they clean'd their Ship, took in Wood and Water, and then stood away to Sea again.

At their leaving Cape Lopez, they spied an English Ship, which they came up with and engaged; the Merchant Man made an obstinate Defence, and finding the Design to board, made to close Quarters. Howard and seven or eight more entered, but the Pyrate's Boatswain not having secured his lashing, they fell a-stern, and left these Men on board the Merchant-Ship, who seeing themselves in Danger, hawl'd up the Boat, which the Chace had a-stern, and, cutting the Rope, got on board the Alexander, which being considerably the larger Ship, and drawing a great deal more Water, stuck on an unknown Bank, which the Merchant Man went over, and by this lucky Accident escaped.

This obliged the pyrates to start their Water, and throw over the Wood to get the Ship off, which put ’em under a Necessity of going back to Cape Lopez to take in those Necessaries. After having a second time wooded and water'd, they put again to Sea, fell in with and took two Portuguese Brigantines, which they burnt, and setting the Men on Shoar, they made for, and doubled the Cape of Good Hope, and shap'd their Course for Madagascar, where to the Northward of, and forty Mile from, the Bay of Augustine, and near a small Island, they run the Ship on a Reef, where she stuck fast. The Captain being then sick in his Bed, the Men went ashoar on the small adjacent Island, and carried off a great deal of Provision and Water to lighten the Ship, on board of which none but the Captain, the Quarter-Master, and about eleven more were left.

The Quarter-Master, who was Howard, with the others, took all the Treasure, and put it on board the Boats, made off for the Main of Madagascar; the Captain, hearing no Body stir upon Deck, made shift to crawl out of his Cabbin, and seeing ’em put off, fir'd the two fore chace Guns at ’em, which alarm'd (to no Purpose) the Men ashoar; as the Sea ebb'd, the Ship lay dry, and they could walk to her from the Island. She might have been saved had they had the Boats to carry out an Anchor; but for want of them they brought every Thing ashoar, at Tide of Flood, upon Rafts.

As the Ship lay in a quiet Place, they had Opportunity to rip her up, and build a Vessel out of her Wreck. The major Part of the Crew being English and Dutch, who sided together, they forced about 36 Portuguese and French (thinking the Crew too numerous for their Provisions in their present Circumstances) to get upon a Raft, and take their Chance with the Sea-Breeze to get to the Island of Madagascar, about 3 Leagues from them. They finish'd a Vessel of 60 Tuns, but the Day they design'd to have launch'd her, a Pyrate Brigantine hove in Sight, who took ’em on board.

Howard and his Consorts stood along the West-Side of the Island, with Design to round the North End, and to go to St. Mary's, but finding the Current too strong to stem, they lay there about a Fortnight; in the Interim they spied three Sail of tall Ships, which were Men of War under Commadore Littleton, (viz. the Anglesea, Hastings and Lizard,) who had carried a Pardon to the Island of St. Mary, accepted of by many of the pyrates. Thinking these might be also pyrates, they made a Smoak, which brought the Boats ashoar; but finding they were Men of Wars Boats, the pyrates thought fit to abscond wherefore finding nothing, nor any Body, the said Men of War's Boats return'd, and the Ships kept their Cruise.

They had here plenty of Fish and wild Hogs, which they found in the Wood. One Day, when Howard was Hunting, his Comrades took the Opportunity, went off, rounded the North End, and left Mr. Howard to provide for himself.

About four or five and twenty Leagues from the Cape, they went into a fine Harbour on the East Side, not frequented nay, hardly known to the European Ships. They were here received handsomely, treated and provided with fresh Meat, and what Necessaries they wanted, by the King of this District, whose Name was Mushmango, who had formerly been driven from Augustine by War, and travelling thro’ the Heart of the Country, had here fixed his Settlement. When the Boats were victualled, and while >Johnson, who took on him the Command after they had deserted Howard, was ashoar with three more, the rest went off with the Boars and Booty, and stood away to the Southward, along the Coast, designing for St. Mary's, going every Night into some Harbour, or coming to an Anchor under some Point when the Winds proved contrary.

Johnson addressed himself to the King, and told him the Boat and Goods were his Property; upon which he went along Shore with a Number of Men, and found the Boat at an Anchor, and all asleep, except one to look out, at whom the King fired his Blunderbuss, and kill'd him; the Report of the Piece awaken'd the others, who cut and stood off the Coast. The King return'd, gave Johnson an Account of his Expedition, and furnish'd him a Canoe, some Calabashes of fresh Water, Provisions and Launces, that he might pursue after his People.

Johnson kept the Shoar on Board till he came to the Island of St. Mary's, where he heard his Comrade Fugitives were gone to, and settled at Ambonavoula, in a Village belonging to the Natives on the River of Manansallang; leaving his Canoe, he went into one belonging to an Inhabitant, who carried him to his Companions.

After he had been here some few Months Fourgette, already mention'd in White's Life, came in with his Ship from Martinico: With this Vessel they fail'd to the West-Side, and came to an Anchor at an Island called Anquawla, 30 Leagues from the Place where they left Howard.

Some of the Subjects of the King of Anquawla had before met with, and brought hither, Captain Howard, who seeing the Ship at an Anchor near Shore, haled her, and desired the Boat might be sent to fetch him off, which was accordingly done, and he joined the rest of the Crew.

Here two Boys ran away from them, whom they demanded of the King; but he not delivering them, they went ashore by Day-Break, surpriz'd his Town, and brought off 12 of his Concubines, whom they detain'd on board, till their Boys, who were Blacks, were returned, and then delivered them back. From this Ship he went on board the Speaker, where he continued till she was lost on Mauritius, when he came back to Madagascar, and settled at Augustine, here he staid till the Prosperous, a Ship of 36 Guns, commanded by Captain Hilliard, came in; which Howard and some other pyrates, (with the Assistance of the Boatswain and some of the Crew belonging to the Ship) seized. In the taking this Ship, the Captain and his chief Mate were killed, and several others wounded. Howard was by the Company declared Captain.

Several of the Ship's Crew took on with them, and they went round the South End to the East Side, till they came the Length of Maritan, where they found some of the Speaker's Company, whom they took on board, and made up their Complement about 70 Men.

From hence they steer'd for the Island of St. Mary, where they heel'd their Ship, water'd, wooded, and shipp'd some more Hands: Here they had an Invitation from one Ort Van Tyle, who liv'd on the Main of Madagascar, to come to the Ceremony of christening two of his Children; they were kindly received and treated by him, but it having been reported, that this Ort Van Tyle had murdered some pyrates, they in Revenge, tho’ they had no Certainty of the Fact, took him Prisoner, plunder'd his House, and what Goods they could not take off in a great Canoe belonging to him, they threw into the River or burnt. Ort Van Tyle they design'd to carry on board, and hang at a Yard Arm, but one of the pyrates help'd him to escape, and he took into the Woods, where meeting some of his Blacks, he way-laid his Canoa, and Howard's Pinnace by the River Side; besides what Goods they had on board of this Dutchman's, they had several Women and Children belonging to him, and some white Men, who had left them under his Care. The pyrates set the Women to the Paddles, and the Canoa was over-set on the Bar; Ort Van Tyle fired on the Men, and shot one thro’ the Arm and thro’ the Thigh, whom with his Comrade, he took Prisoner, and kept with him: The rest of the Men got ashore on the South-Side the River and escaped him; the Women on the North-Side, and returned home. When the Pinnace came down, he fir'd and shot the Captain thro’ the Arm, but he got on board, where his Arm was set. After this, the Prosperous sail'd for Methelage, where they victualled, with a Design to go to the East-Indies; while he lay here, came in a large Dutch Ship, well mann'd, and of 40 Guns; the Prosperous was not strong enough to attack her, and the Dutch fearing he should spoil his Trade, would not meddle with Captain Howard, tho’ hard Words pass'd, and the Dutchmen threatned to fall foul on him if he did not leave the Place, which Howard thought fit to do, and sail'd to Mayotta.

Few Days after the Departure of the Prosperous, Captain Bowen, in the Scotch Ship, came in, anchored within small Arm-Shot, and right a-head of the Dutchman, whom he saluted with 11 Guns Shot and all, which the other returned, with 15 after the same Manner; Drums beating, and Trumpets sounding, on both Sides. The Dutchman, however, was surprized, and under Apprehensions; he hal'd the Pyrate, and answer was return'd, From the Seas; he then bid ’em send their Boat on Board, which accordingly went with the Quarter-Master, who told the Captain, that they had no Design on him, but were going against the Moors, and came in for Provision; he replied, they could get none there, and the best Way was to be gone; however the Quarter-Master went ashore (where the Dutch had made his Factory, and had some Goods) and shot down three Oxen, which he ordered the Natives to help to cut in Pieces; the Dutchman perceiving a Friendship between the Natives and pyrates, seeing Bowen full of Men, and hearing two more pyrates were expected, thought fit to go off in the Night, and leave the Goods he had put on shore.

Few Days after Bowen seizing the Goods left, went for Mayotta, where he join'd the Prosperous, and lay for the Season to go to the East-Indies. After some Stay here, their Salt Provisions perishing, they return'd to Madagascar to revictual, Bowen to St. Augustin's, and Howard (on board of whose Ship was Captain Whaley, taken as is said in Bowen's Life) to Methelage, agreeing to meet at the Island of St. John's, to lie for the Moors Fleet; where, after some Disappoints, they met, and got Sight of the Moors Fleet, one of which sell a Prize to Bowen; but the Prosperous being a heavy Sailor, did not come up with them till they were at an Anchor at the Bar of Surat, where they waited to lighten. The Moors, seeing few Hands on board, for Howard concealed his Men; and not imagining a Pyrate would venture up, they concluded him an English East-India Man: Howard clapp'd the largest on board, which stood him a smart Engagement, and killed him about 30 Men. At length the pyrates forced Captain Whaley, who spoke the Moors Language, to go on board and offer Quarter, which they accepted: There was on board this Prize a Nobleman belonging to the Great Mogul, who had been at Juffa to buy Horses for his Master; the Prize yielded them a great Booty, tho’ they found but Part of the Money which was on board. They intended to carry her to Madagascar, but her Bowsprit being wounded in the boarding, she lost all her Masts, wherefore, they set her a-drift, and she ran ashore at Deman, belonging to the Portuguese.

From hence he steer'd to the Malabar Coast, where he met Bowen in his Prize, which mounted 56 Guns; here a Dispute arose, as shall be mention'd in the Appendix of Bowen's Life, both Crews went on board Bowen, sunk the Prosperous, and burnt the Scotch Ship, called the Speedy Return: Hence they stood along the Coast of India, and Howard, with about 20 more, landed with what they had, and retired among the Natives, where Howard married a Woman of the Country, and being a morose ill natur'd Fellow, and using her ill, he was murder'd by her Relations.

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Last updated Friday, March 14, 2014 at 21:29