The History of the Pyrates, by Daniel Defoe

Of Capt. Samuel Burgess, And his Crew.

CApt. Samuel Burgess was born in New-York, and had a good Education; he was what they call a well-set Man, and bandy legg'd; he sail'd some Time as a Privateer in the West-Indies, and very often, the Gang, he was with, when the Time of their cruizing was expir'd, would make no Ceremony of prolonging the Commission by their own Authority.

By his Privateering he got together some little Money, and returned home, where the Government having no Notice, or, at least, taking none, of his pyratical Practice, in staying beyond the Date of his Commission: He went out Mate of a Ship, in the Service of Frederick Phillips, bound to the Island of Madagascar, to trade with the pyrates, where they had the Misfortune to lose their Ship, and lived eighteen Months at Augustine, when an EnglishPyrate coming in, the King of the Country obliged him to go on board her, tho’ much against his Inclination, for he was tired of a roving Life; but their Choice was to go or starve, for the King would keep them no longer.

He went with this free Booter to the East Indies, where they made several rich Prizes; returned to St. Mary's, where they took in Provisions, Wood, and Water. Several of their Gang knock'd off here; but the Captain, Burgess, and the Remainder, went away for the West Indies, disposed of their Plunder on the Spanish Coast, and then returning to New York, purposely knocked the Ship on the Head at Sandy Hook, after they had secur'd their Money ashore.

The Government not being inform'd of their Pyracy, they lived here without Molestation, and, in a short Time, Burgess married a Relation of Mr. Phillip's, who built a Ship, called the Pembroke, and sent him a second Time to Madagascar. In his Way to this Island, he went into the River of Dilagou on the African Coast, where he took in a Quantity of Elephants Teeth; and thence to Augustine, where he met with several of his old Ship Mates, with whom he traded for Money and Slaves. Leaving this Place he went to Methelage, where he also took some Money and Negroes; and from thence he shaped his Course for St. Mary's, on the East Side, where he also drove a considerable Trade with his old Comrades, took several of them Passengers, who paid very generously for their Passage; and taking with him an Account of what was proper to bring in another Trip, he return'd to New York, without any sinister Accident: This Voyage clear'd 5,000 l. Ship and Charges paid.

His Owner encouraged by this Success, bid him chuse what Cargoe he pleas'd, and set out again; accordingly he laded with Wine, Beer, &c. and returning to Madagascar arrived at Maratan on the East Side, where he disposed of a great Part of his Cargoe at his own Rates. At Methelage he disposed of the rest, and return'd, clearing for himself and Owner 10,000 l. besides 300 Slaves he brought to New York.

After a short Stay at home, he set out again on the old Voyage, fell in first with Methelage, where he victualled and traded; from thence he went round the South End, touch'd and sold Part of his Cargoe at a large Profit, to his old Acquaintance. He made a trading Voyage round the Island, and at St. Mary's met another Ship belonging to his Owner, which had Order to follow his Directions; he stay'd at this Port till he had disposed of the Cargoe of both Ships; he then shaped his Course homewards, with about 20 pyrates Passengers, who had accepted the Pardon brought by Commadore Littleton.

In his Way he touch'd at the Cape of Good Hope, for Wood, Water, and fresh Provision: While he was here, the Loyal Cook, an East India Man came in, who made Prize of Burgess, and carried him to the East Indies; he there would have delivered Burgess's Ship to the Governor of Maderass, but the Governor would have no Hand in the Affair, and told the Captain, he must answer to the East-India Company and Burgess's Owner for what he had done.

Most of the Pyrate's Passengers thought themselves clear'd by the Act of Grace; but some of them, not willing to trust to it, got off with what Gold they could, in a Dutch Boat; they who trusted to the Pardon were clapp'd in Goal, and died in their Irons. I cannot omit the Simplicity of one of them, who had, however, the Wit to get off: When he designed to go away, he look'd for his Comrade for the Key of his Chest, to take his Gold with him, which amounted to Seventeen hundred Pounds; but this Comrade being ashore, he would not break open Chest, for it was Pity, he said, to spoil a good new Lock, so left his Money for the Captain of the East-India Man.

The News of this Capture came to the Owner before the Ship return'd, and he sued the Company; but, at their Request, staid for the Arrival of the Loyal Cook, which brought Burgess Prisoner to England soon after. The Captain finding himself in an Error, and that what he had done could not be justified, absconded; the Company made good the Ship and Cargo to the Owner. Burgess was set at Liberty, continued some Time in London, was impeach'd, and Pyracy sworn against him by Culliford (mentioned in Williams's Life) who notwithstanding, he came home on the Act of Grace, was clapp'd into Newgate, tried and acquitted, tho’ he was beggar'd.

Burgess's Owner stickled very hard for him, and expended great Sums of Money to save him; however, tho’ he pleaded the Necessity of his going on board the Pyrate, (as his Life shews it) he was tried and condemn'd; but by the Intercession of the Bishops of London and Canterbury, was pardon'd by the Queen.

After this, he made a broken Voyage to the South Sea, Lieutenant to a Privateer, and returning to London, was out of Business a whole Year.

He then shipp'd himself Mate on board the Hannah, afterwards called the Neptune, and went to Scotland to take in her Cargo, the Owner being of that Nation; but before she got thither he the Owner broke, and the Ship was stopp'd, and lay 18 Months before she was dispos'd of: But being set to Sale, and six Scotch Gentlemen buying her, the old Officers were continued, and she proceeded on her first designed Voyage to Madagascar, in which the Captain and Burgess quarrelling, was the Loss of the Ship; for the latter, who was acquainted with the pyrates, when they arrived at Madagascar, spirited them up to surprize her: The Manner how, being already set down in Halsey's Life, I need not repeat.

I shall only take Notice, that Captain Miller being decoy'd ashore, under Pretence of being shew'd some Trees, fit for Masting, Halsey invited him to a Surloin of Beef, and a Bowl of Arrack Punch; he accepted the Invitation, with about 20 of the pyrates. One Emmy, who had been a Waterman on the Thames, did not come to Table, but sat by, mustled up in a great Coat, pretending he was attack'd by the Ague, tho’ he had put it on to conceal his Pistols only. After Dinner, when Halsey went out, as for something to entertain his Guests, (Miller and his Supercargo,) Emmy clapp'd a Pistol to the Captain's Breast, and told him, he was his Prisoner; at the same Instant, two other pyrates enter'd the Room, with each a Blunderbuss in his Hand, and told the Captain and his Supercargoe, that no Harm should come to either, if they did not bring it upon themselves by an useless Resistance. While this past within Doors, the Wood being lined with pyrates, all Miller's Men, whom he had brought ashore to fell Timber, were secur'd, but none hurt, and all civilly treated. When they had afterwards got Possession of the Ship, in the Manner mention'd before, they set all their Prisoners at Liberty.

Miller, with eleven of his Men, was sent off, as is said in Halsey's Life: The Company chose Burgess Quarter-Master, and shar'd the Booty they had made out of the Scotch Ship, and the Greyhound.

Soon after happen'd Halsey's Death, who left Burgess Executor in Trust for his Widow and Children, with a considerable Legacy for himself, and the other pyrates grumbling at a new Comer's being preferr'd to all of them, took from Burgess 3,000 l. of Halsey's Money, and 1200 l. of his own, which was his Share of the two Prizes. Tho’ he had been treated in this Manner, they were idle enough to give him the Command of the Scots Ship, and order'd him to fit her out with all Expedition, and to take on board some Men and Goods left in the Brigantine: He set to work on the Ship, with full Design to run away with her; but some pyrates, who were in another Part of the Island, being informed of these Proceedings, thought it not prudent to trust him, so he left the Ship, and getting among his old Comrades, by their Interposition, had all his Money return'd.

After this he lived five Months on the Island of St. Mary's, where his House was, by Accident, burnt down, out of which he saved nothing but his Money; he then went on board David Williams, when he miss'd the Island of Mascarenas, and returned to Methelage, where he staid with the King, and was one of the Men among whom he divided William's Effects.

From Methelage he went with a Parcel of Samsams to Augustine, with which he bought fifty Slaves, whom he sold to the Arabians. In his Return to Methelage, he met Captain North in a Sloop, with thirty of Miller's Men on board; these Men propos'd the taking Burgess, who had, they said, betrayed, ruined, and banished them their Country, by forcing them to turn pyrates; but North would not consent: Upon which, they confined him, took North and stripp'd him of all the

Money, and then releasing their Captain, gave him 300 l. as his Share, which he returned to Burgess on his Arrival at Methelage.

Burgess lived here two or three Years, till he was carried off by some Dutchmen; they belonged to an East-India Man, and were taken by two French Ships, which being bound for Mocha, and scarce of Provisions, came into Methelage to victual, where they set 80 of their Prisoners ashore. When they parted from this Port they sail'd for Johanna, where they left the Dutch Officers, who built a Ship, and came back for their Men. Burgess being of great Use to them, they took him on board, and steer'd for a Port, where some Dutch, taken in another Ship, were maroon'd; but they were wreck'd at Youngoul, where Burgess continued eighteen Months. After this Time was expir'd, he was desirous of leaving the Place, and addressing himself to the King, who was Uncle to the King of Methelage, he requested his black Majesty to send him back to that Port, which he readily complied with, where Burgess continued almost five Years, afflicted with Sickness, in which he lost one Eye. While he was here, the Drake Pink, of London, came in for Slaves, he took Burgess, with Design to carry him home; but Captain Harvey in the Henry, which belong'd to the same Owners, arriving, and being a Stranger to the Trade, at the Request of Captain Maggot, Commander of the Drake, and on Promise of a Ship when in the West Indies, he enter'd as third Mate, and continued with him. Captain Harvey carrying it pretty high, and disagreeing with the King, lay here 9 Months before he could slave. Burgess was sent up to tell the King he had not fulfil'd his Agreement with Captain Harvey; the King resented the being reproach'd by a Man whom he had entertained so many Years, and reviled him; he was, however, carried to Dinner with some of the principal Blacks, and drank very plentifully with them of Honey Toke, in which it is supposed he was poison'd, for he fell ill and died soon after, leaving what he had to the Care of the chief Mate, for the Use of his Wife and Children.

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