The History of the Pyrates, by Daniel Defoe

Of Captain Martel.

To Captain Johnson.


THOUGH I can contribute nothing to your Second Volume of pyrates you have (as I hear) in Hand, yet, by your Character of Veracity, I perswade my self I shall oblige you, in rectifying a Mistake you made in your first. In the Life of Captain Martel you say, the Greyhound Galley of London, which I then commanded, fell into the Hands of that Pyrate, who plunder'd her of some Gold Dust, Elephants Teeth, and 40 Slaves. The latter Part of this is just, except the Elephants Teeth, of which I lost, I think, none; but you are misled in the former, for Martel's Company had deposed him, on Account, as they themselves told me, of his Cruelty; had given him, and those who were willing to follow his Fortunes, a Sloop, and, sending him away, chose a more righteous in his Place, whose Name was Kennedy, by Descent an Irishman, by Birth a Spaniard of Cuba, and a Hunter. On my coming on Board the Pyrate, Captain Saunders of the Weymouth, who was taken the Day before, was the first Man who spoke to me, telling me, he was sorry for my Misfortune. I took him for the Commander of the Pyrate; but I soon found my Mistake, by his carrying me aft to the Captain, who bid me welcome, and drank to me in a Can of Wine; and some of the Crew told me, that it was happy for me I did not fall into the Hands of their late Captain; for a Ship with Madera Wine thought fit to give them the Trouble to lose some Time, and fire a couple of Chase-Guns before she shorten'd Sail, which Captain Martel took for so great an Affront, that all the Company was cut off. But I shall now give you the Particulars of my being taken. As I have said, I commanded the Greyhound Galley, on board of which I had 250 Slaves, bound from the Coast of Guiney to Jamaica, and consign'd to Messieurs Feak and Aldcroft, on Account of Mr. Bignell and others. On the 16th of October 1716, about 10 Leagues S. S. W. from the Island of Monna, in the grey of the Morning, my second Mate came down and acquainted me, that a Ship was almost on board us. We then steer'd about W. half South, and the Pyrate stood to the S. E. His coming very near us made us edge away from him, and call out to desire he would keep his Luff, or he would be on board us. No Answer was given, and not a Soul appear'd on his Decks, but the Man at the Helm, and about two more; however the Greyhound got clear, and crowded, as usual, for a Market. As soon as the Pyrate got into our Wake, she wore, and made all the Sail she could, by which Means she soon came up with us (for she was clean, and we foul) and clewing up her Sprit-Sail, fir'd a Gun with Shot, and at the same Time let fly her Jack, Ensign and Pendant, in which was the Figure of a Man, with a Sword in his Hand, and an Hour-Glass before him, with a Death's Head and Bones. In the Jack and Pendant were only the Head and Cross Bones. I did not think fit to shorten Sail, which occasioned a second Shot from the Pyrate, which went through our Main Top-Sail. Upon this I consulted my Officers, and they advised the shortening sail, as we were no Way in a Capacity to make any Defence. I followed their Advice, and was order'd on board the Pyrate, who ask'd me, pretty civily, the usual Questions, Whence I came? Whether bound? &c. My second Mate, and some of my Men, were soon shifted into the Pyrate, with 40 of the best Men Slaves; the Women Slaves they diverted themselves with, and took off the Irons from all the Negroes I had on board. The Captain asked me if I had no Gold? I assured him I had not; and, indeed, I had no more than 100 Ounces, which, before I went on board the Pyrate, my Carpenter had let into the Ceiling of the great Cabbin. He answer'd only, it was very strange that I should take no Gold on the Coast. I answer'd, I had taken a considerable Quantity, but as I took it in one Place, I parted with it in another; which, if he would inspect my Books, he would find exactly as I said. We had no more Discourse then on the Subject, but a while after, I and my Mate were sent for into the great Cabbin, where the Council sat. Immediately cock'd Pistols were clapp'd to our Breasts, and we were threaten'd with Death, in Case we did not confess what Gold we had on board, and where it was hid. I deny'd that we had any, and desir'd he would satisfy himself of the Truth, by examining my Books. The Mate answer'd, he knew nothing of my Dealings on the Coasts, and therefore could give no Answer. He knew, indeed, I had received Gold on the Coast, as he had seen it brought on board; but he had seen a considerable Quantity carry'd out of the Ship. Upon this, we were order'd to withdraw, and nothing more was said; but I hearing their Design was to torture me with lighted Matches between my Fingers, I thought the Loss of the Use of my Hands would be but poorly compensated with the saving 100 Ounces of Gold, and therefore desired to speak to the

Captain himself; to him I discover'd what I had, and where it was concealed. He immediately sent his Boat on board the Greyhound, with my Carpenter and half a dozen of his own Crew, who were so impatient to be at the Gold, they made a meer Pincushion of the Fellow's Breech, continually pricking his Backside with their Swords, to hasten him. My Lodging was in the Hold, where one Taffier, the Gunner, came down to me, and snapp'd a Pistol at my Breast, which he fired afterwards upon Deck; and the same Man one Day, as I was on the Quarter-Deck, struck me, in the Presence of his Captain, with his Cutlass, after having reproach'd me with my private Consession, and asking, if every Man there had not as good and just Pretension to the Gold as the Captain. Whether it was by Accident or Design that he struck with the Flat of his Cutlass, I know not, but the Blow knock'd me down, and depriv'd me of my Senses for some Time.

Captain Kennedy, who seem'd to have more Humanity than is commonly found in Men of his Profession, resented this Treatment of me so far, that he got into his Yawl, and put off from the Ship, swearing he would not sail with Men who so barbarously abused their Prisoners. He, however, returned on board at their Perswasions, and on their Promise, that nothing like it should happen for the future. The Night of the Day in which we were taken, the Pyrate came to an Anchor under the Island of Savona, where he kept us till the 20th, and then let us go in Company with Captain Saunders, of the Ship Weymouth, from Boston, laden with Fish and Lumber for Jamaica, at which Island we arrived and anchor'd at Port Royal the 25th in the Morning.

The Pyrate, a little before I was taken, had met with two interloping Dutch Men, supposed to be bound for the Main, who gave him a rough Entertainment, and made him glad to sheer off.

The Weymouth had two Women Passengers on board; how they pass'd their Time I need not say; though, I fancy, as they had formerly made a Trip or two to the Bay, there was no Rape committed.

Notwithstanding the melancholy Situation I was in, I could not refrain laughing when I saw the Fellows who went on board the Greyhound, return to their own Ship; for they had, in rummaging my Cabbin, met with a Leather Powder Bag and Puff, with which they had powder'd themselves from Head to Foot, walk'd the Decks with their Hats under their Arms, minced their Oaths, and affected all the Airs of a Beau, with an Aukwardness would have forced a Smile from a Cynick.

When I was permitted to return on board the Greyhound, and prosecute my Voyage, I found all my Papers torn, and every Thing turn'd topsy-turvy; but this was nothing to their leaving all my Negroes out of Irons, of whom I was more in fear than I had been of the pyrates; for, among them, the Captain's Humanity protected us; but we could expect no Quarter from the Negroes should they rebel; and, in such Case, we had no Prospect of quelling them, for the pyrates had taken away all our Arms, and by opening a Cask of Knives, which they had scatter'd about the Ship, they had armed the Negroes, one of whom had the Insolence to collar and shake one of my Men. I therefore called my People aft, and told them, our Security depended altogether on our Resolution; wherefore arming selves with Handspikes, we drove the Negroes into the Hold, and afterwards calling them up one by one, we put on their Irons, which the pyrates had not taken with them, took away their Knives, and, by these Means, arrived safely at our Port. If this Detail is of any Service to you, I have my Ends. I hope, if you intend a third Volume, it may induce others who have had the same Misfortune of falling into the Hands of pyrates, to assist you with their Minutes.

I am, SIR, Your very humble Servant, J. EVANS.

Feb. 2.


P.S. Four of my Men took on with the pyrates, though I remember the Names of two only, Bryant Ryley, John Hammond.

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