HIS Beginning. Elected Captain in the Room of Davis. The Speech of Lord Dennis at the Election. Lord Sympson objects against a Papist. The Death of Davis reveng'd. Roberts sails Southward, in Quest of Adventures. The Names of the Prizes taken by them. Brasil describ'd. Roberts falls into a Fleet of Portuguese. Boards and takes the richest Ship amongst them. Make the Devil's Islands. An unfortunate Adventure of Roberts. Kennedy's Treachery. Irishmen excluded by Roberts and his Crew. Articles sworn to by them. A Copy of them. Some Account of the Laws and Customs of the Pyrates. An Instance of Roberts his Cunning. He proceeds again upon Business, and takes Prizes. Narrowly escapes being taken. Sails for the Island Dominico. Another Escape. Sails for Newfoundland. Plunders, sinks and burns 22 Sail in the Harbour of Trepassi. Plunders ten Sail of French Men. The mad Behaviour of the Crew. A Correspondence hinted at. The Pyrates caress'd at the Island of St. Bartholomew. In extream Distress. Sail for Martinico. A Stratagem of Roberts. The insolent Device in his Colours. And odd Compliment paid to Roberts. Three Men desert the Pyrates, and are taken by them. Their Tryal. Two executed, and one saved. The Brigantine deserts them. Great Divisions in the Company. A Description of Serraleone River. The Names of English settled there, and Way of Life. The Onflow, belonging to the African Company taken. The Pyrates Contempt of Soldiers. They are for entertaining a Chaplain. Their Skirmish with the Calabar Negroes. The King Solomon, belonging to the African Company, taken. The Frolicks of the Pyrates. Take eleven Sail in Whydah Road. A comical Receipt given by the Pyrates. A cruel Action of Roberts. Sails for Anna Bona. The Progress of the Swallow Man of War, in Pursuit of Roberts. Roberts his Consort taken. The Bravery of Skyrme, a Welch Pyrate. The surly Humour of some of the Prisoners. The Swallow comes up with Roberts. Roberts his Dress described. Is kill'd. His Character. His Ship taken. The Behaviour of the Pyrates, when Prisoners. A Conspiracy of theirs discovered. Reflections on the Manner of trying them. The Form of the Commission for trying the Pyrates. The Oath taken by the Commissioners. The Names of those arraign'd taken in the Ship Ranger. The Form of the Indictment. The Sum of the Evidence against them. Their Defence. The Names of the Prisoners of the Royal Fortune. Proceedings against them. Harry Glasby acquitted. The particular Tryal of Captain James Skyrme. Of John Walden. Of Peter Soudamore. Of Robert Johnson. Of George Wilson. Of Benjamin Jeffries. Of John Mansfield. Of William Davis. The Names of those executed at Cape Corso. The Petition of some condemn'd. The Courts Resolution. The Form of an Indenture of a pardon'd Pyrate. The Names of those pardon'd upon Indenture to serve seven Tears. The Pyrates how disposed of. The dying Behaviour of those executed.
BArtholomew Roberts sailed in an honest Employ, from London aboard of the Princess, Captain Plumb Commander, of which Ship he was second Mate: He left England, November 1719, and arrived at Guiney about February following, and being at Anamaboe, taking in Slaves for the West-Indies, was taken in the said Ship by Captain Howel Davis, as mentioned in the preceeding Chapter. In the beginning he was very averse to this sort of Life, and would certainly have escaped from them, had a fair Opportunity presented it self; yet afterwards he changed his Principles, as many besides him have done upon another Element, and perhaps for the same Reason too, viz. Preferment, —— and what he did not like as a private Man he could reconcile to his Conscience as a Commander.
Davis being cut off in the manner beforementioned, the Company found themselves under a Necessity of filling up his Post, for which there appear'd two or three Candidates among the select Part of them, that were distinguish'd by the Title of Lords, such were Sympson, Ashplant, Anstis, &c. and on canvassing this Matter, how shatter'd and weak a Condition their Government must be without a Head, since Davis had been remov'd, in the manner beforemention'd, my Lord Dennis propos'd, its said, over a Bowl to this Purpose.
That it was not of any great Signification who was dignify'd with Title; for really and in Truth, all good Governments had (like theirs) the supream Power lodged with the Community, who might doubtless depute and revoke as suited Interest or Humour. We are the Original of this Claim (says he) and should a Captain be so sawcy as to exceed Prescription at any time, why down with Him! it will be a Caution after he is dead to his Successors, of what fatal Consequence any sort of assuming may be. However, it is my Advice, that, while we are sober, we pitch upon a Man of Courage, and skill'd in Navigation, one, who by his Council and Bravery seems best able to defend this Commonwealth, and ward us from the Dangers and Tempests of an instable Element, and the fatal Consequences of Anarchy; and such a one I take Roberts to be. A Fellow! I think, in all Respects, worthy your Esteem and Favour.
This Speech was loudly applauded by all but Lord Sympson, who had secret Expectations himself, but on this Disappointment, grew sullen, and left them, swearing, he did not care who they chose Captain, so it was not a Papist, for against them he had conceiv'd an irreconcileable Hatred, for that his Father had been a Sufferer in Monmouth's Rebellion.
Roberts was accordingly elected, tho’ he had not been above six Weeks among them, the Choice was confirm'd both by the Lords and Commoners, and he accepted of the Honour, saying, That since he had dipp'd his Hands in muddy Water, and must be a Pyrate, it was better being a Commander than a common Man.
As soon as the Government was settled, by promotion other Officers in the room of those that were kill'd by the Portugueze, the Company resolv'd to revenge Captain Davis's Death, he being more than ordinarily respected by the Crew for his Affability and good Nature, as well as his Conduct and Bravery upon all Occasions; and pursuant to this Resolution, about 30 Men were landed in order to make an Attack upon the Fort, which must be ascended to by a steep Hill against the Mouth of the Caunon. These Men were headed by one Kennedy, a bold daring Fellow, but very wicked and profligate; they march'd directly up under the Fire of their Ship Guns, and as soon as they were discover'd, the Portugueze quitted their Post and fled to the Town, and the Pyrates march'd in without Opposition, set Fire to the Fort, and threw all the Guns off the Hill into the Sea, which after they had done, they retreated quietly to their Ship.
But this was not look'd upon as a sufficient Satisfaction for the Injury they received, therefore most of the Company were for burning the Town, which Roberts said he would yield to, if any Means could be proposed of doing it without their own Destruction, for the Town had a securer Scituation than the Fort, a thick Wood coming almost close to it, affording Cover to the Defendants, who under such an Advantage, he told them, it was to be fear'd, would fire and stand better to their Arms; besides, that bare Houses would be but a slender Reward for their Trouble and Loss. This prudent Advice prevailed; however, they mounted the French Ship, they seiz'd at this Place, with 12 Guns, and light'ned her, in order to come up to the Town, the Water being shoal, and battered down several Houses; after which they all returned on Board, gave back the French Ship to those that had most Right to her, and sailed out of the Harbour by the light of two Portuguese Ships, which they were pleased to set on Fire there.
Roberts stood away to the Southward, and met with a Dutch Guiney Man, which he made Prize of, but after having plundered her, the Skipper had his Ship again: Two Days after, he took an English Ship, called the Experiment, Captain Cornet, at Cape Lopez, the Men went all into the Pyrate Service, and having no Occasion for the Ship, they burnt her, and then steered for St. Thome, but meeting with nothing in their Way, they failed for Annabona, and there water'd, took in Provisions, and put it to a Vote of the Company, whether their next Voyage should be, to the East-Indies, or to Brasil; the latter being resolved on, they sailed accordingly, and in 28 Days arrived at Ferdinando, an uninhabited Island, on that Coast: Here they water'd, boot-top'd their Ship, and made ready for the designed Cruise.
Now that we are upon this Coast, I think it will be the proper Place to present our Readers with a Description of this Country, and some ingenious Remarks of a Friend, how beneficial a Trade might be carried on here by our West-India Merchants, at a little Hazard.
BRASIL (a Name signifying the holy Cross) was discovered for the King of Portugal, by Alvarez Cabral, Ann. Dom. 1501. extending almost from the Æquinoctial to 28° South. The Air is temperate and cool, in comparison of the West-Indies, from stronger Breezes and an opener Country, which gives less Interruption to the Winds.
The northernmost Part of it stretching about 180 Leagues, (a fine fertile Country,) was taken from the Portuguese by the Dutch West-India Company, Anno. 1637 or thereabouts; but the Conquerors, as is natural where there is little or no Religion subsisting, made such heavy Exactions on the Portuguese, and extended such Cruelty to the Natives, that prepared them both easily to unite for a Revolt, facilitated by the Dutch Mismanagement: For the States being at this Time very intent on their India Settlements, not only recalled Count Morrice their Governor, but neglected Supplies to their Garrisons; however, tho’ the others were countenanced with a Fleet from Portugal, and had the Affection of the Natives, yet they found Means to withstand and struggle with this superior Power, from 1643 to 1660, and then was wholly abandoned by them, on Articles dishonourable to the Portuguese, viz.
That the Dutch, on Relinquishing, should keep all the Places they had conquered in India from Portugal. That they should pay the States 800000 l. and permit them still the Liberty of Trade to Africa and Brasil, on the same Custom and Duties with the King of Portugal's Subjects. But since that Time, new Stipulations and Treaties have been made; wherein the Dutch, who have been totally excluded the Brasil Trade, have, in lieu thereof, a Composition of 10 per Cent. for the Liberty of trading to Africa; and this is always left by every Portuguese Ship (before she begins her Slaving) with the Dutch General of the Gold-Coast, at Des Minas.
There are only three principal Towns of Trade on the Brasil Coast, St. Salvadore, St. Sebastian, and Pernambuca.
St. Salvadore in the Bahia los todos Santos, is an Archbishoprick and Seat of the Viceroy, the chief Port of Trade for Importation, where most of the Gold from the Mines is lodged, and whence the Fleets for Europe generally depart. The Seas about it abound with Whale-Fish, which in the Season they catch in great Numbers; the Flesh is salted up generally to be the Victualling of their Slave-Ships, and the Train reserved for Exportation, at 30 and 35 Millrays a Pipe.
Rio Janeiro (the Town St. Sebastian) is the Southernmost of the Portuguese, the worst provided of Necessaries, but commodious for a Settlement, because nigh the Mine, and convenient to supervise the Slaves, who, as I have been told, do usually allow their Master a Dollar per Diem, and have the Overplus of their Work (if any) to themselves.
The Gold from hence is esteemed the best, (for being of a copperish Colour,) and they have a Mint to run it into Coin, both here and at Bahia; the Moidors of either having the initial Letters of each Place upon them.
Pernambuca (tho’ mention'd last) is the second in Dignity, a large and populous Town, and hasits rise from the Ruins of Olinda, (or the handsome,) a City of a far pleasanter Situation, six Miles up the River, but not so commodious for Traffick and Commerce. Just above the Town the River divides it self into two Branches, not running directly into the Sea, but to the Southward; and in the Nook of the Island made by that Division, stands the Governor's House, a square plain Building of Prince Maurice's, with two Towers, on which are only this Date inscribed, Anno 1641. The Avenues to it are every way pleasant, thro’ Visto's of tall CocoNut Trees.
Over each Branch of the River is a Bridge; that leading to the Country is all of Timber, but the other to the Town (of twenty six or twenty eight Arches) is half of Stone, made by the Dutch, who in their Time had little Shops and gaming Houses on each Side for Recreation.
The Pavements also of the Town are in some Places of broad Tiles, the remaining Fragments of their Conquest. The Town has the outer Branch of the River behind it, and the Harbour before it, jetting into which latter are close Keys for the weighing and receiving of Customage on Merchandize, and for the meeting and conferring of Merchants and Traders. The Houses are strong built, but homely, letticed like those of Lisbon, for the Admission of Air, without Closets, and what is worse, Hearths; which makes their Cookery consist all in frying and stewing upon Stoves; and that they do till the Flesh become tender enough to shake it to Pieces, and one Knife is then thought sufficient to serve a Table of half a Score.
The greatest Inconvenience of Pernambuca is, that there is not one Publick-House in it; so that Strangers are obliged to hire any ordinary one they can get, at a Guinea a Month: And others who come to transact Affairs of Importance, must come recommended, if it were only for the sake of Privacy.
The Market is stocked well enough, Beef being at five Farthings per l. a Sheep or Goat at nine Shillings, a Turkey four Shillings, and Fowls two Shillings, the largest I ever saw, and may be procured much Cheaper, by hiring a Man to fetch them out of the Country. The dearest in its kind is Water, which being setch'd in Vessels from Olinda, will not be put on Board in the Road under two Crusado's a Pipe.
The Portuguese here are darker than those of Europe, not only from a warmer Climate, but their many Intermarriages with the Negroes, who are numerous there, and some of them of good Credit and Circumstances. The Women (not unlike the Mulatto Generation every where else) are fond of Strangers; not only the Courtezans, whose Interest may be supposed to wind up their Affections, but also the marryed Women who think themselves obliged, when you favour them with the Secrecy of an Appointment; but the Unhappiness of pursuing Amours, is, that the generallity of both Sexes are touched with veneral Taints, without so much as one Surgeon among them, or any Body skilled in Physick, to cure or palliate the progressive Mischief: The only Person pretending that Way, is an Irish Father, whose Knowledge is all comprehended in the Virtues of two or three Simples, and those, with the Salubrity of the Air and Temperance, is what they depend on, for subduing the worst of Malignity; and it may not be unworthy Notice, that tho’ few are exempted from the Misfortune of a Running, Eruptions, or the like, yet I could hear of none precipitated into those deplorable Circumstances we see common in unskillful mercurial Processes.
There are three Monasteries, and about six Churches, none of them Rich or Magnificent, unless one dedicated to St. Antonio, the Patron of their Kingdom, which shines all over with exquisite Pieces of Paint and Gold.
The Export of Brasil (besides Gold) is chiefly Sugars and Tobacco; the latter are sent off in Rowls of a Quintal Weight, kept continually moistened with Mulossus, which, with the Soil it springs from, imparts a strong and peculiar Scent, more sensible in the Snuff made from it, which tho’ under Prohibition of importing to Lisbon, sells here at 2 s. per l. as the Tobacco does at about 6 Millraies a Rowl. The finest of their Sugars sells at 8 s. per Roove, and a small ill tasted Rum drawn from the Dregs and Mulossus, at two Testunes a Gallon.
Besides these, they send off great Quantities of Brasil Wood, and Whale Oyl, some Gums and Parrots, the latter are different from the African in Colour and Bigness, for as they are blue and larger, these are green and smaller; and the Females of them ever retain the wild Note, and cannot be brought to talk.
In lieu of this Produce, the Portugueze, once every Year by their Fleet from Lisbon, import all manner of European Commodities; and whoever is unable or negligent of supplying himself at that Season, buys at a very advanced Rate, before the Return of another.
To transport Passengers, Slaves, or Merchandize from one Settlement to another, or in Fishing; they make use of Bark-Logs, by the Brasilians called fingadahs: They are made of four Pieces of Timber (the two outermost longest) pinned and fastened together, and sharpened at the Ends: Towards each Extremity a Stool is fixed to sit on for paddling, or holding by, when the Agitation is more than ordinary; with these odd sort of Engines, continually washed over by the Water, do these People, with a little triangular Sail spreeted about the Middle of it, venture out of Sight of Land, and along the Coasts for many Leagues, in any sort of Weather; and if they overset with a Squall (which is not uncommon) they swim and presently turn it up right again.
The Natives are of the darkest Copper Colour, with thin Hair, of a square strong make, and muscular; but not so well looking as the Wooley Generation: They acquiesce patiently to the Portugueze Government, who use them much more humanly and Christian-like than the Dutch did, and by that Means have extended Quietness and Peace, as well as their Possessions, three or four hundred Miles into the Country. A Country abounding with fine Pastures and numerous Herds of Cattle, and yields a vast Increase from every thing that is sown: Hence they bring down to us Parrots, small Monkies, Armadillos and Sanguins, and I have been assured, they have, (far In-land,) a Serpent of a vast Magnitude, called Siboya, able, they say, to swallow a whole Sheep; I have seen my self here the Skin of another Specie full six Yards long, and therefore think the Story not improbable.
The Harbour of Pernambuca is, perhaps, singular, it is made of a Ledge of Rocks, half a Cables length from the Main, and but little above the Surface of the Water, running at that equal Distance and Heighth several Leagues, towards Cape Augustine, a Harbour running between them capable of receiving Ships of the greatest Burthen: The Northermost End of this Wall of Rock, is higher than any Part of the contiguous Line, on which a little Fort is built, commanding the Passage either of Boat or Ship, as they come over the Bar into the Harbour: On the Starboard Side, (i. e. the Main) after you have entered a little way, stands another Fort (a Pentagon) that would prove of small Account, I imagine, against a few disciplined Men; and yet in these consists all their Strength and Security, either for the Harbour or Town: They have begun indeed a Wall, since their removing from Olinda, designed to surround the latter; but the slow Progress they make in raising it, leaves Room to suspect ’twill be a long time in finishing.
The Road without, is used by the Portugueze, when they are nigh sailing for Europe, and wait for the Convoy, or are bound to Bahia to them, and by Strangers only when Necessity compels; the best of it is in ten Fathom Water, near three Miles W. N. W. from the Town; nigher in, is foul with the many Anchors lost there by the Portugueze Ships; and farther out (in 14 Fathom) corally and Rocky. July is the worst and Winter Season of this Coast, the Trade Winds being then very strong and dead, bringing in a prodigious and unsafe Swell into the Road, intermixed every Day with Squalls, Rain, and a hazey Horizon, but at other times serener Skies and Sunshine.
In these Southern Latitudes is a Constellation, which from some Resemblance it bears to a Jerusalem Cross, has the Name of Crosiers, the brightest of this Hemisphere, and are observed by, as the North Star is in Northern Latitudes; but what I mention this for, is, to introduce the admirable Phænomenon in these Seas of the Megellanick Clouds, whose Risings and Sittings are so regular, that I have been assured, the same Nocturnal Observations are made by them as by the Stars; They are two Clouds, small and whitish, no larger in Appearance than a Man's Hat, and are seen here in July in the Latitude of 88 S. about four of the Clock in the Morning; if their Appearance should be said to be the Reflection of Light, from some Stellary Bodies above them, yet the Dissiculty is not easily answered, how these, beyond others, become so durable and regular in their Motions.
From these casual Observations on the Country, the Towns, Coast, and Seas of Brasil, it would be an Omission to leave the Subject, without some Essay on an inter loping Slave Trade here, which none of our Countrymen are adventrous enough to pursue, though it very probably, under a prudent Manager, would be attended with Safety and very great Profit; and I admire the more it is not struck at, because Ships from the Southern Coast of Africa, don't lengthen the Voyage to the West-Indies a great deal, by taking a Part of Brasil in their Way.
The Disadvantages the Portugueze are under for purchasing Slaves, are these, that they have very few proper Commodities for Guiney, and the Gold, which was their chiefest, by an Edict in July 1722, stands now prohibited from being carried thither, so that the Ships employed therein are few, and insufficient for the great Mortality and Call of their Mines; besides, should they venture at breaking so destructive a Law, as the abovementioned (as no doubt they do, or they could make little or no Purchace) yet Gold does not raise its Value like Merchandize in travelling (especially to Africa) and when the Composition with the Dutch is also paid, they may be said to buy their Negroes at almost double the Price the English, Dutch, or French do, which necessarily raises their Value extravagantly at Brasil; (those who can purchase one, buying a certainer Annuity than South-Sea Stock.)
Thus far of the Call for Slaves at Brasil; I shall now consider and obviate some Difficulties objected against any Foreigners (suppose English) interposing in such a Trade, and they are some on theirs, and some on our Side.
On their Side it is prohibited under Pain of Death, a Law less effectual to the Prevention of it than pecuniary Muicts would be, because a Penalty so inadequate and disproportioned, is only In terrorem, and makes it merciful in the Governor, or his Instruments, to take a Composition of eight or ten Moidors, when any Subject is catched, and is the common Custom so to do as often as they are found out.
On our Side it is Confiscation of what they can get, which considering, they have no Men of Was to guard the Coast, need be very little, without supine Neglect and Carelessness.
I am a Man of War, or Privateer, and being in Want of Provisions, or in Search of Pyrates, put in to Pernambuca for Intelligence, to enable me for the Pursuit: The Dread of Pyrates keeps every one off, till you have first sent an Officer, with the proper Compliments to the Governor, who immediately gives Leave for your buying every Necessary you are in want of, provided it be with Money, and not an Exchange of Merchandize, which is against the Laws of the Country.
On this first time of going on Shore, depends the success of the whole Affair, and requires a cautious and discreet Management in the Person entrusted: He will be immediately surrounded at landing with the great and the small Rabble, to enquire who? and whence he comes? and whether bound? &c. and the Men are taught to answer, from Guiney, denying any thing of a Slave on Board, which are under Hatches, and make no Shew; nor need they, for those who have Money to lay out will conclude on that themselves.
By that time the Compliment is paid to the Governor, the News has spread all round the Town, and some Merchant addresses you, as a Stranger, to the Civility of his House, but privately desires to know what Negroes he can have, and what Price. A Governor may possibly use an Instrument in sifting this, but the Appearance of the Gentleman, and the Circumstance of being so soon engaged after leaving the other, will go a great way in forming a Man's Judgment, and leaves him no room for the Suspicion of such a Snare; however, to have a due Guard, Intimations will suffice, and bring him, and Friends enough to carry off the best Part of a Cargo in two Nights time, from 20 to 30 Moidors a Boy, and from 30 to 40 a Man Slave. The Hazard is less at Rio Janeiro.
There has been another Method attempted, of settling a Correspondence with some Portugueze Merchant or two, who, as they may be certain within a Fortnight of any Vessels arriving on their Coast with Slaves, might settle Signals for the debarquing them at an unfrequented Part of the Coast, but whether any Exceptions were made to the Price, or that the Portuguese dread Discovery, and the severest Prosecution on so notorious a Breach of the Law, I cannot tell but it has hither to proved abortive.
However, Stratagems laudable, and attended with Profit, at no other Hazard (as I can perceive) then loss of Time, are worth attempting; it is what is every Day practised with the Spaniards from Jamaica.
Upon this Coast our Rovers cruiz'd for about nine Weeks, keeping generally out of Sight of Land, but without seeing a Sail, which discourag'd them so, that they determined to leave the Station, and steer for the West-Indies, and in order thereto, stood in to make the Land for the taking of their Departure, and thereby they fell in, unexpectedly, with a Fleet of 42 Sail of Portuguese Ships, off the Bay of los todos Santos, with all their Lading in for Lisbon, several of them of good Force, who lay too waiting for two Men of War of 70 Guns each, their Convoy. However, Roberts thought it should go hard with him, but he would make up his Market among them, and thereupon mix'd with the Fleet, and kept his Men hid till proper Resolutions could be form'd; that done, they came close up to one of the deepest, and ordered her to send the Master on Board quietly, threat'ning to give them no Quarters, if any Resistance, or Signal of Distress was made. The Portuguese being surprized at these Threats, and the sudden flourish of Cutlashes from the Pyrates, submitted without a Word, and the Captain came on Board; Roberts saluted him after a friendly manner, telling him, that they were Gentlemen of Fortune, but that their Business with him, was only to be informed which was the richest Ship in that Fleet; and if he directed them right, he should be restored to his Ship without Molestation, otherwise, he must expect immediate Death.
Whereupon this Portuguese Master pointed to one of 40 Guns, and 150 Men, a Ship of greater Force than the Rover, but this no Ways dismayed them, they mere Portuguese, they said, and so immediately steered away for him. When they came within Hail, the Master whom they had Prisoner, was ordered to ask, how Seignior Capitain did? And to invite him on Board, for that he had a Matter of Consequence to impart to him, which being done, he returned for Answer, That he would wait upon him presently: But by the Bustle that immediately followed, the Pyrates perceived, they were discovered, and that this was only a deceitful Answer to gain Time to put their Ship in a Posture of Defence; so without further Delay, they poured in a Broad-Side, boarded and grapled her; the Dispute was short and warm, wherein many of the Portuguese fell, and two only of the Pyrates. By this Time the Fleet was alarmed, Signals of Top-gallant Sheets flying, and Guns fired, to give Notice to the Men of War, who rid still at an Anchor, and made but scurvy hast out to their Assistance; and if what the Pyrates themselves related, be true, the Commanders of those Ships were blameable to the highest Degree, and unworthy the Title, or so much as the Name of Men: For Roberts finding the Prize to sail heavy, and yet resolving not to loose her, lay by for the headmost of them (which much out sailed the other) and prepared for Battle, which was ignominiously declined, tho’ of such superior Force; for not daring to venture on the Pyrate alone, he tarried so long for his Consort as gave them both time leisurely to make off.
They found this Ship exceeding rich, being laden chiefly with Sugar, Skins, and Tobacco, and in Gold 40000 Moidors, besides Chains and Trinckets, of considerable Value; particularly a Cross set with Diamonds, designed for the King of Portugal; which they afterwards presented to the Governor of Caiana, by whom they were obliged.
Elated with this Booty, they had nothing now to think of but some safe Retreat, where they might give themselves up to all the Pleasures that Luxury and Wantonness could bestow, and for the present pitch'd upon a Place called the Devil's Islands, in the River of Surinam, on the Coast of Caiana, where they arrived, and found the civilest Reception imaginable, not only from the Governor and Factory, but their Wives, who exchanged Wares and drove a considerable Trade with them.
They seiz'd in this River a Sloop, and by her gained Intelligence, that a Brigantine had also sailed in Company with her, from Rhode-Island, laden with Provisions for the Coast. A Welcome Cargo! They growing short in the Sea Store, and as Sancho says, No Adventures to be made without Belly-Timber. One Evening as they were rumaging (their Mine of Treasure) the Portuguese Prize, this expected Vessel was descry'd at Mast-Head, and Roberts, imagining no Body could do the Business so well as himself, takes 40 Men in the Sloop, and goes in pursuit of her; but a fatal Accident followed this rash, tho’ inconsiderable Adventure, for Roberts thinking of nothing less than bringing in the Brigantine that Afternoon, never troubled his Head about the Sloop's Provision, nor inquired what there was on Board to subsist such a Number of Men; but out he sails after his expected Prize, which he not only lost further Sight of, but after eight Days contending with contrary Winds and Currents, found themselves thirty Leagues to Leeward. The Current still opposing their Endeavours, and perceiving no Hopes of beating up to their Ship, they came to an Anchor, and inconsiderately sent away the Boat to give the rest of the Company Notice of their Condition, and to order the Ship to them; but too soon, even the next Day, their Wants made them sensible of their Infatuation, for their Water was all expended, and they had taken no thought how they should be supply'd, till either the Ship came, or the Boat returned, which was not likely to be under five or six Days. Here like Tantalus, they almost famished in Sight of the fresh Streams and Lakes; being drove to such Extremity at last, that they were forc'd to tare up the Floor of the Cabin, and patch up a sort of Tub or Tray with Rope Yarns, to paddle ashore, and fetch off immediate Supplies of Water to preserve Life.
After some Days, the long-wish'd-for Boat came back, but with the most unwellcome News in the World, for Kennedy, who was Lieutenant, and left in Absence of Roberts, to Command the Privateer and Prize, was gone off with both. This was Mortification with a Vengeance, and you may imagine, they did not depart without some hard Speeches from those that were left, and had suffered by their Treachery: And that there need be no further mention of this Kennedy, I shall leave Captain Roberts, for a Page or two, with the Remains of his Crew, to vent their Wrath in a few Oaths and Execrations, and follow the other, whom we may reckon from that Time, as steering his Course towards Execution Dock.
Kennedy was now chosen Captain of the revolted Crew, but could not bring his Company to any determined Resolution; some of them were for pursuing the old Game, but the greater Part of them seem'd to have Inclinations to turn from those evil Courses, and get home privately, (for there was no Act of Pardon in Force,) therefore they agreed to break up, and every Man to shift for himself, as he should see Occasion. The first Thing they did, was to part with the great Portugueze Prize, and having the Master of the Sloop (whose Name I think was Cane) aboard, who they said was a very honest Fellow, (for he had humoured them upon every Occasion,) told them of the Brigantine that Roberts went after; and when the Pyrates first took him, he complemented them at an odd Rate, telling them they were welcome to his Sloop and Cargo, and wish'd that the Vessel had been larger, and the Loading richer for their Sakes: To this good natured Man they gave the Portugueze Ship, (which was then above half loaded,) three or four Negroes, and all his own Men, who returned Thanks to his kind Benefactors, and departed.
Captain Kennedy in the Rover, sailed to Barbadoes, near which Island, they took a very peaceable Ship belonging to Virginia; the Commander was a Quaker, whose Name was Knot; he had neither Pistol, Sword, nor Cutlash on Board; and Mr. Knot appearing so very passive to all they said to him, some of them thought this a good Opportunity to go off; and accordingly eight of the Pyrates went aboard, and he carried them safe to Virginia; They made the Quaker a Present of 10 Chests of Sugar, 10 Rolls of Brasil Tobacco, 30 Moidors, and some Gold-Dust, in all to the value of about 250 l. They also made Presents to the Sailors, some more, some less, and lived a jovial Life all the while they were upon their Voyage, Captain Knot giving them their Way; nor indeed could he help himself, unless he had taken an Opportunity to surprize them, when they were either drunk or asleep; for awake they wore Arms aboard the Ship, and put him in a continual Terror; it not being his Principle (or the Sect's) to fight, unless with Art and Collusion; he managed these Weapons well till he arrived at the Capes, and afterwards four of the Pyrates went off in a Boat, which they had taken with them, for the more easily making their Escapes, and made up the Bay towards Maryland, but were forced back by a Storm into an obscure Place of the Country, where meeting with good Entertainment among the Planters, they continued several Days without being discovered to be Pyrates. In the mean Time Captain Knot leaving four others on Board his Ship, (who intended to go to North-Carolina,) made what hast he could to discover to Mr. Spotswood the Governor, what sort of Passengers he had been forced to bring with him, who by good Fortune got them seized; and Search being made after the others, who were revelling about the Country, they were also taken, and all try'd, convicted and hang'd, two Portuguese Jews who were taken on the Coast of Brasil, and whom they brought with them to Virginia, being the principal Evidences. The latter had found Means to lodge Part of their Wealth with the Planters, who never brought it to Account: But Captain Knot surrendered up every Thing that belonged to them, that were taken aboard, even what they presented to him, in lieu of such Things as they had plundered him of in their Passage, and obliged his Men to do the like.
Some Days after the taking of the Virginia Man last mentioned, in cruising in the Latitude of Jamaica, Kennedy took a Sloop bound thither from Boston, loaded with Bread and Flower; aboard of this Sloop went all the Hands who were for breaking the Gang, and left those behind that had a Mind to pursue further Adventures. Among the former were Kennedy, their Captain, of whole Honour they had such a dispicable Notion, that they were about to throw him over-board, when they found him in the Sloop, as fearing he might betray them all, at their return to England; he having in his Childhood been bred a Pick-pocket, and before he became a Pyrate, a House-breaker; both Professions that these Gentlemen have a very mean Opinion of. However, Captain Kennedy, by taking solemn Oaths of Fidelity to his Companions, was suffered to proceed with them.
In this Company there was but one that pretended to any skill in Navigation, (for Kennedy could neither write nor read, he being preferred to the Command merely for his Courage, which indeed he had often signaliz'd, particularly in taking the Portuguese Ship,) and he proved to be a Pretender only; for shaping their Course to Ireland, where they agreed to land, they ran away to the North-West Coast of Scotland, and there were tost about by hard Storms of Wind for several Days, without knowing where they were, and in great Danger of perishing: At length they pushed the Vessel into a little Creek, and went all ashore, leaving the Sloop at an Anchor for the next Comers.
The whole Company refresh'd themselves at a little Village about five Miles from the Place where they left the Sloop, and passed there for Ship-wreck'd Sailors, and no doubt might have travelled on without Suspicion; but the mad and riotous Manner of their Living on the Road, occasion'd their Journey to be cut short, as we shall observe presently.
Kennedy and another left them here, and travelling to one of the Sea-Ports, ship'd themselves for Ireland, and arrived there in Safety. Six or seven wisely withdrew from the rest, travelled at their leasure, and got to their much desired Port of London, without being disturbed or suspected; but the main Gang alarm'd the Country where-ever they came, drinking and roaring at such a Rate, that the People shut themselves up in their Houses, in some Places, not daring to venture out among so many mad Fellows: In other Villages, they treated the whole Town, squandering their Money away, as if, like Æsop, they wanted to lighten their Burthens: This expensive manner of Living procured two of their drunken Straglers to be knocked on the Head, they being found murdered in the Road, and their Money taken from them: All the rest, to the Number of seventeen as they drew nigh to Edinburgh, were arrested and thrown into Goal, upon Suspicion, of they knew not what; However, the Magistrates were not long at a Loss for proper Accusations, for two of the Gang offering themselves for Evidences were accepted of; and the others were brought to a speedy Tryal, whereof nine were convicted and executed.
Kennedy having spent all his Money, came over from Ireland, and kept a common B——y-House on Deptford Road, and now and then, ’twas thought, made an Excursion abroad in the Way of his former Profession, till one of his Houshold W——s gave Information against him for a Robbery, for which he was committed to Bridewell; but because she would not do the Business by halves, she found out a Mate of a Ship that Kennedy had committed Pvracy upon, as he foolishly confess'd to her. This Mate, whose Name was Grant, paid Kennedy a Visit in Bridewell, and knowing him to be the Man, procured a Warrant, and had him committed to the Marshalsea Prison.
The Game that Kennedy had now to play was to turn Evidence himself; accordingly he gave a List of eight or ten of his Comrades; but not being acquainted with their Habitations, one only was taken, who, tho’ condemn'd, appeared to be a Man of a fair Character, was forc'd into their Service, and took the first Opportunity to get from them, and therefore receiv'd a Pardon; but Walter Kennedy being a notorious Offender, was executed the 19th of July, 1721, at Execution Dock.
The rest of the Pyrates who were left in the Ship Rover, staid not long behind, for they went ashore to one of the West-India Islands; what became of them afterwards, I can't tell, but the Ship was found at Sea by a Sloop belonging to St. Christophers, and carried into that Island with only nine Negroes aboard.
Thus we see what a disastrous Fate ever attends the Wicked, and how rarely they escape the Punishment due to their Crimes, who, abandon'd to such a profligate Life, rob, spoil, and prey upon Mankind, contrary to the Light and Law of Nature, as well as the Law of God. It might have been hoped, that the Examples of these Deaths, would have been as Marks to the Remainder of this Gang, how to shun the Rocks their Companions had split on; that they would have surrendered to Mercy, or divided themselves, for ever from such Pursuits, as in the End they might be sure would subject them to the same Law and Punishment, which they must be conscious they now equally deserved; impending Law, which never let them sleep well, unless when drunk. But all the Use that was made of it here, was to commend the Justice of the Court, that condemn'd Kennedy, for he was a sad Dog (they said) and deserved the Fate he met with.
But to go back to Roberts, whom we left on the Coast of Caiana, in a grievous Passion at what Kennedy and the Crew had done; and who was now projecting new Adventures with his small Company in the Sloop; but finding hitherto they had been but as a Rope of Sand, they formed a Set of Articles, to be signed and sworn to, for the better Conservation of their Society, and doing Justice to one another; excluding all Irish Men from the Benefit of it, to whom they had an implacable Aversion upon the Account of Kennedy. How indeed Roberts could think that an Oath would be obligatory, where Defiance had been given to the Laws of God and Man, I can't tell, but he thought their greatest Security lay in this, That it was every one's Interest to observe them if they were minded to keep up so abominable a Combination.
The following, is the Substance of the Articles, as taken from the Pyrates own Informations.
EVery Man has a Vote in Affairs of Moment; has equal Title to the fresh Provisions, or strong Liquors, at any Time seized, and use them at pleasure, unless a Scarcity (no uncommon Thing among them) make it necessary, for the good of all, to vote a Retrenchment.
Every Man to be called fairly in turn, by List, on Board of Prizes, because, (over and above their proper Share,) they were on these Occasions allowed a Shift of Cloaths: But if they defrauded the Company to the Vaue of a Dollar, in Plate, Jewels, or Money, Marooningwas their Punishment. This was a Barbarous Custom of putting the Offender on Shore, on some desolate or uninhabited Cape or Island, with a Gun, a few Shot, a Bottle of Water, and a Bottle of Powder, to subsist with, or starve. If the Robbery was only between one another, they contented themselves with slitting the Ears and Nose of him that was Guilty, and set him on Shore, not in an uninhabited Place, but somewhere, where he was sure to encounter Hardships.
No Person to Game at Cards or Dice for Money.
The Lights and Candles to be put out at eight o'Clock at Night: If any of the Crew, after that Hour, still remained inclined for Drinking, they were to do it on the open Deck; which Roberts believed would give a Check to their Debauches, for he was a sober Man himself, but found at length, that all his Endeavours to put an End to this Debauch, proved ineffectual.
To keep their Piece, Pistols, and Cutlash clean, and fit for Service: In this they were extravagantly nice, endeavouring to outdo one another, in the Beauty and Richness of their Arms, giving sometimes at an Auction (at the Mast,) 30 or 40 l. a Pair, for Pistols. These were slung in Time of Service, with different coloured Ribbands, over their Shoulders, in a Way peculiar to these Fellows, in which they took great Delight.
No Boy or Woman to be allowed amongst them. If any Man were sound seducing anny of the latter Sex, and carried her to Sea, disguised, he was to suffer Death; so that when any fell into their Hands, as it chanced in the Onslow, they put a Centinel immediately over her to prevent ill Consequences from so dangerous an Instrument of Division and Quarrel; but then here lies the Roguery; they contend who shall be Centinel, which happens generally to one of the greatest Bullies, who, to secure the Lady's Virtue, will let none lye with her but himself.
To Desert the Ship, or their Quarters in Battle, was punished with Death, or Marooning.
No striking one another on Board, but every Man's Quarrels to be ended on Shore, at Sword and Pistol, Thus; The Quarter-Master of the Ship, when the Parties will not come to any Reconciliation, accompanies them on Shore with what Assistance he thinks proper, and turns the Disputants Back to Back, at so many Paces Distance: At the Word of Command, they turn and fire immediately, (or else the Piece is knocked out of their Hands:) If both miss, they come to their Cutlashes, and then he is declared Victor who draws the first Blood.
No Man to talk of breaking up their Way of Living, till each had shared a 1000 l. If in order to this, any Man should lose a Limb, or become a Cripple in their Service, he was to have 800 Dollars, out of the publick Stock, and for lesser Hurts, proportionably.
The Captain and Quarter-Master to receive two Shares of a Prize; the Master, Boatswain, and Gunner, one Share and a half, and other Officers, one and a Quarter.
The Musicians to have Rest on the Sabbath Day, but the other six Days and Nights, none without special Favour.
These, we are assured, were some of Roberts's Articles, but as they had taken Care to throw over-board the Original they had sign'd and sworn to, there is a great deal of Room to suspect, the remainder contained something too horrid to be disclosed to any, except such as were willing to be Sharers in the Iniquity of them; let them be what they will, they were together the Test of all new Comers, who were initiated by an Oath taken on a Bible, reserv'd for that Purpose only, and were subscrib'd to in Presence of the worshipful Mr. Roberts. And in Case any Doubt should arise concerning the Construction of these Laws, and it should remain a Dispute whether the Party had infring'd them or no, a Jury is appointed to explain them, and bring in a Verdict upon the Case in Doubt.
Since we are now speaking of the Laws of this Company, I shall go on, and, in as brief a Manner as I can, relate the principal Customs, and Government, of this roguish Common-Wealth; which are pretty near the same with all Pyrates.
For the Punishment of small Offences, which are not provided for by the Articles, and which are not of Consequence enough to be left to a Jury, there is a principal Officer among the Pyrates, called the Quarter-Master, of the Mens own chusing, who claims all Authority this Way, (excepting in Time of Battle:) If they disobey his Command, are quarrelsome and mutinous with one another, misuse Prisoners, plunder beyond his Order, and in particular, if they be negligent of their Arms, which he musters at Discretion, he punishes at his own Arbitrement, with drubbing or whipping, which no one else dare do without incurring the Lash from all the Ships Company: In short, this Officer is Trustee for the whole, is the first on Board any Prize, separating for the Company's Use, what he pleases, and returning what he thinks fit to the Owners, excepting Gold and Silver, which they have voted not returnable.
After a Description of the Quarter-Master, and his Duty, who acts as a sort of a civil Magistrate on Board a Pyrate Ship; I shall consider their military Officer, the Captain; what Privileges he exerts in such anarchy and unrulyness of the Members: Why truly very little, they only permit him to be Captain, on Condition, that they may be Captain over him; they separate to his Use the great Cabin, and sometimes vote him small Parcels of Plate and China, (for it may be noted that Roberts drank his Tea constantly) but then every Man, as the Humour takes him, will use the Plate and China, intrude into his Apartment, swear at him, seize a Part of his Victuals and Drink, if they like it, without his offering to find Fault or contest it: Yet Roberts, by a better Management than usual, became the chief Director in every Thing of Moment, and it happened thus:— The Rank of Captain being obtained by the Suffrage of the Majority, it falls on one superior for Knowledge and Boldness, Pistol Proof (as they call it,) and can make those fear, who do not love him; Roberts is said to have exceeded his Fellows in these Respects, and when advanced, enlarged the Respect that followed it, by making a sort of Privy-Council of half a Dozen of the greatest Bullies; such as were his Competitors, and had Interest enough to make his Government easy; yet even those, in the latter Part of his Reign, he had run counter to in every Project that opposed his own Opinion; for which, and because he grew reserved, and would not drink and roar at their Rate, a Cabal was formed to take away his Captainship, which Death did more effectually.
The Captain's Power is uncontroulable in Chace, or in Battle, drubbing, cutting, or even shooting any one who dares deny his Command. The same Privilege he takes over Prisoners, who receive good or ill Usage, mostly as he approves of their Behaviour, for tho’ the meanest would take upon them to misuse a Master of a Ship, yet he would controul herein, when he see it, and merrily over a Bottle, give his Prisoners this double Reason for it. First, That it preserved his Precedence; and secondly, That it took the Punishment out of the Hands of a much more rash and mad Sett of Fellows than himself. When he found that Rigour was not expected from his People, (for he often practised it to appease them,) then he would give Strangers to understand, that it was pure Inclination that induced him to a good Treatment of them, and not any Love or Partiality to their Persons; for, says he, there is none of you but will hang me, I know, whenever you can clinch me within your Power.
And now seeing the Disadvantages they were under for pursuing the Account, viz. a small Vessel ill repaired, and without Provisions, or Stores; they resolved one and all, with the little Supplies they could get, to proceed for the West-Indies, not doubting to find a Remedy for all these Evils, and to retreive their Loss.
In the Latitude of Deseada, one of the Islands, they took two Sloops, which supply'd them with Provisions and other Necessaries; and a few Days afterwards, took a Brigantine belonging to Rhode Island, and then proceeded to Barbadoes, off of which Island, they fell in with a Bristol Ship of 10 Guns, in her Voyage out, from whom they took abundance of Cloaths, some Money, twenty five Bales of Goods, five Barrels of Powder, a Cable, Hawser, 10 Casks of Oatmeal, six Casks of Beef, and several other Goods, besides five of their Men; and after they had detained her three Days, let her go; who being bound for the abovesaid Island, she acquainted the Governor with what had happened, as soon as she arrived.
Whereupon a Bristol Galley that lay in the Harbour, was ordered to be fitted out with all imaginable Expedition, of 20 Guns, and 80 Men, there being then no Man of War upon that Station, and also a Sloop with 10 Guns, and 40 Men: The Galley was commanded by one Captain Rogers, of Bristol, and the Sloop by Captain Graves, of that Island, and Captain Rogers by a Commission from the Governor, was appointed Commadore.
The second Day after Rogers sailed out of the Harbour, he was discovered by Roberts, who knowing nothing of their Design, gave them Chase: The Barbadoes Ships kept an easy sail till the Pyrates came up with them, and then Roberts gave them a Gun, expecting they would have immediately struck to his pyratical Flag, but instead thereof, he was forced to receive the Fire of a Broadside, with three Huzzas at the same Time; so that an Engagement ensued, but Roberts being hardly put to it, was obliged to crowd all the Sail the Sloop would bear, to get off: The Galley sailing pretty well, kept Company for a long while, keeping a constant Fire, which gail'd the Pyrate; however, at length by throwing over their Guns, and other heavy Goods, and thereby light'ning the Vessel, they, with much ado, got clear; but Roberts could never endure a Barbadoes Man afterwards, and when any Ships belonging to that Island fell in his Way, he was more particularly severe to them than others.
Captain Roberts sailed in the Sloop to the Island of Dominico, where he watered, and got Provisions of the Inhabitants, to whom he gave Goods in Exchange. At this Place he met with 13 Englishmen, who had been set ashore by a French Guard de la Coste, belonging to Martinico, taken out of two New-England Ships, that had been seiz'd, as Prize, by the said French Sloop: The Men willingly entered with the Pyrates, and it proved a seasonable Recruit.
They staid not long here, tho’ they had immediate Occasion for cleaning their Sloop, but did not think this a proper Place, and herein they judg'd right; for the touching at this Island, had like to have been their Destruction, because they having resolved to go away to the Granada Islands, for the aforesaid Purpose, by some Accident it came to be known to the French Colony, who sending Word to the Governor of Martinico, he equipped and manned two Sloops to go in Quest of them. The Pyrates sailed directly for the Granadilloes, and hall'd into a Lagoon, at Corvocoo, where they cleaned with unusual Dispatch, staying but a little above a Week, by which Expedition they missed of the Martinico Sloops, only a few Hours; Roberts sailing over Night, that the French arrived the next Morning. This was a fortunate Escape, especially considering, that it was not from any Fears of their being discovered, that they made so much hast from the Island; but, as they had the Impudence themselves to own, for the want of Wine and Women.
Thus narrowly escaped, they sailed for Newfoundland, and arrived upon the Banks the latter end of June, 1720. They entered the Harbour of Trepassi, with their black Colours flying, Drums beating, and Trumpets sounding. There were two and twenty Vessels in the Harbour, which the Men all quitted upon the Sight of the Pyrate, and fled ashore. It is impossible particularly to recount the Destruction and Havock they made here, burning and sinking all the shipping, except a Bristol Galley, and destroying the Fisheries, and Stages of the poor Planters, without Remorse or Compunction; for nothing is so deplorable as Power in mean and ignorant Hands, it makes Men wanton and giddy, unconcerned at the Misfortunes they are imposing on their Fellow Creatures, and keeps them smiling at the Mischiefs, that bring themselves no Advantage. They are like mad Men, that cast Fire-Brands, Arrows, and Death, and say, are not we in Sport?
Roberts mann'd the Bristol Galley he took in the Harbour, and mounted 16 Guns on Board her, and cruising out upon the Banks, he met with mine or ten Sail of French Ships, all which he destroyed except one of 26 Guns, which they seiz'd, and carried off for their own Use. This Ship they christ'ned the Fortune, and leaving the Bristol Galley to the French Men, they sailed away in Company with the Sloop, on another Cruise, and took several Prizes, viz. the Richard of Biddiford, Jonathan Whitfield Master; the Willing Mind of Pool; the Expectation of Topsham; and the Samuel, Captain Cary, of London; out of these Ships they encreased their Company, by entring all the Men they could well spare, in their own Service. The Samuel was a rich Ship, and had several Passengers on Board, who were used very roughly, in order to make them discover their Money, threatning them every Moment with Death, if they did not resign every Thing up to them. They tore up the Hatches and entered the Hold like a parcel of Furies, and with Axes and Cutlashes, cut and broke open all the Bales, Cases, and Boxes, they could lay their Hands on; and when any Goods came upon Deck, that they did not like to carry aboard, instead of tossing them into the Hold again, threw them over-board into the Sea; all this was done with incessant cursing and swearing, more like Fiends than Men. They carried with them, Sails, Guns, Powder, Cordage, and 8 or 9000 l. worth of the choicest Goods; and told Captain Cary, That they should accept of no Act of Grace; that the K— and P— t might be damned with their Acts of G— for them; neither would they go to Hope-Point, to be hang'd up a Sun drying, as Kidd's, and Braddish's Company were; but that if they should ever be overpower'd, they would set Fire to the Powder, with a Pistol, and go all merrily to Hell together.
After they had brought all the Booty aboard, a Consultation was held whether they should sink or burn the Ship, but whilst they were debating the Matter, they spyed a Sail, and so left the Samuel, to give her Chace; at Midnight they came up with the same, which proved to be a Snow from Bristol, bound for Boston, Captain Bowles Master: They us'd him barbarously, because of his Country, Captain Rogers, who attack'd them off Barbadoes, being of the City of Bristol.
July the 16th, which was two Days afterwards, they took a Virginia Man called the Little York, James Philips Master, and the Love, of Leverpool, which they plundered and let go; the next Day a Snow from Bristol, call'd the Phænix, John Richards Master, met with the same Fate from them; as also a Brigantine, Captain Thomas, and a Sloop called the Sadbury; they took all the Men out of the Brigantine, and sunk the Vessel.
When they left the Banks of Newfoundland, they sailed for the West-Indies, and the Provisions growing short, they went for the Latitude of the Island Deseada, to cruise, it being esteemed the likeliest Place to meet with such Ships as (they used in their Mirth to say) were consigned to them, with Supplies. And it has been very much suspected that Ships have loaded with Provisions at the English Colonies, on pretence of Trading on the Coast of Africa, when they have in reality been consigned to them; and tho’ a shew of Violence is offered to them when they meet, yet they are pretty sure of bringing their Cargo to a good Market.
However, at this Time they missed with their usual Luck, and Provisions and Necessaries becoming more scarce every Day, they retired towards St. Christophers, where being deny'd all Succour or Assistance from the Government, they fir'd in Revenge on the Town, and burnt two Ships in the Road, one of them commanded by Captain Cox, of Bristol; and then retreated farther to the Island of St. Bartholomew, where they met with much handsomer Treatment. The Governor not only supplying them with Refreshments, but he and the Chiefs carressing them in the most friendly Manner: And the Women, from so good an Example, endeavoured to outvie each other in Dress, and Behaviour, to attract the good Graces of such generous Lovers, that paid well for their Favours.
Sated at length with these Pleasures, and having taken on Board a good supply of fresh Provisions, they voted unanimously for the Coast of Guiney, and in the Latitude of 22 N. in their Voyage thither, met with a French Ship from Martinico, richly laden, and, which was unlucky for the Master, had a property of being fitter for their Purpose, than the Banker. Exchange was no Robbery they said, and so after a little mock Complaisance to Monsieur, for the Favour he had done them, they shifted their Men, and took leave: This was their first Royal Fortune.
In this Ship Roberts proceeded on his designed Voyage; but before they reached Guiney, he proposed to touch at Brava, the Southermost of Cape
Verd Islands and clean. But here again by an intolerable Stupidity and want of Judgment, they got so far to Leeward of their Port, that despairing to regain it, or any of the Windward Parts of Africa, they were obliged to go back again with the Trade-Wind, for the West-Indies; which had very near been the Destruction of them all. Surinam was the Place now designed for, which was at no less than 700 Leagues Distance, and they had but one Hogshead of Water left to supply 124 Souls for that Passage; a sad Circumstance that eminently exposes the Folly and Madness among Pyrates, and he must be an inconsiderate Wretch indeed, who, if he could separate the Wickedness and Punishment from the Fact, would yet hazard his Life amidst such Dangers, as their want of Skill and Forecast made them liable to.
Their Sins, we may presume were never so troublesome to their Memories, as now, that inevitable Destruction seem'd to threaten them, without the least Glympse of Comfort or Alleviation to their Misery; for, with what Face could Wretches who had ravaged and made so many Necessitous, look up for Relief; they had to that Moment lived in Defiance of the Power that now alone they must trust for their Preservation, and indeed without the miraculous Intervention of Providence, there appeared only this miserable Choice, viz. a present Death by their own Hands, or a ling'ring one by Famine.
They continued their Course, and came to an Allowance of one single Mouthful of Water for 24 Hours; many of them drank their Urine, or Sea Water, which, instead of allaying, gave them an inextinguishable Thirst, that killed them: Others pined and wasted a little more Time in Fluxes and Apyrexies, so that they dropped away daily. Those that sustain'd the Misery best, were such as almost starved themselves, forbearing all sorts of Food, unless a Mouthful or two of Bread the whole Day, so that those who survived were as weak as it was possible for Men to be and alive.
But if the dismal Prospect they set out with, gave them Anxiety, Trouble, or Pain, what must their Fears and Apprehensions be, when they had not one Drop of Water left, or any other Liquor to moisten or animate. This was their Case, when (by the working of Divine Providence, no doubt,) they were brought into Soundings, and at Night anchored in seven Fathom Water: This was an inexpressible Joy to them, and, as it were, fed the expiring Lamp of Life with fresh Spirits; but this could not hold long. When the Morning came, they saw Land from the Mast-Head, but it was at so great a Distance, that it afforded but an indifferent Prospect to Men who had drank nothing for the two last Days; however, they dispatch'd their Boat away, and late the same Night it return'd, to their no small Comfort, with a load of Water, informing them, that they had got off the Mouth of Meriwinga River on the Coast of Surinam.
One would have thought so miraculous an Escape should have wrought some Reformation, but alass, they had no sooner quenched their Thirst, but they had forgot the Miracle, till Scarcity of Provisions awakened their Senses, and bid them guard against starving; their allowance was very small, and yet they would profanely say, That Providence which had gave them Drink, would, no doubt, bring them Meat also, if they would use but an honest Endeavour.
In pursuance of these honest Endeavours, they were steering for the Latitude of Barbadoes, with what little they had left, to look out for more, or Starve; and, in their Way, met a Ship that answered their Necessities, and after that a Brigantine; the former was called the Greyhound, belonging to St. Christophers, and bound to Philadelphia, the Mate of which signed the Pyrate's Articles, and was afterwards Captain of the Ranger, Consort to the Royal Fortune.
Out of the Ship and Brigantine, the Pyrates got a good supply of Provisions and Liquor, so that they gave over the designed Cruise, and watered at Tobago, and hearing of the two Sloops that had been fitted out and sent after them at Corvocoo, they sailed to the Island of Martinico, to make the Governor some sort of an Equivalent, for the Care and Expedition he had shewn in that Affair.
It is the Custom at Martinico, for the Dutch Interlopers that have a Mind to Trade with the People of the Island, to hoist their Jacks when they come before the Town: Roberts knew the Signal, and being an utter Enemy to them, he bent his Thoughts upon Mischief; and accordingly came in with his Jack flying, which, as he expected, they mistook for a good Market, and thought themselves happiest that could soonest dispatch off their Sloops and Vessels for Trade. When Roberts had got them within his Power, (one after another,) he told them, he would not have it said that they came off for nothing, and therefore ordered them to leave their Money behind, for that they were a Parcel of Rogues, and hoped they would always meet with such a Dutch Trade as this was; he reserved one Vessel to set the Passengers on Shore again, and fired the rest, to the Number of twenty.
Roberts was so enraged at the Attempts that had been made for taking of him, by the Governors of Barbados and Martinico, that he ordered a new Jack to be made, which they ever after hoisted, with his own Figure pourtray'd, standing upon two Skulls, and under them the Letters A B H and A M H, signifying a Barbadian's and a Martinican's Head, as may be seen in the Plate of Captain Roberts.
At Dominico, the next Island they touched at, they took a Dutch Interloper of 22 Guns and 75 Men, and a Brigantine belonging to Rhode-Island, one Norton Master. The former made some Defence, till some of his Men being killed, the rest were discouraged and struck their Colours. With these two Prizes they went down to Guadalupe, and brought out a Sloop, and a French Fly-Boat laden with Sugar; the Sloop they burnt, and went on to Moonay, another Island, thinking to clean, but finding the Sea ran too high there to undertake it with Safety, they bent their Course for the North Part of Hispaniola, where, at Bennet's Kev, in the Gulf of Saminah, they cleaned both the Ship and the Brigantine. For tho’ Hispaniola be settled by the Spaniards and French, and is the Residence of a President from Spain, who receives, and finally determines Appeals from all the other Spanish West-India Islands; yet is its People by no Means proportioned to its Magnitude, so that there are many Harbours in it, to which Pyrates may securely resort without Fear of Discovery from the Inhabitants.
Whilst they were here, two Sloops came in, as they pretended, to pay Roberts a Visit, the Masters, whose Names were Porter and Tuckerman, addressed the Pyrate, as the Queen of Skeba did Solomon, to wit, That having heard of his Fame and Atchievements, they had put in there to learn his Art and Wisdom in the Business of pyrating, being Vessels on the same honourable Design with himself; and hoped with the Communication of his Knowledge, they should also receive his Charity, being in want of Necessaries for such Adventures. Roberts was won upon by the Peculiarity and Bluntness of these two Men, and gave them Powder, Arms, and what ever else they had Occasion for, spent two or three merry Nights with them, and at parting, said, he hoped the L— would Prosper their handy Works.
They passed some Time here, after they had got their Vessel ready, in their usual Debaucheries; they had taken a considerable Quanty of Rum and Sugar, so that Liquor was as plenty as Water, and few there were, who denied themselves the immoderate Use of it; nay, Sobriety brought a Man under a Suspicion of being in a Plot against the Commonwealth, and in their Sense, he was looked upon to be a Villain that would not be drunk. This was evident in the Affair of Harry Glasby, chosen Master of the Royal Fortune, who, with two others, laid hold of the Opportunity at the last Island they were at, to move off without bidding Farewel to his Friends. Glasby was a reserved sober Man, and therefore gave Occasion to be suspected, so that he was soon missed after he went away; and a Detachment being sent in quest of the Deserters, they were all three brought back again the next Day. This was a capital Offence, and for which they were ordered to be brought to an immediate Tryal.
Here was the Form of Justice kept up, which is as much as can be said of several other Courts, that have more lawful Commissions for what they do. — Here was no feeing of Council, and bribing of Witnesses was a Custom not known among them; no packing of Juries, no torturing and wresting the Sense of the Law, for bye Ends and Purposes, no puzzling or perplexing the Cause with unintelligible canting Terms, and useless Distinctions; nor was their Sessions burthened with numberless Officers, the Ministers of Rapine and Extortion, with ill boding Aspects, enough to fright Aftraa from the Court.
The Place appointed for their Tryals, was the Steerage of the Ship; in order to which, a large Bowl of Rum Punch was made, and placed upon the Table, the Pipes and Tobacco being ready, the judicial Proceedings began; the Prisoners were brought forth, and Articles of Indictment against them read; they were arraigned upon a Statute of their own making, and the Letter of the Law being strong against them, and the Fact plainly proved, they were about to pronounce Sentence, when one of the Judges mov'd, that they should first Smoak t'other Pipe; which was accordingly done.
All the Prisoners pleaded for Arrest of Judgment very movingly, but the Court had such an Abhorrence of their Crime, that they could not be prevailed upon to shew Mercy, till one of the Judges, whose Name was Valentine Ashplant, stood up, and taking his Pipe out of his Mouth, said, he had something to offer to the Court in behalf of one of the Prisoners; and spoke to this Effect. — By G— Glasby shall not dye; d — n me if he shall. After this learned Speech, he sat down in his Place, and resumed his Pipe. This Motion was loudly opposed by all the rest of the Judges, in equivalent Terms; but Ashplant, who was resolute in his Opinion, made another pathetical Speech in the following Manner. G— d — n ye Gentlemen, I am as good a Man as the best of you; d — m my S— l if ever I turned my Back to any Man in my Life, or ever will, by G —; Glasby is an honest Fellow, notwithst anding this Misfortune, and I love him, D— l d — n me if I don't: I hope he'll live and repent of what he has done; but d — n me if he must dye, I will dye along with him. And thereupon, he pulled out a pair of Pistols, and presented them to some of the learned Judges upon the Bench; who, perceiving his Argument so well supported, thought it reasonable that Glasby should be acquitted; and so they all came over to his Opinion, and allowed it to be Law.
But all the Mitigation that could be obtained for the other Prisoners, was, that they should have the Liberty of choosing any four of the whole Company to be their Executioners. The poor Wretches were ty'd immediately to the Mast, and there shot dead, pursuant to their villainous Sentence.
When they put to Sea again, the Prizes which had been detained only for fear of spreading any Rumour concerning them, which had like to have been so fatal at Corvocoo, were thus disposed of: They burnt their own Sloop, and mann'd Norton's Brigantine, sending the Master away in the Dutch Interloper, not dissatisfied.
With the Royal Fortune, and the Brigantine, which they christened the Good Fortune, they pushed towards the Latitude of Deseada, to look out for Provisions, being very short again, and just to their Wish, Captain Hingstone's ill Fortune brought him in their Way, richly laden for Jamaica; him they carried to Berbudas and plundered; and stretching back again to the West-Indies, they continually met with some Consignment or other, (chiefly French,) which stored them with Plenty of Provisions, and recruited their starving Condition; so that stocked with this sort of Ammunition, they began to think of something worthier their Aim, for these Robberies that only supplied what was in constant Expenditure, by no Means answered their Intentions; and accordingly they proceeded again for the Coast of Guiney, where they thought to buy Gold-Dust very cheap. In their Passage thither, they took Numbers of Ships of all Nations, some of which they burnt or sunk, as the Carriage or Characters of the Masters displeased them.
Notwithstanding the successful Adventures of this Crew, yet it was with great Difficulty they could be kept together, under any kind of Regulation; for being almost always mad or drunk, their Behaviour produced infinite Disorders, every Man being in his own Imagination a Captain, a Prince, or a King. When Roberts saw there was no managing of such a Company of wild ungovernable Brutes, by gentle means, nor to keep them from drinking to excess, the Cause of all their Disturbances, he put on a rougher Deportment, and a more magesterial Carriage towards them, correcting whom he thought fit; and if any seemed to resent his Usage, he told them, they might go ashore and take Satisfaction of him, if they thought fit, at Sword and Pistol, for he neither valu'd or fear'd any of them.
About 400 Leagues from the Coast of Africa, the Brigantine who had hitherto lived with them, in all amicable Correspondence, thought fit to take the Opportunity of a dark Night, and leave the Commadore, which leads me back to the Relation of an Accident that happened at one of the Islands of the West-Indies, where they water'd before they undertook this Voyage, which had like to have thrown their Government (such as it was) off the Hinges, and was partly the Occasion of the Separation: The Story is as follows.
Captain Roberts having been insulted by one of the drunken Crew, (whose Name I have forgot,) he, in the Heat of his Passion killed the Fellow on the Spot, which was resented by a great many others, put particularly one Jones, a brisk active young Man, who died lately in the Marshalsea, and was his Mess-Mate. This Jones was at that Time ashore a watering the Ship, but as soon as he came on Board, was told that Captain Roberts had killed his Comrade; upon which he cursed Roberts, and said, he ought to be served so himself. Roberts hearing Jones's Invective, ran to him with a Sword, and ran him into the Body; who, notwithstanding his Wound, seized the Captain, threw him over a Gun, and beat him handsomely. This Adventure put the whole Company in an Uproar, and some taking Part with the Captain, and others against him, there had like to have ensued a general Battle with one another, like my Lord Thomont's Cocks; however, the Tumult was at length appeas'd by the Mediation of the Quarter-Master; and as the Majority of the Company were of Opinion that the Dignity of the Captain, ought to be supported on Board; that it was a Post of Honour, and therefore the Person whom they thought fit to confer it on, should not be violated by any single Member; wherefore they sentenced Jones to undergo two Lashes from every one of the Company, for his Misdemeanour, which was executed upon him as soon as he was well of his Wound.
This severe Punishment did not at all convince Jones that he was in the wrong, but rather animated him to some sort of a Revenge; but not being able to do it upon Roberts's Person, on Board the Ship, he and several of his Comrades, correspond with Anstis, Capt in of the Brigantine, and conspire with him and some of the principal Pyrates on Board that Vessel, to go off from the Company. What made Anstis a Malecontent, was, the Inferiority he stood in, with Respect to Roberts, who carried himself with a haughty and magisterial Air, to him and his Crew, he regarding the Brigantine only as a Tender, and, as such, left them no more than the Refuse of their Plunder. In short, Jones and his Consort go on Board of Captain Anstis, on Pretence of a Visit, and there consulting with their Brethren, they find a Majority for leaving of Roberts, and so came to a Resolution to bid a soft Farewel, as they call it, that Night, and to throw over-board whosoever should stick out; but they proved to be unanimous, and effected their Design as above-mentioned.
I shall have no more to say of Captain Anstis, till the Story of Roberts is concluded, therefore I return to him, in the pursuit of his Voyage to Guiney. The loss of the Brigantine was a sensible Shock to the Crew, she being an excellent Sailor, and had 70 Hands aboard; however, Roberts who was the Occasion of it, put on a Face of Unconcern at this his ill Conduct and Mismanagement, and resolved not to alter his Purposes upon that Account.
Roberts fell in to Windward nigh the Senegal, a River of great Trade for Gum, on this Part of the Coast, monopolized by the French, who constantly keep Cruisers, to hinder the interloping Trade: At this Time they had two small Ships on that Service, one of 10 Guns and 65 Men, and the other of 16 Guns and 75 Men; who having got a Sight of Mr. Roberts, and supposing him to be one of these prohibited Traders, chased with all the Sail they could make, to come up with him; but their Hopes which had brought them very nigh, too late deceived them, for on the hoisting of Jolly Roger, (the Name they give their black Flag,) their French Hearts failed, and they both surrendred without any, or at least very little Resistance. With these Prizes they went into Sierraleon, and made one of them their Consort, by the Name of the Ranger, and the other a Store-Ship, to clean by.
Sierraleon River disgorges with a large Mouth, the Starboard-Side of which, draughts into little Bays, safe and convenient for cleaning and watering; what still made it preferable to the Pyrates, is, that the Traders settled here, are naturally their Friends. There are about 30 English Men in all, Men who in some Part of their Lives, have been either privateering, buccaneering, or pyrating, and still retain and love the Riots, and Humours, common to that sort of Life. They live very friendly with the Natives, and have many of them of both Sexes, to be their Grometta's, or Servants: The Men are faithful, and the Women so obedient, that they are very ready to prostitute themselves to whomsoever their Masters shall command them. The Royal African Company has a Fort on a small Island call'd Bence Island, but ’tis of little Use, besides keeping their Slaves; the Distance making it incapable of giving any Molestation to their Starboard Shore. Here lives at this Place an old Fellow, who goes by the Name of Crackers, who was formerly a noted Buccaneer, and while he followed the Calling, robb'd and plundered many a Man; he keeps the best House in the Place, has two or three Guns before his Door, with which he Salutes his Friends, (the Pyrates, when they put in) and lives a jovial Life with him, all the while they are there.
Here follows a List, of the rest of those lawless Merchants, and their Servants, who carry on a private Trade with the Interlopers, to the great Prejudice of the Royal African Company, who with extraordinary Industry and Expence, have made, and maintain, Settlements without any Consideration from those, who, without such Settlements and Forts, would soon be under an Incapacity of pursuing any such private Trade. Wherefore, ’tis to be hop'd, proper Means will be taken, to root out a pernicious set of People, who have all their Lives, supported themselves by the Labours of other Men.
Two of these Fellows enter'd with Robert's Crew, and continued with them, till the Destruction of the Company.
A List of the White-Men, now living on the high Land of Sierraleon, and the Craft they occupy.
JOHN Leadstone, three Boats and Periagoe.
His Man Tom,
His Man John Brown.
Alexander Middleton, one Long-Boat,
His Man Charles Hawkins.
John Pierce, Partners, one Long-Boat.
William Mead, Partners, one Long-Boat.
Their Man John Vernon.
David Chatmers, one Long-Boat.
John Chatmers, one Long-Boat.
Richard Richardson, one Long-Boat.
Norton, Partners, two Long-Boats, and two small Boats.
Richard Warren, Partners, two Long-Boats, and two small Boats.
Roberts Glynn, Partners, two Long-Boats, and two small Boats.
His Man John Franks.
William Waits, and one young Man.
John England, one Long-Boat.
Robert Samples, one Long-Boat.
William Presgrove, one Sloop, two Long-Boats, a small Boat, and Periagoe.
Harry, one Sloop, two Long-Boats, a small Boat, and Periagoe.
Davis, one Sloop, two Long-Boats, a small Boat, and Periagoe.
Mitchel, one Sloop, two Long-Boats, a small Boat, and Periagoe.
With Roquis Rodrigus, a Portuguese.
John Jones, one Long-Boat,
His Irish young Man.
At Rio Pungo, Benjamen Gun.
At Kidham, George Yeats.
At Gallyneas, Richard Lemmons.
The Harbour is so convenient for Wooding and Watering, that it occasions many of our trading Ships, especially those of Bristol, to call in there, with large Cargoes of Beer, Syder, and strong Liquors, which they Exchange with these private Traders, for Slaves and Teeth, purchased by them at the Rio Nune's, and other Places to the Northward, so that here was what they call good Living.
Hither Roberts came the End of June, 1721, and had Intelligence that the Swallow, and Weymouth, two Men of War, of 50 Guns each, had left that River about a Month before, and designed to return about Christmas; so that the Pyrates could indulge themselves with all the Satisfaction in the World, in that they knew they were not only secure whilst there, but that in going down the Coast, after the Men of War, they should always be able to get such Intelligence of their Rendezvous, as would serve to make their Expedition safe. So after six Weeks stay, the Ships being cleaned and fitted, and the Men weary of whoring and drinking, they bethought themselves of Business, and went to Sea the Beginning of August, taking their Progress down the whole Coast, as low as Jaquin, plundering every Ship they met, of what was valuable in her, and sometimes to be more mischieviously wicked, would throw what they did not want, overboard, accumulating Cruelty to Theft.
In this Range, they exchanged their old French Ship, for a fine Frigate built Ship, call'd the Onslow, belonging to the Royal African Company, Captain Gee Commander, which happened to lye at Sestos, to get Water and Necessaries for the Company. A great many of Captain Gee's Men were ashore, when Robert's bore down, and so the Ship consequently surpriz'd into his Hands, tho’ had they been all on Board, it was not likely the Case would have been otherwise, the Sailors, most of them, voluntarily joyning the Pyrates, and encouraging the same Disposition in the Soldiers, (who were going Passengers with them to Cape-Corso-Castle) whose Ears being constantly tickled with the Feats and Gallantry of those Fellows, made them fancy, that to go, was only being bound on a Voyage of Knight Errantry (to relieve the Distress'd, and gather up Fame) and so they likewise offer'd themselves; but here the Pyrates were at a Stand, they entertain'd so contemptible a Notion of Landmen, that they put ’em off with Refusals for some time, till at length, being weary'd with Solicitations, and pittying a Parcel of stout Fellows, which they said, were going to starve upon a little Canky and Plantane, they accepted of them, and allow'd them ¼ Share, as it was then term'd out of Charity.
There was a Clergyman on Board the Onslow, sent from England, to be Chaplain of Cape-Corso-Castle, some of the Pyrates were for keeping him, alledging merrily, that their Ship wanted a Chaplain; accordingly they offered him a Share, to take on with them, promising, he should do nothing for his Money, but make Punch, and say Prayers; yet, however brutish they might be in other Things, they bore so great a Respect to his Order, that they resolved not to force him against his Inclinations; and the Parson having no Relish for this sort of Life, excused himself from accepting the Honour they designed him; they were satisfied, and generous enough to deliver him back every Thing he owned to be his: The Parson laid hold of this favourable Disposition of the Pyrates, and laid Claim to several Things belonging to others, which were also given up, to his great Satisfaction; in fine, they kept nothing which belonged to the Church, except three Prayer-Books, and a Bottle-Screw.
The Pyrates kept the Onslow for their own Use, and gave Captain Gee the French Ship, and then fell to making such Alterations as might fit her for a Sea-Rover, pulling down her Bulk-Heads, and making her flush, so that she became, in all Respects, as compleat a Ship for their Purpose, as any they could have found; they continued to her the Name of the Royal Fortune, and mounted her with 40 Guns.
She and the Ranger proceeded (as I said before,) to Jaquin, and from thence to Old Calabar, where they arrived about October, in order to clean their Ships, a Place the most suitable along the whole Coast, for there is a Bar with not above 15 Foot Water upon it, and the Channel intricate, so that had the Men of War been sure of their being harbour'd here, they might still have bid Defiance to their Strength, for the Depth of Water at the Bar, as well as the want of a Pilot, was a sufficient Security to the Rovers, and invincible Impediments to them. Here therefore they sat easy, and divided the Fruits of their dishonest Instustry, and drank and drove Care away. The Pilot who brought them into this Harbour, was Captain L— e, who for this, and other Services, was extreamly well paid, according to the Journal of their own Accounts, which do not run in the ordinary and common way, of Debtor, contra Creditor, but much more concise, lumping it to their Friends, and so carrying the Debt in their Heads, against the next honest Trader they meet.
They took at Calabar, Captain Loane, and two or three Bristol Ships, the Particulars of all which would be an unnecessary Prolixity, therefore I come now to give an Account of the Usage they received from the Natives of this Place. The Calabar Negroes did not prove so civil as they expected, for they refused to have any Commerce or Trade with them, when they understood they were Pyrates: An Indication that these poor Creatures, in the narrow Circumstances they were in, and without the Light of the Gospel, or the Advantage of an Education, have, notwithstanding, such a moral innate Honesty, as would upbraid and shame the most knowing Christian: But this did but exasperate these lawless Fellows, and so a Party of 40 Men were detach'd to force a Correspondence, or drive the Negroes to Extremities; and they accordingly landed under the Fire of their own Cannon. The Negroes drew up in a Body of 2000 Men, as if they intended to dispute the Matter with them, and staid till the Pyrates advanced within Pistol-shot; but finding the Loss of two or three, made no Impression on the rest, the Negroes thought fit to retreat, which they did, with some Loss: The Pyrates set Fire to the Town, and then return'd to their Ships. This terrified the Natives, and put an entire stop to all the Intercourse between them; so that they could get no Supplies, which obliged them, as soon as they had finished the cleaning and triming of their Ships, to lose no Time, but went for Cape Lopez, and watered, and at Anna-Bona took aboard a Stock of fresh Provisions, and then sailed for the Coast again.
This was their last and fatal Expedition, which we shall be more particular in, because, it cannot be imagined that they could have had Assurance to have undertaken it, but upon a Presumption, that the Men of War, (whom they knew were upon the Coast,) were unable to attack them, or else pursuant to the Rumour that had indiscretionally obtained at Sierraleon, were gone thither again.
It is impossible at this Time, to think they could know of the weak and fickly Condition they were in, and therefore founded the Success of this second Attempt upon the Coast, on the latter Presumption, and this seems to be confirmed by their falling in with the Coast as low as Cape Lahou, (and even that was higher than they designed,) in the beginning of January, and took the Ship called the King Solomon, with 20 Men in their Boat, and a trading Vessel, both belonging to the Company. The Pyrate Ship happened to fall about a League to Leeward of the King Solomon, at Cape Appollonia, and the Current and Wind opposing their working up with the Ship, they agreed to send the Long-Boat, with a sufficient Number of Men to take her: The Pyrates are all Voluntiers on these Occasions, the Word being always given, who will go! And presently the stanch and firm Men offer themselves; because, by such Readiness, they recommend their Courage, and have an Allowance also of a Shift of Cloaths, from Head to Foot, out of the Prize.
They rowed towards the King Solomon with a great deal of Alacrity, and being hailed by the Commander of her, answered, Defiance; Captain Trahern, before this, observing a great Number of Men in the Boat, began not to like his Visitors, and prepared to receive them, firing a Musket as they come under his Stern, which they returned with a Volley, and made greater Speed to get on Board: Upon this, he applied to his Men, and ask'd them, whether they would stand by him, to defend the Ship, it being a Shame they should be taken by half their Number, without any Repulse? But his Boatswain, Philips, took upon him to be the Mouth of the People, and put an End to the Dispute; he said plainly, he would not, laid down his Arms in the King's Name, as he was pleased to term it, and called out to the Boat for Quarters, so that the rest, by his Example, were mislead to the losing of the Ship.
When they came on Board, they brought her under Sail, by an expeditious Method, of cutting the Cable; Walden, one of the Pyrates, telling the Master, this yo hope of heaving up the Anchor was a needless trouble, when they designed to burn the Ship. They brought her under Commadore Roberts's Stern, and not only rifled her of what Sails, Cordage, &c. they wanted for themselves, but wantonly throw'd the Goods of the Company overboard, like Spend-thrifts, that neither expected or designed any Account.
On the same Day also, they took the Flushing, a Dutch Ship, robbed her of Masts, Yards and Stores, and then cut down her Fore-Mast; but what sat as heavily as any thing with the Skipper, was, their taking some fine Sausages he had on Board, of his Wife's making, and stringing them in a ludicrous Manner, round their Necks, till they had sufficiently shew'd their Contempt of them, and then threw them into the Sea. Others chopp'd the Heads of his Fowls off, to be dressed for their Supper, and courteously invited the Landlord, provided he would find Liquor. It was a melancholly Request to the Man, but it must be comply'd with, and he was obliged, as they grew drunk, to sit quietly, and hear them sing French and Spanish Songs out of his Dutch Prayer-Books, with other Prophaness, that he (tho’ a Dutch Man) stood amazed at.
In chasing too near in, they alarmed the Coast, and Expresses were sent to the English and Dutch Factories, giving an Account of it: They were sensible of this Error immediately, and because they would make the best of a bad Market, resolved to keep out of sight of Land, and lose the Prizes they might expect between that and Whydah, to make the more sure of that Port, where commonly is the best Booty; all Nations trading thither, especially Portuguese, who purchase chiefly with Gold, the Idol their Hearts were bent upon. And notwithstanding this unlikely Course, they met and took several Ships between Axim and that Place; the circumstantial Stories of which, and the pannick Terrors they struck into his Majesty's Subjects, being tedious and unnecessary to relate, I shall pass by, and come to their Arrival in that Road.
They came to Whydah with a St. George's Ensign, a black Silk Flag flying at their Mizen-Peek, and a Jack and Pendant of the same: The Flag had a Death in it, with an Hour-Glass in one Hand, and cross Bones in the other, a Dart by it, and underneath a Heart dropping three Drops of Blood. — The Jack had a Man pourtray'd in it, with a flaming Sword in his Hand, and standing on two Skulls, subscribed A B H and A M H i. e. a Barbadian's and a Martinican's Head, as has been before taken Notice of. Here they found eleven Sail in the Road, English, French and Portuguese; the French were three stout Ships of 30 Guns, and upwards of 100 Men each, yet when Roberts came to Fire, they, with the other Ships, immediately struck their Colours and surrendred to his Mercy. One Reason, it must be confess'd, of his easy Victory, was, the Commanders and a good Part of the Men being ashore, according to the Custom of the Place, to receive the Cargoes, and return the Slaves, they being obliged to watch the Seasons for it, which otherwise, in so dangerous a Sea as here, would be impracticable. These all, except the Porcupine, ransomed with him for eight Pound of Gold-Dust, a Ship, not without the trouble of some Letters passing and repassing from the Shore, before they could settle it; and notwithstanding the Agreement and Payment, they took away one of the French Ships, tho’ with a Promise to return her, if they found she did not sail well, taking with them several of her Men for that End.
Some of the Foreigners, who never had Dealing this Way before, desired for Satisfaction to their Owners, that they might have Receipts for their Money, which were accordingly given, a Copy of one of them, I have here subjoined, viz.
THIS is to certify whom it may or doth concern, that we GENTLEMEN OF FORTUNE, have received eight Pounds of Gold-Dust, for the Ransom of the Hardey, Captain Dittwitt Commander, so that we Discharge the said Ship,
Witness our Hands, this
13th of Jan. 1721-2.
Others were given to the Portuguese Captains, which were in the same Form, but being sign'd by two waggish Fellows, viz. Sutton, and Sympson, they subscribed by the Names of,
But there was something so singularly cruel and barbarous done here to the Porcupine, Captain Fletcher, as must not be passed over without special Remark.
This Ship lay in the Road, almost slaved, when the Pyrates came in, and the Commander being on Shore, settling his Accounts, was sent to for the Ransom, but he excused it, as having no Orders from the Owners; though the true Reason might be, that he thought it dishonourable to treat with Robbers; and that the Ship, separate from the Slaves, towards whom he could mistrust no Cruelty, was not worth the Sum demanded; hereupon, Roberts sends the Boat to transport the Negroes, in order to set her on Fire; but being in hast, and finding that unshackling them cost much Time and Labour, they actually set her on Fire, with eighty of those poor Wretches on Board, chained two and two together, under the miserable Choice of perishing by Fire or Water: Those who jumped overboard from the Flames, were seized by Sharks, a voracious Fish, in Plenty in this Road, and, in their Sight, tore Limb from Limb alive. A Cruelty unparalell'd! And for which had every Individual been hanged, few I imagine would think that Justice had been rigorous.
The Pyrates, indeed, were obliged to dispatch their Business here in hast, because they had intercepted a Letter from General Phips to Mr. Baldwin, the Royal African Company's Agent at Whydah, (giving an Account, that Roberts had been seen to Windward of Cape Three Points,) that he might the better guard against the Damages to the Company's Ships, if he should arrive at that Road before the Swallow Man of War, which he assured him, (at the Time of that Letter,) was pursuing them to that Place. Roberts call'd up his Company, and desired they would hear Phip's Speech, (for so he was pleased to call the Letter,) and notwithstanding their vapouring, perswaded them of the Necessity of moving; for, says he, such brave Fellows cannot be supposed to be frightned at this News, yet that it were better to avoid dry Blows, which is the best that can be expected, if overtaken.
This Advice weigh'd with them, and they got under Sail, having stay'd only from Thursday to Saturday Night, and at Sea voted for the Island of Anna Bona; but the Winds hanging out of the Way, crossed their Purpose, and brought them to Cape Lopez, where I shall leave them for their approaching Fate, and relate some further Particulars of his Majesty's Ship the Swallow, viz. where it was she had spent her Time, during the Mischief that was done, and by what Means unable to prevent it; what also was the Intelligence she received, and the Measures thereon formed, that at last brought two such Strangers as Mr Roberts and Capt. Ogle, to meet in so remote a Corner of the World.
The Swallow and Weymouth left Sierraleon, May 28, where, I have already taken Notice, Roberts arrived about a Month after, and doubtless learn'd the Intent of their Voyage, and cleaning on the Coast; which made him set down with more Security to his Diversion, and furnish him with such Intimations, as made his first Range down the Coast in August following, more prosperous; the Swallow and Weymouth being then at the Port of Princes a cleaning.
Their Stay at Princes was from July 28 to Sept. 20, 1721, where, by a Fatality, common to the Irregularities of Seamen, (who cannot in such Cases be kept under due Restraints,) they buried 100 Men in three Weeks time, and reduced the Remainder of the Ships Companies into so sickly a State, that it was with Difficulty they brought them to sail; and this Misfortune was probably the Ruin of Roberts, for it prevented the Men of War's going back to Sierraleon, as it was intended, there being a Necessity of leaving his Majesty's Ship Weymouth (in much the worse Condition of the two) under the Guns of Cape Corso, to impress Men, being unable at this Time, either to hand the Sails, or weigh her Anchor; and Roberts being ignorant of the Occasion or Alteration of the first Design, fell into the Mouth of Danger, when he thought himself the farthest from it; for the Men of War not endeavouring to attain further to Windward (when they came from Princes) then to secure Cape Corso Road under their Lee, they luckily hovered in the Track he had took.
The Swallow and Weymouth fell in with the Continent at Cape Appollonia, Octo. 20th, and there received the ungrateful News from one Captain Bird; a Notice that awaken'd and put them on their Guard; but they were far from expecting any Temerity should ever bring him a second Time on the Coast, while they were there; therefore the Swallow having seen the Weymouth into Cape Corso Road Nov. 10th, she ply'd to Windward as far as Bassam, rather as an Airing to recover a sickly Ship's Company, and shew herself to the Trade, which was found every where undisturb'd, and were, for that Reason, returning to her Consort, when accidently meeting a Portuguese Ship, she told her, that the Day before she saw two Ships Chace into Junk, an English Vessel, which she believed must have fallen into their Hands. On this Story, the Swallow clung her Wind, and endeavoured to gain that Place, but receiving soon after (Octo. the 14th) a contrary Report from Captain Plummer, an intelligent Man, in the Jason of Bristol, who had come further to Windward, and neither saw or heard any Thing of this; she turned her Head down the second Time, anchored at Cape Appollonia the 23d, at Cape Tres Puntas the 27th, and in Corso Road January the 7th, 1721-2.
They learned that their Consort the Weymouth, was, by the Assistance of some Soldiers from the Castle, gone to Windward, to demand Restistution of some Goods or Men belonging to the African Company, that were illegally detained by the Dutch at Des Minas; and while they were regretting so long a Separation, an Express came to General Phips, from Axim, the 9th, and followed by another from Dixcove, (an English Factory,) with Information that three Ships had chased and taken a Galley nigh Axim Castle, and a trading Boat belonging to the Company: No doubt was made, concerning what they were, it being taken for granted they were Pyrates, and supposed to be the same that had the August before infested the Coast. The natural Result therefore, from these two Advices, was, to hasten for Whydah; for it was conclued the Prizes they had taken, had informed them how nigh the Swallow was, and withal, how much better in Health than she had been for some Months past; so that unless they were very mad indeed, they would (after being discovered) make the best of their Way for Whydah, and secure the Booty there, without which, their Time and Industry had been entirely lost; most of the Gold lying in that Corner.
The Swallow weighed from Cape-Corso, January the 10th, but was retarded by waiting some Hours on the Margaret, a Company's Ship, at Accra, again on the Portugal, and a whole Day at Apong, on a Person they used to stile Miss Betty: A Conduct that Mr. Phips blamed, when he heard the Pyrates were miss'd at Whydah, altho’ he had given it as his Opinion, they could not be passed by, and intimated, that to stay a few Hours would prove no Prejudice.
This, however, hinder'd the Swallow's catching them at Whydah, for the Pyrates came into that Road, with a fresh Gale of Wind, the same Day the Swallow was at Apong, and sail'd the 13th of January from thence, that she arrived the 17th. She gained Notice of them by a French Shallop from Grand Papa, the 14th at Night, and from Little Papa next Morning by a Dutch Ship; so that the Man of War was on all Sides, as she thought, sure of her Purchase, particularly when she made the Ships, and discovered three of them to get under Sail immediately at Sight of her, making Signals to one another, as tho’ they designed a Defence; but they were found to be three French Ships; and those at Anchor, Portuguese and English, all honest Traders, who had been ransack'd and ransom'd.
This Disappointment chagreen'd the Ship's Company, who were very intent upon their Market; which was reported to be an Arm-Chest full of Gold, and kept with three Keys; tho’ in all liklyhood, had they met with them in that open Road, one or both would have made their Escapes; or if they had thought sit to have fought, an Emulation in their Defence would probably have made it desperate.
While they were contemplating on the Matter, a Letter was received from Mr. Baldwin, (Governor here for the Company,) signifying, that the Pyrates were at Jaquin, seven Leagues lower. The Swallow weighed at two next Morning, January the 16th, and got to Jaquin by Day-Light, but to no other End, than frightening the Crews of two Portuguese Ships on Shore, who took her for the Pyrate that had struck such Terror at Whydah: She returned therefore that Night, and having been strengthened with thirty Voluntiers, English and French, the discarded Crews of the Porcupine, and the French Ship they had carried from hence, she put to Sea again January the 19th, conjecturing, that either Calabar, Princes, the River Gabone, Cape Lopez, or Annabona, must be touched at for Water and Refreshment, tho’ they should resolve to leave the Coast. As to the former of those Places, I have before observed, it was hazardous to think of, or rather impracticable; Princes had been a sower Grape to them, but being the first in the Way, she came before the Harbour the 29th, where learning no News, without loosing Time, steered for the River Gabone, and anchored at the Mouth of it February the 1st.
This River is navigable by two Channels, and has an Island about five Leagues up, called Popaguays or Parrots, where the Dutch Cruisers, for this Coast, generally Clean, and where sometimes Pyrates come in to look for Prey, or to Refit, it being very convenient, by Reason of a soft Mud about it, that admits a Ship's lying on Shore, with all her Guns and Stores in, without Damage. Hither Captain Ogle sent his Boat and a Lieutenant, who spoke with a Dutch Ship, above the Island, from whom he had this Account, viz. That he had been four Days from Cape Lopez, and had left no Ship there. However, they beat up for the Cape, without regard to this Story, and on the 5th, at Dawning, was surprized with the Noise of a Gun, which, as the Day brightened, they found was from Cape Lopez Bay, where they discovered three Ships at Anchor, the largest with the King's Colours and Pendant flying, which was soon after concluded to be Mr. Roberts and his Consorts; but the Swallow being to Windward, and unexpectedly deep in the Bay, was obliged to Steer off, for avoiding a Sand, called the French Man's Bank, which the Pyrates observed for some Time, and rashly interpreting it to be Fear in her, righted the French Ranger, which was then on the Heel, and ordered her to chase out in all hast, bending several of their Sails in the Pursuit. The Man of War finding they had foolishly mistaken her Design, humoured the Deceit, and kept off to Sea, as if she had been really afraid, and managed her Steerage so, under the Direction of Lieutenant Sun, an experienced Officer, as to let the Ranger come up with her, when they thought they had got so far as not to have their Guns heard by her Consort at the Cape. The Pyrates had such an Opinion of their own Courage, that they could never dream any Body would use a Stratagem to speak with them, and so was the more easily drawn into the Snare.
The Pyrates now drew nigh enough to fire their Chase Guns; they hoisted the black Flag that was worn in Whydah Road, and got their Spritsail Yard along-ships, with Intent to board; no one having ever asked, all this while, what Country Ship they took the Chase to be; they would have her to be a Portuguese, (Sugar being then a Commodity among them,) and were swearing every Minute at the Wind or Sails to expedite so sweet a Chase; but, alass, all turned sour in an Instant: It was with the utmost Consternation they saw her suddenly bring to, and hawl up her lower Ports, now within Pistol-shot, and struck their black Flag upon it directly. After the first Surprize was over, they kept firing at a Distance, hoisted it again, and vapoured with their Cutlashes on the Poop; tho’ wisely endeavouring at the same Time to get away. Being now at their Wits end, boarding was proposed by the Heads of them, and so to make one desperate Push; but the Motion not being well seconded, and their Main-Top-Mast coming down by a Shot, after two Hours firing, it was declin'd; they grew Sick, struck their Colours, and called out for Quarters; having had 10 Men killed out right, and 20 wounded, without the loss or hurt of one of the King's Men. She had 32 Guns, mann'd with 16 French Men, 20 Negroes, and 77 English. The Colours were thrown over board, that they might not rise in Judgment, nor be display'd in Tryumph over them.
While the Swallow was sending their Boat to fetch the Prisoners, a Blast and Smoak was seen to pour out of the great Cabin, and they thought they were blowing up; but upon enquiry afterwards, found that half a dozen of the most Desperate, when they saw all Hopes fled, had drawn themselves round what Powder they had left in the Steerage, and fired a Pistol into it, but it was too small a Quantity to effect any Thing more, than burning them in a frightful Manner.
This Ship was commanded by one Skyrmé, a Welch Man, who, tho’ he had lost his Leg in the Action, would not suffer himself to be dressed, or carried off the Deck; but, like Widrington, fought upon his Stump. The rest appeared gay and brisk, most of them with white Shirts, Watches, and a deal of Silk Vests, but the Gold-Dust belonging to them, was most of it left in the Little Ranger in the Bay, (this Company's proper Ship,) with the Royal Fortune.
I cannot but take Notice of two among the Crowd, of those disfigured from the Blast of Powder just before mentioned, viz. William Main and Roger Ball. An Officer of the Ship seeing a Silver Call hang at the Wast of the former, said to him, I presume you are Boatswain of this Ship. Then you presume wrong, answered he, for I am Boatswain of the Royal Fortune, Captain Roberts Commander. Then Mr. Boatswain you will be hanged I believe, replies the Officer. That is as your Honour pleases, answered he again, and was for turning away: But the Officer desired to know of him, how the Powder, which had made them in that Condition, came to take Fire. — By G — says he, they are all mad and bewitch'd, for I have lost a good Hat by it. (the Hat and he being both blown out of the Cabin Gallery, into the Sea.) But what signifies a Hat Friend, says the Officer. — Not much answer'd he, the Men being busy in stripping him of his Shoes and Stockings. — The Officer then enquired of him, whether Roberts's Company were as likely Fellows as these. — There are 120 of them, (answered he) as clever Fellows as ever trod Shoe Leather: Would I were with them! — No doubt on't, says the Officer. — By G— it is naked Truth, answered he, looking down and seeing himself, by this Time, quite striped.
The Officer then approached Roger Ball, who was seated in a private Corner, with a Look as sullen as Winter, and asked him, how he came blown up in that frightful Manner. — Why, says he, John Morris fired a Pistol into the Powder, and if he had not done it, I would, (bearing his Pain without the least Complaint.) The Officer gave him to understand he was Surgeon, and if he desired it, he would dress him; but he swore it should not be done, and that if any Thing was applied to him, he would tear it off. — Nevertheless the Surgeon had good Nature enough to dress him, tho’ with much trouble: At Night he was in a kind of Delirium, and raved on the Bravery of Roberts, saying, he should shortly be released, as soon as they should meet him, which procured him a lashing down upon the Forecastle, which he resisting with all his Force, caused him to be used with the more Violence, so that he was tied down with so much Severity, that his Flesh being sore and tender with the blowing up, he died next Day of a Mortification.
They secured the Prisoners with Pinions, and Shackles, but the Ship was so much disabled in the Engagement, that they had once Thoughts to set her on Fire; but this would have given them the Trouble of taking the Pyrates wounded Men on Board themselves, and that they were certain the Royal Fortune would wait for their Consort's Return, they lay by her two Days, repaired her Rigging and other Damages, and sent her into Princes, with the French Men, and four of their own Hands.
On the 9th in the Evening, the Swallow gained the Cape again, and saw the Royal Fortune standing into the Bay with the Neptune, Captain Hill, of London: A good Presage of the next Day's Success, for they did not doubt but the Temptation of Liquor, and Plunder, they might find in this their new Prize, would make the Pyrates very confused; and so it happened.
On the 10th, in the Morning, the Man of War bore away to round the Cape. Roberts's Crew discerning their Masts over the Land, went down into the Cabin, to acquaint him of it, he being then at Breakfast with his new Guest, Captain Hill, on a savory Dish of Solomongundy, and some of his own Beer. He took no Notice of it, and his Men almost as little, some saying she was a Portuguese Ship, others a French Slave Ship, but the major Part swore it was the French Ranger returning, and were merrily debating for some Time, on the Manner of Reception, whether they should salute, or not; but as the Swallow approached nigher, Things appeared plainer, and though they were stigmatiz'd with the Name of Cowards, who shewed any Apprehension of Danger, yet some of them, now undeceived, declared it to Roberts, especially one Armstrong, who had deserted from that Ship, and knew her well: Those Roberts swore at as Cowards, who meant to dishearten the Men, asking them if it were so, whether they were afraid to fight, or no? And hardly refrained from Blows. What his own Apprehensions were, till she hawled up her Ports, and hoisted their proper Colours, is uncertain; but then being perfectly convinced, he slipped his Cable, got under Sail, and ordered his Men to Arms, without any shew of Timidity, dropping a first Rate Oath, that it was a Bite, but, at the same Time, resolved, like a gallant Rogue, to get clear, or die.
There was one Armstrong, as I just mention'd, a Deserter from the Swallow, whom they enquired of concerning the Trim and Sailing of that Ship; he told them she sail'd best upon a Wind, and therefore, if they designed to leave her, they should go before it.
The Danger was imminent, and Time very short, to consult of Means to extricate himself; his Resolution in this Streight, was as follows: To pass close to the Swallow, with all their Sails, and receive her Broadside, before they returned a Shot; if disabled by this, or that they could not depend on sailing, then to run on Shore at the Point, (which is steep to) and every one to shift for himself among the Negroes; or sailing in these, to board, and blow up together, for he saw that the greatest Part of his Men were drunk, passively Couragious, unfit for Service.
Roberts himself made a gallant Figure, at the Time of the Engagement, being dressed in a rich crimson Damask Wastcoat and Breeches, a red Feather in his Hat, a Gold Chain round his Neck, with a Diamond Cross hanging to it, a Sword in his Hand, and two Pair of Pistols hanging at the End of a Silk Sling, flung over his Shoulders (according to the Fashion of the Pyrates;) and is said to have given his Orders with Boldness, and Spirit; coming, according to what he had purposed, close to the Man of War, received her Fire, and then hoisted his Black Flag, and returned it, shooting away from her, with all the Sail he could pack; and had he took Armstrong's Advice, to have gone before the Wind, he had probably escaped; but keeping his Tacks down, either by the Winds shifting, or ill Steerage, or both, he was taken a-back with his Sails, and the Swallow came a second Time very nigh to him: He had now perhaps finished the Fight very desperately, if Death, who took a swift Passage in a Grape-Shot, had not interposed, and struck him directly on the Throat. He settled himself on the Tackles of a Gun, which one Stephenson, from the Helm, observing, ran to his Assistance, and not perceiving him wounded, swore at him, and bid him stand up, and fight like a Man; but when he found his Mistake, and that his Captain was certainly dead, he gushed into Tears, and wished the next Shot might be his Lot. They presently threw him over-board, with his Arms and Ornaments on, according to the repea ed Request he made in his Life-time.
Roberts was a tall black Man, near forty Years of Age, born at Newey-bagh, nigh Haverford-West, in Pembrokshire, of good natural Parts, and personal Bravery, tho’ he applied them to such wicked Purposes, as made them of no Commendation, frequently drinking D— n to him who ever lived to wear a Halter. He was forc'd himself at first among this Company out of the Prince, Captain Plamb at Anamaboe, about three Years before, where he served as second Mate, and shed, as he us'd to tell the fresh Men, as many Crocodile Tears then as they did now, but Time and good Company had wore it off. He could not plead Want of Employment, nor Incapacity of getting his Bread in an honest way, to favour so vile a Change, nor was he so much a Coward as to pretend it; but frankly own'd, it was to get rid of the disagreeable Superiority of some Masters he was acquainted with, and the Love of Novelty and Change, Maritime Peregrinations had accustom'd him to. In an honest Service, says he, there is thin Commons, low Wages, and hard Labour; in this, Plenty and Satiety, Pleasure and Ease, Liberty and Power; and who would not ballance Creditor on this Side, when all the Hazard that is run for it, at worst, is only a
soür Look or two at choaking. No, A merry Life and a short one, shall be my Motto. Thus he preach'd himself into an Approbation of what he at first abhorr'd; and being daily regal'd with Musick, Drinking, and the Gaiety and Diversions of his Companions, these deprav'd Propensities were quickly edg'd and strengthen'd, to the extinguishing of Fear and Conscience. Yet among all the vile and ignominious Acts he had perpetrated, he is said to have had an Aversion towards forcing Men into that Service, and had procured some their Discharge, notwithstanding so many made it their Plea.
When Roberts was gone, as tho’ he had been the Life and Soul of the Gang, their Spirits sunk; many deserted their Quarters, and all stupidly neglected any Means for Defence, or Escape; and their Main-mast soon after being shot by the Board, they had no Way left, but to surrender and call for Quarters. The Swallow kept aloof, while her Boat passed, and repassed for the Prisoners; because they understood they were under an Oath to blow up; and some of the Desperadoes shewed a Willingness that Way, Matches being lighted, and Scuffles happening between those who would, and those who opposed it: But I cannot easily account for this Humour, which can be term'd no more than a false Courage, since any of them had Power to destroy his own Life, either by Pistol, or Drowning, without involving others in the same Fate, who are in no Temper of Mind for it: And at best, it had been only dying, for fear of Death.
She had 40 Guns, and 157 Men, 45 whereof were Negroes; three only were killed in the Action, without any Loss to the Swallow. There was found upwards of 2000 l. in Gold-Dust in her. The Flag could not be got easily from under the fallen Mast, and was therefore recover'd by the Swallow; it had the Figure of a Skeleton in it, and a Man pourtray'd with a flaming Sword in his Hand, intimating a Defyance of Death it self.
The Swallow returned back into Cape Lopez Bay, and found the little Ranger, whom the Pyrates had deserted in hast, for the better Defence of the Ship: She had been plunder'd, according to what I could learn, of 2000 l. in Gold-Dust, (the Shares of those Pyrates who belonged to her;) and Captain Hill, in the Neptune, not unjustly suspected, for he would not wait the Man of War's returning into the Bay again, but sail'd away immediately, making no Scruple afterwards to own the Seizure of other Goods out of her, and surrender'd, as a Confirmation of all, 50 Ounces at Barbadoes, for which, see the Article at the End of this Book.
All Persons who after the 29th of Septem. 1690, &c.
To sum up the whole, if it be considered, first, that the sickly State of the Men of War, when they sail'd from Princes, was the Misfortune that hindered their being as far as Sierraleon, and consequently out of the Track the Pyrates then took. That those Pyrates, directly contrary to their Design, in the second Expedition, should get above Cape Corso, and that nigh Axim, a Chace should offer, that inevitably must discover them, and be soon communicated to the Men of War. That the satiating their evil and malicious Tempers at Whydah, in burning the Porcupine, and running off with the French Ship, had strengthened the Swallow with 30 Men. That the Swallow should miss them in that Road, where probably she had not, or at least so effectually obtained her End. That they should be so far infatuated at Cape Lopez, as to divide their Strength, which when collected, might have been so formidable. And lastly, that the Conquest should be without Bloodshed: I say, considering all these Circumstances, it shews that the Hand of Providence was concerned in their Destruction.
As to their Behaviour after they were taken, it was found that they had great Inclinations to rebel, if they could have laid hold of any Opportunity. For they were very uneasy under Restraint, having been lately all Commanders themselves; nor could they brook their Diet, or Quarters, without cursing and swearing, and upbraiding each other, with the Folly that had brought them to it.
So that to secure themselves against any mad desperate Undertaking of theirs, they strongly barricado'd the Gun-Room, and made another Prison before it; an Officer, with Pistols and Cutlashes, doing Duty, Night and Day, and the Prisoners within, manacled and shackled.
They would yet in these Circumstances be impudently merry, saying, when they viewed their Nakedness, that they had not left them a halspenny, to give old Charon, to ferry them over Stix: And at their thin Commons, they would observe, that they fell away so fast, that they should not have Weight left to hang them. Sutton used to be very prophane; he happening to be in the same Irons with another Prisoner, who was more serious than ordinary, and read and pray'd often, as became his Condition; this Man Sutton used to swear at, and ask him, what he proposed by so much Noise and Devotion? Heaven, says the other, I hope, Heaven, you Fool, says Sutton, did you ever hear of any Pyrates going thither? Give me H— ll, it's a merrier Place; I'll give Roberts a Salute of 13 Guns at Entrance. And when he found such ludicrous Expressions had no Effect on him, he made a formal Complaint, and requested that the Officer would either remove this Man, or take his Prayer-Book away, as a common Disturber.
A Combination and Conspiracy was formed, betwixt Moody, Ashplant, Magnes, Mare, and others, to rise, and kill the Officers, and run away with the Ship. This they had carried on by Means of a Mulatto Boy, who was allow'd to attend them, and proved very trusty in his Messages, between the Principals; but the Evening of that Night they were to have made this Struggle, two of the Prisoners that sat next to Ashplant, heard the Boy whisper them upon the Project, and naming to him the Hour they should be ready, presently gave Notice of it to the Captain, which put the Ship in an Alarm, for a little Time; and, on Examination, several of them had made shift to break off, or lose, their Shackles, (no doubt for such Purpose;) but it tended only to procure to themselves worse Usage and Confinement.
In the same Passage to Cape Corso, the Prize, Royal Fortune, was in the same Danger. She was left at the Island of St. Thomas's, in the Possession of an Officer, and a few Men, to take in some fresh Provisions, (which were scarce at Cape Corso) with Orders to follow the Ship. There were only some of the Pyrates Negroes, three or four wounded Prisoners, and Scudamore, their Surgeon; from whom they seemed to be under no Apprehension, especially from the last, who might have hoped for Favour, on Account of his Employ; and had stood so much indebted for his Liberty, eating and drinking constantly with the Officer; yet this Fellow, regardless of the Favour, and lost to all Sense of Reformation, endeavoured to bring over the Negroes to his Design of murdering the People, and running away with the Ship. He easily prevailed with the Negroes to come into the Design; but when he came to communicate it to his Fellow Prisoners, and would have drawn them into the same Measures, by telling them, he understood Navigation, that the Negroes were stout Fellows, and by a Smattering he had in the Angolan Language, he had found willing to undertake such an Enterprize; and that it was better venturing to do this, run down the Coast, and raise a new Company, than to proceed to Cape Corso, and be hanged like a Dog, and Sun dry'd. One of them abhorring the Cruelty, or fearing the Success, discovered it to the Officer, who made him immediately a Prisoner, and brought the Ship safe.
When they came to be lodg'd in Cape Corso-Castle, their Hopes of this kind all cut off, and that they were assured they must there soon receive a final Sentence; the Note was changed among most of them, and from vain insolent jesting, they became serious and devout, begging for good Books, and joyning in publick Prayers, and singing of Psalms, twice at least every Day.
As to their Tryals, if we should give them at length, it may appear tedious to the Reader, for which Reason, I have, for the avoiding Tautology and Repetition, put as many of them together as were try'd for the same Fact, reserving the Circumstances which are most material, with Observations on the dying Behaviour of such of them, as came to my Knowledge.
And first, it may be observed from the List, that a great Part of these Pyrate Ships Crews, were Men entered on the Coast of Africa, not many Months before they were taken; from whence, it may be concluded, that the pretended Constraint of Roberts, on them, was very often a Complotment between Parties equally willing: And this Roberts several Times openly declared, particularly to the Onslow's People, whom he called aft, and ask'd of them, who was willing to go, for he would force no Body? As was deposed, by some of his best Hands, after Acquittal; nor is it reasonable to think, he should reject Irish Voluntiers, only from a Pique against Kennedy, and force others, that might hazard, and, in Time, destroy his Government: But their Behaviour soon put him out of this Fear, and convinc'd him, that the Plea of Force was only the best Artifice they had to shelter themselves under, in Case they should be taken; and that they were less Rogues than others, only in Point of Time.
It may likewise be taken Notice of, that the Country, wherein they happened to be tried, is among other Happinesses, exempted from Lawyers, and Law-Books, so that the Office of Register, of necessity fell on one, not versed in those Affairs, which might justify the Court in want of Form, more essentially supply'd with Integrity and Impartiality.
But, perhaps, if there was less Law, there might be more Justice, than in some other Courts; for, if the civil Law be a Law of universal Reason, judging of the Rectitude, or Obliquity of Mens Actions, every Man of common Sense is endued with a Portion of it, at least sufficient to make him distinguish Right from Wrong, or what the Civilians call, Malum in se.
Therefore, here, if two Persons were equally Guilty of the same Fact, there was no convicting one, and bringing the other off, by any Quirk, or turn of Law; for they form'd their Judgments upon the Constraint, or Willingness, the Aim, and Intention of the Parties, and all other Circumstances, which make a material Difference. Besides, in Crimes of this Nature, Men bred up to the Sea, must be more knowing, and much abler, than others more learned in the Law; for, before a Man can have a right Idea of a Thing, he must know the Terns standing for that Thing: The Sea-Terms being a Language by it self, which no Lawyer can be supposed to understand, he must of Consequence want that discriminating Faculty, which should direct him to judge right of the Facts meant by those Terms.
The Court well knew, it was not possible to get the Evidence of every Sufferer by this Crew, and therefore, first of all, considered how that Deficiency should be supplied; whether, or no, they could pardon one Jo. Dennis, who had early offered himself, as King's Evidence, and was the best read in their Lives and Conversations: Here indeed, they were at a Loss for Law, and concluded in the Negative, because it look'd like compounding with a Man to swear falsly, losing by it, those great Helps he could have afforded.
Another great Difficulty in their Proceedings, was, how to understand those Words in the Act of Parliament, of, particularly specifying in the Charge, the Circumstances of Time, Place, &c. i. e. so to understand them, as to be able to hold a Court; for if they had been indicted on particular Robberies, the Evidence had happened mostly from the Royal African Company's Ships, on which these Gentlemen of Cape-Corso-Castle, were not qualify'd to sit, their Oath running, That they have no Interest directly, or indirectly, in the Ship, or Goods, for the Robbery of which, the Party stands accused: And this they thought they had, Commissions being paid them, on such Goods: And on the other Side, if they were incapacitated, no Court could be formed, the Commission absolutely requiring three of them by Name.
To reconcile all Things, therefore, the Court resolved, to bottom the whole of their Proceedings on the Swallow's Depositions, which were clear and plain, and had the Circumstance of Time when, Place where, Manner how, and the like, particularly specified according to the Statute in that Case made, and provided. But this admitted only a general Intimation of Robbery in the Indictment, therefore to approve their Clemency, it looking Arbitrary on the Lives of Men, to lump them to the Gallows, in such a summary Way as must have been done, had they solely adhered to the Swallow's Charge, they resolved to come to particular Tryals.
Secondly, That the Prisoners might not be ignorant whereon to answer, and so have all fair Advantages, to excuse and defend themselves; the Court farther agreed with Justice and Equanimity, to hear any Evidence that could be brought, to weaken or corroborate the three Circumstances that compleat a Pyrate; first, being a Voluntier amongst them at the Beginning; secondly, being a Voluntier at the taking or robbing of any Ship; or lastly, voluntarily accepting a Share in the Booty of those that did; for by a Parity of Reason, where these Actions were of their own disposing, and yet committed by them, it must be believed their Hearts and Hands joyned together, in what they acted against his Majesty's Ship the Swallow.
Taken by his Majesty's Ship the Swallow, begun at Cape Corso-Castle, on the Coast of Africa, March the 28th, 1722.
THE Commission impowered any three named therein, to call to their Assistance, such a Number of qualified Persons as might make the Court always consist of seven: And accordingly Summons were signed to Lieut. Jo. Barnsley, Lieut. Ch. Fanshaw, Capt. Samuel Hartsease, and Capt. William Menzies, viz.
‘BY Virtue of a Power and Authority, to us given, by a Commission from the King, under the Seal of Admiralty, You are hereby required to attend, and make one of the Court, for the trying and adjudging of the Pyrates, lately taken on this Coast, by his Majesty's Ship the Swallow.
Given under our Hands this 28th of March, 1722, at Cape Carso-Castle.
The Commissioners being met in the Hall of the Castle, the Commission was first read, after which, the President, and then the other Members, took the Oath, prescribed in the Act of Parliament, and having directed the Form of that for Witnesses, as follows, the Court was opened.
I, A. B. solemnly promise and swear on the Holy Evangelists, to bear true and faithful Witness between the King and Prisoner, or Prisoners, in Relation to the Fact, or Facts, of Pyracy and Robbery, he or they do now stand accused of. So help me God.
The Court consisted of Captain Mungo Heardman, President.
James Phips, Esq; General of the Coast,
Mr. H. Dodson, Mer.
Mr. F. Boye, Mer.
Mr. Edward Hyde, Secretary to the Company.
Lieut. John Barnsley,
Lieut. Ch. Fanshaw.
The following Prisoners, out of the Pyrate Ship Ranger, having been commanded before them, the Charge, or Indictment, was exhibited.
|Mens Names.||Ships from||Time when.|
|* James Skyrm||Greyhound Sloop||Oct. 1720|
|* Rich. Hardy||Pyrate with Davis||1718|
|* Wm. Main||Brigantine Capt. Peet||June 1720|
|* Henry Dennis||Pyrates with Capt. Davis||1718|
|* Val. Ashplant||Pyrates with Capt. Davis||1719|
|* Rob. Birdson||Pyrates with Capt. Davis||1719|
|* Rich. Harris||Phœnix of Bristol, Capt. Richards||June 1720|
|* D. Littlejohn||Phœnix of Bristol, Capt. Richards||June 1720|
|* Thomas How||at Newfoundland||June 1720|
|† Her. Hunkins||Success Sloop|
|* Hugh Harris||Willing Mind||July 1720|
|* W. Mackintosh||July 1720|
|Thomas Wills||Richard of Biddiford||July 1720|
|† John Wilden||Mary and Martha||July 1720|
|* Ja. Greenham||Little York, Phillips Mr.||July 1720|
|* John Jaynson||Love of Lancaster||July 1720|
|† Chri. Lang||Thomas Brigantine||Sept. 1720|
|* John Mitchel||Norman Galley||Oct. 1720|
|T. Withstandenot||Norman Galley||Oct. 1720|
|Peter la Fever||Jeremiah and Ann||Ap. 1720|
|* Wm. Shurin||Jeremiah and Ann||Ap. 1720|
|* Wm. Wats||Sierraleon of Mr. Glin||July 1721|
|* Wm. Davis||Sierraleon of Seig. Josseé||July 1721|
|† James Barrow||Martha Snow Capt Lady|
|* Joshua Lee||Martha Snow Capt Lady|
|Rob. Hartley (1)||Robinson of Leverpole Capt. Kanning||Aug. 1721|
|† James Crane||Robinson of Leverpole Capt. Kanning||Aug. 1721|
|George Smithson||Stanwich Galley Captain Tarlton||Aug. 1721|
|Roger Pye||Stanwich Galley Captain Tarlton||Aug. 1721|
|† Rob. Fletcher||Stanwich Galley Captain Tarlton||Aug. 1721|
|* Ro. Hartley (2)||Stanwich Galley Captain Tarlton||Aug. 1721|
|† Andrew Rance||A Dutch Ship||Aug. 1721|
|* Cuthbert Goss||Mercy Galley of Bristol at Callibar||Oct. 1721|
|* Tho. Giles||Mercy Galley of Bristol at Callibar||Oct. 1721|
|* Israel Hynde||Mercy Galley of Bristol at Callibar||Oct. 1721|
|William Church||Gertruycht of Holland||Jan. 172½|
|Philip Haak||Flushingham of Holland||Jan. 172½|
|William Smith||Elizabeth Capt. Sharp||Jan. 172½|
|Adam Comry||Elizabeth Capt. Sharp||Jan. 172½|
|William Graves||King Solomon Capt. Trehern off Cape Appollonia||Jan. 172½|
|* Peter de Vine||King Solomon Capt. Trehern off Cape Appollonia||Jan. 172½|
|John Johnson||King Solomon Capt. Trehern off Cape Appollonia||Jan. 172½|
|John Stodgill||King Solomon Capt. Trehern off Cape Appollonia||Jan. 172½|
|Henry Dawson||Whydah Sloop at Jaquin||Jan. 172½|
|William Glass||Whydah Sloop at Jaquin||Jan. 172½|
|Josiah Robinson||Tarlton Capt. Tho. Tarlton,||Jan. 172½|
|John Arnaught||Tarlton Capt. Tho. Tarlton,||Jan. 172½|
|John Davis||Tarlton Capt. Tho. Tarlton,||Jan. 172½|
|† Henry Graves||Tarlton Capt. Tho. Tarlton,||Jan. 172½|
|Tho. Howard||Tarlton Capt. Tho. Tarlton,||Jan. 172½|
|† John Rimer||Tarlton Capt. Tho. Tarlton,||Jan. 172½|
|Thomas Clephen||Tarlton Capt. Tho. Tarlton,||Jan. 172½|
|Wm. Guineys||Porcupine Capt. Fletcher||Jan. 172½|
|† James Cosins||Jan. 172½|
|Tho. Stretton||Onslow Capt. Gee at Cestos||Jan. 172½|
|* William Petty||Onslow Capt. Gee at Cestos||Jan. 172½|
|Mic. Lemmon||Onslow Capt. Gee at Cestos||Jan. 172½|
|* Wm. Wood||Onslow Capt. Gee at Cestos||Jan. 172½|
|* Ed. Watts||Onslow Capt. Gee at Cestos||Jan. 172½|
|* John Horn||Onslow Capt. Gee at Cestos||Jan. 172½|
|Pierre Ravon||Peter Grossey||From the Frenchship in Whydah Road Feb. 1721-2.|
|John Dugan||Rence Frogier||From the Frenchship in Whydah Road Feb. 1721-2.|
|James Ardeon||Lewis Arnaut||From the Frenchship in Whydah Road Feb. 1721-2.|
|Ettrien Gilliot||Rence Thoby||From the Frenchship in Whydah Road Feb. 1721-2.|
|Ren. Marraud||Meth Roulac||From the Frenchship in Whydah Road Feb. 1721-2.|
|John Gittin||John Gumar||From the Frenchship in Whydah Road Feb. 1721-2.|
|Jo. Richardeau||John Paquete||From the Frenchship in Whydah Road Feb. 1721-2.|
|John Lavogue||Allan Pigan|
|John Duplaissey||Pierce Shillot||From the Frenchship in Whydah Road Feb. 1721-2.|
You, James Skyrm, Michael Lemmon, Robert Hartley, &c.
YE, and every one of you, are in the Name, and by the Authority, of our dread Sovereign Lord, George, King of Great Britain, indicted as follows;
Forasmuch as in open Contempt of the Laws of your Country, ye have all of you been wickedly united, and articled together, for the Annoyance and Disturbance of his Majesty's trading Subjects by Sea. And have in Conformity to the most evil and mischievous Intentions, been twice down the Coast of Africa, with two Ships; once in the Beginning of August, and a second Time, in January last, sinking, burning, or robbing such Ships, and Vessels, as then happened in your Way.
Particularly, ye stand charged at the Instance, and Information of Captain Chaloner Ogle, as Traytors and Pyrates, for the unlawful Opposition ye made to his Majesty's Ship, the Swallow, under his Command.
For that on the 5th of February last past, upon Sight of the aforesaid King's Ship, ye did immediately weigh Anchor from under Cape Lopez, on the Southern Coast of Africa, in a French built Ship of 32 Guns, called the
Ranger, and did pursue and chase the aforesaid King's Ship, with such Dispatch and Precipitancy, as declared ye common Robbers and Pyrates.
That about Ten of the Clock the same Morning, drawing within Gun-shot of his Majesty's aforesaid Ship the Swallow, ye hoisted a pyratical black Flag, and fired several chace Guns, to deter, as much as ye were able,his Majesty's Servants from their Duty.
That an Hour after this, being very nigh to the aforesaid King's Ship, ye did audaciously continue in a hostile Defence and Assault, for about two Hours more, in open Violation of the Laws, and in Defiance to the King's Colours and Commission.
And lastly, that in the acting, and compassing of all this, ye were all, and every one of you, in a wicked Combination, voluntarily to exert, and actually did, in your several Stations, use your utmost Endeavours to distress the said King's Ship, and murder his Majesty's good Subjects.
To which they severally pleaded, Not Guilty.
Then the Court called for the Officers of the Swallow, Mr. Isaac Sun, Lieutenant, Ralph Baldrick, Boatswain, Daniel Maclauglin, Mate, desiring them to view the Prisoners, whether they knew them? And to give an Account in what Manner they had attack'd and fought the King's Ship; and they agreed as follows.
That they had viewed all the Prisoners, as they stood now before the Court, and were assured they were the same taken out of one, or other, of the Pyrate Ships, Royal Fortune, or Ranger; but verily believe them to be taken out of the Ranger.
That they did in the King's Ship, at break of Day, on Monday, the 5th of February, 1721-2, discover three Ships at Anchor, under Cape Lopez, on the Southern Coast of Africa; the Cape bearing then W. S. W. about three Leagues, and perceiving one of them to have a Pendant flying, and having heard their Morning-Gun before, they immediately suspected them to be Roberts the Pyrate, his consort, and a French Ship, they knew had been lately carried out of Whydah Road.
The King's Ship was obliged to hawl off N. W. and W. N. W. to avoid a Sand, called, the French Man's Bank, the Wind then at S. S. E. and found in half an Hour's time, one of the three had got under Sail from the Careen, and was bending her Sails, in a Chace towards them. To encourage this Rashness and Precipitancy, they kept away before the Wind, (as though afraid,) but with their Tacks on Board, their Main-Yard braced, and making, at the same Time, very bad Steerage.
About half an Hour after Ten, in the Morning, the Pyrate Ship came within Gun-shot, and fired four Chace Guns, hoisted a black Flag at the Mizen-Peek, and got their Sprit-sail Yard under their Bowsprit, for boarding. In half an Hour more, approaching still nigher, they Starboarded their Helm, and gave her a Broadside, the Pyrate bringing to, and returning the same.
After this, the Deponents say, their Fire grew slack for some Time, because the Pyrate was shot so far a Head on the Weather-Bow, that few of their Guns could Point to her; yet in this Interval their black Flag was either Shot away, or hawled down a little Space, and hoisted again.
At length, by their ill Steerage, and Favour of the Wind, they came near, a second Time; and about Two in the Afternoon shot away their Maintopmast.
The Colours they fought under, besides a black Flag, were a red English Ensign, a King's Jack, and a Dutch Pendant, which they struck at, or about, Three in the Afternoon, and called for Quarters; it proving to be a French built Ship of 32 Guns, called the Ranger.
When the Evidence had been heard, the Prisoners were called upon to answer, how they came on Board this Pyrate Ship; and their Reason for so audacious a Resistance, as had been made against the King's Ship.
To this, each, in his Reply, owned himself to be one of those taken out of the Ranger; that he had signed their pyratical Articles, and shared in their Plunder, some few only accepted, who had been there too short a Time. But that neither in this signing, or sharing, nor in the Resistance had been made against his Majesty's Ship, had they been Voluntiers, but had acted in these several Parts, from a Terror of Death; which a Law amongst them, was to be the Portion of those who refused. The Court then ask'd, who made those Laws? How those Guns came to be fired? Or why they had not deserted their Stations, and mutinied, when so fair a Prospect of Redemption offered? They replied still, with the same Answers, and could extenuate their Crimes, with no other Plea, than being forced Men. Wherefore the Court were of Opinion, that the Indictment, as it charged them with an unlawful Attack and Resistance of the King's Ship, was sufficiently proved; but then it being undeniably evident, that many of these Prisoners had been forced, and some of them of very short standing, they did, on mature Deliberation, come to this merciful Resolution;
That they would hear further Evidence for, or against, each Person singly, in Relation to those Parts of the Indictment, which declared them Voluntiers, or charged them with aiding and assisting, at the burning, sinking, or robbing of other Ships; for if they acted, or assisted, in any Robberies or Devastations, it would be a Conviction they were Voluntiers; here such Evidence, though it might want the Form, still carried the Reason of the Law with it.
The Charge was exhibited also against the following Pyrates taken out of the Royal Fortune.
|* Mich. Mare||in the Rover 5 Years ago|
|* Chris. Moody||under Davis||1718.|
|* Mar. Johnson||a Dutch Ship||18.|
|* James Philips||the RevengePyrate Sloop||17.|
|* David Symson||Pyrates with Davis|
|* Tho. Sutton||Pyrates with Davis|
|* Hag. Jacobson||a Dutch Ship||1719|
|* W. Williams 1||Sadbury Captain Thomas Newfoundland||1719|
|* Wm. Fernon||Sadbury Captain Thomas Newfoundland||June 1720.|
|* W. Willams 2||Sadbury Captain Thomas Newfoundland||June 1720.|
|* Roger Scot||Sadbury Captain Thomas Newfoundland|
|* Tho. Owen||York of Bristol||May 1720.|
|* Wm. Taylor||York of Bristol||May 1720.|
|* Joseph Nositer||Expedition of Topsham||May 1720.|
|* John Parker||Willing Mind of Pool||July 1720.|
|* Robert Crow||Happy Return Sloop||July 1720.|
|* George Smith||Mary and Martha||July 1720.|
|* Ja. Clements||Success Sloop||July 1720.|
|* John Walden||Blessing of Lymington||July 1720.|
|* Jo. Mansfield||from Martinico|
|† James Harris||Richard Pink|
|* John Philips||a fishing Boat|
|Harry Glasby||Samuel Capt. Cary.||July 1720.|
|Hugh Menzies||Samuel Capt. Cary.||July 1720.|
|* Wm. Magnus|
|* Joseph Moor||May Flower Sloop||Feb. 1720.|
|† John du Frock||Loyd Gally Capt. Hyngston||May 1721.|
|Wm. Champnies||Loyd Gally Capt. Hyngston||May 1721.|
|George Danson||Loyd Gally Capt. Hyngston||May 1721.|
|† Isaac Russel||Loyd Gally Capt. Hyngston|
|Robert Lilbourn||Jeremiah and Ann, Capt. Turner||Ap. 1721.|
|* Robert Johnson||Jeremiah and Ann, Capt. Turner||Ap. 1721.|
|Wm. Darling||Jeremiah and Ann, Capt. Turner||Ap. 1721.|
|† Wm. Mead||Jeremiah and Ann, Capt. Turner|
|Thomas Diggles||Christopher Snow||Ap. 1721.|
|* Ben. Jeffreys||Norman Galley||Ap. 1721.|
|John Francia||a Sloop at St. Nicholas||Ap. 1721.|
|* D. Harding||a Dutch Ship||Ap. 1721.|
|* John Coleman||Adventure Sloop||Ap. 1721.|
|* Charles Bunce||a Dutch Galley||Ap. 1721.|
|* R. Armstrong||a Dutch run from the Swallow||Ap. 1721.|
|* Abra. Harper||Onslow Capt. Gee at Sestos,||May 1721.|
|* Peter Lesley||Onslow Capt. Gee at Sestos,||May 1721.|
|* John Jessup 1||Onslow Capt. Gee at Sestos,||May 1721.|
|Thomas Watkins||Onslow Capt. Gee at Sestos,||May 1721.|
|* Philip Bill||Onslow Capt. Gee at Sestos,||May 1721.|
|* Jo. Stephenson||Onslow Capt. Gee at Sestos,||May 1721.|
|* James Cromby||Onslow Capt. Gee at Sestos,||May 1721.|
|Thomas Garrat||Onslow Capt. Gee at Sestos,||May 1721.|
|† George Ogle||Onslow Capt. Gee at Sestos,||May 1721.|
|Roger Gorsuch||Martha Snow||Au. 1721.|
|John Watson||Martha Snow||Au. 1721.|
|William Child||Mercy Gally at Callabar||Oct. 1721.|
|* John Griffin||Mercy Gally at Callabar||Oct. 1721.|
|* Pet. Scudamore||Mercy Gally at Callabar|
|Christ. Granger||Cornwall Galley at Callabar|
|Nicho. Brattle||Cornwall Galley at Callabar|
|James White||Cornwall Galley at Callabar||Oct. 1721.|
|Tho. Davis||Cornwall Galley at Callabar||Oct. 1721.|
|Tho. Sever||Cornwall Galley at Callabar||Oct. 1721.|
|* Rob. Bevins||Cornwall Galley at Callabar|
|* T. Oughterlaney||Cornwall Galley at Callabar|
|* David Rice||Cornwall Galley at Callabar|
|* Rob. Haws||Joceline Capt. Loane||Oct. 1721.|
|Hugh Riddle||Diligence Boat||Ja. 1721.|
|Stephen Thomas||Diligence Boat||Ja. 1721.|
|* John Lane||King Solomon||Ja. 1721.|
|* Sam. Fletcher||King Solomon||Ja. 1721.|
|* Wm. Philips||King Solomon||Ja. 1721.|
|Jacob Johnson||King Solomon||Ja. 1721.|
|* John King||King Solomon||Ja. 1721.|
|Benjamin Par||Robinson Capt. Kanning||Ja. 1721.|
|William May||Elizabeth Capt. Sharp||Ja. 1721.|
|Ed. Thornden||Elizabeth Capt. Sharp||Ja. 1721.|
|* George Wilson||Tarlton of Leverpool at Cape la Hou||Ja. 1721.|
|Edward Tarlton||Tarlton of Leverpool at Cape la Hou||Ja. 1721.|
|* Robert Hays||Tarlton of Leverpool at Cape la Hou|
|Thomas Roberts||Charlton Capt. Allwright||Feb. 1721.|
|John Richards||Charlton Capt. Allwright||Feb. 1721.|
|John Cane||Charlton Capt. Allwright||Feb. 1721.|
|Richard Wood||Porcupine Capt. Fletcher Whydah Road|
|Richard Scot||Porcupine Capt. Fletcher Whydah Road||Feb. 1721.|
|Wm. Davison||Porcupine Capt. Fletcher Whydah Road||Feb. 1721.|
|Sam. Morwell||Porcupine Capt. Fletcher Whydah Road||Feb. 1721.|
|Edward Evans||Porcupine Capt. Fletcher Whydah Road|
|* John Jessup 2||surrender'd up at Princes|
You, Harry Glasby, William Davison, William Champnies, Samuel Morwell, &c.
YE, and every one of you, are, in the Name, and by the Authority of our most dread Sovereign Lord George, King of Great Britain, indicted as follows.
Forasmuch as in open Contempt and Violation of the Laws of your Country, to which ye ought to have been subject,) ye have all of you been wickedly united and articled together, for the Annoyance and Destruction of his Majesty's trading Subjects by Sea; and in Conformity to so wicked an Agreement and Association, ye have been twice lately down this Coast of Africa, once in August, and a second Time in January last, spoiling and destroying many Goods and Vessels of his Majesty's Subjects, and other trading Nations.
Particularly ye stand indicted at the Information and Instance of Captain Chaloner Ogle, as Traytors, Robbers, Pyrates, and common Enemies to Mankind.
For that on the 10th of February last, in a Ship ye were possess'd of called the Royal Fortune, of 40 Guns, ye did maintain a hostile Defence and Resistance for some Hours, against his Majesty's Ship the Swallow, nigh Cape Lopez Bay, on the Southern Coast of Africa.
That this Fight and insolent Resistance against the King's Ship, was made, not only without any Pretence of Authority, more than that of your own private depraved Wills, but was done also under a black Flag, flagrantly by that, denoting your selves common Robbers and Traitors, Opposers and Violators of the Laws.
And lastly, that in this Resistance, ye were all of you Voluntiers, and did, as such, contribute your utmost Efforts, for disabling and distressing the aforesaid King's Ship, and deterring his Majesty's Servants therein, from their Duty.
To which they severally pleaded, Not Guilty.
Whereupon the Officers of his Majesty's Ship, the Swallow, were called again, and testified as follows.
That they had seen all the Prisoners now before the Court, and knew them to be the same which were taken out of one or other of the Pyrate Ships, Royal Fortune or Ranger, and verily believe them to be those taken out of the Royal Fortune.
That the Prisoners were possess'd of a Ship of 40 Guns, called the Royal Fortune, and were at an Anchor under Cape Lopez, on the Coast of Africa, with two others: When his Majesty's Ship the Swallow, (to which the Deponents belong'd, and were Officers,) stood in for the Place, on Saturday the 10th of February 1721-2: The largest had a Jack, Ensign and Pendant flying, (being this Royal Fortune,) who on Sight of them, had their Boats passing and repassing, from the other two, which they supposed to be with Men: The Wind not favouring the aforesaid King's Ship, she was obliged to make two Trips to gain nigh enough the Wind, to setch in with the Pyrates; and being at length little more than random Shot from them, they found she slipped her Cable, and got under Sail.
At Eleven, the Pyrate was within Pistol-Shot, a Breast of them, with a black Flag, and Pendant hoisted at their Main-topmast Head. The Deponents say, they then struck the French Ensign that had continued hoisted at their Staff all the Morning till then; and display'd the King's Colours, giving her, at the same Time, their Broadside, which was immediately returned.
The Pyrate's Mizen-topmast fell, and some of her Rigging was torn, yet she still out sailed the Man of War, and slid half Gun-Shot from them, while they continued to fire without Intermission, and the other to return such Guns as could be brought to bear, till by favour of the Winds, they were advanced very nigh again; and after exchanging a few more Shot, about half an Hour past one, his Main-Mast came down, having received a Shot a little below the Parrel.
At Two she struck her Colours, and called for Quarters, proving to be a Ship, formerly call'd the Onslow, but by them, the Royal Fortune; and the Prisoners from her, assured them, that the smallest Ship of the two, then remaining in the Road, belong'd to them, by the Name of the Little Ranger, which they had deserted on this Occasion.
The Prisoners were asked by the Court, to the same Purpose the others had been in the Morning; what Exception they had to make against what had been sworn? And what they had to say in their Defence? And their Reply were much the same with the other Prisoners; that they were forc'd Men, had not fired a Gun in this Resistance against the Swallow, and that what little Assistance they did give on this Occasion, was to the Sails and Rigging, to comply with the arbitrary Commands of Roberts, who had threaten'd, and they were perswaded would, have Shot them on Refusal.
The Court, to dispense equal Justice, mercifully resolved for these, as they had done for the other Pyrate Crew; that further Evidence should be heard against each Man singly, to the two Points, of being a Voluntier at first, and to their particular Acts of Pyracy and Robbery since: That so Men, who had been lately received amongst them, and as yet, had not been at the taking, or plundering, of any Ship, might have the Opportunity, and Benefit, of clearing their Innocence, and not fall promiscuously with the Guilty.
By Order of the Court,
John Atkins, Register.
Wm. Magnes, Tho. Oughterlauney, Wm. Main, Wm. Mackintosh, Val. Ashplant, John Walden, Israel Hind, Marcus Johnson, Wm. Petty, Wm. Fernon, Abraham Harper, Wm. Wood, Tho. How, John Stephenson, Ch. Bunce, and John Griffin
Against these it was deposed by Captain Joseph Trahern, and George Fenn, his Mate, that they were all of them, either at the attacking and taking of the Ship King Solomon, or afterwards at the robbing and plundering of her, and in this Manner;
That on the 6th of January last their Ship riding at Anchor near Cape Appollonia in Africa, discovered a Boat rowing towards them, against Wind and Stream, from a Ship that lay about three Miles to Leeward. They judged from the Number of Men in her, as she nearer advanced, to be a Pyrate, and made some Preparation for receiving her, believing, on a nigher View, they would think fit to withdraw from an Attack that must be on their Side with great Disadvantage in an open Boat, and against double the Number of Men; yet by the Rashness, and the Pusillanimity of his own People (who laid down their Arms, and immediately called for Quarter) the Ship was taken, and afterwards robbed by them.
President. Can you charge your Memory with any Particulars in the Seizure and Robbery?
Evidence. We know that Magnes, Quarter-Master of the Pyrate Ship, commanded the Men in this Boat that took us, and assumed the Authority of ordering her Provisions and Stores out, which being of different Kinds, we soon found, were seized and sent away under more particular Directions; for Main, as Boatswain of the Pyrate Ship, carried away two Cables, and several Coils of Rope, as what belonged to his Province, beating some of our own Men for not being brisk enough at working in the Robbery. Petty, as Sail-maker, saw to the Sails and Canvas; Harper, as Cooper to the Cask and Tools; Griffin, to the Carpenter's Stores, and Oughterlauney, as Pilot, having shifted himself with a Suit of my Clothes, a new tye Wig, and called for a Bottle of Wine, ordered the Ship, very arrogantly, to be steered under Commadore Robert's Stern, (I suppose to know what Orders there were concerning her.) So far particularly. In the general, Sir, they were very outragious and emulous in Mischief.
President. Mr. Castel, acquaint the Court of what you know in Relation to this Robbery of the King Solomon; after what Manner the Pyrate-Boat was dispatch'd for this Attempt.
Tho. Castel. I was a Prisoner, Sir, with the Pyrates when their Boat was ordered upon that Service, and found, upon a Resolution of going, Word was passed through the Company, Who would go? And I saw all that did, did it voluntarily; no Compulsion, but rather pressing who should be foremost.
The Prisoners yielded to what had been sworn about the Attack and Robbery, but denied the latter Evidence, saying, Roberts hector'd, and upbraided them of Cowardice on this very Occasion; and told some, they were very ready to step on Board of a Prize when within Command of the Ship, but now there seem'd to be a Tryal of their Valour, backward and fearful.
President. So that Roberts forc'd ye upon this Attack.
Prisoners. Roberts commanded us into the Boat, and the Quarter-Master to rob the Ship; neither of whose Commands we dared to have refused.
President. And granting it so, those are still your own Acts, since done by Orders from Officers of your own Election. Why would Men, honestly disposed, give their Votes for such a Captain and such a Quarter-Master as were every Day commanding them on distastful Services?
Here succeeded a Silence among the Prisoners, but at length Fernon very honestly own'd, that he did not give his Vote to Magnes, but to David Sympson (the old Quarter-Master,) for in Truth, says he, I took Magnes for too honest a Man, and unfit for the Business.
The Evidence was plain and home, and the Court, without any Hesitation, brought them in Guilty.
WILLIAM Church, Phil. Haak, James White, Nich. Brattle, Hugh Riddle, William Thomas, Tho. Roberts, Jo. Richards, Jo. Cane, R. Wood, R. Scot, Wm. Davison, Sam. Morwell, Edward Evans, Wm. Guineys, and 18 French Men.
The four first of these Prisoners, it was evident to the Court, served as Musick on Board the Pyrate, were forced lately from the several Merchant Ships they belonged to; and that they had, during this Confinement, an uneasy Life of it, having sometimes their Fiddles, and often their Heads broke, only for excusing themselves, or saying they were tired, when any Fellow took it in his Head to demand a Tune.
The other English had been a very few Days on Board the Pyrate, only from Whydah to Cape Lopez, and no Capture or Robbery done by them in that Time. And the French Men were brought with a Design to reconduct their own Ship (or the Little Ranger in Exchange) to Whydah Road again, and were used like Prisoners; neither quarter'd nor suffered to carry Arms. So that the Court immediately acquiesced in, Acquitting them.
THO. Sutton, David Sympson, Christopher Moody, Phil. Bill, R. Hardy, Hen. Dennis, David Rice, Wm. Williams, R. Harris, Geo. Smith, Ed. Watts, Jo. Mitchell and James Barrow.
The Evidence against these Prisoners, were Geret de Haen, Master of the Flushingham, taken nigh Axim, the Beginning of January last.
Benj. Krest Master, and James Groet Mate of the Gertruycht, taken nigh Gabone in December last, and Mr. Castel, Wingfield and others, that had been Prisoners with the Pyrates.
The former deposed, that all these Prisoners (excepting Hardy) were on Board at the Robbery and Plunder of their Ships, behaving in a vile outragious Manner, putting them in bodily Fears, sometimes for the Ship, and sometimes for themselves; and in particular, Kreft charged it on Sutton, that he had ordered all their Gunner's Stores out; on which that Prisoner presently interrupted, and said, he was perjured, That he had not taken half. A Reply, I believe, not designed as any sawcy Way of jesting, but to give their Behaviour an Appearance of more Humanity than the Dutch would allow.
From Mr. Castel, Wingfield and others, they were proved to be distinguished Men, Men who were consulted as Chiefs in all Enterprizes; belonged most of them to the House of Lords, (as they call'd it,) and could carry an Authority over others. The former said, particularly of Hardy, (Quarter-Master of the Ranger,) that when the Diligence Sloop was taken, (whereto he belonged,) none was busier in the Plunder, and was the very Man who scuttled and sunk that Vessel.
From some of the Prisoners acquitted, it was farther demanded, whether the Acceptance or Refusal of any Office was not in their own Option? And it was declared, that every Officer was chose by a Majority of Votes, and might refuse, if he pleased, since others gladly embraced what brought with it an additional Share of Prize. Guilty
The Court on the 31st of March, remanded the following six before them, for Sentence, viz. Dav. Sympson, Wm. Magnes, R. Hardy, Thomas Sutton, Christopher Moody, and Valen. Ashplant.
To whom the President spoke to the following Purpose; The Crime of Pyracy, of which all of ye have been justly convicted, is of all other Robberies the most aggravating and inhumane, in that being removed from the Fears of Surprize, in remote and distant Parts, ye do in Wantonness of Power often add Cruelty to Theft.
Pyrates unmoved at Distress or Poverty, not only spoil and rob, but do it from Men needy, and who are purchasing their Livlihoods thro’ Hazards and Difficulties, which ought rather to move Compassion; and what is still worse, do often, by Perswasion or Force, engage the inconsiderate Part of them, to their own and Families Ruin, removing them from their Wives and Children, and by that, from the Means that should support them from Misery and Want.
To a trading Nation, nothing can be so Destructive as Pyracy, or call for more exemplary Punishment; besides, the national Reflection it infers: It cuts off the Returns of Industry, and those plentiful Importations that alone can make an Island flourishing; and it is your Aggravation, that ye have been the Chiefs and Rulers in these licentious and lawless Practices.
However, contrary to the Measures ye have dealt, ye have been heard with Patience, and tho’ little has, or possibly could, have been said in Excuse or Extenuation of your Crimes, yet Charity makes us hope that a true and sincere Repentance (which we heartily recommend) may entitle ye to Mercy and Forgiveness, after the Sentence of the Law has taken Place, which now remains upon me to pronounce.
YOU Dav. Simpson, William Magnes, R. Hardy, Tho. Sutton, Christopher Moody, and Val. Ashplant.
Ye, and each of you, are adjudged and sentenced, to be carried back to the Place from whence ye came, from thence to the Place of Execution, without the Gates of this Castle, and there within the Flood-Marks, to be hangedby the Neck till ye are dead.
After this, ye, and each of you shall be taken down, and your Bodies hanged in Chains.
PURSUANT to the Sentence given on Saturday, by the Court of Admiralty, at Cape-Corso-Castle, against Dav. Simpson, Wm. Magnes, R. Hardy, Tho. Sutton, Christopher Moody, and Valentine Ashplant.
You are hereby directed to carry the aforesaid Malefactors to the Place of Execution, without the Gates of this Castle, to Morrow Morning at Nine of the Clock, and there within the Flood-Marks, cause them to be hanged by the Neck till they are dead, for which, this shall be your Warrant. Given under my Hand, this 2d Day of April 1722.
To Joseph Gordyn, Provost-Marshal.
The Bodies remove in Chains, to the Gibbets already erected on the adjacent Hillocks.
IT appeared by the Evidence of Captain Jo. Trahern, and George Fenn, Mate of the King Solomon, that this Prisoner was Boatswain of the same Ship, when she was attacked and taken off Cape Appollonia, the 6th of January last, by the Pyrate's Boat.
When the Boat drew nigh, (they say,) it was judged from the Number of Men in her, that they were Pyrates, and being hailed, answered, Defiance; at which the Commander snatched a Musquet from one of his Men, and fired, asking them at the same Time, whether they would stand by him, to defend the Ship? But the Pyrates returning a Volley, and crying out, they would give no Quarters if any Resistance was made; this Prisoner took upon him to call out for Quarters, without the Master's Consent, and mislead the rest to the laying down their Arms, and giving up the Ship, to half the Number of Men, and in an open Boat. It was further evident he became, after this, a Voluntier amongst them. First, because he was presently very forward and brisk, in robbing the Ship King Solomon, of her Provisions and Stores. Secondly, because he endeavoured to have his Captain ill used; and lastly, because he had confessed to Fenn, that he had been obliged to sign their Articles that Night, (a Pistol being laid on the Table, to signify he must do it, or be shot,) when the whole appeared to be an Untruth from other Evidence, who also asserted his being armed in the Action against the Swallow.
In answer to this, he first observed upon the Unhappiness of being friendless in this Part of the World, which, elsewhere, by witnessing to the Honesty of his former Life, would, he believed, in a great Measure, have invalidated the wrong Evidence had been given of his being a Voluntier with the Pyrates. He owns indeed, he made no Application to his Captain, to intercede for a Discharge, but excuses it with saying, he had a dislike to him, and therefore was sure that such Application would have avail'd him nothing.
The Court observed the Pretences of this, and other of the Pyrates, of a Pistol and their Articles being served up in a Dish together, or of their being misused and forced from an honest Service, was often a Complotment of the Parties, to render them less suspected of those they came from, and was to answer the End of being put in a News-Paper or Affidavit: and the Pyrates were so generous as not to refuse a Compliment to a Brother that cost them nothing, and, at the same Time, secured them the best Hands; the best I call them, because such a Dependance made them act more boldly. Guilty.
THere appearing several Persons in Court, who had been taken by Roberts's Ship, whereof the Prisoner was Master, their Evidence was accepted as follows.
Jo. Trahern, Commander of the King Solomon, deposed, the Prisoner, indeed, to act as Master of the Pyrate Ship (while he was under Restraint there) but was observed like no Master, every one obeying at Discretion, of which he had taken Notice, and complained to him, how hard a Condition it was, to be a Chief among Brutes; and that he was weary of his Life, and such other Expressions, (now out of his Memory,) as shew'd in him a great Disinclination to that Course of Living.
Jo. Wingfield, a Prisoner with them at Calabar, says the same, as to the Quality he acted in, but that he was Civil beyond any of them, and verily believes, that when the Brigantine he served on Board of, as a Factor for the African Company, was voted to be burnt, this Man was the Instrument of preventing it, expressing himself with a great deal of Sorrow, for this and the like malicious Rogueries of the Company he was in; that to him shewed, he had acted with Reluctancy, as one who could not avoid what he did. He adds further, that when one Hamilton, a Surgeon, was taken by them, and the Articles about to be imposed on him, he opposed, and prevented it. And that Hunter, another Surgeon, among them, was cleared at the Prisoner's Instance and Perswasion; from which last, this Deponent had it assured to him, that Glasby had once been under Sentence of Death, on Board of them, with two more, for endeavouring an Escape in the West-Indies, and that the other two were really shot for it.
Elizabeth Trengrove, who was taken a Passenger in the African Company's Ship Onslow, strengthen'd the Evidence of the last Witness; for having heard a good Character of this Glasby, she enquired of the Quarter-Master, who was then on Board a robbing, whether or no she could see him? And he told her, No; they never ventured him from the Ship, for he had once endeavoured his Escape, and they had ever since continued jealous of him.
Edward Crisp, Captain Trengrove, and Captain Sharp, who had all been taken in their Turns, acknowledge for themselves and others, who had unluckily fallen into those Pyrates Hands, that the good Usage they had met with, was chiefly thro’ the Prisoner's Means, who often interposed, for leaving sufficient Stores and Instruments on Board the Ships they had robbed, alledging, they were superfluous and unnecessary there.
James White, whose Business was Musick, and was on the Poop of the Pyrate Ship in Time of Action with the Swallow, deposed, that during the Engagement, and Defence she made, he never saw the Prisoner busied about the Guns, or giving Orders, either to the loading or firing of them; but that he wholly attended to the setting, or trimming, of the Sails, as Roberts commanded; and that in the Conclusion, he verily believed him to be the Man who prevented the Ship's being blown up, by setting trusty Centinels below, and opposing himself against such hot-headed Fellows as had procured lighted Matches, and were going down for that Purpose.
Isaac Sun, Lieutenant of the Man of War, deposed, that when he came to take Possession of the Prize, in the King's Boat, he found the Pyrates in a very distracted and divided Condition; some being for blowing up, and others (who perhaps supposed themselves least culpable) opposing it: That in this Confusion he enquired for the Prisoner, of whom he had before heard a good Character; and thinks he rendered all the Service in his Power, for preventing it; in particular, he understood by all Hands, that he had seized, and taken, from one James Philips, a lighted Match, at the Instant he was going down to the Magazine, swearing, that he should send them all to H——l together. He had heard also, that after Roberts was killed, the Prisoner ordered the Colours to be struck; and had since shown, how opposite his Practice and Principles had been, by discovering who were the greatest Rogues among them.
The Prisoner, in his own Defence, says, when he had the Misfortune of falling into the Pyrates Hands, he was chief Mate of the Samuel, of London, Captain Cary; and when he had hid himself, to prevent the Design of carrying him away, they found him, and beat and threw him over-board. Seven Days afterwards, upon his objecting against, and refusing to sign their Articles, he was cut and abus'd again: That tho’ after this he ingratiated himself, by a more humble Carriage, it was only to make Life easy; the Shares they had given him, having been from Time to Time returned again to such Prisoners as fell in his Way; till of late, indeed, he had made a small Reservation, and had desired Captain Loan to take two or three Moidores from him, to carry to his Wife. He was once taken, he says, at making his Escape, in the West-Indies, and, with two more, sentenced to be shot for it, by a drunken Jury; the latter actually suffered, and he was preserved only by one of the chief Pyrates taking a sudden Liking to him, and bullying the others. A second time he ran away at Hispaniola, carrying a Pocket Compass, for conducting him through the Woods; but that being a most desolate and wild Part of the Island he fell upon, and he ignorant how to direct his Course, was obliged, after two or three Days wandering, to return towards the Ship again, denying with egregious Oaths, the Design he was charg'd with, for Fear they should shoot him. From this Time he hopes it will be some Extenuation of his Fault, that most of the acquitted Prisoners can witness, they entertained Jealousies of him, and Roberts would not admit him into his Secrets; and withal, that Captain Cary, (and four other Passengers with him) had made Affidavit of his having been forced from his Employ, which tho’ he could not produce, yet he humbly hoped the Court would think highly probable from the Circumstances offered.
On the whole, the Court was of Opinion Artists had the best Pretension to the Plea of Force, from the Necessity Pyrates are sometimes under of engaging such, and that many Parts of his own Defence had been confirmed by the Evidence, who had asserted he acted with Reluctance, and had expressed a Concern and Trouble for the little Hopes remained to him, of extricating himself. That he had used all Prisoners (as they were called) well, at the hazard of ill Usage to himself. That he had not in any military Capacity assisted their Robberies. That he had twice endeavoured his Escape, with the utmost Danger. Acquitted him.
IT appeared from the Evidence of several Prisoners acquitted, that this Skyrm commanded the Ranger, in that Defence she made against the King's Ship; that he ordered the Men to their Quarters, and the Guns to be loaded and fired, having a Sword in his Hand, to enforce those Commands; and beat such to their Duty whom he espied any way negligent or backward. That altho’ he had lost a Leg in the Action, his Temper was so warm, as to refuse going off the Deck, till he found all was lost.
In his Defence, he says, he was forced from a Mate's Employ on Board a Sloop call'd the Greyhound, of St. Christophers, Oct. 1720. The Pyrate having drubbed him, and broke his Head, only for offering to go away when that Sloop was dismissed. Custom and Success had since indeed blunted, and, in some Measure, worn out the Sense of Shame; but that he had really for several Months past been sick, and disqualified for any Duty, and though Roberts had forced him on this Expedition much against his Will, yet the Evidence must be sensible, the Title of Captain gave him no Pre-eminence, for he could not be obeyed, though he had often called to them, to leave off their Fire, when he perceived it to be the King's Ship.
The Sickness he alledged, but more especially the Circumstance of losing his Leg, were Aggravations of his Fault, shewing him more alert on such Occasions, than he was now willing to be thought: As to the Name of Captain, if it were allowed to give him no Precedence out of Battle, yet here it was proved a Title of Authority; such an Authority as could direct an Engagement against the King's Colours, and therefore he was in the highest Degree, Guilty.
CAptain John Trahern, and George Fenn, deposed, the Prisoner to be one of the Number, who, in an open Boat, pyratically assailed, and took their Ship, and was remarkably busy at Mischief, having a Pole-Ax in his Hand, which served him instead of a Key, to all the lock'd Doors and Boxes he come nigh: Also in particular, he cut the Cable of our Ship, when the other Pyrates were willing, and busied at heaving up the Anchor, saying, Captain, what signifies this Trouble of Yo Hope and straining in hot Weather; there are more Anchors at London, and besides, your Ship is to be burnt.
William Smith, (a Prisoner acquitted,) says Walden was known among the Pyrates mostly, by the Nick-Name of Miss Nanney (ironically its presumed from the Hardness of his Temper) that he was one of the twenty who voluntarily came on Board the Ranger, in the Chace she made out after the Swallow, and by a Shot from that Ship, lost his Leg; his Behaviour in the Fight, till then, being bold and daring.
The President, called for Harry Glasby, and bid him relate a Character of the Prisoner, and what Custom was among them, in Relation to these voluntary Expeditions, out of their proper Ship; and this of going on Board the Ranger, in particular.
And he gave in for Evidence, that the Prisoner was looked on as a brisk Hand, (i. e. as he farther explained it, a stanch Pyrate, a great Rogue) that when the Swallow first appeared in Sight, every one was willing to believe her a Portuguese, because Sugar was very much in Demand, and had made some Jarring and Dissention between the two Companies, (the Fortune's People drinking Punch, when the Ranger's could not) that Roberts, on Sight of the Swallow, hailed the new Ranger, and bid them right Ship, and get under Sail; there is, says he, Sugar in the Offing, bring it in, that we may have no more Mumbling; ordering at the same Time the Word to be pass'd among the Crew, who would go to their Assistance, and immediately the Boat was full of Men, to transport themselves.
President. Then every one that goes on Board of any Prize, does it voluntarily? Or were there here any other Reasons for it?
H. Glasby. Every Man is commonly called by List, and insists, in his Turn, to go on Board of a Prize, because they then are allowed a Shift of Cloaths, (the best they can find) over and above the Dividend from the Robbery, and this they are so far from being compelled to, that it often becomes the Occasion of Contest and Quarrel amongst them: But in the present, or such like Cases, where there appears a Prospect of Trouble, the Lazy and Timerous are often willing to decline this Turn, and yield to their Betters, who thereby establish a greater Credit.
The Prisoner, and the rest of those Men who went from the Fortune on Board the Ranger, to assist in this Expedition, were Voluntiers, and the trustiest Men among us.
President. Were there no Jealousies of the Ranger's leaving you in this Chace, or at any other Time, in order to surrender?
H. Glasby. Most of the Ranger's Crew were fresh Men, Men who had been enter'd only since their being on the Coast of Guiney, and therefore had not so liberal a Share in fresh Provisions, or Wine, as the Fortune's People, who thought they had born the Burthen and Heat of the Day, which had given Occasion indeed to some Grumblings and Whispers, as tho’ they would take an Opportunity to leave us, but we never supposed (if they did) it would be with any other Design then setting up for themselves, they having (many of them) behaved with greater Severity than the old Standers.
The Prisoner appeared undaunted, and rather solicitous, about resting his Stump, than giving any Answer to the Court, or making any Defence for himself, till called upon; then he related in a careless, or rather hopeless Manner, the Circumstances of his first Entrance, being forced, he said, out of the Blessing of Lemmington, at Newfoundland, about 12 Months past; this, he is sure, most of the old Pyrates knew, and that he was for some Time as sick of the Change as any Man; but Custom and ill Company had altered him, owning very frankly, that he was at the Attack, and taking of the King Solomon, that he did cut her Cable, and that none were forced on those Occasions.
As to the last Expedition in the Ranger, he confesses he went on Board of her, but that it was by Robert's Order; and in the Chace loaded one Gun, to bring her to, but when he saw it was a Bite, he declared to his Comrades, that it was not worth while to resist, sorbore firing, and assisted to reeve the Braces, in order, if they could, to get away, in which sort of Service he was busied, when a Shot from the Man of War took off his Leg: And being asked, that supposing the Chace had proved a Portuguese? Why then, says he, I dont know what I might have done, intimating withal, that every Body then would have been ready enough at plundering. Guilty.
HArry Glasby, Jo. Wingfield, and Nicholas Brattle, depose thus much, as to his being a Voluntier with the Pyrates, from Capt. Rolls, at Calabar. First, That he quarrelled with Moody, (one of the Heads of the Gang) and fought with him, because he opposed his going, asking Rolls, in a leering manner, whether he would not be so kind, as to put him into the Gazette, when he came Home. And, at another Time, when he was going from the Pyrate Ship, in his Boat, a Turnado arose, I wish, says he, the Rascal may be drowned, for he is a great Rogue, and has endeavoured to do me all the ill Offices he could among these Gentlemen, (i. e.Pyrates.)
And secondly, That he had signed the Pyrate's Articles with a great deal of Alacrity, and gloried in having been the first Surgeon that had done so, (for before this, it was their Custom to change their Surgeons, when they desired it, after having served a Time, and never obliged them to sign, but he was resolved to break thro’ this, for the good of those who were to follow,) swearing immediately upon it, he was now, he hoped, as great a Rogue as any of them.
Captain Jo. Trahern, and George Fenn, his Mate, deposed, the Prisoner to have taken out of the King Solomon, their Surgeon's capital Instruments, some Medicines, and a Back-Gammon Table; which latter became the Means of a Quarrel between one Wincon, and he, whose Property they should be, and were yielded to the Prisoner.
Jo. Sharp, Master of the Elizabeth, heard the Prisoner ask Roberts leave to force Comry, his Surgeon, from him, which was accordingly done, and with him, carried also some of the Ship's Medicines: But what gave a fuller Proof of the dishonesty of his Principles, was, the treacherous Design he had formed of running away with the Prize, in her Passage to Cape Corso, though he had been treated with all Humanity, and very unlike a Prisoner, on Account of his Employ and better Education, which had rendred him less to be suspected.
Mr. Child, (acquitted) depos'd, that in their Passage from the Island of St. Thomas, in the Fortune Prize, this Prisoner was several Times tempting him, into Measures of rising with the Negroes, and killing the Swallow's People, shewing him, how easily the white Men might be demolished, and a new Company raised at Angola, and that Part of the Coast, for, says he, I understand how to navigate a Ship, and can soon teach you to steer; and is it not better to do this, than to go back to Cape-Corso, and be hanged and Sun-dryed? To which the Deponent replying, he was not afraid of being hanged, Scudamore bid him be still, and no Harm should come to him; but before the next Day-Evening, which was the designed Time of executing this Project, the Deponent discovered it to the Officer, and assured him, Scudamore had been talking all the preceeding Night to the Negroes, in Angolan Language.
Isaac Burnet heard the Prisoner ask James Harris, a Pyrate, (left with the wounded in the Prize,) whether he was willing to come into the Project of running away with the Ship, and endeavour the raising of a new Company, but turned the Discourse to Horse-Racing, as the Deponent crept nigher; he acquainted the Officer with what he had heard, who kept the People under Arms all Night, their Apprehensions of the Negroes not being groundless; for many of them having lived a long Time in this pyratical Way, were, by the thin Commons they were now reduced to, as ripe for Mischief as any.
The Prisoner in his Defence said, he was a forced Man from Captain Rolls, in October last, and if he had not shewn such a Concern as became him, at the Alteration, he must remark the Occasion to be, the Disagreement and Enmity between them; but that both Roberts, and Val. Ashplant, threat'ned him into signing their Articles, and that he did it in Terror.
The King Solomon, and Elizabeth Medicine-Chest, he owns he plundered, by Order of Hunter, the then chief Surgeon, who, by the Pyrates Laws, always directs in this Province, and Mr. Child, (tho’ acquitted) had by the same Orders taken out a whole French Medicine-Chest, which he must be sensible for me, as well as for himself, we neither of us dared to have denied; it was their being the proper Judges, made so ungrateful an Office imposed. If after this he was elected chief Surgeon himself, both Comry and Wilson were set up also, and it might have been their Chance to have carried it, and as much out of their Power to have refused.
As to the Attempt of rising and running away with the Prize, he denies it altogether as untrue; a few foolish Words, but only by Way of Supposition, that if the Negroes should take it in their Heads (considering the Weakness, and ill look-out that was kept;) it would have been an easy Matter, in his Opinion for them to have done it; but that he encouraged such a Thing, was false, his talking to them in the Angolan Language, was only a Way of spending his Time, and trying his Skill to tell twenty, he being incapable of further Talk. As to his understanding Navigation, he had frequently acknowledg'd it to the Deponent Child, and wonders he should now so circumstantiate this Skill against him. Guilty.
IT appeared to the Court, that the Prisoner was one of the twenty Men, in that Boat of the Pyrates, which afterwards robb'd the King Solomon, at an Anchor near Cape Appollonia: That all Pyrates on this, and the like Service, were Voluntiers, and he, in particular, had contested his going on Board a second Time, tho’ out of his Turn.
The Prisoner in his Defence, called for Harry Glasby, who witnessed to his being so very drunk, when he first came among their Crew, that they were forced to hoist him out of one Ship into the other, with a Tackle, and therefore without his Consent; but had since been a trusty Man, and was placed to the Helm, in that running Battle they made with the Swallow.
He insisted for himself likewise, on Captain Turner's Affidavit of his being forced, on which others (his Ship-mates) had been cleared.
The Court considering the Partiality that might be objected in acquitting one, and condemning another of the same standing, thought sit to remark it as a clear Testimony of their Integrity, that their Care and Indulgence to each Man, in allowing his particular Defence, was to exempt from the Rigour of the Law, such, who it must be allowed, would have stood too promiscuously condemned, if they had not been heard upon any other Fact than that of the Swallow; and herein what could better direct them, than a Character and Behaviour from their own Associates; for tho’ a voluntary Entry with the Pyrates may be doubtful, yet his consequent Actions are not, and it is not so material how a Man comes among Pyrates, as how he acts when he is there. Guilty.
JOHN Sharp, Master of the Elizabeth, in which Ship the Prisoner was Passenger, and fell a second Time into the Pyrates Hands, deposes, that he took the said Wilson off from Sestos, on this Coast, paying to the Negroes for his Ransom, the Value of three Pound five Shillings in Goods, for which he had taken a Note, that he thought he had done a charitable Act in this, till meeting with one Captain Canning, he was ask'd, why he would release such a Rogue as Wilson was? For that he had been a Voluntier with the Pyrates, out of John Tarlton. And when the Deponent came to be a Prisoner himself, he found Thomas, the Brother of this John Tarlton, a Prisoner with the Pyrates also, who was immediately on Wilson's Instigation, in a most sad manner misused and beat, and had been shot, through the Fury and Rage of some of those Fellows, if the Town-side, (i. e. Liverpool) Men, had not hid him in a Stay-Sail, under the Bowsprit; for Moody and Harper, with their Pistols cock'd, searched every Corner of the Ship to find him, and came to this Deponent's Hammock, whom they had like fatally to have mistaken for Tarlton, but on his calling out, they found their Error, and left him with this comfortable Anodyne, That he was the honest Fellow who brought the Doctor. At coming away, the Prisoner asked about his Note, whether the Pyrates had it or no? Who not being able readily to tell, he reply'd, it's no Matter Mr. Sharp, I believe I shall hardly ever come to England to pay it.
Adam Comry, Surgeon of the Elizabeth, says, that altho’ the Prisoner had, on Account of his Indisposition and Want, received many Civilities from him, before meeting with the Pyrates, he yet understood it was thro’ his and Scudamore's Means, that he had been compelled among them: The Prisoner was very alert and chearful, he says, at meeting with Roberts, hailed him, told him he was glad to see him, and would come on Board presently, borrowing of the Deponent a clean Shirt and Drawers, for his better Appearence and Reception; he signed their Articles willingly, and used Arguments with him to do the same, saying, they should make their Voyage in eight Months, to Brasil, Share 6 or 700 l. a Man, and then break up. Again, when the Crew came to an Election of a chief Surgeon, and this Deponent was set up with the others, Wilson told him, he hoped he should carry it from Scudamore, for that a quarter Share (which they had more than others) would be worth looking after; but the Deponent missed the Preserment, by the good Will of the Ranger's People, who, in general, voted for Scudamore, to get rid of him, (the chief Surgeon being always to remain with the Commadore.)
It appeared likewise by the Evidence of Captain Jo. Trahern, Tho. Castel, and others, who had been taken by the Pyrates, and thence had Opportunities of observing the Prisoners Conduct, that he seem'd thoroughly satisfy'd with that Way of Life, and was particularly intimate with Roberts; they often scoffing at the Mention of a Man of War, and saying, if they should meet with any of the Turnip-Man's Ships, they would blow up, and go to H— ll together. Yet setting aside these silly Freaks, to recommend himself, his Laziness had got him many Enemies, even Roberts told him, (on the Complaint of a wounded Man, whom he had refused to dress) that he was a double Rogue, to be there a second Time, and threat'ned to cut his Ears off.
The Evidence further assured the Court, from Captain Thomas Tarlton, that the Prisoner was taken out of his Brother's Ship, some Months before, a first Time, and being forward to oblige his new Company, had presently ask'd for the Pyrates Boat, to fetch the Medicine Chest away; when the Wind and Current proving too hard to contend with, they were drove on Shore at Cape Montzerado.
The Prisoner called for William Darling, and Samuel Morwel, (acquitted) and Nicholas Butler.
William Darling deposed, the first Time the Prisoner fell into their Hands, Roberts mistook him for Jo. Tarlton the Master, and being informed it was the Surgeon who came to represent him, (then indisposed,) he presently swore he should be his Mess-Mate, to which Wilson reply'd, he hop'd not, he had a Wife and Child, which the other laughed at; and that he had been two Days on Board, before he went in that Boat, which was drove on Shore at Cape Montzerado. And at his second coming, in the Elizabeth, he heard Roberts order he should be brought on Board in the first Boat.
Samuel Morwel says, that he has heard him bewail his Condition, while on Board the Pyrate, and desired one Thomas, to use his Interest with Roberts, for a Discharge, saying, his Employ, and the little Fortune he had left at Home, would, he hop'd, exempt him the further Trouble of seeking his Bread at Sea.
Nicholas Butler, who had remained with the Pyrates about 48 Hours, when they took the French Ships at Whydah, deposes, that in this Space the Prisoner addressed him in the French Language, several Times, deploring the Wretchedness and ill Fortune of being confined in such Company.
The Prisoner desiring Liberty of two or three Questions, ask'd, whether or no he had not expostulated with Roberts, for a Reason of his obliging Surgeons to sign their Articles, when heretofore they did not; Whether he had not expressed himself glad of having formerly escaped from them? Whether he had not said, at taking the Ships in Whydah Road, that he could like the Sport, were it lawful? And whether if he had not told him, should the Company discharge any Surgeon, that he would insist on it as his Turn? The Deponent answered, Yes, to every Question separately; and farther, that he believes Scudamore had not seen Wilson when he first came and found him out of the Elizabeth.
He added, in his own Defence, that being Surgeon with one John Tarlton, of Leverpool, he was met a first Time on this Coast of Guiney, by Roberts the Pyrate; who, after a Day or two, told him, to his Sorrow, that he was to stay there, and ordered him to fetch his Chest, (not Medicines, as asserted,) which Opportunity he took to make his Escape; for the Boat's Crew happening to consist of five French and one English Man, all as willing as himself, they agreed to push the Boat on Shore, and trust themselves with the Negroes of Cape Montzerado: Hazardous, not only in Respect of the dangerous Seas that run there, but the Inhumanity of the Natives, who sometimes take a liking to humane Carcasses. Here he remained five Months, till Thomas Tarlton, Brother to his Captain chanced to put in the Road for Trade, to whom he represented his Hardships and starving Condition; but was, in an unchristian Manner, both refused a Release of this Captivity, or so much as a small Supply of Biscuit and salt Meat, because, as he said, he had been among the Pyrates. A little Time after this, the Master of a French Ship paid a Ransom for him, and took him off; but, by Reason of a nasty leperous Indisposition he had contracted by hard and bad living, was, to his great Misfortune set ashore at Sestos again, when Captain Sharp met him, and generously procured his Release in the Manner himself has related, and for which he stands infinitely obliged. — That ill Luck threw him a second Time into the Pyrate's Hands, in this Ship Elizabeth, where he met Thomas Tarlton, and thoughtlesly used some Reproaches of him, for his severe Treatment at Montzerado; but protests without Design his Words should have had so bad a Consequence; for Roberts took upon him, as a Dispenser of Justice, the Correction of Mr. Tarlton, beating him unmercifully; and he hopes it will be belived, contrary to any Intention of his it should so happen, because as a Stranger he might be supposed to have no Influence, and believes there were some other Motives for it. — He cannot remember he expressed himself glad to see Roberts this second Time, or that he dropped those Expressions about Comry, as are sworn; but if immaturity of Judgment had occasioned him to slip rash and inadvertent Words, or that he had paid any undue Compliments to Roberts, it was to ingratiate himself, as every Prisoner did, for a more civil Treatment, and in particular to procure his Discharge, which he had been promised, and was afraid would have been revoked, if such a Person as Comry did not remain there to supply his Room; and of this, he said, all the Gentlemen (meaning the Pyrates) could witness for him.
He urged also his Youth in Excuse for his Rashness. — The first time he had been with them (only a Month in all,) and that in no military Employ; but in particular, the Service he had done in discovering the Design the Pyrates had to rise in their Passage on Board the Swallow. Guilty.
But Execution respited till the King's Pleasure be known, because the Commander of the Swallow had declared, the first Notice he received of this Design of the Pyrates to rise, was from him.
BY the Depositions of Glasby and Lillburn (acquitted) against this Prisoner, it appeared, that his Drunkenness was what at first detained him from going away in his proper Ship, the Norman Galley; and next Morning, for having been abusive in his Drink, saying to the Pyrates, there was not a Man amongst them, he received for a Welcome, six Lashes from every Person in the Ship, which disordered him for some Weeks, but on Recovery was made Boatswain's Mate; the serving of which, or any Office on Board a Pyrate, is at their own Option, (tho’ elected,) because others are glad to accept what brings an additional Share in Prize.
The Deponents further say, that at Sierraleon every Man had more especially the Means of escaping; and that this Prisoner, in particular, neglected it, and came off from that Place after their Ship was under Sail, and going out of the River.
The Prisoner, in his Defence, protests, he was at first forc'd; and that the Office of Boatswain's Mate was imposed on him, and what he would have been glad to have relinquish'd. That the barbarous Whipping he had received from the Pyrates at first, was for telling them, that none who could get their Bread in an honest Way, would be on such an Account. And he had certainly taken the Opportunity which presented at Sierraleon, of ridding himself from so distastful a Life, if there had not been three or four of the old Pyrates on Shore at the same Time, who, he imagined, must know of him, and would doubtless have served him the same, if not worse, than they since had done William Williams; who, for such a Design, being delivered up by the treacherous Natives, had received two Lashes thro’ the whole Ship's Company.
The Court observed, the Excuses of these Pyrates, about want of Means to escape, was oftentimes as poor and evasive as their Pleas of being forced at first; for here, at Sierraleon, every Man had his Liberty on Shore, and it was evident, might have kept it, if he, or they, had so pleased. And such are further culpable, who having been introduced into the Society, by such uncivil Methods, as whipping, or beating, neglect less likely Means of regaining Liberty; it shews strong Inclinations to Dishonesty, and they stand inexcusably, Guilty.
IT was proved against this Prisoner, by Captain Trahern and George Fenn, that he was one of those Voluntiers who was at the Attack and Robbery of the Company's Ship, called the King Solomon: That he bully'd well among them who dar'd not make any Reply, but was very easy with his Friends, who knew him; for Moody, on this Occasion, took a large Glass from him, and threatned to blow his Brains out, (a favourite Phrase with these Pyrates) if he muttered at it.
From others acquitted, it likewise appeared, that he was at first a Voluntier among them, from an Island call'd Dominico, in the West-Indies, and had to recommend himself, told them, he was a Deserter from the Rose Man of War, and before that, had been on the High-Way; he was always drunk, they said, and so bad at the Time they met with the Swallow, that he knew nothing of the Action, but came up vapouring with his Cutlash, after the Fortune had struck her Colours, to know who would go on Board the Prize; and it was some Time before they could perswade him into the Truth of their Condition.
He could say little in Defence of himself, acknowledg'd this latter Part of Drunkenness; a Vice, he says, that had too great a Share in insnaring him into this Course of Life, and had been a greater Motive with him than Gold. Guilty.
WIlliam Allen deposed, he knew this Prisoner at Sierraleon, belonging to the Ann Galley; that he had a Quarrel with, and beat the Mate of that Ship, for which (as he said) being afraid to return to his Duty, he consorted to the idle Customs and Ways of living among the Negroes, from whom he received a Wife, and ungratefully sold her, one Evening, for some Punch to quench his Thirst. After this, having put himself under the Protection of Mr. Plunket, Governor there for the Royal African Company: The Relations and Friends of the Woman, apply'd to him for Redress, who immediately surrendered the Prisoner, and told them, he did not care if they took his Head off; but the Negroes wisely judging it would not fetch so good a Price, they sold him in his Turn again to Seignior Jossee, a Christian Black, and Native of that Place; who expected and agreed for two Years Service from him, on Consideration of what he had disbursed, for the Redemption of the Woman: But long before the Expiration of this Time, Roberts came into Sierraleon River, where the Prisoner, (as Seignior Jossee assured the Deponent,) entered a Voluntier with them.
The Deponent further corroborates this Part of the Evidence; in that he being obliged to call at Cape Mount, in his Passage down hither, met there with two Deserters from Roberts's Ship, who assured him of the same; and that the Pyrates did design to turn Davis away the next Opportunity, as an idle good-for-nothing Fellow.
From Glasby and Lilburn, it was evident, that every Pyrate, while they stay'd at Sierraleon, went on Shore at Discretion. That Roberts had often assured Mr. Glyn and other Traders, at that Place, that he would force no Body; and in short, there was no Occasion for it; in particular, the Prisoner's Row-Mate went away, and thinks, he might have done the same, if he had pleased.
The Prisoner alledged his having been detained against his Will, and says, that returning with Elephants Teeth for Sierraleon, the Pyrate's Boat pursued and brought him on Board, where he was kept on Account of his understanding the Pilotage and Navigation of that River.
It was obvious to the Court, not only how frivolous Excuses of Constraint and Force were among these People, at their first commencing Pyrates, but also it was plain to them, from these two Deserters, met at Cape Mount, and the discretional Manner they lived in, at Sierraleon; thro’ how little Difficulty several of them did, and others might, have escaped afterwards, if they could but have obtained their own Consents for it. Guilty.
This is the Substance of the Tryals of Roberts's Crew, which may suffice for others, that occur in this Book. The foregoing Lists, shews, by a * before the Names, who were condemn'd; those Names with a † were referred for Tryal to the Marshalsea, and all the rest were acquitted.
The following Pyrates were executed, according to their Sentence, without the Gates of Cape Corso-Castle, within the Flood-Marks, viz.
|Mens Names||Years of Age||Habitations.|
|Peter de Vine||42||Stepney.|
|Philip Bill||27||St. Thomas's.|
|William Williams||40||nigh Plymouth.|
|John Jaynson||22||nigh Lancaster.|
|Robert Crow||44||Isle of Man.|
|Daniel Harding||26||Croomsbury in Somersetshire.|
|Jo. More||19||Meer in Wiltshire.|
|Jo. Parker||22||Winfred in Dorsetshire.|
|Jo. Philips||28||Alloway in Scotland.|
|Robert Birtson||30||Other St. Maries Devonshire.|
|Joseph Nosuter||26||Sadbury in Devonshire.|
|William Williams||30||Speechless at Execution.|
|Thomas Armstrong||34||London, executed on board the Weymouth.|
|Robert Johnson||32||at Whydah.|
The Remainder of the Pyrates, whose Names are under mentioned, upon their humble Petition to the Court, had their Sentence changed from Death, to seven Years Servitude, conformable to our Sentence of Transportation; the Petition is as follows.
To the Honourable the President and Judges of the Court of Admiralty, for trying of Pyrates, sitting at Cape Corso-Castle. the 20th Day of April, 1722.
The humble Petition of Thomas How, Samuel Fletcher, &c.
THAT your Petitioners being unhappily, and unwarily drawn into that wretched and detestable Crime of Pyracy, for which they now stand justly condemned, they most humbly pray the Clemency of the Court, in the Mitigation of their Sentence, that they may be permitted to serve the Royal African Company of England, in this Country for seven Years, in such a Manner as the Court shall think proper; that by their just Punishment, being made sensible of the Error of their former Ways, they will for the future become faithful Subjects, good Servants, and useful in their Stations, if it please the Almighty to prolong their Lives.
And your Petitioners, as in Duty, &c.
The Resolution of the Court was,
THAT the Petitioners have Leave by this Court of Admiralty, to interchange Indentures with the Captain General of the Gold Coast, for the Royal African Company, for seven Years Servitude, at any of the Royal African Company's Settlements in Africa, in such Manner as he the said Captain General shall think proper.
On Thursday the 26th Day of April, the Indentures being all drawn out, according to the Grant made to the Petitioners, by the Court held on Friday the 20th of this Instant; each Prisoner was sent for up, signed, sealed and exchanged them in the Presence of
Captain Mungo Herdman, President,
James Phipps, Esq;
Mr. Edward Hyde,
Mr. Charles Fanshaw,
And Mr. John Atkins, Register.
The Indenture of a Person condemned to serve abroad for Pyracy, which, upon the humble Petition of the Pyrates therein mentioned, was most mercifully granted by his Imperial Majesty's Commissioners and Judges appointed to hold a Court of Admiralty, for the Tryal of Pyrates at Cape Corso-Castle, in Africa, upon Condition of serving seven Years, and other Conditions, are as follows, viz.
THIS Indenture made the twenty sixth Day of April, Anno Regni Regis Georgii magnæ Britanniæ, &c. Septimo, Domini, Millessimo, Sepcentessimo viginti duo, between Roger Scot, late of the City of Bristol Mariner, of the one Part, and the Royal African Company of England, their Captain General and Commander in Chief, for the Time being, on the other Part, Witnesseth, that the said Roger Scot, doth hereby covenant, and agree to, and with, the said Royal African Company, their Captain General, and Commander in chief for the Time being, to serve him, or his lawful Successors, in any of the Royal African Company's Settlements on the Coast of Africa, from the Day of the Date of these Presents, to the full Term of seven Years, from hence next ensuing, fully to be compleat and ended; there to serve in such Employment, as the said Captain General, or his Successors shall employ him; according to the Custom of the Country in like Kind.
In Consideration whereof, the said Captain General, and Commander in chief doth covenant and agree, to, and with, the said Roger Scot, to find and allow him Meat, Drink, Apparel and Lodging, according to the Custom of the Country.
In witness whereof, the Parties aforesaid, to these Presents, have interchangably put their Hands and Seals, the Day and Year first above written.
Signed, sealed and delivered, in the Presence of us, at Cape Corso-Castle, in Africa, where no stamp'd Paper was to be had.
Mungo Heardman, President, Witnesses.
John Atkins, Register, Witnesses.
In like Manner was drawn out and exchanged the Indentures of
THomas How of Barnstable, in the County of Devon.
Samuel Fletcher of East-Smithfield, London.
John Lane of Lombard-Street, London.
David Littlejohn of Bristol.
John King of Shadwell Parish, London.
Henry Dennis of Bidiford.
Hugh Harris of Corf-Castle, Devonshire.
William Taylor of Bristol.
Thomas Owen of Bristol.
John Mitchel of Shadwell Parish, London.
Joshua Lee of Leverpool.
William Shuren of Wapping Parish, London.
Robert Hartley of Leverpool.
John Griffin of Blackwall, Middlesex.
James Cromby of London, Wapping.
James Greenham of Marshfield, Gloucestershire.
John Horn of St. James's Parish, London.
John Jessop of Wisbich, Cambridgshire.
David Rice of Bristol.
None of which, I hear, are now living, two others, viz. George Wilson and Thomas Oughterlaney, were respited from Execution, till his Majesty's Pleasure should be known; the former dy'd abroad, and the latter came Home, and received his Majesty's Pardon; the Account of the whole stands thus,
|To the Marshalsea,||17|
|Kill'd in the Ranger,||10|
|Kill'd in the Fortune,||3|
|Dy'd in the Passage to Cape Corso,||15|
|Dy'd afterwards in the Castle,||4|
|Negroes in both Ships,||70|
I am not ignorant how acceptable the Behaviour and dying Words of Malefactors are to the generallity of our Countrymen, and therefore shall deliver what occurr'd, worthy of Notice, in the Behahaviour of these Criminals.
The first fix that were called to Execution, were Magnes, Moody, Sympson, Sutton, Ashplant, and Hardy; all of them old Standers and notorious Offenders: When they were brought out of the Hold, on the Parade, in order to break off their Fetters, and fit the Halters; none of them, it was observed, appeared the least dejected, unless Sutton, who spoke faint, but it was rather imputed to a Flux that had seiz'd him two or three Days before, than Fear. A Gentleman, who was Surgeon of the Ship, was so charitable at this Time, to offer himself in the room of an Ordinary, and represented to them, as well as he was able, the Heinousness of their Sin, and Necessity which lay on them of Repentance; one particular Part of which ought to be, acknowledging the Justice they had met with. They seem'd heedless for the present, some calling for Water to drink, and others applying to the Soldiers for Caps, but when this Gentleman press'd them for an Answer, they all exclaim'd against the Severity of the Court, and were so harden'd, as to curse, and wish the same Justice might overtake all the Members of it, as had been dealt to them. They were poor Rogues, they said, and so hang'd, while others, no less guilty in another Way, escaped.
When he endeavoured to compose their Minds, exhorting them to dye in Charity with all the World, and would have diverted them from such vain Discourse, by asking them their Country, Age, and the like; some of them answered, ‘What was that to him, they suffered the Law, and should give no Account but to God;’ walking to the Gallows without a Tear, in Token of Sorrow for their past Offences, or shewing as much Concern as a Man would express at travelling a bad Road; nay, Sympson, at seeing a Woman that he knew, said, ‘he had lain with that B— h three times, and now she was come to see him hang'd.’ And Hardy, when his Hands were ty'd behind him, (which happened from their not being acquainted with the Way of bringing Malefactors to Execution,) observed, ‘that he had seen many a Man hang'd, but this Way of the Hands being ty'd behind them, he was a Stranger to, and never saw before in his Life.’ I mention these two little Instances, to shew how stupid and thoughtless they were of their End, and that the same abandoned and reprobate Temper that had carried them thro’ their Rogueries, abided with them to the last.
Samuel Fletcher, another of the Pyrates ordered for Execution, but reprieved, seem'd to have a quicker Sense of his Condition; for when he saw those he was allotted with gone to Execution, he sent a Message by the Provost-Marshal to the Court, to be ‘inform'd of the Meaning of it, and humbly desir'd to know whether they design'd him Mercy, or not? If they did, he stood infinitely oblig'd to them, and thought the whole Service of his Life an incompetent Return for so great a Favour; but that if he was to suffer, the sooner the better, he said, that he might be out of his Pain.’
There were others of these Pyrates the reverse of this, and tho’ destitute of Ministers, or fit Persons to represent their Sins, and assist them with spiritual Advice, were yet always imploying their Time to good Purposes, and behaved with a great deal of seeming Devotion and Penitence; among these may be reckon'd Scudamore, Williams, Philips, Stephenson, Jefferys, Lesly, Harper, Armstrong, Bunce, and others.
Scudamore too lately discerned the Folly and Wickedness of the Enterprize, that had chiefly brought him under Sentence of Death, from which, seeing there was no Hopes of escaping, he petitioned for two or three Days Reprieve, which was granted; and for that Time apply'd himself incessantly to Prayer, and reading the Scriptures, seem'd to have a deep Sense of his Sins, of this in particular, and desired, at the Gallows, they would have Patience with him, to sing the first Part of the thirty first Psalm; which he did by himself throughout.
Armstrong, having been a Deserter from his Majesty's Service, was executed on Board the Weymouth, (and the only one that was;) there was no Body to press him to an Acknowledgement of the Crime he died for, nor of sorrowing in particular for it, which would have been exemplary, and made suitable Impressions on Seamen; so that his last Hour was spent in lamenting and bewailing his Sins in general, exhorting the Spectators to an honest and good Life, in which alone they could find Satisfaction. In the End, he desir'd they would join with him in singing two or three latter Verses of the 140th Psalm; and that being concluded, he was, at the firing of a Gun, tric'd up at the Fore-Yard-Arm.
Bunce was a young Man, not above 26 Years old, but made the most pathetical Speech of any at the Gallows. He first declaim'd against the guilded Bates of Power, Liberty, and Wealth, that had ensnar'd him among the Pyrates, his unexperienc'd Years not being able to withstand the Temptation; but that the Briskness he had shewn, which so fatally had procured him Favour amongst them, was not so much a Fault in Principle, as the Liveliness and Vivacity of his Nature. He was now extreamly afflicted for the Injuries he had done to all Men, and begg'd their's and God's Forgiveness, very earnestly exhorting the Spectators to remember their Creator in their Youth, and guard betimes, that their Minds took not a wrong Byass, concluding with this apt Similitude, That he stood there as a Beacon upon a Rock, (the Gallows standing on one) to warn erring Marriners of Danger.
Last updated Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at 14:07