A General History of the Pyrates, by Daniel Defoe

Chap. XVI.

Of Capt. John Evans, And his Crew.

Begins with House-breaking. Seizes a Sloop. Robs a House the same Night. Put to Sea, and take valuable Prizes. Evans spot dead by his Boatswain. His Death reveng'd. The Company breaks up.

JOHN Evans was a Welch Man, had been formerly Master of a Sloop belonging to Nevis, but losing his Employ there, he sailed for some Time out of Jamaica as Mate, till happening in Company of three or four of his Comrades, and Wages not being so good as formerly, and Births scarce, because of the great Number of Seamen; they agreed to go abroad in search of Adventures. They sailed, or rather rowed out of Port Royal in Jamaica, the latter End of September 1722, in a Canoa; and coming on the North-Side of the Island, went ashore in the Night, broke open a House or two, and robb'd them of some Money, and every Thing else they could find that was portable, and brought the Booty on Board the Canoa.

This was very well for the first Time, but this kind of Robbery did not please so well, they wanted to get out to Sea, but having no Vessel but their Canoa, they were prevented in their laudable Design; however, they kept a good look out, and traversed the Island, in Expectation that Providence would send some unfortunate Vessel as a Sacrifice, and in a few Days their Wishes were accomplished; for at Duns Hole, they found a small Sloop at an Anchor, belonging to Bermudas: They made bold and went aboard, and Evans informed the Folks that belonged to her, that he was Captain of the Vessel, which was a Piece of News they knew not before. After they had put their Affairs in a proper Disposition aboard, they went ashore to a little Village for Refreshments, and lived jovially the remaining Part of the Day, at a Tavern, spending three Pistols, and then departed. The People of the House admired at the merry Guests they had got, were mightily pleased, and wished for their Company at another Time, which happened too soon for their Profit; for, in the middle of the Night, they came ashore all Hands, rifled the House, and carried what they could aboard their Sloop.

The next Day they weighed in the Sloop, aboard of which they mounted four Guns, called her the Scowerer, and sailed to Hispaniola; on the North Part of which Island they took a Spanish Sloop, which proved an extraordinary rich Prize, as it fell among so few Persons as this Company consisted of, for they shared upwards of 150 l. a Man.

In Pursuance of the Game, and beating up for the Windward Islands, the Scowerer met with a Ship from New-England, bound to Jamaica, 120 Tons, called the Dove, Captain Diamond Master, off Porto Rico: They plundered her, and strengthened their own Company, by taking out the Mate, and two or three other Men; they discharged the Prize, and run into one of the Islands for fresh Water and Necessaries, and staid there some Time.

The next Prize they made, was the Lucretia and Catherine, Captain Mills, of 200 Ton Burthen; they came up with her near the Island Disseada, January 11th. Upon seizing of this Ship, the Pyrates began to take upon themselves the Distribution of Justice, examining the Men concerning their Master's Usage of them, according to the Custom of other Pyrates; but the Captain over-hearing the Matter, put an End to the judicial Proceedings, and fell to rumaging the Ship, saying to them, What have we to do to turn Reformers, ’tis Money we want? And speaking to the Prisoners, he asked them, Does your Captain give you Victuals enough? And they answering in the Affirmative: Why then, said he, he ought to give you Work enough.

After the taking of this Prize, they went to the little Island of Avis, with a Design to clean, and carried the Lucretia along with them, in order to heave down the Scowerer by her; but meeting there with a Sloop, the Pyrate gave Chace till the Evening, when she was within Gun-Shot of her; but fearing to lose Company with the Lucretia, who was a heavy Sailor, they left off, and saw her no more. This Chace brought them to Leeward of their Port, so that they were obliged to look out for another Place of Retreat, and the Island of Ruby not being far distant, they steered for that, and anchored there accordingly; but the next Day a Dutch Sloop coming as it were, into their Mouths, they could not forbear dealing, and so making her their Prize, they plundered her of what came, when shared, to fifty Pounds a Man.

They found this Sloop more for their Purpose than the Lucretia, to clean their own Sloop by, as being much lower in the Wast, and therefore capable of heaving her Bottom farther out of the Water, so she was discharged, and the Dutch Man kept in her Room; but not thinking it convenient to lay up here, for fear a discovery should be made, they turned their Thoughts another Way, and steered to the Coast of Jamaica, where they took a Sugar Drover, and then run to the Grand Caimanes, about 30 Leagues to Leeward of Jamaica, with Intention to clean there; but an unhappy Accident put an End to their Pyracies, which hitherto had proved very successful to them.

The Boatswain of the Pyrate being a noisy surly Fellow, the Captain had at several TimesWords with him, relating to his Behaviour, who thinking himself ill treated, not only returned ill Language, but also challenged the Captain to fight him on the next Shore they came to, with Pistols and Sword, as is the Custom among these Outlaws. When the Sloop arrived, as abovementioned, the Captain proposed the Duel; but the cowardly Boatswain refused to fight, or go ashore, tho’ it was his own Challenge. When Captain Evans saw there was nothing to be done with him, he took his Cane, and gave him a hearty drubbing; but the Boatswain not being able to bear such an Indignity, drew out a Pistol and shot Evans thro’ the Head, so that he fell down dead; and the Boatswain immediately jumped over-board, and swam towards the Shore; but the Boat was quickly mann'd and sent after him, which took him up and brought him aboard.

The Death of the Captain in that Manner, provoked all the Crew, and they resolved the Criminal should die by the most exquisite Tortures; but while they were considering of the Punishment, the Gunner, transported with Passion, discharged a Pistol, and shot him thro’ the Body; but not killing him outright, the Delinquent in very moving Words, desired a Week for Repentance only; but another stepping up to him, told him, that he should repent and be damned to him, and without more ado shot him dead.

I should have observed, that when the Lucretia and Katharine was suffered to go away, the Pyrates detained their Mate, who was now the only Man aboard, who understood Navigation, and him they desired to take upon him the Command of the Sloop, in the Room of Captain Evans deceased; but he desired to be excused that Honour, and at length positively refused it; so they agreed to break up the Company, and leave the Mate in Possession of the Vessel: Accordingly they went ashore at the Caimanes, carrying with them about nine thousand Pounds among thirty Persons; and it being fair Weather, the Mate and a Boy brought the Vessel into Port Royal, in Jamaica.


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