Bred a Gentleman. Supposed to be disorder'd in his Senses. His Beginning as a Pyrate, ib. Takes Prizes. Divisions in his Crew. Meets Black-beard. Is deposed from his Command. His melancholy Reflections. Surrenders to the King's Proclamation. His new Project. Saves some Pyrates marroon'd. Begins the old Trade again. An Account of Prizes taken by him. Colonel Rhet goes in Quest of Pyrates. Yates the Pyrate surrenders. An Engagement betwixt Colonel Rhet and Major Bonnet. An Account of the kill'd and wounded. The Prisoners carried to Charles-Town. The Major and the Master Escape, ib. Taken again by Colonel Rhet. A Court of Vice-Admiralty held. The Names of those arraign'd. The Form of their Indictment. Their Defence. The Names of those who received Sentence. An excelleot Speech made by the Lord Chief Justice on pronouncing Sentence on the Major.
THE Major was a Gentleman of good Reputation in the Island of Barbadoes, was Master of a plentiful Fortune, and had the Advantage of a liberal Education. He had the least Temptation of any Man to follow such a Course of Life, from the Condition of his Circumstances. It was very surprizing to every one, to hear of the Major's Enterprize, in the Island were he liv'd; and as he was generally esteem'd and honoured, before he broke out into open Acts of Pyracy, so he was afterwards rather pitty'd than condemned, by those that were acquainted with him, believing that this Humour of going a pyrating, proceeded from a Disorder in his Mind, which had been but too visible in him, some Time before this wicked Undertaking; and which is said to have been occasioned by some Discomforts he found in a married State; be that as it will, the Major was but ill qualify'd for the Business, as not understanding maritime Affairs.
However, he fitted out a Sloop with ten Guns and 70 Men, entirely at his own Expence, and in the Night-Time sailed from Barbadoes. He called his Sloop the Revenge; his first Cruize was off the Capes of Virginia, where he took several Ships, and plundered them of their Provisions, Cloaths, Money, Ammunition, &c. in particular the Anne, Captain Montgomery, from Glascow; the Turbet from Barbadoes, which for Country sake, after they had taken out the principal Part of the Lading, the Pyrate Crew set her on Fire; the Endeavour, Captain Scot, from Bristol, and the Young from Leith. From hence they went to New-York, and off the East End of Long-Island, took a Sloop bound for the West-Indies, after which they stood in and landed some Men at Gardner's Island, but in a peaceable Manner, and bought Provisions for the Company's Use, which they paid for, and so went off again without Molestation.
Some Time after, which was in August 1717, Bonnet came off the Bar of South-Carolina, and took a Sloop and a Brigantine bound in; the Sloop belonged to Barbadoes, Joseph Palmer Master, laden with Rum, Sugar and Negroes; and the Brigantine came from New-England, Thomas Porter Master, whom they plundered, and then dismiss'd; but they sailed away with the Sloop, and at an Inlet in North-Carolina careened by her, and then set her on Fire.
After the Sloop had cleaned, they put to Sea, but came to no Resolution what Course to take; the Crew were divided in their Opinions, some being for one Thing, and some another, so that nothing but Confusion seem'd to attend all their Schemes.
The Major was no Sailor as was said before, and therefore had been obliged to yield to many Things that were imposed on him, during their Undertaking, for want of a competent Knowledge in maritime Affairs; at length happening to fall in Company with another Pyrate, one Edward Teach, (who for his remarkable black ugly Beard, was more commonly called Black-Beard:) This Fellow was a good Sailor, but a most cruel hardened Villain, bold and daring to the last Degree, and would not stick at the perpetrating the most abominable Wickedness imaginable; for which he was made Chief of that execrable Gang, that it might be said that his Post was not unduly filled, Black-beard being truly the Superior in Roguery, of all the Company, as has been already related.
To him Bonnet's Crew joined in Consortship, and Bonnet himself was laid aside, notwithstanding the Sloop was his own; he went aboard Black-beard's Ship, not concerning himself with any of their Affairs, where he continued till she was lost in Topsail Inlet, and one Richards was appointed Captain in his Room. The Major now faw his Folly, but could not help himself, which made him Melancholy; he reflected upon his past Course of Life, and was confounded with Shame, when he thought upon what he had done: His Behaviour was taken Notice of by the other Pyrates, who liked him never the better for it; and he often declared to some of them, that he would gladly leave off that Way of Living, being fully tired of it; but he should be ashamed to see the Face of any English Man again; therefore if he could get to Spain or Portugal, where he might be undiscovered, he would spend the Remainder of his Days in either of those Countries, otherwise he must continue with them as long as he lived.
When Black-beard lost his Ship at Topsail Inlet, and surrendered to the King's Proclamation, Bonnet reassumed the Command of his own Sloop, Revenge, goes directly away to Bath-Town in North-Carolina, surrenders likewise to the King's Pardon, and receives a Certificate. The War was now broke out between the Tripple Allies and Spain; so Major Bonnet gets a Clearence for his Sloop at North-Carlina, to go to the Island of St. Thomas, with a Design (at least it was pretended so) to get the Emperor's Commission, to go a Privateering upon the Spaniards. When Bonnet came back to Topsail Inlet, he found that Teach and his Gang were gone, and that had taken all the Money, small Arms and Effects of Value out of the great Ship, and set ashore on a small sandy Island above a League from the Main, seventeen Men, no doubt with a Design they should perish, there being no Inhabitant, or Provisions to subsist withal, nor any Boat or Materials to build or make any kind of Launch or Vessel, to escape from that desolate Place: They remained there two Nights and one Day, without Subsistance, or the least Prospect of any, expecting nothing else but a lingering Death; when to their inexpressable Comfort, they saw Redemption at Hand; for Major Bonnet happening to get Intelligence of their being there, by two of the Pyrates who had escaped Teach's Cruelty, and had got to a poor little Village at the upper End of the Harbour, sent his Boat to make Discovery of the Truth of the Matter, which the poor Wretches seeing, made a signal to them, and they were all brought on Board Bonnet's Sloop.
Major Bonnet told all his Company, that he would take a Commission to go against the Spaniards, and to that End, was going to St. Thomas's therefore if they would go with him, they should be welcome; whereupon they all consented, but as the Sloop was preparing to sail, a Bom-Boat, that brought Apples and Sider to sell to the Sloop's Men, informed them, that Captain Teach lay at Ocricock Inlet, with only 18 or 20 Hands. Bonnet, who bore him a mortal Hatred for some Insults offered him, went immediately in pursuit of Black-beard, but it happened too late, for he missed of him there, and after four Days Cruize, hearing no father News of him, they steered their Course towards Virginia.
In the Month of July, these Adventurers came off the Capes, and meeting with a Pink with a Stock of Provisions on Board, which they happened to be in Want of, they took out of her ten or twelve Barrels of Pork, and about 400 Weight of Bread; but because they would not have this set down to the Account of Pyracy, they gave them eight or ten Casks of Rice, and an old Cable, in lieu thereof.
Two Days afterwards they chased a Sloop of sixty Ton, and took her two Leagues off of Cape Henry; they were so happy here as to get a Supply of Liquor to their Victuals, for they brought from her two Hogsheads of Rum, and as many of Molosses, which, it seems, they had need of, tho’ they had not ready Money to purchase them: What Security they intended to give, I can't tell, but Bonnet sent eight Men to take Care of the Prize Sloop, who, perhaps, not caring to make Use of those accustom'd Freedoms, took the first Opportunity to go off with her, and Bonnet (who was pleased to have himself called Captain Thomas,) saw them no more.
After this, the Major threw off all Restraint, and though he had just before received his Majesty's Mercy, in the Name of Stede Bonnet, he relaps'd in good Earnest into his old Vocation, by the Name of Captain Thomas, and recommenced a down-right Pyrate, by taking and plundering all the Vessels he met with: He took off Cape Henry, two Ships from Virginia, bound to Glascow, out of which they had very little besides an hundred Weight of Tobacco. The next Day they took a small Sloop bound from Virginia to Bermudas, which supply'd them with twenty Barrels of Pork, some Bacon, and they gave her in return, two Barrels of Rice, and a Hogshead of Molossus; out of this Sloop two Men enter'd voluntarily. The next they took was another Virginia Man, bound to Glascow, out of which they had nothing of Value, save only a few Combs, Pins and Needles, and gave her instead thereof, a Barrel of Pork, and two Barrels of Bread.
From Virginia they sailed to Philadelphia, and in the Latitude of 38 North, they took a Scooner, coming from North-Carolina, bound to Boston, they had out of her only two Dozen of Calf-Skins, to make Covers for Guns, and two of their Hands, and detained her some Days. All this was but small Game, and seem'd as if they design'd only to make Provision for their Sloop against they arrived at St. Thomas's; for they hitherto had dealt favourably with all that were so unhappy as so fall into their Hands; but those that came after, fared not so well, for in the Latitude of 32, off of Delaware River, near Philadelphia, they took two Snows bound to Bristol, out of whom they got some Money, besides Goods, perhaps to the Value of 150 Pounds; at the same Time they took a Sloop of sixty Tons bound from Philadelphia to Barbadoes, which after taking some Goods out, they dismissed along with the Snows.
The 29th Day of July, Captain Thomas took a Sloop of 50 Tons, six or seven Leagues off Delaware Bay, bound from Philadelphia to Barbadoes, Thomas Read Master, loaden with Provisions, which they kept, and put four or five of their Hands on Board her. The last Day of July, they took another Sloop of 60 Tons, commanded by Peter Manwaring, bound from Antegoa to Philadelphia, which they likewise kept with all the Cargo, consisting chiefly of Rum, Molosses, Sugar, Cotton, Indigo, and about 25 Pound in Money, valued in all to 500 Pound.
The last Day of July, our Rovers with the Vessels last taken, left Delaware Bay, and sailed to Cape Fear River, where they staid too long for their Safety, for the Pyrate Sloop which they now new named the Royal James, proved very leaky, so that they were obliged to remain here almost two Months, to refit and repair their Vessel: They took in this River a small Shallop, which they ripped up to mend the Sloop, and retarded the further Prosecution of their Voyage, as before mentioned, till the News came to Carolina, of a Pyrate Sloop's being there to carreen with her Prizes.
Upon this Information, the Council of South-Carolina was alarmed, and apprehended they should receive another Visit from them speedily; to prevent which, Colonel William Rhet, of the same Province, waited on the Governor, and generously offered himself to go with two Sloops to attack this Pyrate; which the Governor readily accepted, and accordingly gave the Colonel a Commission and full Power, to fit such Vessels as he thought proper for the Design.
In a few Days two Sloops were equipped and manned: The Henry with 8 Guns and 70 Men, commanded by Captain John Masters, and the Sea Nymph, with 8 Guns and 60 Men, commanded by Captain Fayrer Hall, both under the entire Direction and Command of the aforesaid Colonel Rhet, who, on the 14th of September, went on Board the Henry, and, with the other Sloop, sailed from Charles-Town to Swillivants Island, to put themselves in order for the Cruize. Just then arrived a small Ship from Antigoa, one Cock Master, with an Account, that in Sight of the Bar he was taken and plundered by one Charles Vane, a Pyrate, in a Brigantine of 12 Guns and 90 Men; and who had also taken two other Vessels bound in there, one a small Sloop, Captain Dill Master, from Barbadoes; the other a Brigantine, Captain Thompson Master, from Guiney, with ninety odd Negroes, which they took out of the Vessel, and put on Board another Sloop then under the Command of one Yeats, his Consort, with 25 Men. This prov'd fortunate to the Owners of the Guiney Man, for Yea's having often attempted to quit this Course of Life, took an Opportunity in the Night, to leave Vane and to run into North-Edisto River, to the Southward of Charles-Town, and surrendered to his Majesty's Pardon. The Owners got their Negroes, and Yeats and his Men had Certificates given them from the Government.
Vane cruised some Time off the Bar, in hopes to catch Yeats, and unfortunately for them, took two Ships coming out, bound to London, and while the Prisoners were aboard, some of the Pyrates gave out, that they designed to go into one of the Rivers to the Southward. Colonel Rhet, upon hearing this, sailed over the Bar the 15th of September, with the two Sloops before mentioned; and having the Wind Northerly, went after the PyrateVane, and scoured the Rivers and Inlets to the Southward; but not meeting with him, tacked and stood for Cape Fear River, in Prosecution of his first Design. On the 26th following, in the Evening, the Colonel with his small Squadron, entered the River, and saw, over a Point of Land, three Sloops at an Anchor, which were Major Bonnet and his Prizes; but it happened that in going up the River, the Pilot run the Colonel's Sloops aground, and it was dark before they were on Float, which hindered their getting up that Night. The Pyrates soon discovered the Sloops, but not knowing who they were, or upon what Design they came into that River, they manned three Canoes, and sent them down to take them, but they quickly found their Mistake, and returned to the Sloop, with the unwelcome News. Major Bonnet made Preparations that Night for engaging, and took all the Men out of the Prizes. He shewed Captain Manwaring, one of his Prisoners, a Letter, he had just wrote, which he declared he would send to the Governor of Carolina; the Letter was to this Effect, viz. That if the Sloops, which then appeared, were sent out against him, by the said Govenror, and he should get clear off, that he would burn and destroy all Ships or Vessels going in or coming out of South-Carolina. The next Morning they got under Sail, and came down the River, designing only a running Fight. Colonel Rhet's Sloops got likewise under Sail, and stood for him, getting upon each Quarter of the Pyrate, with Intent to board him; which he perceiving, edged in towards the Shore, and being warmly engaged, their Sloop ran a-ground: The Carolina Sloops being in the same shoal Water, were in the same Circumstances; the Henry, in which Colonel Rhet was, grounded within Pistol shot of the Pyrate, and on his Bow; the other Sloop grounded right a-head of him, and almost out of Gun-Shot, which made her of little Service to the Colonel, while they lay a-ground.
At this Time the Pyrate had a considerable Advantage; for their Sloop, after she was a-ground, listed from Colonel Rhet's, by which Means they were all covered, and the Colonel's Sloop listing the same Way, his Men were much exposed; notwithstanding which, they kept a brisk Fire the whole Time they lay thus a-ground, which was near five Hours. The Pyrates made a Wiff in their bloody Flag, and beckoned several Times with their Hats in Derision to the Colonel's Men, to come on Board, which they answered with chearful Huzza's, and said, that they would speak with them by and by; which accordingly happened, for the Colonel's Sloop being first a float, he got into deeper Water, and after mending the Sloop's Rigging, which was much shattered in the Engagement, they stood for the Pyrate, to give the finishing Stroke, and designed to go directly on Board him; which he prevented, by sending a Flag of Truce, and after some Time capitulating, they surrendered themselves Prisoners. The Colonel took Possession of the Sloop, and was extreamly pleased to find that Captain Thomas, who commanded her, was the individual Person of Major Stede Bonnet, who had done them the Honour several Times to visit their own Coast of Carolina.
There were killed in this Action, on Board the Henry, ten Men, and fourteen wounded; on Board the Sea Nymph, two killed and four wounded. The Officers and Sailors in both Sloops behaved themselves with the greatest Bravery; and had not the Sloops so unluckily run a-ground, they had taken the Pyrate with much less loss of Men; but as he designed to get by them, and so make a running Fight, the Carolina Sloops were obliged to keep near him, to prevent his getting away. Of the Pyrates there were seven killed and five wounded, two of which died soon after of their Wounds. Colonel Rhet weigh'd the 30th of September, from Cape Fear River, and arrived at Charles-Town the 3d of October, to the great Joy of the whole Province of Carolina.
Bonnet and his Crew, two Days after, were put ashore, and there not being a publick Prison, the Pyrates were kept at the Watch-House, under a Guard of Militia; but Major Bonnet was committed into the Custody of the Marshal, at his House; and in a few Days after, David Hariot the Master, and Ignatius Pell the Boatswain, who were designed for Evidences against the other Pyrates, were removed from the rest of the Crew, to the said Marshal's House, and every Night two Centinals set about the said House; but whether thro’ any Corruption, or want of Care in guarding the Prisoners, I can't say; but on the 24th of October, the Major and Hariot made their Escape, the Boat-swain refusing to go along with them. This made a great Noise in the Province, and People were open in their Resentments, often reflecting on the Governor, and others in the Magistracy, as tho’ they had been brib'd, for conniving at their Escape. These Invectives arose frm their Fears, that Bonnet would be capable of raising another Company, and prosecute his Revenge against this Country, for what he had lately, tho’ justly, suffered: But they were in a short Time made easy in those Respects; for as soon as the Governor had the Account of Bonnet's Escape, he immediately issued out a Proclamation, and promised a Reward of 700 Pounds to any that would take him, and sent several Boats with armed Men, both to the Northward and Southward, in pursuit of him.
Bonnet stood to the Northward, in a small Vessel, but wanting Necessaries, and the Weather being bad, he was forced back, and so return'd with his Canoe, to Swillivants Island, near Charles-Town, to fetch Supplies; but there being some Information sent to the Governor, he sent for Colonel Rhet, and desired him to go in pursuit of Bonnet; and accordingly gave him a Commission for that Purpose: Wherefore the Colonel, with proper Craft, and some Men, went away that Night for Swillivant's Island, and, after a very diligent Seach, discovered Bonnet and Hariot together; the Colonel's Men fired upon them, and killed Hariot upon the Spot, and wounded one Negro and an Indian. Bonnet submitted, and surrender'd himself; and the next Morning, being November the 6th, was brought by Colonel Rhet to Charles-Town, and, by the Governor's Warrant, was committed into safe Custody, in order for his being brought to his Tryal.
On the 28th of October, 1718, a Court of Vice-Admiralty was held at Charles-Town, in South-Carolina, and, by several Adjournments, continued to Wednesday, the 12th of November following, for the Tryal of the Pyrates taken in a Sloop formerly called the Revenge, but afterwards the Royal James, before Nicholas Trot, Esq; Judge of the Vice-Admiralty, and Chief Justice of the said Province of South-Carolina, and other Assistant Judges.
The King's Commission to Judge Trot was read, and a Grand Jury sworn, for the finding of the several Bills, and a learned Charge given them by the said Judge, wherein he 1st shewed, That the Sea was given by God, for the Use of Men, and is Subject to Dominion and Property, as well as the Land.
2dly, He particularly remark'd to them, the Sovereignty of the King of England over the British Seas.
3dly, He observed, that as Commerce and Navigation could not be carried on without Laws; so there have been always particular Laws, for the better ordering and regulating marine Affairs; with an historical Account or those Laws, and Origine.
4thly, He proceeded to shew, that there have been particular Courts and Judges appointed; to whose Jurisdiction maritime Causes do belong, and that in Matters both Civil and Criminal.
And then 5thly, He particularly shewed them, the Constitution and Jurisdiction of that Court of Admiralty Sessions.
And lastly, the Crimes cognizable therein; and particularly enlarged upon the Crime of Pyracy, which was then brought before them.
The Indictments being found, a petit Jury was sworn, and the following Persons arraigned and tried.
Stede Bonnet, alias Edwards, alias Thomas, late of Barbadoes, Mariner.
Robert Tucker, late of the Island of Jamaica, Mariner.
Edward Robinson, late of New-Castle upon Tine, Mariner.
Neal Paterson, late of Aberdeen, Mariner.
William Scot, late of Aberdeen, Mariner.
William Eddy, alias Neddy, late of Aberdeen, Mariner.
Alexander Annand, late of Jamaica, Mariner.
George Rose, late of Glascow, Mariner.
George Dunkin, late of Glascow, Mariner.
*Thomas Nicholas, late of London, Mariner.
John Ridge, late of London, Mariner.
Matthew King, late of Jamaica, Mariner.
Daniel Perry, late of Guernsey, Mariner.
Henry Virgin, late of Bristol, Mariner.
James Robbins, alias Rattle, late of London, Mariner.
James Mullet, alias Millet, late of London, Mariner.
Thomas Price, late of Bristol, Mariner.
James Wilson, late of Dublin, Mariner.
John Lopez, late of Oporto, Mariner.
Zachariah Long, late of the Province of Holland, Mariner.
Job Bayly, late of London, Mariner.
John-William Smith, late of Charles-Town, Carolina, Mariner.
Thomas Carman, late of Maidstone in Kent, Mariner.
John Thomas, late of Jamaica, Mariner.
William Morrison, late of Jamaica, Mariner.
Samuel Booth, late of Charles-Town, Mariner.
William Hewet, late of Jamaica, Mariner.
John Levit, late of North-Carolina, Mariner.
William Livers, alias Evis.
John Brierly, alias Timberhead, late of Bath-Town in North Carolina, Mariner.
Robert Boyd, late of Bath-Town aforesaid, Mariner.
*Rowland Sharp, of Bath-Town, Mariner.
*Jonathan Clarke, late of Charles-Town, South Carolina, Mariner.
*Thomas Gerrard, late of Antegoa, Mariner.
And all, except the three last, and Thomas Nicholas, were found Guilty, and received Sentence of Death.
They were most of them try'd upon two Indictments, as follows.
THE Jurors for our Sovereign Lord the King, do upon their Oath present, that Stede Bonnet, late of Barbadoes, Mariner, Robert Tucker, &c. &c. The 2d Day of August, in the fifth Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George, &c. By Force of Arms upon the High-Sea, in a certain Place called Cape James, &c. did pyratically, and fellonionsly set upon, break, board, and enter, a certain Merchant Sloop, called the Frances, Peter Manwaring Commander, by Force, &c. upon the High-Sea, in a certain Place, called Cape James, alias Cape Inlope, about two Miles distant from the Shore, in the Lattitude of 39, or thereabouts; and within the Jurisdiction of the Court of Vice-Admiralty, of South-Carolina, being a Sloop of certain Persons, (to the Jurors, unknown) and then, and there, pyratically, and felloniously did make an Assault, in, and upon the said Peter Manwaring, and others his Mariners, (whose Names to the Jurors aforesaid, are unknown,) in the same Sloop, against the Peace of God, and of our said now Sovereign Lord the King, then, and there being, pyratically and felloniously, did put the aforesaid Peter Manwaring, and others, his Mariners, of the same Sloop, in the Sloop aforesaid, then being, in corporal Fear of their Lives, then and there, in the Sloop aforesaid, upon the High-Sea, in the Place aforesaid, called Cape James, alias Cape Inlopen, about two Miles from the Shore, in the Lattitude of 39, or thereabouts, as aforesaid, and within the Jurisdiction aforesaid; pyratically, and felloniously, did steal, take, and carry away the said Merchant Sloop, called the Frances, and also twenty six Hogsheads, &c. &c. &c. being found in the aforesaid Sloop, in the Custody and Possession of the said Peter Manwaring, and others, his Mariners of the said Sloop, and from their Custody and Possession, then and there, upon the High-Sea aforesaid, called Cape James, alias Cape Inlopen, as aforesaid, and within the Jurisdiction aforesaid, against the Peace of our now Sovereign Lord the King, his Crown and Dignity.
This was the Form of the Indictments they were arraigned upon, and tho’ they might have proved several more Facts upon the major Part of the Crew, the Court thought fit to prosecute but two; the other was for seizing in a pyratical and felonious Manner, the Sloop Fortune, Thomas Read Commander; which Indictment running in the same Form with the above-mentioned, it will be unnecessary to say more of it.
All the Prisoners arraigned, pleaded Not Guilty, and put themselves upon their Tryals, except James Wilson, and John Levit, who pleaded Guilty to both Indictments, and Daniel Perry, to one only. The Major would have gone through both the Indictments at once, which the Court not admitting, he pleaded Not Guilty to both Indictments, but being convicted of one, he retracted his former Plea to the second Indictment, and pleaded Guilty to it.
The Prisoners made little or no Defence, every one pretending only that they were taken off a Maroon Shore, and were shipped with Major Bonnet to go to St. Thomas's; but being out at Sea, and wanting Provisions, they were obliged to do what they did by others; and so did Major Bonnet himself, pretend that ’twas Force, not Inclination, that occasioned what had happened. However, the Facts being plainly proved, and that they had all shared ten or eleven Pounds a Man, excepting the three last, and Thomas Nichols, they were all but they, found Guilty. The Judge made a very grave Speech to them, setting forth the Enormity of their Crimes, the Condition they were now in, and the Nature and Necessity of an unseigned Repentance; and then recommended them to the Ministers of the Province, for more ample Directions, to fit them for Eternity, for (concluded he) the Priest's Lips shall keep Knowledge, and you shall seek the Law at their Mouths; for they are the Messengers of the Lord. Mat. II. 57. And the Ambassadors of Christ, and unto them is committed the Word [or Doctrine] of Reconciliation, 2 Cor. V. 19. 20. And then pronounced Sentence of Death upon them.
On Saturday November the 8th, 1711. Robert Tucker, Edward Robinson, Neal Paterson, William Scot, Job Bayley, John-William Smith, John Thomas, William Morrison, Samuel Booth, William Hewit, William Eddy, alias Neddy, Alexander Annand, George Ross, George Dunkin, Matthew King, Daniel Perry, Henry Virgin, James Robbins, James Mullet, alias Millet, Thomas Price, John Lopez, and Zachariah Long, were executed at the White-Point near Charles-Town, pursuant to their Sentence.
As for the Captain, his Escape protracted his Fate, and spun out his Life a few Days longer, for he was try'd the 10th, and being found Guilty, received Sentence in like Manner as the former; before which Judge Trot, made a most excellent Speech to him, rather somewhat too long to be taken into our History, yet I could not tell how to pass by so good and useful a Piece of Instruction, not knowing whose Hands this Book may happen to fall into.
The Lord Chief Justices'sSpeech, upon his pronouncing Sentence on MajorStede Bonnet.
MAjor Stede Bonnet, you stand here convicted upon two Indictments of Pyracy; one by the Verdict of the Jury, and the other by your own Confession.
Altho’ you were indicted but for two Facts, yet you know that at your Tryal it was fully proved even by an unwilling Witness, that you pyratically took and rifled no less than thirteen Vessels, since you sail'd from North-Carolina.
So that you might have been indicted, and convicted of eleven more Acts of Pyracy, since you took the Benefit of the King's Act of Grace, and pretended to leave that wicked Course of Life.
Not to mention the many Acts of Pyracy you committed before; for which if your Pardon from Man was never so authentick, yet you must expect to answer for them before God.
You know that the Crimes you have committed are evil in themselves, and contrary to the Light and Law of Nature, as well as the Law of God, by which you are commanded that you shall not steal, Exod. 20. 15. And the Apostle St. Paul expresly affirms, That Thieves shall not inherit the Kingdom of God, 1 Cor. 6. 10.
But to Theft you have added a greater Sin, which is Murder. How many you may have killed of those that resisted you in the committing your former Pyracies, I know not: But this we all know, That besides the Wounded, you kill'd no less than eighteen Persons out of those that were sent by lawful Authority to suppress you, and put a Stop to those Rapines that you daily acted.
And however you may fancy that that was killing Men fairly in open Fight, yet this know, that the Power of the Sword not being committed into your Hands by any lawful Authority, you were not impowered to use any Force, or fight any one; and therefore those Persons that fell in that Action, in doing their Duty to their King and Country, were murdered, and their Blood now cries out for Vengeance and Justice against you: For it is the Voice of Nature, confirmed by the Law of God, That whosoever sheddeth Man's Blood, by Man shall his Blood be shed. Gen. 9. 6.
And consider that Death is not the only Punishment due to Murderers; for they are threatened to have their Part in the Lake which burneth with Fire and Brimstone, which is the second Death, Rev. 21. 8. See Chap. 22. 15. Words which carry that Terror with them, that considering your Circumstances and your Guilt, surely the Sound of them must make you tremble; For who can dwell with everlasting Burnings? Chap. 33. 14.
As the Testimony of your Conscience must convince you of the great and many Evils you have committed, by which you have highly offended God, and provoked most justly his Wrath and Indignation against you, so I suppose I need not tell you that the only Way of obtaining Pardon and Remission of your Sins from God, is by a true and unfeigned Repentance and Faith in Christ, by whose meritorious Death and Passion, you can only hope for Salvation.
You being a Gentleman that have had the Advantage of a liberal Education, and being generally esteemed a Man of Letters, I believe it will be needless for me to explain to you the Nature of Repentance and Faith in Christ, they being so fully and so often mentioned in the Scriptures, that you cannot but know them. And therefore, perhaps, for that Reason it might be thought by some improper for me to have said so much to you, as I have already upon this Occasion; neither should I have done it, but that considering the Course of your Life and Actions, I have just Reason to fear, that the Principles of Religion that had been instilled into you by your Education, have been at least corrupted, if not entirely defaced, by the Scepticism and Infidelity of this wicked Age; and that what Time you allowed for Study, was rather applied to the Polite Literature, and the vain Philosophy of the Times, than a serious Search after the Law and Will of God, as revealed unto us in the Holy Scriptures: For had your Delight been in the Law of the Lord, and that you had meditated therein Day and Night, Psal. 1. 2. you would then have found that God's Word was a Lamp unto your Feet, and a Light to your Path, Psal. 119. 105. and that you would account all other Knowledge but Loss, in Comparison of the Excellency of the Knowledge of Christ Jesus, Phil. 3. 8. who to them that are called is the Power of God, and the Wisdom of God, 1 Cor. 1. 24. even the hidden Wisdom which God ordained before the World, Chap. 2. 7.
You would then have esteemed the Scriptures as the Great Charter of Heaven, and which delivered to us not only the most perfect Laws and Rules of Life, but also discovered to us the Acts of Pardon from God, wherein they have offended those righteous Laws: For in them only is to be found the great Mystery of fallen Man's Redemption, which the Angels desire to look into, 1 Pet. 1. 12.
And they would have taught you that Sin is the debasing of Human Nature, as being a Derivation from that Purity, Rectitude, and Holiness, in which God created us, and that Virtue and Religion, and walking by the Laws of God, were altogether preferable to the Ways of Sin and Satan; for that the Ways of Virtue are Ways of Pleasantness, and all their Paths are Peace, Prov. 3. 17.
But what you could not learn from God's Word, by reason of your carelesly, or but superficially considering the same, I hope the Course of his Providence, and the present Afflictions that he hath laid upon you, hath now convinced you of the same: For however in your seeming Prosperity you might make a Mock at your Sins Prov. 3. 17. yet now that you see that God's Hand hath reached you, and brought you to publick Justice, I hope your present unhappy Circumstances hath made you seriously reflect upon your past Actions and Course of Life; and that you are now sensible of the Greatness of your Sins, and that you find the Burden of them is intolerable.
And that therefore being thus labouring, and heavy laden with Sin, Mat. 11. 28. you will esteem that as the most valuable Knowledge, that can shew you how you can be reconciled to that Supreme God that you have so highly offended; and that can reveal to you Him who is not only the powerful Advocate with the Father for you, 1 John 2. 1. but also who hath paid that Debt that is due for your Sins by his own Death upon the Cross for you; and thereby made full Satisfaction for the Justice of God. And this is to be found no where but in God's Word, which discovers to us that Lamb of God which takes away the Sins of the World, John 1. 29. which is Christ the Son of God: For this know, and be assured, that there is none other Name under Heaven given among Men, whereby we must be saved, Acts 4. 12. but only by the Name of the Lord Jesus.
But then consider how he invites all Sinners to come unto him, and, that he will give them rest, Matt. 11. 28. for he assures us, that he came to seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19. 10, Mat. 18. 11. and hath promised, that he that cometh unto him, he will in no wise cast out, John 6. 37.
So that if now you will sincerely turn to him, tho’ late, even at the eleventh Hour, Mat. 20. 6, 9. he will receive you.
But surely I need not tell you, that the Terms of his Mercy is Faith and Repentance.
And do not mistake the Nature of Repentance to be only a bare Sorrow for your Sins, arising from the Consideration of the Evil and Punishment they have now brought upon you; but your Sorrow must arise from the Consideration of your having offended a gracious and merciful God.
But I shall not pretend to give you any particular Directions as to the Nature of Repentance: I consider that I speak to a Person, whose Offences have proceeded not so much from his not knowing, as his slighting and neglecting his Duty: Neither is it proper for me to give Advice out of the Way of my own Profession.
You may have that better delivered to you by those who have made Divinity their particular Study; and who, by their Knowledge, as well as their Office, as being the Ambassadors of Christ, 2 Cor. 5. 20. are best qualified to give you Instructions therein.
I only heartily wish, that what, in Compassion to your Soul, I have now said to you upon this sad and solemn Occasion, by exhorting you in general to Faith and Repentance, may have that due Effect upon you, that thereby you may become a true Penitent.
And therefore having now discharged my Duty to you as a Christian, by giving you the best Counsel I can, with respect to the Salvation of your Soul, I must now do my Office as a Judge.
The Sentence that the Law hath appointed to pass upon you for your Offences, and which this Court doth therefore award, is,
That you, the said Stede Bonnet, shall go from hence to the Place from whence you came, and from thence to the Place of Execution, where you shall be hanged by the Neck till you are dead.
And the God of infinite Mercy be merciful to your Soul.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:53