A General History of the Pyrates, by Daniel Defoe


The Danger of Commonwealths from an Increase of Pyrates. Pyrates in the Times of Marius and Sylla. Takes Julius Cæsar. The Barbarity of those Pyrates. They spare Cæsar, and why. His Behaviour amongst them. Cæsar obtains his Liberty for a Ransom. Attacks and takes the Pyrates. Hangs them at Troy. They increase again to a prodigious Strength. Plunder at the Gates of Rome. The mock Homage they paid the Romans. Pompey the Great, appointed General against them. A prodigious Fleet and Army assign'd him. His Conduct and good Fortune. The Gallantry of those Pyraies. Receive an Overthrow. Barbarouse, a Pyrate, his Beginning. His great Strength. Selim Eutemi, King of Algiers, courts his Friendship. Makes himself King, and how. The King of Tunis overtbrown by him. Leaves the Inheritance to his Brother. The West-Indies commodious for Pyrates, and why. The Explanation of the Word Keys. The Pyrates conceal their Booty on them. The Pyrates Security in those Parts. The Rise of Pyrates since the Peace of Utrecht accounted for. An Expedition from Jamaica, to plunder the Spaniards. The Spaniards sue for Justice to the Government of Jamaica. The Plunderers turn Pyrates. The Spaniards make Reprisals. The Names of Ships taken by them. The plunder'd Seamen join the Pyrates. Providence fixed on as a Place of Retreat by them. That Island described. The Lords Address to her late Majesty for securing Providence. An Order of Council in this Reign to the same Purpose. A List of Men of War employ'd for the Defence of the Plantations. Captain Woods Rogers made Governor of Providence. The King's Proclamation for suppressing Pyrates. How the Pyrates used the Proclamation. Great Divisions amongst them. How made quiet. Several of the Pyrates surrender to the Governor of Bermudas. The Fate of the rest. Woods Rogers his Arrival at Providence. Vane's Behavtour. Woods Rogers employs the pardon'd Pyrates, ib. Their Conduct. Some of them hang'd for new Pyracies. Their strange Behaviour at the Place of Execution. Some Proceedings betwixt the English and Spaniards. The Spaniards surprize the Greyhound Man of War, and how. Quit her. The Crew of a Spanish Guarda del Costa hang'd at Jamaica, and why. Sir Nicholas Laws his Letter to the Alcaldes of Trinidado. Mr. Joseph Laws, Lieutenant of the Happy Snow his Letter to the Alcaldes of Trinidado. The Alcaldes Answer to the Lieutenant's Letter. The Lieutenant's Reply to the Alcaldes Answer. The Alcaldes Answer again. Some Account of Richard Holland. Prizes taken by him.

AS the Pyrates in the West-Indies have been so formidable and numerous, that they have interrupted the Trade of Europe into those Parts; and our English Merchants, in particular, have suffered more by their Depredations, than by the united Force of France and Spain, in the late War: We do not doubt but the World will be curious to know the Original and Progress of these Desperadoes, who were the Terror of the trading Part of the World.

But before we enter upon their particular History, it will not be amiss, by way of Introduction, to shew, by some Examples drawn from History, the great Mischief and Danger which threaten Kingdoms and Commonwealths, from the Increase of these sort of Robbers; when either by the Troubles of particular Times, or the Neglect of Governments, they are not crush'd before they gather Strength.

It has been the Case heretofore, that when a single Pyrate has been suffered to range the Seas, as not being worth the Notice of a Government, he has by Degrees grown so powerful, as to put them to the Expence of a great deal of Blood and Treasure, before he was suppress'd. We shall not examine how it came to pass, that our Pyrates in the West-Indies have continually increased till of late; this is an Enquiry which belongs to the Legislature, or Representatives of the People in Parliament, and to them we shall leave it.

Our Business shall be briefly to shew, what from Beginnings, as inconsiderable as these, other Nations have suffered.

In the Times of Marius and Sylla, Rome was in her greatest Strength, yet she was so torn in Pieces by the Factions of those two great Men, that every Thing which concerned the publick Good was altogether neglected, when certain Pyrates broke out from Cicilia, a Country of Asia Minor, situate on the Coast of the Mediteranean, betwixt Syria on the East, from whence it is divided by Mount Tauris, and Armenia Minor on the West. This Beginning was mean and inconsiderable, having but two or three Ships, and a few Men, with which they cruised about the Greek Islands, taking such Ships as were very ill arm'd or weakly defended; however, by the taking of many Prizes, they soon increased in Wealth and Power: The first Action of their's which made a Noise, was the taking of Julius Cœsar, who was as yet a Youth, and who being obliged to fly from the Cruelties of Sylla, who sought his Life, went into Bithinia, and sojourned a while with Nicomedes, King of that Country; in his Return back by Sea, he was met with, and taken, by some of these Pyrates, near the Island of Pharmacusa: These Pyrates had a barbarous Custom of tying their Prisoners Back to Back and throwing them into the Sea; but, supposing Cœsar to be some Person of a high Rank, because of his purple Robes, and the Number of his Attendants, they thought it would be more for their Profit to preserve him, in hopes of receiving a great Sum for his Ransom; therefore they told him he should have his Liberty, provided he would pay them twenty Talents, which they judg'd to be a very high Demand, in our Money, about three thousand six hundred Pounds Sterling; he smiled, and of his own Accord promised them fifty Talents; they were both pleased, and surpriz'd at his Answer, and consented that several of his Attendants should go by his Direction and raise the Money; and he was left among these Ruffians with no more than 3 Attendants. He pass'd eight and thirty Days, and seemed so little concerned or afraid, that often when he went to sleep, he used to charge them not to make a Noise, threatning, if they disturbed him, to hang them all; he also play'd at Dice with them, and sometimes wrote Verses and Dialogues, which he used to repeat, and also cause them to repeat, and if they did not praise and admire them, he would call them Beasts and Barbarians, telling them he would crucify them. They took all these as the Sallies of a juvenile Humour, and were rather diverted, than displeased at them.

At length his Attendants return'd with his Ransom, which he paid, and was discharged; he sail'd for the Port of Miletum, where, as soon as he was arriv'd, he used all his Art and Industry in fitting out a Squadron of Ships, which he equipp'd and arm'd at his own Charges; and sailing in Quest of the Pyrates, he surpriz'd them as they lay at Anchor among the Islands, and took those who had taken him before, with some others; the Money he found upon them he made Prize of, to reimburse his Charges, and he carry'd the Men to Pergamus or Troy, and there secured them in Prison: In the mean Time, he apply'd himself to Junius, then Governor of Asia, to whom it belonged to judge and determine of the Punishment of these Men; but Junius finding there was no Money to be had, answered Cœsar, that he would think at his Leisure, what was to be done with those Prisoners; Cœsar took his Leave of him, returned back to Pergamus, and commanded that the Prisoners should be brought out and executed, according to Law in that Case provided; which is taken Notice of, in a Chapter at the End of this Book, concerning the Laws in Cases of Pyracy: And thus he gave them that Punishment in Earnest, which he had often threatned them with in Jest.

Cœsar went strait to Rome, where, being engaged in the Designs of his own private Ambition, as were almost all the leading Men in Rome, the Pyrates who were left, had Time to increase to a prodigious Strength; for while the civil Wars lasted, the Seas were left unguarded, so that Plutarch tells us, that they erected diverse Arsenals full of all manner of warlike Stores, made commodious Harbours, set up Watch-Towers and Beacons all along the Coasts of Cilicia; that they had a mighty Fleet, well equipp'd and furnish'd, with Galliots of Oars, mann'd, not only with Men of desperate Courage, but also with expert Pilots and Mariners; they had their Ships of Force, and light Pinnaces for cruising and making Discoveries, in all no less than a thousand Sail; so gloriously set out, that they were as much to be envied for their gallant Shew, as fear'd for their Force; having the Stern and Quarters all gilded with Gold and their Oars plated with Silver, as well as purple Sails; as if their greatest Delight had been to glory in their Iniquity. Nor were they content with committing Pyracies and Insolencies by Sea, they committed as great Depredations by Land, or rather made Conquests; for they took and sack'd no less than four hundred Cities, laid several others under Contributions, plundered the Temples of the Gods, and inriched themselves with the Offerings deposited in them; they often landed Bodies of Men, who not only plundered the Villages along the Sea Coast, but ransacked the fine Houses of the Noblemen along the Tiber. A Body of them once took Sextillius and Bellinus, two Roman Prætors, in their purple Robes, going from Rome to their Governments, and carried them away with all their Sergeants, Officers and Vergers; they also took the Daughter of Antonius a consular Person, and one who had obtained the Honour of a Triumph, as she was going to the Country House of her Father.

But what was most barbarous, was a Custom they had when they took any Ship, of enquiring of the Person on Board, concerning their Names and Country; if any of them said he was a Roman, they fell down upon their Knees, as if in a Fright at the Greatness of that Name, and begg'd Pardon for what they had done, and imploring his Mercy, they used to perform the Offices of Servants about his Person, and when they found they had deceived him into a Belief of their being sincere, they hung out the Ladder of the Ship, and coming with a shew of Courtesy, told him, he had his Liberty, desiring him to walk out of the Ship, and this in the Middle of the Sea, and when they observed him in Surprize, as was natural, they used to throw him overboard with mighty shouts of Laughter; so wanton they were in their Cruelty.

Thus, while Rome was Mistress of the World, she suffered Insults and Affronts, almost at her Gates, from these powerful Robbers; but what for a while made Faction cease, and roused the Genius of that People, never used to suffer Wrongs from a fair Enemy, was an excessive Scarcity of Provisions in Rome, occasioned by all the Ships loaden with Corn and Provisions from Sicily, Corsica, and other Places, being intercepted and taken by these Pyrates, insomuch that they were almost reduced to a Famine: Upon this, Pompey the Great was immediately appointed General to manage this War; five hundered Ships were immediately fitted out, he had fourteen Senators, Men of Experience in the War, for his Vice-Admirals; and so considerable an Enemy, were these Ruffians become, that no less than an Army of a hundred thousand Foot, and five thousand Horse was appointed to invade them by Land; but it happened very luckily for Rome, that Pompey sail'd out before the Pyrate had Intelligence of a Design against them, so that their Ships were scattered all over the Mediterranean, like Bees gone out from a Hive, some one Way, some another, to bring Home their Lading; Pompey divided his Fleet into thirteen Squadrons, to whom he appointed their several Stations, so that great Numbers of the Pyrates fell into their Hands, Ship by Ship, without any Loss; forty Days he passed in scouring the Mediterranean, some of the Fleet cruizing along the Coast of Africk, some about the Islands, and some upon the Italian Coasts, so that often those Pyrates who were flying from one Squadron, fell in with another; however, some of them escaped, and these making directly to Cilicia, and acquainting their Confederates on Shore with what had happened, they appointed a Rendezvous of all the Ships that had escaped at the Port of Coracesium, in the same Country. Pompey finding the Mediterranean quite clear, appointed a Meeting of all his Fleet at the Haven of Brundusium, and from thence sailing round into the Adriatick, he went directly to attack these Pyrates in their Hives; as soon as he came near the Corecesium in Cilicia, where the Remainder of the Pyrates now lay, they had the Hardiness to come and give him Battle, but the Genius of old Rome prevailed, and the Pyrates received an entire Overthrow, being all either taken or destroyed; but as they made many strong Fortresses upon the Sea Coast, and built Castles and strong Holds up the Country, about the Foot of Mount Taurus, he was obliged to besiege them with his Army; some Places he took by Storm, others surrendered to his Mercy, to whom he gave their Lives, and at length he made an entire Conquest.

But it is probable, that had these Pyrates receiv'd sufficient Notice of the Roman Preparation against them, so as they might have had Time to draw their scattered Strength into a Body, to have met Pompey by Sea, the Advantage appeared greatly on their Side, in Numbers of Shipping, and of Men; nor did they want Courage, as may be seen by their coming out of the Port of Coracesium, to give the Romans Battle, with a Force much inferior to their's; I say, had they overthrown Pompey, it is likely they would have made greater Attempts, and Rome, which had conquer'd the whole World, might have been subdued by a Parcel of Pyrates.

This is a Proof how dangerous it is to Governments to be negligent, and not take an early Care in suppressing these Sea Banditti, before they gather Strength.

The Truth of this Maxim may be better exemplified in the History of Barbarouse, a Native in the City of Mitylene, in the Island of Lesbos, in the Egean Sea; a Fellow of ordinary Birth, who being bred to the Sea, first set out from thence upon the pyrating Account with only one small Vessel, but by the Prizes he took, he gain'd immense Riches, so that getting a great Number of large Ships, all the bold and dissolute Fellows of those Islands flock'd to him, and listed in his Service, for the Hopes of Booty; so that his Strength was increased to a formidable Fleet: With these he perform'd such bold and adventurous Actions, that he became the Terror of the Seas. About this Time it happened that Selim Eutemi, King of Algiers, having refused to pay the accustomed Tribute to the Spaniards, was apprehensive of an Invasion from thence; wherefore he treated with Barbarouse, upon the Foot of an Ally, to come and assist him, and deliver him from paying this Tribute; Barbarouse readily came into it, and sailing to Algiers with a great Fleet, he put part of his Men on Shore, and having laid a Plot to surprize the City, he effected it with great Success, and murder'd Selim in a Bath; soon after which, he was himself crowned King of Algiers; after this he made War upon Abdilabde, King of Tunis, and overthrew him in Battle; he extended his Conquests on all Sides; and thus from a Thief became a mighty King: and tho’ he was at last kill'd in Battle, yet he had so well established himself upon that Throne, that, dying without Issue, he left the Inheritance of the Kingdom to his Brother, another Pyrate.

I come now to speak of the Pyrates infesting the West-Indies, where they are more numerous than in any other Parts of the World, on several Reasons:

First, Because there are so many uninhabited little Islands and Keys, with Harbours convenient and secure for cleaning their Vessels, and abounding with what they often want, Provision; I mean Water, Sea-Fowl, Turtle, Shell, and other Fish; where, if they carry in but strong Liquor, they indulge a Time, and become ready for new Expeditions before any Intelligence can reach to hurt them.

It may here perhaps be no unnecessary Digression, to explain upon what they call Keys in the West-Indies: These are small sandy Islands, appearing a little above the Surf of the Water, with only a few Bushes or Weeds upon them, but abound (those most at any Distance from the Main) with Turtle, amphibious Animals, that always chuse the quietest and most unfrequented Place, for laying their Eggs, which are to a vast Number in the Seasons, and would seldom be seen, but for this, (except by Pyrates:) Then Vessels from Jamaica and the other Governments make Voyages, called Turtling, for supplying the People, a common and approved Food with them. I am apt to think these Keys, especially those night Islands, to have been once contiguous with them, and separated by Earth-quakes (frequently there) or Inundations, because some of them that have been within continual View, as those nigh Jamaica, are observed within our Time, to be entirely wasted away and lost, and others daily wasting. There are not only of the Use above taken Notice of to Pyrates; but it is commonly believed were always in buccaneering pyratical Times, the hiding Places for their Riches, and often Times a Shelter for themselves, till their Friends on the Main, had found Means to obtain Indemnity for their Crimes; for you must understand, when Acts of Grace were more frequent, and the Laws less severe, these Men continually found Favours and Incouragers at Jamaica, and perhaps they are not all dead yet; I have been told many of them them still living have been of the same Trade, and left it off only because they can live as well honestly, and gain now at the hazard of others Necks.

Secondly, another Reason why these Seas are chose by Pyrates, is the great Commerce thither by French, Spaniards, Dutch, and especially English Ships: They are sure in the Latitude of these trading Islands, to meet with Prizes, Booties of Provision, Cloathing, and Naval-Stores, and sometimes Money; there being great Sums remitted this Way to England; (the Returns of the Assiento, and private Slave-Trade, to the Spanish West-Indies:) And in short, by some one or other, all the Riches of Potost.

A third Reason, is the Inconveniency and Difficulty of being pursued by the Men of War, the many small Inlets, Lagoons and Harbours, on these solitary Islands and Keys, is a natural Security.

’Tis generally here that the Pyrates begin their Enterprizes, setting out at first with a very small Force; and by infesting these Seas, and those of the Continent of North-America, in a Year's Time, if they have good luck on their Sides, they accumulate such Strength, as enables them to make foreign Expeditions: The first, is usually to Guiney, taking the Azores and Cape de Verd Islands in their Way, and then to Brazil and the East-Indies, where if they meet with prosperous Voyages, they set down at Madagascar, or the neighbouring Islands, and enjoy their ill gotten Wealth, among their elder Brethren, with Impunity. But that I may not give too much Encouragement to the Profession, I must inform my maritime Readers, that the far greater Part of these Rovers are cut short in the Pursuit, by a sudden Precipitation into the other World.

The Rise of these Rovers, since the Peace of Utrecht, or at least, the great Encrease of them, may justly be computed to the Spanish Settlements in the West-Indies; the Governors of which, being often some hungry Courtiers, sent thither to repair or make a Fortune, generally Countenance all Proceedings that bring in Profit: They grant Commissions to great Numbers of Vessels of War, on Pretence of preventing an interloping Trade, with Orders to seize all Ships or Vessels whatsoever, within five Leagues of their Coasts, which our English Ships cannot well avoid coming, in their Voyage to Jamaica. But if the Spanish Captains chance to exceed this Commission, and rob and plunder at Discretion, the Sufferers are allowed to complain, and exhibit a Process in their Court, and after great Expence of Suit, Delay of Time, and other Inconveniencies, obtain a Decree in their Favour, but then when the Ship and Cargo comes to be claim'd, with Costs of Suit, they find, to their Sorrow, that it has been previously condemn'd, and the Plunder divided among the Crew; the Commander that made the Capture, who alone is responsible, is found to be a poor raskally Fellow, not worth a Groat, and, no doubt, is plac'd in that Station for the like Purposes.

The frequent Losses sustain'd by our Merchants abroad, by these Pyrates, was Provocation enough to attempt something by way of Reprisal; and a fair Opportunity offering it self in the Year 1716, the Traders of the West-Indies, took Care not to slip it over, but made the best Use of it their Circumstances would permit.

It was about two Years before, that the Spanish Galleons, or Plate Fleet, had been cast away in the Gulf of Florida; and several Vessels from the Havana, were at work, with diving Engines, to fish up the Silver that was on board the Galleons.

The Spaniards had recovered some Millions of Pieces of Eight, and had carried it all to the Havana; but they had at present about 350000 Pieces of Eight in Silver, then upon the Spot, and were daily taking up more. In the mean time, two Ships, and three Sloops, fitted out from Jamaica, Barbadoes, &c. under Captain Henry Jennings, sail'd to the Gulf, and found the Spaniards there upon the Wreck; the Money before spoken of, was left on Shore, deposited in a Store-House, under the Government of two Commissaries, and a Guard of about 60 Soldiers.

The Rovers came directly upon the Place, bringing their little Fleet to an Anchor, and, in a Word, landing 300 Men, they attack'd the Guard, who immediately ran away; and thus they seized the Treasure, which they carried off, making the best of their Way to Jamaica.

In their Way they unhappily met with a Spanish Ship, bound from Porto Bello to the Havana, with a great many rich Goods, viz. Bales of Cochineal, Casks of Indico, and 60000 Pieces of Eight more, which their Hands being in, they took, and having rifled the Vessel, let her go.

They went away to Jamaica with their Booty, and were followed in View of the Port, by the Spaniards, who having seen them thither, went back to the Governor of the Havana, with the Account of it, who immediately sent a Vessel to the Governor of Jamaica to complain of this Robbery, and to reclaim the Goods.

As it was in full Peace, and contrary to all Justice and Right, that this Fact was committed, they were soon made sensible that the Government at Jamaica would not suffer them to go unpunished, much less protect them. Therefore they saw a Necessity of shifting for themselves; so, to make bad worse, they went to Sea again, tho’ not without disposing of their Cargo to good Advantage, and furnishing themselves with Ammunition, Provisions, &c. and being thus made desperate, they turn'd Pyrates, robbing not the Spaniards only, but their own Countrymen, and any Nation they could lay their Hands on.

It happened about this Time, that the Spaniards, with three or four small Men of War, fell upon our Logwood Cutters, in the Bay of Campeachy, and Bay of Honduras; and after they had made Prizes of the following Ships and Vessels, they gave the Men belonging to them, three Sloops to carry them home, but these Men being made desperate by their Misfortunes, and meeting with the Pyrates, they took on with them, and so encreas'd their Number.

The LIST of Ships and Vessels taken by the Spanish Men of War in the Year 1716.

The Stafford, Captain Knocks, from New-England, bound for London.

Anne, —— Gernish, for London.

Dove —— Grimstone, for New-England.

A Sloop, —— Alden, for New-England.

A Brigantine, —— Mosson, for New-England.

A Brigantine, —— Turfield, for New-England.

A Brigantine, —— Tennis, for New-England.

A Ship, ———— Porter, for New-England.

Indian Emperor, Wentworth, for New-England.

A Ship, —— Rich, Master.

A Ship, —— Bay.

A Ship, —— Smith.

A Ship, —— Stockum.

A Ship, —— Satlely.

A Sloop, ———— Richards, belonging to New-England.

Two Sloops, ———— belonging to Jamaica.

One Sloop ———— of Barbadoes.

Two Ships ———— from Scotland.

Two Ships ———— from Holland.

The Rovers being now pretty strong, they consulted together about getting some Place of Retreat, where they might lodge their Wealth, clean and repair their Ships, and make themselves a kind of Abode. They were not long in resolving, but fixed upon the Island of Providence, the most considerable of the Bahama Islands, lying in the Latitude of about 24 Degrees North, and to the Eastward of the Spanish Florida.

This Island is about 28 Miles long, and eleven where broadest, and has a Harbour big enough to hold 500 Sail of Ships; before which lies a small Island, which makes two Inlets to the Harbour; at either Way there is a Bar, over which no Ship of 500 Tun can pass. The Bahama Islands were possess'd by the English till the Year 1700, when the French and Spaniards from Petit Guavus, invaded them, took the Fort and Governor in the Island of Providence, plunder'd and destroy'd the Settlements, &c. carried off half the Blacks, and the rest of the People, who fled to the Woods, retired afterwards to Carolina.

In March 1705-6, the House of Lords did in an Address to her late Majesty, set forth, ‘That the French and Spaniards had twice, during the Time of the War, over run and plundered the Bahama Islands, that there was no Form of Government there: That the Harbour of the Isle of Providence, might be easily put in a Posture of Defence, and that it would be of dangerous Consequence, should those Islands fall into the Hands of the Enemy; wherefore the Lords humbly besought her Majesty to use such Methods as she should think proper for taking the said Island into her Hands, in order to secure the same to the Crown of this Kingdom, and to the Security and Advantage of the Trade thereof.

But, however it happened, no Means were used in compliance to that Address, for securing the Bahama Islands, till the EnglishPyrates had made Providence their Retreat and general Recepticle; then ’twas found absolutely necessary, in order to dislodge that troublesome Colony; and Information being made by the Merchants to the Government, of the Mischief they did, and were likely to do, his Majesty was pleased to grant the following Order.

Whitehall September 15, 1716.

‘COmplaint having been made to his Majesty, by great Number of Merchants, Masters of Sh ps and others, as well as by several Governors of his Majesty's Islands and Plantations in the West-Indies; that the Pyrates are grown so numerous, that they infest not only the Seas near Jamaica, but even those of the Northern Continent of America; and that, unless some effectual Means be used, the whole Trade from Great Britain to those Parts, will not be only obstructed, but in imminent Danger of being lost: His Majesty has, upon mature Deliberation in Council, been pleased, in the first Place, to order a proper Force to be employ'd for the suppressing the said Pyrates, which Force so to be employed, is as follows.

‘A List of his Majesty's Ships and Vessels employed, and to be employed, at the British Governments and Plantations in the West-Indies.

Place where. Rates, Ships, Guns.
Jamaica, 5 Adventure, 40 Now there.
Jamaica, Diamond, 40 Sail'd from hence thither 5th oflast Month.
Jamaica, Ludlow Castle, 40 To carry the Governor.
Jamaica, Swift Sloop, Now there.
Jamaica, 6 Winchelsea, 20 Surveying the Coast of the West-Indies, and then to return Home; but, during her being at Jamaica, is to join the others, for Security of the Trade, and intercepting Pyrates.
Barbadoes, 5 Scarborough, 30 Now there.
Leeward Islands, 6 Seaford, Now there.
Tryal Sloop, 6
Virginia, 6 Lime, 20 Now there.
Virginia, 5 Shoreham, 30 Order'd Home.
Virginia, Pearl, 40 Sailed thither from Home the 7th of last Month, and is to cruise about the Capes.
New-York, 6 Phœnix, 30 Now there.
New-England, Squirrel, 20
New-England, Rose, 20 Order'd Home.

‘Those at Jamaica, Barbadoes and the Leeward Islands, are to join upon Occasion, for annoying the Pyrates, and the Security of the Trade: And those at New-England, Virginia and New-York, are to do the like.

Besides these Frigots, two Men of War were ordered to attend Captain Rogers, late Commander of the two Bristol Ships, called the Duke and Dutchess, that took the rich Acapulca Ship, and made a Tour round the Globe. This Gentleman received a Commission from his Majesty, to be Governor of the Island of Providence, and was vested with Power to make Use of all possible Methods for reducing the Pyrates; and that nothing might be wanting, he carried with him, the King's Proclamation of Pardon, to those who should return to their Duty by a certain Time; the Proclamation is as follows;

By the KING,

A PROCLAMATION, for suppressing of Pyrates.


WHereas we have received Information, that several Persons, Subjects of Great Britain, have since the 24th Day of June, in the Year of our Lord 1715, committed divers Pyracies and Robberies upon the High-Seas, in the West-Indies, or adjoyning to our Plantations, which hath and may Occasion great Damage to the Merchants of Great Britain, and others trading into those Parts; and tho’ we have appointed such a Force as we judge sufficient for suppressing the said Pyrates, yet the more effectually to put an End to the same, we have thought fit, by and with the Advice of our Privy Council, to Issue this our Royal Proclamation; and we do hereby promise, and declare, that in Case any of the said Pyrates, shall on or before the 5th of September, in the Year of our Lord 1718, surrender him or themselves, to one of our Principal Secretaries of State in Great Britain or Ireland, or to any Governor or Deputy Governor of any of our Plantations beyond the Seas; every such Pyrate and Pyrates so surrendering him, or themselves, as aforesaid, shall have our gracious Pardon, of and for such, his or their Pyracy, or Pyracies, by him or them committed before the fifth of January next ensuing. And we do hereby strictly charge and command all our Admirals, Captains, and other Officers at Sea, and all our Governors and Commanders of any Forts, Castles, or other Places in our Plantations, and all other our Officers Civil and Military, to seize and take such of the Pyrates, who shall refuse or neglect to surrender themselves accordingly. And we do hereby further declare, that in Case any Person or Persons, on, or after, the 6th Day of September 1718, shall discover or seize, or cause or procure to be discovered or seized, any one or more of the said Pyrates, so refusing or neglecting to surrender themselves as aforesaid, so as they may be brought to Justice, and convicted of the said Offence, such Person or Persons, so making such Discovery or Seizure, or causing or procuring such Discovery or Seizure to be made, shall have and receive as a Reward for the same, viz. for every Commander of any private Ship or Vessel, the Sum of 100 l. for every Lieutenant, Master, Boatswain, Carpenter, and Gunner, the Sum of 40 l; for every inferior Officer, the Sum of 30 l. and for every private Man, the Sum of 20 l. And if any Person or Persons, belonging to and being Part of the Crew of any such Pyrate Ship or Vessel, shall on or after the said sixth Day of September 1718, seize and deliver, or cause to be seized or delivered, any Commander or Commanders, of such Pyrate Ship or Vessel, so as that he or they be brought to Justice, and convicted of the said Offence, such Person or Persons, as a Reward for the same, shall receive for every such Commander, the Sum of 200 l. which said Sums, the Lord Treasurer, or the Commissioners of our Treasury for the Time being, are hereby required, and desired to pay accordingly.

Given at our Court, at Hampton-Court, the fifth Day of September, 1717, in the fourth Year of our Regin.

God save the KING.

Before Governor Rogers went over, the Proclamation was sent to them, which they took as Teague took the Covenant, that is, they made Prize of the Ship and Proclamation too; however, they sent for those who were out a Cruising, and called a general Council, but there was so much Noise and Clamour, that nothing could be agreed on; some were for fortifying the Island, to stand upon their own Terms, and Treating with the Government upon the Foot of a Commonwealth; others were also for strengthening the Island for their own Security, but were not strenuous for these Punctillios, so that they might have a general Pardon, without being obliged to make any Restitution, and to retire, with all their Effects, to the neighbouring British Plantations.

But Captain Jennings, who was their Commadore, and who always bore a great Sway among them, being a Man of good Understanding, and a good Estate, before this Whim took him of going a Pyrating, resolved upon surrendering, without more ado, to the Terms of the Proclamation, which so disconcerted all their Measures, that the Congress broke up very abruptly without doing any Thing; and presently Jennings, and by his Example, about 150 more, came in to the Governor of Bermudas, and had their Certificates, tho’ the greatest Part of them returned again, like the Dog to the Vomit. The Commanders who were then in the Island, besides Captain Jennings abovementioned, I think were these, Benjamin Hornigold Edward Teach, John Martel, James Fife, Christopher Winter, Nicholas Brown, Paul Williams, Charles Bellamy, Oliver la Bouche, Major Penner, Ed. England, T. Burgess Tho. Cocklyn, R. Sample, Charles Vane, and two or three others: Hornigold, Williams Burgess and la Bouche were afterwards cast away; Teach and Penner killed, and their Crews taken; James Fife killed by his own Men; Martel's Crew destroyed, and he forced on an uninhabited Island; Cocklyn, Sample and Vane hanged; Winter and Brown surrendered to the Spaniards at Cuba, and England lives now at Madagascar.

In the Month of May or June 1718, Captain Rogers arrived at his Government, with two of his Majesty's Ships, and found several of the abovesaid Pyrates there, who upon the coming of the Men of War, all surrendered to the Pardon, except Charles Vane and his Crew, which happened after this Manner.

I have before described the Harbour to have two Inlets, by Means of a small Island lying at the Mouth of it; at one of which, both the Men of War entered, and left the other open, so that Vane slip'd his Cable, set Fire to a large Prize they had there, and resolutely put out, firing at the Man of War as he went off.

As soon as Captain Rogers had settled himself in his Government, he built a Fort for his Defence, and garrisoned it with the People he found upon the Island; the quondamPyrates, to the Number of 400, he formed into Companies, appointed Officers of those whom he most confided in, and then set about to settle a Trade with the Spaniards, in the Gulf of Mexico; in one of which Voyages, Captain Burgess abovementioned, died, and Captain Hornigold, another of the famous Pyrates, was cast away upon Rocks, a great Way from Land, and perished, but five of his Men got into a Canoe and were saved.

Captain Rogers sent out a Sloop to get Provisions, and gave the Command to one John Augur, one of the Pyrates, who had accepted of the Act of Grace; in their Voyage they met with two Sloops, and John and his Comrades not yet forgetting their former Business, made Use of their old Freedom, and took out of them in Money and Goods, to the Value of about 500 l. after this they steered away for Hispaniola, not being satisfy'd whether the Governor would admit them to carry on two Trades at once, and so thought to have bidden Farewel to the Bahama Islands; but as ill Luck would have it, they met with a violent Turnado, wherein they lost their Mast, and were drove back to one of the uninhabited Bahama's, and lost their Sloop; the Men got all ashore, and lived up and down in the Wood, for a little Time, till Governor Rogers happening to hear of their Expedition, and where they had got to, sent out an armed Sloop to the aforesaid Island; the Master of which, with good Words and fair Promises, got them on Board, and brought them all to Providence, being a eleven Persons, ten of which were try'd at a Court of Admiralty, convicted, and hanged by the other's Evidence, in the Sight of all their former Companions and fellow Thieves. The Criminals would fain have spirited up the pardoned Pyrates, to rescue them out of the Hands of the Officers of Justice, telling them from the Gallows, that, They never thought to have seen the Time, when ten such Men as they should be ty'd up and hanged like Dogs, and four hundered of their sworn Friends and Companions quietly standing by to behold the Spectacle. One Humphrey Morrice urged the Matter further than the rest, taxing them with Pusilanimity and Cowardice, as if it were a Breach of Honour in them not to rise and save them from the ignominious Death they were going to suffer. But ’twas all in vain, they were now told, it was their Business to turn their Minds to another World, and sincerely to repent of what Wickedness they had done in this. Yes, answered one of them, I do heartily repent; I repent I had not done more Mischief, and that we did not cut the Throats of them that took us, and I am extremely sorry that you an't all hang'd as well as we. So do I, says another: And I, says a third; and then they were all turned off, without making any other dying Speeches, except one Dennis Macarty, who told the People, That some Friends of his had often said he should die in his Shoes, but that he would make them Lyars, and so kicked them off. And thus ended the Lives, with their Adventures, of those miserable Wretches, who may serve as sad Examples of the little Effect Mercy has upon Men once abandoned to an evil Course of Life.

Least I be thought severe in my Animadversions upon the Span sh Proceedings in the West-Indies, in respect to their Dealings with us; I shall mention an Instance or two, wherein I'll be as concise as possible, and then transcribe some original Letters from the Governor of Jamaica, and an Officer of a Man of War, to the Alcaldees of Trinidado, on the Island of Cuba, with their Answers, translated into English, and then proceed to the particular Histories of the Pyrates and their Crews, that have made most Noise in the World in our own Times.

About March 1722, one of our Men of War trading upon the Coast, viz. the Greyhound Galley, Captain Walron, the said Captain invited some of the Merchants to Dinner, who with their Attendants and Friends came on Board to the Number of 16 or 18 in all; and having concerted Measures, about six or eight dined in the Cabin, and the rest were waiting on the Deck. While the Captain and his Guests were at Dinner, the Boatswain Pipes for the Ship's Company to dine; accordingly the Men take their Platters, receive their Provisions, and down they go between Decks, leaving only 4 or 5 Hands besides the Spaniards, above, who were immediately dispatched by them, and the Hatches laid on the rest; those in the Cabin were as ready as their Companions, for they pulled out their Pistols and shot the Captain, Surgeon and another dead, and grievously wounded the Lieutenant; but he geting out of the Window upon a Side-Ladder, thereby saved his Life, and so they made themselves Masters of the Ship in an Instant: But by accidental good Fortune, she was recovered before she was carry'd off; for Captain Walron having mann'd a Sloop with 30 Hands out of his Ship's Company, had sent her to Windward some Days before, also for Trade, which the Spaniards knew very well; and just as the Action was over they saw this Sloop coming down, before the Wind, towards their Ship; upon which the Spaniards took about 10000 l. in Specie, as I am informed, quitted the Ship, and went off in their Launch unmolefted.

About the same Time, a Guard le Coast, of Porto Rico, commanded by one Matthew Luke, an Italian, took four English Vessels, and murthered all the Crews: He was taken by the Lanceston Man of War, in May 1722, and brought to Jamaica, were they were all but seven deservedly hanged. It is likely the Man of War might not have meddled with her, but that she blindly laid the Lanceston on Board, thinking she had been a Merchant Ship, who thereupon catched a Tartar. Afterwards in rummaging there was found a Cartridge of Powder ma e up with a Piece of an English Journal, belonging, I believe, to the Crean Snow; and upon Examination, at last, it was discovered that they had taken this Vessel and murthered the Crew; and one of the Spaniards, when he came to die, confessed that he had killed twenty English Men with his own Hands.

S. Jago de la Vega, Febr 20.

A Letter from his Excellency Sir Nicolas Laws, our Governor, to the Alcaldes of Trinidado on Cuba, dated the 26th of Jan. 1721-2.


‘THE frequent Depredations, Robberies, and other Acts of Hostility, which have been committed on the King my Royal Master's Subjects, by a Parcel of Banditti, who pretend to have Commissions from you, and in Reality are sheltered under your Government, is the Occasion of my sending the Bearer Captain Chamberlain, Commander of his Majesty's Snow Happy, to demand Satisfaction of you for so many notorious Robberies which your People have lately committed on the King's Subjects of this Island; particularly by those Traytors, Nicolas Brown and Christopher Winter, to whom you have given Protection. Such Proceedings as these are not only a Breach of the Law of Nations, but must appear to the World of a very extraordinary Nature, when considered that the Subjects of a Prince in Amity and Friendship with another, should give Countenance and encourage such vile Practices. I confess I have had long Patience, and declined using any violent Measures to obtain Satisfaction, hoping the Cessation of Arms, so happily concluded upon between our respective Sovereigns, would have put an effectual Stop to those Disorders; but on the contrary, I now find the Port of Trinidado a Receptacle to Villains of all Nations. I do therefore think fit to acquaint you, and assure you in the King my Master's Name, that if I do meet with any of your Rogues for the future upon the Coast of this Island, I will order them to be hanged directly without Mercy; and I expect and demand of you to make ample Restitution to Captain Chamberlain of all the Negroes which the said Brown and Winter have lately taken off from the North-Side of this Island, and also of such Sloops and other Effects as they have been taken and robbed of, since the Cessation of Arms, and that you will deliver up to the Bearer such English Men as are now detained, or otherwise remain at Trinidado; and also expect you will hereafter forbear granting any Commissions, or suffer any such notorious Villains to be equipp'd and fitted out from your Port: otherwise you may depend upon it, those that I can meet with, shall be esteemed Pyrates, and treated as such; of which I thought proper to give you Notice, and am, &c.

A Letter from Mr. Joseph Laws, Lieutenant of his Majesty's Ship, Happy Snow, to the Alcaldes of Trinidado.


‘I Am sent by Commadore Vernon, Commander in Chief of all his Majesty's Ships in the West-Indies, to demand in the King our Master's Name, all the Vessels, with their Effects, &c. and also the Negroes taken from Jamaica since the Cessation of Arms; likewise all Englishmen now detained, or otherwise remaining in your Port of Trinidado, particularly Nicholas Brown and Christopher Winter, both of them being Traytors, Pyrates and common Enemies to all Nations: And the said Commadore hath ordered me to acquaint you, that he is surprized that the Subjects of a Prince in Amity and Friendship with another, should give Countenance to such notorious Villains. In Expectation of your immediate Compliance, I am, Gentlemen,

Off the River Trinidado, Feb. 8. 1720.

Your humble Servant, Joseph Laws.

The Answer of the Alcaldes of Trinidado, to Mr. Laws's Letter.

Capt. Laws,

‘IN Answer to yours, this serves to acquaint you, that neither in this City, nor Port, are there any Negroes or Vessels which have been taken at your Island of Jamaica, nor on that Coast, since the Cessation of Arms; and what Vessels have been taken since that Time, have been for trading in an unlawful Commerce on this Coast; and as for those English Fugitives you mention, they are here as other Subjects of our Lord the King, being brought voluntarily to our holy Catholick Faith, and have received the Water of Baptism; but if they should prove Rogues, and should not comply with their Duty, in which they are bound at present, then they shall be chastized according to the Ordinances of our King, whom God preserve. And we beg you will weigh Anchor as soon as possible, and leave this Port and its Coasts, because upon no Account you shall be suffered to trade, or any Thing else; for we are resolved not to admit thereof. God preserve you. We kiss your Hand.

Trinidada, Feb. 8, 1722.

Signed, Hieronimo de Fuentes, Benette Alfonso del Manzano.

Mr. Laws's Reply to the Alcaldes Letter.


‘YOUR refusing to deliver up the Subjects of the King my Master, is somewhat surprizing, it being in a Time of Peace, and the detaining them consequently against the Law of Nations. Notwithstanding your trifling Pretence (for which you have no Foundation but to forge an Excuse) to prevent my making any Enquiry into the Truth of the Facts I have alledged in my former, I must tell you my Resolutions are, to stay on the Coast till I have made Reprizals; and should I meet any Vessels belonging to your Port, I shall not treat them as the Subjects of the Crown of Spain, but as Pyrates, finding it a Part of your Religion in this Place to protect such Villains.

Off the River Trinidado, Feb. 8. 1720.

Your humble Servant, Joseph Laws.

The Answer of one of the Alcaldes to Mr. Laws's Reply.

Captain Laws,

‘YOU may assure your self, I will never be wanting in the Duty of my Post. The Prisoners that are here are not in Prison, but only kept here to be sent to the Governor of the Havana: If you (as you say) command at Sea, I command on Shoar: If you treat the Spaniards, you should happen to take, as Pyrates, I will do the same by every one of your People I can take up: I will not be wanting to good Manners, if you will do the same. I can likewise act the Soldier, if any Occasion should offer that way, for I have very good People here for that purpose. If you pretend any Thing else, you may execute it on this Coast. God preserve you. I kiss your Hand.

Trinidado, Feb. 20. 1720.

Signed, Bennette Alfonso del Menzano.

The last Advices we have received from our Plantations in America, dated June 9th, 1724, gives us the following Account, viz. That Captain Jones in the Ship John and Mary, on the 5th of the said Month, met with, near the Capes of Virginia, a Spanish Guard del Coast, commanded by one Don Benito, said to be commissioned by the Governor of Cuba: ‘She was manned with 60 Spaniards, 18 French Men and 18 English, and had an English Captain as well as Spanish, one Richard Holland, who formerly belonged to the Suffolk Man of War, which he deserted at Naples, and took Shelter in a Convent. He served on Board the Spanish Fleet under Admiral Cammock, in the War in the Mediterranean; and after the Cessation of Arms with Spain, settled with several of his Countrymen (Irish) in the Spanish West-Indies. This Guard del Coast made Prize of Captain Jones's Ship, and kept Possession of her from 5th to the 8th, during which Time she took also the Prudent Hannah of Boston, Thomas Mousell Master, and the Dolphin of Topsham, Theodore Bare Master, both laden and bound for Virginia: The former they sent away together with three Men and the Mate, under the Command of a Spanish Officer and Crew, the same Day she was taken; the latter they carried off with them, putting the Master and all the Crew aboard Captain Jones's Ship. They plundered Captain Jones of thirty six Men Slaves, some Gold-Dust, all his Cloaths, four great Guns and small Arms, and about four hundred Gallons of Rum, besides his Provisions and Stores, computed in all to 1500 l. Sterling.


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