The History of the Pyrates, by Daniel Defoe

Of Captain Worley.

THE History of the pyrates being an Undertaking of great Length and Variety, the Author readily owns, that in some Parts, he may not be so exact, as they who have been occasionally upon the Spot when these particular Incidents have happen'd. But in any Circumstances he has omitted or misrepresented, he applies to such Persons for better Information; which Correction or Addition (as several others have been) shall be inserted as a Supplement to the whole.

And he hereby acknowledges himself much obliged to the worthy Gentleman who sent the following Letter, for his kind Assistance, in promoting his chief Design, which is to render as compleat as possible, a Work of so difficult a Nature.

To Mr. Johnson, Author of the Lives of the pyrates.


IN perusing your Book, Entitled, A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most notorious pyrates, &c. I find there an Account of the taking Captain Worley and his Crew, in many Particulars of which you have been very much misinformed, and consequently the Publick is so; that Pyrate having been taken off the Bar of Charles Town in South Carolina by Col. Robert Johnson, the then Governor, in Person; to whom to do Justice, I have sent you the following Account of the taking him; for, as to his Beginning and Rise, I cannot say but your Account may be right, as you have set it forth in your aforesaid Book.

In October, 1718, Governor Johnson was informed, that there was a Pyrate Ship off the Bar of Charles Town, commanded by one Moody, carrying 50 Guns, and near 200 Men, that he had taken two Ships bound to that Port from New England, and was come to an Anchor with them to the Southward of the Bar; whereupon, he called his Council and the principal Gentlemen of the Place, and proposed to them, to fit out a proper Force to go out and attack him, fearing he might lie there some Time, as Thatch and Vane had done before, and annoy the Trade; which they unanimously agreeing, and there being, at that Time, 14 or 15 Ships in the Harbour, he impress'd the Mediterranean Gally, Arthur Loan, and the King William, John Watkinson, Commanders; and two Sloops, one of which was the Revenge, taken from Stede Bonnet, the Pyrate, and another from Philadelphia; the former, Captain John Masters commanded, and the latter, Captain Fayrer Hall; which two Captains had lately commanded the same Sloops that took Bonnet at Cape Fear, about a Month before. On board the Mediterranean was put 24 Guns, and 30 on Board the King William; the Revenge Sloop had 8, and the other Sloop 6 Guns; and being thus equipp'd, the Governor issued a Proclamation, to encourage Voluntiers to go on Board, promising ’em all the Booty to be shar'd among them, and that he himself would go in Person with ’em; but the Ships and Sloops before-mentioned being impress'd, it was natural for the Commanders to desire some Assurance of Satisfaction to be made the Owners, in Case of a Misfortune; so that the Governor found it necessary to call the General Assembly of the Province, without whom it was impossible for him to give them the Satisfaction they desired, and who, without any Hesitation, pass'd a Vote, that they would pay for the said Vessels, in Case they were lost, according to an Appraisement then made of them, and what other Expences accrued to carry on this necessary Expedition. This Way of Proceeding took up a Week's Time, during which, the Governor ordered Scout Boats to ply up and down the River, as well to guard the Port from any Attempts the pyrates might make to Land, as to hinder them from having Advice of what was doing, and also laid an Embargo on the Shipping.

About three Days before the Governor sail'd, there appear'd off the Barr a Ship, and a Sloop, who came to an Anchor, and made a Signal for a Pilot; but they being suppos'd to be Moody, and a Sloop that had join'd him (as it was said he expected) no Pilot was permitted to go near them, and thus they rid for four Days, once or twice attempting to send their Boat on Shore, to an Island, call'd, Suilivants Island (as they afterwards confess'd) to fetch Water, of which they were in great Want; but they were prevented by the Scout Boats before-mentioned: And, for Want of which, they were obliged to continue in the same Station, in hopes some Ship would be coming in or going out, to relieve their Necessities, they being very short also of Provisions.

And now all Things being ready, and about Three hundred Men on Board the four Vessels, the Governor thought himself a Match for Moody in his 50 Gun Ship, although he should be, as they thought he was, join'd by a Sloop: And therefore, he sail'd with his Fleet below Johnson's Fort over Night, and the next Morning by Break of Day, weigh'd Anchor, and by Eight in the Morning, they were over the Bar.

The Pyrate Sloop immediately slipt her Cable, hoisted a black Flag, and stood to get between the Bar and the Governor's Ships, to prevent their going in again, as they expected they would have done; and in a small Time after, the Pyrate Ship also hoisted a black Flag, and made Sail after the Sloop; during all this Time, the Men on Board the Governor's Vessels did not appear, nor was there any Shew of Guns, until they came within half Gun-shot; when the Governor hoisted a Flag at the Main-top-mast Head of the Mediterranean, they all flung out their Guns, and giving them their Broad-sides, the pyrates immediately run, whereupon, the Governor ordered the two Sloops after the Pyrate Sloop, who stood in towards the Shore, while himself and the King William followed the Ship who stood the contrary Way to Sea. She seemed to have many Ports, and very full of Men, tho’ she had fir'd but from two Guns, which occasion'd no small Wonder on Board the Governor, why she had not flung open her Ports, and made Use of more Guns, she being imagined all this while to be Moody.

The Sloop, which proved to be Worley, was attacked by the two Sloops so warmly, that the Men run into the Hold, all except Worley himself and some few others, who were killed on the Deck; and being boarded, they took her within Sight of Charles Town: The People seeing the Action from the Tops of their Houses, and the Masts of the Ships in the Harbour, where they had placed themselves for that Purpose; but it was Three in the Afternoon before the Governor and the King William came up with the Ship, who, during the Chase, had taken down her Flagg, and wrapping the small Arms in it, had thrown them over-board; and also flung over her Boat and what other Things they thought would lighten her, but all would not do: The King William came first up with her, and firing his Chase Guns, killed several of the People on board, and they immediately struck; when, to the no small Surprize of the Governor and his Company, there appeared near as many Women on board as Men, who were not a few neither. The Ship proving to be the Eagle, bound from London to Virginia, with Convicts; but had been taken by Worley off the Cape of Virginia, and had upwards of 100 Men and 30 Women on board. Many of the Men had taken on with the pyrates, and as such, found in Carolina the Fate they had deserved at home, being hang'd at Charles Town; the virtuous Ladies were designed to have been landed on one of the uninhabited Bahama Islands, where there was a proper Port for these Rovers to put in, at any Time, to refresh themselves, after the Fatigue of the Sea. And thus a most hopeful Colony would have commenced, if they had had but Provisions and Water sufficient to have carried them to Sea; but their Fate kept them so long before the Port of Charles Town, until they were destroyed, and an End put to their wicked Lives, in the Manner before-mentioned.

Notwithstanding all the Governor's Care,that no Advice should be given Moody of the Preparations making for him, some People from the Shore were so wicked, as to go off in the Night and give him a particular Account of the Ships, Sloops, and Men, that were preparing to go out against him; whereupon, he having taken (about three Days before the Governor went) the Minerva, Captain Smyter, from the Maderas, laden with Wine, he immediately weighed Anchor and took his Prize with him, and stood out above one hundred Leagues to

Sea, where he plundered her, and named to the Master not only the Vessels, but some of the very Persons were coming out to attack him, by which Advice he escaped, and Worley coming just as the other was gone, met the Fate designed for Moody; who having taken out most of the Wine from on board the Minerva, and plundered her, he discharged, and sail'd for Providence, and soon after took the Benefit of his Majesty's Royal Proclamation.

The Governor kept the Ships and Vessels in sailing Order some Time, in Hopes Moody might have come off the Bar again; but being informed by the Minerva he was sailed for Providence, he discharged them, giving the small Booty taken to the Men who were the Captors, as he had promised them.

Your Account of the taking of Bonnet is pretty just, which was done by Governor Johnson's Direction and Commission also.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:53