Sunday, February 19, 2017

Trial of Dr. John Howell - Pirate Events of 300 Years Ago!

National Archives, London, CO 23/1 (1717-1725), 42 iii, Trial of John Howell, 18-29 December 1721
About the events of early 1717... 300 years ago:

Excerpt from Quest for Blackbeard, pages 306-311 (full trial transcript available in my website's "Pirate Library" ):

Capt. Musson’s kind words in support of former Admiralty Judge Thomas Walker’s alleged anti-pirate stance may have been somewhat forced. The later trial documents of John Howell in late 1721 tell a great deal about the pirates and their families of the so-called “Flying Gang” in 1717. Illuminated was their leader Benjamin Hornigold from Harbour Island, and his local nemesis, Walker, who had later occupied the position of Bahamian Chief Justice under the islands’ first royal governors Woodes Rogers and George Phenney. The evidence reveals that the Walker-Hornigold feud may have been more personal rather than official. While the Walkers had not been directly identified as pirates themselves, they, at least, benefitted from the practice – a legal definition of guilt under then current British law. Walker, in a haphazard attempt to damage a rival’s reputation, had inadvertently incriminated himself.

How a trusted, renowned Irish surgeon and former Councilman for Gov. Woodes Rogers, then serving in the island's Independent Company in Fort Nassau, a man known by many to have been captured by pirate captain Benjamin Hornigold off Florida early in 1717, and forced against his will to endure sailing with the pirate's crew twice, under guard, and well-known by his community to have never taken shares of pirate loot, became accused after three years of royal rule – of all things, piracy – is the question. The trial did not seem necessary, but two members of the governor's council accused him of this “heinous” charge: James Gohier and Thomas Walker, then Chief Justice of the Bahamas. These two angry men even wrote to England demanding annulment of Howell's commission. 


The trial occurred strategically at the change in government from Woodes Rogers to his successor George Phenney. Rogers had returned to England in financial ruin, as he alleged, a consequence of his opposition to piracy. Gov. George Phenney replaced him in November 1721 and was, thus, presiding over Dr. Howell's trial the very next month. 


Other members of the governor's council present for the proceedings were, of course, James Gohier and Thomas Walker, who had taken this opportunity of the change in government to oust their rival. Also present were Walker's son-in-law William Fairfax, Pedro Galfrido Parabow Skynner, Charles Wainwright Carrington, Nathaniel Taylor, Peter Courant, William Spatchers, Senr., Joseph Cookes, and Thomas Wood. Mr. Carrington noted the "charge of a grievous nature" and affirmed its likely truth with "I am the rather persuaded to believe it too true against Mr. Howell."  The testimony of every single witness, however, was overwhelmingly against Carrington's assertion of guilt and an obvious exoneration of Howell. By chance, a great deal of rich detail can be learned about Hornigold’s “Flying Gang” in 1717 and early the next year.
Mr. Gohier, one of the two men who had accused Mr. Howell of piracy presented four witnesses to the court to prove Howell's alleged guilt. The testimonies of Richard Noland, William Howard, Robert Brown, and Pearce Wright, as mentioned, all tended to exonerate Dr. Howell, not condemn him. 


Richard Noland, then "Inhabitant & Mariner of N[ew] Providence," Samuel Bellamy's former quartermaster and afterward, recruitment and financial agent for Hornigold, told the court that "He has known sd John Howell upwards of four Years when belonging to the Sloop Bennet, Beja. Hornigold Comander & Pirate...." Before Noland had joined Hornigold as his recruiting agent, he "then understood from one Pierce Wright Mariner belonging to sd. Sloop Bennet, that He sd Wright together with one William Howard Quartr. Msr. and others of the same Crew [had some months earlier] forcibly [taken] sd John Howell from on board a certain Snow belonging to Jamaica, [Benjamin] Blake Comander, to serve on board sd Sloop Bennet as Surgeon."  Noland, here, was mistaking the sloop Adventure, Hornigold’s former ship and the one he possessed at the capture of Blake’s snow, with the only one that he had known about after April 1717 – the sloop Bennet. He added:

Sd. Hornigold afterward took two Dutch Ships at what Time Mr. Howell was on board Sloop Bennet, But the sd Noland often heard Mr. Howell express a Dislike to the Pyratical Manner of the Living, and knows that sd Howell attempted several Times to escape but was too narrowly watcht, being the only good Surgeon whom Hornigold & Company had Dependance on.

Rd. Noland farther deposd that at the Time when the Bennet & Mary Ann Crew came from Harbour Island to Providence in quest of a Boat each wanting One, The Mary Anne Capt. Bonadvis Crew being very strenuous to take John Howell for their Surgeon; who had left Hornigold and livd then upon the Island, sd. Howell applyed himself to sd. Noland complaining that He would rather serve the English than French, if He was compelld to make choice of Either, Accordingly went with the Crew of Hornigold a Second Time but not without seeming Reluctancy.

Early 18th century map of New Providence Island, the Bahamas


Noland was merely Hornigold’s agent on Harbour Island and not a member of Hornigold’s crew at the time. He could not have witnessed certain events directly – only heard about them after the fact. Noland knew better the activities in the Bahamas where he lived. He provided seemingly damning testimony against his fellow residents Thomas Walker and his son Neal. This testimony was given openly and freely, without much thought of the conflict of interest it implied toward the former Admiralty Judge and Chief Justice Walker:
Rd Noland also observd that during his belonging to Hornigold, He saw one Hogshead of pyratical Sugar put on board a Sloop belonging to Neal Walker, And believes there might have been several More, for afterwards the sd Noland saw four or five empty Sugar Hogsheads on the Shore of a certain Key where Mr. Walker Senr. the present Chief Justice & Father of the sd Neal Walker then liv'd.
Noland indicated that the Walkers had at least traded with Hornigold, possibly through his agent Noland, for pirated goods. These goods had been stored on Thomas Walker’s own land, probably with his knowledge and similar to the actions of Jamaica’s admiralty judge earlier with Jenning’s goods and North Carolina’s officials later with Thache’s. The court then asked whether John Howell had received any share of pirated goods during his time on Hornigold's ship. Noland replied that he only knew of Howell accepting payment for his medical services for the “Cure of a free Mulatto belonging to Hornigold.”  

Benjamin Hornigold's, then Edward Thache's former quartermaster, William Howard testified next. Howard had barely escaped the hangman's noose more than three years earlier in Virginia. He returned to Nassau afterward. Five years earlier, about spring 1717, when Howard served as Hornigold's quartermaster, his boarding party, including Pearce Wright, first captured John Howell, who had since remained on Harbour Island and, later, in Nassau, New Providence Island.
Howard's testimony affirmed Noland's, that he was in charge of the boarding party off the Florida Capes, "with nine others arm'd went on board sd [Jamaican ship of Benjamin] Blake, and thence forced sd Howell with his Medicines to serve on board sd Hornigold."  Contrary to Gohier's and Walker's hopes, Howard proved to be an excellent witness for Howell's innocence. He added:

... that the sd Howell never receivd any Share for any Prize taken; But always entreated the Crew of Hornigold to put Him sd Howell on any Shore where there was any Government... sd Howell desird of H[ornigold] to permitt him to escape, but was not [allowed]. Howard also remember'd that when He and others aforesd. forct Mr. Howell from Captain Blake, that Mr. Howell desird sd Blake to do Him Justice in declaring to his Friends how He was forct. 
William Howard left Hornigold's employ late in 1717, perhaps when Hornigold and Thache briefly served as consorts off the Virginia Capes in October and just before Thache sailed to Martinique to intercept La Concorde or, the later Queen Anne's Revenge, by late November that year. He since served as Thache's quartermaster on QAR, and for which his actions since that time, he was tried by Virginia governor Alexander Spotswood and found guilty. He was barely saved by the king’s extension of an act of grace when he then returned to the Bahamas.

Artist's conception of QAR at Bequia, late Nov 1717

Neither of the next two witnesses were any help to the prosecution. Robert Brown had known Howell the longest, seven or eight years before when they were in Cork, Ireland together. He was on the Adventure when it captured Blake’s snow. Brown attested to Howell’s capture then and that he had never benefited from Hornigold’s piracy, in either of two sorties, as had the Walkers and Thompsons. Pearce Wright then affirmed his part in taking Howell from Blake’s ship. He also said that Howell had never taken prize money from Hornigold or benefited in any way.

After Gohier and Walker’s four witnesses for the “prosecution” had given their testimony, Howell presented his own; William Pindar, Robert Hawkes, Edward Carr, Neal Walker, Peter Courant, Richard Thompson, William Fairfax, Thomas Spencer, William Spatchers, Sr., and Thomas Barnett. These ten witnesses rang a resounding death knell to Gohier and Walker’s case against Howell. 


John Howell lodged with William Pindar on Harbour Island once he realized that Hornigold was not going to allow him to leave to go back to Jamaica, or leave with a recently trading Virginian vessel. Pindar, his father-in-law Thomas Barnett, and Richard Thompson all attested to Howell’s treatment under Hornigold. Pindar told of their near-assault by Bonadvis’s French crew in their home over a gallon of rum, but mostly they came to take Howell with them. Hornigold later toyed with Bonadvis over Howell, yet kept the surgeon for himself. Hornigold told Howell to get aboard his ship, to which Howell suggested that he would mix some medicines for him, but hinted that he would remain at Harbour Island and not go out with Hornigold’s crew on the next sortie. This angered Hornigold, who told Howell, “Get you on board You dog or I will mix your Soul!” 


William Fairfax, Thomas Walker’s own son-in-law, later regarded Howell as a gentleman, always opposed to piracy, whom he had met upon his arrival three years ago with Gov. Rogers. He said that he spoke with…

… sd Howell on board of his Majesty's Ships Milford, Rose, & Sloop Shark whose Comanders, Capt. Chamberlen, Whitney & Pomeroy sd Fairfax perceivd to receive and entertain sd Howell on board as a Gentleman whom they approved of, In a little Time afterwards Mr. Briett Surgeon of the Kings Garrison dying, Mr. Howell was recomended to Govr. Rogers as the fittest Person to Succeed Mr. Briett.
Chief Justice Walker’s own son, Neal, easily admitted to having been on Hornigold’s sloop Bennet. He saw a forced Howell being guarded there by nine of Hornigold’s crew. William Spatchers, Sr.’s testimony, however, accused Thomas Walker and James Gohier of bringing these proceedings for purely political purposes. He said:
… that if Messrs Gohier & Walker had not taken Quarrel wth Mr. Howell when He was One of his Majts. Council & assented with the Dty. Governor & rest of the Council to suspend Mr. Walker from being Ch. Justice for Reasons mention'd in the Council Book, and deeming sd Gohier & Walker otherwise than Friends to the Welfare of the Government, Mr. Howell would not after three Years serving his Majesty in publick Capacity been now accused of Pyracy by [them.]
After several days of testimony, essentially wasted time, an annoyed governor’s council made their recommendations to acquit Dr. Howell. They also demanded that a copy of this trial transcript be sent to England – probably demonstrating to the king the dreadful hypocrisy and malicious machinations of James Gohier and the chief justice. It undoubtedly proved that Howell was earlier justified when he recommended Thomas Walker’s removal from the Council before Gov. Rogers’ return to England. 



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"Quest for Blackbeard" is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Alibris, and other online booksellers. Look for it on my Lulu site at: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/bcbrooks
 
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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Why do Poor White Voters Vote Against Themselves?

1898 caption from the Raleigh News & Observer - annotated by the author

Why do poor, rural, usually uneducated Southern white voters always vote against their own interests? Why did they choose a deplorable human being and alleged traitor like Trump to be their champion? This had to be an emotional reaction and it had to be because they hate Democrats. That is the ONLY reason. Otherwise, they'd vote against repealing healthcare that they desperately need. They'd vote against corporate control of our entire economy that's oppressing them. They'd vote against inequality. They'd be pro-labor (usually them). They'd be for raising the minimum wage, which is usually all they get. If they did not fervently hate Democrats as much as they do, they would vote for the things that Democrats usually represent and have won for them since FDR in the 1930s - things that Republicans now despise with a passion.

Would you be surprised to find that the most conservative party ever in America were Southern Democrats? But, they no longer exist. When did that change? What did the Democratic Party do that made these Southern conservatives want to cast their party away forever? What eats at these poor white voters? 

Two things: the first happened in July 1964 when a Democratic president from Texas, Lyndon Baines Johnson, signed the Civil Rights Act. Even LBJ knew that this act would change forever the political make-up of America. He told Bill Moyers immediately afterward, "We just gave the South to the Republicans," because he knew that the then Southern Democrats would not abide this betrayal of white-supremacy. Just ask your Southern neighbors how they feel about Johnson. Do they even know why they hate him?

Southern Democrats immediately switched to Republican after 1964 (see maps below). Matched with this first reason, LBJ also understood the mindset of the defeated Southern voter (defeated because of the old Civil War) - he said that "If you can convince the lowest white man he's better than the best colored man, he won't notice you're picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he'll empty his pockets for you." 

The solution for the seemingly unsolvable race problem since 1896 was segregation (an avoidance of the problem) and resulted from a fear of "Negro Rule" (see the cartoon from 1898)  - the separation of white and black in ALL areas - even drinking fountains, bathrooms (what is it with these people and bathrooms!?), and sidewalks! But the Civil Rights Act changed everything. Everyone now had to learn to exist together. This was extremely difficult and resulted in the destruction of a whole political party - the conservatively-rabid Southern Democrat. 

The second reason destroyed the allusion of LBJ's last quote: it was the untenable and unconscionable election of the Democrat Barack Obama as president - the dreaded NEGRO RULE, the straw that broke the camel's back - the greatest fear of the Southerner was realized. Even worse - from an abomination of white blood perverted with African. As to this subtle nuance, Toni Morrison wrote:
"William Faulkner understood this better than almost any other American writer. In “Absalom, Absalom,” incest is less of a taboo for an upper-class Southern family than acknowledging the one drop of black blood that would clearly soil the family line. Rather than lose its “whiteness” (once again), the family chooses murder." 
All white men were forced to look UP to a black president that they could NOT ignore - they couldn't pick Obama's pockets! Making matters worse, this abomination was eloquent and intelligent - a slap in the face to their delusions, deified by their Confederate ancestors who spilled their blood to prevent the Negro from rising! 

Yes... both are racist reasons. It is, has been, and for many decades still to come - racism, pure and simple - a deeply-rooted cultural pattern of "white privilege" now in danger of being eradicated - both demographically and culturally. As Toni Morrison explains:
And it is for these reasons — the imminent “collapse of white privilege,” as Morrison calls it — “that many Americans have flocked to a political platform that supports and translates violence against the defenseless as strength. These people are not so much angry as terrified, with the kind of terror that makes knees tremble.”
This, alone, trumped patriotism (to the United States at any rate) and explains why former Southern Democrats and their poor rural brethren across the states vote against their own best interests. They would take arms if they have to, as they did in 1861, when the Confederacy sided with the British to destroy the United States. They would rather die than see Democrats ever rule again - especially after Barack Obama! Russia would make an excellent partner in that endeavor... as the British did for the Confederacy...


Trump's  voters will never admit to us or anyone that THIS is the reason why most of them voted for him. But, it is. 

---------------------------------------

Interestingly enough, in my book, Quest for Blackbeard, I explain the meaning of Charles Johnson's quote about a faraway America and how radical it had become, treating "wickedness" as "Gallantry," resembling Toni Morrison's quote above and the reaction of white male dominance of which she spoke. Johnson's book, A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates, was about America's infestations with pirates, a rather conservative phenomenon, as I explain. You can see where these pirates went after the 18th century, can't you?

Reviews:
 "... a masterpiece about the history of the South... While researching the origins of Blackbeard, Brooks has delved deep into the politics, family connections, worldly influences, sources of slavery, the connection between the Caribbean Sea and Virginia and North Carolina, and much more ... I am learning much about my own ancestry and origins and how the South came to be."  ~ V. Sumner
"This is an excellent history of piracy in general, as well as of Blackbeard the Pirate. The best part of it is that the author does not make copious use of Charles Johnson's questionable book, A General History. He relies instead on primary sources and he cites each one meticulously. The general theme of the book follows the world in which piracy began, but specifically, Edward Thache in that world. The author has discovered quite a bit about Blackbeard and that information dispels many myths that have survived the centuries. There is also a definite comparison of the politics in the West Indies with that of its ideological descendant, the United States. The book ends quickly, however, with the death of Blackbeard - but, it also ended the period of piracy that the author alludes to as having been the era of the gentlemen pirates from Jamaica and Bermuda. Thache was one of these pirates from Jamaica and his family history is explored in depth. Other pirates are also covered in detail. This book is remarkable in its different approach and refreshing writing style. Still, it's history and can be complicated at times. Still, I very much enjoyed reading it!" ~ J. Grandl


Sunday, December 04, 2016

Commonwealth of Pyrate's First Revolution


Read the quote above one more time. Those few words carry great meaning and may have been Capt. Charles Johnson's (pseudonym for Nathaniel Mist) crowning achievement in A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates. Mist warned the whole of the British Empire of that insane world across the seas, that provincial wilderness of America – a lascivious world "beyond the lines of amity" that had long filled with villains and desperadoes kicked out of civilization – a collection of criminals who had completely lost all veneer of civilization. These people had forsaken God and goodness, king and country, privilege and right. 

“Commonwealth of Pyrates” alluded directly to America, a forsaken land where “Wickedness” equates to “Gallantry.” Americans, colonials, provincials, or simply... them envied this “Wickedness.” And, this commonwealth attempted its first revolt during the Golden Age of Piracy.

What went wrong in America? 

For nearly a century, America developed under the more imperialistic and conservative Stuarts. In 1688, the Glorious Revolution occurred and more liberal Whigs slowly came to power. Eventually, England's Parliament forced a German ruler to the throne, still trying to reduce the power of the monarchy and resist the old Tory conservatism of the Stuart Dynasty. Americans had been growing apart from their mother country for a century, but these actions accelerated the widening gap. They wholly resented the change. Britain began enacting legislation against piracy, but Americans resisted them. Americans still viewed their domain from the old Stuart perspective - militarily, a martial land of feudalism where Christianity became a force of evil intent upon subjugating slaves. They still revered and needed piracy. Americans frightened the liberalizing, civilizing world. They learned to depend upon and even worship their pirates and resent British efforts against them! The British rightly worried of the loss of their tremendous investment in America - a land previously stolen from Spain... and soon to be lost to the wickedness across the sea.


Even by 1700, Americans were no longer British...

The Johnson-Mist quote described a rogue population of criminality - indeed, England had exiled their criminal population to America for decades. The quote did not inspire patriotic unity under the Union Jack. At best, it expressed division. This evil, villainous band of miscreants across the ocean needed to be corrected – and their society as well. America had to be righted – brought to heel. Blackbeard and his society needed to face the king’s justice or be removed!  

Blackbeard may have been the George Washington of the first American Revolution... one that failed and devolved into rebellion...

None of the political speculation or depth appeared in A General History, but then, that might detract from its direct point – its ghastly charm - of America as a place where uncouth degenerates lived. The argument was easy to make that America had become an evil place - pirates and slavery were everywhere. Stuart conservatives continued to conduct their business without regulation. 


Nathaniel Mist wrote this book as historical fiction - and made some good points like this one - still, he sold the book as history, fact – a popular criminal biography based on recent events, and sold to a hungry audience of mariners sure to be at sea for weeks at a time. It was liberal propaganda to reduce piracy and its accompanying evils so that Britain could regain control. 

These travelers to the virtual "hell" across the seas had time to absorb his infectious words, craving entertainment, and would spread the word that pirates there were evil and "notorious." The propaganda would spread across the Atlantic community like a computer virus in software. The wild stories attracted the gullible masses and were often not subtle in their anti-historicity, despite lightly sardonic affirmations of sincerity. A General History was not a history. The ardent wordsmith found it useful to treat the numerous gaps in sources as a blank canvas on which to paint Blackbeard’s “black” infamy and delight his indiscriminate audience - to convince America not to follow pirates, many of them former privateers, into battle against Britain.

A General History delighted in and, yet, admonished Edward “Blackbeard” Thache – for a reason. According to Johnson-Mist, Blackbeard was born in Bristol. His rise begins sometime in late 1716, just prior to the Admiralty’s strongest efforts to put an end to American piracy and regain control over their foreign plantations in the wilds of America. His wealthy family descended from a substantial Anglican minister in Gloucestershire is never mentioned by Johnson-Mist. His service in the Royal Navy on HMS Windsor, totally neglected. His gentlemanly qualities were erased... and, today we assume that discovering pirates' pasts are almost impossible! But, this is simply not true. Quest for Blackbeard tells the past of several of these pirates...





British Anti-piracy efforts and Blackbeard’s simultaneous appearance were probably not coincidental. Johnson-Mist completely confused Thache’s entry into pirate history, perhaps intentionally. He probably knew more than he wrote about Thache’s past. Furthermore, Arne Bialuschewski had pondered the change in tone of the reports coming from the first and quite new colonial news media of the day: the Boston News-Letter. He suspected that propaganda probably infiltrated these news reports, especially the month after Burchett’s instructions against pirates to the colonial fleet – another coincidence? This author of A General History was also financially in trouble and seen as a likely candidate for recruitment by Secretary Joseph Addison’s patron, Lord Sunderland and the Whig ministry, then in charge of Britain. 

Obviously, Britain's efforts only worked for a short time... by 1776, America declared independence on more solid ground and this time, beat the liberal Whigs soundly!


For whatever reason, A General History took great license to alter history and turn Blackbeard, and other conservative American heroes, into villainous monsters. It was an easy transition, though. Still, the book's continued use is a serious problem in history today.

Propaganda is a serious problem in any century. A General History has long been extolled as a reliable source, but it cannot be. The book isn't even necessary for telling pirate history. Johnson-Mist’s sources for his historically-accurate segments are available elsewhere – he used the same sources that we would today. He used the same sources that I used to write Quest for Blackbeard; though, thanks to modern advances in technology, I had many more. The part that annoys all historians, including myself, is that perhaps not all of the sources he used still remain. Still, taking into consideration the liberties, obfuscations, and outright lies that Johnson-Mist used intermingled with the facts, perhaps it is best to largely ignore his book as a historical source and rely upon the primary sources still available. 


After all, America, like its pirate heroes, is concerned with profit... not the truth.

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"Quest for Blackbeard" has finally been approved for Global Distribution which means that it will be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Alibris, and other online booksellers very soon. Look for it on
my Lulu site at: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/bcbrooks
 

It is already previewable on Google Books.



Friday, November 11, 2016

Pirates have Always Won in America!

#Blackbeard was a #pirate, possibly a privateer, but first, he was a Stuart #conservative of strong #politics, a #veteran of Queen Anne's War, a Royal Navy man serving on the HMS Windsor. He was a gentleman of early #America, not unlike the #Kochs, the Rockefellers, #Rothschilds, and #Trump of today. He was wealthy and owned slaves. He commanded a fleet and might have been considered a founding father of capitalist America... had it won its first revolution, fought from 1715 to 1726. Still, he helped to found the America we live in today, an America ultimately swimming in these same pirates.

Pirates and their kin always seem to win in America. Why? It goes way back to the history of the West Indies, a culture of theft and xenophobia, elevation of landed wealth in a wilderness environment, the lack of administrative control in London, and ultimately to the transference of this ideology in the founding of Carolina by Barbadians. It goes back to the history of the resulting conservative and slave-owning South.

Quest for Blackbeard resulted from much soul-searching and discovery of the unknown and previously disregarded. It has been my hope for a realistic view of who and what we are as a nation... and for the betterment of that nation. As long as I have the freedom to speak my mind, I will... and attempt to spread this knowledge... even as we once again face the pirates of old!

"Baylus C. Brooks has put together a masterpiece about the history of the South... While researching the origins of Blackbeard, Brooks has delved deep into the politics, family connections, worldly influences, sources of slavery, the connection between the Caribbean Sea and Virginia and North Carolina, and much more ... I am learning much about my own ancestry and origins and how the South came to be ... I highly recommend this masterpiece to scholars, schools, history buffs, and curious folks ...excellent reading ... thank you, Mr. Baylus C. Brooks!" ~ Valerie Sumner

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Sunday, October 02, 2016

French Pirate Jean Martel: Deception in "A General History"

Hispaniola and Puerto Rico on the 1729 Keulen Map of the Caribbean


John "James" Martel from A General History

Jean Martel was a French pirate of the early Golden Age of Piracy. He was probably born or closely related to the Martels in Hispaniola (Martels grew sugar there since the 1550s - there is a town near Petit Goâve named “Martel” and the family borrowed money from Spain to invest in sugar cane, making a connection with earlier (1708) Spanish privateer Lewis Martel seem plausible). 
Martel perhaps operated between Hispaniola and Puerto Rico by fall of 1716. He took a boat of Saint Domingue with English pirates near Cape Tiburon (Hispaniola) in late 1717 and had a sister-in-law who lived at Petit Goâve, Saint Domingue, Hispaniola, also late in 1717. At this time, he became an informant about a pirate attack planned for Christmas 1717 on Petit Goâve and asked not to mention his name “because it would risk his life if the English [pirates] learned the secret of his French heritage.” 

I assume that Martel had little to no accent?
Remarkably, Capt, Charles Johnson, actually polemic Jacobite journalist Nathaniel Mist, in 1724 wrote a narrative of Martel in A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates, 2nd ed. that appears almost entirely misrepresented and partly faked. 

First, he refers to Martel as an Englishman from Jamaica when he is clearly French. This has caused a tremendous amount of trouble for the last 300 years because almost every fan of pirates out there takes A General History as literally as the Bible! 

Just because of the word "history" in the title?

Secondly, his narrative is hard to substantiate with primary sources, with exception of the final two paragraphs which come from a letter of Gov. Walter Hamilton of Antigua, dated 1 Mar 1717. The details are identical to those in the Calendar of State Papers; however, the Calendar's account is generic - no names or identification for the pirates were given by Hamilton in his letter. Martel’s responsibility for these deeds is merely assumed by Johnson-Mist.[1]

Capt. Charles Johnson writes on pages 64-69 of A General History that several vessels had been captured by “John Martel” of Jamaica in mid-late 1716. Few of these references could possibly be true. Some are manufactured and it was not the first time that Johnson-Mist had attempted such bold deception in his unreliable and polemical "history" book.

The vessels that Johnson-Mist attributes to the “Jamaican” John Martel are: Berkley Galley, Capt. Saunders; sloop King Solomon; John and Martha, Capt. Wilson; an unnamed sloop and brigantine; Ship Dolphin, 20 guns, bound for Newfoundland; Kent, Capt. Lawton; a small Ship and a Sloop, belonging to Barbadoes; Greyhound galley of London, Capt. Evans, from Guiney to Jamaica; a ship of 20 guns, a sloop of eight, and three prizes, another ship of 20 Guns, a sloop of four Guns, and another sloop. Furthermore, between September and December, Johnson-Mist shows Martel with a sloop of 8 guns and 80 men. Later, he has a ship of 22 guns and 100 men, plus a sloop of about 25 men. He then amassed quite a flotilla, according to the polemical journalist. Note that the masters’ names only include surnames – no given names – a peculiar change from other parts of his narrative (compare to the section on Blackbeard which includes Christopher Taylor, David Herriot, and Jonathan Bernard in just the first few paragraphs). This could be from his sources, like Royal African Company (RAC) letters that seldom mention given names. Still, he misapplied these sources - real people and events used falsely to imply truth where there wasn't any.
One possibility is that the primary sources from which Johnson-Mist drew this information may be lost to us now. That would please Johnson-Mist devotees to no end! However, that would require a massive amount of loss, an almost impossible documentary calamity. Anyway, as the available records show, there are plenty of extant references available – probably more still buried in the National Archives in London. A bit of research can easily reveal these sources - and the lies.  

I'm sure that Nathaniel Mist never had computers. ;)

The Greyhound galley, Capt. Evans, has been located on Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database. Their voyage began 30 Aug 1716 and they could have been intercepted by pirates in the Caribbean; but, this is doubtful. The record shows that they began with 273 slaves and delivered 236 to Kingston, Jamaica. Johnson-Mist declares 40 slaves stolen by Martel. Indeed, the database shows a loss of 37. Still, the reality of the slave trade is that, even in the late eighteenth century, 15 percent of slaves died in the Middle Passage. For the Greyhound galley, that translates to 41 slaves, and an estimated 232 delivered to Kingston even when no pirates were involved. To assume that all of the slaves would have survived and that pirates were the only reason for the loss is unsupportable. One reason for the appearance of this voyage of the Greyhound in A General History is the story first appeared in Nathaniel Mist’s own Weekly Journal newspaper on 25 Jul 1717.[2]

Gregory O’Malley writes in Final Passages that Capt. Hume in HMS Scarborough captured a pirate named Kennedy; he, with others, allegedly took the Greyhound galley of London and stole 40 slaves (again, a supposed loss by pirates and not disease). Martel could have been a partner of Kennedy. Still, O’Malley’s reference is puzzling, for the only citation he gives is for A General History, a book that only declares Martel as responsible for this deed. Moreover, the only Kennedy that Johnson-Mist refers to is a later pirate and contemporary of Bartholomew Roberts named Walter Kennedy, “executed the 19th of July, 1721, at Execution Dock.”

No ship named Kent can be found operating during this period, in the slave trade database or the Calender of State Papers, the National Archives in London, nor Naval Office Shipping Records. The same search applied to Berkley Galley results in the discovery that Capt. Edmund Saunders and mate Nathaniel Tucker completed their slave trading voyage to Jamaica between June 1716 and 22 Dec 1716 without incident. Again, they lost 54 slaves of 367 to the usual disease, or 14.7 percent. Johnson-Mist may have had some familiarity with RAC reports, but still, again: no pirates in this one.

King Solomon, Capt. Edward Coward sailed an expensive and exceptionally horrid slave voyage, arriving 26 July 1716 at Jamaica with only 288 of the original 450, a mortality rate of 36 percent. Thirty-one percent of the complement were also children. This vessel may indeed, have been caught by pirates after delivery, in the months of September or October. There is no other reference to the incident, however.  

John and Martha, Capt. Wilson, appears only in the Boston News-Letter (but apparently “was cast away upon Cuba” in Oct 1716 near where Capt. [Henry?] Jennings took Capt. Stone of Hamilton galley and held him for four days drinking his rum – Wilson’s crew were returned to New York 29 Oct 1716 by Capt. Stone in Hamilton galley – three of Wilson’s men joined Jennings; BNL 5 Nov 1716), which indicates that he was taken by pirates, but this pirate was Henry Jennings and not Martel. 

Ship Dolphin, Capt. Hall was destroyed by a natural disaster that claimed all lives. No pirates were involved. And, it, too appeared in Mist’s newspaper on 17 Dec 1716. Mist may have been a sensationalist – a tabloid-type yellow journalist who relied on Royal African Company workers' dock rumors for his publications.

Furthermore, in A General History, Johnson-Mist regarded “John” Martel as an Englishman - a Jamaican - while two primary sources clearly identify him as a Frenchman: an American newspaper article (see below), to which he has proved time and again abundant access, and a letter titled “Activity of pirates at Saint Domingue,” 21 Jan 1717 [AN Marine B1 29f], today in the Centre des archives d’autre mers in Aix en Provence, France. These records declare Martel operating in November with 135 men (no mention of the number of vessels he had). Also, Anglican Church records show that no Martels were either born, married, or buried on Jamaica until 1789.


Still, Johnson-Mist was haphazard in his use of the records he had – even manipulative at times. Most likely, Johnson-Mist manufactured this data, as he had for Stede Bonnet from Samuel Bellamy’s work off Virginia in April 1717. He might then have appended the information from Gov. Hamilton about Capt. Hume and HMS Scarborough.

Even the “Port of Cavena” mentioned by Johnson-Mist in his Martel narrative as being on Cuba is not a real place. It appears to evolve from “Gran Caverna de Santo Tomás,” a system of caves in the Vinales Valley – it is not, nor has it ever been, a port. A General History is full of lies and should never be used for telling actual history!

Boston News-Letter, Monday November 12, 1716, 2:

Rhode Island, Novemb. 8.  Arrived here Thomas Pemberton from Antigua, Daniel Waire from Connecticut both for Boston, Ford & Whitfield from Boston the first for New York, Col. John Cranston from New London, gives an account that in his Passage from Philadelphia to Jamaica in August last off Portorico, he met about the 21st of September with one Capt. John Martell a French Pyrate of 135 Men, being most of them French, who took his Ship and Cargo, made him and his Company Prisoners, but afterwards was so civil as to make an Exchange in giving him his Pyrate Sloop, and otherwise was very kind to him & his Men. He also gave him a New London Sloop to come home in, one Butels Master, and at his Arrival he return'd her again to the right Owners.

Perhaps Nathaniel Mist didn't get his Boston newspaper in the mail that day... maybe it was taken by pirates on its way across the ocean. Also, I guess Martel DID have an accent after all! ;)


[1] Baylus C. Brooks, Quest for Blackbeard: The True Story of Edward Thache and His World (Lake City: Baylus C. Brooks, 2016), 370; Noël Deerr, History of Sugar, Vol. 1 (Chapman and Hall, 1949), 124-125.
[2] Paul Finkelman, Encyclopedia of African American History, 1619-1895: From the Colonial Period to the Age of Frederick Douglass, Vol. 1 (Oxford University Press, 2006), 125; National Archives (London), HUTCHINSON v FOXCROFT: Ledger of copies of letters from the Royal African company to its outposts in Succondee, Commenda and Dixcove, West Africa, 1716, C 113/261; Gregory E. O'Malley, Final Passages: The Intercolonial Slave Trade of British America, 1619-1807 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2014), 100. 









It is previewable on Google Books.


Cindy Vallar on "Quest for Blackbeard" by Baylus C. Brooks:
"While revising our understanding of pirates is one of Brooks’ goals in writing Quest for Blackbeard, he states two others. One pertains to corrupt private colonies and the need for “central government control for any progress to commence once . . . Britain dominated in America.” The second pinpoints an epicenter for the dawning of the Golden Age of Piracy: the July 1715 hurricane that resulted in the catastrophic wreck of eleven of Spain’s treasure ships. The information he puts forth in this narrative masterfully supports these goals."
http://www.cindyvallar.com/Brooks.html#quest

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