Friday, February 28, 2020

Private Proprietary Pirates - Early Capitalism in America, 1700

A letter from Edward Randolph depicts the arrogance of aristocratic oligarchs known as the Lords Proprietors in England and the negligence they placed upon their private possessions in the American colonies, particularly Carolina, the Bahamas, and New Jersey. This was a prime example of the dangers of private control in the matters of government. Privatization at this level facilitated piracy in the Bahamas as well as multiple abuses across America. Indeed, it began the development of America by the Stuarts of England as a criminal domain, given as gifts to these aristocrats who were charged with the theft of all the possessions of Spain "beyond the lines of amity" or friendship! This attitude remained in America through the reign of the Stuart Dynasty - nearly the entire 17th century - until the ascendancy of the Whigs, or more liberal administrators of England took control after the "Glorious Revolution of 1688." Still, the damage was already done.

These pervasive criminal tendencies involved theft, slavery, murder, extortion, bribery, rampant smuggling so far from authorities, 3,000 miles away in England. It probably infested the nascent United States with the same ubiquitous criminal element and led to the Confederate States of America attempting to maintain this criminal West-Indian society, slavery, and all the abuses that accrued hereto during the Civil War (1861-1865). And, it likely led to many abuses we find in government today under the outlaw Trump Administration. We are indeed, as "Capt. Charles Johnson," the author of A General History of the Pyrates, called us in 1724, a "Commonwealth of Pyrates!"

This is just a small window into the behavior of the men that came to rape Spain's colonial lands - before the development of the "Flying Gang" of Benjamin Hornigold in the Bahamas almost two decades later. Edward Randolph tried to warn the Board of Trade of the dangers still infesting these waters because of these criminal creoles. Many of today's Americans are their descendants.


March 25, 1700  New Providence [separated for readability]

Edward Randolph to the Council of Trade and Plantations. Begins as March 11.

I am, I thank God, in health but not recovered of the lameness I got in gaol at Bermuda. I landed [at New Providence] the 10th inst.[March 1700] and finding Mr. Read Elding (tho'illegally, yet) actually in the possession of the Government,

... the next day, after some debate [I] had with him [Elding], I administered to him the oath, though several objections were at that time made to the contrary, viz. that he assumed the Government by virtue of an illegal commission clandestinely obtained from [Nicholas] Webb, being also contrary to the Lords Proprietors' instructions which direct the method of appointing another Governor, in case of the death or departure of the present.

Besides, Webb went away on a suddaine to Philadelphia, not having first advised with the Council nor had the consent of any one of them about his appointing Elding his Deputy, which was not known to any of them till Webb was under sail, so that the Government is of right invested in Mr. Richard Peterson, a Lords' Deputy and the first in Council.

But they, finding the inhabitants divided and ready to cast off all Government, chose rather to sit still than hazard the peace of the country, and expect the Lords Proprietors' directions in that matter.

But the chief thing before I gave the oath that I scrupled at [had a problem with] was, that Elding, under pretence of a commission to him from Webb to apprehend pirates, etc., piratically seized a briganteen of Boston, John Edwards, Master.

Webb, Elding, and the others to whom he had given the like commissions, shared the money they found aboard.

Elding does not only brave it out [take advantage of?] upon the Commission Webb gave him to be Lieutenant Governor, but supports himself in the lawfulness of the other commission to take pirates, but sets a very high value upon his services by the accidental seizing Hind the pirate and afterwards executing six of his accomplices.

Hind and four of his men were surprised upon an island 10 or 12 leagues from hence by a Bermuda man [Bermuda vessel]: the three others were taken by chance and executed also, but one of the four, having nothing proved against him, [though he] was discharged and sent by Elding to cut logwood at Campeach, run away, and [Elding] believes his good services against Hind, etc., will expiate for his own piracy upon Edwards.

[Elding] a day or two ago caned Mr. Gower, a Lords' Deputy, most severely, and keeps him in prison, for questioning his power to appoint a Judge to try the pirates, a thing questioned by all the Lords' Deputys.

Their Lordships [Lords Proprietors] at home are very careless and ignorant of their own interest and of the good of the inhabitants. Though many complaints upon just grounds are made to them, praying for relief, yet they take no notice of it, nor of the most arbitrary government of Trott and Webb; neither of the late action done by Elding against Edwards, which they had notice of, but discourse him very indifferently upon that matter.

These inhabitants are daily more unsettled, and will give little credit to what their Lordships [Proprietors] say or promise them they will do for their encouragement, when at the same time they sell and dispose of their privileges for very inconsiderable sums, as Hog Island, lying to the north of Providence, which makes the harbour, 'tis, after several grants and confirmations thereof to the inhabitants, sold to [ex-Gov] Mr. Trott for 50l., to the utter ruin to the inhabitants of this town.

Hog Island in the Bahamas - just across Nassau Town Harbor from Nassau, New Providence Island

Their Lordships [Proprietors] have likewise granted away the royalty of the whale fishing and a great part of the Island of Abbico to one Dudgeon, late Secretary and Marshall of Bermuda a sort of stock jobber, for 30 years, as appears upon record here;

... neither do they regard into whose hands the Government of these Islands comes [lawlessness].

I am well informed that for more than seven years past seldom less than four known pirates have been [on] the Council.

I brought Commissions to persons upon the place to be Officers in the Court of Admiralty, but all of them, except Ellis Lightwood, the intended Judge, are either dead or removed.

I find him [Lightwood] an ill man, and was a busy promoter of oppression in Trott's and Webb's time, as appears by the records of the Courts in which he was Judge. Besides, he is the only security for Bridgeman [Henry Bridgham], alias Every's appearing here when demanded, in one bond of 1,000l., and also for 10 or 12 of his company in a like bond of 1,000l. for each of their appearance.

I have suspended the delivery of the Commission to him for that reason. 'Tis expected that orders will be directed to some persons here to put those bonds in suit, ('twill deter others); the securities have got a great deal of money.

I know no man so fit for that service as Mr. Thomas Walker;

... as to Mr. Warren, the Attorney General, he is security also for some of Every's men.

Packer, one of that gang [Henry Avery/Bridgham's], is married to Elding's sister now in town. His Majesty will have little justice done him by Elding and others of his party, who bear all the sway here.

Webb was directed and proved an apt scholar under Trott's discipline and advice: Elding writes after his [Webb's] copy and expects to be made the Governor, by which appears the deplorable and miserable conditions the poor inflicted inhabitants have lived in from the time of their resettlement, after they were drove off and destroyed in 1680 by the Spaniards, who watch an opportunity to do the like again.

The Lords Proprietors laid out money and sent over a few arms with some ammunition to the value of 3,600l. [it actually came to just over 800l., which was the presumed profit of the Bahamas] sterling towards the defence of the country. After all their charge their fort is not serviceable. Certainly the inhabitants will either desert the place or submit to any foreign Power that will protect them.

The interests and the affairs here between the Lords and the inhabitants are so different and distracted that it will require a long time to bring them to a right understanding. From the consideration whereof I humbly propose that His Majesty will please to require Read Elding to answer in England for his piracy against Edwards, and, further, that in the meantime till there be a complete settlement in this and all other the Proprieties, that His Majesty be pleased to direct his Commission to Thomas Walker, Esq., an ingenuous man, one of the Lords' Deputies, to be the President, and to Richard Peterson [father-in-law of Adm. Judge Edmond Porter of North Carolina], a Deputy, Isaac Rush, Richard Tollefero, Thomas Williams, Martin Cook, Samuel Frith, Perient Trott, Jeremiah Wells, and John Bethel, to be the Council and to take upon them the administration of the Government of these Islands, (being all of them settled inhabitants,) during His Majesty's pleasure.

Probably the Draft Commissioned below... in the Library of Congress maps

I have the promise of an exact draft of these Islands and of the fort and harbour of of this town, but being presently bound to Carolina in my return to Bermuda, I have recommended the care thereof to Mr. Walker, who will make it his business to see them exactly drawn and transmit them with a complete narrative thereof to your Lordships. Signed, Ed. Randolph, S.G. Endorsed., Recd. July 20, Read July 25, 1700. Holograph. 2½ pp. Enclosed,

    250. i. Abstract of above. 1¼ pp.
    250. ii. Copy of Read Elding's Commission from Gov. Webb to be Deputy Governor of New Providence, etc. April 13, 1699. Endorsed., Recd. July 20, 1700. 1 p.
    250. iii. Copy of a clause in the Lords Proprietors' Commission to their Governor about appointing Deputy Governors, Jan. 12, 1692. ½ p. Same endorsement.
    250. iv. Copy of Gov. Webb's Commission to Read Elding to take pirates, July 13, 1698. 1 p. Same endorsement.
    250. v. Copies of depositions by John Edwards, Master; Ebenezer Dennesse, Mate; and John Stiles, Boatswain; William Gray and John Ashcroft, Mariners, of the Bohemia Merchant, which was chased and piratically seized by Read Elding off Cape Florida, August 2, 1698; and of Daniel Kenney, of the Sweepstakes. 3 pp. Same endorsement.
    250. vi. Copy of letter from Lords Proprietors of the Bahama Islands to Gov. Webb and Council, May 27, 1699. 1¾ pp. Same endorsement.
    250. vii. Copy of an Order of the Grand Council, Nassau, July 8, 1690, making Hogg Island a free Common. On back, Copy of disallowance of the same by the Lords Proprietors. Sept. 21, 1699. Same endorsement. [Board of Trade. Proprieties, 5. Nos. 31, 31.i.–vii.; and (without enclosures), 26. pp. 248–256.]


Just published 2nd Electronic Edition of Quest for Blackbeard!

Some of the poorer sort went aboard pirate ships and sloops as crew, certainly, but they usually were not as well educated as those who navigated them. The tale of these early pirate leaders’ gentlemanly demeanor, formerly wealthy privateers, has been confined, narrowed, and almost eradicated by literary rhetoric. Worse still, modern historians attempt to explain them all as an early form of democratic society, confusing some of these gentlemen with the common people and further skewing their reality. The people we call “pirates” today most resemble those found in the Bahamas after 1715, driven out by 1718, scattered refugees of a barren island and rude maritime subsistence, but the real pirate leaders of the Golden Age were wealthy – the 97% were blamed for the crimes of the 3%! This injustice is where we must begin the true Quest for Blackbeard!
Author website: 

Monday, February 17, 2020

Capture of Le Victorieux or Victory by pirate Jeremiah Cocklyn!

From the French deposition of the captain of the ship that was chased, captured, and taken by pirates Jeremiah Cocklyn, Olivier LeVassuer, and Richard Taylor off the west coast of Africa before they rounded the Cape of Good Hope for Madagascar!

ACCIM f°169-177(f° 169) Juillet 1720, Prise et abandonnement du vaisseau le Victorieux, capitaine Hais de Nantes. N°22

This is the first half of a long and detailed deposition given by the captain of Le Victorieux, or Victory, used by pirates to take the East Indian Merchant vessel Cassandra just north of Madagascar in 1720. This unfortunate ship was earlier confused by Nathaniel Mist, writing as "Capt. Charles Johnson," with the Petersborough of Bristol. This record has been edited by the author for readability.


Of the fifth of July, seven thousand and twenty (5/7/1720), the Sir Interested on the body, faction, armament and victualling of the vessel Le Victorieux commanded by the Captain Guillaume Hais of Nantes, who declared that the said ship would have left the the bottom of the river of the said city [Nantes] on 30 December one thousand seven hundred eighteen (30/12/1718) for the coast of Guinea to make the trade of the blacks [slaves], that two days after said departure, he suffered an impetuous and contrary wind to his navigation, which demasted his little mast and his parrot, and after repairs, he made his way and sailed until the twenty-fourth of February, seventeen hundred and nineteen (24/2/1719) that they moored at Mesura [Cape Mesurade], on the Coste de Guinea to make wood and water and rice which they thought they needed. They stayed six days without finding in this place the rice and the water which they needed, from whence they traveled to Jonck to find rice there - they found none; And thence made their way for the same needs to Petit Sestre (Little Seashore), where they anchored and sent their canoe ashore to make proposals for the ordinary trade with the King.

That the negroes of this place came aboard the boat to get what they wanted, that the officer who was on board the boat told [to them] that they came there to trade for rice, that on this answer the said negroes asked a crewman to go with them to make the request to the King, and as is the custom, the officer gave them a man named Pierre Meunier of La Rochelle, but hardly was this sailor ashore, the negro seized him and fired the weapons with which they were armed at the boat and wounded in the thigh a sailor named Jean Moisson de Quiberon, forcing the officer of the said boat to return to the ship to advise his captain, who in the plan of re-acquainting his sailor, took the party of to conceal the insult [to save face?], and sent his canoe and his armed boat, to shoot [at] the negroes. He commanded the crew to keep safe, and fire only for the purpose to impose respect, but the negroes fired on the boat, and as soon as the crew saw them within range of their arms, the crew of the said boats and canoes retired on board, because their number was too few to make shore, the negroes being too numerous, and the landing too difficult because of the "big land."

They set sail and anchored at Grand Sestre seven leagues away where they spent three days making water and rice. The negroes of this place told them that what they had experienced happened because the fact that the English went there every day under the French flag, to make incursions on their coast and take them off under the pretext of trade. Capt. Hais assured them that they would not be harmed by his sailor [Pierre Meunier], that they would withdraw him from their neighbors [at Petit Sestre] to return him to the first French ship [which should arrive], for which the said captain offered them at present some goods in the hope of having his sailor back. But having no appearance of having it, he left only a note for the King of the said Sestre, begging all the French ships to withdraw the said sailor with a promise to repay what had been paid for him. From there [Hais] traveled [sailed] to Judah, the place of their destination, where they arrived on the twenty-second of March following (22/3/1719).

That on the twenty-third of the said month, the said captain went ashore to establish his trade in the ordinary, which they were tranquil in the said ship until the twenty-second of June (22/6/1719), at four or five o'clock in the afternoon, when three rogue ships [LeVasseur in Duke of Ormond and Cocklyn in Speedwell/Windham/Bird (former vessel of William Snelgrave) and Richard Taylor in Comrade] entered the said port under the English flag, and distinguished themselves only when they were near the said vessel Le Victorieux, where the Sieur Edouard Hais [first mate] commanded on board, having recognized them, their being seen firing cannons and flying the black flag, cut two cables on the bitts and set sail, that [First mate Hais] had barely thirty men on board, of which half were sick, and that while fleeing he saw five ships, three of which were Portuguese, one English [Heroine, former master Richard Blincko] and one French from La Rochelle, and that he had only been followed for half an hour by two of the said pirates, and having borne his planks far off, he stood far off and anchored the fifth day after his escape.

[First mate Edourd Hais] had gone twenty-eight leagues west of Judah, whence he wrote to his brother captain [Guillaume Hais] of the said ship, who had been left in Judah [Whydah], to inform him where he was; and that he received a reply from the captain on the tenth of July (10/7/1719) ordering him to return to Judah [since the pirates had moved off], where he went to anchor on the eleventh of that month. For thirty days they could not make shore, the bar being impassable, which caused them considerable trouble and caused sickness to the people who had remained ashore. Of the boat [of Le Victorieux?] which the rogues seized upon, the boat wherein seventy iron bars were and several casks full of water, which said boat was delivered by a sailor named Jacques Carré [James Cary] Irishman who took sides with the said pirates; and that the said pirates were forty, thirty-two, and eight cannon.

And that on the twenty-eighth of the month of July there appeared two ships [LeVasseur in Duke of Ormond and Cocklyn in Speedwell/Windham/Bird], which were still believed to be pirates, information they had learned from the crews that had been ransomed by the above-mentioned pirates, that [the two pirates] went to fetch the said ship Le Victorieux, and when they did not find her, they came back to take [Le Victorieux] in the harbor, which obliged [Capt. Guillaume Hais] to cut a third new cable, and to sail. He fought the sea for five days, at the end of which he returned with the said ship, after having learned by a Portuguese boat that there was nothing to fear for him to enter. [But, the captain lamented] the pitiful condition of his ship and crew, which was fatigued by work, of the little food and heavy weather which they had suffered, and which he believed not that he was in a position to maneuver the said vessel, his people are wracked by fever and scurvy. That on the frequent notices and representations of all the officers, majors, and marines, the said captain determined in concert with the said officers to pass to the island of Sao Tomé, with the captives of two Portuguese ships taken by the pirates and return on the coast of this Harbor of Judah, more in relation to the absolute need of the crew of the two Portuguese ships than of the cargo of their slaves, and also by the hope that the sailors of his boat, which he had long time on land and those of his tent and his store, all of whom were sick, would recover by the air of the sea, and that the others who were on board, attacked by fever and scurvy, could be restored to the place of Saint Thomé by the refreshments that the captains of the said Portuguese were obliged to provide them on land and on board in the hopes the said crews would be restored, to follow the course of their journey, and that they left Judah 15 Sep one thousand seven hundred and nineteen (15/9/1719) with three hundred and sixty negroes, having lost ninety of the number of four hundred and fifty that said Captain Hays had treated before the arrival and departure of the pirates, they did their best to reach Saint Thomé, but the winds having always been contrary, as well as the tides, they were obliged to anchor at Prince's [Isle de Principe] Island.

From the eleventh of September (11/9/1719) they stayed there until the fourth of October. And that during their stay at Isle de Principe, two of these sailors, who had needed to see the [fresh water] ponds to resupply the ship, and who had come down to work in the road [prob. stream], were suddenly smothered by the steam of the waters which were infected. The one named Charles Mandier, and the other Roger, and that six of their comrades remained unconscious and without knowledge, and would have perished if they had not been rescued in the moment, which the said captain and all his officers and the pitiful state where they were, the sick captain, the great number of the dead crew, almost the whole scorbutic or attacked with fevers, and convinced of the sad experience they had just made, that the plague was in their brink; being without cables and anchors, only one left to them. Finally, seeing themselves out of state, they could not continue their voyage without food which the Portuguese masters of the place offered to give them, provided that the said captain would sell them his ship with his captives [slaves] to carry to Brazil, offering in this case to provide him with a crew to make up for the weakness of his own who were not in a state to sail his ship. [Hais] was obliged to accept in the opinion of all his officers majors and mariners because he had to pay in Brazil fifty pounds of gold for the value of the ship, and one hundred and fifty pounds of gold for the value of the slaves. Said Captain Hais running the risks of the ship and the Portuguese of the mortality of the blacks until they made the locality of Brazil, all was contracted in the presence of said officers majors and mariners who signed them. And left this place of the Isle de Principe last October 4 (4/10/1719).

That the ninth of that month [October], thirty leagues windward of said Isle de Principe in the company of a Portuguese ship which had followed them from Judah, They were chased by a pirate ship [Cocklyn in Speedwell/Windham/Bird/Defiance? These pirates seemed to change names often, though Defiance may have been a newer ship], but the night came and they lost sight of it as well as the said Portuguese [consort] vessel, and continued their journey till the following day, four o'clock in the afternoon, that the look-out warned that another ship was taking the opposite course. They thought at first that it was the Portuguese, but seeing him back in their waters they feared he was a pirate. And indeed, at seven o'clock in the evening he approached them, fired a cannon and hoisted the black flag on the mainmast, with command to hove to. they recognized that he was a pirate of thirty-four guns, with two hundred men Captain Carrot [Cocklyn], not being able to resist and fearing the misfortunes that follow a useless resistance with the pirates, Capt. Hais hove to and the pirates seized this ship Le Victorieux, and having sent their boat, twenty five armed men, came on board, together. Said Captain Hais and the first mate his brother [Edourd], were detained on board with five others of their crew, and that two days later the barbarians made them understand that they were leading them to Anabon to give the ship Le Victorieux to another pirate named Labuse [LeVasseur].

On the way to the said Anabon they met an English ship [Petersborough, Capt. William Owen?] from Bristol loaded with two hundred blacks, which to the said pirates they surrendered. And they [carried aboard the Bristol ship] all the Portuguese who were in Le Victorieux, and all the English crew in number of sixteen. [Leaving with] the said pirates, two of the sailors of the said ship Le Victorieux named Jean Detern and (?), and Etienne Bond with a servant named Provost.

[The pirates] having missed Anabon, they made the road to Angola, or in the hunt they gave to English ships, their bowsprit broke, which made them look for a convenient port for the purpose of replacing their bowsprit with that of Le Victorieux [this did not happen]. They could only make Cape Lopez, where the same pirate Labuze was found, who was there to change his ship with the Indian Queen of London, Captain [Thomas] Hill, whom they had taken on the coast of Angola, on which place the said pirates had several disputes, some to give Captain Hais one of their ships in exchange for the ship Le Victorieux, the others to degrade said Hais and his crew. At this place the strongest voice prevailed, which was to give a ship to Captain Hais. During the debates they sent ashore four to five hundred Negroes, those whom they had taken on the said vessels, which were at once picked up and removed by the negroes of the country, and gave to Captain Hill one hundred and forty, a cargo of negroes, negresses, and negroes, with the captain's [Hill's] ship [Indian Queen] which Labuze had exchanged for his own, and to give to Capt. Hais the pirate ship Heroine [taken from Capt. Richard Blinko 22 June 1719 ay Whydah], because all the masts were worth nothing. After beating all the guns and stripping it of all that is useful for navigation, with ninety blacks who were still aboard Le Victorieux from his trade.

That during the overthrow of the buccaneers from one ship to another, Joseph Pascal, sailor of Le Victorieux, voluntarily partook with the said pirates.

That the pirates having left for their voyage [to Madagascar], said Hais made his best with the little rope they had left him, he did spice (sic) [splice?] to firm the masts.

That they were on land making water and finding there some exhausted and moribund negroes, whom the negroes of the country had abandoned; remains of those whom the pirates had left ashore.


Just published 2nd Electronic Edition of Quest for Blackbeard!

Some of the poorer sort went aboard pirate ships and sloops as crew, certainly, but they usually were not as well educated as those who navigated them. The tale of these early pirate leaders’ gentlemanly demeanor, formerly wealthy privateers, has been confined, narrowed, and almost eradicated by literary rhetoric. Worse still, modern historians attempt to explain them all as an early form of democratic society, confusing some of these gentlemen with the common people and further skewing their reality. The people we call “pirates” today most resemble those found in the Bahamas after 1715, driven out by 1718, scattered refugees of a barren island and rude maritime subsistence, but the real pirate leaders of the Golden Age were wealthy – the 97% were blamed for the crimes of the 3%! This injustice is where we must begin the true Quest for Blackbeard!
Author website:

Monday, February 10, 2020

Bonnet's Revenge.. Maybe?

From Naval Office Shipping Lists for Barbados, 1678-1819 pt1, CO 33-13--17 - Barbados, 1678-1733
This record for Godfrey Malbone in Revenge leaving Barbados "without clearing" has been used to explain Stede Bonnet's departure from Barbados as a pirate.. still, was William Barrow in the Defiance of Barbados (also appearing on the same page) also a pirate? 

Couldn't Bonnet have departed the island from a private dock and not even left a port record? Indeed, Bonnet's name never appeared in these records. At first, the vessel name Revenge leaving Barbados at this time also seemed like a good point to me.. before I took a closer look at the shipping records and doubts set in.

I should note here that context needs to be applied, for being listed as “Gone Without Clearing” was unusual, but by no means unknown. Several were listed the same way in a space of just two years.. Malbone's vessel was named "Revenge," which was also not unusual.

Edward Codington, master of Virgin’s Venture of Rhode Island also left Barbados in Oct 1716 without clearing. Note also that Codington was back in these records, trading at Barbados the next year.

Swift and Nightengale, both of Barbados, masters William Hamilton and George Pritchard, respectively, also left without clearing that same spring of 1717.

Thomas Stewart in Jonathan & Elizabeth left Barbados “without clearing” on 7 Jan 1717.

Little Mary of Barbados, master Pat Doogood, may also have “done badly” and left without clearing the following June.

It should be noted that Stede Bonnet himself does not appear in these records and presuming that he did not leave the island in his Revenge (previously assumed to have been built by Bonnet himself) from a private dock, his vessel should have been noted in CO 33-13—17.

Still, the timing of this Revenge’s illicit departure is good for the time Stede Bonnet would have left the island. Further still, Malbone and his sloop’s appearance in this record - relying simply upon the name Revenge – is by no means the strongest of evidence for Stede Bonnet’s sloop having absconded from Barbados in this fashion.

Still, this excerpt from the Boston News-Letter of 28 October 1717 makes it highly suspicious that this vessel Revenge, of Newport, Rhode Island had indeed been taken by Stede Bonnet:

Just published 2nd Electronic Edition of Quest for Blackbeard!

Some of the poorer sort went aboard pirate ships and sloops as crew, certainly, but they usually were not as well educated as those who navigated them. The tale of these early pirate leaders’ gentlemanly demeanor, formerly wealthy privateers, has been confined, narrowed, and almost eradicated by literary rhetoric. Worse still, modern historians attempt to explain them all as an early form of democratic society, confusing some of these gentlemen with the common people and further skewing their reality. The people we call “pirates” today most resemble those found in the Bahamas after 1715, driven out by 1718, scattered refugees of a barren island and rude maritime subsistence, but the real pirate leaders of the Golden Age were wealthy – the 97% were blamed for the crimes of the 3%! This injustice is where we must begin the true Quest for Blackbeard!
Author website:

Monday, December 16, 2019

Anti-Slavery Politics in the Legend of "Goody" Hallett, "Witch of Wellfleet!"

The legend of “Maria” Hallet appears to have first begun in 1934 with a reprise in 1937 from Josef Berger, who wrote the 1930's classic Cape Cod Pilot.  On pages 193-197, he regales the story of the "simple Eastham farm girl" of Cape Cod - and supposed wife of legendary pirate Samuel Bellamy - whose fate was linked with the wreck of Bellamy's Whydah

Her name was said to be "Goody" Hallett. This has since been a legend concerning the Golden Age pirate from Devon, England, who captured the most prizes of any Caribbean pirate before the legendary Bartholomew Roberts six years after him. 

But where did this legend come from? It certainly was not as old as Charles Johnson's A General History of the Pyrates.. coming up on 300 years! Halletts had been well-known and respected mariners in Massachusetts for more than a century – never even associated with maritime disaster until Elizabeth Reynard’s 1934 publication, The Narrow Land: Folk Chronicles of Old Cape Cod (1934). This legend has persisted to the present day. Indeed, in 1977, the Boston Herald published - on Halloween day, of course - the add below:

Boston Herald, 30 Oct 1777

This is almost certainly legend. It should be said that "Goody" or Mary or Maria Hallett has never been identified. No court records of her jailing or arrest have ever been found. Certainly, no bloody contract with Satan has ever appeared in print. And, no Cape Cod Hallett girl has ever been associated with "scuttling ships" off the Massachusetts coast.

Indeed, why make such pejorative slurs against a 15-year-old girl named "Goody" or Mary Hallett, the alleged “Witch of Wellfleet?” I thought only narcissistic, misogynistic, and pedantic jerks like Donald J. Trump were prone to abuse young women, either in bathrooms, or - like the 16-year-old Swedish climate-change activist girl - on his Twitter account - even as his statuesque Slavic model wife yells at Democrat witnesses to stop mentioning her young son, Barron Trump in hearings! Did such tribal politics also come into play with young Miss Hallett? 

Did she even exist for that matter?

Prior to 1935, the only similar reference – at least in Massuchesetts newspapers – was a shipping record for the vessel “Water Witch, of Wellfleet” in 1846. Furthermore, many vessels have carried "Witch" in their name. There have been as many as 2,899 newspaper references for both “witch” and “Cape Cod” together between 1716 and 1935, so the fairly recent Witch Trials of Salem in 1692 and the frequent devastating nor'easters probably left a lasting mark upon local Cape Cod maritime history. 

There was also Elizabeth Reynard’s other story about one Capt. Sylvanus of Cape Cod who blamed his oversleeping and allowing his sails to be ripped away in a storm upon the “Truro Hag” or witch – a woman in Truro who had sold him some milk – having drugged him by poisoning the milk! Truro is only a few miles north of both Wellfleet and Eastham), by the way. 

Another legend may have been influenced in 1851 by the wreck of Water Witch of Salem on those same shores. In fact, maritime disasters were so common in Massachusetts that 19th century newspapers carried a “Disasters” column in their shipping section! 

Culturally, associating witches or other such ominous supernatural phenomenon with disasters has been quite common in maritime folklore and disasters on Cape Cod were indeed frequent. Marine insurance company rates of the 19th century reflected Cape Cod’s shores as literally crawling with such “witches”  causing disasters to occur against their profit margins!

Still, why make the “witch” reference to a 15-year-old “Goody” Hallett girl (note that the term “Goody” made a timely cultural reference to the 1692 Witch Trials)? Was this simply a cultural recollection from 1692 - an attempt to demean the Hallett family as such a disaster? 

There may have been a coincident political reason to demean the Halletts of Cape Cod as possessing of some... “evil!” And, in this case, there was plenty of evidence... hanging in a Massachusetts train depot shortly before the Civil War!

A well-known Anti-Masonic (later Whig) politician Chairman of the Democratic National Committee from 1848-1852 and US District Attorney for Massachusetts between 1853-57, appointed by President Franklin Pierce - and native of Cape Cod – named Benjamin Franklin Hallett suffered political derision as a “soldier of fortune,” a betrayer of “every party and faction,” and a “flaming, intolerant, persecuting, temperance (anti-alcohol) man, and called loudly upon all the friends of temperance” before his death in 1862. Long-time researcher of Hallet, Roberto Poli, tells that:
Hallet was a staunch abolitionist, and a militant protector of minorities such as the native Mashpee Indians of Cape Cod, whom he defended in court in 1833 against 'whites' stealing their property in their own land... The various slanderous epithets with which he was labeled come from an episode that drew great attention, both from the public and the press - the trial of Anthony Burns, a fugitive slave escaped from the estate of Charles F. Suttle in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1854, and arrested in Boston. The trial became one of the most controversial episodes involving slavery in the years leading to the Civil War. As an abolitionist, Hallett openly despised everything the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 stood for; as a man of law, he was forced to use “reasonable force or restraint as may be necessary under the circumstances of the case” (Fugitive Slave Law, 1850; Section 6) to return fugitives to the claimants. Predictably, northern Democrats, fiercely opposed to slavery, heavily criticized him. He was described as a political machine, and was accused of turning his back to the cause. (added 2-1-2020)
Aside from his nominal abolitionism, Hallett was seen in Massachusetts as often sided politically with Southern Whigs (ancestors of slavery proponents known as Southern Democrats) in the nationalist and anti-immigrant Know-Nothing party. He incurred northern wrath for this distinctly un-Massachusettian political position. 

Stauffer Miller, author of Cape Cod and the Civil War, mentioned that during one slave trial in Boston, an unknown Cape Cod party felt that Boston (but Cape Cod-born) politician Benjamin F. Hallett “was too allied with Southern interests and suspended his effigy at the West Barnstable Depot. A note pinned to the effigy, dressed in a black coat, fancy pants and black hat, read, ‘Benj. F. Hallett, Attorney General for Southern Kidnappers. Cape Cod disowns the traitor to liberty.’ Attached to the coattail was a copy of the Barnstabie Patriot, with this message: ‘We would have hung the editor of this paper along with him but for want of time.’ Hallett never saw the effigy, as it had been removed when his train stopped at West Barnstable.” 

Even for a "hardcore abolitionist," B. F. Hallet suffered terribly from this political misunderstanding, re: perceived sympathy for slavery, conservative slavers, or Southern Democrats, as Roberto Poli writes:
It's not difficult to see why Hallett would be completely character-assassinated simply for being forced to apply the law [- return a slave to his owner]. The Burns [Anthony Burns, a fugitive slave escaped from the estate of Charles F. Suttle in Alexandria, Virginia, in 1854, and arrested in Boston] case was at the very early stages of his position as US DA, and once riots began on the streets of Boston (thousands of people gathered in front of the courthouse, shouting, spitting at and insulting the guards), Hallett's fate was sealed. He received specific directives via telegraph from the White House to increase the number of guards protecting the courthouse and Burns himself as he left the building, which was of course interpreted as an affront to liberty and dignity. At the end of the trial, thousands of people marched in protest on the streets; business owners hang black drapes outside their shops. Hallett was insulted publicly, and even assaulted in front of his home.
It may be that Massachusettians – particularly in Cape Cod - were notably relieved by his death in 1862 as he left a foul memory of their political opposition to - and hatred of - the South's peculiar institution of slavery. For their descendants today, Benjamin Hallett remained a disgusting reminder of tribal politics that precipitated the Civil War. This probably remained with his former constituents for decades, especially when white-supremacist resurgence flared once again in the early 20th century. 

The resulting political recollections possibly gave rise to the legend of Goody or Maria Hallet, the “Witch of Wellfleet” – a posthumous way of damning Benjamin Hallett and his family forever and chastising them for ever giving birth to such a contemptible slavery-loving politician! 

A Hallett girl, like Eve with an apple, a truly evil “Witch of Wellfleet” may then have slithered upon the pages of Elizabeth Reynard’s Chronicles of Old Cape Cod in 1934.


Elizabeth Reynard, The Narrow Land: Folk Chronicles of Old Cape Cod (1934), reprint (Boston: Houghton-Mifflen, 1968); Cape Ann Light and Gloucester Telegraph (Gloucester, MA), Jul 25, 1846, 4; National Aegis (Worcester, MA), Sep 30, 1840, 2; Nantucket Inquirer (Nantucket, MA), Aug 29, 1840, 3; Boston Shipping List, May 24, 1851, 1; Stauffer Miller, Cape Cod and the Civil War: The Raised Right Arm (Mount Pleasant, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2010); Email interviews with Roberto Poli.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Whistleblower Complaint on Audiobook!

Listen to an audiobook of the #WhistleblowerComplaint..

Yeah.. one has already been made! lol

#Extortion #treason #criminal #dictator #racism #ConcentrationCamps #CrimesAgainstHumanity
#ForProfitPrisons #TrumpIsADisgrace #TrumpIsANationalSecurityThreat

Mueller Report recap on YouTube:

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

True History of Our Pirate Nation or Why the GOP are such Assholes!

 This actually introduces the conclusion in my book Quest for Blackbeard: The The Story of Edward Thache and His World, but I believe it holds great relevance to our monstrous political problems today and the reasons why our conservatives are such gigantic assholes! So, I'm including it here - so anyone can read it.

True History of Our Pirate Nation!

When Bernard Cooke of Barbados had accused James Grazett of saying “God damn King George and all his family; He is a Dutch dog and son of a whore… Here is King James the third’s health, right and lawful heir to the Crown,” he employed a common Jacobite rhetorical device.[1] Logicians today call it “attacking the man,” or an ad hominem political attack. The United States’ system of checks and balances only works when both political parties negotiate in good faith. Otherwise, any hearings or discussions devolve into ad hominem political attacks, like Cooke's. 
King George’s claim to England’s throne is confusing unless you understand that the House of Nassau was an aristocratic dynasty associated with Nassau Castle, located in present-day Nassau, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany – once a part of Prussia. Nassau, the primary town on New Providence Island of the Bahamas – the stronghold of the Flying Gang of Benjamin Hornigold’s pirates – was named in honor of William of Orange, a prince of Nassau. How did a Dutchman become a prince of a territory in Prussia? Well… William was a Dutchman (although married to Mary Stuart of fine Scottish stock), but also from the Ottonian branch of the Princes of Nassau who gave rise to the Princes of Orange and the monarchs of the Netherlands. The Principality of Orange actually originates from what is now France, but I’m sure you’re already completely confused as most everyone. Suffice it to say that this heritage goes back to the Holy Roman Empire until 1544 when the dynasties of Orange and Nassau aligned. William of Orange married Mary Stuart – but had no issue and therefore, the Principality of Orange fell into the hands of Frederic-Henry, Frederick I of Prussia, who ceded the principality — at least the lands, but not the formal title — to France in 1713. So, the title of a “Prince of Orange” no longer carried property – just a royal connection to the line of Frederick I.
On 1 August 1714, George Louis, son of Sophia of the Palatinate in Heidelberg – herself, the daughter of Frederick V, Elector Palatine and Elizabeth Stuart of England, became King of Great Britain and Ireland and ruler of the Duchy and Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg (Hanover) in the Holy Roman Empire. George carried only a minor connection to the Stuart dynasty of England – as well as the Principality of Orange – and, so, was only seen as a “Dutch dog” and an illegitimate heir to the British Crown – especially by Jacobites, or supporters of James III’s claim to that Crown. Jacobite objection to the Hanoverian king owed much to isolationist political ideology – like today’s Republican Party in America. Okay, this is even more confusing and now, you need a mug of grog, right?
Anyhow, this device made political use of prejudice against foreigners: the non-British – particularly against the Protestant Dutch and their kin – Protestant Prussians or Germans. “Dutch dog” made light of George’s legal right to sit on the English throne – especially when he spoke no English, but only German! Cooke accused Grazett of being a traitor for elevating James III or the “Pretender” over King George I, the sitting monarch of the realm and the one that all loyal British citizens were supposed to support. Grazett accused Cooke’s wife of exactly the same thing – with almost exactly the same phrase.
British historian of the seventeenth to eighteenth centuries, Ragnhild Marie Hatton assured us that the problem with King George I was not so much his ignorance of English. It had little to do with his public shyness. It did not even center on his scandalous treatment of his wife, Sophia Dorothea. The German prince was simply a weak, pallid, and foreign Protestant replacement for the strength of a Stuart of Great Britain. As William Makepeace Thackery wrote:

His heart was in Hanover... He was more than fifty years of age when he came amongst us: we took him because we wanted him, because he served our turn; we laughed at his uncouth German ways, and sneered at him. He took our loyalty for what it was worth; laid hands on what money he could; kept us assuredly from Popery ... I, for one, would have been on his side in those days. Cynical and selfish, as he was, he was better than a king out of St. Germains [James, the Stuart Pretender] with the French king's orders in his pocket, and a swarm of Jesuits in his train.[2]

Thackery had presumed that George I was good for Britain, that despite his dullness, George was the Protestant puppet that Parliament needed in their liberal Whig transformation away from monarchial corruption – a corruption that still threatened to ruin the colonies in America. And, then there was the politico-religious threat of popery. For Thackery, being a German was far better than being Catholic! The accession of George I signaled the beginning of a new British Empire, even newer than it was upon the accession of a Dutchman in 1688. Not all of the empire, however, agreed with these Whig changes that had originally begun under King William, the Dutch king who married Mary Stuart in a compromise of sorts to usher in Parliament’s will over the sovereign.
During the majority of the seventeenth century, America developed its piratical character from the Stuarts. Although also anti-Catholic, the American soul had not changed in the same way as Britain’s. America was still Stuart, a distant imperial reminder of Charles I’s casting of Parliament aside – casting aside the will of the people, not unlike the current U. S. president’s casting aside of Congress’s oversight authority. Parliament executed that Stuart king and ruled without a monarch for eleven years. They finally restored Charles II – with conditions – but the aristocratic excess yet returned with him – as it has today with corporations – as he finished developing the American colonies. Great wealth and great violence inhabited – and still inhabits – the American side of the Atlantic – essentially there to steal Spanish treasure – so also developing great prejudice against foreigners. Americans, having later lost their human property in 1863, simply have never consented either to return pirated Spanish property to its rightful owners – nor will it allow darkened foreigners on its stolen soil - no! Can’t you read the sign – “Whites Only!”?
It required great men of power and endurance to command the “trade” in that part of the world – trade that must be taken – and not actually “traded” from their rivals. Significant cultural change had already taken place between the softening, liberalizing British and the brutal, aggressive American martial mind. Of the Spanish depredations of the “pyrate” Sir Walter Raleigh, Francis Osborne lamented in 1701 that “no Peace beyond the Line [in America] was a belief so Riveted in the Opinions of all, as he could not have been Indicted anew.”[3] Britain finally desired peace, but Americans, still much in tune with Raleigh, yet craved more bloody war, like their original Stuart patrons.
University of York historian J. A. Sharpe noticed an “upsurge in upper-class debauchery” during the Stuart reign of Charles II – and when Carolina was founded.[4] In his book Crime in Early Modern England 1550-1750, Sharpe said these debauchers, like Charles Sackville, the earl of Dorset, or John Wilmot, the earl of Rochester, “another courtier of vicious life,” largely passed freely and unpunished in England.[5] He also asserted about the gentleman class that “a number of types of behavior regarded as illegal by the authorities were thought of as legal, or at least justifiable on quasi-legal grounds.”[6] Court records, asserts Sharpe, reflect the consistent criminality of the lower orders – likely for reasons of sustenance – but completely ignore actions of the elite. These gentlemen were not the exceptions to the rule, but rather the rule itself in Stuart times. Their wealth and position gave them immunity from justice – they were “too big to jail.” It is reasonable to assume that when the invasion of the Spanish West Indies by the English occurred during this time, these freely-expressed negative characteristics came with these gentlemen – the violent notoriousness necessary to conquer Spain’s wealth in America. The result was an early America filled with an English criminal ruling element that showed little if any remorse for their criminal acts – a perfect pirate force to steal the wealth of the Spanish New World Empire. These attitudes spread not only to the West Indies, but also to mainland America with the establishment of Carolana with an “a” in 1629 under Charles I and Carolina with an “i” in 1663 under his son, Charles II - especially after the founding of Charles Town in 1671 by Barbadians – literally named for a Stuart monarch! Malcontents of all persuasians left England for a less-discriminating America, including ex-hero Parliamentarians with a certain fundamental ideological connection to the more northern colonies of New England. In America, they would be free to exercise the worship of their vengeful god and almost any crime with impunity!
From 1688-1689, at the accession of the Dutch Protestant reformer King William of Orange, Francis Nicholson was sent as lieutenant governor to the Dominion of New England. He quickly gained a reputation as a progressive and immediately alienated his less than enthusiastic conservative constituents in Stuart-favoring America. The Crown, though, appreciated his efforts at liberal reform, and upon his advisable departure from New England, he proceeded to Virginia to be its governor from 1690-1692. The British Crown was impressed and appointed him next to serve as Maryland’s governor from 1694-1698, and again as governor of Virginia from 1698-1705. Of his second term in this colony, biographer Natalie Zacek says that “Virginians recoiled at Nicholson's military gruffness and his uncouth public courtship of Lucy Burwell,” and his “attempts at reform threatened the power of such men as William Byrd I, so that several members of the governor's Council—including Nicholson's former ally, [James] Blair—convinced the Crown to remove him.”[7] Americans fought back! Neither progressives nor liberal reformers could grow amenable roots “beyond the lines of amity” in America – especially while at war, which, for America today, is just as frequent overseas – if not brutally consistant with hired mercenaries to do the dirty work and bring back the gold – or, in this case, oil. 
Once again, the Crown’s reform efforts in the colonies had been put aside for Queen Anne’s War, in which the future “Blackbeard,” or Jamaican gentleman Edward Thache participated. Nicholson returned to London and petitioned the new queen to make an expedition to take French territories in Canada. Nicholson captured the French Port Royal on October 2, 1710. This battle began the conquest of Acadia and permanent British control over Nova Scotia. In that effort, he combined forces with Sir Hovendon Walker, then commander of HMS Windsor – at one time, Thache’s ship – at the head of his fleet, perhaps with Thache aboard. Much of Walker’s fleet foundered on rocks near the mouth of the Saint Lawrence River. The expedition was cancelled, which greatly angered Nicholson, leading the land forces. He reportedly tore off his powdered wig and threw it to the ground when he heard the news. He spent some time afterward as Nova Scotia’s governor in Boston. There, he re-attempted his reform efforts, again, angering colonials, and removed these “notorious” American malcontents from office. Still, they all claimed him to be mad and had him declared incompetent. They regained their positions and cast Nicholson from New England. This was a common tactic used by colonial conservatives to maintain their power in America against the efforts of British Whig reformers.
Undeterred as a reformer, still the fervent wish of the growing Whig ministry under George I, Nicholson then found appointment as first royal governor of South Carolina during the more turbulent second phrase of the Golden Age of Piracy from 1721 to 1725. His instructions from the Crown cite the usual dealings with Indians, trade, and such, but a preamble to these instructions involved the legal issues surrounding piracy. His superiors realized that their initial efforts at reform could not be trusted purely in still-conservative colonial hands. Once the Crown gained control from the corruptly-Stuart Lords Proprietors, Carolina’s former private owners, they would still attempt to use this new Bahamian base in America to ensure reform – but, as all best laid plans….
Americans did not want reform and had proven quite obstinate and stubborn. They abused the procedures for piracy trials under the outline laid out by Sir Charles Hedges in the late seventeeth century. Edward Randolph’s assertion that pirates could not try pirates resoundingly rang true. The preamble called for no less than seven men, the governor or his representative being required as one. Also, the other six being “no person but Such as were known Merchantts, factors, or Planters or Such as Captains, Lieutenants or Warrant Officers in any of his said Late Majesties Ships of Warr or Captains, Masters, or Mates of some English shoar Should be Capable of being So Called and Sitting and Voting in the said Court.”[8] The word “English” is ambiguous here. It was not “British,” although the distinction is barely noticed today – at a time when these distinctions are nowhere near as important. Why write this detail or make this distinction? Americans had not been prone to put French or Spanish citizens on their admiralty courts – nationality was not the problem. Could it be that “English shoar” referred to the actual shores of England herself? It’s subtle, but, the Crown likely had not wanted natural-born Americans, as well as foreigners, judging pirate trials or administering justice to their own. Many English vessels visited the colonies on a regular basis. South Carolina records show a regular pattern of trans-Atlantic commerce from Bristol, Liverpool, London, as well as West Indian traffic. These “Captains, Masters, and Mates” of “English shoars” – not colonial or provincial – would be readily available to serve on such courts in America.
Nicholson’s superiors were quite serious – their subtly anti-pirate preamble went on for almost five full pages before Nicholson’s actual instructions began. They listed three anti-piracy acts: 11th William III, 1st George I (not only to prevent piracy, but specifically piracies on the king’s ships), 10th Anne I (on building county jails), and 12th William III (reiterating 13th Charles II for support of the navy overseas). One might get the impression that the Crown did not trust those remote provincials in the American wilderness. They had good reason!
The instructions themselves contain the usual references, with specific exception. No. 56 was undoubtedly generated by the extreme difficulties with the Richard Tookerman-Henry Wills case of that same year in London Courts. This instruction read that “no persons for the future be Sent as Prisoners to this Kingdom from the said Province of South Carolina, without Sufficient Proof of their Crimes, and that proof transmitted along with the Said Prisoners.”[9] Capt. Edward Vernon probably nodded his approval for the Crown’s caution – still smarting financially from that affair. He paid £1,200 in fines from the resulting judgement of false arrest, a travesty of justice expertly manipulated by pirates Tookerman and Wills – similar to the consistent obstruction of Republican President Donald J. Trump and his Attorney General William Barr in refusing to free the wheels of justice in America’s Trump Era by holding out on the Mueller Report and angering Democrats across the nation and in Congress.
Instructions 67-70 may have been of strong interest to Edward Thache. They concerned “Merchants and Planters of the West Indies” in corresponding and trading with the French Islands in those parts. The 5th and 6th articles of their mutual 1686 treaty prohibited “to Trade and Fish in all Places possessed or which shall be possessed by the other in America.”[10] The Crown worried that intelligence would leak to their Catholic enemy by continuous contact with these English traders – indeed as privateers and pirates gained intelligence from them. While at the Virginia Capes with Benjamin Hornigold, pirate Edward Thache may have been quite pleased to learn from Capt. Pritchard about the future visit of a large, lightly-manned and gunned slave ship (La Concorde) near Martinique. Pritchard had come upon the pirates as he sailed northward from his home port of St. Lucia, in the French Windwards. Still, once Thache arrived there, and soon after taking La Concorde, Thache might also have been quite annoyed with such English merchants as Christopher Taylor trading to Bequia. Taylor was the only man in any record who claimed violence was done to him directly by Thache, although greed - the money – may also have influenced Thache to do so. Furthermore, Thache never hanged Taylor from the yardarm, as he threatened; so, it may yet have been a bluff. Still, Thache expressed a particular annoyance with the French, who consistently threatened his home of Jamaica and with whom he fought consistently in the former war. His actions after capturing his Queen Anne’s Revenge demonstrate a steady determination to hurt the French in the French Windward Islands and at Petit Goâve in French Hispaniola.
Stuart Tories, Jacobites, and many elite Americans of conservative persuasion saw King William’s progressive policies and those of his successors and their many reforming administrative “Dutch dogs” as weakness. War had been natural for them. One may hear that “Might made right; strength over weakness made a resilient nation – it commanded trade and ensured profit,” or “Only the truly strong could be truly free.” “Piracy had become so interwoven into the social infrastructure of the Atlantic colonies,” writes Douglas R. Burgess, “that it helped shape the policies of many colonial governments.”[11] Piracy had built America. It completed the task begun in 1588 at the defeat of the Spanish Armada. British piracy had taken by force the precious treasures of Spain’s overseas empire. Piracy provided “many goods and luxuries that colonists from Boston to Charleston later took for granted.”[12] The end of King William’s War initiated a political transformation. Differentiation from England had occurred for at least the past five generations, 3,000 miles away, “beyond the lines” of amity, with West Indians consistently beating everyone else, including their own. The strong and martial Stuart ideologues in America were winning. By far, they won the lion’s share of the gold, silver, sugar, indigo, rum, and molasses. Of course, they should keep it for themselves, not give it to the British who ignored their needs! “Illegal” trade of piracy had become the primary source for goods on the American market. Remember that “legal” and “illegal” are wholly ambiguous terms, just like “treason,” “sovereign,” “freedom,” or “pirate.”
Britain’s efforts at reform only strengthened a conservative America’s resolve. As in Somalia, piracy can be a desperate act of resistance to perceived change or injustice. So it was in early America. This extraordinarily Stuart conservative New World Empire was threatened by changing liberal ideals back home in Britain itself since the accession of King William in 1688 and, again, with the end of Stuart rule upon the death of Queen Anne in 1713. The accession of the “Dutch dog” George I was the last straw. Conservatives or Tories of the eighteenth century, either in England or America saw their world and their profit coming to an end when a German king took the throne of Britain. It did not really matter that he was Protestant and not Catholic, although much has been made about that distinction and the religious differences had played their part. The main points, however, had little relation to religion. They were financial, political, and, to an increasing extent, cultural – the new king was a threat to their Stuart policies in America. He was the most liberal monarch yet foisted upon them from 3,000 miles away, and even, not English, Scottish, Irish, or even Welsh! George I was an immigrant king in his own country.
Jacobites, followers of the Stuart line of James III, or the ousted “Pretender,”responded with an attack on England to restore his rightful place on the throne. Pirates of the Golden Age in the West Indies may have believed that their actions aided the same agenda. These conservatives lashed out at a purportedly unfair system that threatened their traditions. Still, they were not yet prepared to mount a revolution and probably would have backed down had it not been for the glittery treasure, a source of great profit, spilled on the Florida shores in July 1715. The timing created a perfect storm in America.
During the Golden Age of Piracy, Douglas Burgess asserts, “Loyalty (or at least deference) to the English flag, which had been a hallmark of the profession [piracy] since the sixteenth century, gradually succumbed to a quite different sentiment: ‘war against all the world.’”[13] This shift in basic intent denoted a change in far more than just politics: it was territorial, the final culmination of cultural differentiation between England and America – the bonds snapped. Burgess said that this shift caused some, like Marcus Rediker, to “posit a protodemocracy of pirates that stood apart from and in conflict with the Crown and its colonies.”[14] Burgess’ desire to explain piracy as a phenomenon separate from American politics, however, handicaps his interpretations. Americans all across the continent and in the West Indies enjoyed and benefitted from the same “pirate,” or one-sided autocracy. Rediker was correct except that his “conflict with the Crown and colonies” was really just a conflict of the colonies with the Crown. America tested its hegemony in the water. It revolted against England in the Golden Age and simply failed the first time around – the second, however, would succeed. The argument is inescapable – we diverged from Britain in that they moved away from piracy while we firmly embraced it and created our culture from it. The umbilical cord snapped. America ideologically separated from Britain and began to truly see itself as an independent “Pirate Nation.” No amount of redeemer or conservative rhetoric would change that.

[1] Redington, ed., Calendar of Treasury Papers: 1720-1728, 166-167.
[2] William M. Thackery, The Four Georges: Sketches of Manners, Morals, Court and Town Life (London: Smith, Elder, 1860), 52–53.
[3] Francis Osborne, The works of Francis Osborn, Esq; divine, moral, historical, political (London: printed for A. and J. Churchil, at the Black Swan in Pater-Noster-Row, 1701), 378.
[4] J. A. Sharpe, Crime in Early Modern England 1550-1750 (Essex: Longman Group Limited, 1984), 97.
[6]Ibid., 12.
[7] Natalie Zacek, “Francis Nicholson (1655–1728),” Encyclopedia Virginia (Richmond: Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, 2016), (accessed 30 Jul 2016).
[8] "South Carolina Probate Records, Bound Volumes, 1671-1977," images, FamilySearch ( : 21 May 2014), Charleston > Miscellaneous record, 1696-1729 > image 128 of 301; citing Department of Archives and History, Columbia.
[9]Ibid., image 138 of 301.
[10]Ibid., image 139 of 301.
[11] Douglas R. Burgess, Jr., The Pirate’s Pact: The Secret Alliances Between History’s Most Notorious Buccaneers and Colonial America (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009), 169.
[13] Burgess, Politics of Piracy, 200.


#Blackbeard - 300 years of Fake News - based upon Quest for Blackbeard -

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