|32-gun fifth rate frigate|
Her first captain was Francis Cooper, for half a year in 1711, then Edmund Hooke for a year, and back to Francis Cooper for almost two more years. Her next commander from 1715-1718 was a Scotsman of a quite controversial family! Capt. Francis Hume (1682-1753) would make his name as a "pirate hunter" in the Windward and Leeward Islands during the Golden Age of Piracy in what Charles Johnson referred to as a "Commonwealth of Pyrates!" He was referring to that colonial backwater across the pond - in America.
Capt. Francis Hume came from the Scottish Homes* of Blackadder, a family that split radically on two sides: loyal and traitorous Jacobite, after the Glorious Revolution of 1688! Another Francis Hume of Quixwood, was transported/exiled to Virginia in 1716 for his involvement in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, an event that favored James Francis Edward Stuart or the "Pretender" over German-speaking King George I. This event also encouraged many Stuart conservatives in Great Britain as well as the Americas to turn against their government just as the Golden Age of Piracy began with a hurricane on 30 July 1715 in the Bahama or Florida Straits.
*The name is spelled "Home," but is pronounced "Hume" in Scotland. Thus, those serving in England were usually recorded as "Hume."
|Alexis Simon Belle, Portrait of James Francis Edward Stuart (1688-1766) - dated 1712|
Capt. Francis Hume had left Scotland for London, became a mariner in the Royal Navy and avoided all those troubles - including the noose! The West Indies in the Golden Age gave him the opportunity to prove himself a loyal and faithful warrior subject of King George I - even though he was a German who spoke no English!
Scarborough was stationed at her home port of Sheerness, Kent through 1714 and most of 1715, undergoing repairs. By October 1715 the repairs, amounting to £1987.17.9d, came to completion. About the same time, Captains Edward Holland of the Bedford Galley, Francis Hume of the Scarborough and Digby Dent of the Lynn sought a tender to procure men and paper for muster records.
While Barbados underwent a massive hurricane, Capt. Hume, of Edinburgh, Scotland, that October 1715 had just been assigned to Scarborough as her commanding officer. There was much to do to finalize the repairs -he immediately set to work inspecting them and making last-minute adjustments while manning and provisioning his ship. These final efforts still took time. Purser Thomas Townshend came aboard and Hume asked for a ship's master to be appointed. By 9th of November, Scarborough had moved to the Downs where Hume replaced his damaged longboat. By the middle of January 1716, Scarborough had docked in the Hamoaze at Plymouth and sent in her muster reports. She took on provisions there and later at Portsmouth, making her final preparations for her voyage to Barbados in the early summer of 1716. After a mountain of preparation, the warship under Capt. Hume's command finally sailed for her station - Carlisle Bay of Barbados in the West Indies, carrying the new governor, Robert Lowther.
32-gun fifth-rate HMS Scarborough, would make quite a name for herself as a pirate fighter in the West Indies. Even anti-government pirates themselves often held this ship as the iconic warship to be beaten as a test of their pirate metal. But, first, Hume dealt with a lack of crew and those he had were sick and growing sicker. No rest for the weary, as they say. Gov. Robert Lowther, in December 1716, got word that "there were several pirates in those partes [Antigua], and that they had not only taken several vessels, but also greatly molested the Colonies." Thus, he:
... order'd Captain Humes Commander of H.M.S. the Scarborough to go immediately in quest of them, but he represented that his ship was so much disabled by the mortality and desertion of his mariners, that he had not men sufficient to navigate her: upon this representation my friends and I gave him so much mony as inabled him to get pretty nigh his complement of men.Gov. Walter Hamilton of the Leeward Islands also requested of Gov. Robert Lowther on Barbados "desiring he would order H.M. ship attending that station to cruize among these Islands for some time," to "to disperse those vermine." Capt. Hume sailed Scarborough to St. Christophers by 4th of January. Hamilton "immediatly ordered an officer, with 40 of H.M. troops on board, the better to enable Capt. Hume to secure his ship, and to annoy the pirates in case he met them." Hume was not only low on men - approx. 120 - but many of those were still sick. On January 16th, Hume "had the good fortune to find some of them [pirates] in the harbour of St. Croix, with a ship and a sloop."
Hume cut his teeth on these pirates, vessels of Jean Martel, a French pirate masquerading as an Englishman, who had decided to water at St. Croix in January 1717, some months after Scarborough's arrival in the Virgin Islands - from Antigua west to St. Croix.
Colin Woodard, in Republic of Pirates, best tells this tale. He asserts there were six vessels in all belonging to Jean Martel and begins his tale on page 153,
Scarborough anchored at the mouth of the harbor and began battering [the pirates'] vessels with her guns. The pirates fought back from the four-gun battery they had set up on shore, but the Scarborough's guns soon took them out of action. For a short time, the pirates thought they might be spared: The fifth-rate frigate was too big to enter the harbor and retreated. The pirates piled aboard Martel's flagship, the twenty-two gun John & Marshall, to make a run for it, only to run aground on a reef. Seeing the Scarborough tacking back toward them, Martel ordered the men to abandon and burn the galley.Martel and about nineteen of his pirates mad their escape in the smaller prize sloop they had taken there. About 100 others, white, black, slave [from Greyhound Galley?], and otherwise, escaped in St. Croix's inland forests. Hume was not able to capture any pirates, but he was able to restore the English vessels to their respective masters. Hume became a local hero and built his reputation as a pirate fighter, but his greatest feat was a year and a half away! .
Still, Hamilton warned of their nearly missing Samuel Bellamy in a 26-gun ship with Paul Williams in a 14-gun sloop. Hamilton requested of the Admiralty that they send him something bigger than the sloop currently on station in the Leeward Islands (St. Christophers and Nevis). That spring, however, also revealed that many English captains had also fallen prey to Spanish guarda-costas. Hostilities were once again building up that would soon break out in war.
The Admiralty responded on 4th of March. The 20-gun sixth-rate HMS Seaford had been dispatched. Admiralty Secretary Josiah Burchett wrote:
I am to acquaint you, that orders are sent to the Captains of H.M. ships employ'd at Jamaica, Barbadoes, and the Leeward Islands, upon intimation of any pirates in those parts, to advise with the respective Governours, and proceed in quest of them as shall be thereupon thought proper, and to use their utmost endeavours to seize or destroy them; the Seaford that sailed for the Leeward Islands in Dec. last was provided with Instructions of this nature, and must in all probability ... have reach'd her station; we are now fitting ships for the Colonies of Virginia, New England, and New York, and their Commanders will also have particular Instructions with relation to pirates. Signed, J. Burchett.In April, Alexander Spotswood. Lt. Gov. of Virginia, reported Samuel Bellamy in Whydah raiding ships off his coast. In about two more weeks, Whydah wrecked off Cape Codd and most of her pirate crew was killed. Only a handful remained, were imprisoned, and later hanged. Still, a former consort of Samuel Bellamy's had earlier parted from him in the Leewards and sailed to the coast of Brazil: Olivier LeVasseur de la Buse would soon face Francis Hume's Scarborough.
Meanwhile, in May 1717, two English traders complained that Marquis de la Varenne, the new governor of the French Islands in the Windwards, had arrested them simply for trying to water at Martinique. Varenne asurred Gov. Walter Hamilton that they had attempted to trade with the inhabitants, yet another violation of law. Nevertheless, one of these English captains had apparently come from Hamilton's government and he wrote to the Board that he "only anchor[ed] in their Roads without having in the least traded," which was probably not true. English traders were notoriously trading in those French Islands.
Gov. Hamilton, also imperialistically inclined, complained that her majesty's warships were not allowed to fly his own flag on their masts! After all, warships belonged to the king and not to the king's arrogant colonies in America. He wrote:
... this Captain Rose, Commander of H.M. Seaford, has orders from the Admiralty board not to hoyst a flag on board of his ship for the Governour upon any account whatsoever which I take to be a diminution of the honour due to H.M. Commission besides that the Lt. Governours of the respective Islands can never have any notice of the approach of the Chief Governour till he is actually at anchor in their roads or harbours.The Admiralty apparently had heard some warnings of colonial administrators assuming too much authority in the West Indies and told their captains not to fly any other flag but the British Jack. They may have given them further warnings about these untrustworthy provincial administrators as well... Hamilton may not have planned a revolt against Britain, but the mere suggestion of such imperialistic intent was deemed improper. Capt. Hume would later encounter even greater intransigence from Gov. Robert Lowther of Barbados.
Add to these troubles that the Dutch clandestinely shipped slaves into the islands as well, which damaged the English slave market to their own islands. Capitalism or private free-trade and raiders of a pecuniary sort caused its own problems, not unlike the problems we still face today in America!
Meanwhile, merchants in Bristol made a coordinated effort to alert the Board of Trade to the increasing pirate problem - and, of course, their annoyance. Southern Secretary Joseph Addison wrote to the Council of Trade and Plantations "report to H.M. what expedient you shall think proper for suppressing the pirates in those parts." Lt. Gov. Alexander Spotswood argued for the pirate nest of the Bahamas as the locus of the problem (a problem he exacerbated himself by commissioning his own man to raid the Spanish wrecks on the coast of Florida - a man soon captured by the Spanish) and the Board repeated this belief:
They further proposed that H.M. be graciously pleased to pardon the said pirates provided they come in and surrender by a certain time to be limited. They took notice to us, that the pirates had made a lodgement at Harbour Island, one of the Bahamas, where they raised a battery and kept a guard of 50 men; and that their usual retreat was at Providence the principal of those Islands, and the general receptacle for pirates at all times.
|Warships to America in 1717|
... five pirates made ye harbour of Providence their place of rendevous vizt. [Benjamin] Horngold, a sloop with 10 guns and about 80 men; [Henry] Jennings, a sloop with 10 guns and 100 men; [Josiah] Burgiss, a sloop with 8 guns and about 80 men; White, in a small vessell with 30 men and small armes; [Edward "Blackbeard"] Thatch, a sloop 6 gunns and about 70 men.The Board was firmly convinced that the Bahamas must be brought under submission to the crown, but they were determined that a pardon, or Act of Grace, combined with a new company of capitalists who would take over the island and bring it to order, would do the job. They responded by late August of that year, which resulted in the vessels being sent to America in the notice shown. Scarborough, already stationed at Barbados, might no longer be as thinly spread as before. Jamaica, maritime trade's crown jewel of the West Indies would get the most support - or scrutiny, depending on your point of view.
Capt. Bartholomew Candler of 20-gun HMS Winchelsea (stationed then at Jamaica) reported from Virgin Gorda, in the Virgin Islands, that:
When we came they hid themselves in the Rocks, one Ham a notorious villain living on Beef Island was on board of [Samuel] Bellame the Pirate when he was here, and as soon as they fired a gun at Virgin Gorda, he betook himself to a Bermuda boat he has and his negroes, and lurkt about the creeks and islands, until we were gone, there are no other Islands here inhabited by H.M. subjects, but those three, nor by any other people except St. Thomas, which is pretty well improved, they have a good harbour, and a fort of about 40 guns, belonging to the King of Denmark, but all rogues and pirates and are compounded of all nations, and yet poor they make some sugar but not good.Joseph Addison then wrote to Gov. Walter Hamilton of the Leewards that Marquis de la Varenne, the new governor at Martinique, had just suffered a coup d'etat and to warn the English governors not to encourage the rebellion. The Board noted this occurrence nervously and reaffirmed their decision about flying flags just as they sent Tryal sloop to assist in the Leewards!
Gov. Robert Lowther wrote that there were many problems with Royal Navy warships that he had witnessed: they were prone to sickness, laziness, and complained bitterly "as the law now stands can any mariner in the West Indies be impressed into the King's service upon any account whatever[?]" He also complained that pirates couldn't be tried outside of Great Britain, but that was untrue since 1690 with the advent of Vice-Admiralty Courts.
By February 1718, Capt. Vincent Pearse in HMS Phoenix, arrived at the Bahamas with the King's Act of Grace. He wrote 3 June 1718 that 209 pirates surrendered to him. Gov. Benjamin Bennet of Bermuda also wrote to the Board of the surrender of Henry Jennings, who had raided Spanish Florida on Christmas of 1715, which originally alerted the Board to the troubles caused by the wrecks.Still, these defiant actions of pirates fueled yet another war with Spain...
On the 1st of April 1718, Capt. Frances Hume had been ordered to proceed to Puerto Rico to collect on a debt owed to a slave merchant in London named Richard Harris, second only to Humphrey Morice of the Bank of England. But, Hume would encounter a serious problem. Capt. Hume wrote "So Soon as I arrived before the City I sent my Officer with the pinnis [pinnace; a small boat, with sails or oars] to acquaint them the Reason of my Coming there, and to Desire a Pilote." But the Spanish officers would not allow them even to land their boat. They told him that they "had orders from the King of Spain which" came "about the Second of Aprill, Directing that no English Shipp whatever Should be Admitted to come into any of His harbours and that if I would Come in I must expect to fforce My Way Through 200 pr Cannon." This was no small threat. Hume wondered why the Spanish officers at Puerto Rico would tell him this... unless they had already had enough!
Note: Capt, Hume would receive another communication on 22nd of April 1718 from the Admiralty relating to his dealings with Gov. Robert Lowther at his station of Barbados. This would be of great help to him quite soon when dealing with the legalities involved in the taking of another pirate!
War was then brewing again between England and Spain. As I write in the second e-version of Quest for Blackbeard (to be published later this year),
The outbreak of war, which caused the seizure of English goods,” noted Elizabeth Donnan, “may be dated from the spring of 1718, though there was no official declaration of war until December.” Even Johnson-Mist referred to Stede Bonnet planning his return to piracy in Revenge, then renamed Royal James, just after the grounding of QAR in Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina about 10th of June 1718 and wrote “War was now broke out between the Tripple Allies and Spain.” Johnson-Mist referred here to the last step before war broke out in the War of the Quadruple Alliance, finally declared on 17th of December 1718.Ejected from Puerto Rico, Hume took Scarborough to the northern South American coast. He made a week-long stop in Amsterdam Harbor of Curaçao in late April, "Chaueven on the Main" by May 8th, past La Guira, spent a week at Awalla Bay 16-23 May, along the north coast of Barcelona, moving east on his way back to his home waters. They watered at "Baratyras" or perhaps Borracha from 2-5 June, to Santa "Fez"/Fe Bay where they careened the 10th of June. Their northward course taken the 11th of June from the bay after careening soon brought him past the western end of Isla Margarita to Isla La Blanquilla, known at this time as the "Island of Blanco." [Analysis of the log records confirm this as the location of "Island of Blanco," as opposed to "Isla Morro Blanco," a little more to eastward.]
On the 13th of June, 1718, Scarborough entered from the western shore of Blanco, and reported in his log "We Saw Ridng under ye West Eand of ye Isle of Blanko a Ship & a Sloop." The Ship was a pirate vessel, ironically named Blanco and the sloop was Boneta of Nevis, Capt. James Davis. The pirate vessel was manned with 70-80 men and commanded by "Lewis Le Bour" or Olivier LeVasseur de la Buse, "a ffrench Man." Thomas Hall, from Scarborough's boarding party, testified "he Was ye Second Person that boarded The Said Pirate Ship w.ch Said Pirate Ship Was Mounted w:th Six Gunns."
La Buse had taken Davis' Boneta the day before who was turtling in those waters, as James Moor testified that Le Buse took "ye Said Sloop Boneeta And Did Put on Board her Same Goods & Went aboard her Armed w.th Musketts Cutlasses & Pistolls." Edward Hunt, a mariner aboard Boneta, testified on 5th of July "Said Pirates finding they Could not With Stand ye Man of Warr Quitted [Blanco] & Went aboard the Said Sloop & Made their Escape Therein haveing first put on board her a Considerable Quantity of Gold & Silver."
After taking Blanco and Boneta, with seventeen captured pirates in their hold, Hume sailed northward for St. Christophers, reaching within five leagues of the east end of St. Croix on the 17th, where they caught Jean Martel the year before. Then, setting course eastward, they reached Saba by the 24h, and finally St. Christophers or St. Kitts on Sunday, the 29th.
|Portion of Moll's Map of St. Christophers Ialand|
Annoyed, Hume still waited until Thursday, 3rd of July. Refused again, he wrote "Shall carry them to Nevis, where they have likewise a power to try them and, afterwards Shall Proceed to my Station [Barbados]." They made Nevis on the 5th and a trial for the pirate ship commenced.
Blanco was condemned at Nevis on the 5th of July by William Woodropp, Vice Admiralty Judge surrogate. Still, Nevis' Council also refused to take the prisoners:
... our Act Cant Possibly give any Jursidiction farther them the Legislative Power Your Island reaches, and your letter having Informed us that they were Taken at the Island Blanco, which is West and by South at Least one hundred and fifty Leagues of all the Leeward Islands it must be Absolutely out of our Jurisdiction.Barbados was closer - why come to the Leewards before Barbados?
Hume departed Nevis with his condemned prize and seventeen pirates growing "gamey" locked in his hold, on the 10th for Montserrat, moved south passed St. Vincent the 13th and St. Lucia the 14th, still with Blanco. Carrying his prize, he made an eastward or larboard turn and moored in Carlisle Bay at 7 pm on the 22nd of July.
|Analysis of captain's and master's log data for HMS Scarborough|
The imperial Robert Lowther did not like such defiance - even from a Royal Navy captain! He wrote to Lascelles, ordering him "In his Majestys Name To Command You ye Said Henery Lascelles To Seize Forthwith ye Sd Ship Blanco Now Rideing at Anchor in Carlisle Bay... w.th all her Lading Gunns Tackle Apparell & furniture & To Secure ye Same for his Majesties Use Till You Receive my further Directions." Lowther was probably more concerned with securing the goods for his own use. Just to drive the point home, he also told Lascelles to use "all & Singular, ye Justices of the Peace Majestrat Custome House officers Marshalls Constables & all ye Rest of his Majesties faithfull Ministers officers Subjects And Leise? People Within ye Maritime Jurisfictions of Vice Admiralty of Barbados To Assist & Obey You the Said Henery Lascelles in ye Execution of the Premises... Und:r ye Penalty of the Law!" Lowther would have that ship and its cargo - which included "on Board abundance of Chests of Gold and Silver" all totaling upwards of £4,000 - if he had to rip it from the bay!
Capt, Hume wrote back two days later informing Lowther that his instructions from the Admiralty received "of late Aprill ye 22d 1717 thatt Pyrates Goods now perqussites [responsibility] of Adm:ty and thatt I Should [take?] his care To [allow] no embezelments," including from the governors themselves! Apparently, HMS Shoreham's dealings in South Carolina in 1716 had made some changes in Admiralty rules (see Quest for Blackbeard) Furthermore, Hume told him "I adrestt his Maj:e judge of ye Admiralty then att Stt Christophers for a legall tryall of the prize, her Condemnation I herewith Send a Copy."
I had wondered why Capt. Frances Hume carried his pirate prize to the Leewards, rather than directly to his station of Barbados. This was the reason:
Hume, and likely the Board of Trade and Admiralty (re: 22 April 1718 instructions), suspected that the governor would "embezzle" whatever prize Hume took - including the £4,000 worth of ship and goods - for himself and his friends. Hume had the ship condemned first and then took the vessel to Barbados where it would already have been legally placed in his hands by a court of law. Hume's plan was brilliant! Hume also wrote that he ordered the "Officer on b[oar]d here to use no resistance butt to oversee ye Collectors directions when he orders ye people outt of the Ship" to make certain that, if anyone on Barbados committed a piracy of the pirate ship, it would be a clear violation of the law.
Lowther and Lascelles grumbled for days while they debated how much trouble they could actually handle. They made repeated attempts to sway Capt. Hume. Finally, on 6 August 1718, Capt. Frances Hume made a formal protest against:
... all manner of Proceedings Stopage or Seizure had, made, or done, or caused to be had made, or done, by His Excellen:y Rob:t Lowther Esq:r Gov:r of Barbados or Henry Lascelles Esq:r Collector of the Customes here, or any Marshall, Agent or Agents, by them Employed or Directed as well for all Losses Damages Dettriments, or Hindrances whatsoever, that may in any wayes happen or Accrue to him the said Francis Hume, Officers and Ships Company, by any wayes or means whatsoevewr in, or by Seizing or causing to be Seized the Ship Blanco Pyrate... All which proceedings of the s:d Rob:t Lowther & Hen:y Lasscelles & the ?? of their Agents is hereby declared contrary to Law & Justice.Barbados' Notary Public, John Lenoir, had received this protest of Hume's in his office and must have read it with wide eyes. He wrote back to Hume:
Finding some Scruples within my self, whether I ought to act as a Notary Publick here - not knowing any Authority for soe doeing; and Likewise observing that you was pleas'd to leave Evidences to take Notice that you tender'd your Protest to me, and Desired to have it Recorded in the Notary's Books in the Secretary's Office, I thereupon applied my self to the Kings Attorney Gen:ll Who is of opinion, that I cannot act as Notary Publick, and that I ought not to Record the Paper you left Yesterday, in the Office.The same day, he sent his letters and paybooks home by way of a merchant vessel, March Catt, Capt. Thomas Ward.
The very next day, Hume wrote the governor and made excuse: that, because of the dangers of this hurricane season, he was moving Scarborough and, by association with, Blanco pirate ship and its treasures. A week went by without hearing from Lowther, so Hume wrote again. This time, he suggested that he may need to go to St. Lucia to better "Secure his Maj:tie Ship Und.r my Com:d the better from bad Accidents of that Nature." Finally, by the 20th of August, Hume - still with pirate prisoners aboard - wrote "Att My first Arrival from Leeward [Nevis and St. Christophers] I Acquainted Your Excellency that I had on board 17 Prisoners Taken on board the Pirate Ship[.] You Was pleased To Tell me that there were No Commissions To try Them" which was not true and Hume knew it. Hume Was going to have the prisoners off his ship and into a Barbados prison! He shamed the governor, but gave him a way out when he wrote "I hereby Conceive that in Case Yo.r Excellancy Wil Direct the proper officer for their being Committed To the Common Goale [Jail] of this Island it Will the better Enable me on all Urgent Ocassions To Answer the Service."
That same day, Hume heard from a sloop from Tobago that he was taken there by pirates, but upon investigating at Tobago, Hume determined that the ships were Spanish guarda-costas, for there were no pirates heard of in that locale.
What happened with the seventeen prisoners is still not known!
Scarborough continued his cruise around the Caribbean. Hume visited Curacao again by February 1719 and sent his "Muster Books with the Captain of the Harper Galley." By that August, HMS Scarborough was back in Deptford, England, leaving a properly chastised pirate-governor Robert Lowther behind him.
Sorta makes Donald Trump appear fairly common, huh? In America, that is - our "Commonwealth of Pyrates!"
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BLACKBEARD: 300 YEARS OF FAKE NEWS.
from BBC Radio Bristol
300 years ago on Thursday - 22 November 1718 - Bristol born Edward Teach (aka Blackbeard, the most famous pirate in the history of the world), was killed in a violent battle off the coast of North America. And after 300 years we can finally separate the truth from the myth. You can hear the whole story this Thursday at 9am in a one off BBC Radio Bristol special: BLACKBEARD: 300 YEARS OF FAKE NEWS. With new research by Baylus C. Brooks, narrated by Bristol born Kevin McNally - Joshamee Gibbs in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN, and produced by Tom Ryan and Sheila Hannon this is a very different Blackbeard from the one in the story books...
You can hear it at https://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/player/bbc_radio_bristol
#Blackbeard #pirate #twitterstorians
Three Centuries After His Beheading, a Kinder, Gentler Blackbeard Emerges - Smithsonian Online
By Andrew Lawler
November 13, 2018
Read about the final end of Edward Thache:
Murder at Ocracoke! Power and Profit in the Killing of Edward "Blackbeard" Thache
In commemoration of "Blackbeard 300 Tri-Centennial":
As always, drop by baylusbrooks.com and check out the primary source transcriptions