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Tuesday, August 14, 2018

La Concorde de Nantes Captured!

Secretary of State for the Navy - Correspondence to the arrival from Martinique 1717-1727: Feuquieres (François de Pas de Mazencourt, Marquis de), Governor General of the Windward Islands ◾ Correspondence ◦ Mesnier (Charles) the Navy to Martinique ◦ 1717

December 10, 1717

EN ANOM COL C8A 22 F ° 438

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On the 7th of this month [December 1717] a ship [Mauvais Rencontre, former sloop of Edward Thache, aka "Blackbeard"], commanded by Captain Pierre Dosset of Nantes, with 246 [negroes, black women, black male female children under 13 - later totals from two trips were quoted at 171 males, 147 females, 47 boys, 9 girls, and total of 374].
Slaver captains anchored chiefly off the Guinea Coast (also called the Slave Coast) for a month to a year to trade for their cargoes of 150 to 600 persons, most of whom had been kidnapped and forced to march to the coast under wretched conditions. While at anchor and after the departure from Africa, those aboard ship were exposed to almost continuous dangers, including raids at port by hostile tribes, epidemics, attack by pirates or enemy ships, and bad weather. Although these events affected the ships’ crews as well as the enslaved, they were more devastating to the latter group, who had also to cope with physical, sexual, and psychological abuse at the hands of their captors. Despite—or perhaps in part because of—the conditions aboard ship, some Africans who survived the initial horrors of captivity revolted; male slaves were kept constantly shackled to each other or to the deck to prevent mutiny, of which 55 detailed accounts were recorded between 1699 and 1845. [Encyclopedia Britannica (online), "Middle Passage"]

Detail of a British broadside depicting the slave ship Brooks and the manner (c. 1790) in which more than 420 adults and children could be carried onboard.
This captain had departed from Nantes on the 12th of April last, commanding the ship La Concorde, to trade Negres on the Coste de Guynee [Guinea], where he arrived on the eighth of July [1717], and after having traded 516 pieces of Negres [455 surviving the Middle Passage], left the 2nd of October to make his return to this isle [Martinique]...

 ... but on the 28th of November last being 60 leagues from here by the 14 degrees 27 minutes of north latitude, having been attacked by two English pirate ships, one of 12, the other of 8 cannons, crewed by 250 men, commanded by Edouard Titche, was abducted by these pirates with 455 Negres who remained with him.
Disease and the hardships of the Middle Passage claimed sixteen crew and sixty-one of 516 total slaves. Depositions by Captain Pierre Dosset and Lieutenant Francois Ernaut explained the events of their capture by Thache on November 28, 1717. Ernaut testified that two pirate sloops attacked the slave ship La Concorde: one with 120 men and twelve cannon, and the other with thirty men and eight cannon. This estimate was 100 pirates shy of his captain’s. [Quest for Blackbeard, p. 363]
[Thache] carried the said Dosset with his crew to the Grenadines on the isle of Becoya [Bequia] near Grenada, except 14 men, of whom 10 were retained by force and the 4 others having taken part willingly with the said pirates.

[Thache] gave to the said Sr. Dosset the boat in which he arrived [Mauvais Rencontre - sloop of 8 guns] here the Negres and another party of Negres of which did not belong to him. He left from the said isle Becoya with part of its crew having been unable to contain them in this boat [Mauvais Rencontre] without risk of losing many, and which he goes in the same boat by means of a passport that M. [Francois de Pas] de Feuquieres [governor of Martinique/French Windward Islands] gave him, and a rolle of crew whom I [Charles Mesnier] also gave him for the said boat.

Captain Dosset pretends that these pirates gave 25 of the Negres to a small boat [son of Henri Saint Amour] of that island which they had taken and plundered and which they relieved. The said Captain Dosset will undoubtedly make his dilligences to demand the restitution of these 25 negres.

I have the honor to send herewith to the Council the declaration made by the said Captain Dosset at the Gresse de la Isle, on arriving there. The masters of boats who trade here in Grenada have reported seeing the said pirates with the said vessel La Concorde in a Bay of Isle St. Vincent. They had burned a ship there, and a ship who made their escape still on the water. These same boats have been hunted by these pirates, from whom they have escaped in favor of the calms and their oars. This will inform the Council of the necessity that the King should send to the Seas two good frigates, well armed and full of sails.
News of the king’s pardon made its rounds in the Atlantic by this time. Jacques Ducoin, who studied these records, believes that Thache considered taking the king’s pardon and was not tempting fate. This does not ring true, however. The massive pirate raid of St. Domingue was planned for late December and later events a few months away near the Bay of Honduras where he allegedly burns former pirate Capt. (Edward?) James’ ship for accepting the same pardon. Edward Thache may simply have been a Royal Navy veteran revolutionary observing a code of military honor and thus, treated his victims more fairly than would “notorious” pirates or common criminals. Thache usually allowed them enough food and rarely harmed anyone, unless they kept money from him. There may also have been a more pragmatic reason not to take all of the slaves. He also understood the amount of food and water needed to preserve them and, under the conditions, he probably had some trouble feeding his own crew already. The differences between [Stede] Bonnet and [Edward] Thache may have had little to do with the ability to feed slaves, but might have been more of a personal nature. [Quest for Blackbeard, p. 366-367]


Look for the new booklet for the Blackbeard 300 Tri-Centennial festivities, Murder at Ocracoke: Power and Profit in the Killing of Edward "Blackbeard" Thache, available now at Lulu Publishing!

Please keep up with updates on my website at and at my Facebook pages: Baylus C. Brooks and Quest for Blackbeard.

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Sunday, August 12, 2018

French Slavers & English Pirates off the African Coast!

Print by Nicolas Ozanne, painter of the Navy, dated 1776. | DR  

Jacques Nadreau, commander of 130 ton, 12-gun French slaver l'Union de Nantes probably descends from the Flemish architect Jacques Nadreau. The elder Nadreau was a basically unknown architect who made it famous when he constructed L'orgue du Collège Royal de La Flèche, an organ gallery consisting of a low-bay central bay and two conical horns at the east end of the nave of La Chapelle Saint-Louis du Prytanée militaire de La Flèche in the town of La Flèche, in La Sarthe, a department or county of the Loire region. This afforded his family some prominence and wealth.

The younger Jacques Nadreau, perhaps a grandson, had recently sailed from Nantes, a port 50 miles up the Loire River, as consort to 266-ton L'Aurore, commanded by Mathurin Joubert in 1713, carrying slaves from West Africa to the French Windward colony of La Martinique. Early in 1719, Nantes merchant René Montaudouin, previous owner of the ill-fated La Concorde de Nantes (which became Edward Thache's Queen Anne's Revenge), outfitted 130 ton, 12-gun l'Union de Nantes, to be commanded by Jacques Nadreau. 

As found in "When Nantes was the capital of the slave trade" by Jean-François Martin, just in the 18th century alone, ships of Nantes transported between 450,000 and 600,000 Africans to the European colonies of the New World. As gleaned from The Diligent: A Voyage Through the Worlds Of The Slave Trade, by Robert Harms, sugar markets no longer sought sugar from the nearby island of São Tomé, Portuguese for "Saint Thomas," and gold was available from New World Spanish colonies. With the advent of lucrative West-Indian sugar plantations in the latter 17th century, slaves became highly valuable. African slaves from the Guinea Coast and elsewhere became a profitable trade in the Atlantic for other European items such as cloth and guns. By the early 18th century, Judah or Whydah had recently become the principle location from which to obtain their human cargo.

Nadreau departed 1 April that early spring for the coast of Guinea to obtain slaves in the West African port of Judah, or Whydah, arriving there 12 August, 3 days after three English pirates had left in pursuit of another slave trader, Le Victorieux de Nantes, captained by Guillaume Hais. 

French West Africa, with Judah, and islands of Princes, Sao Tome, Anabon and Corista.
Jeremiah Cocklyn, Richard Taylor, and Olivier LeVasseur, most commonly known as "La Buse," or the "Buzzard," had held complete control of Judah from 22 June until 9 August 1719. 

Le Victorieux, on her way to Judah that March, like most merchant captains, learned of pirates on that coast while trading with locals at Grand Sestre for wood, water, and rice. This lay some 90 miles southeast of Sierra Leone River and west of Judah at the Bight of Benin. Hais and crew arrived in Judah 22 March and began to trade with the directors of the fort of São João Baptista de Ajudá for their slaves. 

Exactly three months later, on the 22nd of June, at "four or five o'clock in the afternoon, three pirate ships [Cocklyn, Taylor, and LeVasseur] entered the harbor, flying English flags. After some time, [Edouard Hais, brother of Guillaume and 2nd officer of Victorieux], then in command, believed the pirates were recognized. They then fired cannons and hoisted black flags. Hais cut two cables on the bits" and fled, leaving his brother ashore, where he was then trading with French director, Sieur Bouchet, and his English, Dutch, and Portuguese counterparts. The pirates anchored before Judah in two places, with two prize vessels.

Pirate Jeremiah Cocklyn, in particular, had an eye on capturing Le Victorieux, and, so, took up the hunt for her in William Snelgrave's captured former Bird Galley. After the pirates had agreed to meet at Corisco Island to careen their ships, and rendezvous later at Anabon Island, they parted from Judah on the 9th of August. Afterward, Hais, having evaded Cocklin, returned in Le Victorieux to conclude their business and Le Victorieux also parted on 15th of September.

Not all of the slave traders on the Guinea Coast, however, believed that these three vessels were pirates. Of course, Capt. Nadreau, having just arrived 12 August, had not yet had the displeasure of their company and he argued that they were simply English merchants. The other merchants, particularly Hais, assured him that they were, indeed, pirates. The 30th of September, while Nadreau loaded three hundred and fifty-six slaves, Richard Taylor, then in command of his prize, Richard Blincko's former Heroine, returned to prove Hais absolutely correct! 

[Plan du fort françois à Juda et couronnement du roy de Juda a la coste de Guinée au mois d'avril 1725] (1730), Labat, Jean-Baptiste (1663-1738).
Nadreau wrote that "pirates on September 30th 1719, gave chase to his ship," l'Union de Nantes, and that 24 of his crew had been trading ashore and were left behind when Taylor raided. Nadreau was forced to change his opinion of these pirate "merchants" when they plundered his vessel of his "passport and all his other papers," "looted his cables and liquors by the bottle, and left the deponent on the ground [at Judah] with twenty black cargo." At least he had been reunited with his 24 crew members. The worst part was the semi-betrayal of his first mate, "obliged to plunder his canoe, and a mast," who then departed for Saint Domingue in his ship, at the direction, and probable amusement of the English pirates!

Nadreau was "obliged to remain at Judah for a month and a half with his men and the twenty negroes... obliged to make heavy expenses for the subsistence of the negroes and sailors." He found passage on Jacques Hego's l'Heureaux Avanteuries, who had also been taken by pirate Edward England on 15 September at Cap de Trois Pointes, just west of Judah

Capt. Helle Lavigne, commander of Le Preni de Nantes, had also been warned about these pirates at Grand Sestre, where other merchants assured him that he needed a pass from the brigands to trade on the Guinea Coast. Like Nadreau on the pirates' first visit to Judah, he missed Richard Taylor's return to Judah, arriving on the evening of the same day, the 30th of September, having heard of the scuffle from other merchants. He may have felt fortunate to have missed these pirates, but, as I write in the upcoming new book, Sailing East: West Indian Pirates in Madagascar:
Coming this fall!
What was Richard Taylor doing at this time? Capt. Helle Lavigne, commander of Le Preni de Nantes, may be able to tell us. While Cocklyn and LeVasseur were occupied with Le Solide, a pirate ship again raided Judah on 30 September, taking l’Union de Nantes, captain Jacques Nadreau. Lavigne heard the rumors and arrived that night to speak with the directors ashore. After departing, on 2nd of October, two days en route for Anabon, he and a Portuguese ship were also taken probably by Taylor. Lavigne told little about this pirate, except that he pillaged his cargo. The pirate kept him near Judah until 11 November 1719, and then ordered him to follow, as the pirate had to leave – probably to rendezvous with LeVasseur and Cocklyn. The timing was perfect! Moreover, Lavigne would meet fellow French pirate captive Guillaume Hais of Le Victorieux quite soon!

Capts. Hais and Lavigne would partner up at Cape Lopez that December after being released by the pirates.. who would then be sailing eastward for Madagascar! Read their stories and the story of the captured pirate ship Victory or Le Victorieux, famously involved in capturing the East India Company's Cassandra, in Sailing East: West Indian Pirates in Madagascar.

Note: corrections made 14-Aug-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 and check out the primary source transcriptions available there!