Quelch's Gold: Piracy, Greed, and Betrayal in Colonial New England by Cilford Beal, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Quelch's Gold: Piracy, Greed, and Betrayal in Colonial New England
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Quelch's Gold: Piracy, Greed, and Betrayal in Colonial New England

by Clifford Beal
     
 

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In May 1704, an 80-ton brigantine under Captain John Quelch slipped into the cove at Marblehead, Mass. carrying Brazilian sugar, hides, cloth, guns, and gold dust and coins worth over 10,000 sterling—a huge fortune for the time. It was this booty and the circumstances of the voyage of the Charles, that led to Quelch's arrest on charges of piracy and murder

Overview

In May 1704, an 80-ton brigantine under Captain John Quelch slipped into the cove at Marblehead, Mass. carrying Brazilian sugar, hides, cloth, guns, and gold dust and coins worth over 10,000 sterling—a huge fortune for the time. It was this booty and the circumstances of the voyage of the Charles, that led to Quelch's arrest on charges of piracy and murder against the subjects of Queen Anne's newest ally, the King of Portugal. Quelch's trial, called by one historian the first case of judicial murder in America, greatly influenced pirates who followed, making them far more violent and destructive. One can also see in the Quelch case the first stirrings of American rebellion against English rule. Whether pirate or privateer, Quelch suffered a travesty of justice, even by the legal standards of the time. His is a dramatic and tragic story about a man caught up in a world he no longer understands.

In the middle of May in the year 1704, an 80-ton brigantine, the Charles, quietly slipped into the cove at Marblehead, Massachusetts. Her sudden and unexpected reappearance, some ten months after she had left Marblehead under mysterious circumstances, started tongues wagging down at the docks and in the dim, cramped, seafront taverns of the town. Over the following three weeks, a drama played out involving the crew of the Charles, her commander, John Quelch, and the colonial governments of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. For in the hold of the Charles lay a large quantity of Brazilian sugar, hides, cloth, guns, and gold dust and coins worth over 10,000 sterling—a huge fortune for the time.

It was this booty, and the circumstances of the voyage of the Charles, that led to Quelch's arrest on charges of piracy and murder against the subjects of Queen Anne's newest ally, the King of Portugal. Occurring only three years after Captain Kidd met his end on the gallows in London, the case of John Quelch has been long overshadowed by his more infamous predecessor, but it is no less compelling. Quelch's trial, the first admiralty trial ever held outside England, was called by one historian the first case of judicial murder in America. The fate of Captain Quelch greatly influenced pirates who followed. Knowing they no longer had friends in high places rendered their careers far more violent and destructive, directed against all, including colonial governors, who represented the rule of law.

Beyond the lure of the immediate charges, one can see in the Quelch case the first stirrings of American rebellion against English rule. The mob saw the high-handed treatment of Quelch as an attack on personal liberty and freedom. His trial and subsequent execution created a small chink in the wall, later widened by Boston revolts against foreign-made legislation and taxation. Quelch, like Kidd before him, could be termed a pirate-in-denial, not comprehending the changes in his political world. Whether pirate or privateer, Quelch suffered a travesty of justice, even by the legal standards of the time. His is a dramatic and tragic story about a man caught up in a world he no longer understands.

Jack Quelch was hanged in Boston in 1704, but his legacy lives on. The legend persists that before they were captured, Quelch's crew managed to bury some of their gold on Star Island off the New Hampshire coast. Gold coins were actually found hidden in a stone wall there in the late 1800s. Every summer to this day the island has continued to lure treasure hunters, still searching for Quelch's gold.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This book is recommended for all readers who have an interest in pirates and early American politics. It would make excellent outside reading for any American history class." - Catholic Library World

"Beal cuts to the heart of one authentic pirate in his new book Quelch's Gold. John Quelch is not as famous as Captain Kidd and Edmund Blackbeard Teach, who also sailed these waters, but his story reveals much about how pirates actually lived….Quelch's Gold is a thrilling pirate story, now finally and dramatically told, as bizarre as anything Disney might dream up but this one is true." - SeacoastNH.com

"Quelch's Gold is an excellent read - a pirate tale from beginning to end, but also one that has strong links to the early American spirit. Sometimes it's difficult to see how events from 300 years ago had their affect on our present world, but author Clifford Beal crafts a story that feels at once historical yet entirely relevant The trial itself is conveyed in an equally compelling manner, and opens up many legal and ethical questions that should make for excellent conversational fodder amongst fellow pirate and historical buffs." - Bilgemunky.com

"[T]he plot of Quelch's Gold is elaborate and the scenery amazing, reminding us of New England's ties to the wide Atlantic world." - H-Atlantic

"Beal, a defense and security affairs writer, tells the story of pirate John Quelch, who was commander of the Charles and arrested on charges of piracy and murder in 1704. He recounts the ship's voyage, the subsequent trial and Quelch's execution in America, and how it was an early sign of the Revolution." - Refer ence & Research Book News

"Discusses the 1704 trial and hanging in Boston of John Quelch, captain of the Charles, and members of his crew, for piracy in Brazilian waters against Britian's ally Portugal." - The Chronicle of Higher Education

SeacoastNH.com

"Beal cuts to the heart of one authentic pirate in his new book Quelch's Gold. John Quelch is not as famous as Captain Kidd and Edmund "Blackbeard" Teach, who also sailed these waters, but his story reveals much about how pirates actually lived...Quelch's Gold is a thrilling pirate story, now finally and dramatically told, as bizarre as anything Disney might dream up but this one is true."—SeacoastNH.com
Pirates and Privateers

“Beal deftly weaves a tale of intrigue and abuse by authorities to prosecute Quelch for piracy."—Pirates and Privateers
Midwest Book Review

“A worthwhile acquisition for history buffs.”—Midwest Book Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780275994075
Publisher:
Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated
Publication date:
03/28/2007
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

Meet the Author

Clifford Beal is a defense and security affairs writer and the former Editor of Jane's Defence Weekly in London. He has written for periodicals including Jane's, Military History Quarterly, The Sunday Times, Toronto Globe & Mail, Dublin Sunday Business Post, Frontiers, Focus, and The International Herald Tribune.

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