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Under the Black Flag: Exploits of the Most Notorious Pirates

Under the Black Flag: Exploits of the Most Notorious Pirates

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by Don C. Seitz

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Riveting account traces careers of buccaneers of many nationalities across 2 centuries and around the globe — from the West Indies to the South Seas. True stories of such notorious brigands as Captain Kidd and Edward (Blackbeard) Teach, as well as such lesser-known pirates as John Quelch, Christopher Scudamore, and Erasmus Peterson.


Riveting account traces careers of buccaneers of many nationalities across 2 centuries and around the globe — from the West Indies to the South Seas. True stories of such notorious brigands as Captain Kidd and Edward (Blackbeard) Teach, as well as such lesser-known pirates as John Quelch, Christopher Scudamore, and Erasmus Peterson.

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Dover Publications
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Dover Maritime
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Under the Black Flag

Exploits of the Most Notorious Pirates

By Don C. Seitz

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2002 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-14672-0



IN the confusion caused by the English Revolution of 1688, New England underwent a brief spasm between the expulsion of James II and the acknowledgment of William of Orange. Edmund Andros, the Royal Governor, was absent at Pemaquid on an expedition against the Indians of Maine, when news reached him on January 10, 1689, of the move against the King, and from that point he issued a warning proclamation against the usurper. He returned in March and on April 4th, John Winslow, reaching Boston from Nevis, brought a copy of King William's acclaim of sovereignty, which he printed and circulated, though prohibited by Andros, who caused him to be lodged in jail for two weeks. The town responded, however, and, rising on April 18th, deposed Andros and confined him, taking beside Joseph Dudley, president of the Council, and Captain George, of the Frigate Rose, then in harbor.

The warship's lieutenant, David Condon, a Jacobite, prepared to open on the city, despite his captain's predicament as prisoner, but the rebels, taking the fort, trained all the guns on the Rose, so that Condon submitted to having her stripped of sails by the aroused citizens and his crew took oath of allegiance to William, the authority of James then disappearing from New England.

Employed by Andros in some of his undertakings had been Thomas Pound, an intelligent mariner and pilot of excellent character, who seized upon the moment to become a pirate. There is no outward excuse for his conduct, beyond the surmise of John Henry Edmonds, his biographer, that the move was made so that Boston would restore the Rose her sailing gear, to send her to sea after the outlaws and thus make her free to carry Andros to France and King James. Pirates and privateers became numerous at the moment off the coast, so much so that a petition was circulated by the merchants praying that the Rose might be released and sent after them. This was taken under advisement, pending the furnishing by Captain George of proper security. On July 4th a committee reported Captain George to be a Catholic and under suspicion of being "disaffected" to their new majesties, and the frigate was held. Andros escaped from confinement on August 3rd and, though recaptured at Newport on the 5th, in support of Mr. Edmunds's theory, on the night of the 8th, Thomas Pound, Thomas Hawkins, Thomas Johnston, Eleazer Buck, John Siccadan, Richard Griffen a Boston gunsmith, and Benjamin Blake a young boy, went down the harbor in a "Bermuda- fashioned" sloop, being one of the strong, light, cedar-frame craft built at that Colony, and were joined at Lovell's Island in the dawn by Daniel Lander, Samuel Watts, William Warren, William Dun, and Henry Dipper. Arms were carried and the open appearance of going a-pirating was made to the crew of a Hull sloop, which they met off Brewster and from which they got some mackerel and water. Isaac Prince, captain of the Hull sloop, at once made known their actions in Boston.

Three hours after parting with Prince, Pound and his companions stopped the Mary, a fisherman of Salem, Captain Helen Chard, holding the crew prisoners. Darby, one of the number, volunteered and a Frenchman was pressed to act as interpreter. The rest were transferred to the Bermuda boat while the pirates retained their vessel, promising to return it when they had found a better one. To Chard they announced that on gaining forty more men and a proper ship they would go to "plague the French." Chard reported to the authorities at Salem, who at once sent a vessel armed by local volunteers in search of the rovers, but with no result. The pirates sailed on to Casco Bay, where they were joined by seven deserters from the garrison at Fort Loyal, at Falmouth, now Portland. These recalcitrant warriors were Corporal John Hill, John Lord, John Watkins, William Bennett, William Neff, James Dannell, and Richard Phipps, possibly one of the twenty brothers of the famous Sir William.

John Darby coaxed the Falmouth physician on board to see the captain, pretending he was Chard; the real motive was to secure a surgeon, but the bait was declined. Captain Sylvanus Davis of Fort Loyal tried to retrieve his deserters and the belongings they had taken with them, but had no success, the pirates getting safely out of harbor and sailing for Cape Cod. Here under Race Point, on August 16th, they captured the sloop Goodspeed, of Piscataqua, John Smart, Master, lumber laden, and exchanged her for the Mary, giving him a message to Boston "that they knew where the Government sloop lay ready, but if she came out after them and came up with them she should find hot work for they would die every man before they would be taken."

In reply to the challenge the authorities sent out the armed sloop Resolution under command of Joseph Thaxter, with forty men, instructed "strenuously to Endeavour the suppressing and seizing of all Pirates especially on Thomas Hawkins, Pound, and others confederated with them," at the same time to be "very careful to avoid the shedding of blood unless you be necessitated by resistance and opposition made against you." Thaxter did not find Pound, who had fitted himself snugly into Homes's Hole in Vineyard Sound, where he took on August 27th a Newburyport brigantine, the Merrimack, John Kent, captain.

She supplied them with flour, sugar, and like essentials, including rum, tobacco, and three guns, and was then released. Going thence, the Mary was blown to the Virginia coast, where they put into York River for eight days until the gale went down. The warship on the station was on careen for cleaning and her tender, a ketch, had been sunk. John Giddings and Edward Broome joined them here. A negro slave was carried off.

Returning now to New England, at Tarpaulin Cove, on the southeast side of Naushon Island, Vineyard Sound, a Salem ship, of which William Lord was master, was found too large to tackle, so submerging their character, they bought an anchor of Lord in exchange for sugar and sold him the kidnapped darkey for £12. Captain Alsop's ketch had a narrow escape from capture. Pound chased her into Vineyard Harbor and attempted to cut her out but was prevented by the inhabitants. They now returned to Cape Cod, where Thomas Hawkins deserted. A Pennsylvania sloop was halted but, having no pork on board, was permitted to pass. October 1st better fortune was had at Homes's Hole, where Captain John Picket's sloop, the Brothers Adventure, from New London, yielded abundant provisions. Thus provided for, the company went again to Tarpaulin Cove, intending to sail thence for Curaçao.

This voyage was destined never to occur. The authorities at Boston being well-apprised, had on September 20th commissioned Captain Samuel Pease, in the sloop Mary, of which Pound had once been commander in the service of Governor Andros, with Benjamin Gallop as lieutenant, to proceed in search of the pirates. She was well armed and carried twenty men. His instructions were to search out and surprise Pound and company, but to prevent the shedding of blood as far as possible. This laudable desire could not be fulfilled because, as it appears from the event, the pirates had made no idle resolutions not to be taken. Pease coming to Wood's Hole on October 4th and learning of Pound's presence at Tarpaulin Cove, at once went thither and found his quarry. He sent a shot across the Mary's bow, at which she hoisted a red flag to her peak. Coming near, Pease fired a musket athwart and summoned the pirates to surrender in the King's name.

Pound, standing on his quarter deck, flourishing a naked sword, called them dogs and invited them to board and he would there do the "striking," at the same time opening fire. A fierce contest followed. A powder explosion on the sloop did some damage and disabled two men, at which accident the pirates hastened their fire. Pound soon fell wounded and Pease offered quarter, which was refused. As the fight went on several of the sloop's men fell, and Captain Pease was so severely hurt that he went below, leaving Gallop in charge. He at once boarded the pirate. The unwounded on her fought bravely, but were too few to resist long; during the conflict four were killed, and twelve being wounded, only two were unscathed and the fight was over. The prize and the wounded were taken into Pocasset, where after some delay doctors came from Newport to care for the injured. Captain Pease died from his wounds on Saturday, October 12th.

The vessels arrived at Boston on October 18th, where a new jail with walls four feet thick welcomed the prisoners. The assets of the company approached £2,209. 4s. 6d, out of which Lieutenant Gallop had his medical and other charges amounting to £35-99. The Salem owners of the Mary declined to redeem her, so she was condemned and sold. Dr. Elisha Cooke, of Newport, received £21-10 for patching up the pirates. The deserter, Thomas Hawkins, had a rough experience among the fishermen at Nauset. He was put under arrest and conveyed to Boston by Jacobus Loper, a Portuguese fisherman, and lodged in the new jail, bedecked incidentally with shackles and chains. On January 9, 1690, the Grand Jury brought in indictments for piracy and murder. Ten were found guilty and held for sentence of death. Four, Pound, Hawkins, Johnston, and Buck were doomed to die on Monday, July 27th, but powerful influences were at work and Johnston, a friendless privateersman, alone was swung off. Credit for saving Pound was accorded "Mr. Epaphus Shrimpton and Sundry Women of Quality." Finally fines and imprisonment, or its favorite substitute, servitude in Virginia, were accepted as sufficient justice to all save Pound,

The Rose sailed for Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on April 20, 1690, under command of the liberated Captain George. Hawkins, who had escaped with a fine, went along; Pound was carried in custody to be dealt with abroad, the fine hands of his friends again showing. She delayed a month at Portsmouth and then sailed on May 19th for England, conveying some ships laden with masts. Five days out she encountered a French warship off Cape Sable and a two-hour battle followed, which ended in a draw. George was killed in a duel with the French captain, and Thomas Hawkins lost his life in the affray. It was left for Pound to deliver a succinct account of the affairs to his friend, Sir Edmund Andros, on reaching Falmouth, England, July 8, 1690. His suspended sentence speedily disappeared and his first activity as a free man seems to have been to publish an excellent map of the New England coast from Cape Cod to Cape Sable, valuable to navigators, from surveys made by himself. The map was dedicated to Charles Gerard, Earl of Macclesfield. This patron seems to have secured him an appointment as captain in the British navy. He took command of an ex-pirate vessel, the Sallee Rose, taken from the Moors and put into royal service on August 5, 1691. Pound served in the Sallee Rose in Channel service until February 2, 1695, when he was given the Dover Prize and sent to the Irish station, and thence to Virginia, April 17, 1691, where Andros had become Governor, remaining until March 22, 1698, when he was ordered home. He soon retired from the navy and lived as a private gentleman at Islesworth in Middlesex, until his death in 1703.

If only an amateur, Pound certainly showed great possibilities,, worthy of being predecessor of the long line of law breakers who were to follow him, in this the first venture of record after the subsidence of the Buccaneers.



CAPTAIN MISSON, in whom piracy from Madagascar and, therefore, the profession in its modern state had its earliest exemplar, was one of the forbears of the French Revolution. He was one hundred years in advance of his time, for his career was based upon an initial desire to better adjust the affairs of mankind, which ended, as is quite usual in the more liberal adjustment of his own. The younger son of a good but too numerous family in Provence, which because of its size was unable to provide properly for all its members, Misson when of age joined his kinsman, Captain Fourbin, of the frigate Victoire as a gentleman-volunteer, boarding her at Marseilles. He had received an excellent education and had been destined for the army, which was not to his taste, his roving disposition responding better to the call of the sea.

The Victoire proceeded at once on a cruise in the Mediterranean, during which Misson studied the art of seamanship with the utmost zeal, soon becoming accomplished in all matters pertaining to the management of a ship.

Putting in at Naples, Misson there met in the person of a priest to whom he went at confessional, a man who was destined to influence the rest of his life. This confessor, named Caraccioli, being disgruntled with the doctrines of the Church, was easily persuaded to throw off his cassock and follow his new friend on board the Victoire, from which time they became inseparable. The ship had left Naples and the pair joined her at Leghorn. Again putting to sea, after a week's cruising the Victoire encountered two Sallee rovers, one of twenty and the other of twenty-four guns, whom she immediately engaged. The Victoire, though pierced for forty guns, had but thirty at the ports. A Spanish renegade commanded the larger of the rovers, called the Lion and he fought with the utmost gallantry, making repeated attempts to board the Victoire, but her guns were served with such accuracy that he was badly hulled and compelled to careen his vessel to lift the shot-holes above water. In shifting weight to ensure this a mistake of balance was made, and the Lion completely capsized. Her consort now sought to escape, but this Captain Fourbin would not permit, and at length laid alongside to board. Misson and his friend were the first to leap over the bulwarks, but the party were beaten back by the Moors. The priest was wounded and carried below. Misson and the crew repeated the effort to board, when a desperate conflict occurred, both sides losing heavily. Misson, seeing a Moslem leap down the main hatch bearing a lighted match, concluded his purpose was to blow up the ship and followed him, reaching the magazine just in time to cut down the man as he was about to light the powder. When more men came from the Victoire the Moors ran to shelter and, quarter being promised, surrendered themselves without further resistance. Fifteen Christians who were found in slavery on board were freed, and the prizes and prisoners were taken into Leghorn and sold. The Victoire lost thirty-five men, mainly in the hand fighting, for the gun-fire of the rovers was directed at the rigging, their policy being to disable and board.

After a month's respite at Marseilles the Victoire was ordered to Rochelle to escort a merchant fleet to Martinique. Since the convoy was not ready, Misson and his companion volunteered for a cruise in the English channel on the Triumphe, Captain Le Blanc, where, between Guernsey and Start Point, they came upon the British ship Mayflower, Captain Balladine, of eighteen guns, carrying a valuable cargo from Jamaica. Balladine defended himself until the Mayflower was in a sinking condition, so the French got only such cash as was on board for their pains. Le Blanc would not permit the defenders to be deprived of their personal belongings, shutting off the murmurs of the crew by reminding them they were servants of the Grand Monarch,—not pirates.

Running up to Beechey Head, a British fifty-gun ship gave them chase, but the Triumphe being the better sailor evaded her and, doubling Land's End, ran up Bristol Channel to Nash Point, taking a small ship from Barbadoes, and chasing another which was lost in the night. A British ship beat them into Milford Haven. It now being wise to return, the Triumphe put into Brest where the Barbadoes ship was held and Captain Balladine released, Le Blanc giving him forty Louis for his sustenance. Returning to Rochelle, the pair rejoined the Victoire, which in another month sailed for the West Indies, with her convoy. After she had delivered the ships safely at Martinique and Guadeloupe, the Victoire went cruising after the British, with whom the Grand Monarch was at war, and met the Winchelsea, of forty guns, Captain Jones. The vessels engaged, and the first broadside from the Winchelsea killed Captain Fourbin and his three lieutenants, leaving only the master alive of her officers. He would have surrendered but Misson assumed command and, with Caraccioli for lieutenant, defended the ship with such vigor and kept up so determined a fire that for three hours the issue was in doubt. Then some sparks reached the magazine of the Wincbelsea and she blew up. Her fate long remained one of the mysteries of the sea, for her head drifted ashore at Antigua some time later at the end of a great storm and it was assumed that she must have gone down in the gale, the Victoire never reporting to France for reasons that follow.


Excerpted from Under the Black Flag by Don C. Seitz. Copyright © 2002 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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Under the Black Flag: Exploits of the Most Notorious Pirates 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellant book for all would be Pirates or studies of same. The only problem is in the Old English writing. Syntax and nautical word used are confusing and slow the reader down.