The Newgate Calendar - Supplement 3
THIS adventurer was mate of a sloop that sailed from Jamaica, and was taken by Captain Winter, a pirate, just before the settlement of the pirates at Providence Island.
After the pirates had surrendered to his Majesty's pardon, and Providence Island was peopled by the English government, our captain sailed to Africa. There he took several vessels, particularly the Cadogan, from Bristol, commanded by one Skinner. When he struck to the pirate, he was ordered to come on board in his boat. The person upon whom he first cast his eye proved to be his old boatswain, who stared him in the face, and accosted him in the following manner: "Ah, Captain Skinner, is it you?—the only person I wished to see: I am much in your debt, and I shall pay you all in your own coin." The poor man trembled every joint, and dreaded the event, as he well might.
It happened that Skinner and his old boatswain, with some of his men, had quarrelled, so that he thought fit to remove them on board a man-of-war, while he refused to pay them their wages. Not long after, they found means to leave the man-of-war, and went on board a small ship in the West Indies. They were taken by a pirate, and brought to Providence; from thence they sailed as pirates along with Captain England. Thus accidentally meeting their old captain, they severely revenged the treatment which they had received.
After the rough salutation which has been related, the boatswain called to his comrades, laid hold of Skinner, tied him fast to the windlass, and pelted him with glass bottles, until they cut him in a shocking manner; then whipped him about the deck until they were quite fatigued, remaining deaf to all his prayers and entreaties; and at last, in an insulting tone, observed, that as he had been a good master to his men, he should have an easy death; and upon this, shot him through the head.
Having taken such things as they stood most in need of out of the snow, she was given to Captain Davis, in order to try his fortune, with a few hands.
Captain England, some time after, took a ship called the Pearl, for which he exchanged his own sloop, fitted her up for piratical service, and called her the Royal James. In that vessel he was very fortunate, and took several ships of different sizes and different nations. In the spring of 1719, the pirates returned to Africa, and, beginning at the River Gambia, they then sailed down the coast to Cape Corse, and captured several vessels. Some of them they pillaged, and allowed to proceed, some they fitted out for the pirate service, and others they burnt.
Leaving our pirate upon this coast, the Revenge and the Flying King sailed for the West Indies, where they took several prizes, then cleared and sailed for Brazil. There they captured some Portuguese vessels; but a large Portuguese man-of-war coming up to them, proved an unwelcome guest. The Revenge escaped, but was soon lost upon that coast. Flying King in despair run ashore. There were then seventy on board, twelve of whom were slain, and the remainder taken prisoners. The Portuguese hanged thirty-eight of them.
Captain England, whilst cruising upon that coast, took the Peterborough of Bristol, and the Victory. The former they detained, the latter they plundered and dismissed. In the course of his voyage, England met with two ships, but these taking shelter under Cape Corse Castle, he unsuccessfully attempted to set them on fire. He next sailed down to Whydah road, where Captain La Bouche had been before England, and left him no spoil. He now went into the harbour, cleaned his own ship, and fitted up the Peterborough, which he called the Victory. During several weeks the pirates remained in this quarter, indulging in every species of riot and debauchery, until the natives, exasperated with their conduct, came to an open rupture, when several of the Negroes were slain, and one of their towns set on fire by the pirates.
Leaving that port, the pirates, when at sea, determined, by vote, to sail for the East Indies, and arrived at Madagascar. After watering and taking in some provisions, they sailed for the coast of Malabar. This place is situated in the Mogul empire, and is one of its most beautiful and fertile districts. It extends from the coast of Canora to Cape Comorin. The original natives are Negroes; but a mingled race of Mahometans, who are generally merchants, have been introduced in modern times. Having sailed almost round the one half of the globe, literally seeking whom they might devour, our pirates arrived in this country. Not long after their settlement at Madagascar, they took a cruise, in which they captured two Indian vessels and a Dutchman. They exchanged the latter for one of their own, and directed their course again to Madagascar.
Several of their hands were sent on shore with tents and ammunition, to kill such beasts and venison as the island afforded. They also formed the resolution to go in search of Avery's crew, which they knew had settled upon the island; but, as their residence was upon the other side of the island, their loss of time and labour were all the fruits of their search.
They tarried here but a very short time, then steered their course to Juanna, and, coming out of that harbour, fell in with two English and an Ostend ship, all Indiamen, which, after a desperate action, they captured. The particulars of this extraordinary action are related in the following letter from Captain Mackra:—
"Bombay, November 16, 1720.
"We arrived the 25th of July last, in company with the Greenwich, at Juanna, an island not far from Madagascar. Putting in there to refresh our men, we found fourteen pirates that came in their canoes from the Mayotta, where the pirate ship to which they belonged, viz. The Indian Queen, two hundred and fifty tons, twenty-eight guns, and ninety men, commanded by Captain Oliver de la Bouche, bound from the Guinea coast to the East Indies, had been bulged and lost. They said they left the captain and forty of their men building a new vessel, to proceed on their wicked designs. Captain Kirby and I, concluding that it might be of great service to the East India Company to destroy such a nest of rogues, were ready to sail for the purpose on the 17th of August, about eight o'clock in the morning, when we discovered two pirates standing into the bay of Juanna, one of thirty-four, and the other of thirty-six guns. I immediately went on board the Greenwich, where they seemed very diligent in preparations for an engagement, and I left Captain Kirby with mutual promises of standing by each other. I then unmoored, got under sail, and brought two boats a-head to row me close to the Greenwich; but he, being open to a valley and a breeze, made the best of his way from me; which an Ostender, in our company, of twenty-two guns, seeing, did the same, though the captain had promised heartily to engage with us, and I believe would have been as good as his word, if Captain Kirby had kept his. About half an hour after twelve, I called several times to the Greenwich to bear down to our assistance, and fired a shot at hiin, but to no purpose. For though we did not doubt but he would join us, because, when he got about a league from us, he brought his ship to, and looked on; yet both he and the Ostender basely deserted us, and left us engaged with barbarous and inhuman enemies, with their black and bloody flags hanging over us, without the least appearance of ever escaping, but to be cut to pieces. But God, in his good providence, determined otherwise; for, notwithstanding their superiority, we engaged them both about three hours; during which time the largest of them received some shot betwixt wind and water, which made her keep off a little to stop her leaks. The other endeavoured all she could to board us, by rowing with her oars, being within half a ship's length of us above an hour; but, by good fortune, we shot all her oars to pieces, which prevented them, and by consequence saved our lives.
"About four o'clock most of the officers and men posted on the quarter-deck being killed and wounded, the largest ship making up to us with diligence, being still within a cable's length of us, often giving us a broadside; there being now no hopes of Captain Kirby coming to our assistance, we endeavoured to run ashore; and, though we drew four feet of water more than the pirate, it pleased God that he stuck fast on a higher ground than, happily, we fell in with; so was disappointed a second time from boarding us. Here we had a more violent engagement than before: all my officers and most of my men behaved with unexpected courage; and, as we had a considerable advantage by having a broadside to his bow, we did him great damage; so that, had Captain Kirby come in then, I believe we should have taken both the vessels, for we had one of them sure; but the other pirate (who was still firing at us) seeing the Greenwich did not offer to assist us, he supplied his consort with three boats full of fresh men. About five in the evening the Greenwich stood clear away to sea, leaving us struggling hard for life, in the very jaws of death; which the other pirate that was afloat, seeing, got a warp out, and was hauling under our stern. By this time many of my men being killed and wounded, and no hopes left us of escaping being all murdered by enraged, barbarous conquerors, I ordered all that could to get into the long-boat, under the cover of the smoke of our guns; so that, with what some did in boats and others by swimming, most of us that were able got ashore by seven o'clock.
"When the pirates came aboard, they cut three of our wounded men to pieces. I, with some of my people, made what haste I could to the King's-town, twenty-five miles from us, where I arrived next day, almost dead with the fatigue and loss of blood, having been sorely wounded in the head by a musket-ball.
"At this town I heard, that the pirates had offered ten thousand dollars to the country people to bring me in; which many of them would have accepted, only they knew the king and all his chief people were in my interest. Meantime, I caused a report to be spread, that I was dead of my wounds, which much abated their fury. About ten days after, being pretty well recovered, and hoping the malice of our enemies was nigh over, I began to consider the dismal condition we were reduced to; being in a place where we had no hopes of getting a passage home, all of us in a manner naked, not having had time to get off another shirt, or a pair of shoes, than what we had on.
"Having obtained leave to go on board the pirates, and gotten a promise of safety, several of the chief of them knew me, and some of them had sailed with me, which I found to be of great advantage; because, notwithstanding their promise, some of them would have cut me, and all that would not enter with them, to pieces, had it not been for the chief captain, Edward England, and some others whom I knew. They talked of burning one of their ships, which we had so entirely disabled as to be no farther useful to them, and to fit the Cassandra in her room; but in the end I managed the affair so well, that they made me a present of the said shattered ship, which was Dutch built, and called the Fancy; her burden was about three hundred tons. I procured also a hundred and twenty-nine bales of the Company's cloth, though they would not give me a rag of my own clothes.
"They sailed the 3d of September; and I, with jurymasts, and such old sails as they left me, made a shift to do the like on the 8th, together with forty-three of my ship's crew, including two passengers and twelve soldiers; having no more than five tons of water on board. After a passage of forty-eight days, I arrived here on the 26th of October, almost naked and starved; having been reduced to a pint of water a day, and almost in despair of ever seeing land, by reason of the calms we met with between the coast of Arabia and Malabar. We had in all thirteen men killed, and twenty-four wounded; and we were told, that we destroyed about ninety or a hundred of the pirates. When they left us, there were about 300 whites, and 80 blacks, in both ships. I am persuaded, had our consort the Greenwich done his duty, we had destroyed both of them, and got two hundred thousand pounds for our owners and selves; whereas, the loss of the Cassandra may justly be imputed to his deserting us. I have delivered all the bales that were given me into the Company's warehouse, for which the governor and council have ordered me a reward. Our governor, Mr. Boon, who is extremely kind and civil to me, had ordered me home with the packet; but Captain Harvey, who had a prior promise, being come in with the fleet, goes in my room. The governor hath promised me a country voyage to help to make up my losses, and would have me stay and accompany him to England next year."
Captain Mackra was certainly in imminent danger, in trusting himself and his men on board the pirate ship; and unquestionably nothing but the desperate circumstances in which he was placed, could have justified such a hazardous step. The honour and influence of Captain England, however, protected him and his men from the fury of the crew, who would willingly have wreaked their vengeance upon them.
It is pleasing to discover any instance of generosity or honour among such an abandoned race, who have bid defiance to all the laws of honour, and are regardless of all laws human and divine. Captain England was so steady to Captain Mackra, that he informed him, that it would be with no small difficulty and address that he would be able to preserve him and his men from the fury of the crew, who were greatly enraged at the resistance which had been made. He likewise acquainted him, that his influence and authority among them was giving place to that of Captain Taylor, chiefly because the dispositions of the latter were more savage and brutal. They therefore consulted between them what was the best method to secure the favour of Taylor, and to keep him in good humour. Mackra made the punch to flow in great abundance, and employed every artifice to soothe the mind of that ferocious villain. A singular incident was also very favourable to the unfortunate captain. It happened that a pirate with a prodigious pair of whiskers, a wooden leg, and stuck round with pistols, came blustering and swearing upon the quarterdeck, inquiring, where was Captain Mackra. He naturally supposed that this barbarous-looking fellow would be his executioner; but, as he approached him, he took the captain by the hand, swearing that he was an honest fellow, and that he had formerly sailed with him, and would stand by him; and let him see the man that would touch him. This terminated the dispute, and Captain Taylor's disposition was so ameliorated with punch, that he consented that the old pirate ship, and so many bales of cloth, should be given to Mackra; and then sunk into the arms of intoxication. England now pressed Mackra to hasten away, lest the ruffian, upon his becoming sober, should not only retract his word, but give liberty to the crew to cut him and his men in pieces.
But the gentle temper of Captain England, and his generosity towards the unfortunate Mackra, proved the origin of much calamity to himself. The crew, in general, deeming that kind of usage which Mackra had received, inconsistent with piratical policy, they circulated a report that he was coming against them with the Company's force. The result of these invidious reports was, to deprive England of his command, and to excite those cruel villains to put him on shore, with three others, upon the island of Mauritius. If England and his small company had not been destitute of every necessary, they might have made a comfortable subsistence here, as the island abounds with deer, hogs, and other animals. It is even said, that the shores are replete with coral and ambergris; but, had this been the fact, the Dutch would not have abandoned such a rich treasure. Dissatisfied with their solitary situation. Captain England and his three men exerted their industry and ingenuity, and formed a small boat, with which they sailed to Madagascar, where they subsisted upon the generosity of some more fortunate piratical companions.
Captain Taylor detained some of the officers and men belonging to Captain Mackra, and, having repaired their vessel, sailed for India. The day before they made land, they espied two ships to the eastward, and, supposing them to be English, Captain Taylor ordered one of the officers of Mackra's ship to communicate to him the private signals between the Company's ships, swearing, that if he did not do so immediately, he would cut him into pound pieces. But the poor man being unable to give the information demanded, he was under the necessity of enduring their threats. Arrived at the vessels, they found that they were two Moorish ships, laden with horses. The pirates brought the captains and merchants on board, and tortured them in a barbarous manner, to constrain them to tell where they had hid their treasure. They were, however, disappointed, and the next morning they discovered land, and at the same time a fleet on shore plying to windward. In this situation, they were at a considerable loss how to dispose of their prizes. To let them go, would lead to their discovery, and thus defeat the design of their voyage; and it was a distressing matter to sink the men and the horses, though many of them were for adopting that measure. They, however, brought them to anchor, threw all her sails overboard, and cut one of her masts half through.
While they lay at anchor, and were employed in taking in water, one of the above-mentioned fleet moved towards them with English colours, and was answered by the pirate with a red ensign, but they did not hail each other. At night they left the Muscat ships, and sailed after the fleet. About four next morning, the pirates were in the midst of the fleet, but, seeing their vast superiority, they were greatly at a loss what method to adopt. The Victory was become leaky, and their hands were so few in number, that it only remained for them to deceive, if possible, the English squadron. They were unsuccessful in gaining anything out of that fleet, and only had the wretched satisfaction of burning a single galley. They, however, that day seized a galliot, loaded with cotton, and made inquiry of the men concerning the fleet. They protested that they had not seen a ship since they left Gogo, and earnestly implored their mercy; but, instead of treating thein with lenity, they racked their joints, in order to extort farther confession. The day following, a fresh easterly wind blew hard, and rent the galliot's sails; upon this the pirates put her company into a boat, with nothing but a try-sail, no provisions, and only four gallons of water; and, though they were out of sight of land, left them to shift for themselves.
It may be proper to inform our readers, that one Angria, an Indian prince, of considerable territory and strength, had proved a troublesome enemy to Europeans, and particularly to the English. Callaba is his principal fort, situated not many leagues from Bombay, and he possesses an island in sight of the port, from whence he molests the Company's ships. His art in bribing the ministers of the great Mogul, and the shallowness of the water, that prevents large ships of war from approaching, are the principal causes of his safety.
The Bombay fleet, consisting of four grabs, the London and the Candois, and two other ships with galliot, having an additional thousand men aboard for this enterprise, sailed to attack a fort belonging to Angria, upon the Malabar coast. Though their strength was great, yet they were totally unsuccessful in their enterprise. It was this fleet, returning home, that our pirates discovered upon the present occasion. Upon the sight of the pirates, the commodore of the fleet intimated to Mr. Brown, the general, that as they had no orders to fight, and had gone upon a different purpose, it would be improper for them to engage.
Informed of the loss of this favourable opportunity to destroy the robbers, the governor of Bombay was highly enraged, and, giving the command of the fleet to Captain Mackra, ordered him to pursue and engage them wherever they should be found.
The pirates having barbarously sent away the galliot with her men, they arrived southward, and between Goa and Carwar they heard several guns; so that they came to anchor, and sent their boat to reconnoitre, which returned next morning with the intelligence of two grabs lying at anchor in the road. They accordingly weighed, run towards the bay, and in the morning were discovered by the grabs, who had just time to run under India-Diva Castle for protection. This was the more vexatious to the pirates, as they were without water; some of them, therefore, were for making a descent upon the island, but that measure not being generally approved, they sailed towards the south, and took a small ship, which had only a Dutchman and two Portuguese on board. They sent one of these on shore to the captain, to inform him, that if he would give them some water and fresh provisions, he might have his vessel returned. He replied, that if they would give him possession over the bar, he would comply with their request. But, suspecting the integrity of his design, they sailed for Lacca Deva islands, uttering dreadful imprecations against the captain.
Disappointed in finding water at these islands, they sailed to Malinda island, and sent their boats on shore, to discover if there was any water, or if there were any inhabitants. They returned with the information that there was abundance of water; that the houses were only inhabited by women and children, the men having fled at the appearance of the ships. They accordingly hastened to supply themselves with water, used the defenceless women in a brutal manner, destroyed many of their fruit trees, and set some of their houses on fire.
While off this island, they lost several of their anchors by the rockiness of the ground; and, one day blowing more violently than usual, they were forced to take to sea, leaving several people and most of the water casks; but, when the gale was over, they returned to take in their men and water. Their provisions being nearly exhausted, they resolved to visit the Dutch at Cochin. After sailing three days, they arrived off Tellechery, and took a small vessel belonging to Governor Adams, and brought the master on board, very much intoxicated, who informed them of the expedition of Captain Mackra. This intelligence raised their utmost indignation. "A villain," said they, "to whom we have given a ship and presents, to come against us; he ought to be hanged! and, since we cannot show our resentment to him, let us hang the dogs his people, who wish him well, and would do the same, if they were clear." "If it be in my power," says the quarter-master, "both masters and officers of ships shall be carried with us for the future, only to plague them. Now, England, we may mark him for this."
They proceeded to Calicut, and, attempting to cut out a ship, were prevented by some guns placed on shore. One of Captain Mackra's officers was under deck at this time, and was commanded, both by the captain and quartermaster, to tend the braces on the booms, in hopes that a shot would take him before they got clear. He was about to have excused himself, but they threatened to shoot him; and, when he expostulated, and claimed their promise to put him on shore, he got an unmerciful beating from the quarter-master; Captain Taylor, to whom that duty belonged, being lame of his hands.
The day following they met a Dutch galliot, loaded with limestone, bound for Calicut, on board of which they put one Captain Fawks; and, some of the crew interceding for Mackra's officer, Taylor and his party replied, "If we let this dog go, who has overheard our designs and resolutions, we will overset all our well-advised resolutions, and particularly this supply we are seeking for at the hands of the Dutch."
When they arrived at Cochin, they sent a letter on shore by a fishing-boat, entered the road, and anchored, each ship saluting the fort with eleven guns, and receiving the same number in return. This was the token of their welcome reception, and at night a large boat was sent, deeply laden with liquors and all kinds of provisions, and in it a servant of John Trumpet, one of their friends, to inform them that it would be necessary for them to run farther south, where they would be supplied both with provisions and naval stores.
They had scarcely anchored at the appointed place, when several canoes, with white and black inhabitants, came on board, and continued, without interruption, to perform all the good offices in their power, during their stay in that place. In particular, John Trumpet brought a large boat of arrack, and sixty bales of sugar, as a present from the governor and his daughter; the one receiving a table-clock, and the other a gold watch, the spoil of Captain Mackra's vessel. When their provisions were all on board, Trumpet was rewarded with about six or seven thousand pounds, was saluted with three cheers, and eleven guns; and several handfuls of silver were thrown into the boat, for the men to gather at pleasure.
There being little wind that night, they remained at anchor, and in the morning were surprised with the return of Trumpet, bringing another boat equally well stored with provisions, with chests of piece-goods and ready-made clothes, and along with him the fiscal of the place. At noon they espied a sail towards the south, and immediately gave chase, but she out-sailed them, and sheltered under the fort of Cochin. Informed that they would not be molested in taking her from under the castle, they sailed towards her; but upon the fort firing two guns, they ran off for fear of more serious altercation, and, returning, anchored in their former station. They were too welcome visitants to be permitted to depart, as long as John Trumpet could contrive to detain them. With this view he informed them, that in a few days a rich vessel, commanded by the General of Bombay's brother, was to pass that way.
That government is certainly in a wretched state, which is under the necessity of trading with pirates, in order to enrich itself. Nor will such a government hesitate by what means an injury can be repaired, or a fortune gained. Neither can language describe the low and base principles of that government which can employ such miscreants as John Trumpet in its service. He was a tool in the hands of the government of Cochin; and, as the dog said in the fable, "What is done by the master's orders, is the master's action."
While under the direction of Trumpet, some proposed to proceed directly to Madagascar, but others were disposed to wait until they should be provided with a store-ship. The majority being of the latter opinion, they steered to the south, and, seeing a ship on shore, they were desirous to get near her; but the wind preventing, they separated, the one sailing northward and the other southward, in hopes of securing her when she should come out, whatever direction she might take. They were now, however, almost entrapped in the snare laid for them. In the morning, to their astonishment and consternation, instead of being called to give chase, five large ships were near, who made a signal for the pirates to bear down. The pirates were in the greatest dread lest it should be Captain Mackra, of whose activity and courage they had formerly sufficient proof. The pirate ships, however, joined and fled with all speed from the fleet. In three hours' chase, none of the fleet gained upon them, except one grab. The remainder of the day was calm, and, to their great consolation, the next day this fleet was entirely out of sight.
This alarm being over, they resolved to spend the Christmas in feasting and mirth, in order to drown care, and to banish thoughtfulness. Nor did one day suffice, but they continued their revelling for several days, and made so free with their fresh provisions, that in their next cruise they were put upon short allowance; and it was entirely owing to the sugar and other provisions that were in the leaky ship that they were preserved from perishing.
In this condition they reached the island of Mauritius, refitted the Victory, and left that place with the following inscription written upon one of the walls: "Left this place on the 5th of April, to go to Madagascar for Limos." This they did lest any visit should be paid to the place during their absence. They, however, did not sail directly for Madagascar, but to the island of Mascarius, where they fortunately fell in with a Portuguese of seventy guns, lying at anchor. The greater part of her guns were thrown over-board, her masts lost, and the whole vessel disabled by a storm; therefore she became an easy prey to the pirates. Conde de Ericeira, Viceroy of Goa, who went upon the fruitless expedition against Angria the Indian, and several passengers, were on board. Besides other valuable articles and specie, they found in her diamonds to the amount of four millions of dollars. Supposing that the ship was an Englishman, the viceroy came on board next morning, was made prisoner, and obliged to pay two thousand dollars as a ransom for himself and the other prisoners. After this he was set ashore, with the express engagement to leave a ship to convey him and his companions to another port.
Meanwhile they received the intelligence that a vessel was to the leeward of the island, which they pursued and captured. But, instead of performing their promise to the viceroy, which they could easily have done, they sent the Ostender along with some of their men to Madagascar, to inform their friends of their success, with instructions to prepare masts for the prize; and they soon followed, carrying two thousand Negroes in the Portuguese vessel.
Madagascar is an island larger than Great Britain, situated upon the eastern coast of Africa, abounding with all sorts of provisions, such as oxen, goats, sheep, poultry, fish, citrons, oranges, tamarinds, dates, cocoa-nuts, bananas, wax, honey, rice, cotton, indigo, and all the other fruits common in that quarter of the globe; ebony, of which lances are made, gums of several kinds, and many other valuable productions. The locusts on land, and the crocodiles in the river, form the principal inconvenience that the inhabitants experience. Here, in St. Augustine's bay, the ships sometimes stop to take in water, when they take the inner passage to India, and do not intend to stop at Johanna.
Though they are still few in number, compared to the natives, yet the Europeans, and particularly the pirates, have reared a mulatto race since the discovery of this island by the Portuguese in 1506. The natives are Negroes, with short curled hair, active, and formerly malicious and revengeful; but, on account of the presents they are accustomed to receive, they are become tractable and communicative. They live in terms of friendship with the Europeans who reside amongst them, and the latter can, on a minute's warning, muster two or three hundred. The natives find it their interest to cultivate their friendship, because they are divided into small governments, who carry on a continued war with each other; so that the pirates render the party with whom they join, always victorious. When the Portuguese ship arrived here, they received the intelligence that the Ostender had taken the advantage of an hour when the men were intoxicated, rose upon them, and carried the ship to Mozambique, from whence the governor ordered her to Goa.
The pirates now divided their plunder, receiving forty-two diamonds per man, or in smaller proportion according to their magnitude. A foolish jocular fellow, who had received a large diamond of the value of forty-two, was highly displeased, and so went and broke it in pieces, exclaiming, that he had many more shares than either of them. Some, contented with their treasure, and unwilling to run the risk of losing what they possessed, and perhaps their lives also, resolved to remain with their friends at Madagascar, under the stipulation, that the longest livers should enjoy all the booty. The number of adventurers being now lessened, they burnt the Victory, cleaned the Cassandra, and the remainder went on board her under the command of Taylor, whom we must leave for a little, to give an account of that squadron that arrived in India in 1721.
When the commodore arrived at the Cape, he received a letter that had been written by the governor of Pondicherry to the governor of Madras, informing him, that the pirates were strong in the Indian seas; that they had eleven sail, and fifteen hundred men; but adding, that many of them retired about that time to Brazil and Guinea, while others fortified themselves at Madagascar, Mauritius, Johanna, and Mohilla. And that a crew under the command of Condin, in a ship called the Dragon, had captured a vessel with thirteen lakhs of rupees on board, and, having divided their plunder, they had taken up their residence with their friends at Madagascar.
Upon receiving this intelligence, Commodore Matthews sailed for these islands, as the most probable place of success. He endeavoured ineffectually to prevail on England, at St. Mary's, to communicate to him what information he could give respecting the pirates. But the pirate declined, thinking that this would be almost to surrender at discretion. He then took up the guns of the Jubilee sloop that were on board, and the men-of-war made several cruises in search of the pirates, but to no purpose. The squadron was then sent down to Bombay, was saluted by the port, and, after these exploits, returned home.
The pirate, Captain Taylor, in the Cassandra, now fitted up the Portuguese man-of-war, and resolved upon another voyage to the Indies; but, informed that four men-of-war had been sent after the pirates in that quarter, he changed his determination, and sailed for Africa. Arrived there, they put in at a place near the river Spirito Sancto, on the coast of Monomotapa. As there was no correspondence by land, nor any trade carried on by sea to this place, they thought that it would afford a safe retreat. To their astonishment, however, when they approached the shore, it being in the dusk of the evening, they were accosted by several shot. They immediately anchored, and in the morning saw that the shot had come from a small fort of six guns, which they attacked and destroyed.
This small fort was erected by the Dutch East India Company a few weeks before, and committed to the care of an hundred and fifty men, the one half of whom had perished by sickness or other causes. Upon their petition, sixteen of these were admitted into the society of the pirates, and the rest would also have been received, had they not been Dutchmen, to whom they had a rooted aversion.
In this place they continued during four months, refitting their vessels, and amusing themselves with all manner of diversions, until the scarcity of their provisions awakened them to industry and exertion. They, however, left several parcels of goods to the starving Dutchmen, which Mynheer joyfully exchanged for provisions with the next vessel that touched at that fort.
Leaving that place, they were divided in opinion what course to steer: some went on board the Portuguese prize, and, sailing for Madagascar, abandoned the pirate life; and others, going on board the Cassandra, sailed for the Spanish West Indies. The Mermaid man-of-war, returning from a convoy, got near the pirates, and would have attacked them, but a consultation being held, it was deemed inexpedient and thus the pirates escaped. A sloop was, however, dispatched to Jamaica with the intelligence, and the Lancaster was sent after them, but they were some days too late, the pirates having, with all their riches, surrendered to the governor of Portobello.
Calming their consciences, that others would have acted a similar part, without the least remorse they took up their residence here, to spend the remainder of their days in living upon the spoil of nations. Nor can the reflection be restrained, that if they had known what was transacting in England by South-sea Directors, they would at least have had one proof to adduce, "that whatever robberies they had committed, they might be pretty sure that they were not the greatest villains then living in the world." It is difficult to compute the injury done by this crew during five years. Whether to gratify their humour, to prevent intelligence, or for the want of men to navigate, or from the brave resistance made, or from wanton folly and barbarity, the moment the resolution was formed, the vessels they captured were frequently sent to the bottom. After their surrender to the Spaniards, several of them left that place, and it is reported that Captain Taylor accepted of a commission in the Spanish service, and commanded the man-of-war that attacked the English logwood-cutters in the Bay of Honduras.