The Newgate Calendar - Supplement 3
IN a small open boat with only eight companions, Worley entered upon service. Provided with six old muskets, and correspondent ammunition, with a few biscuits, one or two dried tongues, and a cag of water, they left New York, and sailed towards Delaware river. Though the distance is about fifty miles, they met with no prey, so they went up the river as far as Newcastle. Near this place they captured a shallop with household goods and plate, and, having emptied her of everything valuable, they permitted her to depart. As this was not done upon the high seas, it could not be construed piracy. The shallop conveyed the intelligence to New York, which, alarming government, several vessels were fitted out to go in quest of this formidable rover. But he was not yet destined to be taken; for, after several days cruising, the government vessels returned without their prize.
In sailing down the river, Worley met with a sloop bound for Philadelphia, and, quitting his own shallop, he and his men went on board the sloop, and increased their strength by the hands who were in her. In a few days they took a sloop homeward-bound for Hull, with all manner of provisions, which enabled them to undertake some bolder adventure.
Upon the success of these pirates, the government issued a proclamation for apprehending all pirates who refused to surrender upon a specified day. To follow out the intentions of this proclamation, a vessel of twenty guns was fitted out to cruise upon the coast, and to protect the trade. Informed of this, Worley and his men set out to sea. In their cruise, they captured a sloop and a brigantine; the former they sunk, as she belonged to New York, and might inform upon them; and they permitted the other to prosecute her voyage.
Worley was now in reality become formidable. He had twenty-five men, six guns, plenty of small arms, and a good vessel. Accordingly, he assumed a more systematic plan, hoisted black colours, formed certain regulations, and swore every man to stand to his colours, and receive no quarter.
They now went into an inlet in North Carolina, to clean their vessel, and the government receiving intelligence of their being in that place, two sloops, one of eight and another of six guns, manned with seventy men, were sent in search of them. Worley was gone before they arrived, but, tracing his course, they discovered him off the Capes of Virginia. Upon the supposition that they were two vessels intending to enter St. James's river, Worley hastened to got between them and that entrance of the river, in order to secure his prize. The inhabitants of St. James's Town, supposing that all three were pirates, and that they would land to plunder and destroy the country, the Governor ordered all the vessels to hale into the shore, unless they thought that they were in a situation to fight the pirates. He beat to arms, collected all the force that could be mustered, erected a temporary battery with the guns of the ships, and put the island in a posture of defence. But to their surprise, they soon saw what they imagined to be pirates, fighting with each other.
Meanwhile, as Worley was waiting at the entrance of the river, with the black colours flying, to seize the two vessels as they approached, to his sad mortification they hoisted King's colours, and fired a gun. Thus he found, that, instead of entrapping others, he himself was entrapped and hemmed in by a superior force. Agreeably to their engagements to each other, the pirates determined to conquer or die.
The two sloops gave him a broadside, and immediately boarded, the one upon the quarter, the other upon the bow. Worley and his men drew up on deck, and fought it hand to hand, in a most desperate manner. They were true to their oath—not a man called for quarter, and many were slain before they could be overcome; not one survived, except the captain and another man, who were both severely wounded. These were brought on shore in irons, and, lest they should have died of their wounds, they were hanged the following day. Thus Worley's beginning was bold and desperate, his course short and prosperous, and his end bloody and disgraceful.
GEORGE LOWTHER sailed from the Thames, in the character of second mate in the Gambia Castle, of sixteen guns and thirty men, belonging to the African Company. There was a number of soldiers, under the command of John Massey, intended to garrison a fort which was destroyed by Captain Dawson.
The Gambia Castle arrived safe, and landed Massey and his men; but the military power was overruled by the merchants and traders. To them it belonged to victual the garrison; and, being scanty in their allowance, Massey was highly offended, and remonstrated in terms more suitable to his feelings than their interests. He boldly declared, that he had brought these brave men here under the assurance that they were to have plenty of provisions, and to be treated in the most handsome manner; therefore, if they were not so treated, he would be under the necessity of consulting for himself.
The governor was then sick, and, for his better accommodation, was taken on board the Gambia Castle. During this period, the captain being offended with George Lowther, his second mate, ordered him to be punished. The men interfered in behalf of Lowther, and the captain was disobeyed. Lowther and Massey having become intimate during the voyage, they now aggravated their grievances to each other, and the result of their consultations were, to seize the ship, and sail for England.
When matters were ripe for execution, Lowther sent a letter to Massey, informing him, "that he must repair on board, as it was now time to put their design in execution." Massey then harangued the soldiers in the barracks, saying, "You that have a mind to go to England, now is the time." They in general agreed, and, when all things were ready, he sent off the boat with this message to the chief mate, "that he should get the guns ready, for that the king of Barro would come on board to dinner." Lowther knew the meaning—confined the chief mate, and prepared to sail. In the afternoon, Massey came on board with the governor's son, having almost emptied the store-houses, and dismounted the guns of the fort.
The captain of the Gambia Castle having gone on shore to hold a council with the governor and others, was not permitted to come on board. He called to Lowther and his associates, and offered them what terms they chose, to restore the ship; but all in vain. They put the governor's son on shore, and three others who did not choose to go along with them, and immediately sailed.
Scarcely were they out at sea, when Lowther addressed them in the following manner: "That it was the greatest folly imaginable, to think of returning to England, for what they had already done could not be justified upon any pretence whatever, but would be looked upon by the government as a capital offence, and none of them were in a condition to withstand the attacks of such powerful adversaries as they would meet with at home. For his part, he told them he was determined not to run such an hazard; and therefore, if his proposal was not agreed to, he desired to be set on shore in some place of safety; that they had a good ship under them, a parcel of brave fellows in her; that it was not their business to starve or be made slaves; and therefore, if they were all of his mind, they would seek their fortunes upon the seas, as other adventurers had done before them." The crew was unanimous, knocked down the cabins, prepared black colours, and named the ship, the Delivery. She was mounted with sixteen guns, and had fifty hands on board.
To enforce order, and to provide for the stability of this government, several articles were drawn up, signed, and sworn to; and they soon began their operations, by capturing a vessel belonging to Boston, emptied her of her stores, and allowed her to depart.
Proceeding to Hispaniola, the Delivery met with a French vessel laden with wine and brandy. In the character of a merchant, Captain Massey went on board, viewed the liquors, and offered a price for the greater part of them, which was not accepted of But after a while, he whispered in the Frenchman's ear, "that they must have them all without money." The captain understood his meaning, and with no small reluctance agreed to the bargain. They took out of her about seventy pounds, besides thirty casks of brandy, five hogsheads of wine, several pieces of chintzes, and other valuable goods. Lowther returned five pounds to the Frenchman for his civility.
But this commonwealth was soon to experience the effects of discord. Massey had been trained a soldier, and was solicitous to move in his own sphere; therefore, he proposed to land with fifty or sixty men and plunder the French settlements. Lowther represented the rashness, imprudence, and impracticability of such an adventure; Massey remained resolute in his determination. It became necessary to decide the matter, by a reference to the community. A great majority were of the opinion of Lowther; but, though overruled, Massey was not convinced, so became fractious, and quarrelled with Captain Lowther. The men also were divided; some were land pirates, and some were sea pirates, and, ere long, they were prepared to decide the matter with the sword.
But employment terminated dissension. The man at the mast-head cried, "A sail! a sail!" In a few hours they came up with her, and found that she was bound for England. They supplied themselves with necessaries, and took a few hands out of her. Lowther proposed to sink her and all the passengers on board; but Massey interfered, and prevented this cruel action. Accordingly, she was permitted to depart, and arrived safe in England.
The next day they captured a small sloop, and detained her. Massey still remained uneasy, and declared his resolution to leave the Delivery. Lowther proposed that he and all those who were of his sentiments should go on board the sloop which they had just taken, and seek their own fortunes. This was instantly agreed to, and Massey, with ten more, went on board, and sailed directly for Jamaica. With a bold countenance he went to the governor, informed him that he had assisted in running off with the vessel; but his object was to save the lives of his Majesty's subjects from perishing, and that his express design was to land them in England; but, in opposition to this determination, Lowther and the majority were for becoming pirates; and that he had embraced the first opportunity to leave them, and surrender himself, his men, and his vessel, to his excellency.
Massey was kindly received, and sent along with Captain Laws to cruise in quest of Lowther; but, not finding him, returned to .Jamaica, received certificates of his surrender, and came home a passenger to England. When he came to town, he wrote a narrative of the whole matter to the African Company, who returned him for answer, "that he should be fairly hanged." He was accordingly seized, and, upon his own letter, and the evidence of the late captain of the ship, who had been left at the fort, and the governor's son, and some others, he was condemned to end his course at Tyburn.
Lowther, cruising off Hispaniola, captured a small ship from Bristol, and a Spanish pirate. He rifled and burnt both ships, sending the Spaniards away in their launch, and constraining the Englishmen to turn pirates. In a few days they took another sloop, which they manned, and carried along with them, and then harboured at a small island to clean. Here they spent their time more like demons than men, in all manner of debauchery, drunkenness, and rioting.
Having again set to sea, they met with Edward Low, a pirate, in a small vessel with thirteen hands; and, upon the request of Lowther, he united his strength with theirs, Lowther retaining the command, and Low becoming lieutenant. Proceeding on their voyage, they met with a vessel of two hundred tons, called the Greyhound, commanded by Benjamin Edwards. Piratical colours were hoisted, and she was commanded to strike. The captain declined, an engagement ensued; but, finding the pirates too strong for him, he surrendered. Instead of treating the captain and his men with generous lenity, they beat them in a merciless manner, drove them on board their own ship, and then set fire to it.
In their course they took several other ships, rifled and dismissed them; but two they fitted up for their own service. With this small fleet:—viz. Admiral Lowther in the Happy Delivery, Captain Low in the Rhode Island sloop, and Captain Harris (who was second mate, in the Greyhound) in a sloop formerly belonging to Jamaica, they sailed to Port Mayo in the gulf of Matique, and made preparations to clean their vessels; with this view they made tents of their sails, stored their provisions in tents also, and then commenced their operations; but scarcely were they at work, when a body of the natives came down upon them, drove them to their ships, seized their tents and stores, and set fire to the Delivery, which was stranded on shore.
Lowther and his men now went on board the largest sloop, called the Ranger, and left the other at sea. They were soon reduced to great want, and commotion ensued; but when they had got to the West Indies, they took a prize, which supplied their wants; and, having sunk her, they sailed for America.
They in a short time captured a brigantine, and the company, being divided in their sentiments, Low, and those who were of his views, went on board the prize, and went off, while those who agreed with Lowther remained in the Ranger. On his way to the mainland of America, Lowther took several ships with very little resistance; but, upon the coast of South Carolina, he met with a ship bound for England. An engagement took place, and Lowther was so hard pressed, that he was under the necessity of running aground, and landing his men; but when the captain of the English vessels had taken the boat, in order to burn the pirate ship, a bullet from the pirates on shore put an end to his life; which so discouraged his men, that they returned to their vessel.
After their departure, Lowther got off his sloop, though in a very shattered condition, having suffered much in the engagement, and many of his men having been killed or wounded. With no small difficulty he went into an inlet in North Carolina, where he remained during the winter.
In spring he again took to sea, steered for Newfoundland, took several vessels of small importance, and, in his way to the West Indies, captured a brigantine, plundered her, took two men into their own ship, and sent her off. Having cruised a considerable time, it was necessary to clean, and, for that purpose, went into the Isle of Blanco. While they were keenly employed in this work, the Eagle sloop, belonging to the South Sea Company, with thirty-five men, attacked Lowther, and constrained him to cry for quarter. While they were surrendering, Lowther and twelve of the crew escaped out of the cabin window, and fled to the woods. Five of them were taken, but the rest remained upon the island.
Informed of this meritorious action, the Spanish government condemned the ship to the crew of the Eagle, and sent a small sloop to the island, with twenty-five men, to search the woods for the other pirates. Three others were found, but Captain Lowther, with three men and a boy, escaped! As the captain was afterwards found dead, and a pistol beside him, it is supposed that in desperation he had shot himself.
The Eagle sloop brought the prisoners to St. Christopher's, where they were all tried; three were acquitted, eleven found guilty, and two recommended to mercy.