2018 Pirate Rendezvous in Europe

2018 Pirate Rendezvous in Europe

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Louis Guittar and a Governor from Virginia

Governor Nicholson of Virginia vs the pirate Louis Guittar

A daring governor shows his mettle in a bloody April 29, 1700 pirate battle

Gov. Francis Nicholson was nothing if not a man of action.
Long before coming to Virginia in 1698, he'd shown his mettle time and time again, fighting Moors in North Africa, English rebels at the battle of Sedgemoor and hostile Indians in New York and New England.
Still, no one would have raised an eyebrow had he hesitated on the afternoon of April 28, 1700 - when a Royal Navy officer interrupted him at a prominent Hampton home with news of pirates.
Even the other navy captain in the room - who'd stopped to pay his respects - had no doubts about leaving the protesting governor behind as he rushed to the King Street docks and readied his ship for battle.
By 10 p.m, however, Nicholson had not only alerted the militia on the south side of the James but made his way across the dark waters on a rowboat to board the HMS Shoreham.
By 7 a.m. the next day, he was standing on the Shoreham's quarterdeck, firing his pistols at close range in a bloody, 10-hour clash that defined him as one of the era's great pirate hunters.
"I can't think of any other battle like it," says Mark G. Hanna, a University of California-San Diego historian who studied colonial piracy at the College of William and Mary's Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture.
"Nicholson went toe to toe with the pirates - and ended up being a huge story in London. He was a hero." 
Nicholson's daring and resolve may have been born of frustration.
Just nine months earlier, the small, inadequately armed HMS Essex Prize had been outgunned and outsailed in a humiliating Chesapeake Bay clash with a pirate pretending to be the dreaded Capt. William Kidd.
And while the newly arrived Shoreham - with its 32 guns - introduced a larger, far more potent warship as the sentinel of the Chesapeake - Capt. William Passenger had been forced to make do with a short-handed crew weakened still more by inexperienced and underage sailors.
Still, the captives scooped up by French pirate Louis Guittar as he bore down on the Virginia capes from the West Indies knew nothing about this recent change of guard.
Not until his ship had overwhelmed eight rich merchant vessels - including one carrying an intoxicating cargo of strong beer and red wine - did a tortured carpenter finally reveal the potential challenge waiting on the other side of Hampton Roads.
Emboldened by their successes and the alcohol, however, Guittar and the 150-man crew of the 20-gun La Paix scoffed at the threat and focused instead on plundering the small fleet of prizes they'd anchored off Lynnhaven Inlet.
They were still groggy from drink when the Shoreham sent a shot across their bow just after dawn, setting the stage for what would become a murderous battle.
"It was a tough, close fight with severe casualties. Peter Heyman - the Hampton customs collector - was killed by a volley from the La Paix as he stood next to Nicholson firing from the Shoreham's deck," Colonial Williamsburg historian Carson Hudson says.
"At times, they were blasting away at each other from pistol range - only 20 to 30 yards - and the pirate ship was shot to pieces."
Knowing they would be hanged if taken, Guittar and his crew fought for their lives, firing broadside after broadside as they attempted to maneuver in and board their outnumbered foe for a more favorable fight at close quarters.
But time after time, Passenger rallied his crew of boys in a heroic display of courage and seamanship, maintaining his distance and his advantage on the windward side of the clash even as his short-handed gunners struggled to answer the pirates' volleys.
Spectators watched from the shore as the grisly fight wore on, felling so many pirates they clogged the decks and had to be thrown overboard. Others looked on from Old Point Comfort as the Shoreham's mainmast fell in the thunderous cannon fire and gunpowder smoke filled the approach to Hampton Roads.
Not until late afternoon did the Royal Navy's slow but superior fire finally prevail. Consuming nearly 30 barrels of powder, its guns fired 1,671 rounds in a determined attack that "shot all his masts, yards, sailes, rigging all to shatters, unmounted several guns and hull almost beaten to pieces," an observer reported.\
The end came soon after the Shoreham's guns blasted the La Paix's rudder, leaving the floating wreck helplessly grounded. But as the pirates lowered their blood-red flag, their captain played one last gambit.
Priming 30 barrels of explosives with a trail of gunpowder, Guittar vowed to blow up his ship and 50 captives if not given quarter. Nicholson replied with the pirates' threats of "Broil! Broil! Broil!" ringing in his ears, scrawling a note that promised to "referr him and his men to the mercy of my Royal Master King William the third ..."
Of the 124 buccaneers who surrendered, 111 were manacled and transported from Hampton to London, where they were tried and condemned to death.
Three others were convicted in an admiralty court at Hampton and hanged on the beaches overlooking the scene of the battle.
Customs officer Peter Heyman was buried in the yard at Hampton's third St. John's Church, where his grave is still marked by a stone Nicholson commissioned.
"(He) went voluntarily aboard ye king's Shippe Shoreham in pursuit of a pyrate who greatly infested this coast," it reads.
"After he had behaved himself seven hours with undaunted courage (he) was killed with small shot ...(as) he stood next ye Govenour upon the quarter deck ..."
For more on the history of Hampton Roads during the Golden Age of Piracy, click here.
-- Mark St. John Erickson
Copyright © 2018, Daily Press

Friday, May 25, 2018

Letter of Wm Snelgrave to Humphrey Morice

Big thanks goes out to Baylus Brooks for making me aware of this letter!

William Snelgrave, "William Snelgrave to Humphrey Morice," 30 Apr 1719, Humphrey Morice
Papers of the Bank of England.
Hond. Sir
On the 4th instant I arrived on this coast to your great loss and my sad mishap, being
taken by pirates after this manner, Mr. Jones who had behav'd himself well all ye passage was
got in liquor ye day as made ye land, so durst not trust him to carry ye ship in, but haveing an
extract of Capt. Gordon's Journall went by that tell twas dark, and anchord of ye Cape 1 1/2 mile
from the shore; between 7 & 8 a clock in ye evening ye officer of ye watch told me a boat was
very near uss, I went on ye deck haild her, & was answerd they belonged to ye 2 friends Capt.
Ellott from Barbados, Mr. Jones said then they are friends, and called for lantherns, I said would
trust no boat and orderd all hands to be called, ye words were hardly out of my outh but there
was a volly of small arms fir'd at uss, I commanded ye people to their quarters, but before half of
ye men could get in the steridge ye pirates were on ye decks & prevented laying the grateings; I
call'd to ye people to go forward with me and sally up through ye forecastle, but ye confusion
and noise was so great was not regarded, and they call'd out for quarter upon wch ye pirates
ceas'd fireing, haveing shot Hugh Ross in ye side and Capt. Gordon's black in ye arm. The
Quarter master of ye pirates came down into ye Steridge, asking were was ye Comdr. told him I
was, he asked me what was ye reason I order'd a great gun to be fired at ye boat and ye people
to defend ye ship, I replirf it was my duty, upon wch he clapt a pistoll to my breast, but putting it
one side with my hand it fir'd under my arm, he then beat me with his Cuttlash unmercifully, and
order'd me with ye people on deck, as soon as came up, ye boatswain of ye pirates told me they
never gave quarter to any Comdr. who offer'd to defend his ship, and strikes at me with his
broad sword but God was pleased to cause ye blow to take ye raise on ye quarter deck,
otherwise had been cleft down, then they beat me again, but all my people beg'd they would not
abuse me, saying they never were with a better Comdr. upon wch they left of and fell to beating
them, Mr. Richardson was cut on ye head wth several others that suffer'd. They had turn'd their
boat adrift haveing drank damnation to one ye other if they did not take ye ship, so order'd me to
send one of my boats with 4 hands to take up theirs but if they did not return declar'd would
pistoll me, Mr. Jones offers readily to go & tho' very dark luckily found her, but as he came along
side would have had ye people given 3 chears, they had more prudence then to comply for not
one would have been left alive if they had done it. By this time ye Pirates ship was come down
and fir'd at uss, then they sent me onboard, Mr. Jones going with me, I was treated civil enough,
and they told me should have no further hurt to my person, provided ye people gave me a good
I had not been 1/2 an hour onboard ye pirate, but ye master tells me my chiefe mate had enter'd
with them, and advis'd to take ye ship for their own use, saying she sail'd well and was much
fitter then their own, this extreamly surpriz'd me, I got an opportunity of cautioning him of his
folly, he denied it which ye master overhearing, threatned to cut him down for lying; and further
told me, Mr. Jones had desir'd to be seemingly forc'd. The next day Mr. Jones being sober signs
their articles, excusing himself to me his circumstances were bad at home, and yt. he had no
love for his wife, upon this thought proper to converse as little wth him as possible.
The next day
he persuades ye people to enter saying I design'd it my self, so he got 9 to do it. God only knows whether this man had any hopes of meeting with pirates here when he advis'd to touch at this place, for Phas. Christopher one yt has enter'd & afterwards repented told me wth tears in his eyes, yt he said to him ye day before came in here he was in hopes to meet with pirates. The day after I was taken [5th April] they concluded to keep ye ship for their own use, theirs being old, so took up ye deck to make a teer of ports fore and aft, saying they would make me a voyage by bestowing ye cargo on me and would give me of my own all but what they wanted, I represented your goodness to sailors & beged order might be taken to save ye goods which they promis'd; Capt. Glynn was so kind to come onboard when he heard of my misfortune, amd there being 3 pirate ships here went and spoke to ye 3 Captains who all promised much more then perform'd; for the Cargo was strangely dissipated, much was thrown overboard besides
what they kept for their own use, & a great deale given to ye white people & blacks onshore,
The rest through Capt. Glyns assistance with his sloop & a briganteen [Rising Sun?] wch ye
pirates had quitted is saved, but most of ye peice goods were wetted by ye malt spirrits and
rain, for they open'd the cases throw'd ye goods Loose, & if did not take them so fast as they
fancied often threw some overboard.
Have not yet had time or weather to dry & overhaule all ye goods yt is saved for tis but 3 days
past since ye pirates are gone [27th April], and ye white people onshore promise to deliver what
they have got + if will allow them salvage, but doubt their being so good as their words.
I have lost most of what I had; what is saved have mention'd at ye foot of this Letter, for my sole
comfort in this sad misfortune is, that if I approve myself an honest tho' unfortunate man I shal
not loose ye favour of ye best of masters; and ye reason I mention what I sav'd of my own is
because cannot now inform what is sav'd of ye cargo, for some of my people has pretended to
part of ye goods for salvage & because refus'd their unreasonable request has assposs'd me as
if did design to convert them to my own use, but in a day or two design in ye presence of Capt.
Glyn & some others with ye people yt comes with me to take an inventory of all yt is saved, and
shal then resolve what to do wth ym for am in a very great streight at present what to resolve
on. should have come in this ship but ye care of ye goods prevents me, she is to stop at
Repungo, so hope shal not be long after her; Capt. Glyn & my selfe with about 12 of my people
shal come about days days hence in ye Parnall snow Capt. Morris bound for Bristoll, ye rest has
shipt themselves for ye West Indies, except ye Carpenter & Mr. Fox who comes in this wth.out
asking me, ye last haveing taken pett because I reprov'd him for standing still when he saw me
working in drying ye goods.

The Pirate as took uss had been here a month, ye others came in 10 days after, have gent
down in ye list ye ships taken here by ym. All ye people with myself were detain'd prisoners tell
just before ye Pirates sail'd, haveing us'd those as would not enter with them wth great
barbarity; & have given me for them but 1 barrel flower and one of beefe, besides haveing ym
naked, but as I know your goodness allows every thing in reason, so shal endeavor to provide
for ye people as comes with me: The Almighty has been graciously pleas'd to support me in this
severe tryall, & my hope is in his good time to return to my native country and approve my self
to you an honest tho' unfortunate Servt.
Accot. of goods sav'd of my Wm: Snelgrave
private adventure . . River Sierrelion April 30th.
4 1/2 hhgs french brandy 1719
10 Box Irons
20 peices of course cherryderries
3 peices of buckram
Pirates Names.
Windham Capt. Cocklin. 34 Guns. 90 men. late ye Bird Gally
King James C. Davis - 32 Guns. 130 men.
Duke Ormond. C. Le Booze 22 Guns. 95 men; late Sarah gally
Ships taken by these.
1. Mons. Channel; Society . . London. . . Plunder'd, but little
2. Jno. Bennet . Robt. & James. Do . . . . Burnt
3. James Chrichton, Nightingall . Bristoll . . . Plunder'd
4. John Thompson _ Jacob & Jaell . London . . Burnt
5. Henry Morris _ Parnall . Bristoll . . Plunder'd
6. _ _ Ellott . . Two Friends . Barbados . . Carried wth. ym. for a tender
7. Davd. Chrichton .Queen Elizabeth. London - Plunderd but little
8. James Nisbett . Edwd. & Steed . Barbados - Plunder'd
9. Jonathn. Lamb . Sarah Gally . . London . . taken for a privateer
10. Wm. Snelgrave . Bird Gally . . Do. - - Do.
11. De Vitry . . Saint Antonio . St. Malloes - Plunder'd & run ashore
12. -- Willson . . Dispatch - African company.. Plunder'd . .

Friday, May 4, 2018

The Dominion of Aragoneses and the corsair raids

The dominion of Aragoneses and the corsair raids.

Eager for vengeance, Alfonso of Aragon came back to Naples in order to get hold of it. But he first stopped in Ischia sending away all those who took his rival side, Renato of Anjou and founded there a large colony of Spanish and Catalans to whom he gave the title of citizens. Ischia nobility would descend from them. Later on, he promoted the construction of new protective fortifications such as a bridge connecting the island Castle to the harbour, and patronised the institution of a Custom-office for the payment of a duty on salt, iron and fish. He organised an efficient public administration helped by some expert officials of the Royal Curia and set up game reserves, introducing hares, wild rabbits, pheasants, partridges and turtle-doves in Panza (Forio) and Testaccio (Barano).
In 1458 Alfonso died and his natural son, Ferdinando I, succeeded him. As soon as he arrived, Ferdinando had to face the Barons of Naples conspiracies. His rival Giovanni of Anjou supported them. In the same time heavy raids from Turkish Corsairs begun all around the Italian coasts and islands. In the meantime, Giovanni Toriglia, the Governor of Ischia, took advantage from the help he offered to Giovanni of Anjou and sacked Procida, the seignory of which had been promised to him. Ferdinando I did not forgive his action and charged Captain Alessandro Sforza to expel him from Ischia. Once Toriglia was sent away from the island he gave himself up to piracy and besieged Ischia Castle with his brother, compelling the Aragonese garrison of Ferdinando to stay there for several months. In 1465, after some years of uninterrupted fights, Ferdinando I managed to throw out, once and for all, the Corsairs of Giovanni Toriglia and his brother and to stop Barons' conspiracy.
In 1494 the sovereign died and his son, Alfonso II, came after him for a year. In his turn, he abdicated in favour of his son Ferdinando II. Even if Ferdinando II was a liberal and gave back all the lands his predecessors confiscated to the Neapolitan barons, was abandoned by his soldiers and officers becoming an easy prey for Charles VIII who conquered Naples and forced him to take refuge in the Castle of Ischia. After a month spent in Ischia, he moved to Messina with his family and his retinue, leaving the command and the government of the island to the trusted Captain Don Inaco d'Avalos, Marquis del Vasto. In 1500 Federico of Aragon (succeeded to Ferdinando II) was forced to the capitulation to the French admiral d'Aubigny and was exiled in Ischia. Afterwards, before leaving for France, the Aragonese sovereign granted ample privileges to the island and their rulers, giving the whole property of Ischia to the Marquis del Vasto Inaco d'Avalos and his sister Costanza. However, shortly after, in 1503, Frederic of Aragon reappeared with a letter to the Marquis del Vasto, inviting him to deliver Ischia, in a peaceful way, to the king of France Louis XII. The Marquis, faithful to the Spanish House, refused the order and organised the Castle resistance to the bitter end against the French assault. Nevertheless, French were able to land on the island, sacked it, put down and killed the few farmer islanders remaining.
Corsairs incursions went on for forty years, when the pirate of Greek origin and Christian religion, Khair ad-Bin Barbarossa, master of Algiers and pasha of the Ottoman fleet, after having ravaged several coasts and islands of the peninsula, reached Ischia in order to defeat the Marquis del Vasto, vainly attacking the Castle in different moments. Because of the broken relations between French and Turkish, Barbarossa decided to go back to Algeria, but he first invaded and devastated Ischia, landing in different areas of the island at the same time and attacking Forio, Serrara Fontana and Barano. In 1546, by an odd coincidence, both the pirate Barbarosssa and the Marquis del Vasto died. Dragut, a Barbarossa's follower, continued his pirate activity. He had Christian origin as well, came from Anatolia and was rais of Tunis, his headquarter. Until 1569 his terrible raids spread fast among the Italian seas. In Ischia, many defence towers and look-out positions were built along the coast to prevent pirates attacks .The besieged threw stones, hot water and household goods from there, against the invaders. Unfortunately, during the attack, some islanders died.
After the death of Francis I of France and the abdication of Charles V, many discharged soldiers entered on robberies. Some tyrannical governors joined them, provoking, in 1647, a popular revolt, against the Spanish, headed by "Masaniello". Also Procida and Ischia took sides against the family of the Marquis del Vasto. Moreover, together with the damages of a disorganised revolt there were those caused by the plague in 1655, which decimated the population of Ischia until "the miracle" of Saint Rocco where torrential rains during the summer swept the terrible disease away
A cura della dr.ssa Nicoletta Manzi - Da:
G.BUCHNER C.GIALANELLA, Guida al museo di Ischia, Napoli 1995. 

Translated by my co-worker Guillermo Lazo .

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