General History of Pirates (2nd Ed. Vol I) > Chapter XIII
CHAP. XIII. OF Captain Edward Low, And his CREW
Edward Low was born in Westminster, and had his Education there, such as it was, for he could neither write or read. Nature seem’d to have designed him for a Pyrate from his Childhood, for very early he began the Trade of plundering, and was wont to raise Contributions among all the Boys of Westminster; and if any were bold enough to refuse it, a Battle was the Consequence; but Low was so hardy, as well as bold, there was no getting the better of him, so that he robbed the Youths of their Farthings, with Impunity; when he grew bigger he took to Gaming in a low Way, for it was commonly among the Footmen in the Lobby of the House of Commons, where he used to play the whole Game, (as they term it,) that is, cheat all he could, and those who pretended to dispute it with him, must fight him.
The Virtues of some of his Family were equal to his; one of his Brothers was a Youth of Genius, when he was but seven Years old, he used to be carried in a Basket, upon a Porter’s Back, into a Crowd, and snatch Hats and Wigs: According to the exact Chronology of Newgate, he was the first who practised this ingenious Trick. After this, he applied himself to picking of Pockets; when he increased in Strength, he attempted greater Things, such as House-breaking, &c. But after he had run a short Race, he had the Misfortune of ending his Days at Tyburn, in Company with Stephen Bunce, and the celebrated Jack Hall the Chimney-Sweeper. But to return to Ned, when he came to Man’s Estate, at his eldest Brother’s Desire, he went to Sea with him, and so continued for three or four Years, and then parted; and Ned work’d in a Rigging-House in Boston in New-England, for a while. About six Years ago, he took a Trip home to England, to see his Mother, who is yet Living. His Stay was not long here; but taking Leave of his Friends and Acquaintance, for the last Time he should see them; for so he was pleased to say; he returned to Boston, and work’d a Year or two longer at the Rigging Business. But being too apt to disagree with his Masters, he left them, and shipp’d himself in a Sloop that was bound to the Bay of Honduras.
When the Sloop arrived in the Bay, Ned Low was appointed Patron of the Boat, which was employ’d in cutting of Logwood, and bringing it aboard to lade the Ship; for that is the Commodity they make the Voyage for: In the Boat were twelve Men besides Low, who all go arm’d, because of the Spaniards, from whom this Logwood is but little better than stole. It happened that the Boat one Day came aboard just before Dinner was ready, and Low desired that they might stay and Dine; but the Captain, being in a Hurry for his Lading, ordered them a Bottle of Rum, and to take t’other Trip, because no Time should be lost: This provoked the Boat’s Crew, but particularly Low, who takes up a loaded Musquet and fires at the Captain, but missing him, shot another poor Fellow thro’ the Head, then put off the Boat, and with his twelve Companions goes to Sea: The next Day they took a small Vessel, and go in her, make a black Flag, and declare War against all the World.
They then proceeded to the Island of the Grand Caimanes, intending to have fitted up their small Vessel, and prepare themselves as well as their Circumstances would permit, for their honourable Employment; but falling in Company with George Lowther, another Pyrate there, who paying his Compliments to Low, as great Folks do to one another when they meet, and offering himself as an Ally; Low accepted of the Terms, and so the Treaty was presently sign’d without Plenipo’s or any other Formalities.
We have already given an Account of their joynt Pyracies, under Lowther as chief Commander, till the 28th of May, 1722, when they took a Brigantine of Boston, bound thither from St. Christophers, at which Time they parted, and Edward Low went into the Brigantine, with forty four others, who chose him their Captain: They took with them two Guns, four Swivels, six Quarter-Casks of Powder, Provisions and some Stores, and so left Lowther to prosecute his Adventures, with the Men he had left.
Their first Adventure in the Brigantine, was on Sunday the 3d Day of June, when they took a Vessel belonging to Amboy, John Hance Master, whom he rifled of his Provisions, and let go; the same Day he met with a Sloop, James Calquhoon Master, off of Rhode Island, bound into that Port, whom he first plundered, and then cut away his Boltsprit, and all his Rigging, also his Sails from the Yards, and wounded the Master, to prevent his getting in to give Intelligence, and then stood away to the South-Eastward, with all the Sail he could make, there being then but little Wind.
Low judged right in making sail from the Coast, for a longer stay had proved fatal to him, for notwithstanding the disabled Condition he had rendered the Sloop in, she made shift to get into Block Island, at 12 o’Clock that Night, and immediately dispatched a Whale-Boat to Rhode Island, which got thither by seven the next Morning, with an Account of the Pyrate, his Force, and what had happened to him: As soon as the Governor had received this Information, he ordered a Drum to beat up for Volunteers, and two of the best Sloops then in the Harbour, to be fitted out: He gave Commissions to one Captain John Headland, and Captain John Brown, jun. for ten Days; the former had eight Guns and two Swivels, and the latter six Guns, well fitted with small Arms, and in both Sloops 140 stout Fellows; all this was performed with so much Expedition, that before Sun-set, they were under Sail, turning out of the Harbour, at the same Time the Pyrate was seen from Block Island, which gave great Hopes that the Sloops would be Masters of her the next Day, which however did not happen, for the Sloops returned into Harbour some Days afterwards, without so much as seeing their Enemy.
After this Escape, Captain Low, went into Port, upon the Coast, for he had not fresh Water enough to run to the Islands, where he staid a few Days, getting Provisions and what Necessaries the Crew wanted, and then sailed for Purchase, (as they call it) steering their Course towards Marblehead.
About the 12th of July, the Brigantine sailed into the Harbour of Port Rosemary, and there found thirteen Ships and Vessels, but none of Force, at Anchor, they spread their black Flag, and ran in among them; Low telling them from the Brigantine, they should have no Quarters if they resisted; in the mean Time they mann’d and arm’d their Boat, and took Possession of every one of them, plundered them of what they thought fit, and converted one to their own Use, viz. a Scooner of 80 Tuns, aboard of which they put 10 Carriage Guns, and 50 Men, and Low himself went Captain, and nam’d her the Fancy, making one Charles Harris, (who was at first forced into their Service out of the Greyhound of Boston, by Lowther, of which Ship Harris was second Mate) Captain of the Brigantine: Out of these Vessels they took several Hands, and encreased the Company to 80 Men, who all signed the Articles, some willingly, and a few perhaps by Force, and so sailed away from Marblehead.
Some Time after this, they met with two Sloops bound for Boston, with Provisions for the Garrison, and the Scooner coming up first, attacked them, but there happening to be an Officer and some Soldiers on Board, who gave them a warm Reception, Low chose to stay till he should be joyned by the Brigantine; in the mean while the Sloops made the best of their Way, and the Pyrates gave them Chace two Days, and at last lost sight of them in a Fog.
They now steered for the Leeward Islands, but in their Voyage met with such a Hurricane of Wind, that the like had not been known; the Sea ran Mountains high, and seemed to threaten them every Moment with Destruction; it was no Time now to look out for Plunder, but to save themselves, if possible, from perishing. All Hands were continually employed Night, and Day, on Board the Brigantine, and all little enough, for the Waves went over her, so that they were forced to keep the pump constantly going, besides baling with Buckets; but finding themselves not able to keep her free, and seeing the utmost Danger before their Eyes, they turn’d to the Takle, and hoisted out their Provisions, and other heavy Goods, and threw them over-board, with six of their Guns, so that by lightening the Vessel, she might rise to the Top of the Sea with the Waves: They were also going to cut away their Mast; but considering how dangerous it would be, to be left in such a Condition, they resolved to delay it to the last, which was Prudence in them to do; for a Ship without Masts or Sails, lies like a Log upon the Water, and if attack’d, must fight with Disadvantage, the working of her being the most artful Part of the Engagement, because she may sometimes bring all her great Guns on one Side, to bear upon her Enemy, when the disabled Ship can do little or nothing.
But to proceed; by their throwing over-board the heavy Goods, the Vessel made considerable less Water, and they could keep it under with the Pump only, which gave them Hopes and new Life; so that instead of cutting all away, they took necessary Measures to secure the Mast, by making Preventor-Shrowds, &c. and then wore and lay too upon the other Tack, till the Storm was over. The Scooner made somewhat better Weather of it, of the two, but was pretty roughly handled notwithstanding, having split her Main-sail, sprung her Boltsprit, and cut her Anchors from her Bows. The Brigantine by running away to Leeward, when she wore upon the Larboard Tack, had lost Sight of the Scooner; but not knowing whether she might be safe or not, as soon as the Wind abated, she set her Main-Sail and Top-Sail, and made short Trips to Windward; and the next Day had the good Fortune to come in Sight of their Consort, who, upon a Signal, which the other knew, bore down to her, and the Crew were overjoy’d to meet again, after such ill Treatment from the Winds and Seas.
After the Storm, Low got safe to a small Island, one of the Weathermost of the Caribbees, and there fitted their Vessels, as well as the Place could afford; they got Provisions of the Natives, in exchange for Goods of their own; and as soon as the Brigantine was ready, ’twas judg’d necessary to take a short Cruize, and leave the Scooner in the Harbour till her Return. The Brigantine sail’d out accordingly, and had not been out many Days before they met a Ship at Sea, that had lost all her Masts; on Board of whom they went, and took from her in Money and Goods, to the Value of 1000 l. and so left her in the Condition they found her: This Ship was bound home from Barbadoes, but losing her Masts in the late Storm, was making for Antegoa, to refit, where she afterwards arriv’d.
The Storm just spoken of, was found to have done incredible Damage in those Parts of the World; but however, it appear’d to have been more violent at Jamaica, both to the Island and Shipping, there was such a prodigious Swell of the Sea, that several hundred Tuns of Stones and Rocks, were thrown over the Wall of the Town of Port Royal, and the Town it self was overflowed, and above half destroy’d, there being the next Morning five Foot Water from one End to the other; the Cannon of Fort Charles were dismounted, and some washed into the Sea, and four hundred People lost their Lives; a more melancholly Sight was scarce ever seen when the Water ebb’d away, all the Streets being covered with Ruins of Houses, Wrecks of Vessels, and a great Number of dead Bodies, for forty Sail of Ships, in the Harbour, were cast away.
The Brigantine return’d to the Island, where she had left the Scooner, who being ready to sail, it was put to the Vote of the Company, what Voyage to take next; and herein they follow’d the Advice of the Captain, who thought it not adviseable to go any farther to Leeward, because of the Men of War who were cruising in their several Stations, which they were not at all fond of meeting, and therefore it was agreed to go to the Azores, or Western Islands.
The latter End of July, Low took a French Ship of 34 Guns, and carried her along with him to the Azores. He came into St. Michael’s Road the 3d of August, and took seven Sail that were lying there, viz. the Nostre Dame, Mere de Dieu, Captain Roach Commander; the Dove, Capt. Cox; the Rose Pink, formerly a Man of War, Capt. Thompson; another English Ship, Capt. Chandler; and three other Vessels. He threatened all with present Death who resisted, which struck such a Terror to them, that they yielded themselves up a Prey to the Villains, without firing a Gun.
The Pyrates being in great Want of Water and fresh Provisions, Low sent to the Governor of St. Michael’s for a Supply, and promised upon that Condition to release the Ships he had taken, but otherwise to burn them all; which Demand the Governor thought it not prudent to refuse, but sent the Provision he required, upon which he released six of the Ships, (after he had plundered them of what he thought fit,) and the other, viz. the Rose Pink, was made a Pyrate Ship, which Low himself took the Command of. The Pyrates took several of the Guns out of the French Ship, and mounted them aboard the Rose, which proved very fit for their Turn, and condemned the former to the Flames. They took all the Crew out of her, but the Cook, who, they said, being a greazy Fellow would fry well in the Fire; so the poor Man was bound to the Main-Mast, and burnt in the Ship, to the no small Diversion of Low and his Mirmidons.
Low ordered the Scooner to lye in the Fare between St. Michael’s and St. Mary’s, where, about the 20th of August, Captain Carter in the Wright Galley, had the ill Fortune to come in her Way; and because at first they shewed Inclinations to defend themselves, and what they had, the Pyrates cut and mangled them in a barbarous Manner; particularly some Portuguese Passengers, two of which being Friers, they triced up at each Arm of the Fore-Yard, but let them down again before they were quite dead, and this they repeated several Times out of Sport.
Another Portuguese, who was also Captain Carter’s Passenger, putting on a sorrowful Countenance at what he saw acted, one of this vile Crew attacked him upon the Deck, saying, he did not like his Looks, and thereupon gave him one Blow a-cross his Belly with his Cutlash, that cut out his Bowels, and he fell down dead without speaking a Word. At the same Time another of these Rogues cutting at a Prisoner, missed his Mark, and Captain Low standing in his Way, very opportunely received the Stroke upon his under Jaw, which laid the Teeth bare; upon this the Surgeon was called, who immediately stitched up the Wound, but Low finding fault with the Operation, the Surgeon being tollerably drunk, as it was customary for every Body to be, struck Low such a Blow with his Fist, that broke out all the Stitches, and then bid him sew up his Chops himself and be damned, so that Low made a very pitiful Figure for some Time after.
When they had plundered Captain Carter’s Ship, several of them were for burning her, as they had done the French Man, but it was otherwise resolved at last; for after they had cut her Cables, Rigging and Sails to Pieces, they left her to the Mercy of the Sea. After these Depredations, they steered for the Island of Madera, where missing other Booty, they took up with a Fishing-Boat, with two old Men and a Boy in her, one of which they detained on Board, but sent the other ashore with a Flag of Truce, demanding a Boat of Water of the Governor, on Pain of taking away the old Man’s Life, whom they threatened to hang at the Yard-Arm, upon their refusal; but the Thing being complied with, the old Man was honourably (as the Pyrates say) discharged, and all the three much handsomer cloathed than when they took them. From this Island they sailed to the Canaries, but meeting with no Prey there, they continued their Course for the Cape de Verd Islands, and at Bonavista, took a Ship called the Liverpool Merchant, Captain Goulding, from whom they stole a great Quantity of Provisions and dry Goods, 300 Gallons of Brandy, two Guns and Carriages, a Mast, Yard and Hawsers, besides six of his Men, and then would not let them Trade there, nor at St. Nicholas, but obliged Captain Goulding to go with his Ship, to the Isle of May.
The Pyrate also took among these Islands, a Ship belonging to Liverpool, Scot Commander; two Portuguese Sloops bound for Brasil; a small English Sloop trading there, James Pease Master, bound to Sancta Crux, and three Sloops from St. Thomas bound to Curaso, the Masters Names were Lilly, Staples and Simpkins, all which they plundered, and then let go about their Business, except one Sloop which they fitted up for the following Purpose.
Low had heard by one of the above mentioned Ships, that two small Gallies were expected every Day at the Western Islands, viz. the Greyhound, Captain Glass, and the Joliff, Captain Aram; the former of which was designed to be fitted for the pyratical Trade to Brasil, if Things had happened to their Minds. They mann’d the Sloop, and sent her in Quest of one or both of these Ships to the Western Islands aforesaid, whilst they carreen’d their Ship Rose, at one of the Cape de Verds: But now Fortune that had hitherto been so propitious to them, left her Minions, and baffled for the present all their Hopes, for the Sloop missing of their Prey, was reduced to great Necessities for want of Provisions and Water, so that they ventured to go ashore at St. Michael’s for a Supply, and pass for a Trader; but they play’d their Parts so aukwardly, that they were suspected by the Governor to be what they really were, and he was soon put out of doubt by a Visit some Portuguese made them, who happened unluckily to be Passengers in Captain Carter’s Ship, when Low took her, and knew the Gentlemen’s Faces very well; upon which the whole Crew was conducted into the Castle, where they were provided for as long as they liv’d.
Low, in the mean Time, did not fare quite so ill, but had his intended Voyage to Brasil spoil’d, by the oversetting of his Ship, when she was upon the Careen, whereby she was lost, so that he was reduc’d to his old Scooner, which he called the Fancy, aboard of which they all went, to the Number of 100, as vile Rogues as ever ended their Lives at Tyburn. They proceeded now to the West-Indies, but before they had gotten far on their Voyage, they attack’d a rich Portuguese Ship, call’d the Nostre Signiora de Victoria, bound home from Bahia, and after some Resistance, took her. Low tortur’d several of the Men, to make them declare where the Money, (which he suppos’d they had on Board) lay, and extorted by that Means, a Confession that the Captain had, during the Chace, hung out of the Cabin Window, a Bag with 11,000 Moidores, which, assoon as he was taken, he cut the Rope off, and let it drop into the Sea.
Low, upon hearing what a Prize had escap’d him, rav’d like a Fury, swore a thousand Oaths, and ordered the Captain’s Lips to be cut off, which he broil’d before his Face, and afterwards murthered him and all the Crew, being thirty two Persons. After this bloody Action, they continued their Course, till they came to the Northward of all the Islands, and there cruiz’d for about a Month, in which Time they made Prizes of the following Vessels, viz. a Snow from New-York to Curacoa, Robert Leonard Master; a Sloop from the Bay, bound to New-York, Craig Master; a Snow from London and Jamaica, bound to New-York; and the Stanhope Pink, Andrew Delbridge Master, from Jamaica to Boston; which last they burnt, because of Low’s irreconcileable Aversion to New-England Men.
After this Cruize, they went into one of the Islands and clean’d, and then steered for the Bay of Honduras, where they arrived about the Middle of March 1722-3, and met a Sloop turning out of the said Bay. The Pyrates had hoisted up Spanish Colours, and continued them till they drew near the Sloop, then they hall’d them down, hoisted their black Flag, fired a Broadside, and boarded her. This Sloop was a Spaniard of six Guns, and 70 Men, that came into the Bay that Morning, and meeting there with five English Sloops, and a Pink, made Prizes of them all, plundered them, and brought the Masters of the Vessels away Prisoners, for the ransom of the Logwood; their Names were Tuthill, Norton, Newbury, Sprafort, Clark and Parrot. The Spaniards made no Resistance, so that the English Pyrates soon became their Masters and fell to rifling; but finding the above-mentioned People in the Hold, and several English Goods, they consulted Low the Captain thereupon, and without examining any further, the Resolution pass’d to kill all the Company; and the Pyrates, without any Ceremony, fell Pell-Mell to Execution with their Swords, Cutlashes, Poll-Axes and Pistols, cutting, slashing and shooting the poor Spaniards at a sad Rate. Some of the miserable Creatures jump’d down into the Hold, but could not avoid the Massacre; they met Death every where, for if they escaped it from one Hand, they were sure to perish by another; the only Prospect they had of Life, was to fly from the Rage of those merciless Men, and to trust to the more merciful Sea; and accordingly a great many leap’d over-board, and swam for the Shore; but Low perceiving it, ordered the Canoa to be mann’d, and sent in pursuit of them, by which Means several of the poor unhappy Men were knock’d in the Head in the Water, as they were endeavouring to get to Land; however, about 12 of them did reach the Shore, but in a miserable Condition, being very much wounded, and what became of them afterwards was not known, except one, who while the Pyrates were at their Sports and Pastimes ashore, finding himself very weak and fainting with his Wounds, and not knowing where to go for Help and Relief, in this Extremity, he came back to them, and begg’d for God sake, in the most earnest Manner possible, that they would give him Quarters; upon which, one of the Villains took hold of him, and said, G— d—n him, he would give him good Quarters presently, and made the poor Spaniard kneel down on his Knees, then taking his Fusil, put the Muzzle of it into his Mouth, and fired down his Throat. ’Twas thought the rest did not long survive their miserable Condition, and could only prolong their Lives, to add to the Misery of them.
When the murdering Work was over, they rumaged the Spanish Pyrate, and brought all the Booty aboard their own Vessels: The six Masters aforementioned, found in the Hold, they restored to their respective Vessels: They forced away the Carpenter from the Pink, and then set Fire to the Spanish Sloop, and burnt her; which last Scene concluded the Destruction of their Enemy, Ship and Crew.
Low set the Masters of the Vessels free, but would not suffer them to steer for Jamaica, where they were then bound, for fear the Men of War should get Intelligence of them, but forced them all to go to New-York, threat’ning them with Death, when they met them again, if they refused to comply with their Demands.
In the next Cruize, which was between the Leeward Islands and the Main, they took two Snows, bound from Jamaica to Liverpool, and a Snow from Jamaica to London, Bridds Master; as also a Ship from Biddford to Jamaica, John Pinkham Commander; and two Sloops from Jamaica to Virginia.
On the 27th of May, Low and his Consort Harris, came off South-Carolina, and met with three good Ships, viz. the Crown, Captain Lovereigne, the King William, the Carteret, and a Brigantine, who all came out of Carolina together two Days before. The Pyrates were at the Trouble of chacing them, and Captain Lovereigne being the sternmost, she fell first a Prey into their Hands; and they spent all the Day in coming up with the rest.
Within a few Days they took a Ship called the Amsterdam Merchant, Captain Willard, from Jamaica, but belonging to New-England; as Low let none of that Country depart without some Marks of his Rage, he cut off this Gentleman’s Ears, slit up his Nose, and cut him in several Places of his Body, and, after plundering his Ship, let him pursue his Voyage.
After this he took a Sloop bound to Amboy, William Frazier, Master, with whom Mr. Low happening to be displeased, he ordered lighted Matches to be ty’d between the Mens Fingers, which burnt all the Flesh off the Bones; then cut them in several Parts of their Bodies with Knives and Cutlashes; afterwards took all their Provisions away, and set some of them ashore in an uninhabited Part of the Country.
The Kingston, Captain Estwick, another Ship, one Burrington Master, two Brigantines from Carolina to London; a Sloop from Virginia to Bermudas; a Ship from Glasgow to Virginia; a Scooner from New-York to South-Carolina; a Pink from Virginia to Dartmouth, and a Sloop from Philadelphia to Surinam, fell a Prey to these Villains, upon this Cruize, besides those above-mentioned. It happened that at this Time one of his Majesty’s Ships was upon a Cruize, on this Station, and got Intelligence of some of the mischievous Actions of this Miscreant, by one of the Vessels that had been plundered by him, who steering as directed, came in Sight of the Pyrates by break of Day, on the 10th of June, of all Days in the Year. The Rovers looking out for Prey, soon saw, and gave Chace to the Man of War, which was called the Greyhound, a Ship of 20 Guns, and 120 Men, rather inferiour in Force to the two Pyrate Vessels: The Greyhound finding them so eager, was in no doubt what they should be, and therefore tack’d and stood from them, giving the Pyrates an Opportunity to chace her for two Hours, till all Things were in Readiness for an Engagement, and the Pyrates about Gun-shot off; then the Greyhound tack’d again, and stood towards the two Sloops, one of them called the Fancy, commanded by Low himself, and the other the Ranger, commanded by Harris, both which hoisted their pyratical Colours, and fired each a Gun. When the Greyhound came within Musquet-shot, she halled up her Main-sail, and clapp’d close upon a Wind, to keep the Pyrates from running to Leeward, and then engaged: But when the Rogues found who they had to deal with, they edg’d away under the Man of War’s Stern, and the Greyhound standing after them, they made a running Fight for about two Hours; but little Wind happening, the Sloops gained from her, by the help of their Oars; upon which the Greyhound left off firing, and turned all Hands to her own Oars, and at three in the Afternoon came up with them. The Pyrates haul’d upon a Wind to receive the Man of War, and the Fight was immediately renewed, with a brisk Fire on both Sides, till the Ranger’s Main-Yard was shot down, and the Greyhound pressing close upon the disabled Sloop, Low, in the other, thought fit to bear away and leave his Consort a Sacrifice to his Enemy, who (seing the Cowardice and Treachery of his Commadore and Leader, having ten or twelve Men killed and wounded, and that there was no possibility of escaping,) called out for Quarters, and surrendered themselves to Justice, which proved severe enough to them a-while afterwards.
The Conduct of Low was surprizing in this Adventure, because his reputed Courage and Boldness, had, hitherto, so possess’d the Minds of all People, that he became a Terror, even to his own Men; but his Behaviour throughout this whole Action, shewed him to be a base cowardly Villain, for had Low’s Sloop fought half so briskly as Harris’s had done, (as they were under a solemn Oath to do,) the Man of War, in my Opinion, could never have hurted them.
The Greyhound carried in their Prize to Rhode Island, to the great Joy of the whole Province, tho’ it had been more compleat, if the great LOW himself had grac’d the Triumph. The Prisoners were strongly secured in a Goal, till a Court of Vice-Admiralty could be held for their Tryals, which begun on the 10th of July, at Newport, and continued three Days. The Court was made up of the following Gentlemen.
William Dummer, Esq; Lieutenant Governor of the Massachusets, President. Nathaniel Paine, Esq; Addington Davonport, Esq; Thomas Fitch, Esq; Spencer Phipps, Esq; John Lechmere, Esq; Surveyor-General. John Valentine, Esq; Advocate-General. Samuel Cranston, Governor of Rhode-Island. John Menzies, Esq; Judge of the Admiralty, Richard Ward, Esq; Register. Mr. Jahleel Brinton, Provost-Marshal.
Robert Auchmuta, Esq; was assigned, by the Court, Council for the Prisoners here under mention’d.Prisoners Names. Ages. Places of Birth. Charles Harris, Captain 25 London. William Blads 28 Rhode-Island. Daniel Hide 23 Virginia. Thomas Powel, jun. 21 Connecticut N. E. Stephen Mundon 20 London. Thomas Huggit 30 London. William Read 35 Londonderry, Ireland. Peter Kneeves 32 Exeter in Devon. James Brinkly 28 Suffolk in England. Joseph Sound 28 City of Westminster. William Shutfield 40 Lancafter in England. Edward Eaton 38 Wrexham in Wales. John Brown 29 County of Durham. Edward Lawson 20 Isle of Man. Owen Rice 27 South-Wales. John Tomkins 23 Gloucestershire. John Fitzgerrald 21 Limerick in Ireland. Abraham Lacy 21 Devonshire. Thomas Linister 21 Lancashire. Francis Leyton 39 New-York. John Waters, Quart.-Mr. 35 County of Devon. William Jones 28 London. Charles Church 21 St. Margaret's, Westm. Thomas Hazel 50 — — — John Bright 25 — — — — These 25 were found guilty, and executed the 19th of July, 1723, near Newport in Rhode-Island. John Brown 17 Liverpoole. Patrick Cunningham 25 — — — These two were found guilty, but respited for one Year, and recommended to the King’s Favour. John Wilson 23 New-London County Henry Barnes 22 Barbadoes. Thomas Jones 17 Flur in Wales. Joseph Switzer 24 Boston in New-England. Thomas Mumper Indian. Mather's Vineyard N. E. John Hincher, Doctor 22 Near Edinburgh, Scot. John Fletcher 17 — — — Thomas Child 15 — — —
These eight were found Not Guilty.
The destroying this Pyrate was look’d upon by the Province, to be of such a signal Service to the Publick, and particular Advantage to the Colony of New-York, that it was thought necessary to make some handsome Acknowledgement to Captain Peter Solgard for it; and therefore it was resolved, in an Assembly of the Common-Council, to compliment him with the Freedom of their Corporation. The Resolution, together with the Preamble of the Captain’s Freedom, being curious in their Kind, I subjoin them for the Satisfaction of the Reader.
Resolution of the Mayor and Common-Council of the City of New-York, at a Common-Council held at the City Hall of the said City, on Thursday the 25th of July, Anno. Dom. 1723.
Present Robert Walter, Esq; Mayor.
City of New-York, ss.
THIS Court having taken into their Consideration the great Service lately done to this Province in particular, as well as to all other his Majesty’s good Subjects in general, by Captain Peter Solgard, Commander of his Majesty’s Ship the Greyhound, the Station Ship of the Province, who lately in a Cruize upon this Coast, in due Execution and Discharge of his Duty, upon Intelligence given him, sought for, pursued and engaged two Pyrate Sloops, commanded by one Low, (a notorious and inhumane Pyrate,) one of which Sloops he took, after a resolute Resistance, and very much shattered the other, who by the Favour of the Night escaped. Twenty six of which Pyrates so taken, being lately executed at Rhode Island, not only eased this City and Province of a very great Trouble, but of a very considerable Expence, &c. It is therefore resolved (Nemine Contradicente) that this Corporation do present the said Captain Solgard with the Freedom of this Corporation, as a Mark of the great Esteem they have for his Person, as well as for the aforesaid great and good Services; and that the Seal of the said Freedom be enclosed in a Gold Box; that Mr. Recorder and Mr. Bickley do draw the Draught of the said Freedom, signifying therein, the grateful Sense of this Corporation, for so signal a Service to the Publick, and Benefit and Advantage of Mankind. That Alderman Kip, and Alderman Cruger, do prepare the said Box; that the Arms of the Corporation be engraved on one Side thereof, and a Representation of the Engagement on the other, with this Motto, (viz.) [Quesitos Humani Generos Hostes Debellare superbum, 10 Junii, 1723.] That the Town-Clerk cause the same Freedom to be handsomly engrossed on Parchment, and that the whole Corporation do wait upon him, to present the same.
By Order of the Common-Council.
William Sharpas, Clerk.
The Preamble of Captain Peter Solgard’s Copy of his Freedom.
Robert Walter, Esq; Mayor, and the Aldermen of the City of New-York.
City of New-York, ss.
TO all whom these Persents shall come, send Greeting. WHEREAS, Captain Peter Solgard, Commander of his Majesty’s Ship the Greyhound, (the present Station Ship of this Province,) in his Cruize, having Intelligence of two Pyrate Sloops of considerable Force in Consortship, under the Command of one Low, a notorious Pyrate, that had for upward of two Years, committed many Depredations, Murders and Barbarities, upon many of his Majesty’s Subjects and Allies, lately come upon this Coast, hath, with great Diligence, and utmost Application, pursued, overtaken, and after a stubborn Resistance, vanquished and overcome both of them, taking one, and driving the other from our Coast; which Action, as it is glorious in it self, so it is glorious in the publick Benefits and Advantages that flow from it, (to wit) The Safety and Freedom of our own Trade and Commerce, and of all the neighbouring Provinces on this Continent, such signal Service done against the Enemies of Mankind, merits the Applause of all good Men, but more immediately from those of this Province, who are appointed his particular Care and Charge. WE therefore, the Mayor, Aldermen and Commonalty of the City of New-York, assembled in Common Council, to express our grateful Sense and Acknowledgment, to the said Captain Peter Solgard, for so noble and faithful a Discharge of his Duty, and as a particular Mark of the great Esteem and just Regard we bear to his kind Acceptance of the Freedom of the Corporation of this City of New-York, and that he will please to become a Fellow Citizen with us. These are therefore to certify and declare, that the said Captain Peter Solgard is hereby admitted, received and allowed a Freeman and Citizen of the said City of New-York, to have, hold, enjoy and partake of all and singular Advantages, Benefits, Liberties, Privileges, Franchises, Freedoms and Immunities whatsoever, granted or belonging to the same City: In Testimony thereof, the said Mayor hath hereunto subscribed his Name, and caused the Seal of the said City to be affix’d the 25th Day of July, in the ninth Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George, by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c. Anno. Dom. 1723.
William Sharpas, Clerk.
R. Walter Mayor.
This narrow Escape of Low and his Companions, one would have thought might have brought them to a little Consideration of their black and horrid Crimes, and to look upon this Interval as an Opportunity put into their Hands by Providence, to reconcile themselves to God, by a hearty and sincere Repentance. But alass they were dead to all Goodness, and had not so much as one Spark of Virtue to stir them up to be thankful for such an eminent Deliverance: But instead thereof, vented a Million of Oaths and Curses upon the Captain of the Greyhound, vowing to execute Vengeance upon all they should meet with afterwards, for the Indignity he put upon them.
The first Prey that they met with, after their Flight, was a small Sloop belonging to Nantucket, a Whale-Fishing, about 80 Miles from Land; the Master of which, one Nathan Skiff, a brisk young Fellow, the Pyrates cruelly whipp’d naked about the Deck, making his Torture their Sport; after which they cut of his Ears, and last of all shot him through the Head, and then sunk his Vessel; putting the rest of the Hands into their Whale-Boat, with a Compass, a little Water, and a few Biskets; and it being good Weather, they providentially got safe to Nantucket, beyond all Expectation.
There was another Whale-Boat belonging to this Sloop last mentioned, which happened to be at some Distance from her, and perceiving what was doing, rowed with all speed to another Sloop not far off, to acquaint her with the Misfortune, that the Men might take Care of themselves; and she happily got away in Time. Some Days after, Low took a Fishing-Boat off of Block Island, but did not perpetrate so much Cruelty to her, contenting himself with only cutting off the Master’s Head: But after taking two Whale-Boats near Rhode Island, he caused one of the Master’s Bodies to be ripp’d up, and his Intrails to be taken out; and cut off the Ears of the other, and made him eat them himself with Pepper and Salt; which hard Injunction he comply’d with, without making a Word. Several other Persons he would have murthered, but Humanity prevailing in the tender Hearts of his Companions, they refused to put his savage Orders in Execution. From the Coast of New-England, Low sailed directly for Newfoundland, and, near Cape Briton, took two or three and twenty French Vessels; and one of them of 22 Guns he mann’d with Pyrates, making a sort of a Man of War of her; with which he scower’d the Harbours and Banks of Newfoundland, and took sixteen or eighteen other Ships and Vessels, all which they plundered, and some destroyed.
Thus these inhumane Wretches went on, who could not be contented to satisfy their Avarice only, and travel in the common Road of Wickedness; but, like their Patron, the Devil, must make Mischief their Sport, Cruelty their Delight, and damning of Souls their constant Employment. Of all the pyratical Crews that were ever heard of, none of the English Name came up to this, in Barbarity; their Mirth and their Anger had much the same Effect, for both were usually gratified with the Cries and Groans of their Prisoners; so that they almost as often murthered a Man from the Excess of good Humour, as out of Passion and Resentment; and the Unfortunate could never be assured of Safety from them, for Danger lurked in their very Smiles. An Instance of this had liked to have happened to one Captain Graves, Master of a Virginia Ship last taken; for as soon as he came aboard of the Pyrate, Low takes a Bowl of Punch in his Hand, and drinks to him, saying, Captain Graves, here’s half this to you. But the poor Gentleman being too sensibly touched at the Misfortune of falling into his Hands, modestly desired to be excused, for that he could not drink; whereupon Low draws out a Pistol, cocks it, and with the Bowl in ’tother Hand, told him, he should either take one or the other: So Graves, without Hesitation, made Choice of the Vehicle that contained the Punch, and guttled down about a Quart, when he had the least Inclination that ever he had in his Life to be merry.
The latter End of July, (1723,) Low took a large Ship, called the Merry Christmas, and fitted her for a Pyrate, cut several Ports in her, and mounted her with 34 Guns. Low goes aboard of this Ship, assumes the Title of Admiral, and hoists a black Flag, with the Figure of Death in red, at the Main-topmast Head, and takes another Voyage to the Western Islands, where he arrived the Beginning of September. The first Vessel he met with there, was a Brigantine, formerly an English Sloop, commanded by Elias Wild, but lately bought by a Portuguese Nobleman, and altered: She was manned partly with English, and partly Portuguese; the latter Low caused to be hang’d, by Way of Reprisal, for some of his own Men sent thither in a Sloop from the Cape de Verd Islands, as has been mentioned: The English Men he thrust into their own Boat, to shift for themselves, and set Fire to the Vessel.
At St. Michaels, they sent in their Boats and cut out of the Road, a new London built Ship of 14 Guns, commanded by Captain Thompson, who was taken there the Year before, by Low, in the Rose Pink. The Boats had fewer Men than the Ship, and Captain Thompson would have defended himself, but his Men through Cowardize, or too great an Inclination of becoming Pyrates themselves, refused to stand by him, and he was obliged to surrender; and when he came aboard the Pyrate, had his Ears cut off close to his Head, for only proposing to resist Admiral Low’s black Flag; they gave him one of his own Boats, and burnt his Ship.
The next was a Portuguese Bark that fell into their Hands, whose Men came off somewhat better than usual, for they only cut them with their Cutlashes, out of Wantonness, turned them all into their Boat, and set their Vessel on Fire. When the Boat was going from the Side of the Ship, one of Low’s Men, who, we may suppose, was forced into his Gang, was drinking with a Silver Tankard at one of the Ports, and took his Opportunity to drop into the Boat among the Portuguese, and lye down in the Bottom, in order to escape along with them: After he had stowed himself in the Boat, so as not to be seen, it came into his Head, that the Tankard might prove of some Use to him, where he was going; so he got up again, laid hold of the Utensil, and went off, without being discover’d: In which Attempt had he failed, no doubt his Life, if not the Lives of all the People in the Boat, would have paid for it: The Name of this Man is Richard Hains.
Low took his old Tour to the Canaries, Cape de Verd Islands, and so to the Coast of Guiney; but nothing extraordinary happened till they arrived near Sierraleon in Africa, where they met with a Ship call’d the Delight, Captain Hunt Commander; this Ship they thought fit for their own Purpose, for she had been a small Man of War, and carried 12 Guns; however, they mounted 16 on Board her, mann’d her with 60 Men, and appointed one Spriggs, who was then their Quarter-Master, to be Captain of her, who, two Days after, separated from the Admiral, and went to the West-Indies a-pyrating, upon his own, and particular Company’s, Account, where for the present we shall leave him.
In January last, Low took a Ship, called the Squirrel, Captain Stephenson; but what became of him afterwards, I can’t tell; we have had no News concerning him come to England, since this I have now mentioned; but I have heard that he talk’d of going to Brazil; and if so, it is likely we may too soon hear of some Exploit or other; tho’ the best Information we could receive, would be, that he and all his Crew were at the Bottom of the Sea.
CHAP. XIV. OF Capt. JOHN EVANS, And his CREW.
JOHN Evans was a Welch Man, had been formerly Master of a Sloop belonging to Nevis, but losing his Employ there, he sailed for some Time out of Jamaica as Mate, till happening in Company of three or four of his Comrades, and Wages not being so good as formerly, and Births scarce, because of the great Number of Seamen; they agreed to go abroad in search of Adventures. They sailed, or rather rowed out of Port Royal in Jamaica, the latter End of September 1722, in a Canoa; and coming on the North-Side of the Island, went ashore in the Night, broke open a House or two, and robb’d them of some Money, and every Thing else they could find that was portable, and brought the Booty on Board the Canoa.
This was very well for the first Time, but this kind of Robbery did not please so well, they wanted to get out to Sea, but having no Vessel but their Canoa, they were prevented in their laudable Design; however, they kept a good look out, and traversed the Island, in Expectation that Providence would send some unfortunate Vessel as a Sacrifice, and in a few Days their Wishes were accomplished; for at Duns Hole, they found a small Sloop at an Anchor, belonging to Bermudas: They made bold and went aboard, and Evans informed the Folks that belonged to her, that he was Captain of the Vessel, which was a Piece of News they knew not before. After they had put their Affairs in a proper Disposition aboard, they went ashore to a little Village for Refreshments, and lived jovially the remaining Part of the Day, at a Tavern, spending three Pistols, and then departed. The People of the House admired at the merry Guests they had got, were mightily pleased, and wished for their Company at another Time, which happened too soon for their Profit; for, in the middle of the Night, they came ashore all Hands, rifled the House, and carried what they could aboard their Sloop.
The next Day they weighed in the Sloop, aboard of which they mounted four Guns, called her the Scowerer, and sailed to Hispaniola; on the North Part of which Island they took a Spanish Sloop, which proved an extraordinary rich Prize, as it fell among so few Persons as this Company consisted of, for they shared upwards of 150 l. a Man.
In Pursuance of the Game, and beating up for the Windward Islands, the Scowerer met with a Ship from New-England, bound to Jamaica, 120 Tons, called the Dove, Captain Diamond Master, off Porto Rico: They plundered her, and strengthened their own Company, by taking out the Mate, and two or three other Men; they discharged the Prize, and run into one of the Islands for fresh Water and Necessaries, and staid there some Time.
The next Prize they made, was the Lucretia and Catherine, Captain Mills, of 200 Ton Burthen; they came up with her near the Island Disseada, January 11th. Upon seizing of this Ship, the Pyrates began to take upon themselves the Distribution of Justice, examining the Men concerning their Master’s Usage of them, according to the Custom of other Pyrates; but the Captain over-hearing the Matter, put an End to the judicial Proceedings, and fell to rumaging the Ship, saying to them, What have we to do to turn Reformers, ’tis Money we want? And speaking to the Prisoners, he asked them, Does your Captain give you Victuals enough? And they answering in the Affirmative: Why then, said he, he ought to give you Work enough.
After the taking of this Prize, they went to the little Island of Avis, with a Design to clean, and carried the Lucretia along with them, in order to heave down the Scowerer by her; but meeting there with a Sloop, the Pyrate gave Chace till the Evening, when she was within Gun-Shot of her; but fearing to lose Company with the Lucretia, who was a heavy Sailor, they left off, and saw her no more. This Chace brought them to Leeward of their Port, so that they were obliged to look out for another Place of Retreat, and the Island of Ruby not being far distant, they steered for that, and anchored there accordingly; but the next Day a Dutch Sloop coming as it were, into their Mouths, they could not forbear dealing, and so making her their Prize, they plundered her of what came, when shared, to fifty Pounds a Man.
They found this Sloop more for their Purpose than the Lucretia, to clean their own Sloop by, as being much lower in the Wast, and therefore capable of heaving her Bottom farther out of the Water, so she was discharged, and the Dutch Man kept in her Room; but not thinking it convenient to lay up here, for fear a discovery should be made, they turned their Thoughts another Way, and steered to the Coast of Jamaica, where they took a Sugar Drover, and then run to the Grand Caimanes, about 30 Leagues to Leeward of Jamaica, with Intention to clean there; but an unhappy Accident put an End to their Pyracies, which hitherto had proved very successful to them.
The Boatswain of the Pyrate being a noisy surly Fellow, the Captain had at several Times Words with him, relating to his Behaviour, who thinking himself ill treated, not only returned ill Language, but also challenged the Captain to fight him on the next Shore they came to, with Pistols and Sword, as is the Custom among these Outlaws. When the Sloop arrived, as abovementioned, the Captain proposed the Duel; but the cowardly Boatswain refused to fight, or go ashore, tho’ it was his own Challenge. When Captain Evans saw there was nothing to be done with him, he took his Cane, and gave him a hearty drubbing; but the Boatswain not being able to bear such an Indignity, drew out a Pistol and shot Evans thro’ the Head, so that he fell down dead; and the Boatswain immediately jumped over-board, and swam towards the Shore; but the Boat was quickly mann’d and sent after him, which took him up and brought him aboard.
The Death of the Captain in that Manner, provoked all the Crew, and they resolved the Criminal should die by the most exquisite Tortures; but while they were considering of the Punishment, the Gunner, transported with Passion, discharged a Pistol, and shot him thro’ the Body; but not killing him outright, the Delinquent in very moving Words, desired a Week for Repentance only; but another stepping up to him, told him, that he should repent and be damned to him, and without more ado shot him dead.
I should have observed, that when the Lucretia and Katharine was suffered to go away, the Pyrates detained their Mate, who was now the only Man aboard, who understood Navigation, and him they desired to take upon him the Command of the Sloop, in the Room of Captain Evans deceased; but he desired to be excused that Honour, and at length positively refused it; so they agreed to break up the Company, and leave the Mate in Possession of the Vessel: Accordingly they went ashore at the Caimanes, carrying with them about nine thousand Pounds among thirty Persons; and it being fair Weather, the Mate and a Boy brought the Vessel into Port Royal, in Jamaica.