Pirates of the later 18th century
By the mid 1720s, the golden age of piracy was well and truly over, but a few hardy souls kept the Jolly Roger flying.
BREAKES, Captain Hiram
This Dutch pirate was the second son of a well-to-do councillor of the Island of Saba in the West Indies. Hiram was appointed in the year 1764 to a ship which traded between that island and Amsterdam. In the latter port, Hiram, who was now 19 years of age and a handsome fellow standing over six feet in height, fell in love with a certain Mrs. Snyde.
Getting command of a small ship that traded between Schiedam, in Holland, and Lisbon, Breakes for some time sailed between these ports. Returning to Amsterdam, he and Mrs. Snyde murdered that lady's husband, but at the trial managed to get acquitted.
Breakes's next exploit was to steal his employer's ship and cargo and go out as a pirate, naming his vessel the Adventure. His first exploit was a daring one. Sailing into Vigo Harbour in full view of the forts, he seized a vessel, the Acapulco, lately come from Valparaiso, and took her off. On plundering her they found 200,000 small bars of gold, each about the size of a man's finger. The captain and crew of this Chilian vessel were all murdered. Breakes preferred the Acapulco to his own ship, so he fitted her up and sailed in her to the Mediterranean.
Breakes was one of the religious variety of pirate, for after six days of robbing and throat-slitting he would order his crew to clean themselves on the Sabbath and gather on the quarter-deck, where he would read prayers to them and would often preach a sermon "after the Lutheran style," thus fortifying the brave fellows for another week of toil and bloodshed.
Gifted with unlimited boldness, Breakes called in at Gibraltar and requested the Governor to grant him a British privateer's commission, which the Governor did "for a consideration." Sailing in the neighbourhood of the Balearic Islands, he took a few ships, when one day, spying a nunnery by the sea-shore in Minorca, he proposed to his crew that they should fit themselves out with a wife apiece.
This generous offer was eagerly accepted, and the crew, headed by Captain Breakes, marched up to the nunnery unopposed, and were welcomed at the door by the lady abbess. Having entered the peaceful cloister, each pirate chose a nun and marched back to the ship with their spoils. Soon after this Breakes decided to retire from piracy, and returned to Amsterdam to claim Mrs. Snyde. But he found that she had but lately been hanged for poisoning her little son, of which the pirate was father. This tragedy so preyed upon the mind of Captain Breakes that he turned "melancholy mad" and drowned himself in one of the many dykes with which that city abounds.
JOHNSON, Captain Ben
When a lad he had served as a midshipman in an East Indiaman, the Asia, but having been caught red-handed robbing the purser of brandy and wine, he was flogged and sent to serve as a sailor before the mast. In 1750, while in the Red Sea, he deserted his ship and entered the service of the Sultan of Ormus. Finding Johnson to be a clever sailor, the Sultan appointed him admiral of his pirate fleet of fourteen vessels. The young admiral became a convert to Brahminism, and was ceremoniously blessed by the arch-priests of the Temple. Amongst his crew Johnson had some two hundred other Englishmen, who also became followers of Brahmin, each of whom was allowed, when in port, a dancing girl from the Temple.
Johnson proved a most capable and bloodthirsty pirate, playing havoc with the shipping of the Red Sea, taking also several towns on the coast, and putting to death his prisoners, often after cruel tortures. His boldest exploit was to attack the fortified town of Busrah. This he did, putting the Sheik and most of the inhabitants to death, and taking back to his master, the Sultan, vast plunder of diamonds, pearls, and gold.
On another occasion Johnson landed his crews on the Island of Omalee, at the entrance to the Persian Gulf, a favourite place of pilgrimage, and raided the temples of the Indian God Buddha. Putting to death all the two thousand priests, he cut off the noses and slit the upper lips of seven hundred dancing girls, only sparing a few of the best looking ones, whom he carried away with him along with plunder worth half a million rupees.
On their way back to the Red Sea the pirates met with an English East Indiaman, which they took and plundered, and Johnson, remembering his previous sufferings in the same service, murdered the whole crew.
Shortly afterwards Johnson and ten of his English officers contrived to run away from their master, the Sultan, in his best and fastest lateen vessel, with an enormous booty. Sailing up to the head of the Persian Gulf, Johnson managed to reach Constantinople with his share of the plunder, worth £800,000. With this as an introduction, he was hospitably received, and was made a bashaw, and at the end of a long life of splendour died a natural death.
JONES, Captain Paul
Probably few persons, even in Great Britain, would to-day call Paul Jones a pirate, but this was not always the case. In all books on pirates written shortly after the American war, Paul Jones figured as a notorious character.
This famous privateer, let us call him, was born at Kirkcudbright in Scotland in 1728, the son of Mr. Paul, head gardener to Lord Selkirk, and was christened John Paul. So much has been written about this man in books, easily procurable for reference, that little need be said about him here.
Starting life as a sailor before the mast, he quickly showed abilities which led to his promotion to the rank of mate in an English ship trading in the West India Islands, and later he was made master. On the declaration of war with America, Jones joined the rebels, and was given command of a privateer, and from 1777 he became a terror to English shipping around the British Isles.
One of his most startling exploits was his surprise visit in his ship, the Ranger, to his old home with the object of kidnapping his former employer, Lord Selkirk.
On September 23rd, 1779, he fought his famous action off Scarborough against a British convoy from the Baltic under the command of Captain Pearson, in the Serapis, and Captain Piercy in the Countess of Scarborough. Jones had left the Ranger for a frigate called the Bonne Homme Richard of forty guns and a crew of three hundred and seventy men, and had also under his command four other ships of war. A furious engagement took place, the utmost bravery being shown on either side; the English ships at last being compelled to surrender, but not until the enemy had themselves suffered fearful damage to both their crews and ships. After the conclusion of peace, Paul Jones, once the darling of two continents, faded into obscurity and even poverty, and died in Paris in the year 1792 at the age of 64.
Boatswain in a merchant ship which sailed from the Canaries to England in the year 1765. On board were three passengers, the adventurous Captain Glass and his wife and daughter. One night M'Kinlie and four other mutineers murdered the commander of the vessel, Captain Cockeran, and Captain Glass and his family, as well as all the crew except two cabin-boys. After throwing their bodies overboard, M'Kinlie steered for the coast of Ireland, and on December 3rd arrived in the neighbourhood of the harbour of Ross. Filling the long-boat with dollars, weighing some two tons, they rowed ashore, after killing the two boys and scuttling the ship. On landing, the pirates found they had much more booty than they could carry, so they buried 250 bags of dollars in the sand, and took what they could with them to a village called Fishertown. Here they regaled themselves, while one of the villagers relieved them of a bag containing 1,200 dollars. Next day they walked into Ross, and there sold another bag of dollars, and with the proceeds each man bought a pair of pistols and a horse and rode to Dublin. In the meanwhile the ship, instead of sinking, was washed up on the shore. Strong suspicion being roused in the countryside, messengers were sent post-haste to inform the Lords of the Regency at Dublin that the supposed pirates were in the city. Three of them were arrested in the Black Bull Inn in Thomas Street, but M'Kinlie and another pirate, who had already taken a post-chaise for Cork, intending to embark there on a vessel for England, were arrested on the way.
The five pirates were tried in Dublin, condemned and executed, their bodies being hung in chains, on December 19th, 1765.
ST. QUINTIN, Richard
A native of Yorkshire.
One of M'Kinlie's crew that murdered Captain Glass and his family in the Canary ship. Afterwards arrested at Cork and hanged in chains near Dublin on March 19th, 1765.
A Dutch pirate, one of Peter M'Kinlie's gang, who murdered Captain Glass and his family on board a ship sailing from the Canary Islands to England. Zekerman was the most brutal of the whole crew of mutineers.
He was hanged in chains near Dublin on December 19th, 1765.