Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 Captain John Phillips

PHILLIPS, Captain John

A carpenter by trade, he sailed from the West Country for Newfoundland in a ship that was captured by the pirate Anstis in the Good Fortune. Phillips soon became reconciled to the life of a pirate, and, being a brisk fellow, he was appointed carpenter to the ship. Returning to England he soon found it necessary to quit the country again, and he shipped himself on board a vessel at Topsham for Newfoundland. On arriving at Peter Harbour he ran away, and hired himself as a splitter to the Newfoundland cod fishery.

On the night of August 29th, 1723, with four others, he stole a sloop, the Dolphin, of Cape Ann, on the Banks of Newfoundland and sailed away. Phillips was chosen captain. The crew of the Dolphin were compelled by Phillips to join the pirates.

Articles were now drawn up and were sworn to upon a hatchet, because no Bible could be found on board. Amongst other laws was the punishment of "40 stripes lacking one, known as Moses's law, to be afflicted for striking a fellow-pirate." The last law of the nine casts a curious light on these murderers; it runs: "If at any time you meet with a prudent Woman, that Man that offers to meddle with her, without her Consent, shall suffer present Death." The pirates, fortified by these laws, met with instant success, taking several fishing vessels, from which they augmented their small crew by the addition of several likely and brisk seamen.

Amongst these they had the good fortune to take prisoner an old pirate called John Rose Archer, who had served his pirate apprenticeship under the able tuition of the famous Blackbeard, and who they at once promoted to be quartermaster. This quick promotion caused trouble afterwards, for some of the original crew, particularly carpenter Fern, resented it. The pirates next sailed to Barbadoes, that happy hunting ground, but for three months never a sail did they meet with, so that they were almost starving for want of provisions, being reduced to a pound of dried meat a day amongst ten of them.

At last they met with a French vessel, a Martinico ship, of twelve guns, and hunger drove them to attack even so big a ship as this, but the sight of the Black flag so terrified the French crew that they surrendered without firing a shot. After this, they took several vessels, and matters began to look much brighter. Phillips quickly developed into a most accomplished and bloody pirate, butchering his prisoners on very little or on no provocation whatever. But even this desperate pirate had an occasional "qualm of conscience come athwart his stomach," for when he captured a Newfoundland vessel and was about to scuttle her, he found out that she was the property of a Mr. Minors of that island, from whom they stole the original vessel in which they went a-pirating, so Phillips, telling his companions "We have done him enough injury already," ordered the vessel to be repaired and returned to the owner. On another occasion, they took a ship, the master of which was a "Saint" of New England, by name Dependance Ellery, who gave them a pretty chase before being overhauled, and so, as a punishment, the "Saint" was compelled to dance the deck until he fell down exhausted.

This pirate's career ended with a mutiny of his unruly crew, Phillips being tripped up and then thrown overboard to drown off Newfoundland in April, 1724.

During the nine months of Phillips's command as a pirate captain, he accounted for more than thirty ships.


ARCHER, John Rose

He learnt his art as a pirate in the excellent school of the notorious Blackbeard.

In 1723 he was, for the time being, in honest employment in a Newfoundland fishing-boat, which was captured by Phillips and his crew. As Phillips was only a beginner at piracy, he was very glad to get the aid of such an old hand at the game as John Archer, whom he promptly appointed to the office of quartermaster in the pirate ship. This quick promotion caused some murmuring amongst Phillips's original crew, the carpenter, Fern, being particularly outspoken against it.

Archer ended his days on the gallows at Boston on June 2nd, 1724, and we read that he "dy'd very penitent, with the assistance of two grave Divines to attend him."


Taken prisoner out of the Dolphin, on the Banks of Newfoundland, by the Pirate Phillips in 1724. With the help of a fisherman called Fillmore, he killed Phillips and ten other pirates and brought the ship into Boston Harbour.

FERN, Thomas

A Newfoundland fish-splitter.

In August, 1723, joined with John Phillips in stealing a small vessel, which they called the Revenge, and went "on the account." Fern was appointed carpenter. Fern gave trouble afterwards over the promotion of a prisoner, an old pirate called Rose Archer, to the rank of quartermaster.

Later on Fern headed a mutiny and attempted to sail off on his own in one of the prize vessels. He was caught, brought back, and forgiven, but on attempting to run away a second time, Captain Phillips killed him, "pursuant to the pirates articles."


A fisherman of Ipswich.

Taken out of the Dolphin when fishing for cod off the Banks of Newfoundland in 1724 by the pirate Captain Phillips, and forced to join the pirates. Having no other means of escape he, with two others, suddenly killed Phillips and two more pirates and brought the vessel into Boston Harbour. Millard Fillmore, thirteenth President of the United States, was the great grandson of John Fillmore.


A Newfoundland fisherman.

In August, 1723, with John Phillips and three others, ran away with a vessel to go "on the account." Sparks was appointed gunner.

TAYLOR, William

One of Captain Phillips's crew. Wounded in the leg while attempting to desert. There being no surgeon on board, a consultation was held over the patient by the whole crew, and these learned men were unanimous in agreeing that the leg should be amputated. Some dispute then arose as to who should act the part of surgeon, and at length the carpenter was chosen as the most proper person. "Upon which he fetch'd up the biggest saw, and taking the limb under his Arm, fell to Work, and separated it from the Body of the Patient in as little Time as he could have cut a Deal Board in two." This surgeon-carpenter evidently appreciated the importance of aseptics, for, "after that he had heated his Ax red hot in the Fire, cauteriz'd the Wound but not with so much Art as he perform'd the other Part for he so burnt the Flesh distant from the Place of Amputation that it had like to have mortify'd." Taylor was tried and condemned to death at Boston on May 12th, 1714, but for some reason not explained was reprieved.

WHITE, William

A Newfoundland fish-splitter. With John Phillips and three others, he stole a fishing-boat at St. Peter's Harbour in Newfoundland in August, 1723. The other four were made officers in the pirate craft, White having the distinction of being the only private man in the crew of five. He appears to have been a man lacking in ambition, as he never showed any desire to become even a petty officer amongst the pirates; in fact, we hear no more of William until June 2nd, 1724, when he was hanged at Boston and "dy'd very penitently, with the Assistance of two grave Divines that attended him."