THE ADVENTURES OF
THAT GREAT PIRATE,
by V’léOnica Roberts
* * * * *
SECOND PRINTING - April 2013
* * * * *
First Published on May 13th, 2012
also available in Traditional Book Form
Interaction Version ISBN: 10: 0985749202 - ISBN: 13: 978-0-9857492-2-4
non Interaction Version ISBN: 10: 0985749229 - ISBN: 13: 978-0-9857492-0-0
on CD (pdf) ISBN: 10: 0985749210 - ISBN: 13: 978-0-9857492-1-7
© V’léOnica Roberts 2012
The Captain's Champion
Cover Landscape Art & Pirate Drawn by
Sue Montgomery - sue@cd-eBooks.com
Ship & Dingy Art Drawn by Author.
Cover Art colored by Author.
Printed in the U.S.A
cd-eBooks. Las Vegas, NV
author’s e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
creator & owner of the following websites
www.bartholomewroberts.com , www.bartholomewroberts.org ,
www.bartiddu.com , www.thatgreatpyrate.com
& the worlds largest pirate website since 1996 www.vleonica.com/pirates.htm
In Memory Of
THAT GREAT PYRATE
Captain Bartholomew Roberts
BORN: MAY 17, 1682
DIED: FEBRUARY 10, 1722
written with purpose
TO SET THE RECORD STRAIGHT
THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD
Table of Contents
WHAT & WHERE
Born is a Legend - Little Newcastle, Wales
Looking For His Place In Life - Annamaboa
Again In The Company Of Pirates - Isle of Princes
Captain Roberts - S.W. Coast of Africa & E. Coast of Brazil
Sheer Audacity - La Baía de Todos os Santos
The Articles - Coast of Caiana [now-Guiana], S. America
The Laquary Roads - St. Christophers, Barbados & Martinico
Hatred Well Deserved - The West Indies
Thirteen Avenged - Trepassey, Newfoundland
An Offer of Clemency - Newfoundland Region
Wrongful Imprisonment - Newfoundland Region to the West Indies
Business As Usual - St. Barthélemy, Cape de Verd Islands & Surinam
Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing - Martinico & St. Lucia
Flattery and Deception - Bennet’s Key, Moonay, Santo Domingo & Guadalupe
Captain Anstis & Robert Armstrong - Bermuda, West Indies & Africa
Pistol Proof - Sierra Leona River
Whydah Road - The West Coast of Africa
The Final Hour - Parrot Island, Nigeria’s Estuary, West Africa
Official Public Records
Terminology within this book
Types of Ships
Books by V’léOnica Roberts
BORN IS A LEGEND
Location: ‘Little Newcastle, Wales’
Below is contained
True Life story of Bartholomew Roberts.
ALL actual quotes are written in “Italics”.
Once upon a time, when John ‘Bartholomew’ Robert was a boy between 10-12 years, he went to sea as a ship’s boy. After the customary 4 years, he returned home to the family farm in the tiny village of Little Newcastle, Wales, where he was born.
Some years later, in 1702, Anne, Queen of England, Scotland, France and Ireland, declared war on Spain and France. As a result, thousands of men were called to serve in the Royal Navy. Among them was John Robert. ‘Twas he who grew up to be known as ‘THAT GREAT PYRATE,’ Captain, Bartholomew Roberts. For the next 11 years, John, who was intuitive by nature, became proficient in all matters pertaining to life aboard ship. A master in the usage of Navigational tools, his profound skills in that realm, were, and still are, legendary; accomplishing great transatlantic crossings in not only record speed, but with pin point accuracy before the invention of Longitude, and such, we must deduce that he also possessed a profound knowledge of astronomy and perhaps, keeping it unto himself, had unlocked the secret of longitude.
Bart’s skills in astronomy was only one of the reasons he was so successful, his abilities in the handling of men, believing that compassionate appeasement served commanders better than punishment, were also quite remarkable.
When the war ended in 1713, the majority of those same men who had fought courageously for their country, were suddenly out of work. Some of them, those who had learned invaluable skills, found work on the merchant ships. The rest returned home only to discover the countryside had been ravished by the hardships of war. And if that wasn’t bad enough, the lifestyles they were so familiar had greatly changed; jobs were scarce, and life in general was much more difficult than ever before.
In 1718, John Robert was made first mate aboard the merchant vessel, Terrible, captained by the Welsh privateer, John Williams. While en route to West Africa, the ship was seized by the pirate, Edward England, Captain of The Pearl. Seemingly, not only did most of crew of the captured ship, remain on board, but remarkably, they kept their places. Sailing on, several prizes were taken. The next ship seized and kept was renamed Victory, and John Taylor, a member of Captain England’s crew, was voted as her new Captain.
Despite the new prize, their recent engagements were nigh on profitless, creating unease. As a result, much animosity began to ensue betwixt the senior officers, Captains included. Irrespective of their opinions, they abided these laxities in accordance with the laws that faithfully governed their democratic society.
Edward England, whose languorous crewmen favored his gentle easy going nature, remained Captain of The Pearl. However, it was well known that some, those who had a yen for wealth, disagreed with Captain England, yet even so, being that impertinent opinions would have been considered willful insubordination, and punishment could be life threatening, they banked their feelings, all except John Robert. Motivated by Edward England’s determination to not only sail for the Indian Ocean, but to be elevated to the rank of Commodore as well, Bart could hold his tongue no more; absolutely refusing to abide by what he considered ineffectual and power craving leadership, and thus, in keeping with his own beliefs, he spoke openly and with conviction, which instigated an outright debate. Subsequently, being unable to resolve their differences, the pirates broke rank.
Of the combined crews, the majority, the malingers, sailed with Edward England to the Indian Ocean, dividing themselves betwixt The Pearl, and the Victory. Some of the others, them who craved action and riches, sailed elsewhere aboard The Terrible. The remaining men, those who believed and trusted in the judgment of John Robert, returned to their lives as honest seaman.
LOOKING FOR HIS PLACE IN LIFE
Looking ever forward, John traveled to England where he secured the position of third mate aboard the Princess of London, a slave ship within the Merchant Navy under the command of Captain Abraham Plumb. Not only was this position a tremendous reduction in rank in regards to his previous ship board situation, but he regarded the type of work to be a deplorable trade. Nonetheless, needing work, he felt that he had no choice but to sign on. In the wake of their departure, their companion ship, The Bird, Captained by William Snelgrave, set sail in consort.
Several months later, following a host of pleasant dealings, The Bird’s holds were full, and thus, the two ship’s set about on different paths. In keeping with her orders, the Princess of London made course for her last trading stop along the West coast of Africa before returning home to London with a shipment of Negroes, Gold and Teeth.
Arriving at Annamaboa in early February, 1719, two other merchant ships, The Morris, and the Royal Hynde, were already anchored in the harbor.
On February 6th, while both Captain Plumb and the First Mate were ashore conducting business, the watch saw two ships coming into the harbor, but unbeknownst to him, they were a band of rovers led by the famous Welsh pirate, Hwyel Davies.
A crewmen from The Morris, recognizing the ship as the pirate ship Rover, managed to row ashore to seek help. As a result the pirate was fired upon, but the gallant effort was fruitless. Nonetheless, even though the Rover was out of range of the fort’s guns, Captain Davies, to demonstrate that his Rover was better equipped, raised his black flag and returned their fire. Those having the temporary power of command aboard both The Morris and the Royal Hynde, fearing the worst, promptly surrendered and ask for quarter. Captain Davies’ helmsmen, well suited to their duties, kept both ships out of range of the harbor’s gun emplacements, and after successfully capturing both, sailed alongside the Princess of London.
The Princess of London was a fine Galley, her Second Mate, however, whose name was John Stephenson, brimmed with less desirable qualities, and in an anxious tone, informed the pirate ship that his Captain, the First Mate, and most of the crew were ashore, and he, being Second Mate was acting Captain; stating further that he wished not to engage, and thus, he as well treated the pirates to an easy victory.
The orders given to John Stephenson, were simple, “Come on board with all hands.”
Doing as ordered, the eight crewmen: John Stephenson (second mate,) John Eastwell (ship’s carpenter,) William Gittus (gunner,) James Bradshaw, John Jessup, John Owen, Thomas Rogers, and lastly, John Robert (third mate) boarded the Rover.
Come early morn, the man on watch spied a sail. Wasting no time, Captain Davies gave the order to give chase. It wasn’t too long before the Rover overtook the ship and fired a broadside. Affrightened, the Hollander immediately struck his colors and called for quarter, which, as it is among the majority of pirate vessels, was granted. With regards to the same, such granting is specifically outlined within the Articles belonging to Captain Davies, which specifically state: "UNDER PAIN OF DEATH, QUARTERS, WHENEVER CALLED, MUST BE GRANTED."
The Hollander, whose passenger list included the Governor of Acra, who alone had brought on board a wealth of valuable merchandise, including £15,000, proved to be a rich prize.
Being delighted with their New success of late, the pirates restored to Captain Hall his ship, the Royal Hynde, and allowed Captain Fenn to sail with them. As for the crews of the three of the captured vessels, all but one were permitted to take their leave; the One that was not, was John Robert, and thus, making the only exception of his Captaincy in such an act*, forced, John Robert, at point of pistol; placing him, once again, in the company of pirates.
*Authors Note: It’s only speculation, but it must be assumed, considering this action, that Captain Davies undoubtedly new about John Robert’s, special qualities, and wanted him in his crew11.
Both being from Pembrokeshire, Wales, John Robert and Captain Hwyel Davies spent a great deal of time together, and during the course of many profound conversations, John Robert learned much about the pirate’s democratic society. It was altogether different than the dictatorial form of leadership he witnessed aboard both the Naval and Merchant vessels he had served on, nor were the officers aboard the Pirate Vessel particularly arrogant.
During this time, even though John was not an active member of the crew, whenever he saw something that he felt needed correction, or when could give assistance to those who needed it, he did so because that was the kind of man he was.
As a whole, John Robert found the crew to be men of honor, whose word, once given, was a bond that could be trusted. Their ship was their country, and upon it, the entire crew functioned as a brotherhood for the betterment of all. This too was in contrary to that of a Naval vessel or Merchant which served only for gain, both in wealth and social position, not only for it’s commander, but for those he served in loyalty; those would be the malingering land lubbers whose high borne status reaped the benefits provided by those who toil; the latter being the common man who achieved no benefits beyond meager subsistence for their labors.
These thoughts plagued John Robert, and after a great deal of soul searching, he decided that thenceforth, despite the loathing he had for their incessant drinking, reprehensible language, and deplorable lack of propriety, he would be a willing member of their company; and to those who enquired as to his reasons, he stated, “ ’Twas to get rid of the disagreeable superiority of some masters peregrinations had accustomed me. In honest Service there is thin Commons, low Wages, and hard labor; in this, Plenty and Satiety, Pleasure and Ease, Liberty and Power; and who would not balance Creditor on this side when all the Hazard that is run for it, at worst, is only a sower Look or two at choaking, and for the Love of Novelty and Change1,2.” Moreover, I shall thenceforth, be known as Bartholomew Roberts, for there are too many John’s about."
AGAIN IN THE COMPANY OF PIRATES
Location:‘Isle Of Princes’
It had been a trifle more than 5 weeks since John Robert had been forced onboard the Rover, and During that span of time, quite a had gone on. Not only had the company had taken several prizes, but Captain Davies, who had been enjoying the company of his fellow Pembrokeshire man, but also discussed with his new friend, his plans that included his intention to invade the women’s quarters, and assuming ‘t’would be of interest to him, he invited Bart to join the shore party. Bart however, his excuse being that ‘twas best not to sally, did not approve of his Captains plans beyond the pilfering of the port, and said as much. Nonetheless, Captain Davies, along with his officers, choose to ignore his friends advice, and incognito, ventured ashore as originally planned, among which was to make a friendly call on the Governor. Below be the telling of it.
Coming within sight of land, both Lord Walter Kennedy, the ship’s Quarter-Master, and Lord Richard Jones, their Boatswain, were for direct action, but once again John Robert, the intrepid newcomer, who knew the Isle of Princes well, voiced the particulars, saying: "We ought not rush in, Captain. This here port, she is well protected. As you see," pointing to the fortification on both the cliffs and at Fort James, "There be a battery of no less than twelve cannon that guard the mouth of the harbor and the town. Even should we sail in unmolested, ‘t’would be nigh on impossible to leave once the warning bells be sounded." Heeding his fellow Welshman’s knowledgeable advice, Captain Davies devised an alternate plan. To begin, he ordered the hoisting of an English Man-of-War’s flag. By the time they were ready, the watch at Fort James, having seen the large, heavily armed three-masted Sloop enter the harbor, the watch had sent forth a small, single-masted vessel to investigate. As the boat approached, Captain Davies ordered his officers and part of his crew to dress in the English garb they had seized from a previous plunder. The remaining crew, those who did not have the proper attire, had orders to stay out of sight. Once the small vessel was within hailing distance, Captain Davies, who himself had donned himself in the finery worn by British Naval Captains, told them they were in search of pirates, and having received intelligence of such being in the general area, had sailed forth to investigate.
As for Bartholomew Roberts, he was amazed by the gullibility of the islanders, who, without question, believed the Captain’s twaddle, and as such, they were well received and duly piloted into the harbor.
As was customary, Captain Davies saluted the fort with cannon fire. After being promptly answered the Rover dropped anchor. Immediately thereafter, Captain Davies ordered his boat to be hoisted out, and together with eight hands and a coxswain, he went ashore.
Over the next few days the ruse was working perfectly, and while the Rover was careened and provisioned, various members of the crew on the pretence of gathering supplies, were actually learning the lay of the land.
The Rover, having been strategically anchored beneath the harbor’s guns, would appear, to any approaching ship that is, to be inadvertently blocking the harbor entrance, which of course, was the plan. A couple days later, a French ship who wished to enter the port requested the Rover to make way, but instead, to their dismay, she was informed that such was, at the moment, such was not possible. Ergo, having no choice, the French ship dropped anchor. Within minutes, a goodly number of the Rover’s company in three of longboats rowed on over and captured the French ship easily. Though small, the vessel would replace the dilapidated Royal James, which had been abandoned at Cameroon Bay. To be sure the inhabitants gave no rise to treachery, Captain Davies informed the Governor of the Isle of Princes that the French ship had been partaking in unlawful dealings with pirates, and, as was his sworn duty, he seized the vessel in the name of the King.
That same eve, Captain Davies, again, ventured ashore, taking with him on this occasion, fourteen of his mates. But alas, for reasons unbeknownst to them, their plans went awry, necessitating the lot of them to make a hasty retreat back to the ship. Upon their return, ‘twas voiced by all that they were certain none of them had been recognized. While some of the crew felt that with the ship careened, provisioned and ready to sail, it was best to be prudent and depart, others still, voiced, "We are ‘GENTLEMEN OF FORTUNE.’ " The former were out voted, and being what he felt to be the opportune time, Captain Davies set his final strategy in motion, and in a note that he sent word to the Governor, he stated that in appreciation for the fine hospitalities afforded him and his officers, he would, as a show of respect, personally deliver to him, a dozen slaves. The note also made mention of a social gathering aboard the Rover, to which the Governor, his entourage, and, as was customary, a few friars were invited to attend. However the true plan was to hold the Governor and his party for £40,000 ransom2.
Upon departing on the mission, Captain Davies took with him the Rover’s burley Quarter-Master, Walter Kennedy, and nine others who were to serve as escort for the Governor and his party. In his absence, he left Bartholomew Roberts in command of the Rover, and Lord Richard Jones, their Boatswain, in charge of their new French prize.
Hardly had they been gone when Lord Kennedy was returning, not only alone, but in haste. Terribly shaken he was as he told his mates what had happened. "The shore party has been ambushed," he gasped. "They’re all dead."
"No one else got away," asked one of the crew?
"Not that I be aware," he replied. "It appears that I alone managed to escape."
His youth he claimed, being but three and twenty, aided him as he fled into the awaiting boat, whereby his brawn then provided the strength needed to scull the heavy longboat and make good his return to the ship.
The crew was torn. With their Captain and most of their officers dead, and a number of the crew still off fishing, those who were left simply did not know what to do. It was Bartholomew Roberts who took hold, and after all, he was in charge of the ship. Rallying the crew, Bart told them that they must depart in haste, and it was unwise to wait, and under his supervision the ship was readied in jig time. Fortunately, just as the ship was getting under way, their mates were in sight.
It’s blessed they be, thought Bart Roberts as he saw them come along side, and adding to their joy, was another man from the shore party. Once on deck the man relayed what had happened. "We were ambushed!" he said. "When the slaughter began, most of our officers fell prey to hideous deaths. “Captain Davies fought brilliantly, firing both his pistols as he fell mortally wounded, demonstrating to the last, the strength of his resolve.” Still in shock, speaking amid a gulping stammer, “They slit his throat.” Taking a few moments to catch his breath he continued. "Seeing Our Noble Lord, Mister Kennedy, dash towards the shore, I too made a run for it, yet my escape took me to the high road. Finding myself cliff side with several of them yobbos close upon me heels, I saw no other choice but to dive into the shark infested waters and swim for my life. Fortunately, as ye sees, ‘twas picked up I was, by them who be returning from their fishing flurry before— I mean, well—" he went on, "They found me before the sharks."
The hullabaloo on board was deafening. As a lot, the ship was besieged with anarchy. For Bart, although the loss of his Captain and friend aggrieved him greatly, he was also painfully aware that they were still within range of the harbor’s twelve guns, and if they were to survive, they must depart in due haste, and said to the crew, "We are in grave danger. First we must escape this harbor, for ‘tis death it holds for us all. Only then can plans be made."
Without delay, Bartholomew’s advice was heeded, but alas, still more ills surged upon them, for the winds be against them. But following the commands issued by he whom their late Captain had entrusted with their survival, the crew, despite the heavy gale, worked feverishly under Bart’s adroit direction, and successfully maneuvered the great ship out of the harbor.
‘Twas not too long before the Rover, and a fine sailor she was, was positioned off the coast of Cabo de Lopo Gonsalves, and now, Free from danger, having saved both ship and crew, Bart stepped down. Plans were now able to commence. First however, as the perplexity of the ensuing chaos arose, one member of the company pointed out a necessity, saying: “The good of the whole, and the maintenance of order, demands a head, but the proper authority be deposited in the community at large; so that if one should be elected who did not act and govern for the general good, he could be deposed, and another be substituted in his place1,2.”
And thus, although Bartholomew was not amongst them this second week in July, 1719, there were several who stood for Captain, including, Walter Kennedy. The others were Lords Henry Davies, Thomas Anstis, Valentine Ashplant, Christopher Moody, Dennis Topping, James Phillips, David Sympson and Thomas Sutton.
After a spell, their master gunner, Lord Henry Dennis, having had his fill of their debate arose and made the following, memorable speech:
“ ’Tis not of any great Significance who is dignifyed with Title of Commander; for really and in Truth, all good Governments have, like ours, the supreme Power lodged within the Community, who might doubtless revoke and depute as suited Interest or Humour. We are the original holders of this claim, and should a Captain be so sawcy as to exceed Prescription at any time, why down with him! It will be a caution after he is dead to his Successors, of what fatal Consequence any sort of assuming may be. However, it is my Advice, that, while they are sober, they pitch upon a Man of Courage, and skilled in Navigation, one, who by his Council and Bravery seems best able to defend this Commonwealth, and ward us from the Dangers and Tempests of an unstable Element, and the fatal Consequences of Anarchy; and such a one I take Roberts to be. A Fellow! I think, in all Respects, worthy of your Esteem and Favour2!”
His speech, so eloquently presented, is afforded a great deal of jubilation by all, except that of Lord Sympson, who, after growing sullen, leaves us saying; “I care not who you choose as Captain, so ‘tisn’t a papist, for against them I hath conceived an irreconcilable hatred1,2.” His reason was more than justified, for his own father had been a sufferer in Monmouth’s rebellion.
Despite being but a mere six weeks amongst them, the dauntless seafarer, Bartholomew Roberts, found himself elected to a position he had dreamt of ever since his days as a ship’s boy.
Amid the rejoicing, Bart stood and accepted the honor, saying, “Since I hath dipp’d my Hands in muddy water and must be a Pyrate, it’s better being a Commander than a common Man2.”
Of course it does help to know that what he meant by his statement was that because he helped them to escape after Captain Davies’ demise, there was no turning back. He had become a full fledged pirate, and his thinking was that if you’re going to do something, then do it the very best that you can.
A few of crewmen, even though they had utter confidence in him, simply could not believe their ears. After all, this was the churchgoing Bart Roberts, the teetotal, joe nice guy. Consequently, after hearing a few comments of disbelief regarding his turnabout attitude, he stated his disposition thus: “No! A merry Life and a short one, shall be my Motto2.”
Their first order of business was to avenge the death of their mates. Lord Kennedy, although a loathsome libertine, he was also known for his boldness and daring in battle1,2. His idea was to venture overland and attack the forts rear flank, but Bart wanted to make a big splash from the onset. He agreed that Lord Kennedy should lead the ground assault as he himself suggested, but with a couple of minor changes. Bart’s plan called for a robust frontal assault. Lord Kennedy was to go ashore with thirty men and attack the fort, while Bart and his crew would concurrently bombard the shoreline from the sea. The crew, although ready for action, had reservations. Bart told his crew that such a show of daring would generate so much fear, that both the townspeople and soldiers alike would flee in terror, and after his persuasive explanation, he successfully imprinted his company with the logic of his proposal, and as a result, his plans for their line of attack was readily accepted.
Once making land fall, the ground assault team, while displaying tremendous fortitude and courage, marched up the steep embankment directly towards the harbor gun emplacements, fearlessly trudging beneath the bombardment of the Rover’s guns.
When the Portuguese discovered the attacking shore party, they fired on them, but seeing their guns had no effect, they, just as Bart predicted they would, quit their posts and fled. When Lord Kennedy and the others reached the fort, they heaved the heavy cannon over the ridge and into the sea below. After which, they set fire to the fort before making their way back to the ship without casualty1,2.
However successful be the delivery of their revenge, it was not looked upon as sufficient satisfaction for the loss of Captain Davies, nor their mates. The majority of the company wanted to burn the town, and Bart was in agreement, providing a means to do so that would not bring forth their own destruction was proposed. With no ideas on the table, Bart, again, offered a plan of action. He pointed out that with the town having a thick wood coming almost upon it, it had a more secure situation than did the fort, and such, those same woods provided cover for the occupants, who, under such an advantage, was a thing to be affeared, stating: “Would fire stand better than cannon? Besides, the burning of bare houses would yield a thin reward for our trouble and loss2.”
Bart further stated that with the water being shoal, they could use the newly acquired French ship, which could be fitted with more cannon (twelve in all,) lashing more still upon rafts which could be towed and then left behind. In this way they could lay waste to both the shoreline and the town. Again, while proving himself to be a brilliant strategist, his plan was readily accepted. Once ready, Captain Roberts himself, lead the assault, and together with a hand picked boarding party, sailed the French ship along the shoreline whereby they thoroughly and well, shelled the town. After which, Bart and his crew returned to the Rover. Moreover, having no further use for it, they abandoned the French ship.
To satisfy their revenge, the pirates, as a last gesture, set the two Portuguese ships in port ablaze as they sailed out of the harbor1,2,3,15.
Location: ‘S.W. Africa to the East Coast of Brazil’
As August approached that 1719, the pirates were sailing Southward when they meet up with a Dutch Guineaman2. After having plundered the vessel, Bart wanted to set an example; one that would speak loudly to all.
Those who freely co-operated with him while maintaining the proper respect which he felt was his due, would be permitted to depart unharmed. All seaman thereof wishing to join his company would be welcome, providing they agreed to pledge to him their loyalty while signing his Bible. However, being he owed it to all of those who sailed with him, Bart insisted on only the best crewmen and sea artists available; men who were worthy to their endeavors, and any man who proved otherwise was to choose for himself a place along their route, and should he so desire such, written in Bart’s own hand, would be given a paper stating that the man had been forced, thereby allowing any such man to escape the halter and return home. On the other hand, all non-compliant vessels would pay the price for their arrogance in a manner that pleased Captain Roberts at the given moment.
All said and done, and having no need of the Dutch Guineaman, ‘twas voted that she be permitted to depart; ship’s company unharmed, and the vessel intact.
Two days later they took an English ship called the Experiment, off the coast of Cabo de Lopo Gonsalves. ‘Twas one of the oddest of happenings, for it seems that none, barring two of the seaman aboard her, them being Excepting her commander, Captain Cornet, and sailing master, Thomas Grant, liked what it was that earned them their bread. Moreover, without known cause to Bart, nor his crew, Thomas Grant” enraged their quick-tempered Quarter-Master, who, while cursing at him, hauled Mister Grant into the Great Cabin.
“Damn you!” Lord Kennedy shouted in obvious anger. “I knows you, and will sacrifice you!” Whereby he delivered to Mr Grant’s mouth a severe blow that sent him to the deck bleeding profusely from the wound3.
As Lord Kennedy began to beat him mercilessly, ‘twas evident Mister Grant was fearful for his life. Luckily, several of the crew saw fit to intervene, Bart however was not of a mind to offer any assistance to any self-aggrandizing sea rat, and went to his cabin and wrote a note to, Captain Cornet inviting him for tay and conversation while his crew conducted business. The note, delivered forthwith, was thence, a standing rule extended to all of Captain Roberts’ guests, Captains and Governors alikeN1.
Being a pompous man, Captain Cornet, to his own regret, declined Bart’s invitation, for which, in response to his arrogance, and to further show those who would later be within his grasp, delivered another example that such was not a wise decision, whereby; “This day, the Experiment, Captain Cornet, master, which I was obliged to send to the bottom since the good Captain refused me offer of Tay, so they put him ashore in a small boat and less dignity16.”
Carrying on with business, it was Lord Kennedy, in accordance with his duties, who saw to it, that the Experiment was thoroughly stripped of her valuables before setting the torches to herHCA2.
Sometime later it was, they enjoyed reading, as came to be a pastime of infinite pleasure, a newspaper saying:
“See what the rascal does within the majesty of Government!” said the Colonial Governor, “He writes me letters inviting me to take Tay with him— A Governor of His Majesty, sipping Bohea and swopping smalltalk with a pirate16!”
Meaning of course, Captain Roberts.
Come morn, they captured a Portuguese trade ship bearing little cargo. After two days more, while sailing Westward, they fell upon the Temperance, commanded by one Captain Sharman. Well supplied in pot, pans and metal ware, her a cargo was intended, although unsuccessfully, to trade for slaves, provided their usage for Bart and his crew instead. Furthermore, being she was a fine ship, Bart decided to keep her. Living up to the reputation he sought to instill, and not wanting to deprive her former Captain of a ship, being he was most cooperative in nature, Bart gave him the Portuguese craft that was still within his possessionCOP1.
Steering for São Tomë, espying no ships, the pirates continued on until reaching the Isle of Annobón. Once anchored they took on water and provisions. Upon gathering for council, ‘twas put to a vote to make sail for either Brazil or the East Indies. The company, by majority vote, resolved sailing forth to Brazil. The journey, a distance of some twenty-seven hundred nautical miles, took them only twenty-eight days, whereby, having arrived by design to the tiny uninhabited island of Fernando de Noronha which lays about one hundred twenty-five miles off the Easternmost tip of Brazil. The speed and accuracy of this sailing, though not out of Bart’s ordinary endeavors, forever imprinted his much talked about navigation skills, not only instilling a goodly amount of well deserved confidence into the hearts and minds of his crew, but also within the annuls of history, for such skills be of a sort which gave birth to Captain Roberts legendary proficiency.
Upon arrivall, the Rover was in need of the tedious chore of careening, which to achieve the best possible performance from a ship, ought be done every three to four weeks, and ‘twas here that they carried out this task. Once beached, the ship would be lightened. Her cannon, stores, water casks, and other heavy cargo was placed on shore, and her top masts removed. With ropes and pulleys attached to her lower masts, and the usage of stout timber in the woodland, the ship would be heeled over onto her side to rest upon the beach until the work was done. Tents were set up along the shore where the entire crew would reside during the cleaning. The next morning, Lord Main, their Boatswain, issued assignments, dividing the company into several work crews.
One crew, in order to remove the infectious marine life and weeds, scraped her hull thoroughly, and the ship’s carpenters following closely behind, would make any needed repairs. Lastly, the ship was caulked, whereby, upon her hull, a mixture of Bart’s own recipe consisting of Red Lead, Sulfur and Tallow was generously applied16.
Such a mixture, Bart maintained, not only deters encrustations, but helps the ship to better slip through the water, adding speed while, at the same time, giving her an Impressive, as well as Fearsome appearance. Once complete, the entire process would be repeated, whereupon the opposite side of the hull would then received the same start to finish treatment.
Amid this work, many crewmen had the task of filling the water casks, whilst others gathered provisions. After working laboriously for about 10 days, all tasks being complete, the ship upright and in the water, and provisions onboard, they were ready for their South American cruise.
Sailing on the ebb tide, they cruised on the cusp of the horizon, just beyond lands sight, but for a period of nigh on nine weeks, to their dismay, they did not sight a single sail. Disillusioned by the lack of trade ships I the area, the company took a vote, after which, they set sail for the West Indies.
Location: ‘La Baia de Todos os Santos’
‘Twas September 1719/20, and after sailing for 9 weeks within empty waters, Bart made course for La Baía de Todos os Santos with the intention of watering and provisioning their ship before setting his course for the West Indies.
Nine weeks is a long stint for a pirate vessel to sail without reward. Nonetheless, Bart found himself greatly pleased, for in a remarkably short time he was able to impress upon his capable, yet tumultuous company, a great deal. After only two months of diligent training, he successfully turned them into a well-greased attack force. And although their manners and moral conduct hadn’t changed, their courage was beyond compare, and in time, he knew their seamanship would be without peers. By dusk, a fleet of 42 heavily laden Merchant ships, protected by two 70 gun War Ships, were discovered riding at anchor. ‘Twas quite a situation, thought Bart, and in an effort to heave to, he ordered the crew to luff the sails. The crew wanted to depart, silently and in haste, but Bart’s thoughts were of a different sort, saying, “Nay— We shall attack2!” Going on to explain to his crew that such a great number ships in one location explained why the waters had been so empty, for here, anchored before them, was the treasure fleet of Portugal, and each ship was certain to contain enough wealth to last a lifetime. Further, Bart assured his crew that their skill, cunning and vigilance, would see them through.
During the course of council, Bart’s company was again, understandably dubious. They were, after all, a small band of Rovers with only one ship, and this was a large number of ships to combat. But again, the brilliant strategist proposed his plan well. "Tonight there will be no moon. Under the cover of darkness, with the crew well hidden from view, we shall mix in with the fleet. Upon my word, ye, and all of you, shall spring upon them. This plan, coupled with sheer audacity, as did our attack on the Isle of Princes, shall see us through." Judging their reactions, Bart called for his best Bohea to be served all around, and upon the open deck he raised his cup to toast what would be their greatest victory. “Let’s drinke a Damn to the Halter, lads, and them that lives to ware it16.” And born was the ritual that thenceforth, preceded all their engagements, and also was born their jack. Standing full figure, Bart was, ‘Toasting Death,’ as it be called. And standing beside him was a skeleton holding a flaming arrow within it’s grasp.
Under the cover of darkness, the Rover sailed thitherward slow and quiet. Once abreast of one of the heaviest laden treasure ships, the Portuguese crewman on watch, noticing how close they were, informed his Captain, who, along with his Lieutenant, joined him at the rail forthwith. The Captain of the Portuguese vessel, seeing Captain Roberts standing alone on the Quarter-deck of his ship, relayed to his Lieutenant, his query, who, as his intermediator, rather nonchalantly asked, “Senhor, state your business1,2,12.”
To which Bart replied, “Hoist out your boat, Captain, and come aboard me ship1,2,12.”
The lack of a quick and favorable response prompted Captain Roberts’ next action, and without hesitation, he gave his gunner, the word.
Relaying his Captain’s command, Henry Dennis ordered, "Open all Starboard ports!"
All at once, the sixteen cannon port doors flew open, but even upon the threat of a broadside, the Portuguese faces beheld dumbfounded expressions. In Bart’s eyes, such reactions were most unbecoming, especially for officers. How could they not understand his meaning he wondered. It was apparent that the Portuguese were either just to naive to consider the possibility of an attack upon the Treasure Fleet, especially with two War Ships standing ready to protect them, or they were stupefied. Whichever be the case, Captain Roberts hoped this unexpected reception would allow him to seize the ship quietly. Ergo, he took within his grasp the cargo rope and his Boatswain’s voice trumpet, and stepping atop some crates, he drew his sword. Taking a firm grip of the rope, he boldly swung with flourish. Landing firmly amidship atop the larboard rail, he placed the voice trumpet to his mouth and again stated, “Hoist out your boat, Captain and come aboard me ship1,2,12.”
Again Bart was baffled by the look on the faces of the Portuguese, this time being one of sheer panic. For this reason, in order to dispel any questions regarding his intent, his opponents original lack of fear, prompted a readjustment of Bart’s original approach. As a result he dealt his opponent an ultimatum. "Non-compliance, Captain, to the hoisting of your pennant, shall find you amid an onslaught of such death and destruction that ne’er could you imagine, wherein no quarters shall not be granted."
At that moment, knowing now was the time to show the strength of his resolve, Bart enthusiastically added, "See here me crew, duly drawn up before you." And forthwith, a sizeable number of bullish looking freebooters jumped to their feet brandishing Cutlass’ and pistols, and upon such a show of force, being that of a well armed gang of cutthroats, the gulping Captain gave the order to hoist out his boat.
Within minutes, Captain Cane, the Commander of the Portuguese vessel, having boarded the Rover, met with Captain Roberts upon his Quarter-deck. In accordance with his rank, Captain Roberts bowed to him, whereupon the conclusion of his gracious salute, he informed him, "We, Captain, are ‘GENTLEMEN OF FORTUNE,’ However, from you, we seek only the obtainment of knowledge."
Upon the asking of which ship was the richest in the fleet, the Portuguese Captain was given assurance that a proper reply would achieve him Bart’s forbearance, and afterwards he would be returned to whence he came, without incident, whereas, misdirection, would yield to his crew, his ship, and most especially to himself, an unpleasant end.
Believing Bart’s words, and rightly so, the Portuguese Master named the Sagrada Familia without hesitation. Moreover, when he pointed to the ship’s location, Bart was delighted to learn she was anchored near the mouth of the harbor. However, when Bart's crew, whose number was no more then 60, learned that the ship not only mounted forty cannon and a crew complement of one hundred fifty men as well, there was more than a slight amount of affrightenment instilled within them. But this did not linger long, for the ever steadfast Captain Roberts was in no way dismayed, and thus, in observing his demeanor, Bart’s crew quickly regained their nerve.
As the Rover sailed on over, taking with them not only the Portuguese Master, but some of his crew, it was difficult to see in the moonless night. Nonetheless, Captain Roberts’ crew could see that the Portuguese Captain spoke true, for the Sagrada Familia was indeed a much larger vessel, and without question, she carried a vastly heavier force. As the Rover drew alongside the heavily armed ship, Bart ordered Captain Cane to not only inquire, “How Senhor Capitão did1,2,12?” but to also invite him onboard so he could relay some confidential communication, the Captain of the Sagrada Familia replied, “I shall wait upon you presently1,2,12.”
While waiting, or so they thought for the preparations to be made before the Captain could depart his ship, Bart perceived, by the behavior of the ship and her crew, that the Sagrada Familia was, in reality, being maneuvered into a posture fit for defense. And thus, without further consideration, Bart commenced with his plans for refusal. Without hesitation, as the Rover’s jack is hoisted to the top of the main mast, the cannons were being hauled into place, Bart’s crew threw the grapnels. Before the crew of the Portuguese could react, the Rover fired a full broadside. The instant the treasure ship was within boarding distance, the prize crew boldly raced across her deck, attacking her company without mercy in a short, bloody clash of steel, and before the smoke cleared, the treasure ship had been taken, and was heading for the open sea. While many of the Portuguese fell, Bart lost only two of his own men.
By this time the fleet was alarmed, and in a desperate attempt to get the attention of the two Man-of-Wars, still riding at anchor, the other treasure ships had not only fired their cannons, but had ran up signal flags as well.
The Sagrada Familia was heavy to sail, but resolving not to lose so fair a prize, Captain Roberts ordered the ship’s pilot to lay by the headmost of yon, inept Portageese Captains, as he call them thenceforth16, who were finally getting underway. However, the lead Man-of-War, though of superior force, had for it’s Captain a spineless worm of a man who did not give chase until her companion warship was under sail. Even so, the best speed possible was made as the crews aboard both the Rover, and the prize crew aboard the Sagrada Familia, made good their escape. And who else could be at fault but the commanders of those Warships. Totally blamable they were, in the highest degree, for it was their negligence that allowed such freedoms within the fleet that they had been assigned to protect. They were decidedly unworthy of the positions afforded them, yet still they held such upon so-called, ‘Honest Merchants,’ while Bartholomew Roberts, who was evidently more qualified, and for so long passionately sought, had been denied. And it was this aspect that made him so successful; the simple need to prove to all those who denied him a Captaincy, what a grave error they had made, and proving it, time and again, was his mission in life.
The treasure was vast, more than enough for the entire crew to retire in luxury. Among the booty was found a magnificent gold cross encrusted with diamonds that had been designed for, John V, King of Portugal, and since Captain Roberts had resolved to be the greatest of all pirates, he decided the princely treasure would suit him well, and after much searching within the ship’s riches, he found a gold necklace, equally rich in elegance, and having hung the cross upon it, he placed it about his neck, and thenceforth, the necklace, like his crimson damask coat, became a permanent part of his battle dress.
Weekly Herald September, 1719
‘!A Baía de Todos os Santos
Attacked by Pyrates!’
Onely a fortnight past, a raid was made upon the Portuguese Gold shipment while lying in the harbor. The heaviest laden ship, the Sagrada Família, was made off by that daring upstart, Bartholomew Roberts. He and his scurvy crew took hostage, Captain Cane, and sev’rall of the crew. The treasure seized included furs, jewells, a multitude of hogsheads and chests containing sev’rall tons of sugar, rolls of tobacco, hides, chains, trinkets, 40000 gold moidores, and a magnificent large gold cross encrusted with diamonds that was designed especially for, John V, king of Portugal.
Weekly Journal 2 January 1720
By their letters from the West Indies, wee have an account that the pyrates continue to be very numerous there, and do incredible damage to trade by taking, plundering and destroying the Ships of all nations without distinction that come in their way.
Weekly Journal 13 January 1720
The pirates off Brazil, of the number of 2000 or so, purpose to make a base is Madagascar.
Daily Courant 6 February 1720
The following be the inventory carried by the Brazilian Treasure Fleet:
Lisbon. 21st of January. On the inst. The Brazilian Fleet arrived, consisting of thirty-two sail.
1 Man-Of-War that conveyed them: 3 ships from the West Indies, 3 ships from Fernambuco and 25 from La Baía de Todos os Santos.
Their cargo consisted of 7794 chests of sugar, 128 baskets of sugar in cake, 21751 hides, 92 barrels of honey, 957 quarter chests of sugar, 11238 rolls of tobacco, 205 raw hides, 104 slaves, Large quantities of planks and East Indies goods. Gold in specie and dust not yet declared. For private people, 759128 octaves of gold dust and 164161 moedas of gold. For the King, 10270 of the same.
Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer
6 February 1720
The Lisbon Fleet from Baía de Todos os Santos has arrived. One vessel of thirty-six gunns was taken by a pirate Ship (formerly an English hog boat) and two others plundered moedas of gold. For the King, 10270 of the same.
Having more riches than they dreamed, Captain Roberts’ company sailed a distance of some six hundred-fifty leagues North to Devil’s IslandN2, off French Guiana, which at the time was a place of divine pleasure and luxury. En route, they captured a Rhode Island Sloop, which, in honor of their plunder in La Baía de Todos os Santos, was christened The FortuneHCA4.
Almost Immediately, considerable trade commenced betwixt the Rover’s crew and the island’s populace.
Shortly thereafter, from the masthead of the treasure laden ship, Sagrada Família, came word that a brigantine was tacking in.
As Captain, feeling it was his responsibility, Bart took a complement of forty men which included the best in his company. Among them were Henry Dennis, Christopher Moody, Valentine Ashplant, and Thomas Anstis. Leaving behind, and in charge, as was customary, was their Quarter-Master, Lord Kennedy. He alone was to have charge of both the Rover, and their newly acquired Portuguese prize as wellSCHA1.
Believing the Fortune had been made ready as ordered, Bart, together with his prize crew, set out after the Rhode Island Brig, which apparently having suspected danger, had fled. Amid the chase, an unsavory current seized their ship. This grave misfortune trapped them within the doldrums, and for many days and nights they were condemned to drift upon a merciless sea. ’Twas During the onset of this tragic affair that they learned they had neither water, nor provisions.
For several days following, suffering such hardships of thirst and hunger which most could not realize, Bart and his prize crew were now beset by both unfavorable winds and currents. Finally, when the sea calmed, they found themselves only thirty leagues to the leeward of whence they came. Nonetheless, with their fresh water nigh on gone, and the current still in opposition to their desires, the Fortune had no choice but to drift at the mercy of the ebb tide throughout the night, and fearing the worse, most of the men lost all hope.
At last, as dawn broke, hope was in sight, for they found themselves, not only within sight of land, but also able to anchor. Captain Roberts, true to his faith, gave praise to the Almighty, for he felt ‘THE LORD OUR GOD’ was on their side.
Desperate to inform their comrades of their extreme need, Bart sent forth Lord Moody together with five men in their long boat to bring back supplies. During the interim, those who were left must make every effort to save themselves. Ergo, Captain Roberts and a few others who still had a measure of strength, tore up the flooring below deck, and after constructing a raft, they successfully paddled to shore. After locating a water fall and a meager amount of much welcomed nourishment, the lot of ‘em returned to the Fortune in all haste, taking to their mates who be withered and dying, the much needed water and food. Three days later, when Lord Moody returned, he, aside from what food and water they could carry, could give to his Captain and mates, only grave news; for their own Quarter-Master had absconded with both the Rover, the Sagrada Família, and all the swag and provisions that had been aboard both ships. This single action, being that the wretched land robber, Kennedy, be Irish, an aversion to all who hailed from Ireland was forever instilled within their heartsHCA3. But the greatest betrayal was discovering that Kennedy gave to Captain Cane, the Sagrada Família. Moreover, as if that had not been not injury enough, it was further learnt that the Portugeese ne’er-do-well in Captains clothing sailed to Antigua where he turned the ship over to the Governor of the Leeward Islands, who in turn wrote the following letter to the Secretary of the Commissioners of Trade and Plantations in London.
“Mister Popple, February 16, 1720
Wee have of late heard of several pyrates that rove in these considerable seas, particularly one of about 30 guns that had bin for a considerable time upon the coast of Guinea where she had done a great deal of damage, afterwards took a Portuguese ship upon the coast of Brazil, which he brought to the island of Cayon, a French islet lying off of Surinam; and there plundered her of a vast booty, mostly in moidores, not valuing the rest of the Cargo (which consisted of sugar, tobacco and Brazil plank) would have sett the ship on fire but meeting a Rhode Island sloop to the master of the R.I. Sloope who with the Portuguese that were left on board brought her into Antigua where I have ordered a merchant to take care of her, and what remaining on board for use of the owner or owners.
Governor Hamilton CSP1
Alas, to their dismay, they later learned that Kennedy had sailed the Rover to the West Indian islands. After which, when a sail was seen on 15 December, 1719, sailing towards Barbados, Kennedy, as Captain, sought his first capture, a Snow named Sea Nymph, and after a chase lasting seven hours, she was caught and plundered. This however, is not what infuriated Bart and his crew. Not long after, Kennedy abandoned their formidable, and much beloved Rover in favor of a Snow named The Eagle. This new vessel it seems, was too much ship for his ham-handed crew of five and twenty men, and being the incompetents that they were, Kennedy having no choice, was forced to trade again, this time for a still smaller vessel. Worse yet, amid the bargaining, the Rover which was still among those ships at anchor, was spied by two men of notoriety, and those two fellows, Major Richard Holmes and Mister Thomas Ottley, supposedly being, ‘HONEST MEN,’ knew they could claim a goodly reward for such a ship. Being out manned, the traitorous pirates currently in possession of the Rover, abandoned her, whereby, she was towed to Saint Croix, some forty miles to the South, wherefrom was sent a message to Governor Hamilton, who added the following postscript to Mister Popple.
Nevis. February 16, 1720
I was told that last Sunday morning on the way to St. Eustatius and St. Thomas, that a pyrate lay under the Isle of St. Thomas, most of the pyrates being on shore. Major Richard Holmes of Colonel Richard Lucalls Regiment and Mister Thomas Ottley went to the ship at anchor. She was well-armed with severall pyrate colours on board. As they were not able to bring her to anny of my Inhabited isles, they tooke her to Saint Croix Isle where they left her in charge of officers of the Regiment ‘till the Major could tell me. So I sent Captain John Rose of the Seaford to bring her back. He sailed on February 15.’ ” CSP1
In regards to his first command, Captain Roberts was forever reminiscent. As for her fate, she sunk en route to Nevis. The reason why seems to be unknown.
Location: ‘Coast of Caiana, South America’
The Articles of those serving under
Captain Bartholomew Roberts
I. Every Man hath a Vote in the Affairs of the Moment. He shall have an equall Title to the fresh Provisions, or strong Liquors, at anny Time seized, and use them at pleasure, unless a Scarcity maketh necessary, for the common good, that a Retrenchment be voted.
II. Every Man to be call’d fairly in turn, by List, on Board of Prizes, because, over and above their proper Share, they are allowed a Shift of Clothes. But if they defraud the Company to the Value of even one Dollar, in Plate, Jewels or Money, Marooning to bee their Punishment. If the Robbery was onely betwixt one and another, they shall content themselves with the slitting of the Ears and Nose of him that is Guilty, and sett him on Shore, not in an uninhabited Place, but somewhere where he is sure to encounter Hardship.
III. None shall Game for Money at Cards or Dice.
IV. The Lights and Candles to bee put out at eight of the Clock at Night: If anny of the crew, after that Hour, still remain inclined for Drinking, they are to doe it on the open Deck.
V. Each man shall keep his Pistols and Cutlass clean, and fit for Service.
VI. No Boy or Woman be allow’d amongst us. If anny Man be found seducing anny of the latter Sex, and carries her to Sea disguised; he shall suffer Death.
VII. He that shall Desert the Ship, or his Quarters in time of Battle, shall suffer Death or Marooning.
VIII. None shall strike another on board ship, but every man’s quarrel to bee ended on Shore, at Sword and Pistol.
IX. No Man to talk of breaking up our Way of Living, till each hath a share of £1000. If, in order to do this, anny man who shall become a Cripple or lose a Limb in our Service is to have 800 dollars out of the public stock, and for lesser Hurts proportionally.
X. The Captain and Quarter-Master to receive two Shares of a Prize; the Master, Bo’s’n, and Gunner, one share and a halfe, and other Officers, one and a Quarter. Withal, to have one share each.
XI. The Musicians to have Rest on the Sabbath Daye by right. On all other Dayes and Nights, none but by Special Favour.
After recovering from their ordeal, Captain Roberts drew up the above set of Articles, to which each man agreed. Whereupon, their new Quarter-Master, Lord Thomas Anstis said, "All new members of their company shall sign these Articles whilst swearing an oath of allegiance upon this here Bible, and always in the presence of our Worshipful Captain, Bartholomew Roberts."
After commencement, while the men stepped forth to sign or make their mark, Bart said, "These which lie herein be our laws and the breakage of such shall be considered a heavy crime against our society."
To replace the officers they had lost, a general election was held. Jones was re-elected Boatswain, and Henry Dennis remained their Gunner. Captain Roberts would provide the navigational details for Lord Christopher Moody who was elected Ship’s Pilot. At last, with all the business at hand settled, it was time to go forth and plunder while concurrently meting out justice on behalf of the populace who were greatly starved in that regard.
In regards to their Fortune, although not as mighty as was the Rover, she was crewed by good men, and Captain Roberts knew they would serve both him and their cause well.
* * *
Sailing Northwards past Trinidad, Bart and his crew laid in for a spell on the hot little islet of Tobago. Fortunately there’s an almost constant sea-breeze that makes it bearable. Moreover, while being somewhat difficult for a Man-O-War and the like, the depth of the water is advantageous for Sloops, Brigs, and other craft having a shallow draught.
The island’s bays also provided an excellent place to hunt turtles and catch fish. Her location to Trinidad made for no tides, and the current, which flows generally Westward, provided easier careening than the Caribbean Islands to the Northwest.
There were also Indians who dwelled on the Northeast shore occasionally, and it was in their huts that the French Turtlers used during their even more infrequent visits. These, however, were not the island’s only visitors. The London merchants who acquired possession of the Island in the year of Bart’s birth, also visited, and because of this aspect, things being so uncertain, it was suggested that only a brief visit was in order.
THE LAQUARY ROADS
Location: ‘St. Christophers, Barbadoes & Martinico’
Within the Laquary Roads, at dawn, on 10 January, 1719, Captain Roberts and his crew, found the Sloop, Phillipa, lying at anchor while her Gout suffering Captain, Daniel Greaves, rested himself. The ship’s small crew, during their Captain’s turmoil, took their orders from John Wransford, the first mate, who was on deck when he spied several of Bart’s men from the Fortune approaching in a canoe. Being ever cautious, he not only warded off the encroachers, but fired upon them as well. However, being they were the most fearless among Captain Roberts’ crew, Wransford’s guns had no effect, and when Mister Wransford, even though he and his mates were heavily armed, were confronted by Lord Anstis, who led the boarding party, informed rather boisterously that those of the Phillipa would receive No Quarter if any resistance was made, and considering that even should they defeat the pirates in the first round, the mouth of the small harbor was blocked by the Captain Robert’s well-armed vessel, making escape under sail impossible. Ergo, Mister Wransford surrendered.
In swift fashion, the Phillipa was boarded, her anchor weighed, and in due time found herself just off Sandy Point, Saint Christophers’ Island alongside the Fortune, where she rested at anchor. Being a poor sailor, the Phillipa was plundered only. While Lord Dennis took her two cannon, Lord Jones, carried off a cable, a hawser, and saw to the hoisting and removal of her anchor. Returning once more, he helped himself to some tackles.
Lord Anstis, ordered the taking of her provisions which consisted of bread, ten casks of oatmeal and six of beef, a sixty-gallon cask of rum, 300 pounds of sugar, an abundance of clothes, as well as all the Muskets and other firearms on board, including five barrels of powder, five and twenty bales of goods, and of course, the small amount of money that was found amongst the crewmen.
Having words with the officers and crew of the Phillipa, "Be it known," Captain Roberts began, "all of you, that I alone have charge over any prisoners, and the treatments thereof, and such being the case, punishments, if any, lie within my hands rather than one who may not only be much the harsher, but less forbearing than my self." However, for obvious reasons, I cannot show any signs that my common decencies be prevalent, lest the necessary terror that ensues in my presence would not exist, which would lead only more death and destruction. In this way, as I tells them, especially to those who are to be set ashore, “For there is none of you who will hang me, I knows, whenever you can clinch me within your power1,2.”
To all those present, it struck Bart’s crew oddly when he presented Captain Greaves with an Indian and a Negro whom they had liberated from a French ship, but what appeared like that of an unprecedented gesture to them, was in actuality part of Captain Roberts’ plan. He knew that such an act would not only enhance his reputation as a pirate, but the telling of such a noteworthy deed would perpetuate widespread. As a result, others would see the sense of yielding, and in the bargain, the rewards were be two-fold. The merchant ships reaped for themselves Bart’s favorable attitude, and victories were achieved without bloodshed.
In regards to the Phillipa, the venture increased not only their holds, but their ranks as well, for three of the Phillipa’s crew enthusiastically joined Bart’s company, one being a most capable fellow named, Mister Sympson, who later on was affectionately called, ‘Little David,’ by his matesCOP2.
February, though busy, did not rewarded them. They had plundered the Sloop, Mayflower, and relieved a Bristol Trader nigh Barbados of ten guns, yet both together were not sufficient to justify their efforts. Becoming disgruntled, several future prizes, including a ship from Liverpool nigh the twelfth named Benjamin which carried only a meager amount of cargo, was nonetheless detained for three days.
The Benjamin’s commander, being inexperienced, not only misunderstood his name, believing it to be Hanse, but also, not knowing it was customary for the Quarter-Master (who at the present time was Lord Thomas Anstis) to be the first to board prizes, believed him to be the leader of the pirate crew*.
The eighteenth of the month brought forth another prize, The Joseph, commanded by Bonaventure Jelfes. Carrying a meagre cargo and little provisions, they proceed on. Soon after, Captain Roberts met up with a fellow pirate, Montigny la Palisse, Captain of the, Sea King, and despite Bart’s dislike of the fellow, and his ways, who, being like Calico Jack, was content to pick up the leavings like the carp and gulls, while Captain Roberts, true to his bold and decisive nature, only preyed on ships he believed to be worthy of his crews efforts; it’s interesting to note that, so far, no sail to date hath escaped them; this decision was not made with the idea of needing a larger crew, but rather the thinking that another ship would be a means to increase their formidability. And thus, in order to go after larger game, they became partners3,4.
Steering South by West, they sailed for Säo Tomë. Espying no sails, they continued on to Annobón, where they anchored. ‘Twas here is where they again, while taking on water and provisions, careened the ships.
After a week, having made good speed, they were ready to get underway, and by majority vote, they set sail for the West Indies.
*Thus, this error is found within the official recordsCOP3.
HATRED WELL DESERVED
Location: ‘The West Indies’
Sometime later, they discovered, despite their charity, having taken only what needed from the recent ships encountered, including the recently encountered Sloop, Phillipa, being they were but poor merchants; remembering that Bart saw fit not to deprive that which they did have by neither pressing into his service their crews, stripping the ships clean, taking them as prizes, or simply setting them aflame, like other pirate Captains would have done. But does this on again-off againW1, Governor of Barbados pay heed and consider himself fortunate that it was the charitable Captain Roberts and not some inexorable band of rovers and let sleeping dogs lie? No, not this pharisaical son of an English landowner. Below be the telling of it.
Upon the Phillipa’s arrival when the ship’s log, which duly contained the incident, was reiterated to the Governor as prescribed, many were outraged. But hearing such, we must assume that it was either, Captain Greaves himself, or one of his trusted officers who relayed Bart’s goodwill gesture, because at first the incident was more or less shrugged off. But later on, numerous accounts obviously instigated by those who did not appreciate Bart’s niceties, whose only goal was to attain retribution, described in some detail, by means of continual communiqués, until sufficient prodding forced the Governor’s hand. And thus, the loon, who no doubt did so in an effort to better secure his precarious position, allowed himself to be swayed. As it turned out, two vessels for the express purpose of hunting Bartholomew Roberts were successfully secured.
Considering there was no Man-of-War, or other suitably armed vessel within port, the Sloop, Phillipa, was outfitted with 6-guns and sixty men. Also therein lain the Summersett Galley. She too was outfitted forthwith; making her the possessor of 16-guns and one hundred-thirty men, which the petitioners, seeing it was they who paid for the refit, wanted the latter Captained by a man of courage and fortitude. By chance, Captain Owen Rogers of Bristol, a man duly noted for his seamanship, leadership and bravery just happened to be in port. His qualities not only earned him command of the Galley, but a special commission from the aforementioned Governor, who elevated Captain Rogers to the rank of CommodoreCO31/15.
Having no objections from the newly appointed Commodore, the Phillipa remained under the command of Captain Daniel Greaves, who, as it was later learned, made his home there in Barbados.
* * *
It was mid-day on the 26th day of May, 1719, and a fine Tuesday it was. As Captain Roberts stood beneath his jack, sipping Bohea, he of course knew nothing of the aforementioned goings on. It had been a lazy day, but when the watch spied the aforesaid vessels, Captain Roberts gave the order to give chase forthwith.
Sailing upon them rather easily, Bart, in order to flank their stern, ordered the maneuvering of their vessel accordingly. Once in range, Captain Roberts, expecting both ship’s to strike their colors and yield as have done all others since The Experiment at Cabo de Lopo Gonsalves, fired the Fortune’s forward cannon to give them a taste of their guns by way of a warning shot across their bows, whereby, he brazenly ordered his pilot to sail betwixt them. As they coursed on through, seeing neither be laden with cargo or provisions, yet each carrying an inordinate number of crewmen, Captain Roberts discovered these were not ordinary vessels, but had been instead, been outfitted for a specific purpose4.
Only moments had passed when, upon recognizing the Sloop, Phillipa, Bart shouted, "It be a trap." And he knew instantly that these ships had been sent out specifically to engage him. Moreover, he knew that his charitable acts of grace were to be repaid in blood. He was engulfed by an overwhelming anger that settled deep within his bones. "So she be sent against us," he hearkened in his wrath. "Well, my Lord Dennis, we shan’t disappoint them," hollered he, as Fury filled his veins! Storming across the deck, Captain Roberts barkingly ordered, "Rig all sails!" And as they past close behind his opponent, he bellowed forth, "Rake her stern," with a vengeance, while concurrently gesturing strongly with his forearm!
Immediately, as Bart’s Gunner poured in a broadside, their consort, the Sea King, obviously under orders from, Captain la Palisse, whose actions portrayed him exactly for the scurvy dog that he was, made for an immediate and hasty departure, ne’er firing a single shot. Nonetheless, Captain Roberts barked, "committed us I have, and fight we shall."
However much the odds be against them, Captain Roberts would not withdraw, at least not before reparation to Captain Greaves for his return gesture regarding his previous benevolence was rendered. While the Fortune’s crew drug on every inch of canvas they could pack, both Warships forced them to receive their broadside. At full tilt, Bart’s men returned both in grand style, which was the commencement of a fierce engagement that took place in a running battle.
Both opposing ships fired their cannon continuously, as did, Captain Roberts’ ship, sending every manner of shot available. The Summersett, sailing equally well, kept abreast, the Fortune. Her crew was well trained, and without question, led by a most determined man whose mettle served not only impress, Captain Roberts, but infuriated him as well.
With the attacking Galley, free from burden, the Fortune, heavily laden with swag and provisions, and more, ‘twas obvious they would not escape.
Out of desperation, Captain Roberts hollered, "Heave the cargo and heavy stores over the sides, men!"
Reluctantly following the order, Bart’s crew quickly jettisoned much of their burdensome cargo, but it was not enough. The Galley, while relentlessly hammering them, was sailing exceptionally well. While the Fortune’s crew returned her fire in kind, they made no headway in their flight, Their remaining stores weighed them down. To Bart’s dismay, he was forced to order the jettisoning of all that was immensely heavy; their swag, cannon and water. When his crew grumbled, he hollered, “Get clear or Die1,2!”
Understanding their Captain’s meaning well, the Fortune’s crew frantically heaved the fresh water and provisions, their anchor, newly acquired cannon, shot and powder; and all remaining burdens, in swift fashion, and at last, with this accomplished, their Fortune, now lightened, got clear.
It was thenceforth that Captain Roberts could not stomach the mention of Barbados.
To this incident they later read
the following news item
Weekly Journal 25 June 1720
‘From Portsmouth in N. Hampshire they tell us that a brig arrived there from Barbadoes in 22 days and reported that a Bristol Galley and a Sloope were out fitted to take a pirate Sloope of 12 guns that lay to the windward of the island; they came up and engaged her, but the pirate, having a great number of men on board, gave them such a warm reception that they were obliged to go back to Barbados without her. In this engagement many men were lost on both sides.’
Sailing on, the crew of the Fortune had little left besides a small quantity of swag. Twenty of Captain Roberts’ company had died thus far, and more of the injured would follow them to a watery grave. Not having a surgeon, as Archibald Murray had been amongst those who left with Kennedy, they bandaged their mates best they could and made them as comfortable as possible while they sailed for the isle of Dominico, wherein, having been careful to maintain peaceful relations with the Spanish, they took on a fresh supply of water and provisions.
Being in a rather neglected outpost, the inhabitants did not care by which means Captain Roberts’ crew came by their goods, nor their profession, thus the Fortune’s crew joyfully commenced trading what remained of their welcomed cargo.
Also upon this little island was found 13 Englishmen who had been set ashore by a French Guard de la Coste, detached to Martinique. Their spokesman, Robert Botson, said they had been there for nigh on three weeks3. They had been taken off two ships, one being out of New England, and the other being the Sloop, Revenge, belonging to Antigua, which had been seized as a prize by the aforesaid French, whereby, and more to the point, these men were maroonedHCA3. Upon the hearing of such infamy, Captain Roberts proposed the commencement of a valiant profession, being that of ‘AVENGING ANGELS,’ telling his crew that piracy would be the means to achieve this end, and in the bargain they’d be paid exceedingly well in their new occupation. Moreover, with vengeance being their driving force rather than simple monetary gain, victory would come not only easier, but taste sweeter. No longer would they be content with the plundering of lone ships, but thenceforth, they would seek out big game, and time and again, repeat their victory at La Baía de Todos os Santos. Bart’s proposal was well received, and thus their new career as both, ‘VIGILANTES,’ was born. As seasoned recruits, the 13 Englishmen, having had their fill of so-called honest labor, enthusiastically joined Captain Roberts’ ranks.
Although their Fortune be in dire need of careening, Bart was against Dominico. Weighing anchor, they sailed directly for a particular lagoon at CorvocooN12 within the Grandillos, and great speed was made in the careening, watering and provisioning of their Sloop. During this time, Bart had deduced from the accounts told by his new English recruits that Trepassey was their destination, and by his word, the scurvy French from Martinique, would be dealt a severe blow of his idea of justice.
Later on, when the crew learned that the Governor of Martinique had outfitted two Sloops for the sole purpose of destroying them, first at Dominico, and secondly at Corvocoo, the crew’s admiration or Captain Roberts grew considerably, for he was, once again, correct; and never again did they question their Captain’s judgment. Sailing on, their thirst for retribution being the force that drove them, they continued to make sail for Trepassey.
* * *
In the beginning of March, the Spring weather brought forth new rewards. During their leisurely sail to Newfoundland, while Bart’s plans were formulated, the crewmen were amused by many diversions.
The new crewmen, and all those upon the ships encountered by him, in order to achieve an easy victory, were encouraged, in the event of non-compliance, to expect the worst, whereas, those who were smart enough to tamely submit, would be treated accordingly, for it was provisions and valuables that were wanted, not lives, and as a result, the tales of either peaceful trades or destruction and death took place. Like wildfire, the spreading of Captain Roberts’ forbearance, and how to achieve it spread quickly; thus, colors were struck and quarters were called for, and as so it should be, the latter was respectfully granted. However, for those who sought his destruction, only harsh treatment was dealt, especially in regards to the ship’s masters who ridiculed or otherwise impugned Bart’s honor, for it was them, and the merchants they served, who had committed the crimes upon the greatest number, not he.
In April, they plundered the Dutch Guineaman, Jeremiah and Ann, from which Bart requited new crewmen1,2. Two days later, off Cabo de Lopo Gonsalves, they plundered another vessel which bore the same name as a previously plundered ship, the Experiment1,2.
More amusement to lighten their burdens
Daily Post 7 May 1720
By a ship that arriv’d this week from Barbados, they have an account that the pyrates continue upon that coast, and few or no ships escape them; some they plunder, others they carry off which together is an incredible detriment to the trade.
In May of 1720, the waters yielded much to satisfy their needs and wants. Nigh on a dozen vessels had come into their view, and all of them were happily plundered.
In the latitude of Deseada, they came upon provisions and other necessities upon two Sloops, the Expectation, of Topsham, and The York, of Bristol, and a few days later they caught and plundered, the Mary and Martha the Sloop, Happy Return, and a Brigantine belonging to Rhode Island.
Come mid June, they visited New England and sold their swag.
With intentions of watering and provisioning their Sloop they sailed to Ferryland3,4.
This port, like dozens of previous undertakings, offered them little in the way of resistance, an aspect that Captain Roberts continuously found bewildering. Before departing the harbor, Bart, believing it was only fitting to show the Admiral therein, who did nothing to protect the region in his charge the error of his ways, gave orders for his ship to be burnedCSP1.
Location: ‘Trepassey, Newfoundland 1720’
The 21st of June was one bright and sunny Tuesday that would be long remembered. The Fortune was about three leagues from their objective. Bart stood on his Quarter-Deck while several members of his crew bore down upon the stout handles of the capstan to haul up the great anchor. More than half the crew scurried aloft into the rigging as the tacks and braces awaited his orders. Captain Roberts was proud of his well trained crew, and as he gave the order to make sail, each man, knowing what was expected of them, geared their minds accordingly as they eagerly put their Captain’s plans into action.
It’s a feeling one cannot describe, watching the sails unfurl; feeling the motion of the ship as she begins to move forward; the wind being the propellant that drives her along through the water.
Several days earlier, Captain Roberts had sent forth a courier to Trepassey informing them of his intentions1,2, and with the day here at last, he sailed brazenly towards the two closest ships. With intentions to sail betwixt them, he gave his musicians the nod. Turning to Lord Sympson, Captain Roberts, in his usual methodical tone, ordered, "Raise our colors."
Without hesitation, Lord Sympson, having placed the voice trumpet to his mouth, hollered, "Raise the Jack!"
Without hesitation, the crewman proudly ran their flag to the top most of the mainmast and only moments later the Fortune sailed between the first two ships. As Bart expected, despite the message he had sent, the ship’s in the harbor were unprepared.
Speaking in a deliberate tone, Bart loudly ordered, "Up all ports!"
Without delay, the cannon port doors flew open and the men on the gun crews heaved upon the hulking ropes, hauling the heavy cannon speedily into place. The ship’s musicians who were beating upon their drums and blowing their trumpets, were playing as loudly as they were able, when suddenly, Captain Roberts thrust down his sword and hollered, "Fire!"
At that moment, a broadside of fire and metal burst forth, drenching the decks of both French ships with a multitude of cannon balls. Some were loaded with mast shattering balls, attached by twos with heavy chain. Of those which remain, half were exploding cannon balls. The remaining cannon were loaded with a fierce anti-personnel weapon known as grapeshot. Knowing at once the ferocity of the ammunition they be up against, the minds of the French crewmen were a-whirling, yet not a one thought to return the fire or otherwise engage.
As their Fortune coursed swiftly through the water, Bart’s crew quickly reloaded the cannon, and Captain Roberts, with his usual foresight, taking full advantage of his opponent’s agitated state, ordered, "Prepare to come about." As the Fortune cleared the French bow, Bart again hollered, "Fire!"
As the cannons released their load, Bart shouted, "Helm, hard-a-larboard," and their blessed ship, though decidedly worn, remained ever yare; responding quickly to the artful direction of the pilot, and skilful deck crew, who, being quick on the sheets, adjusted the sails. By the time the Fortune slipped within boarding distance betwixt the two French Sloops, the guns were again ready for to fire. At that moment, Captain Roberts, shouting loudly to be heard, hollered, "Fire!" sending yet another double volley barreling towards the remaining twelve-hundred panic-stricken sailors, who, in the process of abandoning posts in terror, made their escape by either jumping over the side, or clambering into the long boats.
Sailing on through, Bart’s crew continued their barrage of cannon fire upon every tall ship within the harbor that came into the path of their guns, with the exception of a particular Brigantine. Sailing abreast her, and with the intention of seizing her, Bart, bellowed, "Grapnels away!"
Promptly and accurately, the grapnels were thrown. The crews on the ropes swiftly brought the two ships securely together. Captain Roberts, leading the prize crew, being in the mood for fighting, was somewhat disappointed because there was no need for his Cutlass, because the remainder of the Brig’s crew had jumped ship the moment Bart’s crew had swung on board. Moreover, Bart was outraged by the fact that he and his band of rovers were allowed to sail through unchallenged in the first place; and it was not merely the multitude of men and guns in the harbor, but the harbor’s defenses, which alone could have easily blown them to bits when first they entered the harbor, yet instead, every man and jackal fled without one gun being fired, neither in either defense nor retaliation, which left Captain Roberts and his crew free to plunder or sink as they chose. Bart’s ill temper from this blatant show of cowardice was evident, and as a result he felt it fitting to give his crew a well deserved holiday. Ergo, believing their cowardice warranted punishment, he allowed his emotions to dictate, and thus, considering who he held responsible, such would be at the expense of the populace and shop keepers, for it was they who had bred such ineptitude3.
With the town under siege, his crewmen, when not working their shift, were free to enjoy themselves ashore to the utmost. This is an aspect that Bart, under normal circumstances, would not have be keen to, but, and although it was a tough lesson indeed, he felt the inhabitants must suffer indignity in order to truly learn the consequences of their cowardice.
Not being inclined to gamble, being a teetotal, and having no use for loose women, Bart saw no purpose in going ashore. Ergo, he instead stayed aboard his new Brigantine where he could efficiently supervise the new ship’s refit while concurrently oversee the plundering.
For a fortnight, while the twenty-one ships within Trepassey harbor were efficiently plundered, a cannon was fired from his new flagship signaling all the Captains in port to come board and take breakfast with him. This order included Admiral Babidge, who Captain Roberts had lashed to the mast of his own ship and flogged severely for his cowardice. Why did this man peeve Captain Roberts more than the other Captains? The reason was simple. Admiral Babidge was the only one amongst them who had paid any heed to the letter of introduction that formally announced Bart’s arrival, and thus, he had made his ship ready to do battle. However, at the sound of Captain Roberts’ first cannon, Admiral Babidge deserted his ship along with his frightened crew, and therefore, punishment was more than in order. To some, especially today, such would seem unwarranted, but it’s only because they are not aware that, Admiral Babidge himself, would have dealt out a much harsher punishment. Back then a man could be flogged almost to death, keel-hauled, as well as a host of other punishments, for insubordination, and now with this in mind, one can only wonder what atrocities were inflicted when a serious crime was committed aboard a Naval or Merchant ship. Admiral Babidge got off easy.
Despite the forced appearances and the punishments dealt out, Bart still found himself greatly upset by the lack of courage he found there. Not only by both the common seaman, the officers, and those in powerful positions ashore, but especially by the highbrow Captains and that Admiral. He who Commands a ship should be one of daring and fortitude, but those men made up the definitive example of what is meant by the word, coward, and they made his blood boil. Ergo, even though his motive was not for the purpose of sinking ships, but rather to instill humiliation upon those who had no right to be so positioned, especially as the Commander of a ship, he ordered the destruction of all the ships within the harbor.
Forthwith, the ordered was carried out; and by the time the smoke clears, not a vessel in the harbor, including 250 fishing boats3,4, most of which were in the general vicinity of the hatcheries, remained unscathed as Bart’s crew blasted the lot with cannon and hand thrown torches. This obliteration was not confined to the boats and ships. The sheds and machinery along the shore was lain waste as well in retaliation for the 13 Englishmen who had been marooned, as Captain Roberts and his crew dealt out their version of justice10. But that was not all that happened. Bart’s company was enlarged when several of the local inhabitants joined his crew. Moreover, although it wasn’t swag they were after, they still came off with quite a haul, not to mention their new prize.
Shortly thereafter while sailing along the banks of Newfoundland, Captain Roberts met with nine or ten French sail, and still beleaguered with vengeance, Bart and his crew destroyed all except one ship of eight and twenty guns. This three-masted vessel, Bart felt, could prove to be the equal of his first ship, the Rover, and being overwhelmed by sentimental feelings, he christened her Royal Rover. Being a charitable sort, Captain Roberts ordered their worn down Fortune to be left behind for the French.
One observer of the daye remarked: " ‘Roberts’ men were, a parcel of furies.’ "
The Governor of New England professed: "One could not withhold admiration for their bravery and daring."
Governor Spotwood of Virginia wrote the following to the Admiralty:
"… With no more than a sloope of ten gunns and sixty men, the pyrate Roberts ventured into Trepany in Newfoundland where there were twenty five merchant ships, upwards of twelve hundred men and forty pieces of cannon, and yet for the want of courage in the heedless multitude plundered and burned Diver’s ships16.
A Secretary of Placentia, nigh Trepassey
3 July 1720
"There are many ships drove in here by the pyrates who infest their coast and in one of their next ports they have burnt and destroyed twenty-six ships with a great number of fishing craft. Those pyrates have now plundered near 150 boats and 26 ships at Trepassey and St. Mary’s which, if a communication had been cut overland, had not been above a two days march to have rescued these harbours where the pyrates have been repairing the ships for fourteen days past, nor could any vessel sail from hence to reprieve ‘em if wee had any ships of forceCOP5."
* * *
Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer
26 November 1720
St. Lawrence. 28 June. A pyrate in a small sloope of 12 gunns and 160 men entered Trepassy on Tuesday the 21st inst, and made himself master of the said harbour and of all the ships there, being 22 sail and 250 shallops. He made the masters all prisoners and beat some of them heartily for their resistance. The Admiral, one Babidge, in the Bideford Merchant, suffered most because he and all his hands left their ship with jack, ensign and pendent flying, his gunns all loaded, in order to defend themselves, but the pyrate was close alongside him, struck his colours, hoisted their own, and fired all his gunns. They cut his masts and sev’rall others close by the deck. He cut all the other ship’s cables in junks and their shrouds. He seized one of Copleston’s ship for himself, and sett all the ships carpenters to work to fit her for his purpose. He threatened to burn all the rest, and to hang one of the masters at his entrance. He destroyed about 30 sail, French and English, on the Banks.
AN OFFER OF CLEMENCY
Come the end of June, both of their ships sailing in company, they set out on another raiding expedition and took several prizes. Among them was The Sadbury, under Captain Thomas, and the Sloop named Success, at Newfoundland.
Early in July they plundered the Galley, Norman; The Richard, a Pink belonging to Bideford Jonathan, whose Master was named Whitfed; the Willing Mind from Poole; The York, from Bristol, and The Blessing, from Leamington. From each of these ships they increased their company, but not all comers were accepted. Skillful sea artists who proved their worth were the only recruits that remained in Captain Roberts’ company for long, the rest were set ashore in whichever port along their route that was to their liking.
On the thirteenth of July, 1720, they came upon the Samuel, commanded by Captain Carry, a Londoner. She was just thirteen leagues east of the Newfoundland shore when the Samuel’s watch spied Captain Roberts’ ships on the horizon.
The larger of Captain Roberts’ vessels was their splendid new, 220-ton French Ship, Royal Rover which carried 28 guns. The second, although much smaller, was their 80 ton Brig, the Good Fortune. It was from her main topmast that was flown Saint George’s ensign emblazoned with four blazing ballsN13.
When the larger of the two pirate vessels sailed on in, and Captain Roberts’ boatswain hailed the Samuel with orders for her Captain to hoist out his boat and come on board his ship, Captain Carry, being an intelligent man, did as he was told. During their relatively brief discussion, Bart learned that Captain Carry had been sent on a special mission that concerned himself and his company. The news specifically, was that they were known to have been cruising off the coast of North America, leaving in their wake, a trail of death and destruction, and it was the English King’s hope that a pardon would put an end, not only the devastation, but what he presumed to be their need for acts of vengeance. To this, Captain Carry had in his possession, papers that offered a full pardon for both Captain Roberts and his entire crew. However, contrary to the expected reaction, Captain Roberts and his shipmates were enraged by the audacity the offer of clemency, and thus, Bart wrote the following letter to the King:
"To My Sovereigne Lord, King George I,
Wee shall accept No Act of Grace, may the King and the Parliament be Damned with their Acts of Grace for Us. Neither will wee go to Hope Point, to be hanged up all sun-drying as Kidd’s, and Braddish’s company be. But should wee be overpowered, wee shall sett fire to the powder with a pistol and all merrily go to hell together."
Immediately thereafter, agreeing with what their Captain had written, Bart’s company swarmed upon the Samuel’s deck and tore it apart. They quite literally attacked the cargo like madmen as they cut open bales, trunks and boxes with boarding axes and Cutlass’, whichever was within each man’s grasp.
Some goods, as ordered by Lord Anstis, were plundered; making off with sails, arms, powder, cordage and no less than 8,000 pounds of the choicest goods, plus two of the carriage guns, all of the spare rigging, and of course, her stores.
Still outraged by the impudence of such as offer, and rightly so, much of the cargo was simply hacked to pieces and cast into the sea together with her anchor and cables.
Bart’s company, finished in their looting, focused their attentions on the crew, and excepting the Captain, three passengers and an Irishman, still remembering Kennedy (who later was hung,) the lot of them readily joined Bart’s crew.
While the company debated whether or not to burn and sink the Merchant, another sail was spotted on the horizon. Without a word, the lot of them scurried back to their respective vessels, immediately set sail and gave chase. Later on it was learned, as reported by Captain Carry, who, with the aid of the passengers and the one Irish crewman, the Samuel had successfully returned to Boston, whereby he said the following, “Incessant cursing and swearing, they were more like fiends than men1,2.” Ne’er a word of why, in regards to the actions that prompted such behavior, were spoken.
Despite Captain Roberts’ intolerance for cursing, his men were peeved by the King’s offer, whereas not pursuant to that of his usual standards, much was boisterously spoken. Captain Carry also reported his crew to be forced, at point of pistol, to join Bart’s company, but this was a lie; excepting for one, the Samuel’s chief mate, one Harry Glasby, ne’er did he take recruits by force, even the musicians, who Captain Roberts employed, were free to decline. All those who sailed with him, did so of their own volition. As for those few who were passengers, they were aboard for a brief spell only. Moreover, being a gracious sort, Captain Roberts was always willing to provide the new recruits with a certificate stating they had been forced. One reason being, that after a time, some of those who had joined Bart’s company were unworthy of his esteem, and his crew consisted of only the finest seaman available. Therefore, considering their profession, those men who did not meet his measure had the choice of either departing with the ship they were at the moment plundering, or if they chose, they could go ashore at any port along their route.
But back to Captain Roberts’ pursuit of the newly sighted vessel. The chase ended about midnight. The ship proved to be a Brig from Bristol en route to Boston. She was under the command of Captain Bowls. The news that he not only sailed a ship from Bristol, but he himself also hailed from such, sent Bart’s crew into an uproar, and considering they could be barbarous when motivated, his crew made sport of the bloke in remembrance of that cod’s wallop, Captain Rogers for his relentless attack while they were off Barbados, for he also hailed from Bristol.
* * *
Two days later, on the sixteenth day of July, 1720, they took a Virginian named Little York, of which James Phillips was Master. Next was The Love, from Liverpool. Both were plundered and let go. The next day they encountered another Snow called the Phoenix, also out of Bristol, but being that her Captain, John Richards, was not, his ship was merely plundered and let go.
The waters were plentiful, and they, being a self-indulgent lot, plundered plenty. Next came a Sloop followed by a Brigantine under Captain Thomas, but ‘twas not as easy for the latter vessel, because she bore an unusual amount of willing recruits, the entire company in fact, and since they considered the ship to be of no value, she was stripped of all deemed useful and sent to the bottom.
With none of the aforementioned ships bearing much, the crew voted for the West Indies, and that same day they set sail for the latitude of the small isle, Deseada.
Being the farthest island east of Dominico, in the Northern most region of the Windward Islands, they expected to find ships bearing provisions, but with the absence of advantageous offerings during the voyage, their water, food and necessities became short in supply.
Location: ‘Newfoundland Region to the West Indies’
Sailing on, they cruised past Barbados. It was Bart’s intention to boot-top his ships while taking on the necessary fresh water and provisions needed before sailing forth to the Leeward Islands, where, on the Isle of Saint Barthélemy, it being a rather overlooked outpost, ‘GENTLEMAN OF FORTUNE,’ could trade their plunder for rigging, necessities, and gold-dust while a tired crew could enjoy the hospitalities found within the taverns.
* * *
On four September, Bart’s ships sailed into the lagoon at Carriacou IsleN12, where they came upon a small Sloop named the ReliefCSP3. It was plain to see as they approached that her crew was having a grand time harvesting the succulent turtles so prevalent in those waters3. Once anchored, most of Bart’s crew were greeted by Captain Dunn and his First Mate. After the introductions, Captain Roberts, and his officers and crew were invited to refresh themselves.
During tea, Bart was quick to learn that, Captain Dunn and his crew, in addition to their legal activities, also undertook a bit of smuggling, and thence, all hands got on splendidly.
Having much booty, belonging to both ships that needed to be sold, a bargain was struck and by the time the meal was finished their plans were made. It was agreed they would meet on the windward side of Saint Christophers in a fortnight3. Captain Dunn was hired, not only to dispose the contraband, but also supply Bart’s ships with fresh water and provisions before continuing, in consort, to the isle of Saint Barthélemy, where they would then share equally in the revenue. It was a fair price and each man in Captain Roberts’ crew had high hopes regarding the successful dispersion of the plunder.
For several days, both crews worked steadily until the majority of the highly sought after, merchandise was transferred from the Royal Rover and Good Fortune to the Relief’s hold, after which, Captain Dunn sailed onwards to Saint Christophers. Both of Captain Roberts’ ships were at sea when without warning, a vicious storm bombarded both ships, stripping away most of their fresh water and provisions, once again rendering their necessities dangerously low. On the twenty-sixth day of September, 1720, as they approached the Isle of Saint Christophers, their reaction was one of being doubly delighted. Not only would they be able to replenish their supplies, but they had, despite their plight, arrived in time to keep their scheduled rendezvous with Captain Dunn.
With their fresh water all but gone, they heaved to off the coast of the Black Rocks, where they dropped anchor and waited as arranged. Several hours past, but to their dismay there was no sight of Captain Dunn, that of his vessel or crew, nor was there any sign of a messenger. Thus, in keeping with his usual practices, Bart asked, “Who shall go?”
* * *
It was decided that they would all go. Nearing the mouth of the harbor, in consort with the Good Fortune, leaving only what was needed to propel their vessels as they entered the harbor, the crews of both sips had furled the majority of their sails, when once again, they were quite unexpectedly, besieged by foul winds, and if that wasn’t enough, they suddenly found themselves being fired upon by the islands elaborate fortifications. The latter made it rather apparent to Bart and his crew that not only had their messenger been captured, but that they also to be denied all succor from the government1,3. This, however unexpected, did not thwart Captain Roberts in his attempt, as captain, to provide for his crew. At this point in time, Bart found himself assuming that Captain Dunn had been arrested for the possession of contraband, and it pained him to think that others had considered disloyalty on Captain Dunn’s part, for they ought not have. Such betrayal would had led only to their own downfall and therefore, ne’er did such a possibility enter his mind.
Continuing his effort, Bart ordered the opening of Royal Rover’s gun ports, and began to return fire, but to his dismay, the force of the storm, being too strong, gave him no choice but to parry for the sake of all hands.
The wind, nigh 50 knots, contained moderately heavy rain, and while Bart loudly ordered, "Batten down those loose hatches," both ships heaved and pitched violently. Suddenly the storm took a violent directional change and headed back upon them. The Royal Rover was besieged by powerful winds and heavy rain that were giving the remaining sails a sound thrashing. Bart, using all his seamanship skills in an effort to save both ship and crew, hollered, "Cut loose all but the jibs!"
The situation was grave. The Royal Rover was deep within the harbor, and thus, the danger of running aground, or having their hull torn out on the reefs and coral, was a significant threat to the ship and crew.
Altho’ visibility was poor, Bart could see that in their present circumstance, the Good Fortune was much the better sailor, and as their situation worsened, he reasoned that, should the ships come abreast once more, their best hope for survival was to attempt to board her, therefore, all their efforts were geared to that end.
Within minutes, the swells were surging as high as thirty-five feet, and the storms howling winds, were causing a tremendous amount of sea water to surge over the sides, flooding the decks of both ships. Reassuring the men that it could be done, Bart made the first attempt, and when both ships slammed into each other, his men saw him bravely take a running leap over the railing and land safely atop the Good Fortune’s open deck. Wasting no time to seize what they believed to be their best chance for survival, dozens of men made running leaps. Others still, swung across on ropes. Unfortunately, everyone was as lucky as Captain Roberts, to Bart’s chagrin, quite a few men slipped and fell. Of those, not all were lost. In the best performance one could hope for in a Captain, Bart, despite the fact that the ship was heeling at an alarming rate, braved the onslaught and hauled up a rope upon which several seaman were dangling, and one other crewman also, just as he was about to go over the edge. After helping the young man to his feet, Bart raced to the Good Fortune’s helm, hollering, "Keep her headed straight and true, Mister, right through the belly of the storm." Grabbing hold of the whip staff to correct the ship’s rudder, Bart again shouted. "Our only chance is to go straight through the fiery wench!"
With their course corrected, the Good Fortune, altho’ heading towards the open sea and away from the hazards of yon harbor, was still deep within the squall. Bart glanced astern towards his Royal Rover. Far in the distance she was, and despite his worry for both those of his crew still aboard her, he could only hope that all would be well.
At that moment, a huge swell backwashed over the stern, causing the ship to plunge up, and then straight down again, knocked most of his crew off their feet. Nonetheless, as Captain Roberts made his way to the leeward railing, he again found himself searching the harbor for his beloved Flagship. With no success, Bart turned aft where he spied Lord Moody, the Good Fortune’s pilot adeptly manning his station, when suddenly more terror struck. When a monstrous wave lashed over the stern, he slipped and fell upon the rain soaked surface which sent him sliding across the deck. With the tiller unmanned and the ship wallowing dangerously. As the rugged ship pitched forward on the next swell, Bart dashed to the whip staff. Barely regaining control of the helm, and just as Lord Moody again took the helm, Bart espied a man, who, despite peril to his own life, ascend the chain plates in an effort to untangle a loose sheet caught within the shrouds of the mainmast. After a bout with the rope, he managed to free it, but while making his descent, a sudden gust wind tore him loose from his precarious perch and sent him falling heavily upon the deck. Lord Richard Jones, the Good Fortune’s Boatswain, examined him. Moments later he informed Captain Roberts of the man’s condition. "I can find no broken bones, Commodore."
Compassionate to all who served under his command, Bart replied, "Take him below and see to it he’s looked after."
"Aye, sir," replied Lord Jones. "The galley is the best place, I’m thinking."
"Very well, my Lord," Bart answered, adding, "The galley it is."
Speaking to several crewmen who were standing near him, Lord Jones gave the order for the injured man to be taken below.
The relentless rain pummeled down in sheets upon the slippery decks, yet even so, all hands managed to follow the orders given them in superb fashion, and picking up their mate they carried him below deck.
As they disappeared from view, the foremost jib sheet broke loose. Captain Anstis, Captain of the Good Fortune, shouting to be heard, bellowed, "Belay that rigging." Working together, several crew members managed to catch and haul in the great sail in record time. Once repaired, one of the crewmen reported to both his Captain Roberts and Captain Anstis.
Breathing hard from the struggle, the crewman reported, "The rigging is secure, Captain."
"Very good," replied Captain Anstis.
"And the man who fell?" Bart asked, conveying his concern.
As his crewman told him the news, the storm abated and the rain lessened to a drizzle. "The lad had the wind knock’d out of him, is all." Lord Jones says he ought be able to return to duty by weeks end, Captain."
"Very good," replied Bart amid mannerisms that indicated the stoppage of rain as the sun began to shine.
As the young pirate departed, the ship’s Boatswain approached from behind. Turning to speak to him, Captain Anstis, knowing his Captain’s compassionate manner, issued the following orders. "My Lord, disperse a dry shift of clothes to the entire company, after which, assign duties to repair the damage, and see to it our Good Fortune is made ship shape, in Bristol fashion."
Lest riling Captain Anstis’, rather short tempered disposition, the man Swiftly turned to as he replied, "Aye, Captain."
Captain Anstis, turning towards his Captain, said, "You ought get out of those sodden clothes, yourself, Commodore."
In reply, whilst wearing a rather dubious smile, Captain Roberts asked, "I trust there be a suitable coat and breeches aboard that is fitting?"
"We’ll see what we can find," replied Captain Anstis with a slight chuckle. "Surely there must be something on board fitting the tastes beheld by the, ‘ADMIRAL OF THE LEEWARD ISLANDS,’ "giving Bart a brief pat on the back. "Afterwards, as soon as weather permitted, Captain Anstis suggested they anchor to discuss plans.
"Excellent advice, my lord. That’s just what we’ll do," Bart replied as the they made their way to the Great Cabin.
‘Twas nature’s fury, and none other, which thwarted the Royal Rover. As it was, Bart considered themselves very fortunate that such a close passing of the Good Fortune was achieved, and that most of his crew, himself included, managed to make the transference betwixt ships.
With the sea calm once more, they again began to wait, but after many an hour, no word came from Captain Dunn, nor had there been any sign of their mate who had gone to investigate.
Suspecting Dunn had been arrested, and with their supplies running dangerously low, not having a sufficient supply of either food or water to last until they could reach an alternate island, having to avoid the nearby Nevis, because visiting a barren little island where food was scarce and no fresh water source existed would be a fruitless endeavor, they could do little more than to ration what little they had and hoped for the best.
The levy of power evoked by the Governor of the Leeward Islands, being the unwarranted attack upon his vessels, was deemed by Captain Roberts’ to be not only unjustified, but an unnecessary evil. As Bart formulated his plan, he considered it to be more than merely a matter of achieving for themselves fresh water and provisions, and the recovery of his ship, should she still be afloat. "Nay! Here, demonstrated before us, is opprobrious oppression in the highest order, dealt by a tyrant, and it be I, the Admiral of the Leeward Islands3, and me company, who, whilst seeking to fulfill of our destiny, shall continue to serve our own idea of justice for the ill treatment."
Captain Roberts did not know that the island had been undergoing extensive fortification, nor that Lieutenant-General Mathew, Governor of the Island, expecting the pirates to return, was preparing a defenseCSP3.
With Captain Roberts’ plan underway, they again entered the harbor, and again they were fired upon. Bart’s first observance was noting that his flag ship, Royal Rover, had been burnt, and believed those of his crew, those that were unable to make the swift transference to the Good Fortune had no doubt been captured, Captain Roberts was furious, and thus continued to sail forth despite the cannon fire. As the Good Fortune neared, Bart found himself taking an instant fancy to a heavily armed French Brig whose displays of force, dismayed them not, not after La Baía de Todos os Santos. Never again did Bart’s crew ever doubt themselves, nor their capabilities when going into battle.
Sailing alongside commenced a fierce, yet short battle, for the French possessed no stomach for fighting. After seizing her, Bart found her to be a grand ship indeed and without delay, re-christened her Royal Fortune, (the first ship to which Captain Roberts gave that name.)
The remaining ship, they learn from the French, who were momentarily being held prisoner aboard, Captain Roberts’ new prize, was commanded by Captain Gox of Bristol, and for that alone, Bart’s crew bombarded her with a hail of cannon fire long past the necessity, for her crew, forsaking a handful, had surrendered. Promptly boarded, she was stripped of armament, valuables, and lastly, set ablaze.
Bart’s crew now consisted of 180 white men and 48 French Creole Negroes, and his new prize had impressive armament. Upon her open deck was mounted seven 2 and 3 pound guns along her bow, four 4 pound minions on each side, with twelve 6-pound falconers mixed amongst them, twelve half ton demi-culverins each firing 8 pounders, four massive 12 pounders and lastly, two swivel guns upon her mizzen’s railing. As for the Good Fortune, she shall remain under the command of Captain Anstis, and thenceforth, it shall be put to good use as their store ship.
During the questioning of Henry Fowle, the former Captain of Bart’s new Brig, they learned Captain Dunn had been discovered while unloading a canoe filled with swag by one of the gunners assigned to Fort William, and consequently, he was arrested and imprisoned at Sandy Point.
While awaiting trial, fearing for his life, and no doubt amid barbaric persuasion, Captain Dunn told them that if he was not released, pirates would attack. As for Dunn’s crew, no news concerning them had been learned, but Bart assumed that they too were suffering similar imprisonment, if not hung already. In either case, Bart now knew why his ships had been attacked.
Bart was very upset by what he felt was the cruelest of treatment to their persons, unseemly to be sure, and he could not understand why any man would bestow such distress to a fellow human being, especially to Captain Dunn, whose only crime was in laboring for another’s benefit as would any hired hand. Ergo, shortly before sailing on, Bart, with his usual audacity, sent forth the following letter to this English Governor, this Lieutenant-General whom he loathed, yet despite such feelings, he was, nonetheless, compelled to award credit. For unlike those cowardly curds of Trepassey, Governor Mathew put up a good fight.
LETTER TO GOVERNOR MATHEW
Royal Fortune 27 September 1720
This comes expressly from me to lett you that had you come off as you ought to a done and drank a Glass of Wine with me an, my company, I should not have harmed the least vessell in your harbour. Further it is not your Gunns you fired that affrightened me or hindered our coming ashore, but the wind not proving to our expectation that hindered it. The Royal Rover you have already burnt, and barbarously used some of our men, but wee have now a ship as good as her and for revenge you may assure yourselfes here and hereafter not to expect anything from our hands but what belongs to a pyrate.
As farther Gentlemen, that poor fellow you now have in your prison at Sandy Point is entirely ignorant, and what he has was gave him, so pray make conscience for one lett me begg you and use that man as an honest fellow and not as a C. If wee hear any otherwise you may expect not to have quarters to anny of your Island. Yours,
BUSINESS AS USUAL
Location: ‘St. Barthelemy, Brava, & Surinam’
Continuing on as dire necessity made necessary, they sailed forthwith. Within a brief period, Bart’s ever growing crew anchored in Saint Barthélemy’s harbor, where they be greeted with fine hospitalities. While the Governor offered most welcomed refreshment, the Chiefs treated them affably as well, as did the strumpets, who turned out in their best dress.
While a goodly store of fresh water and provisions was taken on board, all of which Captain Roberts paid for generously, most of his company indulged in the island’s pleasures, and as always, having had their fill, they became restless, and after the voting was tallied they put out to sea, where, by unanimous vote, they were bound for the coast of Guiney.
En route, in the latitude of 22º North, they met with a French occupied ship from Martinique, and after a brief engagement, the richly laden, 22-gun Brig was theirs, but more important than her cargo, was the ship, for she was a handsome prize indeed, and although, their recently acquired, Royal Fortune had served them well, Bart opted for this ship to be his flagship, whereby not only did he move his flag, but also the splendid name, christening the new ship, Royal Fortune, (the second with that name,) in the others stead, but there would be no talk of piracy here; the French Captain was happy to exchanged ships with Captain Roberts, and full of pride in his homeland, he was greatly pleased to be in possession of a fine French Brig as he sailed away.
Once back on course to the Guiney coast, Bart proposed sailing to Brava, an islet located at the Southern most part of the Cape de Verd Islands, where they could careen their grand prize.
With the crew in favor of his proposal, they shifted their course to satisfy, Bart’s new heading, and whilst en route, they again found themselves combating foul weather.
The front of the massive storm stretched beyond the horizon, leaving Captain Roberts with only his compass to guide them through the night, for not a star could be seen within the blackness that hung over their heads like a shroud, but despite the crews efforts to tack, they were forced to return with the trade winds to the West Indies.
Surinam now being their destination, was a distance of no less than 700 leagues, and to their dismay, there was not more than a hogshead of water betwixt the 124 men in Bart’s company. Having no recourse, Bart was forced to place a sentinel around the water supply. And although they were rationed the precious substance of paltry one mouthful per day, their supply diminished rapidly. The going was treacherous, and while members of Bart’s company, enervated and sickly, be dying daily, those who were barely alive pushed on.
Several days past, and by this time, even Bart had neither the strength nor mind set he needed to write in his log, when, by what he believed to be divine providence, anchored in water a mere seven fathoms in depth. By dawn, the watch, spied, not only land, but also that they had all but reached the mouth of the Meriwinga River, which flows just North West of Brazil within the coast of Surinam. Again Captain Roberts’ brilliant navigation, was their salvation, and like wildfire, the news of such was all that was necessary to breathe freshness into their minds and bodies.
Together with the strongest among his men, Bart, the lot of ‘em debilitated and sunk-in from lack of food, and having swollen tongues from extreme thirst, set out upon the raft they fashioned out of the wood stripped from the flooring below deck.
Although barely able to either row or paddle, they were determined, and working together, the nine of them slowly made their way to shore. Dragging the makeshift raft well up on shore, they mustered their remaining strength, and having picked up the water casks and baskets, ventured willy-nilly into the island’s interior in search of fresh water and any edibles they could find.
The trek, in their weakened state, took several hours, but finally they came upon a stream, and while Bart splashed water on his face, his men, crazed with a touch of madness, dove into the water like savage animals.
About an hour later, still weak, but somewhat recovered, the men gathered up the casks of water and baskets, which contained very little in the way of provisions, and began their trek back to the raft. Still quite incapacitated from their dehydrated state, and lack of food, they nonetheless made the best speed possible in their return to their shipmates, hoping those who had been barely alive when they had set out that morning, would be breathing still.
Upon reaching the ship, Bart, being the strongest, enjoying better health than most of those in his company prior to this occasion, no doubt as a result of the great quantities of tea that he drunk, was first to climb the steep steps along the outside of the ship that led to the open deck.
Over his shoulder he carried both a water cask, and a pouch containing motley edibles, all of which he had cleaned in the stream prior to their departure. The food, soon to become hotchpotch, although not in great quantity, would sustain them for several days. What disturbed Captain Roberts the most, was knowing that despite all their efforts, a vast number of his crew had died. Not just this day, but over the course of the past few days, many, unfortunately, in their struggle to survive, who had drank from the sea, and others from the consumption of their own urine. Both substances created within the poor seamen, an inextinguishable thirst which, after driving several to a state of madness, killed them.
As quickly as they were able, they, while guarding the substance well to be sure none was wasted, distributed the water to their sickly mates who by some miracle had managed to hang on. Later on, after their sufficient recovery, the lot of them, each packing two water casks, made several trips to the stream until the ship was loaded with all the fresh water she could stow. Still however, finding very little in the way of provisions, they were forced to steer for the latitude of Barbados.
It was certainly not the best of choices, nonetheless, it was there or starve. But once more, whilst en route, divine providence provided to them that which they needed, and on this occasion it was, the Greyhound. She was a fine Brigantine bound for Philadelphia, so they quickly learned. A little later, when they also learned she belonged to the island of Saint Christophers, they, in retaliation of that ports inhospitalities, refusing them the barest necessities of life, wasted no time seizing the faire prize. It’s interesting to make mention that her first mate, with equal speed, wasted no time putting his signature amongst those who had already penned their names in allegiance to the ship’s articles, and Captain Roberts was happy to have him. His seamanship skills, being a highly sought after sea artist, together with his display of eagerness to prove himself, made him an instant favorite, earning him the Captaincy of their new Brigantine that they christen the Ranger.
Aboard this prize they found a great haul of necessities within the holds, including a goodly supply of provisions, strong spirits, and fresh waterN8.
By the end of October, 1720, news came concerning Captain Dunn, the man wrongly held at Sandy Point. The report said that he was being treated most cruelly, and as promised within the letter Captain Roberts had sent while there, they set sail immediately, whereby they would enact their own brand of justice.
Captain Roberts’ chief opponent at Saint Christophers was that of a Dutch interloper; concurrently, his ships were over run with crewmen from a captured vessel, now sunk. Bart announced, "Let it be known that No shame from the battle shall befall those amongst you who are not as yet members of my crew." His reasoning was even though these Dutch crewmen, although what one could deem, honest seaman, were not pirates either, nor could they be trusted to obey orders in time of battle.
Keeping to the codex by which Bart governed himself, he recorded the fiercest of his battles.
His opponent, the only ship of any concern among the more than two dozen that lay before him, carried a formidable forty-two cannon, plus seven dangerous two and three pound swivel guns. When Captain Roberts saw her, he loudly said, "She I Must have!"
At present there were three ships that sailed beneath Captain Roberts’ jack. The crew upon the Royal Fortune numbered 228, forty-eight of whom be Negroes. All of them, meaning his entire crew, were not only highly skilled, but more than a match for any ship who may oppose him1,2,3.
Despite the impressions that some may have, never was Captain Roberts one to rush into battle. First, as did he always, he proudly donned his most elegant Crimson damask coat and breeches, followed by the silk bandoleer that held his pistols, shot and powder. Once dressed, his next course of action was to make the following toast. “A damn to the Halter and them that lives to ware it16.” To which, the lot of em would take a drink of their favorite beverage. For Captain Roberts, ’twas always the finest Black Bohea tea. This ritual always commenced on the open deck, and both Bart and his crew believed that without it they’d hang for sure, and not once did The Almighty let them down. He always believed that their fight against Authoritarianism was, in truth, the Lords bidding.
Before them, guarding the harbor, the grand prize waited. As Bart sailed on through, it was his intention to seize the splendid vessel for his own pleasure. Seeing the flotilla approach, the great ship she raked on canvas. At first, Bart thought she was making a routine departure, but when he looked through his spyglass ’twas apparent, as she came about, that she was preparing for action.
"It seems," Bart said, as he addressed his men, "that the grand ship makes ready to do battle."
"More likely flee, she will, when the battle starts," injected Lord Dennis.
"Perhaps," replied Bart. "Nonetheless, my Lord, it’s precautionary measures we’ll be taking."
Grumbling as he proceeded to carried out the order. "Aye, Captain. Just as you say."
" ’Tis unwise, my Lord to be cocky," Bart said as the man departed.
Minutes later, as he returned, and though ne’er doubting otherwise, Bart asks, "Your men and guns ready?"
"Aye, Captain. Manned and ready."
As they neared her, she did not pour on more canvas, as my Lord Dennis and others anticipated, but rather spilled the wind from her sails, causing them to luff, which dramatically increased the speed in which, Bart’s ship encroached upon her.
"Look me hardies," Bart said. "She intends to make a fight of it." Swiftly giving his first order before returning to the Quarter-Deck, Bart hollered to his musicians. "Play!" Leaping to the top of the stairs, he again shouted. "Musketeers, prepare to fire!" Looking over the railing he spoke somewhat subdued to one of the fresh men, bestowing upon him a grand honor, "Raise our colors," and as their jack was hoisted, the formidable ship being but a mere 60 feet distant, sent to us their first volley, hammering the Royal Fortune with a fearsome broadside. As they drew along side, again Bart hollered, "Musketeers, Gunners, Fire!" sending forth a return bombardment across their open deck.
"I’ll have her sails trimmed, my Lord Main." Bart was pleased at the swiftness in which his Royal Fortune responded to the helm’s command, but as they drew closer still, nigh 30 feet, the Royal Fortune displayed the tell-tale signs of listing to the starboard.
Rushing to him was Lord Dennis, and although speaking with great concern, he spoke calmly. "We be hit below the waterline, Captain, and we’re settling fast."
"Then we’ll board a ship that is not sinking."
Off he ran to spread the order. Seeing the men readying themselves, Bart jumped onto the railing, and in this, giving them hope that the battle this day would be theirs, they too prepared for the encroachment with gusto, for they too thought her to be a grand prize as well. Within moments, Captain Roberts, with a hearty, yet deliberately serious laugh, leapt into the shrouds, booming, "Into the rigging me hardies, we’re going to board her." Excepting those needed to man the guns, the whole of the crew, being aware that their ship was sinking, did not hesitate, and thus, taking into their hands the ropes from the highest yards, climbed smartly. But ’twas not until the word was given, would a single man dare to make the transference.
Knowing the great Warship was beating them, "Our only chance, Captain," said Henry Dennis, loudly to be heard, "is to take down her main mast."
"Nay, my Lord. Ye wont be doing any damage to our ship. Load instead, the swivel guns with a round of grape shot, and reduce our opposition. After which, wee shall board her, forthwith."
Without delay, as the swivels were fired, the immense quantity of fire and metal as the exploding shells burst, that was sent forth wreaked havoc her deck. Captain Roberts knew at once it was more than grape shot that his master gunner had loaded within them guns, and by his word, Bart ordered, "Over the sides men!" And before the echo of the blast had faded, the lot of them, leaving no man aboard, the entire crew of the Royal Fortune took to scrapping upon landing. Amid the fierce fighting, several of Bart’s men, knowing that the great ship would keep the Royal Fortune afloat, not only throughout the battle, but long enough to transfer their personal possessions, swag, and all items of value, lashed two ships together.
In the midst of cries of injury, the battle, sheathed within a torrent of gunpowder, which being thick as fog as it perfumed the air, raged on. This latter aspect, so common in battle, being a stench to many, was for Captain Roberts, a tonic. Moreover, despite the unremitting cannon fire, by not only the opposing vessels, but also the island’s fortress, he sent a longboat ashore at Basseterre Road and took from a meadow, some sheep8,11. The ships still before them, felt the savagery of cannon from both the Fortune, and the Ranger. When the smoke of battle cleared, Captain Roberts and his men had either sank or plundered the fifteen French and English ships belonging to Saint Christophers and Dominico, excepting of course, the fair Dutch Interloper they had boarded earlier. She was his for the taking, and take her he did, making her his third ship to be christened, Royal Fortune.
Immediately thereafter, Bart ordered a new Jack to be fashioned; one that would, with blatant contempt, display his feelings, and thenceforth, his new flag, proudly and with vengeance, would grace the jewel of his fleet, and high from the topmost of his mizzen, it waved, smugly portraying himself holding a flaming sword in his hand whilst standing upon two skulls subscribed A.B.H. and A.M.H.; initials representing "A Barbadian Head & the other A Martiniquian Head6."
Altho’ not arrogant in nature, should the truth be known, Bart’s flag would forever remind the world of the intense loathing; as them skulls represented the heads of the governors who reigned over Barbados and Martinique, both of whom he intended to secure, a-swaying beneath his banner.
Later on, they heard that it was the Governor of the French Leeward Islands who reported their attack on Dominico, stating that they had seized, sank or burned the fifteen ships that laid within the harbor. Distraught, the Governor of the French Leeward Islands sought the aid of the British Governor of Barbados, but when that same British Governor tried to order Woodes Rogers, Captain of the British Man-Of-War Rose, who had only recently entered Nassau harbor, to seek out and destroy Captain Roberts, he flatly refused, which, dare I say, was quite a complement to the skill possessed by not only by Captain Roberts crew, but to the Great Pirate Roberts as well. An aspect which to Bart was worthy of a jovial celebration.
Sailing within sight of the peaceful harbor of Dominico, Bart found two ships conveniently waiting for him; another Dutch interloper carrying some twenty-two guns with a crew of no less than 75, and be that not enough, there was also a fine Brigantine, about which, Bart said, “Neither of these, shall I let go.”
Raising their new jack, Captain Roberts gave the order to sail forth with gusto, and with his musicians playing, and upon the threatening resistance made by the Dutch ship, his crew, hungry for action, being too many of the ships they encountered surrendered immediately following a show of the pirate’s guns displayed by a single cannon shot across an opponents bow. And now, they, with their ports open and guns ready, Bart hollered, "Fire!" pouring a full broadside into the Dutchman. The battle ensued as their proposed prize, to Bart’s surprise, though a pleasant one, returned his fire. The Royal Fortune’s gunner, and his men, were adept to their task and as soon as they were reloaded, Bart again shouted, "Fire!" Before his voice had faded, All of the starboard guns poured in another broadside. From his Quarter-Deck, while the boarding party readied themselves, Bart saw several of the Dutchmen fall, and when the grapnels were thrown, the Captain of the Dutch Interloper wisely struck his colors. After the prize crew swung on over, Bart set his sights on the Brigantine, who, after seeing the handiness of his ship under the skill of her well-trained crew, acted in accordance with the power of Bart’s resolve, and surrendered without incident.
Not long after, they set sail with their two prizes in consort. Shortly following some questioning of the Brig’s crew, Bart rejoiced in learning they not only came from Rhode Island, but, that thus was the same ship they had lost due to torrential weather that nigh on killed the lot of them following the raid at Baía de Todos os Santos. Thus, Bart’s crew, as well as himself, took singular satisfaction in the taking of that particular ship.
WOLVES IN SHEEP CLOTHING
Location: ‘Martinico & St. Lucia’
The winter was upon them as they passed by Tobago where they not only took on provisions and water, but also gained invaluable intelligence of two Sloops at Corvocoo that had departed shortly after they had; their heading was the Island of Martinique. Sailing on in consort, with their latest acquisition, was a thirty-two gun Dutch Slaver, that Bart’s crew christened the Great RangerN16.
Keeping their situations, moving to what was now their number two ship, James Skyrmé, former Captain of the Ranger and his Quarter-Master, Richard Hardy, along with all other officers and crewmen who wished to move, transferred their belongings to their newest prize. In regards to the Ranger, their dependable Brigantine, she became their new store ship, and thenceforth, ‘twas called, Little Ranger.
While stopping to take on Fresh water at Tobago, they heard tell of two Sloops that had been specifically outfitted to bring them down. Upon the hearing of this, Bart came up with a manner in which to repay them, and thus he decided to pay them a call. Bart was very aware that it was the custom at Martinique for the Dutch Interlopers, who, when wishing to trade, would hoist their Jacks when coming in. Knowing the signal, and having utter contempt for this Island and the island’s inhabitants, Bart put his idea to his company. After counting the vote, it was decided that they would lure them into their grasp. Sailing forth, with a suitable Jack flying, they, as Bart expected, took them for friendly traders. Furthermore, Captain Roberts signaled the French to follow them to Saint Lucia, where the Dutch smugglers generally sold their slaves.
As the Dutch Sloops came within range, Bart’s crew heartily welcomed the traders on board. Once having them within his grasp, Bart ordered the lot of them to leave their purse, for it was, ‘GENTLEMEN OF FORTUNE,’ they were, and as such, hoped to forever meet future Dutch traders in such a fashion. Before they could conclude their business Captain Roberts and his crew found themselves under attack. In defense, Bart ordered his men to skedaddle. As they departed, using both cannon and fire, Bart’s crew sunk all but one of the twenty ships within the harbor. The remaining ship was used to set the passengers ashore, for he did not want the scurvy land lubbers to be cluttering up his ships.
In the course of these events, Bart’s crew had inadvertently made capture of several French, who, being disagreeable in manner, found themselves severely whipped in retribution for their insults. Some of the captives, those who displayed an intolerable superiority, when they themselves were smugglers, had their ears cut off for their degrading remarks, as for the worst of the lot, they were hung from the yards and used for target practice10, and although, Bart would have wished it otherwise, he fully understood their feelings. Moreover, it was a large company consisting of several ships and could not be aboard them all at once. However, not witnessing most of the remarks which enraged his crew, Bart was not assured that he would have taken steps to prevent the cruelties inflicted. Still, as barbaric as they may seem, they cannot compare in cruelty to the atrocities inflicted by Naval commanders upon common seaman for minor offences, having them flogged until hardly a place remained unmarred upon their person, and worse tortures, so unspeakable, they defy imagination.
Flattery and Deception
Location: ‘Moonay, Santo Domingo & Guadeloupe’
Touching in Guadeloupe, Captain Roberts captured first, a Sloop, and soon after, a French fly-boat laden with sugar. However divine was the insatiable Sloop, they burnt her, and afterwards, Captain Roberts plotted a new course.
Arriving at Moonay, the sea, at the time, was too high to careen. Ergo, Bart suggested they sail forth to Santo Domingo, where, at Bennet’s Key, within the Gulf of Saminah, ‘GENTLEMEN OF FORTUNE,’ like themselves, given the island’s proportions, being vast in relation to the number of inhabitants, were granted the freedom to careen, water and provision at leisure. Upon their arrival, before the month of February concluded, the ship was beached and heeled over in order to clean of the Royal Fortune’s hull.
While there, the masters of two Sloops, their names being Tuckerman and Porter, came to pay Captain Roberts a call. Their addressment, one displaying a good deal of honor and respect, was, “That having heard of your Fame and Atchievements.” They said that it was their wish to learn the trade of piracy from he whom the world deemed to be the best ever heard tell of, and thus, they as sought out The Great Captain Roberts1,2.
Seeing that more able-bodied hands that possessed superior seamanship skills were always desirable, and their manner was one that pleased Bart’s ears, he found himself taking most kindly to them, and such being the case he provided them with a quantity of powder and arms in order to carry out their new duties.
After several nights of cheery activity, the two newcomers took their leave. As they left, each on their on their own vessels, both of which being adequate to the task, Bart wished for them a prosperous new career in their service as members of his company, and as they embarked on their raiding expedition they were expected to return within a weeks time.
For reasons of their own, as they sometimes do, Bart’s crew held a measure of negativity towards those among them who did not drink themselves into a constant state of oblivion, for men of such ilk, in their eyes, saving their beloved Captain, were open to suspicion. When the aforementioned Captains departed, Mister Glasby went along, supposedly to bid them farewell. Being gone longer than the majority felt he should, they believed him to be a deserter, and needing little justification, believed the other two, would be pirates, came only to aid in Glasby’s escape, and this being a capital offence within their society, a vote was taken. Shortly thereafter a search party was sent out after them.
Bart was not aware of these happenings, for he, who rarely ventured ashore, hankering to explore, had hiked into the woodland where he spent the night by his onesies under the stars. Following his morning meal of bread and cheese, he made his way back to camp only to find that quite a bit of excitement was taking place.
It was September 20, 1720, that the search party had returned with Captain’s Porter and Tuckerman, and Mister Glasby, who were brought back for trial, and to Bart’s discontent, the camp was in a state of pandemonium.
Endeavoring to establish order, Bart stated, "My lords, commandingly upon entering the camp! "What be amiss here?"
"As ye sees, Captain," replied their Quarter-Master, Lord Sympson, "It’s them three dogs," he said in a gruff tone as he pointed to the men lying in the sand who had just been chucked there by those, who, after searching all through the night, located them and drug them back. "It be them alone that prompts such concerns this morning."
"Aye, that I can see, my Lord," Bart responded, "Excellent work. However," he continued, "I entrusted you with the maintenance of order, yet coming upon you, I find this ruckus."
"Having only just arrived, the men are in quite an uproar about it," Lord Sympson replied. "I was attempting to calm the company when you arrived."
"Very good," Bart replied in something of a rueful tone.
"Now that the, Royal Fortune is careened and fit for service, let us have the prisoners taken aboard, and upon the conclusion of necessary preparations. Their trial shall commence as soon as all is made ready."
Their form of justice was honest, simple and swift. Testimony was heard by all who wish to either bear witness, or voice pertinent opinions. After which, each man within the company would vote. With a guilty verdict came forth the diktat which was in accordance with their laws, and whatever the sentence may be, it would be carried out forthwith. Ne’er did a society such as their maintain a brig, nor delay in such matters, for justice served expediently allowed normalcy to return without delay.
In matters such as these proceedings, this trial, were as others, held upon the Quarter-Deck, and before any such the hearings were set into motion, a large bowl of punch, as well as tobacco, was made ready.
After about an hour hath past, there hath been a great deal said regarding the prisoners, however none of them were able to prove their innocence. As a result, the sentence, as declared by the majority, was that they be shot. Not everyone was in favor of the sentence. It was Lord Valentine Ashplant, who objected the strongest; he was not only among those within their ‘House of Lords,’ but he was also one of the appointed judges.
Ever respective of their laws, he stood; for anyone could speak for a prisoner. Having his own feelings to offer, he said, “By God, Glasby shall not dye; damn me if he shall1,2,” and returning to his seat, he took a puff from his pipe while his motion was loudly opposed by the other judges.
"Equal terms I grant you, are for all," said one, "but…"
Angered, Lord Ashplant, who remained steadfast, again arose from his seat, and spouted forth, “God damn you gentlemen, I am as good a man as the best of you; Damn my Soul if ever I turned my back to any man in my life, or ever will by God; Glasby is an honest fellow, notwithstanding this misfortune, and I love him, Devil Damn me if I don’t: I hope he’ll live and repent for what he has done; but Damn me if he must dye, I will dye along with him1,2,” And thereupon, he pulled out his pistols and presented them to the erudite upon the bench. His speech was taken to heart by many present, and noting his high regard for Glasby, a new vote was taken, and that time, the majority voted to free Glasby, and thus a reprieve was granted. In the case of the other two prisoners, with no such pleas offered, their sentence remained unchanged. One interesting note is that the prisoners were allowed to chose any four from among the company to be their executioners, after which, they were bound to the mast and shot Dead, Dead, Dead.
Immediately thereafter, Captain Roberts stepped onto a platform above the deck of his, Royal Fortune, for ne’er did he stop for more than a moment, and hollered, "Ye, and all of you," obviously unhappy with the entire situation, dramatically motioning to a non descript member of his crew, "Make Sail!"
Having both the admiration compiled with a healthy respect afforded him by his crew, Bart wield much more power than other pirate captains; thus having a great deal more say in both their course direction, and the actions taken. In so, Bart was, as a general rule, given no argument. However, as he, in his temper, though somewhat subdued, again issued the order, whilst forcefully shoving the man before him that he considered sluggish, "I said get underway!"
Promptly, the men most assuredly frightened, tend to their duties; and upon leaving, they burnt the unwanted Sloop, manning instead the Brigantine belonging to Norton, who, being Free to leave, was nonetheless pleased, for now he was in command the former Dutch interloper, Fortune. After which, the Royal Fortune, which was not only Captain Roberts’ flagship, but his joy, their Little Ranger, the Great Ranger, and their latest prize, their newest Brigantine, newly christened, Good Fortune.
Location:‘Bermuda, West Indies & Africa’
March was upon them. Once at sea, they took a vote, whereby they sailed Eastward from Santo Domingo in the general direction of Deseada. En route they being in need of provisions and fresh water, and with Bart’s usual luck, ‘THE LUCK OF A GOD,’ as some termed it, they sighted sail. Upon the showing of their flags, and a single shot across their opponents bow, Captain Hingstone, commander of their prey, surrendered without a fuss.
Hearing the new prize was out of Bermuda, Bart, could bare that which troubled him, no longer. Thus, his ships, which were bound for Jamaica, change course for Bermuda. As they sailed, the new prize, laden with riches, was skillfully rifled as Bart’s crew indulged in the fine art of leisurely plundering1,2.
It seems Captain Roberts had some important business, and once reaching Castle Harbor, having gone ashore to take care of it, followed the pathway that wound throughout the wooded landscape which led to the small boat and back to his Royal Fortune that was anchored near the mouth of the harbor.
Along the way, Bart past another gentleman, who, although knowing he looked familiar, could not place him. Nevertheless, and hopefully unbeknownst to the finely dressed Captain Roberts, the stranger, after a moment, turned and followed him through a particularly dense section of the wooded area before reaching the beach. From afar, the stranger watched Bart step into a small boat and in minutes only, it was apparent that he was headed towards the large ship anchored near the mouth of the harbor. As the stranger mulled over the situation, knowing in his mind that Bart was more eminent than he first realized, couldn’t help but wonder what manner of man, so distinguished, would row himself. Desperate to know, the stranger hurried to some men near the waters edge, but to his chagrin, none of them knew who he was. Dismayed, yet determined to just to put it out of his mind and as he began to walk off, a young boy ran by them. Upon reaching the water’s edge, the youngster displayed a great deal of enthusiasm, leaping into the air, he was, whilst shouting, "Captain Roberts, take me with you!"
With a shocked look on his face the stranger asked, "What’s that boy? Who’d you say that was?"
"That’s Bartholomew Roberts!"
"You mean the pirate of infamy?"
"Yes, sir." And showed him the artists sketch that he treasured. "Gee, I wish I could have gotten here a couple seconds earlier. Me dreams be filled with the stories I read about his adventures."
Seeing the sketch, the stranger pulled from his pocket, a handbill. "By god, his face betrays him!" And found himself a mite stunned as he gazed at both the crinkled paper, and the man rowing the small boat, he became conscious of the urgency in which he must act. Just as Bart was reaching his ship, the stranger began running towards one of the Captains in port.
"Captain Ogle," he yelled as he approached him!
Breathing hard he was by the time he stood before one of England’s great sea Captains, spouting, "That ship," as he pointed to it, "It’s the Royal Fortune."
"You mean the one belonging to the pirate Roberts?" The Captain’s face, while awaiting the strangers reply, lit brightly with the thought of hanging such a splendid trophy from his bowsprit, as Maynard did to Blackbeard, and perhaps, being much more the prize, gain an Admiralty in the bargain.
"Yes, Captain," replied the stranger while trying to catch his breath.
Sprinting off, Captain Ogle ran towards his Pinnace with the stranger on his heels.
Having every intention of accompanying him, the stranger, as he clamber into the boat, continued to voice what had just occurred. Swiftly picking up an oar, "He came from the direction of the Big House that lies along the wooden path."
"From d’Eperon-noire house," murmured Captain Ogle while two of his oarsmen pushed the Pinnace beyond the surging surf until enough freeboard was gained to allow rowing.
Even though she be a goodly distance, it was clear to Captain Ogle that the Royal Fortune as getting underway.
"Row hard men," roared Captain Ogle! "That ship must not escape!"
As soon as the Pinnace reached Captain Ogle’s Man-Of-War, he wasting no time in issuing orders to make sail as he hurried on board. Seeing his crew was unhurried. Captain Ogle, whilst pointing out to sea, roused them to action when he exuberantly proclaimed, "There, under the command of that infamous scoundrel, Bartholomew Roberts, lies the Royal Fortune! Filled to the hatches with riches, she is! Will you allow her to aboard his ship, and that each man in the crew would receive a share, tremendous speed was made in getting, H.M.S. Sallow underway.
The Swallow’s Quarter-Master knowing that his, with the exception the Captain’s share, is more than double that of the rest of the crew, shouted to the men bearing hard upon the capstan, "There be no time to weigh the anchor. Cut it loose, and let’s be off!"
Hollering from his station, the gunner hollered to the gun crew. "Up all ports." And without a seconds delay, up they flew!
Within seconds, the crew of the Man-Of-War, second only in skill to Captain Roberts’ crew, had the great Warship underway.
Meanwhile on board the Royal Fortune, which had sailed into Castle Harbor alone, had not yet rejoined her consort when a cry from aloft was heard.
"Hearken on deck!" from high above in the crows nest, was shouted the watch.
Looking upward, "Aye, the watch," replied the Boatswain loudly, adding "What do you see?"
Pointing towards the stern, "A Man-Of-War, my Lord. Giving chase, she is."
Captain Roberts, having retired to the great cabin, was summoned by Lord Main who had sent one of the crew to take him the news, who, during his approach, hollered, "Captain!" Knocking on the door with urgency, the deckhand repeated his call. "Captain! Come quick! That Man-Of-War, the one that had been riding at anchor within the harbor, she be in pursuit."
Turning quickly, Bart donned his favorite Crimson Jacket, silk bandoleer and tricorne hat. Dashing out the cabin door, Bart rushed along the larboard side and out onto the main deck. Spotting Lord Main aft, Bart traversed the steps swiftly. Upon arrival, Lord Main handed Bart the spyglass. Looking through, Bart seeing that the sleek ship was sailing well, hollered, "I’ll have the sails trimmed if you please, and hang the stays’ls as well."
Searching the ship quickly, Bart spied his gunner. "My Lord Dennis, prepare us for battle. If we can not out sail her we shall be in for a fight."
All about the ship, Bart’s crew actively climbed the shrouds and ratlines. Quickly sliding across the yardarms they found their positions on the footropes. The reef knots, quickly untied, released the sails from the yards as the deckhands hauled on the ropes to position the sails to catch the wind. Altho’ heavy from the stores they had just recently acquired, the Royal Fortune was sailing well. Yet, as Captain Roberts looked through the spyglass, he could see the Man-Of-War was still gaining.
‘What could be driving them so,’ wondered Bart. ‘Surely none of the islanders recognized me,’ he thought, ‘yet chasing us they are.’
Within minutes, the Swallow was abreast them, and upon receiving the Warships first broadside, Captain Roberts knew at once, as he hollered, "Raise the colors," that his opponent had a crew of great skill, and as the, Royal Fortune’s jack was proudly hoisted, Bart hollered, "Fire!" Sending forth a broadside of their own. At that moment another broadside burst upon the Royal Fortune.
"Our only chance, my Lord," said Bart loudly in an effort to be heard while speaking to Henry Dennis, whom he had summoned, "is to take down yon ship’s main mast. Let that be your only task."
"Aye, aye, Captain."
However, now that the running battle had begun, Bart knew that in order to get clear, they would be forced, once again, to jettison their anchor, much of their water-casks, and more besides, and thus, although it pained the lot of them, their burdens were cast off with great speed.
To better direct their fire, both Lord Dennis and Captain Roberts stood upon two of the center cannon as Bart ordered, "Lay to the mainmast and fire on the up roll," and as the Royal Fortune reached the height of the next swell, Lord Dennis, and Captain Roberts simultaneously shouted, fire."
Hurriedly, before the echo of the blast faded, Bart ordered, "Come about." Thusly presenting their starboard guns, they poured a third broadside into the great Warship.
Their last broadside brought down both the, Swallow’s main and mizzenmast. Seeing them crash upon the deck, and knowing they had succeeded in stopping their opponent’s ability to continue the chase, sent Bart’s crew into a cheering frenzy, but not before the last barrage by the Warship, caused the, Royal Fortune to list heavily to the larboard.
Upon brief inspection of the damage, they found the ship had been hit just below the waterline and was destined to sink.
Amid the last onslaught of thundering cannon, a member of, the Swallow’s crew could be seen swinging betwixt ships, whereby, the man landed on the Quarter-Deck just before Captain Roberts. Swiftly drawing his cutlass from its scabbard, Bart menaced the man, who, without hesitation, asked for quarter, stating, "I am crewman Armstrong, a deserter from H.M.S. Swallow, and am at your command, sir."
"Welcome aboard, the Royal Fortune, Mister Armstrong. I am Captain Bartholomew Roberts. Being accustomed to new men joining his ranks on a whim, he simply added, "Report to Lord Main, the ship’s Boatswain," while pointing to the man who could be seen standing alone along the starboard rail, "He shall assign you your ordersN7."
"Aye, aye, Captain," he said, and turning to, he headed for Lord Main.
Having a tough time of it, Bart’s crew worked laboriously to get clear, however their battle was just beginning, for they were settling fast. Their only chance was to make sail for a well concealed inlet some six leagues distant where they could make repairs, providing that is, they stayed afloat long enough to get there.
In a continuous effort order to keep themselves afloat, Bart continued to have their heavy stores thrown over-board, knowing all the while that should they make their destination they could replenish their water and provisions while repairs were made to the ship. If not, well…, then the supplies wouldn’t be needed.
En route, their Royal Fortune floundering badly, become increasing sluggish. The crew members who suffered injuries were being tended by the ship’s surgeon. Altho’ Bart, being an incurable optimist, remain confident, the majority of the crew feared that they would not reach their destination, and thus he did his best as Captain to provide verbal strength and assurance to each man in his crew.
After a spell, they limped in to the small cove where the crew promptly made their ship ready to undergo repairs. Sailing her as near to the beach as possible, they heeled her over, and in jig time, repairs commence. The remaining crewmen gathered provisions and fresh water, and by morning the ship was repaired and they were under sail and heading to rejoin Captain Roberts’ fleet who were waiting near by, standing guard as it were. When reaching them, Bart called for a vote. Upon the conclusion thereof, they were again sailing South, returning to the West Indies.
While en route, they plundered many a ship, and though mostly French, they bore all manner of flags which kept his ships well supplied in provisions, fresh water and ammunition, but being that the first two of these could easily be gotten on shore, they we’re not worth the constant effort to obtain. There was however, one consolation that made the risks worthy of their efforts, and that was the capturing of the French Man-Of-War, which they, oddly enough, was accomplished without the firing of a single cannon, and a fair prize she was. Not only did she carry fifty-two guns, but also the ever coveted, Governor of Martinique himself, whom Captain Roberts, without delay, hung from his own yardarm1,2.
The fair prize replaced, Bart’s present flag ship. It wasn’t that he was not still fond of her, but the damage she had suffered was considerable, and though patched, the oar ship was not the ship she had once been. Again, Captain Roberts kept the same name, christening his new prize, his fourth Royal Fortune1,2.
Heading for Guiney, they sought to buy gold dust cheap and thither to, take a variety of prizes. From those ships which bore Captains who carried themselves wrongfully in eyes, Bart was quick to punish them, and most severely, for ne’er did he let himself forget neither the injustice nor harshness of the masters who were so abundantly prevalent aboard the ships he had previously served upon. Thus, those who did, were by his way of thinking, amid his renowned equanimity, some form of atonement was made; generally by way of stripping from those men their narcissistic attitude. As a consequence, even though no penitence by them had ever been offered regarding their ill deeds, it was repeatedly voted that ship’s commanded by men of their ilk be either sunk or burnt, leaving their Captains but to reflect.
Regrettably, with their pirating being so successful, the majority of Bart’s company started to become all too sure of themselves. Moreover, they were constantly in their cups, and as a result, they were becoming most unmanageable. Seeing the necessity to correct this, Bart found himself taking a magisterial carriage, employing strict deportment; a condition that set his crew to grumbling. And to those who seemed to resent his usage of command, he said, challenging each of them, “You might come ashore and take satisfaction of me, if you see fit, at sword and pistol, for I neither value nor fear anny of you1,2.”
* * *
While in the West Indies, watering and provisioning their ships for a voyage to Africa, many of the men were thinking too highly of themselves still. Captain Roberts was knowing this way of thinking would lead to the destruction of his company, and thus in order to make his meaning clear, and re-establish order, he reprimand one of the more boisterous of the drunken crewman. Not seeing Bart’s way in these matters, the crewman dealt Bart, that which was considered a tremendous insult. Having endured enough within the last fortnight, Bart merely reacted, and without hesitation or conscience thought, drew his cutlass and impaled the bloke, killing the snobbish sod on the spot.
Sometime later, upon his return to the Royal Fortune, his mess-mate, one Thomas Jones11, who had been ashore on water detail during the incident, heard about his friend, and was none too pleased, and in order to take revenge on Captain Roberts, provoked a confrontation, shouting, “You ought to be served so yourself.”
Hearing his remark, Bart replied, "You simpering toe rag," and ran him through as well, but he, being much stouter than his dead friend, attacked Bart despite his injury, knocking him into a cannon, and while Bart was momentarily dazed, the brute took the opportunity to lay into him; a situation that sent the company into an uproar1,2.
Bart’s crew, numbering five hundred and eight at the timeN3, two hundred seventy-six of whom were upon the Royal Fortune, of those, forty-eight of were Negroes. The rest were comprised mostly of Englishmen. The balance of Captain Roberts’ company were upon the Great Ranger, Little Ranger, and the Good Fortune.
Captain Roberts’ crew, being divided over the incident, were on the verge of Armageddon. The majority took their Captain’s part, while the others did not. However, by the mediation supplied by their Quarter-Master, Lord Sympson, the matter was appeased. Altho’ his position precluded the necessity of a vote, he, considering the particulars of the matter, allowed one to commence; his personal opinion being that such would be best served in this situation. The majority of the company, supporting what they felt to be the dignity of Bart’s office, that of Captain and Commodore, should be supported. After all, it was the highest point of honor within their, ‘House of Lords,’ and ought not be violated by any person or persons. Ergo, they decided that as soon as Mister Jones had sufficiently recovered from the wound, it would be the duty of each member of the crew to deal him two lashes from the cat1,2. Sometime later, even though he had received the prescribed flogging, Thomas Jones, feeling still that his action was not without due cause, was not dissuaded, and such, opted for revenge. However, knowing he could not enact alone, he, as history tells us, held a privy meeting with Captain Anstis who was master of the Brigantine, Good Fortune.
Captain Anstis and Captain Roberts shared less than a liking for one another. One reason was because Bart considered the Good Fortune to be little more than a supply ship, and Captain Anstis considered said demeanor to be a slur.
Consequently, on the eighteenth day of April, 1721, which was a dark night, while some four hundred leagues off the coast of Africa, Captain Anstis and Thomas Jones gathered together the Good Fortune’s company, some seventy men, most of whom were new recruits, and held a privy council, wherein, they decided to go their own way. In Bart’s opinion, these crewmen were the main disruptive element within his company, which is why they had been to that assigned to that ship, nonetheless, before the voting, both of the mutinous conspirators, Anstis and Jones, let it be known that any man who did not see matters in the same light as themselves, would be heaved over the side into the shark infested water below. Consequently, in light of this coercion, the vote was unanimous.
Come daybreak, when it was discovered that the Good Fortune had departed, Bart’s crew were none to pleased. It wasn’t so much the loss of their mates, but rather the formidability regarding their strength in numbers, and even more important to them was the fact that the small 80 ton Brigantine was a good sailor. Captain Roberts however, projected an attitude of unconcern, for in his opinion they we’re better off without them. An unruly lot they were, prone to rioting and in constant need of reprimanding. Moreover, they thought far too highly of themselves, and such thinking could easily instigate the ruination his company, for in battle, a combatant should never be over confident.vContinuing on, not in the least put off by the loss, Bart’s crew, of which now numbered 416N6, sailed on to the windward side of the River Senegal, in Guiney, Africa. It was within these waters that the great trade area for gum was located. Herein, monopolizing this region, were the French, who, in an effort to dissuade the interloping trade, policed those waters. One of those vessels bore ten guns and a crew of 65, and the second, with her sixteen guns and what appeared to be a crew of about 75, was a good deal more formidable. Not knowing the rightness of things, those two vessels, upon seeing Bart’s ships, believing them to be engaged in the trade they were employed to thwart, drug on all the canvas their yards could hold and proceeded to make chase. Naturally Captain Roberts did not make a worthy effort to flee, thereby allowing the two French ships to sail along side. That’s when Bart ordered the hoisting of, ‘Jolly Roger,’ which was name of his well known jack. Upon the doing, the terrified French surrendered with little, if any, resistance1,2.
Location:‘Sierra Leona River’
Sailing on, they take with us their two new prizes and head for the Sierra Leona River. Mid 1721 it was, and being June, the crew was looking forward to a pleasant summer, whereby, Bart promised much gaiety for his crew, and pleasant conversation for himself.
Their first destination was made up of about thirty Englishmen, who, during some part of their past, had engaged in either privateering, buccaneering or pirating, thereby making it the perfect place for the like to carouse, clean, trade and more1,2.
During the past three months and more, much had taken place. Bart was becoming exceedingly restless, argumentative, and autocratic, and he was told as much by his good friend, John Walden. The main reason being the great many new men who flocked to join his company. Unfortunately, most of them were unruly and constantly laden with drink, and such was not a mob that he wish to reform.
* * *
Author's Note: It’s helpful when reading this book, or any book of the period, to always remember that the times were hard. The movies may depict gaiety and freedom, but that’s Not how it was. The populace within the civilized world, the world over, those who did not have money, were faced with a daily challenge just to survive. Food was scarce, and the work, just to keep food in ones belly, was constant, not to mention the rest of ones daily routine. Leisure was a indulgence that most people could not afford to partake. This aspect is the main reason so many men turned to piracy.
* * *
"The company, Captain," began John Walden, "has, as you know, been most unruly, and it’s my belief, the main reason spawns from your attitude of late."
"I suggest to you, Mister Walden," said Bart somewhat angrily, "that you take care in the manner of your words."
"You sought my opinion, Captain," John Walden replied, "However, I cannot speak true if doing so will prove to be my demise."
"Aye, of course. I crave your forgiveness," Bart said apologetically, "pray continue."
"’Tis a large company, over four hundred, and quite a challenge to keep in order, but of late they have become uneasy. It’s my observances that it be you, Captain, which makes them thus. Your temper flares with very little provocation. ‘Twas not long since, that you killed that poor fellow, ne’er giving him a chance, and for that, despite the wound inflicted upon him by your Cutlass, you suffered a handsome beating by his mess-mate, Thomas Jones. But they all saw, before coming to your aid, that you could not defend yourself. Most of us know it was because of the head injury you had suffered when you hit the cannon, but others do not."
Seeing that, John Walden harbored many deep rooted thoughts, he wished to know, Bart encouraged him to tell him more. "Continue, John. What else be amongst your observations?"
"To further complicate matters, you offered a standing challenge to all members of the company who do not like your ever guiding principles. It’s fortunate you be pistol-proof, Captain. Having the love of your men is a great thing, even your enemies, the majority of them that is, hold you in the highest regard. As for the remainder, and I am speaking of folks everywhere, the lots of ‘em shiver and shake at the very mention of your name3,18."
Location: ‘The West Coast of Africa’
Upon returning, Bart found his company still carousing about the small hamlet, but even with the intelligence learned here regarding H.M.S. Swallow, Captained by Chalenor Ogle and H.M.S. Weymouth, commanded by Captain Herdman, each being that of a second rate Ship-Of-The-Line, not having plans to rendezvous in this place until late December. They nonetheless, having been in Whydah for nigh on six weeks, decided it was time sail.
London Gazette 29 July 1721
Our merchants are in no little pain from the Brazilian Fleet; being apprehensive of
the famous pirate Roberts who hath of late, done so much damage in the West Indies."
The company, well rested, their ships careened and fitted, watered and well provisioned for their adventure, as well as amused by the latest mention in a Newspaper, they took to the sea in the beginning of August 1721, along with the two newest members of Bart’s crew, William Watts and William Davis who, from the settlement, joined the company last July.
"It’s was a prosperous beginning for their marauding along the coast en route to Calabar; they took every ship they encountered, including the French slave ships, Saint René and the Hermoine10. The next three sail they sighted, them being the Stanwich Galley commanded by Captain Tarlton; a Snow named Martha, under Captain Lady, and also a Dutch Ship.
Come September they spied at Sestos, a fair Frigate bearing the name of Onslow, commanded by Captain Gee. She was a grand Frigate belonging to the ‘ROYAL AFRICAN COMPANY.’ Having plans to provision and water, she unwittingly invited Captain Roberts to enter her parlor, for despite their presence in the harbor, found her lying peacefully at anchor. With her Captain ashore, the Onslow was not only an easy catch, but many of her crew joined Bart’s company. Hearing of their successful ventures, the soldiers who were aboard also wished to join, but being landlubbers, Bart wasn’t too keen on the idea and decided to leave the decision to his crew. After many solicitations, and hearing their chief complaint: “Being stout fellows, We will starve upon a little Canky and Plantain.” they grew weary of receiving them, and decided to accept the soldiers, but only should they settle for one-quarter of a share. This a sum, surprisingly so, was readily accepted. This pittance, so deemed by Bart’s company, was considered to be more of an act of charity than a share, for they had little faith in their ability to sail, but being soldiers, they felt they would prove their worth as members of a boarding party1,2.
Being a Sabbatarian, Bart was for recruiting, the Reverend Roger Price, who, en route from England to his new position as the Chaplain at Cape Coast Castle, was aboard the Onslow.
There were also others in Bart’s company who hoped he’d stay on. Accordingly, promising that his duties would be limited to those in keeping with his office and the making of punch, they offered him a full share. However, and to their regret, the good clergy declined. Being good men and true, the crew, showing the him proper respect, did nothing to sway his persuasions. Moreover, Bart’s crew returned to him, all the items he stated to be his. In parting, the clergyman, being ever gracious, left them with three prayer books and a bottle screw, all of which, Bart’s company were grateful to receive.
Captain Roberts, was of course, for keeping the fine, newly built Frigate as his flagship, and thus, she was christened forthwith as his fifth Royal Fortune.
Altho’ she had served them well, they, not having any use for the older French ship, kindly bestowed her to Captain Gee, who, though not totally pleased, had the good sense not to object too loudly.
Without delay they made her suitable as a sea rover, and together with The Ranger they cruised leisurely down the coast towards Jaquin.
Continuing on, they made their way to Calabar, arriving in October. Their purpose, to careen their ships. The place was perfectly suited to their task. Not only was the sandbar surrounded by only a mite more than two fathoms water, it laid within an intricate channel that was not affable to ships with a draft similar to those possessed by a Man-of-War such as H.M.S’s. Swallow, and the Weymouth, nor was it a place likely to be piloted by one who was unfamiliar in those waters.
The Commander of the Joceline, Captain Loane, who knew the area well, piloted Captain Roberts’ ships into the harbor and his name was inscribed within the journal of their accounts, showing not only that Bart paid him for his assistance, but paid him extremely well. Altho’ this was not attribute was not the norm amongst the brethren, Bart preferred to pay well for services rendered, for it afforded him kind thoughts where they were needed. And this was all that Bart received from the Joceline. One of her crew, Robert Haws, signed on board the Royal Fortune.
Also while in these waters, Bart’s crew made jovial conquests of two Galleys. The first was the Mercy. The other was called Cornwall. Also cruising in these waters was a ship commanded by one, Captain Fletcher named The Porcupine. The three of them, being of Bristol origin, made the plundering much more pleasurable, yet, in this region, these vessels were the least of their labors. The natives of Calabar were no where near as friendly as those which inhabited the other places Bart and his crew had visited. These inhabitants, whose men alone numbered upwards of 2,000, had been taught, all too well, the penalties incurred by any who traded with ‘GENTLEMAN OF FORTUNE.’ Ergo, the natives would have nothing to do with men of that ilk, which included Captain Roberts and his crew. After Bart’s verbal efforts proved to be fruitless, he ordered his crew, with pistols out, to march upon them, and such, as the natives surpassed his well known patience, was obliged by their actions to fire a volley. When they did not flee as Captain Roberts hoped, and still refused his patronage, Bart had no choice but to take the provisions they needed. Moreover, Bart’s crew reminded him of a necessary evil, and although it pained him greatly, Captain Roberts had no choice but to demonstrate just how ruthless he could be, and thus, after taking the provisions they’d come for, Bart was forced to agree to burning of their village ablaze.
Losing no time, they sailed on to Cabo de Lopo Gonsalves, where they took on fresh water before continuing on to Annobón where they would gather the remaining provisions needed before sailing for the coast.
Come January, cruising in the south region, nigh Cape Lahou, they spied a fair prize. Being about a league to the leeward of Cape Appollonia, they encountered unfavorable winds, whereby, upon the hoisting out the Royal Fortune’s longboat, Captain Roberts called for volunteers. “Who will go?”
As ever, there was no shortage of courageous men who were anxious to go, for out of a prize, those having made the capture were allowed first choice from clothes on board. Of those most eager, Bart choose twenty. Leading the prize crew was their Quarter-Master, William Magnes. Also among them was, William Main, their Boatswain; T. Oughterlauney, Ship’s Pilot; Mister Petty, a Sail-maker and Abraham Harper, their Cooper. Aside from these here men, the rest were called upon by list, allowing, as per Bart’s Articles, a new shift of cloathing. All of the members within Captain Roberts’ crew were permitted such, providing there was enough to go round, but those called by list had first choice of whatever clothes were available.
Rowing towards the ship with a great deal of enthusiasm, the prize crew was hailed by her commander, Captain Trahern, who liking not the looks of the situation, fired his musket as encroachers sailed beneath the King Solomon’s stern in a rather futile attempt to thwart them. In return, Captain Roberts crew responded by firing a volley of their own.
As soon as able, Captain Roberts’ eager band of volunteers wasted no time making their intentions known. At that time, Captain Trahern asked his crew to stand by him in defense of the ship. Furthermore, Captain Trahern implied there was shame upon them for fearing a number half their own, but if their refusal was not enough, Captain Trahern was further humiliated when his own Boatswain, William Philips, took it upon himself the right to speak for the ship, stating, “I shall not!” and continued, in the King’s name, mind you, to lay down his arms, and next, taking even more power unto himself, called for quarters. His close mates, not knowing what else to do, believing it was the best course to assure their survival, promptly took his example to heart and his action were followed forthwith by every member of the crew.
In an action which prompted a measure of quibbling from Captain Trahern, Bart’s prize crew slipped the cable that anchored the King Solomon, and doing their Captain proud, was quickly underway. John Walden wasted no time putting an end to his fussing when he informed him that since the ship was to be burnt, “The anchor shan’t be needed,” which brought forth a mixed reaction from the King Solomon’s crew, but as No man was forced to sign the articles, or in anyway made to join their ranks Lord William Magnes assured them that those who wished not to join the company would be set ashore in a place where passage to whence they came could be achieved. It was not long before the King Solomon was along side Bart’s flagship, and not wasting time, the prize was relieved of all items deemed worthy of plundering.
Later this same day near Axim, a Dutch Fort West of Cape Three Points on the Gold Coast, Captain Roberts came upon the Dutch ship Flushingham, of which they kindly deprived of her masts. The boarding party also helped themselves to her yards, and a vast quantity of stores, including many a fowl which would be dressed for supper. To increase their joy, the ship also provided Captain Roberts’ crew with a wealth of long unseen culinary delights, thereby bringing to a close a long-awaited end to the deprivation that they, for so long a time, had yearned to quench. As a matter of course, Captain Roberts graciously invited the ship’s master, Geret de Haen, to sup with him, providing he supplied the drink, and he did just that.
Come evening, to wile away the hours, Bart’s crew merrily sang the songs found within Captain Haen’s prayer book, an aspect that stupefied the Dutch Captain2.
* * *
Coming too close in at Whydah, seeing that the coast was obviously beset with alarm, it must be assumed that some landlubber recognized one of Bart’s ships as they neared the area. Later it was learned that upon the sighting, an urgent message was sent to both the English and Dutch factories, which inspired so much fear, that four French ships departed immediately. One of them, the Union, had left in such a hurry, that twenty of her crewmen were abandoned on the shore4. To make the best of the circumstances, Bart hovered betwixt Whydah Road, Axim, and the Côte d’Ivory, where he and his crew took six more prizes.
’Twas the eleventh day of January, 1722, when Bart, feeling the time was right, sailed into Whydah Road. Flying atop his mainmast was Saint George’s ensign, and atop his mizzen was his personal Jack, which was not only quite well known, but greatly feared.
Within first sight, the watch spied an array of eleven ships (English, French and Portuguese.) The three French ships were large, carrying some thirty guns, and upwards of 100 men each. Nonetheless, their numbers not being a deterrence, Bart sailed in, and to his continued amazement, the lot of ‘em struck their colors as soon as his Flotilla was in firing range.
Taking the fleet into his possession, Captain Roberts placed a formidable prize crew upon each ship to guard his prizes, and seeing that the Captains of the vessels were ashore concluding business, Bart sent forth a messenger informing them their ships had been seized, but being the generous sort, he would gladly allow them the opportunity to buy them back at a fair price, and should they wish to commence with negotiations it was suggested that they send word at once.
As expected, several communiqués transpired betwixt Captain Roberts and the Captains ashore by messenger before an agreement was reached, whereby, Bart agreed to ransom their ships for the sum of eight pounds of Gold-Dust each.
Amid these negotiations, some of Bart’s crew, although they did promise to return her should she not be a good sailor, absconded with a thirty-two gun French Man-of-War. Giving assurance of this, they took with them some fifteen of her crew for said purpose, just in case.
The sum was accepted by all except Captain Fletcher. For the others, wishing to show to their employers proof of their loss, receipts were requested.
Altho’ such a request was no doubt unprecedented, Captain Roberts agreed and wrote out the following:
This is to certify whom it may doth concern, that wee, ‘GENTLEMEN OF FORTUNE,’ have received eight pounds Gold-Dust for the ransom of the Hardy, Captain Dittwitt Commander, so that wee Discharge the Ship.
Witness our Hands this, Batt. Roberts
13th of January 1721-2 Harry Glasby
A likeness was sent to each commander. In the matter of the Portuguese Captains, who, although given a similar likeness, bore an exception. They were signed by David Sympson and Thomas Sutton, who, considering the matter a joke, signed their names, Aaron Whiffingpin and Sim. Tugmutton.
Returning to the commander of The Porcupine, Captain Fletcher. He and Captain Roberts had met before. Still possessing clout with the owner of the previous ship that Bart had captured and sank, Captain Fletcher managed to get command of a new ship, which ironically, had been christened with the same name. This bloke, however, saying that no mention of what to do in a like situation is mentioned in the ship’s papers, saw fit not to pay the ransom. Ergo, with no prescribed action being spelled out plainly within his directive regarding such matters, and thinking, so he claimed, that since it was likely that such a loss would not be reimbursed, he refused. So going the order of things, reinforcing his previous example which others would learn by, Captain Roberts’ opted to burn his ship. First however, the Negroes who were held hostage on board, those men who would be wrongfully sold into slavery if Bart had not come along to free them as he had done countless times before, they must first be released. To this task, Captain Roberts sent John Walden and his mate Richard Harris in longboats, whereby, after removing their shackles, the would be slaves would be free, and until such time that a safe retreat for them could be found, they would be given sanctuary aboard the ships within Bart’s fleet. Later, those who were worthy seaman could, if desired, join Bart’s crew, or if they preferred, they could join the others in the relocation, where hopefully they could live out their lives in peace3.
Nonetheless, bad things sometimes happen, and taking that into account, it must be said that Misters Walden and Harris, who having been gone for a brief spell only, and to Captain Roberts’ horror, had set fire to the ship their reason being that there was not enough time to remove the cumbersome shackles that bound both their wrists and ankles.
Captain Roberts could not describe the profound anguish he felt as he watched helplessly as many of the slaves who were supposed to be freed, still chained, two and two together, jumped ship, only to find themselves facing an equally horrific end when they were torn to pieces in the shark infested waters. Those who were trapped below in the lower holds, that would have been forced to spend the long journey lying down, given just barely enough food and water to keep them alive, as well as having no choice but to wallow in their own excrement for the duration (many of whom on countless previous such ventures perished from hunger and disease,) but these captives shan’t endure either, for they had no way to escape the flames that took their lives1,2,19. Only a few had manage to escape into the awaiting longboats to arrive safely on one of Bart’s ships to join the others who had already been liberated from the other ship’s within this wretched place. In any case, Mister Walden, whatever his excuse, had, in Captain Roberts’ opinion, committed no less that a murderous act, without conscience that cost the lives of the 80 prisoners still on board.
It was soon learned that the haste to which Mister Walden spoke was a letter that he was given when he boarded the Porcupine, a letter which had been intercepted by one of Captain Roberts’ scouts only moments earlier. Said communication (excerpt below,)
“Such brave Fellows cannot be suppozid to be frightened at this News, yet that it were better to avoid dry Blows, which is the best that can be expected, if overtaken2.”
was written by the Honorable James Phipps, Esq., General of the Coast, to Mister Baldwin, who was the agent for the ‘ROYAL AFRICAN COMPANY,’ there at Whydah.
The ‘INTERCEPTED DISPATCH’ not only supported Walden’s argument, but was the sole entity that saved the lives of Walden and Harris from Bart’s wrath.
Nonetheless, the repulsive act, regardless of the reason, brought about complete revulsion concerning that of John Walden. Bart had held this man as a friend, ne’er did he conceive until this occasion that he could be capable of committing such an atrocity, and in reprisal, Captain Roberts choose never again be in his presence.
In it’s entirety, the letter gave an account of Captain Roberts’ whereabouts, stating that his Flotilla had been spied to the windward of Cape Three Points, cautioning Mister Baldwin to be upon his guard should Captain Roberts and his company arrive upon Whydah Road prior to the arrival of H.M.S. Swallow. After reading the letter, Bart gathered together his crew and departed, smartly.
Being sure the Captain’s of both H.M.S. Weymouth, and Swallow, were quite literally hunting him, Bart set sail for Annamaboa with all speed, for it was a place, in his opinion, capable of provided them a place of safety while they careened the ships before proceeding to Parrot Island.
THE FINAL HOUR
Location: ‘Parrot Island, Nigeria’s Estuary, West Africa’
There were several fresh men that desired to know why Bart, who had been fortunate enough to hold the rank of third mate upon a so-called honest Merchant, had turned pirate.
"I am not of their ilk," he told them. "I am Bartholomew Roberts and I make my own way. I shan’t be governed by the silly misconceptions of others who hold their positions through wealth, influence and little common sense, nor shall I lower my ideals simply because I am a pirate. Those other men are interested only in themselves, and possess little or no concern for their fellow man. This, I am afraid, is commonplace in regards to those in power. Moreover, what I do not like as a private man I can reconcile to my conscience as a Commander16.”
After a moments pause, Bart continued saying, “Ergo, my reason is a simple one. ’Tis to get rid of the disagreeable superiority of some masters peregrinations had accustomed me. In an honest Service," I tells them, “there is thin Commons, low Wages, and hard Labour; in this, Plenty and Satiety, Pleasure and Ease, Liberty and Power; and who would not balance Creditor on this Side, when all the Hazard that is run for it, at worst, is only a sower Look or two at choaking2.”
Pausing briefly before concluding with his thoughts, Bart continued in a most deliberate tone, “No!” and repeating that which he had said many times before, “A merry Life and a short one, shall be my Motto2.”
Captain Roberts had no knowledge of Captain Chaloner Ogle’s ruthless propensities (who, lacking honor, possessed no qualm when it came to sailing, ‘ruse de guerre’, nor that the commander of the H.M.S. Swallow had been given a particular commission, (chosen with regard to those aforementioned, ignoble specialties, so much desired by the crown,) to seek out and destroy him, and on Monday, the fifth of February, 1722, while sailing pass an estuary off the coast of Nigeria, the Swallow’s watch spied three vessels known to be in Captain Roberts fleet: The Royal Fortune, the Little Ranger, and the Great Ranger, all riding peacefully at anchor, off Parrot Island.
Come Monday, the fifth of February, 1722, a great ship was spied by the watch. At first, the ship ventured rather close, when suddenly, she turned tail and headed back to the open sea. Believing her to be a Portuguese Merchant, for such was depicted by the flag flown from the top of her mainmast, Bart asked, “Who will go?”
Knowing that a vast amount of her cargo ought be sugar, for at the time it was the main cargo within those waters, and such was in much want by those in Bart’s company, the number of volunteers was considerable.
As Captain Roberts hollered, "Ready the Great Ranger, for it shall be she who will capture the cargo so many of you desire." In this, not only did the entire crew of the Great Ranger prepare, but they were joined by some twenty men from the Royal Fortune, including her Boatswain, Lord Main, as well as many others from the Little Fortune. As the Great Ranger headed for the open sea, those who stayed behind knew it would be days before they would return.
On Saturday, the tenth of February, around ten in the morning, a sail was sighted by a member of the crew, who, being too quick to judge, informed his Captain that the Great Ranger was returning.
At half past ten, a member of, Bart’s company, Robert Armstrong, who had once served aboard the Swallow, asserted his knowledge. After positively identifying the approaching ship, he burst into the Great cabin where Captain Roberts and his guest, Captain Hill of the Neptune, were just finishing breakfast; a meat and vegetable dish called Salmagundi.
Robert Armstrong was quick to tell Captain Roberts his news, and upon hearing such, Bart leap to his feet and made haste to the open deck, only to discover his crew, themselves not being certain of Armstrong’s identification, continued to celebrate the previous days capture of the Neptune, and to Bart’s displeasure, the lot of them were inebriated. It wasn’t until H.M.S. Swallow ran out her guns, that the crew took notice, and learnt at once that the ship’s captain, Captain Ogle, had hoisted several flags, which served well to confuse any onlookers.
Knowing the situation to be desperate, Captain Roberts, even though he knew they would have to run by the Man-Of-War in order to make their escape, issued his battle orders with boldness and spirit.
Altho’ still being boarded by the Little Fortune’s crew, the Royal Fortune slipped her anchor and got underway. And while preparations were being made, Bart donned his finest attire.
Suddenly, enhancing the tension, a “tempest of pouring rain, lightning, thunder and a small tornado1,2.” befelled them.
It was nigh on eleven o’clock when the Royal Fortune was not only abreast the Man-Of-War, but within pistol shot. Bart’s black flag was hoisted proudly atop his main tops’l, and the Swallow, who had at last displayed her true colors, gave a full broadside to the Royal Fortune. Altho’ the Royal Fortune’s mizzen top-mast was felled and some of her rigging was disabled, she returned fire with a broadside of her own, but unfortunately, it did not cause equal damage. The Swallow was a vastly larger ship, a 2nd rate ship of the line.
Nonetheless, the Royal Fortune was a better sailor, and sailing better than her opponent. While both ships continued to fire such guns as both ship’s could bring to bear, the Royal Fortune shot ahead. She was clear, but for reasons unknown, her sails suddenly luffed. Captain Roberts, and his crew, tried desperately to again direct the sails to catch the wind, but it was fruitless. As the Swallow drew along side, Captain Roberts, once again, to better direct the firing of the guns, leapt upon a one of cannon, and when the trajectory was perfect, he hollered, "Fire!" pouring a fearsome broadside into the great Warship.
However, his is bold move this occasion, proved to be his last, for Captain Roberts was hit about half past one, his throat torn out by grapeshot. As he died, he fell atop the blocks and tackles of the gun he had been standing upon9. Forthwith, his mainmast, whereupon his Jolly Roger was proudly flown, having been shot just below the parrel, came crashing down to land at his feet.
Captain Roberts slumped beside a cannon, his throat out by grapeshot.
His near lifeless body was found by John Stephenson, who was not only the ship’s pilot, but a long time mate dating back to his days aboard the Princess of London. Unaware of his Captain’s fatal injury, assuming that he had crouched down to avoid confrontation, cursed at him, “Stand up and fight like a man1,2!” But when no movement was seen, he rushed over to him, and as he knelt beside him, he heard Captain Roberts utter his last words. “A Merry Life and a Short oneN4.” As his beloved Captain died, Stephenson gushed into tears, saying, “I wish for the next lot to be mine1,2.”
‘Twas not long before the majority of his crew discovered that their fearless leader had been mortally wounded, and like Stephenson, the lot of ‘em burst into tears.
Showing both their loyalty and love for their Captain, his crew honored the request he so frequently made. Ne’er did Bart want to be taken, and as such, ‘twas his desire to have his body, dressed in all his finery, thrown over-board rather than falling helpless into the hands of his enemies, thereby preventing his capture even after death1,2,3,15.
‘Twas apparent that although they did try for a spell as they knew their Captain would have wanted, the strength that Captain Roberts so fervently instilled within their hearts was gone, and near Frenchman’s Bank, off Cabo de Lopo Gonsalves, after an attempt by the crew failed to blow the ship to bits, Captain Roberts brave crew surrendered, and his beloved ship was taken. And thus, the magnificent career of the one known as Captain Bartholomew Roberts, whose life was dedicated to freeing others from oppression, even though to some he be only a pirate, was ended.
A true-life Zorro, Cisco Kid, Hopalong Cassidy and Robin Hood rolled into one; the ultimate ‘WHITE KNIGHT’, though ‘twas Crimson he wore. However, pride in his homeland was the reason for this choice. Bartholomew Roberts, together with his morals and sense of right and justice, were all part of that which made up this incomparable man.
The Royal Fortune was taken to Port Royal, Jamaica and anchored under Saltpan Hill. A short time later, on the twenty-eighth day of August, 1722, a storm to best all those who had come before her, delivered to Captain Roberts, his pride, his Royal Fortune.
A better day it’ll be when all of those who think of others in the role of the greatest and/or most famous pirate, e.g. Morgan, Kidd and Blackbeard, come to realize who it is that is truly worthy of such a title. Some may be better known, but greater they are not. The Honor of the Greatest and Most Successful pirate, although this be only one facet of this man’s persona, belongs to pirate Captain John ‘Bartholomew’ Roberts. An honor, being dubbed, "THAT GREAT PYRATE," he earned while living, and shall be, for ALL TIME, his!
* * *
--- Salmagundi ---
Reputed as being Captain Roberts’ favorite meal.
Begin with any kind of Roasted of meat, (including turtle, duck, or pigeon.) Chop into chunks and marinated overnight in spiced wine.
Add herring &/or anchovies if desired.
When ready, combine the meat with 3 or 4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped. Add whatever fresh or picked vegetables & fruit that's available, (including palm hearts, cabbage, onions, olives & mangos.) Stir together with a little oil, vinegar, crushed garlic, salt, pepper & a tad of dry mustard.
* * *
All references within this book that refer to what others have written in the books listed below are found by there number only. All other references are found by a Letter or Acronym.
#1: Charles Johnson: A General History of the Robberies & Murders of the most Notorious Pirates.
#2: Daniel Defoe: A General History of the Pyrates - (1972 edition)
#3: That Great Pirate by Aubrey Burl
#4: The Book of Welsh Pirates & Buccaneers by Terry Breverton
#5: Life Among The Pirates: The Romance and the Reality by David Cordingly
#6: Flags at Sea by Timothy Wilson
#7: Iron Men & Wooden Woman
#8: Pirates by David Mitchell
#9: Pirates by Angus Konstam
#10: Pirates!: Brigands, Buccaneers, and Privateers in Fact, Fiction, and Legend:
#11: Rebels and Raiders by Frank Sherry:
#12: The Pirates Own Book: Authentic Narratives of the Most Celebrated Sea Robbers by Marine - Research Society:
#13: The Ocean Almanac by Robert Hendrickson.
#14: The Diligent: A Voyage through the Worlds of the Slave Trade by Robert Harms
#15: Black Bart by Stanley Richards:
#16: Open Secrets by Piet Brinton and Roger Worsley
#17: Privateering and Piracy in Colonial America:
OFFICIAL PUBLIC RECORDS
High Court Admiralty Papers, PRO
(Henceforth & within this book is referred to as ‘HCA’)
1: Stephenson, Second Mate; John Eastwell, ship’s carpenter; William Gittus, a gunner. James Bradshaw, John Jessup, John Owen, Thomas Rogers and John Robert.
2: Experiment. 1/54, 119 (Grant)
3: 13 Men Marooned. 1/49
4: The Fortune: 1/55, 51
5: St. Barthelemy: 1/55, 53
CALENDAR STATE PAPERS
(Henceforth & within this book is referred to as ‘CSP’)
1: This info taken from ‘That Great Pyrate,’ by Aubrey Burl who, within his extensive list of sources wrote on page 231, under Chapter 8 #11: "The Raid on Ferryland: WJ or BG, November 26, 1720. Newfoundland shipping: CSP (col), October 3, 1720, 165-9, no.251.
COLONIAL OFFICE PAPERS, PRO
(Henceforth & within this book is referred to as ‘COP’)
1: Temperance. 31/15. Barbados minutes; 518
2: Philippa Sloop. 31/15. 1140
3: Benjamin. 31/15. 1175
4: Joseph Sloop. 31/15. 1140
5: Letter from Placentia 194/6/83, 367.
Cape Coast Castle Trial. Direct Testimony, March 1722
(Henceforth & within this book is referred to as ‘T’)
1: Letters: Bundle 104; London Gazette, January 28th, 1721;
Appleby's Original Weekly Journal, July 1, 1721
Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series, BMRR
(Henceforth & within this book is referred to as ‘CSP’)
1: CSP 31/14, 1
2: Robert Dunn: #251.
3: St. Christophers: October 3, 1720, 165-9 & also reported within the Newpaper's, Weekly Journal and also British Gazette, December 3, 1720. More information found within the Colonial Office Papers, PRO.
---Newspaper Reports not found within the body of this book---
NP1: Weekly Journal or Saturday Post late 1719, the Princess of London left England with Snelgrave’s, Bird in November 1718, arriving off the Guinea coast twixt March and April 1719.
(Henceforth and within this book is referred to as ‘E1, E2, E3 & so-forth’)
E1: Taken from the file so possessed by the Massachusetts Historical Society.
E2: Taken from "Burke's genealogical and heraldic history of the landed gentry, Volume 2" by John Burke
Page 845 is stated that Lieutenant-General, Sir William Mathew, Governor of Saint Christophers (among his other styles.) was married to the Baroness Van Leemputt, of Holland.
W1: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Lowther_(1681-1745) & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Lowther_(died_1703)
---TERMINOLOGY WITHIN THIS BOOK---
Aft: Toward, or near the stern.
Bow: Front of the ship.
Boatswain aka Boatswain : is responsible for the maintenance of the ship and its equipment e.g. rigging, anchors, cables, etc…
Broadside: To fire all cannon on one side simultaneously.
Careen: To heel over a ship and clean the weed and barnacles the hull.
Colors: The ship's flag.
Consort: A companion vessel.
Cox'n: The helmsman responsible for steering a row boat.
Fo'c's'le: Forward part of the ship.
Foremast: The foremost mast.
Heel: To lean to one side.
Hogshead: 63 gallons; 0.238 cubic meters; or 52 ½ imperial gallons.
Larboard: The left side of the ship when facing towards the bow.
Leeward: The side or direction away from the wind.
Starboard: Right side of the ship when facing towards the bow.
Piece of Eight: Silver coins aka 'eight reales' and pecos.
Mainmast: The principal mast of a vessel: ordinarily, the second mast from the bow, of a ship with two or more masts.
Mizzenmast: The mast next aft of the mainmast. And although not relevant to this book, the shorter of the two masts on a Ketch or Yawl.
Moidore: A Portuguese gold coin.
Quarter-deck: A deck above the main deck which stretched from the stern to up and to as far as half the length of the ship. Restricted to the Captain and ship's officers and those especially invited. From whence the ship was controlled.
Ratlines: One of the small ropes fastened across the shrouds of a ship, used as the rounds of a ladder for going aloft of descending.
Shipmaster: The captain or master of a merchant ship.
Annamaboa: (Now spelt Anomabu) is a fort on the coast of Ghana.
Annobón: Is a small Island, some 7 square miles, within the Gulf of Guinea Southwest of São Tomö.
Barbados: (166 sq miles / 430 sq km) Latitude/Longitude 13º 10N, 59º 32W
Bennet's Key: Within the Gulf of Samana, located on the east side of Santo Domingo.
Brava: Lowest of the Cape Verde Islands.
Carriacou Isle: is the largest island of the Grenadines.
Corvocoo Isle: is located within the Grandillos (now: Granada Islands.)
Deseada: Now: la Désirade off the East coast of Guadeloupe.
Dominico: Now: Commonwealth Dominico (290 sq miles / 750 sq km) Latitude/Longitude 15º 25N, 61º 20W
Fernando de Noronha Isle: is situated along the East Coast of Brazil, just South of the Equator.
Grandillos: now the Granada Islands.
Guinea: (off the West coast of Africa at the Equator)
High Cameroon: (off the West coast of Africa. An estuarial inlet in the Gulf of Guinea in the Cameroon’s Coast.)
Isle of Princes, The aka El Principe: Official Name Republic of São Tomë and Principe --- (371 sq miles / 960 sq km) Latitude/Longitude 1º 30N, 8º E
La Baía de Todos os Santo: aka "Bay Of All Saints."
Santo Domingo: (18,815 sq miles / 48,730 sq km) Latitude/Longitude 19º 00N, 70º 40W (now called the Dominican Republic. In between time it was known as Hispaniola.)
Côte d’Ivoire: aka Ivory Coast
Martinique: (426 sq miles / 1,060 sq km) Latitude/Longitude 14º 40N, 61º 00W
Montserrat: (approx 40 sq miles / 102 sq km) Latitude/Longitude 16º 45N, 62º 42W
Moonay Islet: Now spelt Mona Islet.
Parrot Island: an small island within Nigeria‘s estuary. Off the West coast of Africa.
River of Saminah: on the coast of Guiana [then-Caiana] (FR), South America, just east of Suriname and West of Brazil.
Saint Barthelémy: aka St. Bartholomew, St. Barth & St. Barts (8 sq miles/21 sq km) Latitude/Longitude 17º 50N, 62º 50W
St. Christophers: aka St. Kitts --- (68 sq miles) Latitude/Longitude 17º 20N, 62º 45W
The Grenadines: (150 sq miles (389 sq km) Latitude/Longitude 13º 16N, 61º 23W
Surinam, is on the N.E. Coast of South America, Now spelt Suriname (62,344 sq miles / 161,470 sq km)
Tobago and Trinidad: (sq miles unknown) Latitude/Longitude 11º 00N, 61º 00W
---TYPES OF SHIPS---
All ships described herein are as they were built or rigged During the time of Bartholomew Roberts.
Bark / Barque: A ship with at three-masted ship which is square-rigged, except for the mizzen-mast, which is fore-and-aft rigged.
Barkentine / Barquentine: A three-masted ship that's square-rigged on the foremast and fore-and-aft on the other two masts.
Brig/Brigantine: A two-masted ship, square-rigged on both masts -or- square-rigged on the foremast and fore-and-aft on the mizzenmast.
Frigate: A three-masted ship, smaller than a typical ship of the line and larger than a corvette. May or may not be equipped with oars.
Galley: Another name for a oar equipped Frigate.
Merchant: Any vessel used for the purpose of carrying large quantities of cargo. Generally three-masted and traveling great distances e.g. transatlantic voyages.
Man-of-War: A heavily armed Naval Warship.
Pink: A merchant vessel with a shallow draught and narrow stern. Can be variously rigged like a brig or a sloop.
Pinnace: A six or eight oared boat, carried on board some ships, especially a Man-of-War. Also a small schooner-rigged vessel used a tender; a scout.
Schooner: A multi-masted vessel, rigged fore-and-aft on all masts. Some also have topsails, a square sail on the foremast or both topmasts.
Ship of the Line: A Warship large enough to take a place in the line of battle, carrying from 50 to 100 cannon.
Sloop: A small vessel with four to twelve cannon on her upper deck, having one, two or three masts.
Sloop-of-War: A small warship.
Snow: Similar to a brig with two-masts, square-rigged on both masts, with a trysail mast just astern the mainmast.
BOOKS BY V’léOnica Roberts
1) Bolt Of Fruition
A Novel. Early 21st Century, Wales. Captain Roberts lives at a Bed & Breakfast, as a ghost.
2) The True & Complete Memoirs of the Pyrate Captain, Extraordinaire! The Illustrious Captain, John ‘Bartholomew’ Roberts The Most Successful Pyrate of ALL Time!
Available in two formats. Hard & Soft Cover. The latter has always been hand bound; both are accompanied by extras. 1 of Cap’n Roberts’ 2 Pirate Flags (3’x5’,) an 8"x10" color picture of him (suitable for framing,) an 8.5”x11” print out of his Articles on Parchment (also suitable for framing,) a print out of his crew list, a print out of his historical timeline, & copies of several documents, including his brother’s will in both the original Welsh & the English translation (translated by Richard Davies - a descendent,) Death Sentence of his crew, & more.
3) Willing Captive
Sequel to Bolt Of Fruition. Historical. Includes the complete Memoirs of Captain Roberts
4) Blood & Swash: The Unvarnished Life Story of A Pirate Captain (Due to be released in 2013)
Comes in 4 formats, both Leather (limited edition) & Softcover over; Both are hand tied. Each copy is Signed & Dated. Each comes with a host of interactions; The Leather version comes with both of Captain Roberts’ flags, the Softcover comes with one of his two flags, plus a copy of the Captain’s Articles & a 8x10" Full Color photograph of the Captain’s portrait. The latter two are suitable for framing. These versions also comes with a print out of his crew list, a print out of his historical timeline, & copies of several documents, including his brother’s will in both the original Welsh & the English translation (translated by Richard Davies - a descendent who lives in Little Newcastle (The Captain’s Birthplace,) & more & a CD in pdf version. There’s also a Kindle version available without any of the extras.
5) Captain Bartholomew Roberts: A Pyrates Journal
This is a reprint of the Memoirs. It does not come with any of the extras.
NOTE: Unless this version is purchased from either cd-eBooks at www.amazon.com or from the www.bartholomewroberts.org website, it not come with any of the extras.
6) This here book, “The Adventures of That Great Pyrate Roberts” is also avail in 4 Formats. Softcover Interaction Version, Plain Softcover Version, CD .pdf, & Kindle versions. As with Blood & Swash & Captain Bartholomew Roberts, a Pyrate’s Journal, only those purchased from cd-eBooks at www.amazon.com or from the www.bartholomewroberts.org website, it not come with any of the extras at this time.
Ocean-Born Mary: The Truth Behind a New Hampshire Legend by Jeremy D'Entremont
Pages 9, 110 & 111