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New report of an attack by Edward England


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#1 Daniel

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Posted 19 March 2010 - 05:32 PM

The following account of an attack by Edward England does not appear to be on the Web and is not reported in Johnson's General History of the Pirates. It is from Elizabeth Donnan's Documents Illustrative of the History of the Slave Trade to America, 1932, reprinted 1965 by Octagon Books, pp. 96-100.

Deposition of Alexander Bradford.
Alexander Bradford late Cheife Mate of the Callabar Merchant Maketh Oath that the Said Ship (Thomas Kennedy being Master) was fitted out and Sail'd from Bristoll in the Month of September 1719, and was Bound for and proceeded to the Coast of Africa and had on Board no other Cargoe than what was proper for purchasing Negroes which was the Intent of the Voyage and the Negroes there purchased was to be Transported to the Collony of Virginia.

That about the 11th day of Xbr. att the Dawning of the Day in the Same Year the Said Ship in the prosecution of her Voyage being near to Old Callabar on the Coast of Guinia had the Misfortune to fall near Three Ships and a Brigantine wch proved to be all pirats one of which having Twenty Guns mounted And two hundred Men whose Commanders Name was England came up with them, And Hoysted a black Flagg with Death's head in itt And Fired at the Callabar Merchant and Soon entered on Board her by force of Arms and Beat and Abused Several of the Said Ships Company and threatned to Burn the Ship with her Cargoe. And forced the Master Thomas Kenedy with the Ship and her Company to goe with them into the River of Old Callabar and whilst there the pirats fitted their Ships and Cleaned them. All which time the Master and Company of the Callabar Merchant were prisoners and the Ship in the possession of the said piratts and that the said pirats After they had fitted their Ships and Cleaned them Departed from that river forceing the Callabar Merchant to Saile with them to Cape Lopas, and from thence to the Iland of Anabona and near the Said Iland After having been Nine Weeks in the possession of the Said Pirats and their prisoners all that time Did Obtain Liberty to Depart from them and proceed on their Voyage to Virginia and at their Departure they put on Board Twenty one Negro Men wch they gave the Master as a Satisfaction for the Damage they had done him the Said Twenty one Negroes were all new Negroes for they could Speak no Europian Language.

That the Callabar Merchant was fitted with Stores And of Burden and Accomodations And also had Sufficient Cargoe to have purchased upwards of Three Hundred Slaves had She escaped falling into the hands of these pirats who took away and distroyed whilst they had the possession of the Said Ship the Following goods (Vizt.).

One Hundred and Thirteen Copper barrs, Six Iron Barrs, Six Peaces of Photas, Twelve peaces of large Topseals, Twenty four peaces of romalls, Thirty peaces of Cuthleas, Ninty ps. of Brawles, four hundred forty five Bunches of Beads, Between three and four hundred wieght of Nailes, Between four and five hundred weight of pewter, one hundred and four Laced Hatts, Seven plain Hatts, Ten barrells of powder, one hundred and Eleven Tradeing Guns and Several other Goods damaged.

And also of the Ships Stores three ps. of Canvas, Six Casks of Beef and porke, two butts of Bread, Ten Anchors of French Brandy, three West India Barrels of Bottled Beer, Sixty Platform planks, Six Quoils of New Cordage, Two Firkins of Butter, and Fifteen Cheeses with all the Ships other Stores Except a Hundred of Bead and a Barrell of Bull Beef the Water and Negroes provision.

That We being forced from the Coast as Aforesaid And with but one half of our Compliment of Slaves {Vizt.) one hundred and Sixty, Thirty Six of which Dyed at Sea and Virginia Whereof this Deponent verily believes Twenty of them dyed partly and through the Ill useage they had from the pirats and by the want of provision at Sea, And the Superfluity After they arrived at Virginia, Also that Slaves Brought into Virginia was for Want of Provision so Maugre that the price was much Diminished.

There was Also lost at Callabar and Cape Lopas Three Slaves which was Occasioned by not keeping a Strict Watch as Usual which was out of our power to do being so Harrassed And always under the Command of the Said pirats, And this Deponent further Saith that he had taken from him by the said pirats In wearing Apparrel to the Value of Seven pounds Ten Shillings.


I am guessing that "Xbr." means October, X representing the Roman numeral ten for the tenth month. If so, this suggests that this was the time that Johnson describes England's crew as being in harbor and meddling with the native women until they came to blows with the men and set a village on fire. Possibly one of the other vessels could have been captained by the ubiquitous Oliver la Bouche, whom Johnson says was in the vicinity at this time, and another could have been the Peterborough, which Johnson says England had captured at this time, and which he cleaned and fitted out in much the way that Bradford reports.

#2 Fox

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Posted 20 March 2010 - 01:35 AM

I am guessing that "Xbr." means October, X representing the Roman numeral ten for the tenth month.


Or possible Decem-ber (Decem being latin for ten).

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#3 Mission

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Posted 20 March 2010 - 03:49 AM

I am guessing that "Xbr." means October, X representing the Roman numeral ten for the tenth month.


Or possible Decem-ber (Decem being latin for ten).

Yeah, one of the documents I read from 1697-98 dated things like that. December was represented as the 10th month.

What are 'Brawles'?

"Ten Anchors of French Brandy, three West India Barrels of Bottled Beer"

How much is an anchor? What the heck does "Barrels of Bottled Beer" mean? (Just curious.)
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#4 William Brand

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Posted 20 March 2010 - 04:48 AM

What the heck does "Barrels of Bottled Beer" mean? (Just curious.)


I've seen bottled beer and other bottled items packed in straw within barrels, which would be my take on this.

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#5 Daniel

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Posted 20 March 2010 - 05:52 AM

On further review, I think I agree that Xbr. must mean December.

Johnson says that England arrived in Madagascar around the beginning of the year 1720. If England captured Bradford on Dec. 11, 1719, kept him prisoner nine weeks (i.e. until Feb. 12, 1720) and then released him at Anobon, then obviously England could not have arrived in Madagascar until at least March, 1720. However, Johnson could be using March 25 as the "beginning" of 1720, in the old style. England would then have a busy, but not impossibly busy, few months between March and August as he sails to India, captures several vessels, sails back to Madagascar, careens and searches for Avery's men, and then sails for Anjouan where he meets and fights MacRae on August 17, 1720.

On the other hand, there is a letter dated May 20, 1720 from Governor Spotswood of Virginia saying that the Callabar Merchant arrived in Virginia last month, i.e. April. This is mistaken; the Callabar Merchant arrived no later than March, because Bradford gave his deposition on March 24, 1720. Still, this suggests that the Callabar Merchant arrived some time close to March or April, which is more consistent with the ship being released in February 1720 than in December 1719.

On the other hand, if the Callabar Mercant left Bristol in September 1720, then a capture date of Oct. 11, 1720 would have it no more than 40 days out of port, which is a very short time to reach Nigeria and buy 160 slaves; slavers often spent weeks on such a transaction. Dec. 11 is a far likelier date for the capture.

#6 Fox

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Posted 20 March 2010 - 06:12 AM

"Ten Anchors of French Brandy, three West India Barrels of Bottled Beer"

How much is an anchor? What the heck does "Barrels of Bottled Beer" mean? (Just curious.)


Anker = 8.5 gallons

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#7 Daniel

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 09:35 AM

What are 'Brawles'?


After an extensive search, I still have no idea what "Brawles" are.

Photas is an East India cotton. Romalls are "sea-handkerchiefs." Cuthleas is probably coarse cotton cloth. Donnan, IV, p. 98.

Topseals are not topsails as one might at first think, but rather "India goods in demand on the African coast" (Donnan IV p. 37). As Jack Sparrow would say, "Well, that's just maddeningly unhelpful." Given how much of the goods were some kind of textile, I speculate that topseales and brawles were also some kind of cloth or other, especially topseales given India's status at that time as the world leader in textile production.

There are many other bizarre words for the trading goods used on the Guinea Coast, any of which might have ended up as loot for the likes of Howell Davis, Bartholomew Roberts, or Edward England. For example, manelloes are metal rings used in trade (Donnan, IV, p74), and a scrivello was an elephant's tusk weighing less than 20 lbs (Donnan, III p124).

Edited by Daniel, 21 March 2010 - 09:35 AM.