Jib

Perfumed Pirates?

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I imagine that perfumes, scented oils, and powders may have been the personal possessions of wealthy prey on sailing ships. Any note of a pirate dabbing a bit on himself? Or would that type of treasure be sold off for coin or the embraces of a dockside trollop?

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Hi, Jib!

You are absolutely right! They had lots of fun with stuff like that (and, I'm sure sold, traded, or gave it as gifts when they were able to get ashore.)

Here's a reference:

"I could not refrain from laughing when I saw the fellows," recalled one pirate victim in 1716, "for they had, in rummaging my cabin, met with a leather powder bag and puff, with which they had powdered themselves from head to foot, walked the decks with their hats under their arms, minced their oaths, and affected all the airs of a beau with an awkwardness that would have forced a smile from a cynic." (From the book "If a Pirate I Must Be," by Richard Sanders, Published 2007, currently by Skyhorse Publishing.)

The book is about Bartholomew Roberts and is pretty good reading. It gives a pretty good "feel" for the life aboard and the actual piracies. You'll be amazed at how many ships Roberts and his crew took and how few ships resisted. Roberts (and other pirates) actually aided in the suppression of slavery!!!

Edited by Capt. Blue Eyes

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That makes it sound like they were parodying people, not wearing the stuff because they had a taste for it.

Does it give the original source of that quote in the foot or endnotes?

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Original source/quote...

I think it's in the end notes. I do remember running across it (the quote) before in another text somewhere. But, as you know, so many people have written their books "sourced" by some earlier author who may have just made it up.

This one sort of rings true, though. And, yes, there was a lot of parody and farce going on. More so than today. It was a good form of entertainment for what was a sea-going fraternity without video-games or TV.

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Oh, I wasn't questioning the source. I'd like to read it. It sounds like it was written by someone who reports details and I usually find those texts more interesting to read. (I've all but quit reading second-hand sources - it's not that hard to get hold of many of the original sources with a little work.)

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I feel the same way.

I started looking up the trial transcripts of the various crews that got caught. Wealth of info in those!

Much as I hate Cotton Mather, I'd like to read the full set of his "pamphlets' regarding the pirates he was preaching at prior to their hangings.

Another manuscript I'd like to get my hands on is the Trials of Pirates at Cape Coast Castle (or whatever it's titled) Supposed to be something like 180 some pages written by a clerk at the trial of Bart Robert's men. (Which would include Christopher Moody, etc.) I know it's out there, I just haven't come up with a place where I can d/l it yet.

One of the more interesting trial transcripts was Stede Bonnet. At one point, he asked a Capt. Manwaring (of the Francis, taken just off Cape Henlopen, Del.) if he had seen him (Bonnet) aboard his ship. Manwaring (obviously not wanting to contribute to the hanging of Bonnet) says "I'm sorry you asked me that, Major...." and then tells the court that Bonnet was aboard and sharing out the loot, etc.

That transcript also had the mate testifying that the pirates got into some pine-apples and then rum and "...they made punch...and sang a song or two." You could sort of just see it all happening. I didn't know they had pinapples being shipped back in 1718.

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The wig quotation is from the account given by Captain Evans of the Greyhound to Johnson, regarding his capture by Captain Kennedy, John Martel's successor, and printed by Johnson in the appendix of volume II of the General History.

Although it is not precisely identical, the bulk of the trial of pirates at Cabo Corso is also reprinted in the General History, and forms just under half the chapter on Bart Roberts. The full title of the printed version, which may help in your searches, is A Full and Exact Account, of the Tryal of all the Pyrates, lately taken by Captain OGLE, on Board the SWALLOW Man of War, on the Coast of Guinea, printed and sold by J. Roberts, in Warwick Lane, (London, 1723). It runs to 86 pages + index. It was transcribed by Mission's favourite, John Atkins, surgeon of the Swallow and register of the court.

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Atkins was a sea surgeon, you know. :D His is not my favorite sea surgery book, but I like it well enough. (You know, come to think of it, none of them are the perfect sea surgeon's book. Woodall's is hard to read and a bit scattered, Moyle's doesn't always contain as much detail as I'd like and Atkin's is slightly out of period and a bit preachy at times.)

I've never read a pirate trial transcript, other than what's in the General History. Maybe I'll see if I can dig that one up.

So, Ed, what do you think about scents in the 17th century for seamen, pirates and so forth? Any evidence to support it as a regular behavior as opposed to a parody?

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Atkins' book may be slightly out of period, but he himself certainly isn't - he actually patched up a few wounded pirates with his own hands!

I have no opinion either way about scents. They were around, but I don't think they were especially widespread (willing to be corrected). As for the parodying, I suspect that it depended largely on where the incident took place: the bit with the wigs above occurred at sea, so there was nobody around to see the elegant fellows and it degenerated into farce. On the other hand, when Davis, Cocklyn, and La Bouche wore those famous embroidered coats from Snelgrave's cabin they were moored up on the coast and they had hopes that the coats would impress the women ashore, so there's no farce or parody there.

Trial transcripts vary in depth and scope from one page summaries to pamphlet length verbatim accounts. Although they need to be treated with caution because they represent, in effect, a life and death argument between two parties with diametrically opposed standpoints, trial accounts are a really wonderful way of hearing the pirates themselves in their own words. There are a few available online, including some in Jameson's book, Privateering and Piracy in the Colonial Period, for which there's a Google books or Gutenberg link floating around somewhere.

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No, I know Atkins' book contains period examples. That's why I read it and entered it into my notes. Most of the books I've read talk about things that happened years before they were published. (This means eye-witness accounts in Woodall's book are essentially about things that happened around 1600-1615, which is actually quite far out of period. Yet his is the book every pirate/sea surgeon re-enactor seems to want to have and use as a reference.)

My interest in period trials for my research would be regarding the disposition of the sea surgeons and little else. I reprint non-surgical things here that I find interesting for those who enjoy such, but when you come right down to it, recollection of recent events is pretty bad, let alone what recall of things from years before. (Nearly every psychological study on human memory shows it to be spotty at best. If it interests you, look into the research on eyewitness testimony.) At the bottom of it, our period accounts will be colored by the author's perception, biases and desire to present a particular picture of themselves. (I have read three accounts of sea captains who have been presented with free female entertainment for the night and everyone of them has horrified by the thought of it and demurred.)

As for scents, I can't recall reading anything either way about them. Of course, it's not something I looked for either.

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Foxe,

Thanks for the correct title of the manuscript! I'll start searching for it.

The trial transcripts (some) can be found in the early law book compilations. So far, I've found Dawson, Kidd, (and Co.) Every, Quelch, Bonnet and a couple of others. Some parts are in Latin, such as the sentencing to hang between the "fluxem (and) refluxem" of the sea, etc. Those sentenced for treason at the time, were sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered, which in Latin reads almost poetic...

I'll try to get some sites for the free d/l s of those books and post them here. Most have a missing page or two, but the missing pages can be found by d/l another copy of the same book, (which may be missing other pages that you had in the first book!)

Still, I'm wonderin' about the "wearing of scents." My guess is they probably didn't wear it as a habit aboard. They might have "tested" it -- slopped some on themselves or each other as they discovered it in the plunder, much the same as one might sprtiz a beer or bit of rum on someone else when the party is going crazy, but other than that, they were probably a pretty stinky lot unless they were getting cleaned up and primped up for a trip ashore to meet the ladies.

I'd say they weren't much different than a group of (my day's) soldiers when we were in the field for a couple of weeks. After a bit, ya get used to the stink and you basically only bathe the "essentials." Then, when you know you're sneakin' off to town, you clean up a little (yes, we used our outer steel helmet shell as a bath and shaving basin -- among other things!) and maybe touch up with a bit of after-shave or something.

But, for the day to day aboard, I just don't see 'em getting too fussy about dressing up or smelling nice or anything like that.

Something I wonder about is if there are any surviving examples of pirate rope-work, ditty bags, stuff like wood carvings or scrimshaw. Pirates were sailors and sailors get "industrius" when they're bored and start making things with their hands. I'm sure pirates made stuff just like other sailors did. Also, I wonder what happened to Blackbeard's sword. I really doubt that Maynard returned to Hampton without it. It was a good trophy -- as would have been his Jolly Roger. I'm sure some of that stuff has to have survived somewhere but is forgotten in some family attic. Same for "trophies" taken by the other sailors aboard ships that took pirates. That stuff's gotta' be around somewhere.

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... much the same as one might sprtiz a beer or bit of rum on someone else when the party is going crazy...

Oh, they certainly did that!

"They hoisted upon Deck a great many half Hogsheads of Claret, and French Brandy; knock’d their Heads out, and dipp’d Canns and Bowls into them to drink out of: And in their Wantonness threw full Buckets of each sort upon one another. As soon as they had emptied what was on the Deck, they hoisted up more"

From William Snelgrave's account of his time as a captive of Cocklyn's company. Sounds like my kind of party.

Something I wonder about is if there are any surviving examples of pirate rope-work, ditty bags, stuff like wood carvings or scrimshaw. Pirates were sailors and sailors get "industrius" when they're bored and start making things with their hands. I'm sure pirates made stuff just like other sailors did.

All the surviving stuff seems to be much later, and there's very little textual evidence for what might be called "sailors' art" from the GAoP, so it's quite possible that that particular pastime was a later fad. Agreed that they must have done something to stave off the boredom, but not necessarily knotwork or scrimshaw. The quotation above shows how many pirates staved off boredom, and there are plenty of other similar accounts.

Also, I wonder what happened to Blackbeard's sword. I really doubt that Maynard returned to Hampton without it. It was a good trophy -- as would have been his Jolly Roger. I'm sure some of that stuff has to have survived somewhere but is forgotten in some family attic. Same for "trophies" taken by the other sailors aboard ships that took pirates. That stuff's gotta' be around somewhere.

The difficulty would be recognising it. Something like a pirate flag would be distinctive, but none are known to survive from the GAoP, and considering the staggering number of flags that must have existed in the period compared with the number surviving, of any type, it's hardly surprising. There are probably a number of pirates' artefacts of a more robust nature surviving, but without a complete provenance, how can we tell whether that cutlass in the museum or private collection was owned by any particular person?

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Something I wonder about is if there are any surviving examples of pirate rope-work, ditty bags, stuff like wood carvings or scrimshaw. Pirates were sailors and sailors get "industrius" when they're bored and start making things with their hands. I'm sure pirates made stuff just like other sailors did.

All the surviving stuff seems to be much later, and there's very little textual evidence for what might be called "sailors' art" from the GAoP, so it's quite possible that that particular pastime was a later fad. Agreed that they must have done something to stave off the boredom, but not necessarily knotwork or scrimshaw. The quotation above shows how many pirates staved off boredom, and there are plenty of other similar accounts.

I think part of our problem with this one is that we don't have a lot of descriptive first person accounts from GAoP pirates. Some of the ones I've seen are from victims of piracy. Such people would probably be less focused on minutia than on signs of threatening behavior and so forth.

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yeah, I got to agree with you guys,

Not a lot of stuff to go on, but there've been some good finds just going on legend, rumor and stories told and retold (Whydah for instance) and someone having the determination to keep looking 'til they find something.

Bonnet's ship, might even be somewhere to be found if one took the time to research what happened to it after he was captured. Was it sold? Did it get scrapped/abanoned somewhere near Charleston, etc.? Might be some remains somewhere. Maybe someone made something from a mast or a beam.

I was born in Lewes, and there was always the story about the small cannon (in the little park by the drawbridge) having come from a "pirate ship" that was abandoned near the mouth of Lewes Creek. Maybe, who knows. One thing's sure, they did find an old shipwreck site there when they were dredging for beach replentishment several years ago. Ceramics were being found by beach-goers. What that the pirate ship? Was that ship even identified yet? Who knows? and, where did the "rumor" come from that it was a pirate ship? Of course, what if it was???

BTW... I'm trying to find some info on a French pirate named "Canoot" who sacked Lewes in 1691 or so. Anybody have any clue who he was?

I'm pretty sure there things to be found here and there if one runs down the leads. Provenance, of course would be "difficult."

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Keep in mind that most ships carried cannon before, during and after the Golden Age and the majority of them were not pirates. So without further information, the odds are most likely against that cannon coming from a pirate ship. (The odds of a group of kids seeing a cannon and deciding it must have come from a pirate ship, OTOH, are pretty high. I know that's what I thought of the cannons I saw in a fort was I was a lad.)

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I think part of our problem with this one is that we don't have a lot of descriptive first person accounts from GAoP pirates. Some of the ones I've seen are from victims of piracy. Such people would probably be less focused on minutia than on signs of threatening behavior and so forth.

(Possibly) true, but in this case, since we're talking about common habits amongst seamen, we're not limited to pirate-specific sources.

But even limiting it to pirate-specific sources, I've always maintained that there are a lot more accounts that are largely ignored. Trials would be a good example here: one fo the questions that comes up in a lot of trials for various reasons is "And what were you doing at the time?" Answers range from sleeping and being aloft to sitting on a hatch repairing a sail. Also, many of the depositions taken before trials include really odd bits of collateral information of the kind that might include knotwork and the like.

I'm not saying they didn't do it btw, but I've found no evidence that they did, and I'm always wary of assuming that 'traditions' go back to the GAoP.

The French Corsairs by Lord Russell and The Defeat of James Stuart's Armada by Philip Aubrey both deal with Anglo-French maritime encounters in the Channel in the 1690s and neither of them mention a landing at Lewes in 1692. The French landing at Teignmouth in 1690 is generally reckoned to be the last time that a foreign enemy set foot on English soil, so if the landing happened at all then I suspect the date is wrong.

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Still, I'm wonderin' about the "wearing of scents." My guess is they probably didn't wear it as a habit aboard. They might have "tested" it -- slopped some on themselves or each other as they discovered it in the plunder, much the same as one might sprtiz a beer or bit of rum on someone else when the party is going crazy, but other than that, they were probably a pretty stinky lot unless they were getting cleaned up and primped up for a trip ashore to meet the ladies.

:lol:

Were women's scents embarrassingly different from men's? Because I have a few tricksters and Capt. Blue Eyes' "slopped some on themselves or each other" quote is giving me ideas. :D

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Ahhhh!!!! 'tis always wonderful to inspire ideas... an' "slopped some on themselves or each other" does have a sort of poetic naughtiness to it.

So, says I, Ye should run with this idea of yours, Red Dawn!

I'll lift me cup an' drink to yer health and laugh me fool arse off, I'm sure. ...once I'm full enough of rum, of course.

Hey, Foxe ... I'll have to dig it up, but I did run into some correspondence and material (from the time period) from the Pennsylvania Assembly regarding the raid. Memory says it was before Kidd anchored there in 1699, and I'm thinking the 1691 date may be correct on the sacking.

But... the ship came inside the Cape, dropped the hook off what is now Lewes Beach and something like 100 pirates came ashore and took some of the town Notables as hostage. Then they started going house to house stealing everything in sight, smashing open anything they thought had something valuable inside and then took off with everyone's clothes. I don't remember running into anything where anyone was killed for defending the place and I don't remember anything being written about any "ravaging," either.

Seems they just came ashore, scared the hell out of everyone and then departed with anything that struck their fancy.

At the time they came ashore, someone got away and made their way up to Phila. for help. Some of the contemporary views of the Assemblymen was that if Lewes wouldn't cavort with pirates so much this sort of thing wouldn't happen.

But, the assembly did send some relief in the form of clothing and food and such.

I'm thinking this was not the only sacking of Lewes, as I did come across another reference to pirates sacking the place in the early 1700s, but haven't had the time to follow up on it.

Of course, during the war of 1812, Cockburn shelled the place but decided not to land troops and raid, sack and burn.

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Oh, double-oops!!! mea culpa, mea culpa....

Foxe, I meant the town of Lewes, Delaware. (I forgot about the other Lewes, "accros the pond.")

Sorry

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Sed mea culpa....

I assumed the town of Lewes, Sussex. (I forgot about the other Lewes, "across the pond.")

Sorry

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Hey, Foxe,

I just found your Jacobitism and the "Golden Age" paper. Can't wait to read it!!!

Also, can't wait to read the two books I see you've written. I just gotta' order 'em. They're in English, right? (only kiddin'!!!)

Hopefully, they're available here (since I don't know how to convert to pounds.) The Amazon site I went to only listed them with the "L" thingie.

I found some of my ancestors came to Virginia in chains. Transported as "white slaves" or "white jacobite slaves," something in the early to mid 1600's. I don't know enough about that period My guess was they must've pissed someone off over there, but not enough to just hang them. They were eventually emancipated, I think. I'm hoping I'll find more info on this stuff.

Other ancestors got thrown out of England, too, and arrived here with that Mayflower riff-raff. Eventually, the mayflower *ss holes threw them out of Andover, Mass, too. Accused 'em of witchcraft, first, though, in 1691. 'twas a shame though, given that the records of that time show my ancestor was a boozin' blacksmith that liked defying the church elders. (oh....must be genetic memory goin' on here....)

Anyway, can't wait to read your stuff!

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Well, they wouldn't have been Jacobites before 1688 at the earliest, but it's quite possible they were either Royalists from the civil war or Irish from the Irish revolt in the late 1640s-1650s, lots of those got transported to the colonies. They may also have been shipped as indentured servants who were treated much like slaves, but only for a fixed term.

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Foxe,

Really great point! I started thinking about the years/dates when I was reading your paper.

As soon as I can get some time, I'm going to go back into that (ancestry) and try to nail down the dates so I have them correct.

I was going from memory and (at my age) memory can get hazy as if there was rum involved!

Fer instance... I think the witch thing was 1692, not 1691. (geeze... I hate it when things get fuzzy!) At least I got the town right!

And, for the record... Cotton Mather is still a turd -- even after all of these years!

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Have we also talked about diet yet? You could get crazy detailed and alter your smell, perfume, stink, what-have-you by eating a very specific regional diet.

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like garlic?

The Pirates of the Spaghetti Coast!! (or... la Coasta Nostra)

Hey, it's early... Brain isn't workin' yet.

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