modernknight1

Need some research help

22 posts in this topic

Ladies and Gentlemen I am writing a book on piracy and have developed an analytical graph showing piratical activity with some additional bell curves thrown in illustrating increases in certain types of trading by different maritime countries over time - beginning in the 1620s. The piratical activity graph line peaks in the late 1670s/early 1680s and then another smaller peak occurs from the mid 1690s to 1715.

So we know that the last notable acts of piracy committed by notable and known pirates occurred in 1725-26. We also know that the pirates last major refuges were gone by 1719 and the ones left were forced to become "rounders" haunting the west African backwaters like the Kingdom of Whydah, but what do we know about the few that continued on???

We know that employment for honest seamen in the late 1720s into the 1730s was on an amazing rise from what it had been and that ship-building boomed on the Atlantic coast ensuring plenty of work.

We know that naval presence also increased in the Americas and that privateering was at a low point because no one was at war until the War of Jenkins Ear starting in 1739.

SO....What I want to know is: Have any of you here happened onto names, places, ships, actions, activities, insurance, harbor or lading documents, criminal trial documents, death warrants or execution proceedings - PROVING piratical actions after 1726 and at anytime during the 1730s before the War of Jenkin's Ear?

I desperately want to know who these men were. Were there merchant captains that lost perishable cargoes and saw an easy target that could make up the loss and no one on their crew would tell? Were there some places in remote corners in Africa where some of these small time hold outs were able to act and achieve any sort of fame, wealth, or even just a living for their ship and crew?

Who were the pirates that still existed in the 1730s? ....and what were their motives for piracy? Please tell me. I desperately want to know so that I can complete my chart and even possibly have some additional material for the end of this period in the book.

Thank you in advance.

MK

EDIT: I am not interested in Mediterranean or Barbary piracy - only Caribbean/West Indies/Brazil, West African, or East Indies examples.

Edited by modernknight1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am away from home at present, but I can think of at least three piracy trials in 1728, 29, and 32(?). The first two both held at Williamsburg on small-time short lived pirate crews, the last held at Bombay on a larger crew. All can be found in HCA 1/99 at the National Archives in Kew.

Out of interest, how are you defining piracy in the 1670s-80s? And how are you quantifying activity?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Out of interest, how are you defining piracy in the 1670s-80s? And how are you quantifying activity?

I was wondering that myself. There are a lot of buccaneers who either were or weren't really pirates. (For example, would someone please tell me if Henry Morgan was a pirate. None of this "Well he was, except when he wasn't" nonsense. Either he was or he wasn't. And I'd say if he didn't know peace had been declared with the Spanish when he attacked a Spanish settlement, then he technically wasn't. It took at least 8 weeks for news to travel to Barbados from England during a good season and more like 9 or 10 with typical delays. Jamaica was further off the main news route and would be another week or two. Add to that the fact that Morgan might be away from an English port for weeks at a time and I think you could say he's got a window of at least 3-4 months before he might know that peace had been declared.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And I'd say if he didn't know peace had been declared with the Spanish when he attacked a Spanish settlement, then he technically wasn't.

Peace or not, attacking a Spanish settlement doesn't technically make him a pirate anyway.

There are two big issues with buccaneers:

Firstly, many of them predominantly (and some of them only) attacked land targets. Attacking land targets isn't piracy.

Secondly, and here's the kicker, one of the things that differentiates the buccaneers from later pirates was their determination to get legal sanction for their actions. They were obsessed by the idea of having a letter of marque or a commission, and went to great lengths to procure one. Sometimes they were valid, sometimes they weren't. The question of their legality therefore rests on the legitimacy of their commissions, and that's a huge political and legal minefield!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I notice you didn't actually answer my question about Morgan. :P

It's because of the letters of marque that I call them privateers when I am writing. Was the French Captain Daniel (from Labat's memoir) a pirate? I believe Labat actually calls him one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Anytime I see "letters of marque" mentioned online...

There is an article in that Pirate Reader, a book featuring a lot of articles relating to piracy. One article covers privateering and explains the difference between a letter of marque and commissions for a private man-of-war. There was still a difference between the two at the time, and while I haven't looked for the actual original documents specifically issued in the mid seventeenth century to Morgan and others, based on what is in the previously mentioned article, they would be issued commissions as private men-of-war since the letters of marque would be given to vessels whose main purpose was something other than commerce raiding. The letters of marque basically gave permission to vessels conducting other business the right to attack and bring in prizes of enemy vessels they might encounter while sailing to conduct their other business. That is different from the commissions that set down a ship would purposely go out seeking prizes from specific countries, in a specific place, during a specific period.

Sorry, its just a peeve of mine.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I notice you didn't actually answer my question about Morgan. :P

It's because of the letters of marque that I call them privateers when I am writing. Was the French Captain Daniel (from Labat's memoir) a pirate? I believe Labat actually calls him one.

Sorry. I don't consider Morgan to be a pirate.

Do you know what term Labat used in the original French to describe Daniel? There's no real straight translation of 'privateer' in French: they usually use the word corsaire, but that can also mean 'pirate'

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is it assumed that L'Olonais had either a letter of marque or a commission? Is there any proof of this? Thanks.

Edited by Cod Rotten Bandlesworth

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Do you know what term Labat used in the original French to describe Daniel? There's no real straight translation of 'privateer' in French: they usually use the word corsaire, but that can also mean 'pirate'

Aw, you just had to make me go and do work.

He refers to him as 'flibuste' and his crew as 'flibustiers', so I guess I answered my own question. (Labat, Noveau Voyage aux Isles d'Amerique, Tome Sixie'me, p. 358)

You should include him in the book we talked about. (Now I will make you go and do work. Although at least you know which volume of the French edition to find him in.)

Sort of makes you wonder how many filibusters were around during the (broadly defined) golden age of piracy. I bought a book on filibustiers, but their heyday seems to have been in the 19th century so I never read more than a few pages into it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you very much for the sources. This is exactly the kind of thing I am looking for. Now a few more activities like these and perhaps some others from non-English sources

and I might have something for the post 1726 time-frame to wrap things up.

I have tried to gather a majority of non-English sources for my research. So first of all let me tell you that I am taking a rather different approach to the subject than others have.

If I weren't, there would be no reason for me to write the book because so much has already been written on the subject. I myself possess quite an extensive private library and

I have amassed and devoured dozens of books on the subject already.

First I will say that I am somewhat annoyed by modern scholarship's attempts to classify and rigidly define the people and actions of the mid/late 17th century as generally

nationally motivated. My thesis runs counter to this and I prove it. There are just way too many different people in that time/place with so many different motivations behind their

actions to make an absolute classification. Certainly nationally sanctioned privateering was ONE important in-road but was far from being the only one.

I will not attribute the expected absolute values or titles on people or normally assigned definitions of action that many are so used to. I am focusing on each individual situation,

the human behavior and the subsequent individual actions. Why did X pirate take Y ship? In addition, as a retired US Army Colonel, I want to explore the leadership aspect in this

equation in as much depth as the resources allow - with perhaps some hunches based on what I would have done in those often stressful situations.

So given this I am not falling into a trap of saying that land based actions are not considered piracy. By who? By modern academicians? Don't care. It's not that I don't respect

modern scholarship. I have an MA in history myself and had to do all of the usual and expected hunting for primary and secondary sources to support my various thesis.

I respect convention when it is of value or applicable. In this case I do not find many of the definitions applicable to such extrordinary people and events.

So I will not follow the usual rules. So rather than caring that scholars might classify the attack as a bandit attack, I will rather rely on what the Spaniards have to tell me about the event -

that were actually there and had their lives completely ruined - and defined said attacks and the actions of the antagonists in the reports back to the Governors as "Pirate attacks" - YES.

My litmus test is the old "if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, its a _____"

No if we are talking about highwaymen or banditry who normally attack things on land, then yes OK - they are bandits. However, in the case of pirates whose motivations were to gain

plunder, transported themselves by ship to their destinations - attacked by land and/or sea a town/city - and then made off with the wealth of the place once again in their ships -

I consider the motivation of the event. Again - situation and motivation. Could be nationally motivated or piratical and some participants might have altogether different motivations -

impressing someone for instance or searing hatred.

So Morgan was used as an example. OK I'll bite. Was everything Morgan did of a nationalistic (supporting England) privateering nature? Was everything done by Morgan piracy?

NO to both questions and "sometimes" for both. Consider some of the attacks which were not only NOT condoned by the English government but also that if Morgan had been following

orders, he would have stayed and protected Jamaica from the (imagined or real) threat of Pardal - NOT galavanting off to sack cities.

Also when we look at Morgan's captains during different actions were they all Englishmen with letters of marque? Not only no but HELL no. Did they only work for Morgan or did they

often work solo or for other notable great captains? Were those Dutch and French captains working for Morgan at the time desirous of supporting English interests? (One I know of was

a ladder climber [Lawrence Prince/Laurens Prinz], so in his case possibly), for the others - no - they were interested in plunder - plain and simple. Did the act benefit England in the end?

Certainly. Did it help others. Certainly France and Holland didn't mind if Spain was weakened.

We know that the future illustrious Admiral Sir Christopher Myngs also did not follow orders, attacking Spanish ships in time of peace and with warrants for his arrest issued by the Governor

of Jamaica. Was he a pirate or a privateer when that occurred?

Did Morgan's primary lieutenants always work for Morgan and possess letters of marque? Collier did work mostly for Morgan but he had other ventures as well. Was Searle's attack on St.

Augustine sanctioned by Morgan? Heck Morgan sent his own captains after well known Englishmen who at one time or another were legit English privateers. Beeston and Spragge's

expedition after John Coxon is a good example and only one of many.

Morgan seems to be the best known for the era in question, but I think this is only because so much has been written about him and he was English(Welsh) so all the (low hanging fruit)

sources are so easily available.

I have been writing this book for almost a decade now and have collected a great many sources NOT in English. In fact one of the primary goals of my book is to relate the most complete

narrative possible of the careers of the NON-English players that are so often overlooked. L'Ollinais was mentioned below with an excellent question. Did L'Ollinais care about having a

letter of marque or serving France? Certainly he did help France - and as part of the Brethren many of his captains were instrumental in the defense of "the Two Tortugas" against the
Spaniards. However, from my examination of the man I don't think he gave didly-squat about a letter of marque. "Letters of Marque? - we don't need no stinkin Letters of marque um I mean

badges." He HATED Spaniards!

Unlike other legends, his are not mere exaggeration. Perhaps eating Spaniard's hearts is a little over the top, maybe just one man's heart was required to get the ball rolling? However,

killing entire crews of Spaniards and sending a letter to the Spanish governor stating that any Spanish ships sailing through HIS waters would suffer the same fate shows a true motivation

of sheer hatred. THAT was HIS motivation and as long as he kept his subordinate captains happy with plunder then he could continue with his marauding lifestyle for as long as he wished.

(Montbars the Exterminator is another good example of the independent French hater) Did he have a retirement plan? Was he thinking about the future? Was there an end-state or was he

just taking things as they came? These are the kinds of things I attempt to get at in the book. When sources are lacking then yes I am committing scholarly sacrilege by applying some best

guess heuristics to the equation. However, I will always let the reader know when I am taking this liberty.

The Frenchman are some interesting characters during this time. Several were noblemen that fervently desired and chose the sea as a career. We are not just talking about the impoverished

noble seeking his fortune so popular in fiction(and yes there are several real people in this category). In one instance we are talking about a man who was already wealthy and sold his lands

and titles to purchase, equip, man and train a formidable man of war. And BTW he didn't always have a letter of mark or serve the interests of France when he flew the black from the tafferel

of the Cybille.

Cassard is another interesting character. Certainly his interests were completely and totally for King and Country and he was clearly and ALWAYS a privateer. However, in many of his actions,

buccaneers were a major part of his force. In the case of his seizure of Curacao in 1713, he didn't even call upon the buccaneers. They heard he was on the hunt and they came to join him.

This wasn't for plunder alone in this case. Cassard was a great and charismatic leader who had shown immense bravery witnessed by the buccaneers previously - when he was the first into

the breach under heavy fire at Santo Domingo. They came as much for the plunder as for the confidence in the leader of the endeavor.

My book will also take a closer look at the many notable Dutch pirates than any other book currently available. IMHO Laurens de Graff needs to finally get credit for his illustrious career and

boy have I dug up some dirt! Was de Graff interested in letters of marque? I have found mentions of them from the French, but did he care about having them? I don't think so. Did he work for

the Dutch and help their interests? No he didn't however, most of his captains were Hollanders.

Also of interest is that the occasional Dutch prize was on the menu. The Dutch and Spanish were allies for much of the last half of the 17th century. We know that De Graff's preferred quarry

was Spanish prizes. But we also know he used the Dutch free haven of Curacao to make repairs. Here we have "Laurencillo" the Terrible being welcomed and freely allowed to repair his ships

(several including his flagship [the galleon San Fransisco/renamed Neptuno] which had been violently taken from the Governor of Cartegena) within the bustling fortified Dutch/WIC port of Willemstad.

De Graff's raid on Vera Cruz in 1683 (the gold loading center for the Spanish Flotas (treasure fleets) is one of the great piratical acts of history. It would be like a modern organized group of thieves

robbing Fort Knox. If I can't effectively find, follow, and take the treasure fleet, then I will attack the place where it will be loaded. Was DeGraff under orders from any particular national interest when he

made the attack? No. What was his motivation? Why did Nicholas Van Hoorn tangle with De Graff during this time? Did De Graff intend to do him harm? Was the argument over the splitting of loot?

Does anybody really think this was not a pirate attack??? Seriously? I explore all of these questions in depth.

Did de Graff's many captains have letters of marque for the attack on Vera Cruz? No they didn't. Did they possess letters of marque at any time in their careers? Oh yes at one time or another some did

and a few also worked for other very notable names. Yes De Graff did often help the French and haunted the French backwater ports where he had many friends, but truly he is one of those pirates that

can honestly be called a pirate(buccaneer if you like) and was truly sailing "against all flags".

I am also taking a fairly good look at the Spanish pirates as well and their depredations against their own countrymen. Obviously (with some rare exceptions that decided to work for another side), in general

they did not possess letters of marque because their usual motivation was Spanish loot. There are always exceptions. Juan Corso was a legitimate privateer for the Spaniards, but could not resist going after
English merchantmen in time of peace. We know he hated Englishmen and reveled in killing them. Dieggo Grillo "El Mullatto" is another good example (and one that is very racially motivated) in that he hated

his Spanish masters and when the opportunity arose, took to piracy out of resentment and revenge. I dug a lot here trying to find others like him. I'm certain there is a resource somewhere telling of
others but Grillo's success is what made him notable. With all of the rebellions and revolts that there were, there had to be others that were not successful but the events have been lost to time.

Insert creaking swinging rope sound from gallows here. I did find two interesting anecdotes of slaves stealing a ship and another where they rose up and took it by force from the crew, but in both

cases they wrecked the ships.

Another thing I find completely fascinating about this time and its people are the connections. I have made another chart that illustrates the connections of all of these notable captains and when they

crossed paths all the way to 1726. (like a 17th/early 18th century Linked-In connection page) Its so fascinating to look at where some of them ended up who started out with a completely different group of
friends and different nationality at their beginnings. Its also amazing how many intersecting connections they have with one another - especially over time from generation to generation. It is literally a very

busy tapestry that one would never on the surface expect to be so intertwined and complex.

The book is about 90 percent complete. I am still trying to round up some additional resources for a few points and of course the incomplete area I asked about. In addition I am still running down permission

to use a bunch of various illustrations and it is taking a really long time to get permission for some of these paintings. I am getting new recent help in the process though.

Anything of value that you mates might have to add would be very appreciated and I will list you in the bibliography and credits if you wish to add commentary to any of the specific sources you provide.

The 1730's are an admitted weak point within my BOK (Body of Knowledge) with the exception of land conflict on the European continent.

Hope you don't mind reading such a wall of text but my mind goes a thousand miles an hour and I write fast.

Thanks again for any incite or help with resources. I will be traveling a lot the next two weeks so may not answer back right away.

MK

Edited by modernknight1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It sounds like you're writing something that will probably be rejected by a large part of your intended audience. (Which is certainly your right as an author, although it will limit sales. I probably wouldn't buy or promote it based on what you're saying here and I don't have any degrees in history.)

In fact, couldn't every ship that took another ship could be considered a pirate, including naval vessels? (Some of the navymen were dishonest and stole from their captives - I know for a fact that one English surgeon's plaster box was taken by the Dutch Navy when his ship was captured. Doesn't that make the Dutch navy pirates by your definition?)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You are completely missing my point and splitting hairs with a very poor example. As I said, the specific acts are what define the label. In your example - The act of the Dutch at that specific time was certainly piratical and illegal. Were they piratical in XX percent of actions they took? No. Using this example further, if I were to collect a sample size of this players actions (In your case you want to use undefined specific Dutch navy-men (not specifically named and known individuals who have a record of historic actions that we can measure) the sample size would be in the hundreds of thousands because we know that there were hundreds of thousands of Dutch personnel serving in the Dutch navy during the age of piracy. So the Dutch navy based upon the known and collected actions of individual sailors who committed piratical acts during X time-frame are .0001 piratical. If I were trying to make that point then it would be fruitless. However if I take the example of Morgan or Myngs above and start applying the same logic then I can get a very dramatic percentage of piratical vs sanctioned activities. No one to my knowledge has ever taken that approach before. They simply label based on their own subjective bias and so people endlessly argue about it.

My book will be popular with intelligent people interested in taking a different look at the subject and especially a good look at the neglected non-English players. I am not interested in impressing snobby scholars. I actually won the Southern History conference with a paper one year. The ridiculous petty attacks from some of the people who did not agree with my thesis were unforgetable and then to have one of them actually steal most of my research and write his own book - well laughable. One of my mentors a retired Marine General predicted it would happen if I didn't try to publish first. He was right. Another of my mentors (History professor) who has won some very prestigious awards for several books said I should only write about what I was interested in and as long as I could support my arguments with solid logic and resources, that I should "not worry about what the peanut gallery had to say."

Those that are interested in actually learning something new about the non-English actors might actually benefit from reading.

Another major audience is senior executive leadership. The leadership aspects in so many specific situations explored in the book will make it popular with both mid-level/senior level business/corporate folks and military people. These kinds of books sell like hot-cakes in airport bookstores. Although I must say, I am not writing this for money.

So gents I am looking for a little help here, not criticism of the book before its even published. I have thick skin so if constructive criticism of my approach and method is the only thing that is offered here then that's just fine - I will certainly read it, note it....and then move on in continuing my search for the information I require to finish - in whatever direction I need to take.

MK

Edited by modernknight1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So given this I am not falling into a trap of saying that land based actions are not considered piracy. By who? By modern academicians? Don't care.

Piracy is defined as robbery at sea by just about every dictionary written since the eighteenth century, by international law, and by 17-18th century law (certainly English law of the period, I confess I'm not familiar enough with the wording of the historical law of other nations). Modern academics just follow a well-established definition. It's not a made-up classification, it's just what the word means.

The point about nationalism among buccaneers is good, but misplaced, if I may say so. The point is not that buccaneers sought letters of marque or commissions so they could support a state in the nationalistic sense, largely they sought them to improve their own position, to assure themselves that they weren't pirates. It was a sham, of course, but it was one of the things that made them different from the pirates that went before and after. Conflating buccaneers like, say, Morgan with pirates like, say, Blackbeard, is like conflating chalk and cheese.

I mention these points not to try and discourage you or dampen your spirits, but because they are important points that really need to be considered in any serious study of the phenomenon. I'm no stranger to new approaches to pirate history, my whole PhD thesis was an attempt to revise our view of the social history of piracy, and I welcome new approaches to the subject.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi Fox, I think my message got lost in the mix. Is it assumed that L'Olonais had either a letter of marque or a commission? Thanks much.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To be honest, the details of individual buccaneers is a bit outside my area of expertise, perhaps somebody else can answer. What I will say is that if he followed the usual pattern of buccaneering practice then he will most likely have sought a commission from somewhere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was trying to figure that out yesterday, but I didn't come up with what I thought was a definitive answer. For what it's worth, Exquemelin says,

"At first he [l'Olonnais] made two or three voyages as a common mariner, wherein he behaved himself so courageously, as to gain the favor of the governor of Tortuga, Monsieur de La Place; insomuch that he gave him a ship, in which he might seek his fortune, which was very favorable to him at first, for in a short time be got great riches." (Alexandre Exquemelin, The History of the Buccaneers of America, 1856, p. 65)

If the governor was willing to give him a ship, he almost certainly would have been willing to give him a letter of marque, but it doesn't specifically say that. At least one modern author suggests he had a commission (Patrick Pringle, Jolly Roger, 2012, p. 60), but he doesn't cite his source, so I'd guess he was just reading into the above passage. I believe a commission is more in the area of being an understanding that you have the permission of some government official to take enemy ships on their behalf, which would clearly be the case there and would justify Pringle's statement. Like Ed, my knowledge of the buccaneers is limited; maybe David knows since he is familiar with the difference between a commission and a letter of marque.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, thank you very much. Enough of these lousy Buccaneers, let's get back to some pirate discussions!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I appreciate the response Dr. Fox, but it is what I expected. It seems only in English do we split hairs so. Fodder for a Monte Python sketch I think. I am near
fluent in German and respectable in both French and Spanish. In addition I took years of Latin and read at an adept level. Language is a tool to describe something.

When words seize to describe what they were intended to describe, people will naturally adapt the words to describe what is necessary. This is one of the primary
reasons that English has become such a mutated Heinz57 language (especially in the last century). Other languages often add descriptive parts to the word to give them
more specific meaning but the root remains the same and holds the same meaning.

I understand a pirate to be someone who attacks other ships at sea and takes what they wish. If that pirate decides to attack a town on the coast and its easier to
leave the ship in order to do so, he does not put on a different hat and suddenly and magically change into a bandit or brigand during said attack - he is still the
pirate AND a bandit and a brigand as well. Even wikepedia says that the term piracy

"can include acts committed in the air, on land (especially across national borders or in connection with taking over and robbing a car or train), or in other major
bodies of water or on a shore".

Nor do its roots of origin try to apply particular specificity of use restricted to land or sea: (Latin: pirata ("sailor, corsair, sea robber") and that from Greek πειρατής (peiratēs), "brigand".

So I will chose to (as many others do) not to religiously follow Noah Webster in all things. IMHO the term Buccaneer has become a badly misconstrued word that no
longer even closely resembles the originally intended meaning and has come to cover a large time-frame and group of people that had nothing to do with the original
French cattle skinners. There are so many names for the groups of "pirates" who lived and acted during the 17th century - Zeerovers, filibusters, vrijbuiters, corsaires,

picaroons, etc, that quite frankly what I have come to realize is that the English use of Buccaneer to describe them all and to try to adhere general conventions to them

or a "usual pattern of buccaneering practice" upon them is not only inaccurate, but I believe to be somewhat sloppy modern scholarship and is just widely accepted as

fine and dandy - when I could never get away with such over-generalization in other areas of more academically focused and popular historical study.

As much as I don't like Blackbeard or his comparison to Morgan, an examination of the two mens motivations and experiences make them far more similar than different.
If Blackbeard had lived in the Jamaica of Morgan's time I have no doubt that he would have become one of the ladder climbers looking to better his conditions. If one just

looks at Blackbeard's late career and his cavorting with merchants and governors - Trying to obtain a more permanent home, a more legitimate wife, and higher station in life,

he suddenly begins through a misty fog to resemble Morgan a little. After all Morgan started as nothing but an indentured servant and surgeon - but the times were different,

the opportunities far greater, Morgan was in the right place at the right time - and I believe Morgan was a little smarter.

I am not going to debate any further on the matter but I have just three other things I want to address. First, commissions and letters of marque, second my opinion on L'Ollinais

and last, an additional question for this group.

Concerning L'Ollinais, I of course reject that there was a standard Buccaneering practice of seeking patents, commissions or Letters of Marque during this era with an exception

being with Englishmen of the time and place. In my book I have an entire chapter dedicated to Corruption. I also have an entire chapter dedicated to Commissions, Orders and

Letters of Marque. I don't want to get too deep into this here, but my digging into archives have produced some interesting observations. I'm not the first to look into this and have

followed in the footsteps of Dr. Virginia W. Lunsford on some of these areas. One of these items of interest is that the Dutch "rederijnen" commissions were granted not from

governments but by companies or bands of gentlemen merchant owners. In addition, the Dutch Republic granted general commissions in time of war "commissie van retorie"

that allowed open season on enemies and were not specific to individual captains - nor did they require a percentage of return to the government. Granted, this sometimes

varied as the Dutch were divided into multiple Admiralties (think of this in terms of the United States and some of the commissions being granted at state level rather than federal).

The French with some noted exceptions, largely followed this Dutch model as they did with a great deal of other things maritime during this era.

I have also followed the work of Karl F. Marx in reviewing Spanish corruption of the era. Spanish corruption was rampant and they took major (and often rediculous) steps to curtail it.

Ships would sometime set in harbor for weeks not allowing a single person to debark until the customs officials went through the duplicates of the ships inventories piece by piece.

The Spanish crown wanted their cut of the profits from privateer prizes. However, Spanish corruption pales next to the out of control English corruption of the time. A good thorough

reading of Pepys diaries alone, shows the corruption that he was up against.

The letter of marque granted by English governors were often very specific about what percentages went back to the Governor. Also under the navigation acts vessels were forced to

seek harbor inspections at places completely off their routes in order for the government to collect additional fees. Imagine having to take a prize all the way to London which you had

captured in Trinidad and then bring it all the way back to the Governor of Jamaica! Unbelievable! So this document was useful to the English "buccaneer" to prove some legitimacy,

but I contend was almost more of an IOU than a protection. In addition a look at the English buccaneers of the time shows so many ladder climbers. They wanted to do well so that they

would be promoted and given real commissions and possibly admitted to the governing council. They wanted to buy land on Jamaica and become wealthy important men with standing.

This was often their motivation and why they went "a roving" and I literally illustrate over a dozen examples of this phenomena in my book.

The motivations of many of the non-English actors were not nearly as grandiose or legitimate - so the archetypal "buccaneer" we so often think about and iconically illustrated in the

game Sid Meiers Pirates - gaining the governors daughter in marriage, a title of Count and 500 acres of land on X island is so overly exaggerated it belongs right up there with ARRRR,

and tri-corn hats with skulls and crossbones decal-ed on their fronts.

It is no wonder to me that Dutch "zeerovers"/privateers brought English commerce to such a screeching halt during the Anglo-Dutch wars seizing fully over two thirds of all English merchant

ships of the time and reaping great rewards for themselves without having to return much of the proceeds to the government. They were everywhere. This is something that most people

just don't know about and there are only a handful of scholarly books on the subject in English (all of which I own).

Lets look at the Tortuga of L'Ollinais' time. The Brethren of the Coast had literally taken it back from the Spaniards. The "Governor" of the island - if you can even call him that, D'ogeron

was a representative of the French West India Company. His entire time in position he desperately sought approval and legitimacy from the the very pirates he was trying to govern.

Many did not accept him and openly mocked him. He tried unsuccessfully I might add to eject Dutch zeerovers from the island and encourage the French pirates to help him in this.

He encouraged them not to go with the Dutch captains - but they did anyway. DeGraff's ranks were swelled by these same Dutch and French twenty years later during his attack on Vera
Cruz. D'Ogeron would have been cow-towing and kissing L'Ollinais' keister who was one of (if not THE most) respected and feared men on the island. L'Ollinais would have likely

blown his nose on any document D'Ogeron gave him and the governor would have thanked him.

Many of the Frenchman in L'Ollinais crew were either displaced Hugenots or the sons and grandsons of displaced Hugenots. These rejected French protestants thrown out of their own

country with many relatives massacred by that same government for over a century had a gigantic reputation in the Caribbean of the time. They had been responsible for the sackings of

many Spanish new world cities a century before and were still feared and respected. These Hugenots would not have had any respect whatsoever for either the French West India Company,

the French government/monarchy or the Governor sent there to attempt building an organized administration. One of the reasons many of the French attacks on Spanish ships and cities were

so brutal was the searing hatred of so many of these hugenots against Catholics. As an aside I find it amusing that Morgan started his career as an indentured servant on this same
island and went to sea as a surgeon here. He also attempted to bring some order and organization to the first men he commanded from there - largely unsuccessfully.

As another aside I find it both fascinating and amusing that the Governor of the islands was not given any respect or legitimacy until he brought in wives for the pirates there and began placing

hundreds of colonists into owned plots of granted personal property. If you want some additional fun reading look into the history of the Governor's of Tortuga being arrested by the crown.

It happened more than once.

Last, I really would like to understand why there is this attitude towards (men aboard ships who took stuff from other people while operating from ships) for so many different reasons during the

17th century vice an observed favoritism of (men aboard ships who took stuff from other people while operating from ships) a few decades later --- embodied in this kind of statement:

"Enough of these lousy Buccaneers, let's get back to some pirate discussions!" After lurking around here for several years, do I just not belong here? Is this a place only for hobbyists into the

Nassau and New Providence of 1715? If so I will go back to quietly lurking.

Finally, Dr. Fox Sir. I am in no way meaning to quibble with you Sir. I actually own some of your books and especially enjoyed the commentary in Pirates in their own Words. What has become very

evident to me is that there seems to be a divide here and I frankly think it's somewhat silly. My book in some respects attempts to better bridge these multiple time-frames together to illustrate a

much greater deal of commonality than I think most average Joes, neophytes, hobbyists, and even some scholars accept or realize. I do this especially through examining and illustrating the
mostly neglected non-English players.

I know there are probably a lot of people who don't take me seriously because of all of my dabbling with video games, but that is merely another hobby that I use to blow off steam and it keeps my

passion for the subject hot. I feel like my gaming pursuits educate a lot of youth that would never have exposure to the subject otherwise. Many of these youth have e-mailed me telling me so.

If you're unfamiliar with my gaming development head over to my little niche web-site and have a look. https://buccaneersreef.com/

Don't judge me or make fun of me too badly please. I do have a thick skin but also a heart in there too.

Still looking for more sources for the post 1726 through the 1730s. This is the last time I will ask though.

Thanks, MK

Edited by modernknight1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One thing that I will add is that anyone asking me for the source on Morgan's beginnings will have to wait for the book. I'm sorry. I probably shouldn't have dropped such a nugget - although maybe it will make some people drool.... unless you want to go to the Sorbonne and other French archives to find it yourself. He seems to have been quite embarrassed by his beginnings and while he may have been able to ensure that nothing unsavory was mentioned in English sources, he couldn't do so regarding the French records. I think he may have also wished to disassociate himself with Tortuga as well which I find very amusing.

Edited by modernknight1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I appreciate the response Dr. Fox, but it is what I expected

Sorry to disappoint. My stance is based on decades of my own original research, largely unswayed by the models of other historians, so while it is not immutable it is likely to take some effort to shake.

I understand a pirate to be someone who attacks other ships at sea and takes what they wish. If that pirate decides to attack a town on the coast and its easier to

leave the ship in order to do so, he does not put on a different hat and suddenly and magically change into a bandit or brigand during said attack - he is still the

pirate AND a bandit and a brigand as well.

Reverse that example. If a brigand who is more at home attacking cities and towns and fighting on land decides to take a ship when the opportunity presents itself, does he magically change his hat and become a pirate? Your argument, so far as I can make out, seems to be that we should consider the general rather than the details. In which case the question about Morgan (since he seems to be the example of choice) should be, was Morgan more at home fighting on land against towns or at sea?

I'm troubled by your apparent belief that motivation makes a pirate. Yes, pirates sought wealth and social advancement, but so too did many other people - it doesn't make them pirates. Privateers who never broke a law in their life sought wealth and social advancement. The difference between an illegitimate pirate and a legitimate non-pirate lies in the legality of their actions. Can you point to any incident in which Morgan knowingly and willingly broke the the law? Yes, his motivation was similar to or the same as pirates, but if he sought on the whole to remain just the right side of legitimate then he wasn't a pirate.

I am not going to debate any further on the matter

Pity. Historians recognise that it is through debate and discourse that study moves forward.

Is this a place only for hobbyists into the Nassau and New Providence of 1715? If so I will go back to quietly lurking.

Not at all, there have been several excellent discussions on 17th century buccaneers, and pirates from multiple periods here, though I will acknowledge that the general discussion is weighted more towards the 1690-1730 period.If you go back over the years (I don't necessarily recommend it, you can take my word for it) there was once a tendency here to conflate buccaneers with pirates of the period, and indeed pirates of other periods, until slowly but surely the realisation came over the course of several years and research by numerous people with varying degrees of academia in their background, that despite some similarities between pirates and buccaneers, there were significant social, legal, and operational differences between the two groups, enough for us to consider them different. So, while discussion on any or all of the various groups who get referred to as 'pirates' is welcome here, the idea that they were all basically the same is one that the users of this forum have long since discarded as an over-simplified error.

Let me illustrate, if I may. In your original post you stated that you weren't looking for information on Barbary pirates, and you set a specific time-frame on your research. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that that is because you've identified enough differences between the Barbary pirates and the Euro-American pirates to consider them different (correct me if I'm wrong in that assumption). If someone brought a Barbary pirate into the discussion you might say something like, "Ah, but what applies to Barbary pirates doesn't necessarily apply to Atlantic pirates..." or words to that effect, am I right? Well, by the same process, we have come to the general conclusion on the whole that what applies to the Panama-raiding island-hopping Caribbean buccaneers of the second half of the seventeenth century doesn't necessarily apply to the deep-water pirates of the same period or the periods either side. Similarities, yes, but enough significant differences to consider them separately.

Finally, Dr. Fox Sir. I am in no way meaning to quibble with you Sir.

Quibble away! I have never objected to quibbling. Every time my convictions are questioned it forces me to think about them in a new light, to reconsider them. By doing so my conclusions are either altered in the light of new ideas or strengthened by the effort, but either way I gain, as does anyone reading the discourse. By and large my conclusions are my own - even those not original to me have been formed by my own researches, if you see what I mean, and they have been formed over years, decades, of research and debate. They take some shaking, therefore, but as I said earlier, are not immutable.

My book in some respects attempts to better bridge these multiple time-frames together to illustrate a much greater deal of commonality than I think most average Joes, neophytes, hobbyists, and even some scholars accept or realize.

I think most average Joes, neophytes and hobbyists are already very happy to accept the conflation - see for example the pirates' code, laid down by Morgan and Bartholomew. Even amongst serious scholars the distinction is often unrealised, which is not surprising considering the relative newness of the idea. Although scholars have often concentrated on a narrow slice of the history (as they do in other periods and subjects), it is only in the last few years that the gulf of difference between, say, Morgan and Blackbeard, has received more attention than the peninsula of similarity.

I am still very keen to know more though about your methodology for quantifying pirate activity to the degree that you can graph it in an reliable or meaningful way, how are you doing that? (Genuine question, not a snipe)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I'm glad to know I am welcome then.

When I said no further debate, I didn't mean of the whole, but of the one point. Honestly how is debating the semantics and meaning of the words "pirate" and "piracy" helpful to scholarship in any way? How is further attempting to twist the meaning into defining it to tailor fit a specifically desired group in any way helpful to scholarship? If anything its misleading to most people and that's why I say further debate of the matter is pointless. We can be specific by defining the dates, events and people involved.

I will also tell you what the difference is between a land bandit taking over a pirate ship versus a pirate on land taking a town. Both can fight and shoot. But only the pirate knows something about seamanship and is accustomed to life on the sea for lengthy periods. The land bandit might well be able to take the ship, but he would have no ability to do anything with it thereafter. It would be useless to him in furthering his aims. The men of both of these eras were conveyed on ships and knew something of seamanship.

Concerning my desire to keep Barbary Pirates out of my book - it is for a couple of different reasons. While I have studied the English and Dutch Mediterranean actions against the Barbary pirates at some length, years more of study would be required to incorporate it into my current work. I would like to do something with the research I have collected someday, but not now. In addition, it falls outside of my scope because of two other reasons. 1) the time-frame of the Barbary/Moorish/Berber pirates go back several centuries before the period of study and continue on for two centuries after. I have not collected numbers of ships destroyed by year or prize data or gone after the resources for the Barbary states as I have the European powers of the Caribbean. I have not performed a comprehensive study of its notable captains and their individual actions and timeline during the same time-frame. I know a great deal and would be glad to debate anyone about my thoughts concerning a great many Barbary captains of the 15th thru 17th centuries and of the battles that were fought with them. Honestly I know way more about them than I do about the western pirates of the 1730s. However, they are out of scope for so many reasons. Goals of the Ottoman and Mameluk Califs, Sultan's of North African cities, Religion, the dramatically different types of vessels they used and alternative seamanship techniques, much different tactics and notably different weaponry. They are almost not of the same planet.

However concerning Pirate captain X from 1670 and Pirate Captain Y from 1715 they haunted many of the exact same places, spoke the same languages, had the same religious faiths, used nearly identical weapons as very few advances had been made. They also used ships that looked and behaved VERY similar - including many that would have still survived the earlier timeframe and been sailing on the same seas. Granted the seaman of 1715 was probably using a wheel, but he would have still been familiar with tillers and whipstaffs which were still in wide spread use. The seamanship techniques were still the same. Same use of navigational instruments and almanacs/rutters. Heck even many of the same maps and charts from the 1670s/80s were still in wide use in 1715.

Concerning the ongoing comparison that has emerged in our discussion between Blackbeard and Morgan, motivation is only part of the equation. Its the whole dimensions of human behavior I am looking at. You are right that anyone might have a desire to better their circumstances, however where I see the similarities between Morgan and Blackbeard or (Captain of ships from 1670 and Captain of ships from 1715), is that they are both quite willing to kill to get what they want.

Just as only a fraction of the population now is willing to actually put their lives in harms way and rely on people like me to do that for them, not everyone in the age of piracy was willing to take the bold steps to go a rovin.

To take this further - another very important similarity between the two men was leadership. Not only had these men taken the steps to travel to austere and dangerous places of hardship to better themselves, but these men became leaders. Not only did they lead, they lead some of the roughest characters of their times - Men who - if most people had to face them in a pub - would end up pissing themselves and hope they might get away from the encounter with their life - men that would think nothing of killing them IF it suited them, if they could get away with it, and if it would bring them some sort of benefit, or they saw you as some sort of threat. Both of these men led some of the toughest meanest lieutenants - although clearly from biography we know that Morgan led many more much dangerous men than Blackbeard ever did.

They both led men that would challenge them constantly - if not verbally then by the look in their eyes. Anyone that's led men (and I've led some of the toughest there are) know what I am talking about. When those eyes meet yours, there is a brief moment of doubt that you are tough enough and good enough and smart enough to lead that group and perhaps the decision you've just made is not the best decision after all. Yet they had the energy and motivation to bring them through this daily. Only people with immense energy can do this day after day for months and years on end. It wears on a person. When I left my final command I never wanted to do it again, yet there were some of my peers that hungrily chased after more and more command time. Now I admit I sometimes miss it. Sometimes....not actually very often.

Yes Morgan disobeyed the law. If we want to get technical, his attacks were completely illegal. He disobeyed orders to defend Jamaica from Pardal and abandoned his post. His is guilty of dereliction of duty and failure to obey orders. He will be court marshaled and stripped of all titles and hung....

- wait, you say he took a bunch of Spanish loot on that last trip and brought it home to Jamaica.

You say he still has a whole bunch more stashed away and is willing to share it with the crown and buy some positions for his friends?

How much does he have??? XXXXXXXX

OH WELL!!! We shall have to consider giving him a knighthood then.

What? You say that he has a whole bunch of captain friends that are pretty unsavory fellows that do whatever they want and seize Spanish prizes in time of peace and have even been known to take English ships????

Did he know they were doing that? Was he in command of them at the time???

He was? Oh dear me.....

Hmmmm, how much gold did you say he had again? XXXXXXXXX

OK then, we will forgive the whole lot of em! He is now SIR Henry Morgan!

Myngs actions were blatantly illegal. Known fact. The Spaniards demanded his arrest and extradition as "an enemy of the human race". What did the English do??? Made him an Admiral. HA!

Certainly the VAST majority of De Graff's acts and his captains were completely and totally "illegal".

Also I think this focus on land is somewhat misplaced when we look at all of the available resources documenting the numbers of prizes these mid to late 17th century captains took. What we have is certainly a fraction of a whole amount that we can't document. But we can draw solid conclusions and to an extent perform some predictive analysis(of things that happened long ago - I know it sounds funny but it can be done).

Certainly in terms of cumulative tonnages, the "pirate" captains of the 17th century have the Late Golden Age bunch beat by a long shot. The Zeerovers alone who if one wants to put a quid-pro-quo of legality on them of - (they probably didn't seize and take very many Dutch prizes so they are not pirates - even though they took other countries ships which Holland wasn't at war with), they brought back immense tonnages - sure we don't know the whole amounts but we know enough to be dangerous with numbers.

Concerning my charts, I am using an analytic computational model/simulation (would rather not say which). I have programed it with thousands of data points and for months and years I am missing data, my model will fill in the gaps based on preceding and following data interpolation. This is why I am so interested in insurance records and in reports back to Governors and Ministers concerning loss or tonnages shipped.

So much data available that no one has bothered collecting before. The non-English speaking archives are full of it and very few people have bothered looking. Not only do I have excellent what I call "victim data", but I have collected "aggressor" data as well. I have excellent trade tonnage data for several nations by year for many nations. While many will say that much of the data will be invalid because I am missing too many data points, the exciting thing about this analysis is that I CAN track noticeable downward loss trends in shipping by year that when looked at within the whole are very analytically viable.

For the Pirate social networking graph I have simply filled in the blanks based on known biographical information available from MANY sources to illustrate the common connections.

Your points on the whole "Morgan and Bartholomew" thing are completely valid and I smiled and sighed when I heard it in the movie theater LOL. I have heard a lot of other things from the young game players on my site that often give me a chuckle. I have completely refused to put any Pirates of the Caribbean characters or ships into my game world.

So no one is going to challenge me on Morgan then?... I thought someone here might be a purist. I do indeed have several French sources stating what I said, however I think it is probably a different Henry Morgan. One old French lady is insistent though that Morgan came to Tortuga from Barbados and by claiming to be a surgeon was relieved of his indenture by the Brethren who paid the note to Mr Townsend. Still it is worth noting the commentary and sources in the book as a possible early life path - Morgan has many. I thought someone might fire grapeshot at me. That's OK. You seem to be a civil bunch here which is one of the reasons I finally came out of the dark. Been checking out things here since 2011 and joined in 2013.

MK

Edited by modernknight1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
So much data available that no one has bothered collecting before. The non-English speaking archives are full of it and very few people have bothered looking. Not only do I have excellent what I call "victim data", but I have collected "aggressor" data as well. I have excellent trade tonnage data for several nations by year for many nations. While many will say that much of the data will be invalid because I am missing too many data points, the exciting thing about this analysis is that I CAN track noticeable downward loss trends in shipping by year that when looked at within the whole are very analytically viable.

See, now that sounds really interesting to me (provided you cite and quote your sources). I was just whining about the lack of this very thing on a Facebook group, but I only speak English. I would love to see what the Spanish have to say about the pirates from this time. And I really wish I could read the French surgical books without having to try and translate them bit by bit. (You can't just mass translate them because the print style from the period confuses OCRs and the result confuses the translator program. Although the last couple of books I downloaded were vastly improved over the ones I downloaded a couple of years ago. But I digress...)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now