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The Pirates of Malabar, and An Englishwoman in India Two Hundred Years Ago by John Biddulph

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For most people, interest in the doings of our forefathers in India dates
from our wars with the French in the middle of the eighteenth century.
Before then their lives are generally supposed to have been spent in
monotonous trade dealings in pepper and calico, from which large profits
were earned for their masters in England, while their principal
excitements were derived from drinking and quarrelling among themselves.
Little account has been taken of the tremendous risks and difficulties
under which the trade was maintained, the losses that were suffered, and
the dangers that were run by the Company's servants from the moment they
left the English Channel. The privations and dangers of the voyage to
India were alone sufficient to deter all but the hardiest spirits, and
the debt we owe to those who, by painful effort, won a footing for our
Indian trade, is deserving of more recognition than it has received.
Scurvy, shortness of water, and mutinous crews were to be reckoned on in
every voyage; navigation was not a science but a matter of rule and thumb,
and shipwreck was frequent; while every coast was inhospitable. Thus, on
the 4th September, 1715, the _Nathaniel_, having sent a boat's crew on
shore near Aden, in search of water, the men allowed themselves to be
inveigled inland by treacherous natives, who fell upon them and murdered
twelve out of fourteen who had landed from the ship. Such an occurrence
now would be followed by a visit from a man-of-war to punish the
murderers. Two hundred years ago it was only an incident to set down in
the ship's log-book. But all such outrages and losses were small in
comparison with those to which traders were exposed at the hands of

It is difficult to realize, in these days, what a terrible scourge piracy
was to the Indian trade, two hundred years ago. From the moment of losing
sight of the Lizard till the day of casting anchor in the port of
destination an East India ship was never safe from attack, with the
chance of slavery or a cruel death to crew and passengers, in case of
capture. From Finisterre to Cape Verd the Moorish pirates made the seas
unsafe, sometimes venturing into the mouth of the Channel to make a
capture. Farther south, every watering-place on the African coast was
infested by the English and French pirates who had their headquarters in
the West Indies. From the Cape of Good Hope to the head of the Persian
Gulf, from Cape Comorin to Sumatra, every coast was beset by English,
French, Dutch, Danish, Portuguese, Arab, Malay or other local pirates. In
the Bay of Bengal alone, piracy on a dangerous scale was practically

There was no peace on the ocean. The sea was a vast No Man's domain,
where every man might take his prey. Law and order stopped short at
low-water mark. The principle that traders might claim protection and
vengeance for their wrongs from their country, had not yet been
recognized, and they sailed the seas at their own risk. Before the close
of the seventeenth century the buccaneers had passed away, but their
depredations, in pursuit of what they called "free trade," were of a
different nature from those of the pirates who succeeded them. Buccaneer
exploits were confined to the Spanish main, where they ravaged and burnt
Spanish settlements on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, moving with large
forces by sea and land. According to Esquemeling, Morgan sailed on his
expedition against Panama with thirty-seven sail and two thousand
fighting men, besides mariners and boys. But the Spanish alone were the
objects of their attack. So long as Spain claimed a monopoly of South
American trade, it was the business of Spain alone to keep the marauders
away; other Governments were not disposed to assist her. Hardly had the
last of the buccaneers disappeared from the Western seas, when a more
lawless race of rovers appeared, extending their operations into the
Indian Ocean, acting generally in single ships, plundering vessels of
every nationality, though seldom attacking places on shore.

Of these men, chiefly English, the most notorious were Teach, Every, Kidd,
Roberts, England, and Tew; but there were many others less known to fame,
who helped almost to extinguish trade between Europe, America, and the
East. Some idea of the enormous losses caused by them may be gathered
from the fact that Bartholomew Roberts alone was credited with the
destruction of four hundred trading vessels in three years. In a single
day he captured eleven vessels, English, French, and Portuguese, on the
African coast.

War in Europe, and the financial exhaustion that ensued, rendered it
almost impossible for the maritime powers to put an effective check on
the pirates either in the East or the West. With peace their numbers
increased by the conversion of privateersmen into freebooters. Slaver,
privateers-man, and pirate were almost interchangeable terms. At a time
when every main road in England was beset by highwaymen, travellers by
sea were not likely to escape unmolested. But the chief cause of their
immunity lay in the fact that it was the business of nobody in particular
to act against them, while they were more or less made welcome in every
undefended port. They passed themselves off as merchantmen or slavers,
though their real character was well known, but they paid royally for
what they wanted; and, as gold, silver, and jewels were the principal
booty from which they made their 'dividend,' many a rich bale of spices
and merchandise went to purchase the good will of their friends on shore,
who, in return, supplied their wants, and gave them timely information of
rich prizes to be looked for, or armed ships to be avoided. They prided
themselves on being men of honour in the way of trade; enemies to deceit,
and only robbing in their own way. The Malabar coast was scandalized when
Kidd broke the rule, and tricked or bullied people out of supplies.
Officials high in authority winked at their doings from which they drew a
profit, and when armed squadrons were sent to look for them, the
commanders were not always averse to doing business with the freebooters.

The greatest sufferers among European traders in India were the English;
for not only were the greater number of pirates of English blood, but
pirate captains of other nationalities often sailed under English colours.
The native officials, unable to distinguish the rogues from the honest
traders, held the East India Company's servants responsible for the
misdeeds of the piccaroons, from whom they suffered so grievously. Still,
whatever their nationality might chance to be, it is fair to say that the
generality of them were courageous rascals and splendid seamen, who, with
their large crews, handled their ships better than any merchantmen could
do. When a pirate ship was cast away on a desolate coast, they built
themselves another; the spirit of the sea was in their veins; whether
building and rigging a ship, or sailing and fighting her, they could do
everything that the most skilful seamen of the age could do. As was said
half a century later of La Bourdonnais, himself a true corsair in spirit,
their knowledge in mechanics rendered them capable of building a ship
from the keel; their skill in navigation, of conducting her to any part
of the globe; and their courage, of fighting against any equal force.
Their lives were a continual alternation between idleness and extreme
toil, riotous debauchery and great privation, prolonged monotony and days
of great excitement and adventure. At one moment they were revelling in
unlimited rum, and gambling for handfuls of gold and diamonds; at another,
half starving for food and reduced to a pint of water a day under a
tropical sun. Yet the attractions of the life were so great that men of
good position took to piracy. Thus, Major Stede Bonnet, of Barbados,
master of a plentiful fortune, and a gentleman of good reputation, fitted
out a sloop and went a-pirating, for which he was hanged, together with
twenty-two of his crew, in November, 1718. Even women, like Anne Bonny
and Mary Read, turned pirates and handled sword and pistol. Desperate,
reckless, and lawless, they were filled with the spirit of adventure, and
were the forerunners of the men that Hawke, Nelson, and Dundonald led to

Long after they had disappeared from the seas the Indian trade continued
to be exposed to the ravages of native pirates, who were not finally
coerced into good behaviour till well into the nineteenth century. Of the
European pirates Kidd, the most ignoble of them all, is alone remembered,
while the name of Angria is only recalled in connection with the
destruction of Gheriah by Watson and Clive. The long half-century of
amateur warfare waged by Bombay against the Angrian power is dismissed in
a few words by our Indian historians, and the expeditions sent forth by
Boone against Angrian strongholds are passed over in silence. An account
of some of them is given in Clement Downing's curious little book "Indian
Wars," valuable as the relation of an eye-witness; but the work,
published in 1737, is inaccessible to the general reader, besides shewing
many omissions and inaccuracies.

The early records of the East India Company have furnished the foundation
on which this neglected chapter of our Indian history has been compiled.
If the Company's servants appear at times in an unfavourable light, the
conditions of their service must be considered, while the low standard of
conduct prevailing in England two hundred years ago must not be forgotten.
They were traders, not administrators, and the charter under which the
Company traded was of very insecure duration. Twice the Crown broke faith
with them, and granted charters to rival associations. As the stability
of the Company became assured, the conduct of its servants improved.

It is not intended in these pages to give an exhaustive account of all
the pirates who haunted the Indian seas, but to present some idea of the
perils that beset the Indian trade--perils that have so entirely passed
away that their existence is forgotten.

Scattered among the monotonous records of the Company's trade are many
touches of human interest. Along with the details relating to sugar,
pepper, and shipping, personal matters affecting the Company's servants
are set down; treating of their quarrels, their debts, and, too often, of
their misconduct, as ordinary incidents in the general course of
administration. At times a bright light is turned on some individual, who
relapses into obscurity and is heard of no more, while the names of
others emerge again and again, like a coloured thread woven in the canvas;
showing how much romance there was in the lives of the early traders. One
such thread I have followed in the account of Mrs. Gyfford, from her
first arrival in India till her final disappearance in the Court of
Chancery, showing the vicissitudes and dangers to which an Englishwoman
in India was exposed two hundred years ago.

To Mr. William Foster, of the India Office, I am especially indebted for
aid in directing my attention to old documents that would otherwise have
escaped notice, and who has generously placed at my disposal some of the
results of his own researches into the history of the Company in the
seventeenth century, as yet unpublished.

My thanks are also due to Sir Ernest Robinson for permitting me to use
his picture of an engagement with Mahratta ships, as a frontispiece.





Portuguese pirates--Vincente Sodre--Dutch pirates--Royal
filibustering--Endymion Porter's venture--The Courten Association--The
Indian Red Sea fleet--John Hand--Odium excited against the English in
Surat--The _Caesar_ attacked by French pirates--Danish depredations--West
Indian pirates--Ovington's narrative--Interlopers and permission
ships--Embargo placed on English trade--Rovers trapped at Mungrole--John
Steel--Every seizes the _Charles the Second_ and turns pirate--His letter
to English commanders--The Madagascar settlements--Libertatia--Fate of
Sawbridge--Capture of the _Gunj Suwaie_--Immense booty--Danger of the
English at Surat--Bombay threatened--Friendly behaviour of the Surat
Governor--Embargo on European trade--Every sails for America--His reputed
end--Great increase of piracy--Mutiny of the _Mocha_ and _Josiah_
crews--Culliford in the _Resolution_--The _London_ seized by Imaum of



Measures to suppress piracy--The _Adventure_ fitted out--Warren's squadron
meets with Kidd--His suspicious behaviour--He threatens the
_Sidney_--Waylays the Red Sea fleet--Captures the _Mary_--Visits Carwar
and Calicut--His letter to the factory--Chased by Portuguese
men-of-war--Chases the _Sedgwick_--Chivers--Action between _Dorrill_ and
_Resolution_--Kidd captures the _Quedah Merchant_--Dilemma of European
traders at Surat--Their agreements with the authorities--Experience of
the _Benjamin_--News of Kidd's piracies reaches England--Despatch of
squadron under Warren--Littleton at Madagascar--Kidd sails for New
York--Arrested and tried--His defence and execution--Justice of his
sentence--His character--Diminution of piracy--Lowth in the _Loyal
Merchant_--Act for suppression of piracy--Captain Millar ...



Native piracy hereditary on the Malabar coast--Marco Polo's
account--Fryer's narrative--The Kempsant--Arab and Sanganian
pirates--Attack on the _President_--Loss of the _Josiah_--Attack on the
_Phoenix_--The _Thomas_ captured--Depredations of the Gulf
pirates--Directors' views--Conajee Angria--Attacks English
ships--Destroys the _Bombay_--Fortifies Kennery--Becomes
independent--Captures the Governor's yacht--Attacks the _Somers_ and
_Grantham_--Makes peace with Bombay--His navy--Great increase of
European and native piracy ...



Arrival of Mr. Boone as Governor--He builds ships and improves defences of
Bombay--Desperate engagement of _Morning Star_ with Sanganians--Alexander
Hamilton--Expedition against Vingorla--Its failure--Hamilton made
Commodore--Expedition against Carwar--Landing force defeated--Successful
skirmish--Desertion of Goa recruits--Reinforcements--Landing force again
defeated--The Rajah makes peace--Hamilton resigns Commodoreship--A
noseless company--Angria recommences attacks--Abortive expedition against
Gheriah--Downing's account of it--Preparations to attack Kennery ...



The Company's civil servants--Their comparison with English who went to
America--Their miserable salaries--The Company's military
servants--Regarded with distrust--Shaxton's mutiny--Captain
Keigwin--Broken pledges and ill-treatment--Directors' vacillating
policy--Military grievances--Keigwin seizes the administration of
Bombay--His wise rule--Makes his submission to the Crown--Low status of
Company's military officers--Lord Egmont's speech--Factors and writers as
generals and colonels--Bad quality of the common soldiers--Their bad
treatment--Complaint against Midford--Directors' parsimony ...



Sivajee's occupation of Kennery--A naval action--Minchin and
Keigwin--Bombay threatened--The Seedee intervenes--Conajee Angria occupies
Kennery--Boone sails with the expedition--Manuel de Castro--Futile
proceedings--Force landed and repulsed--Second landing--Manuel de Castro's
treachery--Gideon Russell--Bad behaviour of two captains--Defeat--Attack
abandoned--The _St. George_--The _Phram_--Manuel de Castro
punished--Bombay wall completed--Angria makes overtures for peace--Boone
outwitted ...



Trouble with the Portuguese--Madagascar pirates again--Loss of the
_Cassandra_--Captain Macrae's brave defence--The one-legged
pirate--Richard Lazenby--Expedition against Gheriah--Mr. Walter Brown--His
incompetency--Gordon's landing--Insubordination and drunkenness--Arrival
of the _Phram_--General attack--Failure--The Kempsant's alliance--Attack
on Deoghur--The Madagascar pirates, England and Taylor--Ignominious
flight--Fate of the _Phram_--Brown despatched south again--The pirates at
Cochin--They take flight to Madagascar--Their rage against Macrae and
England--England marooned--Taylor takes Goa ship--Rich prize--Governor
Macrae ...



Measures taken in England against pirates--Woodes Rogers at the
Bahamas--Edward Teach--Challoner Ogle--Bartholomew Roberts
killed--Matthews sent to the East Indies--Naval officers' duels--Portuguese
alliance--Expedition against Colaba--Assault--Defeat--A split in the
alliance--Plot against Boone--His departure--Matthews' schemes--His
insulting behaviour--He quarrels with everybody--Goes to Madagascar--The
King of Ranter Bay--Matthews goes to Bengal ...



Loss of the _Hunter_ galley--Quarrel with Portuguese--Alliance of
Portuguese with Angria--War with both--A double triumph--Portuguese make
peace--Angria cowed--Matthews reappears--Trouble caused by him--He
returns to England--Court-martialled--The last of Matthews ...



The case of Mr. Curgenven--Death of Conajee Angria--Quarrels of his
sons--Portuguese intervention--Sumbhajee Angria--Political
changes--Disaster to _Bombay_ and _Bengal_ galleys--The _Ockham_ beats
off Angria's fleet--The Coolees--Loss of the _Derby_--Mahrattas expel
Portuguese from Salsette--Captain Inchbird--Mannajee Angria gives
trouble--Dutch squadron repulsed from Gheriah--Gallant action of the
_Harrington_--Sumbhajee attacks Colaba--English assist Mannajee--Loss
of the _Antelope_--Death of Sumbhajee Angria--Toolajee Angria--Capture
of the _Anson_--Toolajee takes the _Restoration_--Power of
Toolajee--Lisle's squadron--Building of the _Protector_ and
_Guardian_ ...



Toolajee fights successful action with the Dutch--He tries to make peace
with Bombay--Alliance formed against him--Commodore William
James--Slackness of the Peishwa's fleet--Severndroog--James's gallant
attack--Fall of Severndroog--Council postpone attack on Gheriah--Clive
arrives from England--Projects of the Directors--Admiral
Watson--Preparations against Gheriah--The Council's instructions--Council
of war about prize-money--Double dealing of the Peishwa's
officers--Watson's hint--Ships engage Gheriah--Angrian fleet burnt--Fall
of Gheriah--Clive occupies the fort--The prize-money--Dispute between
Council and Poonah Durbar--Extinction of coast piracy--Severndroog
tower ...

* * * * *




* * * * *




Portuguese pirates--Vincente Sodre--Dutch pirates--Royal
filibustering--Endymion Porter's venture--The Courten Association--The
Indian Red Sea fleet--John Hand--Odium excited against the English in
Surat--The _Caesar_ attacked by French pirates--Danish depredations--West
Indian pirates--Ovington's narrative--Interlopers and permission
ships--Embargo placed on English trade--Rovers trapped at Mungrole--John
Steel--Every seizes the _Charles the Second_ and turns pirate--His letter
to English commanders--The Madagascar settlements--Libertatia--Fate of
Sawbridge--Capture of the _Gunj Suwaie_--Immense booty--Danger of the
English at Surat--Bombay threatened--Friendly behaviour of the Surat
Governor--Embargo on European trade--Every sails for America--His reputed
end--Great increase of piracy--Mutiny of the _Mocha_ and _Josiah_
crews--Culliford in the _Resolution_--The _London_ seized by Imaum of

From the first days of European enterprise in the East, the coasts of
India were regarded as a favourable field for filibusters, the earliest
we hear of being Vincente Sodre, a companion of Vasco da Gama in his
second voyage. Intercourse with heathens and idolaters was regulated
according to a different code of ethics from that applied to intercourse
with Christians. The authority of the Old Testament upheld slavery, and
Africans were regarded more as cattle than human beings; while Asiatics
were classed higher, but still as immeasurably inferior to Europeans. To
prey upon Mahommedan ships was simply to pursue in other waters the
chronic warfare carried on against Moors and Turks in the Mediterranean.
The same feelings that led the Spaniards to adopt the standard of the
Cross in their conquest of Mexico and Peru were present, though less
openly avowed, in the minds of the merchants and adventurers of all
classes and nationalities who flocked into the Indian seas in the
sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. With the decadence of buccaneering
and the growth of Indian trade, there was a corresponding increase of
piracy, and European traders ceased to enjoy immunity.

In 1623 the depredations of the Dutch brought the English into disgrace.
Their warehouses at Surat were seized, and the president and factors were
placed in irons, in which condition they remained seven months. This
grievance was the greater, as it happened at the time that the cruel
torture and execution of Captain Towerson and his crew by the Dutch took
place at Amboyna. It was bad enough to be made responsible for the doings
of their own countrymen, but to be punished for the misdeeds of their
enemies was a bitter pill to swallow. In 1630, just as peace was being
concluded with France and Spain, Charles I., who was beginning his
experiment of absolute government, despatched the _Seahorse_, Captain
Quail, to the Red Sea to capture the ships and goods of Spanish subjects,
as well as of any other nations not in league and amity with England.
There were no Spaniards in the Red Sea or the Indian Ocean, but
international arrangements in Europe were not regarded when the equator
had been crossed. Quail captured a Malabar vessel, for which the Company's
servants at Surat were forced to pay full compensation. The _Seahorse_
returned to England in 1633, but in view of the new field of enterprise
opened up, Endymion Porter, Gentleman of the King's bedchamber, embarked
on a piratical speculation, in partnership with two London merchants,
Bonnell and Kynaston, with a licence under the privy seal to visit any
part of the world and capture ships and goods of any state not in league
and amity with England. Two ships, the _Samaritan_ and _Roebuck_, were
fitted out with such secrecy that the East India Company were kept in
ignorance, and sailed in April, 1635, for the Red Sea, under Captain Cobb.

The _Samaritan_ was wrecked in the Comoro Islands; but Cobb, continuing
his cruise with the _Roebuck_, captured two Mogul vessels at the mouth of
the Red Sea, from one of which he took a large sum of money and a
quantity of goods, though the vessel had a pass from the Surat factory.
Again the Company's servants at Surat were imprisoned, and not released
till they had paid full compensation. Some small satisfaction was
experienced when it became known that John Proud, master of the _Swan_,
one of the Company's ships, had encountered the _Roebuck_ in the Comoro
Islands, and had attacked the freebooter. He was unable to capture it,
but succeeded in procuring restitution of the captured goods; the
treasure, however, was carried off to London, where it must have seemed
as if the days of Drake and Hawkins had come again.

The Company laid their grievance before the King, who expressed much
concern, promising to write to the Great Mogul and explain matters; so
the Company commenced an action against Bonnell and Kynaston in the
Admiralty Court. Porter was too highly placed to be struck at. Bonnell
evaded arrest and escaped to France, but Kynaston was arrested and lodged
in gaol; upon which Charles ordered his release on bail, saying he would
try the case himself at his leisure.

But Porter's views went beyond a single piratical voyage. Hardly had Cobb
started on his cruise, when he entered into partnership with Sir William
Courten for an association to establish a separate trade to the East
Indies. A royal grant was obtained, and the King himself was credited
with a share to the nominal extent of L10,000. The grant was a flagrant
breach of faith, and was the inauguration of the system of interlopers
that in after years caused so much loss and trouble to the Company. Four
ships were equipped and sent out, and before long it became known that
two vessels from Surat and Diu had been plundered by Courten's ships, and
their crews tortured. Again the Company's servants at Surat were seized
and thrown into prison, where they were kept for two months, being only
released on payment of Rs.1,70,000, and on solemnly swearing to respect
Mogul ships.

The Civil War brought these courtly piracies to an end, and the decay of
the Spanish power drew the more turbulent spirits of Europe and America
to the Spanish main, so that for a time there was a diminution of
European piracy in Indian waters. As buccaneering became more dangerous,
or less lucrative, adventurers of all nations again appeared in Eastern
waters, and the old trouble reappeared in an aggravated form. The Indian
Red Sea fleet offered an especially tempting booty to the rovers. Lobo, a
Jesuit priest, writing in the seventeenth century, tells us that so vast
was the commerce of Jeddah, and so great the value of the ships trading
to that place, that when, in India, it was wished to describe a thing of
inestimable price, it was customary to say, 'It is of more value than a
Jeddah ship.' Every year during the winter months, Indian traders, and
pilgrims for Mecca, found their way in single ships to the Red Sea. On
the setting in of the monsoon, they collected at Mocha, and made their
way back in a single body. All Indian trade with the Red Sea was paid for
in gold and silver, so that the returning ships offered many tempting
prizes to freebooters.

In 1683 John Hand, master of the _Bristol_, interloper, cleared his ship
with papers made out for Lisbon and Brazil, and sailed for Madeira. There
he called his crew together, and told them he intended to take his ship
to the East Indies. Those who were unwilling were overawed, Hand being a
mighty 'pastionate' man. He appears to have been half pirate and half
trader; equally ready to attack other traders, or to trade himself in
spices and drugs. On the Sumatra coast, finding the natives unwilling to
do business with him, he went ashore with a pistol in his pocket to bring
the 'black dogs' to reason. The pistol went off in his pocket and
shattered his thigh, and that was the end of John Hand.

In the same year, six men, of whom four were English and two Dutch, while
on passage in a native merchant's ship from the Persian Gulf to Surat,
seized the ship, killing the owner and his two wives. The lascars were
thrown overboard, six being retained to work the ship. Their cruise did
not last long. Making for Honore, they threw the six lascars overboard
when nearing the port. The men managed to get to land, and reaching
Honore, gave information of the would-be pirates to the local authorities,
who seized the ship, and soon disposed of the rogues.

Three years later, two ships under English colours, mounting respectively
forty-four and twenty guns, were reported to have captured vessels in the
Red Sea, to the value of Rs.600,000. The Seedee of Jinjeera, who styled
himself the Mogul's Admiral, received a yearly subsidy of four lakhs for
convoying the fleet, a duty that he was quite unable to perform against
European desperadoes. Public opinion at Surat was at once excited against
the English, and further inflamed by the Dutch and French, who were only
too anxious to see a rival excluded from the trade. Sir John Child, to
pacify the Governor, offered to send a man-of-war to look for the pirates;
but the Dutch and French factors continued to 'spitt their venom' till
the Governor laughed in their faces and asked why they did not join in
sending vessels to look for the rogues, since the matter seemed to them
so serious.

In the same season a gallant engagement was fought against pirates,
though not in Indian waters. The Company's ship _Caesar_, Captain Wright,
bound from England for Bombay, was chased off the coast of Gambia by five
ships, carrying each from twenty to thirty guns, under French colours.
Wright had no intention of yielding without a struggle, so put his ship
before the wind, to gain time for getting into fighting trim. The
_Caesar_ was carrying soldiers, and there were plenty of men to fight the
ship. The boats were cut away, the decks cleared, ammunition and arms
served out, three thousand pounds of bread which cumbered the gun-room
were thrown overboard, and the tops were filled with marksmen. As soon as
all was ready, the mainsail was furled, and the ship kept under easy sail.
Before long the two smaller ships came up, hoisted the red flag, and
began firing, one on the _Caesar's_ quarter and one astern. Soon the
three other ships, two of which Wright styled the Admiral and
Vice-Admiral, came up. The Admiral ranged up on the quarter and tried to
board, but was obliged to sheer off, with the loss of many men and a
bowsprit shot away. The Vice-Admiral tried to board at the bow, but with
no better success, losing a foreyard and mizzen-mast. For five hours the
engagement lasted, but the small-arm men in the _Caesar's_ tops fired so
well that the pirates could hardly serve their guns. The crew showed a
wonderful spirits cheering loudly at every successful shot, till the
discomfited pirates bore up, leaving the _Caesar_ to pursue her way to
Bombay, much knocked about as to hull, but having lost only one man
killed and eight wounded.

In the following year came news to Surat of two vessels, under Danish
colours, that had stopped English ships and seized native ones between
Surat and Bombay. The _Phoenix_, a British man-of-war, was at Surat at
the time, so, together with the _Kent_, East Indiaman, it was despatched
to look after the marauders, taking with them also two small boys, sent
to represent the French and the Dutch. In due time Captain Tyrrell
returned, and reported that he had found a squadron of four vessels; that
after a two days' chase he had brought them to, when they turned out to
be two Danish ships, with two prizes they had taken. They showed him
their commission, authorizing them to make reprisals on the Mogul's
subjects for affronts offered to Danish traders; so he left them alone. A
few months later the Portuguese factory at Cong, in the Persian Gulf, was
plundered by an English pirate; another was heard of in the Red Sea,
while Philip Babington an Irish pirate, was cruising off Tellichery in
the _Charming Mary_.

By 1689 a number of sea rovers from the West Indies had made their
appearance, and the factory at Fort St. George reported that the sea
trade was 'pestered with pirates.' The first comers had contented
themselves with plundering native ships. Now their operations were
extended to European vessels not of their own nationality. In time this
restriction ceased to be observed; they hoisted the red or black flag,
with or without the colours of the nationality they affected, and spared
no vessel they were strong enough to capture.

The Armenian merchants were loud in their complaints. An Armenian ship,
bound from Goa to Madras, with twenty thousand pagodas on board, was
taken by a pirate ship of two hundred tons, carrying twenty-two guns and
a crew of sixty men. Another Armenian ship, with fifty thousand xeraphims,
was taken near Bombay, on its voyage from Goa to Surat. Besides those
that beset the Malabar coast, there were pirates in the Persian Gulf, at
the mouth of the Red Sea, and in the Mozambique Channel, while five
pirate vessels were cruising off Acheen. During the next ten years the
losses caused by the pirates were prodigious.

Ovington mentions that at St. Helena (1689) they were told, by a slaver,
of three pirates, two English and the other Dutch, so richly laden with
booty that they could hardly navigate their ships, which had become
weather-beaten and unseaworthy from their long cruises off the Red Sea
mouth. Their worn-out canvas sails were replaced with double silk.

"They were prodigal in the expences of their unjust gain, and
quenched their thirst with Europe liquor at any rate this Commander
(the slaver) would put upon it; and were so frank both in distributing
their goods, and guzzling down the noble wine, as if they were both
wearied with the possession of their rapine, and willing to stifle
all the melancholy reflections concerning it."

Such an account was bound to fire the imagination of every seaman who
heard it.

The number of pirates was increased by the interlopers, merchant
adventurers trading without a licence, who, like John Hand, when they
failed to get cargoes, plundered native ships. Their proceedings were
imitated by the permission ships, vessels that held the Company's licence
for a single voyage. Not seldom the crews of interlopers and permission
ships rose and seized the vessel against the will of their owners and
commanders and hoisted the Jolly Roger. Commissions were granted to the
East India Company's commanders to seize interlopers; but the interlopers,
as a rule, were remarkably well able to take care of themselves. As
pirates and interlopers alike sailed under English colours, the whole
odium fell on the English. In August, 1691, a ship belonging to the
wealthy merchant, Abdul Guffoor, was taken at the mouth of the Surat
river, with nine lakhs in hard cash on board. A guard was placed on the
factory at Surat, and an embargo laid on English trade. As the pirate had
shown the colours of several nationalities, the authorities were loth to
proceed to extremities. Fortunately for the English Company, a member of
the pirate crew was captured, and proved to be a Dane; so the embargo on
English trade was taken off.

Though they plied their calling at sea, almost with impunity, the pirates
occasionally fell victims to Oriental treachery on shore. Thus, James
Gilliam, a rover, having put into Mungrole, on the Kattiawar coast, was
made welcome and much praised for the noble lavishness with which he paid
for supplies. Soon there came an invitation to a banquet, and Gilliam,
with some of his officers and crew, twenty in all, were received by the
representative of the Nawab of Junaghur with excessive ceremony. Much
polite curiosity was evinced about the noble strangers. "Why did they
always go armed? Were their muskets loaded? Would they discharge them to
show their host the European method?" The muskets were discharged, and
immediately the banquet was announced. "Delay to reload the muskets was
inexpedient. It would be time to recharge their weapons after the feast."
And then, when seated and defenceless, there was an irruption of armed
men, and Gilliam, with his followers, were seized and fettered. For a
year they lay at Junaghur, where two of them died. In vain Gilliam
contrived to send a letter to the Surat factory, asking that they might
be claimed as British subjects. President Harris knew that the least
interest shown in the fate of the rovers would be fatal to the interests
of the Company, and was relieved when he heard that they had been sent to
Aurungzeeb's camp; after which they are heard of no more.

In the beginning of 1692, authority was given to the Company's commanders
to seize pirates and hold them till the King's pleasure was known, but
the measure was of small effect. The pirates were prime seamen, who
outsailed and outfought the Company's ships; while among the Company's
crews they had numerous sympathizers. The prizes to be gained were so
great and the risks so small, that the Company could hardly restrain
their own men from joining the sea rovers. Thus, in 1694, John Steel[1]
ran away with the long boat of the _Ruby_ frigate. Sixteen others who had
plotted to join him were detected in time, and clapped in irons. The
French and Dutch gave passes to all who applied for them, so Steel placed
himself under French protection, and for two years 'that rogue Steel'
finds frequent mention in the coast letters. Four years later Steel was
arrested in England. But though the directors had been supplied with many
accounts of his misdeeds, no sworn evidence could be produced against him,
so Steel escaped scot-free.

All other pirates, however, were destined to be eclipsed in fame by Henry
Every, _alias_ Bridgman,[2] who now made his appearance in the Indian
seas. His exploits, the great wealth he amassed by piracy, and his
reputed marriage with a Mogul princess, continued to excite the public
mind long after he had disappeared from the scene. Several biographies of
him were written, one of them attributed to Defoe, all of them containing
great exaggerations; and a play, _The Successful Pirate_, was written in
his honour. His biographers generally give his name as John Avery, but it
was as is here given. According to the account of Van Broeck, a Dutchman,
who was detained on board his ship for a time, and was on good terms with
him, he was born at Plymouth, the son of a trading captain who had served
in the navy under Blake. Every himself served in the navy, in the
_Resolution_ and _Edgar_, before he got the command of a merchant ship,
in which he made several voyages to the West Indies. In May, 1694, he was
first mate of the _Charles the Second_, one of the small squadron of
English ships hired from Sir James Houblon, by the Spanish Government, to
act against French smugglers who were troubling their Peruvian trade.[3]

The Spaniards were bad paymasters, and Houblon's squadron was detained at
Corunna three or four months, while the crews became more and more
discontented as their wages remained unpaid. As their sense of grievance
increased, a plot was formed among the most turbulent spirits to seize a
ship and turn rovers, under Every's command. On the night of the 30th May,
the captain of the _Charles the Second_ was made prisoner while in bed. A
boat-load of men sent from the _James_ to prevent the capture, joined the
mutineers; the cables were cut, and the ship ran out of harbour. The
captain and all who were unwilling to join were put into a boat, and the
_Charles_, renamed the _Fancy_, was headed south for the coast of Africa.
The only man detained against his will was the doctor, as he was a useful

Some months were spent on the Guinea coast, where some negroes were
captured, and five ships--three English and two Danish--were plundered
and burnt. Before the end of the year Every was east of the Cape, intent
on the Red Sea traders. The first intelligence of him that reached Bombay
was in May, 1695, when three outward-bound merchantmen reported that they
had seen him at Johanna.

"Your Honor's ships going into that island gave him chase, but he was
too nimble for them by much, having taken down a great deale of his
upper works and made her exceeding snugg, which advantage being added
to her well sailing before, causes her to sail so hard now, that she
fears not who follows her. This ship will undoubtedly (go) into the
Red Sea, which will procure infinite clamours at Surat."

Accompanying this report came the following characteristic letter from

"February y'e 28th, 1695/4.

"To all English. Commanders lett this Satisfye that I was Riding here
att this Instant in y'e Ship fancy man of Warr formerly the Charles
of y'e Spanish Expedition who departed from Croniae y'e 7th of May.
94: Being and am now in A Ship of 46 guns 150 Men & bound to Seek our
fortunes I have Never as Yett Wronged any English or Dutch nor never
Intend whilst I am Commander. Wherefore as I Commonly Speake w'th all
Ships I Desire who ever Comes to y'e perusal of this to take this
Signall that if you or aney whome you may informe are desirous to
know w't wee are att a Distance then make your Antient Vp in a Ball
or Bundle and hoyst him att y'e Mizon Peek y'e Mizon Being furled I
shall answere w'th y'e same & Never Molest you: for my men are hungry
Stout and Resolute: & should they Exceed my Desire I cannott help my

as Yett
An Englishman's friend


"Here is 160 od french Armed men now att Mohilla who waits for
Opportunity of getting aney ship, take Care of your Selves."[4]

According to Van Broeck, he was a man of good natural disposition, who
had been soured by the bad treatment he received at the hands of his
relations. The letter shows him to have been a man of some education, and
during his short but active career in the Indian seas he appears to have
attacked native ships only. The Company's records do not mention the loss
of a single English ship at Every's hands, a circumstance that no doubt
told heavily against the English in native opinion at Surat.

The same ships that brought Every's letter to Sir John Gayer brought
intelligence of a well-known French pirate having got aground at Mohilla.
The three Company's ships watering at Johanna, heard of the occurrence,
and proceeded to the spot, burnt the French ship after taking out what
treasure was on board, and captured six of the Frenchmen, who were
brought to Bombay. Every's friendly warning about the '160 od French
armed men' evidently referred to the wrecked crew.

The value of Perim, or Bab's Key, as it was then called by mariners, to
command the trade of the Red Sea, was at once perceived by Every, who
attempted to make a settlement there. After some unprofitable digging for
water, he abandoned the project, and established himself in Madagascar,
which had before this become known as a pirate resort. During the next
thirty years the only traders who dared show themselves on the Madagascar
coast were those who did business with the pirates, owing to the number
of pirate settlements that sprang up at different points; the best known
being at St. Mary's Island, St. Augustine's, Port Dauphin, and Charnock's
Point. They built themselves forts and established a reign of terror over
the surrounding country, sometimes taking a part in native quarrels, and
sometimes fighting among themselves; dubbing themselves kings, and living
in squalid dignity with large seraglios of native women. Captain Woodes
Rogers, who touched at Madagascar for slaves, sixteen years after Every's
time, described those he met as having been on the islands above
twenty-five years, with a motley crowd of children and grandchildren.

"Having been so many years upon this Island, it may be imagined their
Cloaths had long been worn out, so that their Majesties were
extremely out at the Elbows: I cannot say they were ragged, since
they had no Cloaths, they had nothing to cover them but the Skins of
Beasts without any tanning, but with all the Hair on, nor a Shoe nor
Stocking, so they looked like the Pictures of Hercules in the Lion's
Skin; and being overgrown with Beard, and Hair upon their Bodies,
they appeared the most savage Figures that a Man's Imagination can

One remarkable settlement was founded in the north, near Diego Suarez, by
Misson, a Frenchman, and the most humane of pirates, with whom was allied
Tew, the English pirate. Misson's aim was to build a fortified town "that
they might have some place to call their own; and a receptacle, when age
and wounds had rendered them incapable of hardship, where they might
enjoy the fruits of their labour and go to their graves in peace." The
settlement was named Libertatia. Slavery was not permitted, and freed
slaves were encouraged to settle there. The harbour was strongly
fortified, as a Portuguese squadron that attacked them found to its cost.
A dock was made; crops were sown; a Lord Conservator was appointed for
three years, with a Parliament to make laws. The colony was still in its
infancy when it was surprised and destroyed by the natives, while Misson
was away on a cruise; and so Libertatia came to an end. Tew succeeded in
escaping to his sloop with a quantity of diamonds and gold in bars. On
Misson rejoining him, they determined to go to America. Misson's ship
foundered in a storm, while Tew made his way to Rhode Islands, and lived
there for a time unquestioned. But the fascinations of a rover's life
were too much for him. He fitted out a sloop and made again for the Red
Sea, and was killed in action there with a Mogul ship.

From their Madagascar settlements the pirates scoured the east coast of
Africa, the Indian Ocean as far as Sumatra, the mouth of the Red Sea,
where the Mocha ships offered many rich prizes, the Malabar coast, and
the Gulf of Oman. From time to time, ships from New England and the West
Indies brought supplies and recruits, taking back those who were tired of
the life, and who wished to enjoy their booty. European prisoners were
seldom treated barbarously when there was no resistance, and the pirate
crews found many recruits among captured merchantmen. Their worst
cruelties were reserved for the native merchants of India who fell into
their hands. They believed all native traders to be possessed of jewels,
as was indeed often the case, and the cruellest tortures were inflicted
on them to make them surrender their valuables. One unhappy Englishman we
hear of, Captain Sawbridge, who was taken by pirates, while on a voyage
to Surat with a ship-load of Arab horses from Bombay. His complaints and
expostulations were so annoying to his captors that, after repeatedly
telling him to hold his tongue, they took a sail needle and twine and
sewed his lips together. They kept him thus several hours, with his hands
tied behind him, while they plundered his ship, which they afterwards set
on fire, burning her and the horses in her. Sawbridge and his people were
carried to Aden and set on shore, where he died soon after.

Before long. Every made some notable captures. Off Aden he found five
pirate ships of English nationality, three of them from America,
commanded by May, Farrell, and Wake. In the Gulf of Aden he burned the
town of Mahet on the Somali coast because the people refused to trade
with him. In September, while cruising off Socotra with the _Fancy_, two
sloops, and a galley, he took the _Futteh Mahmood_ with a valuable cargo,
belonging to Abdool Quffoor, the wealthiest and most influential merchant
in Surat. A few days later he took off Sanjan, north of Bombay, a ship
belonging to the Emperor, called the _Gunj Suwaie_ (Exceeding Treasure).
This was the great capture that made Every famous. According to the
legend, there was a granddaughter of Aurungzeeb on board, whom Every
wedded by the help of a moollah, and carried off to Madagascar. But the
story is only the most sensational of the many romantic inventions that
have accumulated round Every's name. The native historian[6] who relates
the capture of the _Gunj Suwaie_, and who had friends on board, would
certainly not have refrained from mentioning such an event if it had
occurred; nor would the Mogul Emperor have failed to wreak vengeance on
the English for such an insult to his family.

The _Gunj Suwaie_ was the largest ship belonging to the port of Surat. It
carried eighty guns and four hundred matchlocks, besides other warlike
implements, and was deemed so strong that it disdained the help of a
convoy. On this occasion it was returning from the Red Sea with the
result of the season's trading, amounting to fifty-two lakhs of rupees[7]
in silver and gold, and having on board a number of Mahommedan ladies
returning from pilgrimage to Mecca. In spite of the disparity of force,
Every bore down and engaged. The first gun fired by the _Gunj Suwaie_
burst, killing three or four men and wounding others. The main mast was
badly damaged by Every's broadsides, and the _Fancy_ ran alongside and
boarded. This was the moment when a decent defence should have been made.
The sailor's cutlass was a poor match for the curved sword and shield, so
much so that the English were notorious in the East for their want of
boldness in sword-play. But Ibrahim Khan, the captain, was a coward, and
ran below at the sight of the white faces. His crew followed his example,
and the vessel was taken almost without resistance.

So rich a prize was not to be relinquished without a very complete search.
For a whole week the _Gunj Suwaie_ was rummaged from stem to stern, while
the crew of the _Fancy_ indulged in a horrible orgy, excited beyond
measure by the immense booty that had fallen into their hands. Several of
the women threw themselves into the sea or slew themselves with daggers;
the last piece of silver was sought out and carried on board the _Fancy_,
the last jewel torn from the passengers and crew, and then the _Gunj
Suwaie_ was left to find its way to Surat as it best could.

The vials of long-accumulated wrath were poured out on the English.
Instigated by Abdul Guffoor, the populace of Surat flew to arms to wreak
vengeance on the factory. The Governor, Itimad Khan, was well disposed to
the English, but popular excitement ran so high that he found it
difficult to protect them. Guards were placed on the factory to save it
from plunder. A mufti urged that the English should be put to death in
revenge for the death of so many true believers, and quoted an
appropriate text from the Koran. Soon came an order from Aurungzeeb
directing the Seedee to march on Bombay, and for all the English in Surat
and Broach to be made prisoners. President Annesley and the rest,
sixty-three in all, were placed in irons, and so remained eleven months.
To make matters worse, news arrived of Every having captured the
_Rampura_, a Cambay ship with a cargo valued at Rs.1,70,000.

"It is strange," wrote Sir John Gayer, "to see how almost all the
merchants are incensed against our nation, reproaching the Governor
extremely for taking our part, and as strange to see that
notwithstanding all, he stems the stream against them more than well
could be imagined, considering his extreme timorous nature."

The strangeness of the merchants' hostility is hardly apparent, but it is
not too much to say that Itimad Khan's friendly behaviour alone saved
English trade from extinction. The Dutch, always hostile in the East,
whatever might be the relations between Holland and England in Europe,
strove to improve the occasion by fomenting popular excitement, and tried
to get the English permanently excluded from the Indian trade. In the
words of Sir John Grayer, "they retained their Edomitish principles, and
rejoice to see Jacob laid low." But Itimad Khan knew that the pirates
were of all nationalities, and refused to hold the English alone
responsible. To propitiate the Governor, Sir John Gayer made over to him
the six French pirates taken at Mohilla, not without qualms at handing
over Christians to Mahommedan mercies. He fully expected that the
treasure taken out of the wreck would also be demanded of him; but Itimad
Khan was not an avaricious man, and no such demand was made. "His
contempt of money is not to be paralleled by any of the King's Umbraws or
Governors," Sir John wrote, a year later, when Itimad Khan was dead. To
forestall the Dutch with the Emperor, Gayer sent an agent offering to
convoy the Red Sea fleet for the future, in return for a yearly payment
of four lakhs a year. The offer was refused, but it served to place the
English in a more favourable light, and to procure the cancelling of
orders that had been given for attacking Bombay and Madras. Had it been
accepted, the Seedee would have been added to the number of the Company's
enemies. The Dutch, not to be outdone, offered to perform the same
service in return for a monopoly of trade in the Emperor's dominions.
This brought all other Europeans into line against the Dutch proposal,
and the intrigue was defeated. The embargo on all European trade at
Surat was maintained, while the Dutch, French, and English were directed
to scour the seas and destroy the pirates. It was further ordered that
Europeans on shore were not to carry arms or use palanquins, and their
ships were forbidden to hoist their national flags. The Dutch and French
hung back. They would not send a ship to sea without payment, except for
their own affairs. Sir John Gayer, more wisely, sent armed ships to
convoy the Mocha fleet, at the Company's charge, and so the storm passed

Meanwhile, Every, glutted with booty, made up his mind to retire[8] with
his enormous gains. According to Johnson, he gave the slip, at night, to
his consorts, sailed for Providence in the Bahamas, where his crew
dispersed, and thence made his way to England, just at the time a royal
proclamation offering L500 for his apprehension was published. The reward
was doubled by an offer of four thousand rupees from the Company; eight
rupees being the equivalent of a pound at that time. Several of his crew
also straggled home and were captured; but before he left the Indian
coast, twenty-five Frenchmen, fourteen Danes, and some English were put
ashore, fearing to show themselves in Europe or America. This fact would
seem to throw some doubt on the account of his having left his consorts
by stealth.

On the 19th October, 1696, six of his crew were tried and sentenced at
the Old Bailey, and a true bill was found and an indictment framed
against Every himself, though he had not been apprehended. According to
Johnson,[9] Every changed his name and lived unostentatiously, while
trying to sell the jewels he had amassed. The merchant in whose hands he
had placed them, suspecting how they had been come by, threatened him.
Every fled to Ireland, leaving his jewels in the merchant's hands, and
finally died in Devonshire in extreme poverty. But the authority for this,
as for most of the popular accounts of Every, is extremely doubtful. That
he was cheated out of some of his ill-gotten gains is probable enough,
but it is in the highest degree improbable that he was known to be living
in poverty, and yet that the large reward offered for his apprehension
was not earned. What is alone certain is that he was never apprehended,
and that in a few months he carried off an amount of plunder such as
never before was taken out of the Indian seas by a single rover. For long
he was the hero of every seaport town in England and North America;
innumerable legends gathered round his name, and an immense impulse was
given to piracy.

A few months after his departure, there were five pirate ships in the Red
Sea, under English colours; two more, each mounting fourteen guns, were
in the Persian Gulf, and another was cruising off Tellicherry. At
Madagascar others were coming in fast. The news of Every's great booty
had spread from port to port, and every restless spirit was intent on
seeking his fortune in this new Eldorado, as men nowadays flock to a new
goldfield. The Company's sailors were not proof against the temptation.
While on the way from Bombay to China the crew of the _Mocha_ frigate
mutinied, off the coast of Acheen, killed their captain, Edgecombe, and
set afloat in the pinnace twenty-seven officers and men who refused to
join them. The _Mocha_ was then renamed the _Defence_, and for the next
three years did an infinity of damage in the Indian Ocean. At the same
time, the crew of the _Josiah_ ketch from Bombay, while at anchor in the
Madras roads, took advantage of the commander being on shore to run away
with the ship. The whole thing had been planned between the two crews
before leaving Bombay; their intention being to meet off the coast of
Sumatra, and cruise in company. The piratical career of the _Josiah_ did
not last long. Making first for the Nicobars, the crew flocked on shore,
and were soon involved in quarrels with the natives; leaving on board
only two men, one of whom was James Cruffe, the armourer, who had been
forced to join them against his will. The other man was but a lukewarm
pirate, and Cruffe prevailed on him to join in an attempt to carry off
the ship. They cut the cable, and by great good fortune, without any
knowledge of navigation, succeeded in carrying the ship into Acheen.

Stout's command of the _Defence_, once _Mocha_, quickly came to an end.
According to one account, he was put to death by his comrades, at the
Laccadives, for trying to desert them; according to another account, he
was slain by some Malays. His place was taken by Culliford, who had been
the leader of the mutineers of the _Josiah_. He changed the ship's name
to the _Resolution_, and proved himself one of the most daring rovers of
his day.

The untrustworthiness of his crews placed Sir John Gayer in an awkward
dilemma. He had to report to the Directors that he dared not send ships
to convoy pilgrims lest the crews should mutiny; that a boat could not be
manned in Bombay harbour for fear of desertion, while, on shore, he had
not a soldier fit to be made a corporal. A powerful French squadron had
appeared on the coast, and the Surat President calculated that the
Company's recent losses on captured ships sailing from Surat amounted to
a million sterling. The losses of the native merchants were even more
serious; trade was almost at a standstill, while three more pirate ships
from New York appeared in the Gulf of Cambay, and captured country ships
to the value of four lakhs of rupees. Every letter along the coast at
this date speaks of the doings of the rovers: every ship coming into
harbour told of pirates, of chases and narrow escapes, and of reported

"These pirates spare none but take all they meet, and take the Europe
men into their own ships, with such goods as they like, and sink the
ships, sending the lascars on rafts to find the shore."

So bold were the marauders that they cruised in sight of Bombay harbour,
and careened their ships in sight of factories along the coast.

To avenge their losses, the Muscat Arabs, in April, 1697, seized the
_London_, belonging to Mr. Affleck, a private merchant. The Arabs were
engaged in hostilities with the Portuguese at the time, and forced the
crew of the _London_ to fight for them. Those who were unwilling were
lashed to masts exposed to Portuguese fire, from which they did not
escape scatheless. In vain the commanders of two of the Company's vessels
assured the Imaum that the _London_ was not a pirate.

"You have sent me a letter," he wrote, "about my people taking one of
your ships. It is true that I have done so, in return for one you
English took from me, so now we are even and have ship for ship; for
this one I will not surrender. If you wish to be friends, I am
willing to be so; if not, I will fight you and take all the ships I

One pirate ship was reported to have chased two Cong ships, capturing one
and forcing the other ashore, where it became a total wreck. "What
influence this may have on the Rt. Hon. Company's affairs, God alone
knows," wrote the Surat President, mournfully. Soon he was in better
spirits. The same pirates had landed and plundered Cong; but, allowing
themselves to be surprised, fifty-six of the crew had been set upon and

With few exceptions, the English pirates came from the American colonies.
Every year, from New York, Boston, Jamaica, and the Bahamas, ships were
fitted out, nominally for the slave trade, though it was no secret that
they were intended for piracy in the Eastern seas. Whatever compunction
might be felt at attacking European ships, there was none about
plundering Asiatic merchants, where great booty was to be gained with
little risk. Sometimes the Governors were in league with the pirates, who
paid them to wink at their doings. Those who were more honest had
insufficient power to check the evil practices that were leniently, if
not favourably, regarded by the colonial community, while their time was
fully occupied in combating the factious opposition of the colonial
legislatures, and in protective measures against the French and Indians.
The English Government, absorbed in the French war, had no ships in the
Indian seas; but the straits to which English trade in the East had been
reduced, and the enormous losses caused by the pirates, at last forced
some measures to be adopted for coping with the evil that had assumed
such gigantic proportions.

[1] It appears likely that this was the John Steel mentioned by Drury as
his uncle in Bengal. There is very little doubt that much of Drury's
alleged slavery in Madagascar was spent among the pirates.

[2] It would appear that he assumed the name of Every on taking to piracy.

[3] Sir James Houblon was an Alderman of London, and a Governor of the
Bank of England at the time.

[4] The letter appears to have been left by Every with the natives of
Johanna, who gave it to the merchant captains who brought it to

[5] The quotation is taken from Johnson's History of the Pirates. In his
cruising voyage round the world Woodes Rogers did not touch at
Madagascar. On that occasion (1711) he met two ex-pirates at the Cape,
who had received pardons, and told him that the Madagascar
settlements had dwindled to sixty or seventy men, "most of them very
poor and despicable, even to the natives," and possessed of only one
ship and a sloop. But, he adds, "if care be not taken, after a peace,
to clear that island of them, and hinder others from joining them, it
may be a temptation for loose straggling fellows to resort thither,
and make it once more a troublesome nest of freebooters."

[6] Elliot's History of India as told by its own historians. Muntakhabu-l
Lubab of Khafi Khan.

[7] Equal to L534,000 at that day.

[8] According to the statement of a lascar, taken in the _Futteh Mahmood_
and carried to Madagascar, Every sailed for the Bahamas in the autumn
of 1695, so that his career in the Indian seas lasted only six months.
On reaching Providence, Every presented the Governor with forty
pieces of eight and four pieces of gold for allowing them to come and
go in safety.

[9] Johnson's "General History of the Pyrates," 1724.



Measures to suppress piracy--The _Adventure_ fitted out--Warren's squadron
meets with Kidd--His suspicious behaviour--He threatens the
_Sidney_--Waylays the Red Sea fleet--Captures the _Mary_--Visits Carwar
and Calicut--His letter to the factory--Chased by Portuguese
men-of-war--Chases the _Sedgwick_--Chivers--Action between _Dorrill_ and
_Resolution_--Kidd captures the _Quedah Merchant_--Dilemma of European
traders at Surat--Their agreements with the authorities--Experience of the
_Benjamin_--News of Kidd's piracies reaches England--Despatch of squadron
under Warren--Littleton at Madagascar--Kidd sails for New York--Arrested
and tried--His defence and execution--Justice of his sentence--His
character--Diminution of piracy--Lowth in the _Loyal Merchant_--Act for
suppression of piracy--Captain Millar.

War with France was being actively prosecuted by land and sea. In 1695
the nation was still smarting under reverses in the Low Countries and the
repulse of the Brest expedition. At sea the navy was holding its own,
though English commerce suffered terribly under the attacks of French
corsairs of Dunkirk and St. Malo. The Company applied for a ship to be
sent to the Indian seas to deal with the pirates; but Lord Orford, the
head of the Admiralty, refused to spare one. It was the fashion for
wealthy men to obtain letters of marque for privateering, and a syndicate
was formed, to which the Chancellor, Lord Somers, Lord Orford, Lord
Bellamont, and other Whig nobles were parties, to send out a privateer
against French commerce. For this purpose the _Adventure_ galley was
purchased and fitted out, and the command was given to William Kidd, who
was suggested to Lord Bellamont as a fit person for the task. Kidd was an
old privateers-man who had gained some reputation in the West Indies
during the war. Lord Bellamont had been appointed Governor of New York,
though he did not proceed there till two years later. The king had
charged him to use his utmost endeavours to put a check on the pirates
who sailed from New England, and nothing better occurred to him than to
obtain a commission for Kidd to act against the rovers. A general reward
of L50 was offered for the apprehension of each pirate, and L100 for
Every, increased in the following year to L500.

In December, a commission under the Admiralty Seal was issued to Kidd,
authorizing him to proceed against French shipping. He was to keep a
journal of his proceedings, and any ship captured was to be carried into
the nearest port and legally adjudged by a competent court. If condemned,
he might dispose of it according to custom. Six weeks later, a second
commission under the Great Seal was granted him, in his capacity of a
private man of war, to apprehend all pirates, freebooters, and sea rovers,
the names of Thomas Too (? Tew), John Ireland, Thomas Wake, and William
Maze, or Mace, being specially mentioned. Again, he was enjoined to keep
an exact journal of his doings, and the pirate ships he captured were to
be proceeded against according to law, in the same manner as French
captures. A subsequent warrant was granted to the syndicate, who figure
in it as the Earl of Bellamont, Edmund Harrison, William Rowley, George
Watson, Thomas Reynolds, and Samuel Newton. Under these unpretentious
names were hidden Lords Orford and Somers, and other Whig nobles. They
were to account for all goods and valuables captured in the rovers'
possession: one-tenth was to be reserved for the Crown, the rest being
assigned to them to recoup their expenditure.

The _Adventure_ carried thirty guns and rowed twenty-six or thirty oars.
In May, 1696, Kidd sailed from Plymouth for New York with a crew of about
seventy men. On the way he captured a small French vessel, which was
properly condemned, and the proceeds helped to complete the equipment of
the _Adventure_. In New York he filled up his crew to one hundred and
fifty-five men, and people shook their heads when they saw the men of
doubtful character that he enlisted. It was felt at the time that, either
his intentions were dishonest, or he was taking a crew that he would be
unable to control. The men were promised shares of what should be taken,
while Kidd himself was to have forty shares. Nothing was said as to the
share of the owners or the Crown. In September he sailed for the Cape.
There were plenty of pirates and French trading-ships close at hand on
the American coast, but he did not waste a day in looking for them.

Within a few days of Kidd's leaving Plymouth, a royal squadron consisting
of the _Windsor_, _Tyger_, _Advice_, and _Vulture_, under Commodore
Warren, sailed from Sheerness to visit the harbours and watering-places,
used by East India ships, as far as the Cape, and clear them of pirates.
The squadron, with five East Indiamen under convoy, made its way slowly
along the African coast, losing many men from sickness. Two hundred
leagues west of the Cape they sighted a strange sail that seemed to wish
to avoid them. Warren gave chase and forced it to heave to. On being
signalled to come on board, the commander proved to be Kidd, in command
of the _Adventure_. Asked to account for himself, he told how he was
engaged to look for Every and destroy pirates, and showed his commission.
Apparently, this was the first that Warren had heard of him, but there
was no gainsaying the royal commission, so the usual hospitality was
shown him, and he was bidden to keep company as far as the Cape. Warren
had lost many men on the Guinea coast, and asked Kidd to spare him some.
No better opportunity could have been found for getting rid of
troublesome men, but Kidd declined to part with a single one. As Warren's
wine told on him, his true character showed itself. He boasted of the
feats he was going to do, and the wealth he would get, till Warren was
filled with disgust and suspicion. The _Adventure_ wanted a new mainsail.
Warren could not spare him one. No matter, he would take one from the
first ship he met; and he was finally sent back to the _Adventure_,
reeling drunk. For six days he sailed in company with the squadron. Then
a calm came on, and at night, making use of his oars, Kidd stole away,
and was nearly out of sight when the sun rose.

On reaching the Cape, Warren could get no news of him, but to the
captains of the Company's ships he communicated his suspicions of Kidd.
Three of them, bound for Johanna in the Comoro Islands, the _Sidney_, the
_Madras Merchant_, and the _East India Merchant_, agreed to sail in
company for mutual protection. The _Sidney_, being the faster sailer,
reached Johanna in advance of her consorts, and found the _Adventure_ at
anchor in the roadstead. As the _Sidney_ came to anchor, Kidd sent a boat
to Captain Gyfford, ordering him to strike his colours, and threatening
to board him if he refused. Gyfford prepared to defend himself. Two days
later the _East India Merchant_ and the _Madras Merchant_ appeared,
making for the anchorage, and Kidd lowered his tone. He then invited the
three captains to come on board the _Adventure_, which they refused to do,
letting him plainly see that they distrusted him.

Soon they had to warn him regarding his ill-treatment of the Johanna
people, for which they threatened to call him to account. This
unlooked-for attitude on the part of the three captains made Kidd uneasy;
and finding that they would not leave the anchorage till he had gone, he
made sail and departed. Some of the crew of the _Adventure_ had, however,
used suspicious language, saying they were looking for an East India ship.
When asked if they would attack a single one, they answered evasively,
while continuing to boast of the things they were going to do. These
early proceedings of Kidd effectually dispose of the plea that his
intentions were at first honest, and that he only yielded to the coercion
of his crew in taking to piracy, after reaching the Indian seas. The
truth is that Kidd was resolved on piracy from the first, and had little
difficulty in persuading the majority of the crew to join him. It can
hardly be doubted that the accounts of the great wealth acquired by Every
had turned his head. There were a number of men on board the _Adventure_
who were unwillingly coerced into piracy, and who remained in a chronic
state of discontent, but Kidd was not one of them. Long before he had
made a single capture, it was reported in the ports of Western India that
Kidd was a pirate.

From Johanna he shaped his coarse for Madagascar, but the pirates were
all away in search of prey; so he continued his cruise in the Mozambique
Channel and along the African coast. He is said to have met Indian ships
at this time without molesting them, which was afterwards cited to show
that his intentions were then honest. It is more likely that he was only
doubtful as to his own power, being unacquainted with the weakness of
Asiatics, and reserving himself for the rich prey offered by the Mocha

Cruising northwards, he landed at Mabber[1] on the Somali coast, and took
some corn from the natives by force--his first bit of filibustering. Then
making for Perim, he anchored to await the Mocha fleet. Three times he
sent a boat to look into Mocha harbour, and bring notice when the Indian
ships were ready to sail. As the fleet in scattered array emerged from
the straits, he singled out a large vessel and began firing at it. This
at once attracted the attention of the _Sceptre_ frigate that Sir John
Gayer had sent as a convoy, and Kidd took to his heels.

If Every had been in his place, he would have followed the fleet across
the Indian Ocean, and have picked up a straggler or two, but the sight of
the _Sceptre_ and a Dutch man-of-war had been enough for Kidd, and he left
the pilgrim fleet alone. Without molesting them further, he made his way
eastward, and, on the 29th August, off Sanjan, north of Bombay, he took
the _Mary_ brigantine, a small native vessel from Surat. This was Kidd's
first capture on the high seas. Thomas Parker, the master of the _Mary_,
was forced on board the _Adventure_ to act as pilot, a Portuguese was
taken to act as interpreter, and the lascars of the _Mary_ beaten and
ill-treated. A week later he put into Carwar for provisions, flying
English colours; but his character was already known. The Sunda Rajah and
the factory stood on their guard while he was in harbour. Harvey, the
chief of the factory, demanded the surrender of Parker, but Kidd vowed he
knew nothing about him. Eight of his crew deserted, and told their story.
They had no desire for the piratical life into which they had been
trepanned, and reported that many more of the crew would leave him if they
could get the chance. While off Carwar he careened the _Adventure_ on a
small islet in the harbour, which was long known as Kidd's island. A month
later he was off Calicut, where his ever-recurring trouble about supplies
is shown in the following letter to the factory:--

"Adventure Gally, October y'e 4't, 1697.


"I can't but admire y't y'r People is so fearfull to come near us for
I have used all possible means to let them understand y't I am an
Englishman and a ff'rd not offering to molest any of their Cannoes so
think it convenient to write this y't you may understand whome I am
which (I) hope may end all Suspition. I come from England about 15 mos.
agone with y'e King's Commission to take all Pyrates in these seas,
and from Carwar came ab't a month agone, so do believe y't (you) have
heard whome I am before y't and all I come for here is wood and water
wh'h if you will be pleas'd to order me shall honestly satisfie for y'e
same or any thing that they'l bring off which is all from him who
will be very ready to serve you in what lyeth in my Power.


They knew who he was only too well, so he sailed for the Laccadives,
whence news was soon received of his barbarous treatment of the natives,
and that he had killed his quartermaster.[2] The letter is characteristic
of Kidd's methods. From his first entrance into the Indian seas his
conduct had aroused suspicion. Owing to the large amount of coasting trade
and the frequent necessity of calling at many places for water, the news
of the sea spread from port to port with great rapidity. At the moment of
his writing this letter he had the master of the _Mary_ a prisoner under
hatches, and the factory chiefs of Carwar and Calicut were well aware of
it; but to the end he believed that he could throw dust in the eyes of the
Company's officials by making play with the royal commission.

While he was on the coast, Kidd was chased by two Portuguese armed vessels,
a grab and a sloop. The grab was a poor sailer, and Kidd had no difficulty
in eluding it; but the sloop, a better sailer, allowed itself to be drawn
on in chase, till Kidd, shortening sail, was able to give it several
broadsides, which reduced it to a total wreck; after which he showed a
clean pair of heels. At Kidd's trial it was stated he had ten men wounded
in this business.

In April (1698) the _Sedgwick_, arriving at Fort St. David, reported that
on its way from Anjengo it had been chased for three days and nights by
Kidd, but had been saved by a stiff breeze springing up. On its return
voyage the _Sedgwick_ was less fortunate, being captured off Cape Comorin
by Chivers, a Dutchman, in the _Soldado_, otherwise known as the
_Algerine_, of two hundred and fifty tons and carrying twenty-eight guns.
The cargo of the _Sedgwick_ not being to Chivers' liking, and being put
into good humour with sundry bowls of punch, he let the _Sedgwick_ go,
taking out of her only sails and cordage.

The year 1698 saw the Company's trade almost extinguished owing to the
depredations of the sea rovers and the hostility aroused against Europeans.
Every letter brought accounts of the pirates and the losses occasioned by
them. In small squadrons they swept the coast from Madras to the mouths of
the Indus, and haunted the sea from Cape Comorin to the Straits of Malacca.
In July, the Company's ship _Dorrill_, bound for China, was attacked in
the Straits of Malacca by the _Resolution_, late _Mocha_, commanded by
Culliford, and, after a hot engagement of three hours, made the pirate
sheer off, with heavy losses on both sides. Bowen in the _Speedy Return_,
for the taking of which Green was, with doubtful justice, hanged, Chivers
in the _Soldado_, North in the _Pelican_, Halsey, Williams, White, and
many others of less fame, were plundering and burning everywhere with
impunity. Early in the year, Kidd captured the _Quedah Merchant_ a country
ship bound from Bengal to Surat, belonging to some Armenian merchants who
were on board. The captain was an Englishman named Wright; the gunner was
a Frenchman, and there were two Dutchmen. This was the best prize made by
Kidd, and yielded some L10,000 or L12,000, which was at once divided among
the crew of the _Adventure_, Kidd's forty shares being one-fourth of the
whole. Able seamen got one share; landsmen and servants a half-share only.
The Surat factory was filled with alarm, not without good reason. In vain
Sir John Gayer wrote to the Governor, and sent an agent to the Emperor to
disclaim responsibility. In August came an imperial order directing that
the English, French, and Dutch should be held responsible for all losses,
and that for the _Quedah Merchant_ alone the English should pay two lakhs
of rupees. Guards were placed on the factories; all communication with
them was forbidden; their Mahommedan servants left them, and their
creditors were made to give an account to the Governor of all debts owing
by Europeans. The Dutch and French tried to exonerate themselves by laying
all the blame on the English, but the Governor refused to make any
distinction, and called on the three nations to pay fourteen lakhs of
rupees as a compensation for the losses occasioned by piracy. Sir John
Gayer was a man of action. Like Macrae, to be mentioned later in these
pages, he had first brought himself into notice as a sea-captain, and as
Governor of Bombay had upheld the Company's interests for four years, in
circumstances of no ordinary difficulty. The time for some decided action
had arrived if the Company's trade was to continue. On receiving
intelligence of these occurrences, he appeared off Surat with three armed
ships, and sent word to the Governor that he would neither pay any portion
of the fourteen lakhs, nor give security. At the same time he intimated
that he was ready to furnish convoys for the Mocha ships, as he had
already done, and, in proof of good will in acting against the pirates,
pointed out that, now the war in Europe was at an end, a royal squadron
was on its way to the Indian seas to extirpate them. The European traders
on the west coast had always been so submissive to the Emperor's authority
that this unexpected display of vigour astonished the Governor: he
moderated his tone. The Dutch declared they would abandon the Surat trade
rather than pay; so the Governor consented to make no demand for past
losses, if the English would engage to make good all future losses by
piracy. This was also refused. Finally, the English, French, and Dutch
agreed to act in concert to suppress piracy, and signed bonds by which
they jointly engaged to make good all future losses.

Onerous as these terms were, the agreement came not a moment too soon. The
news of it reached Aurungzeeb just in time to procure the reversal of an
order he had issued, putting a final stop to all European trade in his
dominions. He told the Surat Governor to settle the matter in his own way.
In pursuance of the agreement, the Dutch convoyed the Mecca pilgrims and
patrolled the entrance to the Red Sea, besides making a payment of
Rs.70,000 to the Governor; the English paid Rs.30,000 and patrolled the
South Indian seas; while the French made a similar payment and policed the
Persian Gulf.

An experience of the _Benjamin_ yacht at this time showed that pirates
were not prone to wanton mischief, where there was no plunder to be gained.
In November, the yacht lay at Honore, taking in a cargo of pepper, when
the well-known pirate ships _Pelican_, _Soldado_, and _Resolution_ came
into harbour for provisions. Seeing the Bombay Governor's yacht, they
naturally concluded that some attempt would be made to prevent the natives
from supplying their wants. They at once sent word to the master of the
_Benjamin_ that they had no intention of molesting him, unless he hindered
them in getting provisions, in which case they would sink him. The master
of the yacht was only too glad to be left alone; the pirates got their
provisions, and, in recognition of his behaviour, presented him with a
recently captured Portuguese ship. Sir John Gayer, in much fear lest he
should be accused of being in league with the pirates, quickly made it
over to the Portuguese authorities.

When the intelligence of Kidd's piracies reached England, there was a
storm of indignation in the country. Party feeling was running high and
with unusual violence. The majority in the House of Commons desired the
ruin of Somers and Orford while aiming at the King. The charge of abetment
in Kidd's misdeeds was too useful a weapon to be neglected, so it was
added to the list of accusations against them. It must be admitted that
the circumstances of the Lord Chancellor, the head of the Admiralty, and
other prominent men using their influence to forward a venture from which
they were to profit, under fictitious names, and that had created such a
scandal, demanded inquiry. It was hardly sufficient to say that they had
lost their money. Such an answer would justify any illegal enterprise in
the event of its failure.

The French war had come to an end, so in January, 1699, a royal squadron
of four men-of-war, the _Anglesea_, _Harwich_, _Hastings_, and _Lizard_,
sailed from Portsmouth for Madagascar under Warren.[3] They carried with
them four royal commissioners and a proclamation offering a free pardon,
from which Every and Kidd were excepted, to all pirates who voluntarily
surrendered themselves before the end of April, 1699. The pardon related
only to acts of piracy committed east of the Cape of Good Hope, between
the African and Indian coasts. After calling at St. Augustine's bay, where
several pirates made their submission, the squadron reached Tellicherry in
November. As it came to its anchorage, Warren died, and was buried on
shore the following day. He was succeeded in the command by Littleton. In
the following May, Littleton was on the Madagascar coast, where he
remained till the end of the year before returning home. During the whole
time he was in communication with the pirates. His dealings with them
brought him into disrepute in shipping circles. Hamilton tells us that
"for _some valuable reasons_ he let them go again; and because they found a
difficulty in cleaning the bottoms of their large ships, he generously
assisted them with large blocks and tackle falls for careening them."
Possibly Hamilton's remark was due to the conduct of Captain White of the
_Hastings_, whose behaviour excited such suspicion that Littleton placed
him under arrest, fearing he would make his ship over to the pirates.
Littleton remained on the Madagascar coast for eight months without firing
a shot. When he first reached St. Mary's, the pirates greeted him with a
salute of nine guns, to which he responded with five, and he was in close
and daily communication with them. Whether any pirates made their
submission to him does not appear; but it is probable that his presence
strengthened the resolution to obtain pardon of those who had previously
engaged themselves to Warren; among them Culliford and Chivers. The fact
is that piracy was looked upon then more leniently than we should now
regard it. Plundering and ill-treating Asiatics was a venial offence, and
many a seaman after a cruise with the pirates returned to his calling on
board an honest merchantman, without being thought much the worse for it.

Among all the naval officers sent to the Indian seas at that time, Warren
appears to have been the only one who really tried to protect the Company's
interests. Littleton quarrelled with Sir Nicholas Waite, and had
questionable dealings with the Madagascar pirates. Richards and Harland
quarrelled with Sir John Gayer, and crippled the Company's ships by
forcibly pressing their sailors to fill up their own crews; while Matthews
exceeded them all in outrageous behaviour, as will be recounted in its

After capturing the _Quedah Merchant_, Kidd shaped his course for
Madagascar, where he found Culliford in the _Resolution_, who at first
treated him with suspicion, hearing that he had a commission to capture
pirates. But Kidd soon reassured him over sundry cups of bombo, protesting
with many oaths that 'his soul should fry in hell' sooner than that he
should hurt a hair of one of Culliford's crew; and, as a proof of good
will, presented him with two guns and an anchor. Then, finding the
_Adventure_ had become unseaworthy, he abandoned her, and sailed for New
England in the _Quedah Merchant_. In June, 1799, he reached Boston.

Before his arrival, he heard he had been proclaimed a pirate, so he
deputed a friend to approach Lord Bellamont on his behalf. The _Quedah
Merchant_ was disposed of, and his plunder placed in a safe place. By
assurance, and by a valuable present to Lady Bellamont, he thought he
could face matters out. Bellamont appears to have been puzzled at first
how to treat him. He was unwilling to believe all that was said. At the
end of three weeks he made up his mind and arrested Kidd. For eight months
he lay in Boston gaol, and was then sent to London for trial, remaining in
Newgate for more than a year. Eleven of his crew were also arrested, two
of them being admitted as King's witnesses.

In the interval the storm against the Whig ministers had gathered strength,
and articles of impeachment against Somers, Orford, and others were being
prepared by the House of Commons. On the 27th March, 1701, Kidd was
brought to the House to be examined, but he said nothing to inculpate any
of the owners of the _Adventure_, so a resolution was passed that he
should be proceeded against according to law.

On the 8th and 9th May he was brought up for trial at the Old Bailey. The
first indictment against him was for the murder of Moore, the gunner of
the _Adventure_. There had been a quarrel in which Moore accused Kidd of
having ruined them all, on which Kidd called him a 'lousy dog'; to which
Moore replied in a rage, that if he was a dog it was Kidd who had made him
one. At this Kidd hurled a bucket at him and fractured his skull. The jury
found him guilty. He was then tried, together with nine of his crew, for
the taking of the _Quedah Merchant_. His line of defence was that it was
sailing under a French pass, and therefore a lawful prize, but he evaded
actually saying so. He declared that Lord Bellamont had some French passes
of ships he had taken, but would not produce them. That Kidd had captured
some ships under French passes, and that the passes were in Bellamont's
hands, is extremely probable; but it is incredible that a French pass for
the _Quedah Merchant_ was in Bellamont's hands, and that he held it back.
He had been accused of complicity in Kidd's piracies, and threatened with
impeachment. Every consideration of private and political interest alike
prompted him to clear himself of the charge, and confound those who
accused the leading men of his party as well as himself.

Kidd tried to get the witnesses, some of them favourable to him, to say
they had seen the French pass, but all they could say was that they had
heard him declare there was one. The adverse witnesses deposed that he had
feigned to believe that the French gunner of the _Quedah Merchant_ was the
captain, though they all knew he was not. When asked, "Captain Kidd, can
you make it appear there was a French pass aboard the _Quedah Merchant_?"
he replied, "My lord, these men say they heard several say so." One of the
Armenian owners was in court, but he did not examine him; nor could he say
why he had not had the ship properly condemned, like the French ship taken
between Plymouth and New York. His only reply was that he was not at the
sharing of the goods, and knew nothing of it. For his attack on the Mocha
fleet he offered no explanation.

He was found guilty, and was then tried for the captures of a Moorish ship
(Parker's), a Moorish ketch, and a Portuguese ship. Culliford and two
others were next tried for taking a ship called the _Great Mahomet_. Three
of Kidd's crew were acquitted, the rest of the prisoners were found guilty,
and sentenced to be hanged. Culliford was respited, having made his
submission to Warren. Three of Kidd's crew had hard measure dealt to them.
They had made their submission under the King's proclamation, but not to
one of the commissioners appointed for the purpose, so their submission
went for nothing. On the 12th May, Kidd, with six of his crew and two of
Culliford's, was hanged at Execution Dock, the common place of execution
for pirates.

It is impossible to follow Kidd's career, and to study his trial, without
coming to the conclusion that he deserved his fate. There is no sign that
he was sacrificed to political expediency. Directly the House of Commons
failed to bring home the responsibility for Kidd's piracies to the leaders
of the Whig party, he ceased to be of any importance for political
purposes. The charge of complicity with him was only one of ten charges
against Orford, one of fourteen against Somers. The court is said to have
dealt hardly with him, but courts of justice were not very tender to any
criminals in those days, and the jury did not hesitate to acquit three of
those tried with him. Criminals were not allowed the aid of counsel,
except on a point of law. Kidd did raise a legal point, and was allowed
the aid of a counsel to argue it. His intention was clear from the day he
left New York. The four pirates named in his commission were then on the
American coast; he made no effort to look for them, but steered at once
for the Cape. If he could not control his crew, he could have invoked
Warren's help; instead of which he stole away in the night. His threats to
the _Sidney_ at Johanna, his attack, after three weeks' waiting, on the
Mocha fleet, his detention of Parker, to say nothing of his dealings with
Culliford, can only be interpreted in one way. During his whole cruise he
never put into Surat, Bombay, or Goa, but cruised like any other pirate.

The legend of his buried treasure has survived to our own day, owing to
the fact that he had buried some of his booty before putting himself in
Bellamont's hands; but the record of his trial shows that, beyond what was
obtained from the _Quedah Merchant_, his plunder consisted mostly of
merchandise. That some of his ill-gotten gains were recovered at the time
seems clear from an Act of Parliament passed in 1705, enabling the Crown
to "dispose of the effects of William Kidd, a notorious pirate, to the use
of Greenwich Hospital"; which institution received accordingly 6472-1.

The scandal caused by Kidd's piratical doings under a commission from the
Crown, the political use made of it in Parliament, and the legend of a
vast hoard of buried treasure, have conferred on him a celebrity not
justified by his exploits. As he appears in the Company's records, he
showed none of the picturesque daredevilry that distinguished many of the
sea rovers whose names are less known. No desperate adventure or
hard-fought action stand to his credit. Wherever we get a glimpse of his
character it shows nothing but mean, calculating cunning; and to the end
he posed as the simple, innocent man who was shamefully misjudged. His
crew were always discontented and ready to desert. He had none of the
lavish open-handedness that made the fraternity welcome in so many ports.
Every, Teach, England, and a dozen others in his place, would have thrown
the commission to the winds, and sailed the seas under the red flag. Kidd's
ruling idea appears to have been that he could hoodwink the world as to
his doings under cover of his commission: so that when he heard of the
charges against him he believed he could disarm his accusers by sheer
impudence. At his trial he attempted to lay all the blame on his crew, and
vowed he was 'the innocentest person of them all,' and all the witnesses
were perjured. Whatever touch of misdirected heroism was to be found in
any pirate, it was certainly not to be found in Kidd. He was altogether a
contemptible rascal, and had no claims to be a popular hero.

Though Littleton's squadron captured no pirate ships, its presence till
the autumn of 1700 had a salutary effect.[4] Some made their submission,
and the number who continued to ply their trade was greatly reduced. Many
of them were glad to leave a calling that had now become hazardous, in
which they had been unwillingly forced to join, while the renewal of the
war in Europe furnished a more legitimate outlet for the most turbulent
spirits, in the shape of privateering.

North, after making his submission to Littleton, thought better of it,
seeing the date of grace had expired, and refused to leave Madagascar.
There he remained for several years, fighting and subduing the natives
round St. Mary's, till he was finally killed by them. His comrades
'continued the war' for seven years till they had completely subdued the
country round.

On the 18th December, 1699, the _Loyal Merchant_, Captain Lowth, East
Indiaman, lying in Table Bay, saw a small vessel of sixty tons enter the
harbour under English colours. This proved to be the _Margaret_ of New
York. Lowth's suspicions being awakened, he sent for the captain and some
of the crew, who 'confessed the whole matter,' and were promptly put in
irons. The _Margaret_ was seized, in spite of Dutch protests. Two days
later came in the _Vine_, pink, from St. Mary's, with a number of
'passengers' on board. These were pirates on their way to New England, to
make their submission, among them Chivers and Culliford. Lowth would have
seized them also, but the Dutch interfered, and the behaviour of the Dutch
admiral became so threatening that Lowth cut short his stay and made sail
for Bombay, which he reached safely, taking with him the _Margaret_ and
eighteen prisoners. On reaching England, Culliford was tried and condemned,
but respited, as has already been mentioned.

While Kidd lay in Newgate awaiting trial, an Act was passed for the more
effectual suppression of piracy. Experience had shown that it was useless
to issue proclamations against individuals, but that some new machinery
must be created to deal with the gigantic evil that threatened to become
chronic. Under a former Act, passed in the reign of Henry VIII., the Lord
High Admiral, or his Lieutenant, or his Commissary, had been empowered to
try pirates; but the procedure had long fallen into abeyance. It had been
found almost impossible to bring offenders in distant seas to justice, to
say nothing of the cost and trouble of bringing them to England for trial.
Now it was enacted that courts of seven persons might be formed for the
trial of pirates at any place at sea or upon land, in any of his Majesty's
islands, plantations, colonies, dominions, forts, or factories. It was
necessary that at least one of the seven should be the chief of an English
factory, the governor or a member of council in a plantation or colony, or
the commander of a King's ship. These courts had powers of capital
punishment, and also had power to treat all persons who gave assistance or
countenance to pirates as accessories, and liable to the same punishments
as pirates. The Act was to be in force for seven years only. In 1706 it
was renewed for seven years, and in 1714 again for five years.

The amnesty granted to some pirates, the hanging of others,[5] and the new
Act of Parliament, caused a great abatement of the evil. The Madagascar
settlements still flourished, but for a time European trade was free from
attack. Littleton's squadron had gone home, and was replaced by two royal
ships, the _Severn_ and the _Scarborough_, which effected nothing against
the pirates, but served by their presence to keep them quiet.

The _Severn_ and _Scarborough_ sailed from England in May, 1703, under
Commodore Richards, who died at Johanna in the following March. The
command was then taken by Captain Harland, who visited Madagascar and
Mauritius, where two men were arrested, who afterwards made their escape
at Mohilla. The two ships returned to England in October, 1705.

Hamilton tells us how a

"Scots ship commanded by one Millar did the public more service in
destroying them, than all the chargeable squadrons that have been sent
in quest of them; for, with a cargo of strong ale and brandy, which he
carried to sell them, in anno 1704, he killed above 500 of them by
carousing, although they took his ship and cargo as a present from him,
and his men entered, most of them into the society of the pirates."

[1] This was probably a village near Ras Mabber, about one hundred and
sixty-five miles south of Cape Guardafui.

[2] In ships of this class the quartermaster was next in importance to the
captain or master. The incident refers to the death of Moore, the
gunner of the _Adventure_, who was killed by Kidd in a fit of anger
for saying that Kidd had ruined them all. The killing of Moore was one
of the indictments against Kidd at his trial.

[3] Warren had returned from his first cruise in the autumn of 1697.

[4] One small Arab vessel that rashly attacked the _Harwich_, mistaking it
for a merchant vessel, was disposed of with a broadside.

[5] Twenty were condemned and hung in one batch, in June, 1700; one of the
_Mocha_ mutineers among them. This was probably Guillam, to whom Kidd
had given a passage to America from Madagascar, and was supposed to
have been the man who stabbed Captain Edgecombe.



Native piracy hereditary on the Malabar coast--Marco Polo's
account--Fryer's narrative--The Kempsant--Arab and Sanganian
pirates--Attack on the _President_--Loss of the _Josiah_--Attack on the
_Phoenix_--The _Thomas_ captured--Depredations of the Gulf
pirates--Directors' views--Conajee Angria--Attacks English ships--Destroys
the _Bombay_--Fortifies Kennery--Becomes independent--Captures the
Governor's yacht--Attacks the _Somers_ and _Grantham_--Makes peace with
Bombay--His navy--Great increase of European and native piracy.

Europeans were not the only offenders. The Delhi Emperor, who claimed
universal dominion on land, made no pretension to authority at sea. So
long as the Mocha fleet did not suffer, merchants were left to take care
of themselves. There was no policing of the sea, and every trader had to
rely on his own efforts for protection. The people of the Malabar coast
were left to pursue their hereditary vocation of piracy unmolested. The
Greek author of the "Periplus of the Erythraean Sea," who wrote in the
first century of our era, mentions the pirates infesting the coast between
Bombay and Goa. Two hundred years before Vasco da Gama had shown the way
to India by sea, Marco Polo had told Europe of the Malabar pirates.

"And you must know that from this Kingdom of Melibar, and from,
another near it called Gozurat, there go forth every year more than a
hundred corsair vessels on cruize. These pirates take with them their
wives and children, and stay out the whole summer. Their method is to
join in fleets of 20 or 30 of these pirate vessels together, and then
they form what they call a sea cordon, that is, they drop off till
there is an interval of 5 or 6 miles between ship and ship, so that
they cover something like a hundred miles of sea, and no merchant ship
can escape them. For when any one corsair sights a vessel a signal is
made by fire or smoke, and then the whole of them make for this, and
seize the merchants and plunder them. After they have plundered they
let them go, saying, 'Go along with you and get more gain, and that
mayhap will fall to us also!' But now the merchants are aware of this,
and go so well manned and armed, and with such great ships, that they
don't fear the corsairs. Still mishaps do befal them at times."[1]

From the Persian Gulf to Cape Comorin the whole coast was beset by
native pirates, and, with the rise of the Mahratta power, the evil
increased. Petty chiefs sometimes levied blackmail by giving passports
to those who would pay for them, claiming the right to plunder all
ships that did not carry their passes; but often the formality was
dispensed with. Owing to the paucity of records of the early days, and
the more serious hostility of the Portuguese and Dutch, we hear little
of the losses sustained from native pirates, except when some ship
with a more valuable cargo than usual was captured. Fryer tells us how,
in his day, a rock off Mangalore was known as Sacrifice Island, "in
remembrance of a bloody butchery on some English by the pirate
Malabars." He further tells us how, in 1674, between Goa and Vingorla,
he took part in an attack on a pirate ship that they came on as it was
plundering a prize it had just taken, while the Dutch watched the
engagement from the shore.

"We soon made him yield his prize to engage with us, which they did
briskly for two hours, striving to board us, casting stink-pots among
us, which broke without any execution, but so frightened our rowers,
that we were forced to be severe to restrain them. They plied their
chambers and small shot, and slung stones, flourishing their targets
and darting long lances. They were well manned in a boat ten times as
big as our barge, and at least sixty fighting men besides rowers. We
had none to manage our small gun," the gunner having deserted at Goa.

However, the pirates were beaten off, and Fryer and his companions were
mightily praised by the Dutch. These pirates hailed probably from Vingorla,
where the Sawunt Waree chief, known in those days as the 'Kempsant,'[2]
carried on a brisk piratical trade. The name was a corruption of Khem
Sawunt, a common name of the Vingorla chiefs; the Portuguese changed it
into Quemar Santo, 'the saint burner,' on account of his sacrilegious
treatment of their churches.

There were no more determined pirates than the Arabs of Muscat and the
Sanganians of Beyt and Dwarka, who, between them, intercepted the trade of
the Persian Gulf, while the Coolee rovers of Guzarat took their toll of
the plunder. In 1683 the Company's ship _President_ was attacked by the
Muscat Arabs with two ships and four grabs, and fought a gallant action.
The grabs[3] were generally two-masted ships, from one hundred and fifty
to three hundred tons burden, built to draw very little water, and
excellent sailers, especially in the light winds prevalent on the Western
coast. They had no bowsprit, but the main-deck was continued into a long
overhanging prow. The favourite mode of using them was for two or three of
them to run aboard their victim at the same time, and attack, sword in
hand, along the prow. Being built for fighting, and not for trade, they
could sail round the clumsy merchantmen that hailed from the Thames, and,
if pressed, could find safety in the shallow bays and mouths of rivers
along the coast. Three grabs grappled the _President_ at once, but the
boarders were beaten back, and all three were blown up and sunk, on which
the rest of the squadron made off. The _President_ was set on fire in
sixteen places, and lost eleven men killed and thirty-three wounded.

In the following year the _Josiah_ ketch was attacked by the Sanganians
while at anchor, and in the heat of the engagement blew up. A few of the
crew saved themselves in a skiff, but the greater number perished, among
them the commander, Lieutenant Pitts, whose father was known in Bombay as
'the drunken lieutenant.'

In September, 1685, the _Phoenix_, a British man-of-war that had been sent
for a two-years' cruise in Indian waters, was attacked by a Sanganian
vessel that mistook her for a merchantman. It was almost a calm, and
Captain Tyrrell hoisted out his boats to capture the Sanganian ship, but
they were beaten off, so he sunk her with a couple of broadsides.
Forty-one of the pirates were picked up, but many of them refused quarter,
and one hundred and seven were killed or drowned. The _Phoenix_ had three
men killed, one wounded, and two drowned. According to Hamilton, Sir George
Byng, the first lieutenant, was dangerously wounded; but the log of the
_Phoenix_ is silent on that point, though it gives the names of the

Three years later, the _Thomas_, Captain Lavender, was less fortunate.
Attacked by four Beyt ships, after a brave resistance, the _Thomas_ took
fire, and all on board perished.

Their depredations were not confined to the sea. In 1697 some Beyt pirates
landed and plundered a village within sight of Broach.

But the losses occasioned by native pirates were at first nearly lost
sight of in the more serious losses occasioned by European corsairs.

"As for those Sanganians and those Mallabars and professed pirates,"
wrote the Directors in 1699, "we see no cause why you should not wage
an offensive as well as a defensive war against them when they fall in
your way: but it is hardly worth the while to keep small vessels to
look after them, for they are poor rogues and nothing to be got of
them to answer any charge."

In 1707, the year of Aurungzeeb's death, the pirates of the Persian Gulf
made a great haul of plunder. A squadron of them made their way to the Red
Sea, waylaid the Mocha fleet, and returned home laden with booty. In the
following year, a squadron of fourteen Arab ships from the Gulf, carrying
from thirty to fifty guns, and with seven thousand men on board, appeared
on the Malabar coast and surprised Honore, Mangalore, and Balasore(?); but
the people, having lately been plundered by the Seedee, were ready with
their arms, and beat them off with the loss of four or five hundred men.

"The Arab insolencies are often in the thoughts of the Court," wrote
the London directors, "but the Court fears they shall not be able to
do anything effectually to check their growing strength during the
present war, which finds employment for all our naval force. Further,
the Court sympathizes with Madras on their severe losses by the
pirates, which puts a damp on the Company's trade, and affects their

Annoying as were the losses that were suffered from the chronic
depredations of the Arabs and Sanganians, they sank into insignificance
when compared with the troubles experienced on the rise to power of
Conajee (Kanhojee) Angria. The growth of the Mahratta power under Sivajee
had been accompanied by the formation of a formidable fleet which harried
the coast of the Concan, and against which the Seedee chief, the Emperor's
representative afloat, could hardly maintain himself. In 1698 Conajee
Angria succeeded to the command of the Mahratta navy, with the title of
Darya-Saranga. In the name of the Satara chief he was master of the whole
coast from Bombay to Vingorla, with the exception of the Seedee's
territory. Defenceless towns as far south as Travancore were attacked and
plundered, while, at sea, vessels of native merchants were preyed upon.
For a time he seems not to have meddled with the Company's vessels; as the
size of his ships increased, he grew bolder, and, in 1702, his doings
began to excite apprehension. In that year he was addressed to release a
small trading vessel from Calicut with six Englishmen on board that had
been seized and carried into one of his harbours. What had roused his
anger against the English does not appear, but a month later we find him
sending word to Bombay that he would give the English cause to remember
the name of Conajee Angria, a threat that he carried out only too well.
Two years later we find him described as a 'Rebel Independent of the Rajah
Sivajee,' and Mr. Reynolds was deputed to find him and tell him that he
could not be permitted searching, molesting, or seizing vessels in Bombay
waters: to which he returned a defiant answer, that he had done many
benefits to the English, who had broken faith with him, and henceforth he
would seize their vessels wherever he could find them. In 1707 his ships
attacked the _Bombay_ frigate, which was blown up after a brief engagement,
and for the next half-century Angrian piracy was a scourge to the European
trade of the West coast. In 1710 Conajee Angria seized and fortified
Kennery, and his ships fought the _Godolphin_ for two days, within sight
of Bombay, but were finally beaten off. He had now grown so powerful that,
in 1711, the Directors were told he could take any ship except the largest
Europe ones; "along the coast from Surat to Dabul he takes all private
merchant vessels he meets."

Owing to the minority and imprisonment of Sivajee's grandson, Sahoojee,[4]
the Mahrattas were torn by internal divisions, in which Conajee Angria
played his part. On the death of Aurungzeeb, Sahoojee regained his liberty,
and was seated on the guddee of Satara. Owing to his want of hardihood,
and weakness of character, the dissensions continued, and Sivajee's
kingdom seemed to be on the point of breaking up into a number of
independent chiefships. Among those aiming at independence was Conajee
Angria. In 1713, an army sent against him under the Peishwa, Bhyroo Punt,
was defeated, and Bhyroo Punt taken prisoner. It was reported that Conajee
was preparing to march on Satara. Ballajee Rao, who afterwards became
Peishwa, was placed at the head of such troops as could hastily be
collected together, and opened negotiations with Conajee. An accommodation
was arrived at, by which Conajee agreed to acknowledge allegiance to
Satara, in return for which he was confirmed in command of the fleet, with
the title of Surkheil, and granted twenty-six forts and fortified places
with their dependent villages.[5] The first result of this treaty was a
war with the Seedee, who had enjoyed some of the places in question for a
number of years. Conajee was supported by the Satara arms, and the Seedee
was forced to submit to the loss. To all intents and purposes, Conajee was
now an independent chief. He was the recognized master of a strip of
territory between the sea and the western ghauts, extending from Bombay
harbour to Vingorla, excluding the Seedee's territories, a tract, roughly
speaking, about two hundred and forty miles in length by forty miles in
breadth. With his harbours strongly fortified, while the western ghauts
made his territories difficult of access by land, he was in a position to
bid defiance to all enemies. Moreover, he was the recognized chief of the
hardy coast population of hereditary seamen, who to this day furnish the
best lascars to our Indian marine.

Angria's exploits on land had not interfered with his interests at sea. In
November, 1712, he captured the Governor of Bombay's armed yacht, together
with the _Anne_ ketch from Carwar.[6] In the engagement, Mr. Chown, chief
of the Carwar factory, was killed, and his young wife, a widow for the
second time at the age of eighteen, became Angria's prisoner. A month
later, the _Somers_ and _Grantham_, East Indiamen, on their voyage from
England to Bombay, were attacked by a grab and a gallivat belonging to
Angria, off the coast north of Goa. Owing to there being a calm at the
time, the East Indiamen were unable to bring their guns to bear: "for
which reason and by y'e earnest intercession of y'e whole ship's company
to y'e captain" the boats of the _Somers_ and _Grantham_ were hoisted out,
and an attempt was made to board the pirates. The attack was beaten off
with the loss of four men killed and seventeen wounded; but the pirates
found the entertainment so little to their liking that they made off.

On hearing of the capture of the Governor's yacht, the Portuguese wrote to
propose a joint attack on Angria. A few months before, he had captured the
greater part of a Portuguese 'armado,' and disabled a thirty-gun man-of-war
that was convoying it. Governor Aislabie declined the Portuguese offer,
but it had the effect of bringing Angria to terms. Thinking it politic to
make peace with the English, while his affairs with the Rajah of Satara
were still unsettled, he sent a messenger to Bombay, offering to deliver
up all vessels, goods, and captives taken from the Company, if an
Englishman of credit was sent to him to settle on terms of peace for the
future. Aislabie demanded that in future English ships should be free from
molestation; that no ships of any nation coming into Bombay should be
interfered with between Mahim and Kennery; that English merchants should
have liberty of trade in Angria's ports, on payment of the usual dues; and
that Angria should be responsible for any damage done in future by the
ships belonging to his Mahratta superiors. In return, the Governor engaged
to give passes only to ships belonging to merchants recognized by the
Company, and to allow Angria's people full trading facilities in Bombay,
on the usual dues being paid. To these terms Angria agreed, but failed to
get the Governor's consent to additional terms of an egregious nature;
that he should be supplied by the Company with powder and shot on payment;
that a place should be assigned to him to make powder in; that if pressed
by his enemies, he should be assisted by the Company; that merchant ships
should not be convoyed in or out of Bombay harbour.

There remained the duty of sending him 'an Englishman of credit' to
'deliver him the articles.' The Council, 'knowing him to be a man of ill
principles,' thought it improper to order any man on such a risky service,
but Lieutenant Mackintosh, in consideration of a gratuity of one thousand
rupees, undertook to go, and departed for Colaba, with Rs.30,000 as
ransom for the European prisoners, the convention sealed with the Council's
seal, and ships to bring back the restored goods.

And so for a time there was security from Angria's attacks, but, with his
hands free on the Satara side, and in a more secure position than ever, it
was not likely that the peace would be of long continuance. With a fleet
of armed vessels carrying thirty and forty guns apiece, with Kennery
island in his possession within sight of Bombay harbour, Angria and his
successors continued to be a menace to the existence of Bombay, while the
Angrian territory became the Alsatia of the Indian seas, where desperadoes
of all nationalities were made welcome.

The next few years saw an enormous increase of piracy in the Indian seas.
Angria was practically secure in his fastnesses along the coast, and
plundered every ship not strong enough to defend itself. His finest
vessels were commanded by Europeans, generally Dutch. The signing of the
Peace of Utrecht brought a fresh swarm of European adventurers to reap the
harvest of the seas. The privateersmen, disregarding the peace, under
pretence of making war on France and Spain, plundered ships of all nations.
Conden,[7] White, England, Taylor, and many others, made Madagascar their
headquarters, and emulated the feats of Every and Kidd. The Beyt pirates
were as mischievous as ever, while the Muscat Arabs could muster, in 1715,
a ship of seventy-four guns, two of sixty, one of fifty, eighteen carrying
thirty-two to twelve guns each, and a host of smaller vessels carrying
never less than four guns. The Company was forced to rely on its own
exertions, as there was not a single King's ship in Indian waters. The few
armed vessels belonging to Bombay convoyed the more valuable vessels along
the coast. The larger ships, that made the ocean voyage between India and
Europe, sailed in company for mutual protection.

[1] Yule's "Marco Polo."

[2] The 'Kempason' and 'King Kemshew' of Downing.

[3] From the Arabic _ghorab_, 'a raven.'

[4] Known in the English annals of the time as the Sow Rajah, and the
South Rajah.

[5] The principal forts were Kennery, Colaba, Severndroog, Viziadroog or
Gheriah, Jyeghur, Deoghur, Manikdroog, Futtehghur, Oochitghur; and

[6] See page 264.

[7] The name of this pirate is also given as Congdon and Condent.



Arrival of Mr. Boone as Governor--He builds ships and improves defences of
Bombay--Desperate engagement of _Morning Star_ with Sanganians--Alexander
Hamilton--Expedition against Vingorla--Its failure--Hamilton made
Commodore--Expedition against Carwar--Landing force defeated--Successful
skirmish--Desertion of Goa recruits--Reinforcements--Landing force again
defeated--The Rajah makes peace--Hamilton resigns Commodoreship--A
noseless company--Angria recommences attacks--Abortive expedition against
Gheriah--Downing's account of it--Preparations to attack Kennery.

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