The American Privateers Woman

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Would you also like to submit a review for this item? You already recently rated this item. Your rating has been recorded. Write a review Rate this item: 1 2 3 4 5. Preview this item Preview this item. These women came from all walks of life but had one thing in common: a desire for freedom. History has largely ignored these female swashbucklers, until now.

Here are their stories, from ancient Norse princess Alfhild and warrior Rusla to Sayyida al-Hurra of the Barbary corsairs; from Grace O'Malley, who terrorized shipping operations around the British Isles during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I; to Cheng I Sao, who commanded a fleet of four hundred ships off China in the early nineteenth century. Author Laura Sook Duncombe also looks beyond the stories to the storytellers and mythmakers. What biases and agendas motivated them? What did they leave out? Pirate Women explores why and how these stories are told and passed down, and how history changes depending on who is recording it.

It's the most comprehensive overview of women pirates in one volume and chock-full of swashbuckling adventures that pull these unique women from the shadows into the spotlight that they deserve. Read more Allow this favorite library to be seen by others Keep this favorite library private. Find a copy in the library Finding libraries that hold this item Pirate women.

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9 Female Pirates You Should Know About | Mental Floss

Piracy -- History. Women pirates. User lists with this item 2 August items by TaftCollegeLibrary updated Linked Data More info about Linked Data. All rights reserved. Remember me on this computer. We waved each other amain [ i. And for that we perceived they were stout, we thought good to board the Biscayan [ i. Francisco ], which was ahead the other, where lying aboard about an hour plying our ordnance and small shot, with the which we stowed all his men [ i.

Peter —making account that we had entered our men, bare room with us [ i. Then presently we kept our luff [hauled to the wind], hoisted our topsails, and weathered them, and came hard aboard the fly-boat with our ordnance prepared, and gave her our whole broadside, with the which we slew divers of their men, so as we might perceive the blood to run out at the scuppers; after that we cast about, and now charged all our ordnance, and came upon them again, and willed them amain, or else we would sink them, whereupon the one would have yielded, which was shot between wind and water, but the other called him traitor; unto whom we made answer that if he would not yield presently also we would sink him first.

And thereupon he, understanding our determination, presently put out a white flag and yielded; howbeit they refused to strike their own sails, for that they were sworn never to strike to any Englishman. We then commanded the captains and masters to come aboard of us, which they did, and after examination and stowing them, we sent aboard them, struck their sails and manned their ships, finding in them both one hundred and twenty and six souls living, and eight dead, besides those which they themselves had cast overboard; so it pleased God to give us the victory, being but 42 men and a boy, of the which there were two killed and three wounded, for which good success we give the only praise to Almighty God.

The number found on board the two vessels—one hundred and thirty-four, including the dead—and the [Pg 32] implication that some corpses had been thrown overboard, making up the total to, say, one hundred and forty, points to the conclusion that there must have been a large number of passengers. Francisco was only entitled to have fifty souls on board, all told, and her consort probably not above sixty at the outside; so there is a surplus of thirty or so between the two to be accounted for.

No doubt the skippers, in the absence of any strict inquisition, carried more passengers than they were licensed for. The captains of ferry-boats and coasting steamers do so to this day, in spite of the very stringent regulations of the Board of Trade—and they do not very often get found out, except by the supervention of some dire catastrophe, due to overloading and panic. The futile Spanish bravado, in refusing to lower their sails to any Englishman, after having displayed the white flag in token of surrender, is decidedly amusing; one cannot help wondering whether any one of them really persuaded himself that he had "saved his face" by such a piece of tomfoolery.

A packet of nearly one million and a half of such documents obviously could not have been signed by the Pope himself. Peter more nearly resembling a fly-boat. The title of this section requires, perhaps, some explanation; and first as to the phrase "South Seas. It had been first exploited by the Spaniards, and became a great treasure-hunting ground for them, until France and England stepped in to obtain a share in the spoils, and the Spanish treasure-ships were tracked and waylaid by English privateers and men-of-war; which also attacked Spanish ports and towns.


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To this end there were several privateering expeditions sent out, at the end of the seventeenth and during the eighteenth century: and it is of some of these that it is proposed to treat in this chapter. In this connection, it is impossible to omit the name of William Dampier; for he was, for a time, a privateer captain, duly supplied with a commission to fight against the enemies of his sovereign. He had served, in his youth, in the Royal Navy, but had subsequently been in very bad company, sailing with the [Pg 36] famous buccaneers, who were practically pirates, in the South Seas.

This did not prevent him, however, from eventually obtaining, after many vicissitudes, the command of a man-of-war, the Roebuck : he lost his ship, and was tried by court-martial for cruelty to Lieutenant Fisher; and this was the end of his connection with the Navy, for the court found the charge proved against him, sentenced him to forfeit his pay, and pronounced him to be an unfit person to command a king's ship.

Dampier was not, indeed, fit for any post of command, though he was a very distinguished man, by reason of his skill as a navigator, and the immense pains he took in noting and recording the characteristics, natural history, winds, currents, and every imaginable detail of those portions of the world which he visited.

The results of his observations were treated with the greatest deference for generations afterwards, and in many respects hold good to the present day. His praises have been sung in all the languages of Europe, and one at least of his admirers alludes to him as "a man of exquisite refinement of mind. However, after his trouble in the Roebuck , he was placed in command of a privateer, the St. George , of twenty-six guns, for a voyage to the South Seas, having for a consort a smaller vessel, the Cinque Ports , commanded by one Pickering, and they sailed from Kinsale—a favourite port of call and place of departure in those days—on September 11th, The voyage was almost entirely a failure; the crews were more or less insubordinate from the first, neither Dampier nor Pickering knowing how to manage them.

Pickering died when on the coast of Brazil, and Stradling, his mate, succeeded him. When they had got round Cape Horn, and made the island of Juan Fernandez, the crews mutinied openly; some of them went on shore, and declared their intention of deserting altogether. When this was patched up, there still remained an utter lack of confidence between Dampier and his subordinates.

The two ships engaged a French cruiser, against Dampier's wish, and the action was futile and ill-fought, so that the Frenchman got away. Nothing prospered with them. Dampier was for ever making plans which held out the prospect of wealth, but had not the courage to follow them up. Alarmed at the sight of two French ships as they returned to Juan Fernandez, he sheered off, leaving a quantity of stores, and six men who had secreted themselves on the island.

When at length they were in great straits for food, they captured a large Spanish ship laden with provisions; over this capture there was a final rupture between Dampier [Pg 38] and Stradling, and they parted for good. They took two or three small vessels also, of no value, which only facilitated the defection of Dampier's followers. One of them Stradling had appropriated; in the other two, first John Clipperton, Dampier's mate, and then William Funnell, his steward, decamped, each with a party of men. George was too rotten to venture in any longer, and eventually, after plundering a small Spanish town, Dampier seized a brigantine, and sailed for the East Indies, only to be taken and imprisoned in a Dutch factory for some months.

At last he arrived in England, towards the end of , to find that William Funnell—who represented himself as Dampier's mate—had published an account of the cruise, in which Dampier was belittled and held up to ridicule. Dampier immediately set to work and wrote a vindication of his conduct during the cruise—an angry and incoherent tirade, which probably convinced no one, and was answered shortly afterwards by one George Welbe, one of his former officers, in a pamphlet which was also a wordy and violent assault; but the impression finally left upon the mind of the reader is that Dampier was a very fine navigator and amateur scientist, but a very bad commander.

We shall hear of him again very shortly, in a more subordinate capacity. In connection with this luckless cruise, there is one incident of considerable interest, which should not be overlooked. He had, in fact, quitted his home in Scotland at the age of eighteen, and been absent for six years, during part of which time he is believed to have been with the buccaneers. When Captain Pickering died Selkirk viewed with great dissatisfaction the prospect of sailing under his successor, Stradling, whom he hated; and on the return of the Cinque Ports to Juan Fernandez, after parting from Dampier, he took occasion of a violent quarrel with Stradling to carry out a mad project which he had formed some time previously—to desert the vessel and fend for himself on this or some other island.

Stradling took him at his word, and, when on the point of sailing, conveyed Selkirk, with all his traps, on shore and "dumped" him on the beach. The Scotchman shook hands with his shipmates very cheerfully, wishing them luck, while Stradling, apprehensive of more desertions, kept calling to them to return to the boat, which they did.

As the boat pulled away, and Selkirk realised that he was to be left there, absolutely severed from all intercourse with mankind, probably for years, possibly until death, a sudden terrible revulsion of feeling rushed upon him, and he ran down the beach, wading into the sea, with outstretched hands imploring them to return and take him on board. Stradling only mocked him; told him his conduct [Pg 40] in asking to be landed was rank mutiny, and that his present situation was a very suitable one for such a fellow, as he would at least not be able to affect others by his bad example; and so rowed away and left him: and it was nearly four and a half years later that he was rescued, by the crew of another English privateer, as we shall see.

The special interest attached to this incident lies, of course, in the fact that, had Stradling not hardened his heart and rowed away, that wonderful book "Robinson Crusoe," the delight of our early years, would in all probability never have been written—or at least the principal portion, dealing with his life on the island, would not have been written; for it was undoubtedly the story of Alexander Selkirk's long, solitary sojourn on Juan Fernandez which gave Daniel Defoe the idea, though there is no reason to suppose that he obtained any details from Selkirk himself; indeed, the story of Robinson Crusoe and his adventures is, without doubt, pure romance.

So there we may leave Alexander Selkirk for the present: a miserable man enough at first, we may well imagine. Captain Woodes Rogers was a very different stamp of man from Dampier, and far better adapted by nature for the command of a privateering expedition. His father was a Bristol man, a sea-captain, and subsequently resided at Poole; Woodes Rogers the younger was probably born at Bristol, about the year Of his early life we know nothing in detail, but he was evidently brought up as a seaman and attained a good position, for in the year he proposed to some merchants of Bristol that they should fit out a couple of privateers for a voyage to the South Seas.

Whether he put any money in the venture we do not know, but he held strong views as to the folly of permitting the French and Spaniards to have it all their own way in that part of the world, and put his case to such good purpose that the necessary funds were speedily forthcoming. We are told, in Seyer's "Memoirs of Bristol," that among the gentlemen who financed the business, and to the survivors of whom, sixteen in number, Rogers dedicates his account of the cruise, there were several Quakers: a remarkable state [Pg 42] ment which, if true, would appear to indicate that the privateering fever, with huge gains in prospect, was too much for the principles even of the Society of Friends.

Like many another sailor who has sat down to write an account of his doings, Rogers commences by disclaiming any pretensions to literary skill: "I had not time, were it my talent, to polish the stile; nor do I think it necessary for a mariner's journal. The two vessels, named the Duke , of tons, 30 guns, and men, and the Duchess , of tons, 26 guns, and men, sailed from King Road, near Bristol, on August 2nd, , for Cork, where Rogers hoped to complete his crews, or exchange some of the very mixed company for more efficient seamen, having not more than twenty such on board, while the Duchess was very little better off; so they were fortunate in not meeting with an enemy of any force on the way to Ireland; indeed, they appear to have sailed from Bristol in the greatest disorder—the rigging slack, ships out of trim, decks lumbered up, stores badly stowed, and so on, which must have gone greatly against the grain with a good seaman like Rogers.

It is not difficult to imagine, however, the causes which led to such hurried departure: merchants who had been putting their hands in their pockets [Pg 43] pretty freely for some months would be anxious to see the two ships at sea, commencing to rake in the spoil. Even the Quakers, perhaps, were impatient over the matter; and Rogers was probably told that it was time he was off. However, he made good use of the time at Cork, and reconstituted his crews, if not entirely to his liking, at least with considerable improvement. The owners, with, as we may conclude, the assistance of Rogers, had drawn up the constitution of a council, by which the progress of the voyage was to be determined, and all questions and disputes were to be settled.

This is a very sensible document, providing for all probable contingencies; and, in the event of an equality of votes upon any matter, the casting vote was to be given by Thomas Dover, Rogers's second in command, who was appointed president of the council; this brings us to the subject of the officers of the two ships, and we find some very improbable persons included among them.

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In the first place, Thomas Dover, second captain, president of the council, and captain of the Marines, appears to have been neither a sailor nor soldier, but a doctor. Then there was John Vigor, a "Reformado," to act as Dover's ensign if landed; while George Underwood and John Parker, two young lawyers , were designed to act as midshipmen. The whole arrangement has a savour of Gilbert and Sullivan, or Lewis Carroll, about it; one is irresistibly reminded of the "Hunting of the Snark," where the captain was a bellman, and had for his crew a butcher, a billiard-marker, and a beaver!

However, Rogers and his merry men were not for hunting any such shadowy affair as a "Snark"; they meant business, and the list of sub-officers includes further two midshipmen, coxswain of the pinnace, surgeon, surgeon's mate, and assistant—they were well off in the medical branch—gunner, carpenter, with mate and three assistants; boatswain and mate; cooper, four quarter-masters, ship's steward, sailmaker, armourer, ship's corporal who was also cook to the officers , and ship's cook. Also, as sailing-master and pilot for the South Seas, William Dampier sailed under Rogers in the Duke , probably the best man who could have been found for the post; he was a member of the council, and was no doubt a very valuable addition to the staff.

The Duchess , commanded by Captain Stephen [Pg 45] Courtney, was similarly officered, the second lieutenant being John Rogers, a brother of Woodes Rogers, some ten years his junior. Our complement of sailors in both ships was , of which alone one-third were foreigners from most nations; several of her Majesty's subjects on board were tinkers, tailors, haymakers, pedlars, fiddlers, etc. With this mixed gang we hoped to be well manned, as soon as they had learnt the use of arms, and got their sea-legs, which we doubted not soon to teach them, and bring them to discipline.

One curious characteristic common to this mixed crew was that, as Rogers puts it, they "were continually marrying whilst we staid at Cork, though they expected to sail immediately.

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