Buccaneers > Bernard Claesen Speirdyke

Bernard Claesen Speirdyke

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Background

Bernard Claesen Speirdyke (?? - 1670) also known as Barnard or Bart Speirdyke, Spierdijk was a famous Dutch buccaneer during the 17th century. He may have been born in the village of Spierdijk in the Dutch Republic given his name. He was known to command the 18-gun ship named the Mary & Jane and was active in the West Indies during the Buccaneering Era. He began his career as a privateer off the coast of Cuba in the 1660's. His first voyage was to plunder and raid the village of San Tomas while sailing along the coast of South America.

In early 1670 he was commissioned by governor Thomas Modyford to bring letters from Port Royal indicating that there was goodwill and peace to the governor of Cuba. There were also several Spanish prisoners to be returned as well. In early-1670, he set out from Port Royal with letters from Governor Thomas Modyford to the Governor of Cuba "signifying peace between the two nations". As a further show of goodwill, several Spanish prisoners being held in Jamaica were also returned. However, the Governor of Bayamo was suspicious of his intentions and had an officer search his ship three times looking for evidence of privateering. Having brought a full cargo of European luxury goods, which were in short supply among the local townspeople, Speirdyke soon sold his entire stock. Despite this breach of Spanish law, the governor chose to turn a blind eye. Setting sail for his return to Jamaica, it was shortly after leaving the harbor that they were hailed by an English ship and asked where they hailed from. When Speirdyke answered Jamaica, the captain revealed himself as Manuel Ribeiro Pardal, a former Portuguese privateer turned pirate hunter, and called upon the elderly Dutchman to defend himself. Pardal opened fire and the two ships began a battle lasting until the evening when it became to dark to see. Speirdyke was outnumbered 18 to 70, however he continued to fight on. At dawn, he sailed towards Pardal's ship which he and his men boarded. The Dutchmen were said to have fought bravely and during the savage hand-to-hand fighting that followed resulted in one-third of Pardal's crew being killed or wounded. The numbers of the Portuguese eventually overwhelmed Speirdyke and his men. By the time the Dutch surrendered, the Mary and Jane was on fire in two places and five men had been killed including Speirdyke. Sending nine of the survivors back with a message to Modyford of his commission and his intentions of retaliation for the raid of Portobello two years before, he took the remaining four with him as prisoners to Cartagena.[2]

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