Buccaneers > Thomas Paine

Thomas Paine

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Background

Thomas Paine (1632 – 1715) was an English buccaneer during the later years of the Buccaneering Era and was responsible for helping spawn the career of Yankey Williams. The two were known to have collaborated together in the raiding and pillaging of Rio de la Hacha in 1680. In June of 1680 Paine and Williams would meet up with Michel de Grammont at La Blanquilla and plan buccaneering raids against Spanish towns. Together these three buccaneers along with fifty others raided the city of Cumana despite it being defended by about two thousand Spanish troops.

After this he appears to have settled down in the town of Jamestown in the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. However, soon he was back at sea after he received a letter of marque from the governor of Jamaica named Thomas Lynch. He was initially recruited as a pirate hunter but in March 1683 he was buccaneering with John Markham, Jan Corneliszoon, Conway Woolley and a French Captain Bréhal when they attempted to raid the Spanish settlement of Saint Augustine in La Florida.

During this engagement he was in command of a 8-gun bark named the Pearl along with a crew of sixty men. The men were officially commanded by Captain Brehal who had a letter of marque from the governor of Saint-Domingue named Jacques Nepveu, sieur de Pouanéay and Paine sailed under a French flag during this period. The buccaneers were not able to siege the city because the Spanish had reinforced the city but did plunder the villages and towns outside the territory of the local garrison.

Wanted Criminal

Brehal, Paine and Markham after this raid ventured to the island of New Providence where they found out the British government wanted them for piracy due to the treaty with Spain at the time. The local British governor named Robert Lilburne tried to detain the buccaneers but since they outnumbered the colonial authorities on the island he was unable to do so.

Following this the buccaneers left the Bahamas and met up again with Corneliszoon and Woolley who were attempting to salvage the treasure of the sunken Spanish Galleon named the Nuestra Senora de las Maravillas. They were unsuccessful and eventually Paine and Brehal ended up sailing back to the Colony of Rhode Island. Despite the colony being traditionally accepting of pirates and buccaneers the two were arrested as they made port on orders of governor Edward Cranfield.

Paine was charged with carrying a fake letter of marque but was eventually cleared of all charges. The authorities did not prosecute Brehal either and he was allowed to leave the colony. Paine eventually stayed in Rhode Island and became involved more as a pirate merchant who was involved in the trade and distribution of blackmarket goods from other pirates. He is known to have interacted with William Kidd in 1699 and the colony of Rhode Island was notorious for its blackmarket during the Golden Age of Piracy.

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