Infamous Pirates > Pirate Rounders > Abraham Samuel

Abraham Samuel

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Background

Abraham Samuel, also known by his nickname 'Tolinar Tex' was a famous pirate born in Martinique or possibly the town of Anosy on Madagascar. His haunt was the pirate round during the 1690's and raided shipping lanes around the Indian Ocean. He is famous for being shipwrecked on a voyage back to New York and through a series of events ended up becoming king of a pirate kingdom called Port Golfphin at the defunct and abandoned Fort Dauphin on the island of Madagascar from 1697 until his death in 1705.

Early Years

By 1696 Samuel was the quartermaster aboard a pirate ship named the John and Rebecca. The crew made the first Pirate Round and arrived in the Arabian Sea where they sailed to the island of Madagascar after losing many of the crew to illness. The pirates were going to attempt to get slaves to bring back to the West Indies.

In October of 1697 while off the coast of Madagascar near the abandoned French garrison named Fort Dauphin, their ship was wracked by a tropical storm that severed their anchor rope and the crew was forced to abandon ship. The crew sought shelter in the abandoned fortress while they waited for a passing ship to save them. In a strange twist of fate the pirates ended up meeting the high princess of the local Antanosy king who recognized Samuel by a scar on his body and believed he was the long lost son she had with a Frenchman many years before.

Pirate King

According to her when the French evacuated Fort Dauphin in 1674 her French husband took her son with him and she never heard from him again. Fully believing this was her son, Samuel soon found himself the leader of a massive pirate kingdom, naming his new territory Port Golfphin around the defunct Fort Dauphin. In addition to twenty heavily armed pirates he had three hundred local tribal warriors as his personal bodyguard and soon found himself engaged in the local politics and conflicts of the region. Samuel at this point gave himself the title of;

"King of Port Dolfphin, Tollannare, Farrawe, Fanquestt, Fownzahira in Madagascar"

He is known to have had fifteen large outrigger canoes and in addition to committing acts of piracy was also at war with the local Antanosy king named Diamarang Diamera. In 1698 the future mayor of New York City between 1739 and 1744 named John Cruger was traveling to Madagascar to buy slaves when he encountered Samuel at his pirate kingdom. Cruger attempted to do business with Samuel and purchase some slaves. He wrote a letter about the unsuccessful encounter and is one of the best primary source documents about Samuel at his hideout of Port Dolfphin.

New York, Friday, 15th July, 1698, we weighed anchor bound for the island of Don Mascowrena; 3d October, found ourselves under the ... St. Thomas Island, went in to water and clean the ship ; ... 7th October, sailed from St. Thomas; 20th February, 1699, Captain and Master judged themselves to leeward of the island Don Mascowrena; Sunday, 13th July, we arrived at Mattatana, (whither we had been compelled to turn our course,) and I went on shore to trade for negroes, but the harbor proving bad we were forced to remove from that place — I having purchased 50 slaves at St. Mattatana; 24th August, arrived at Fort Dolphin; 27th do.

I acquainted Mr. Abraham Samuel, the king of that place, of my arrival, and came with him to a trade; 12th September, I went with Mr. Samuel twenty-five miles up in the country, and on the 14th in the morning, I got the miserable news that our ship was taken by a vessel that came into the harbour the night before. Whereupon I made all the haste down I could, when we got some of the subjects of Mr. Samuel to assist, us, and we fired upon said pirate for two days, but could do no good. Then I hired two men to swim off in the night to cut their cables, but Mr. Samuel charged them not to meddle with them, (as I was informed, said Samuel having got a letter from on board the said pirates, in which I suppose they made great promises, so that he forbid us upon our lives not to meddle with any of said pirates).

When said ship came in at an anchor they desired our boat to give them a cast on shore, they having lost their boats, and pretended to be a merchant ship, and had about 50 negroes on board. At night, said Captain of said ship desired that our boat might give him a cast on board of his ship, which was done, and coming on board he desired the men to drink with him, and when said men were going on board of our ship again they stopped them by violence, and at about 9 at night, they manned the boat and took our ship, and presently carried away all the money that was on board, rigging, and other things that they had occasion for, and then gave the ship and negroes, and other things that were on board to said Mr. Samuel. The Captain's name of the pirate was Evan Jones... [and crew] from Westchester, New York, and others. Mr. Abraham Samuel took likewise away from me 22 casks of powder and 49 small arms, likewise all the sails belonging to the Prophet which were on shore, and then sold the ship again to Isaac Ruff, Thomas Welles, Edmd. Conklin and Edward Woodman, as it was reported, for 1,400 pieces of eight. The purchasers designed to go from Fort Dolphin to the island of Don Mascowrena, and thence to Mattatana, upon Madagascar, and so for America. Captain Henry Appel ... [and two others] went along with them;

[S]ome days after there arrived at Fort Dolphin a small pinke, called the Vine, Thomas Warrent, master, from London, which took in slaves from said place, and bound for Barbadoes, in which I took my passage, and was forced to pay for the same 66 pieces of eight and two slaves.

" Saturday, 18th November, 1699, I departed from Fort Dolphin with four of the people more that belonged to the ship Prophet Daniel, in the aforesaid pinke Vine, for Barbadoes, leaving on shore, of the ship's company, only a mulatto boy, called Gabriel; ... 24th March,arrived at Barbadoes; 17th April, 1700 departed from Barbadoes in the pinke Blossom, Robert Darkins, commander, bound for New York ; llth May, 1700,1 arrived at New York, and because I may not be censured an ill man, and that it may be thought that I have saved any thing that belongs to the owners of said ship, I do declare that I have not, directly nor indirectly, saved any thing that belongs to them, nor wronged them of the value of a farthing, but contrary, I have done all possible to serve their interest that I could.

"JOHN CRUGER."

During this time period of the first pirate round supplies were being shipped steadily between New York City and Madagascar as a mutually beneficial arrangement regarding slaves had developed. In exchange for guns and gunpowder along with food, clothing and other provisions the island of Madagascar offered cheaper slaves than the West African coast. For example a slave on Madagascar cost 10 shillings where as a slave from west Africa cost £3-4.

This trade was mutually beneficial to all of the pirates on the island and was partially facilitated by the middleman Adam Baldridge at his kingdom of Ile Saint-Marie and merchant Frederick Philipse in New York City. This lucrative smuggling operation brought great wealth to all parties involved while the pirate round was in operation but following the outbreak of the War of the Spanish Succession this trade route would see a decline and this may have disrupted the power balance on Madagascar for Samuel.

Following the outbreak of the war many of the pirates found legal employment as privateers and therefore the major merchants resumed their legal business as it was more profitable anyways. This led to a decline in the pirate round and many of the pirates and their merchants took their wealth and moved elsewhere.

Later Life

Samuel ruled over the pirate kingdom of Port Golfphin until his death in 1705.

Pirate Rounders

First Pirate Round

Second Pirate Round

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources