Alexander Dalzeel (1662 – 5 December 1715) was a famous pirate that sailed with Henry Every before assuming his own command. He is one of the first pirate rounders and was along with Every when they captured the massive Ganj-i-Sawai treasure ship.
He was born in Port Patrick, Scotland and began his career at sea as a child. This was not as uncommon as you think and by 23 he was a captain that had mad six successful voyages. He arrived in the pirate haven of Madagascar in 1685 on the first Pirate Round. It was here he joined with Every and helped him seize the Grand Mughals treasure ship which was transporting his daughter to her arranged marriage.
Every decided he was going to take the daughter as his wife and gave Dalzeel his former ship and crew within the larger fleet. Dalzeel would cooperate with Every until he split and headed for the West Indies.
As they searched for ships to plunder in the region they found nothing. Dalzeel and his crew began to run low on supplies when they spotted a lone but heavily armed Spanish Galleon. The captain of the galleon had become separated from his escorts and was alerted to the presence of the pirates but it bid him no mind. He and some of the crew retired to his cabin to play cards, the arrogant Spanish thought the small boat would never try to approach them. However, Dalzeel had other plans and ordered them to sail right at the galleon and to drill a hole in their own vessel so everyone was forced to fight to the death.
It was a dangerous gambit but it paid off, Dalzeel and his crew managed to board the galleon and surprise the crew at gunpoint. They burst into the cabin and detained the captain, seizing the galleon as their prize. They next decided to sail the galleon to British Jamaica where they could spend their newfound wealth. However, while on route they attempted to seize twelve Spanish pearl ships as they were escorted by another Spanish galleon.
They were captured in the ensuing battle and despite the common practice of being forced into slavery or forced labor the pirates were released albeit their prize. Making it to shore they eventually found their way to Jamaica where they acquired another vessel and began pirating again. Heading for the island of Cuba, Dalzeel and his crew were captured once again by Spanish Costa Guarda headed towards the capital at Havana.
The pirates were sentenced to be hung at sea however, Dalzeel managed to stab a guard and swam to shore using two empty jugs. Soon after swimming ashore he found a group of pirates and convinced them to siege the unsuspecting Spanish ships, rescue his crew and make off with the loot. The pirates were successful however, another stroke of bad luck saw their ship sink in a tropical storm off the coast of Jamaica. Dalzeel managed to survive in a small canoe and managed to make it to the mainland.
Dalzeel was next recruited by the French as a privateer and given a letter of marque to attack British allied nations during the War of the Spanish Succession. During this war he was very successful and captured many ships. However, eventually he was caught by the British in 1712 and taken to England where he was tried and convicted of piracy and treason.
Dalzeel was sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered but was granted a reprieve of the Earl of Mar and eventually received a royal pardon for his actions. His next action was to sail towards France where he captured a French prize. At this point Dalzeel became increasingly unhinged and tied the captured French crew's next to their heels and threw them overboard to watch them drown.
Capture & Death
Dalzeel was captured once again in his home Scotland and was returned to the city of London where he was hung on 15 December 1715. Thus ended the legacy of one of the longest lasting pirates of the first Pirate Round. Had he joined up with the Flying Gang who were emerging right around his death they could have really been a force to be reckoned with.
First Pirate Round
Second Pirate Round
Smith, Captain Alexander. History of the Highwaymen. London: George Routledge & Sons, 1926. ISBN 0-415-28678-6