Infamous Pirates > Edward England

Edward England

Chapter Decoration

Background

Edward England (1685 - 1721) was a famous pirate for originally being part of the group of pirates that assaulted the sunken 1715 Spanish Treasure Fleet and later established the Republic of Pirates based out of Nassau on the island of New Providence in the Bahamas along with his partner Benjamin Hornigold. This group included Samuel Bellamy, Henry Jennings and Charles Vane. He is also known to have started the career of Howell Davis as well who would go on to span the career of the legendary Bartholomew Roberts.

Edward England - Edward England (A History of Pyrates - 1725)

Edward England - A History of Pyrates (1725)

Born Edward Seegar in Ireland around 1685, he is rumored to have been very educated. He originally served as a privateer during the War of the Spanish Succession out of British Jamaica and became a pirate after being captured by Christopher Winter and forced to joined the crew. He changed his name to Edward England upon becoming a pirate. After being conscripted, Edward England most likely ventured to the popular pirate haven of Nassau in the British controlled Bahamas.

Flying Gang

See Flying Gang

From here, England took part in the assault on the Spanish Treasure Fleet salvage efforts at Palma de Ayz on the eastern coast of v in 1716. England netted approximately £87,000 in gold and silver from this. Afterwards England disappears from the historical record after awhile, probably to spend his newfound fortune all over Nassau. He reappears again as Charles Vane's quartermaster in March of 1718. England was aboard Vane's sloop Lark when it was captured by Royal Navy pirate hunters. Vane convinced the ships captain they were on their way to receive the 1718 Kings Pardon and the crew were let loose as a gesture of good will in order to get the rest of the pirates at Nassau to surrender as well.

England was granted captaincy of his own ship in mid-1718. England decided not to accept the pardon along with Vane and a few others, and they set sail for the Coast of Africa after the arrival of Woodes Rogers.

Africa

Along the way he and the crew took several ships. One of the ships was named the Cadogan and was captained a man named Skinner. Some of England's crew knew Skinner and recognized him instantly because he never paid them for their work previously. According to Charles Johnson, the crew member said:

″Ah! Captain Skinner is it you, I am much in your debt, and now I shall pay you in your own coin″

Edward England - Pirates Pelting Captain Skinner With Bottles

Pirates Pelting Captain Skinner with Bottles - The Pirates Own Book (1837)

A group of pirates next grabbed the captain, tied him to the bow and threw empty rum bottles at him. Next they simply executed the captain by shooting him in the head with a flintlock pistol. Given the crew of the Cadogan was without a captain, England offered them a choice to join his crew. Aboard the crew was Howell Davis who refused to sign the articles of the pirates. Howell said he would rather die than become a pirate, however England refused to kill him and instead gave command of the captured ship to Davis. This began the start of Davis' pirate career. Davis would go on to spawn the career of Bartholomew Roberts as well and the careers of many other pirates.

Howell Davis came up with the idea to sail to Portuguese Brazil and sell the ship there. However mid-way through the trip the crew mutinied and decided to keep the ship and dropped Davis off on Barbados. There he was imprisoned for three months. Upon his release he decided to turn full fledged pirate.

Edward England - Edward England (1888 Pirates of the Spanish Main Trading Card)

Edward England - Pirates of the Spanish Main (1888)

After a while England and his crew captured a larger brig or frigate named the Pearl. Taking the ship as their own, they renamed it the Royal James and went off in search of pirating in Africa in the spring of 1719. Between the River Gambia and the Cape Coast the pirates seized and looted ten ships. After looting the ten ships, England made John Taylor the captain of his next prize, the Victory. After looting 12 ships total England and the crew decided to make port in a small African town. However the pirates began getting belligerent and conflicts arose with the locals over the treatment of women. Soon a fight broke out and the pirates burned the entire town and left.

Indian Ocean

After fleeing Africa, England and Davis decided to try their luck in the Indian Ocean, initiating a second Pirate Round. It was there that they met fellow pirate Olivier Levasseur known as 'La Buse' and decided to make a partnership. He may have also met up with Howell Davis again, who now was a captain in his own right. The three may have decided to make a partnership together around this time. In the Indian Ocean, England captured a thirty four cannon Dutch frigate which he named Fancy. England named the ship this in honor of the great buccaneer, Henry Every.

Next England and his crew decided to attack a British East India Company ship named the Cassandra who was captained by James Macrae near the Comoro Islands. However this was to be no easy prize and the merchant ship fought hard with devastating losses on both sides. England lost ninety of his own men aboard the Fancy. Eventually both ships ran aground and the British surviving crew escaped to a nearby island to hide for 10 days. After running out of food and water, along with needing medical care the British surrendered to the pirates and went aboard his flagship the Victory in order to plead for quarter.

England promptly seized the loot of the ship which was valued at £75,000. However due to the British complete surrender England decided to spare them. He ordered the Cassandra replaced as the flagship and the damaged Victory to be given to the British. This command did not sit well with some of the other pirates though. England's quartermaster, a man named John Taylor became vocal of his discontent with the choice to spare Macrae and the British. This became more than just one person as England's crew captured a small ship near Cochin and the captain reported a false rumor Macrae was gathering a fleet to find and kill the pirates. Blaming Edward for their apparent circumstances the crew voted England out of captaincy.

Marooning & Death

Edward England - Marooned Pirate (Book of Pirates - 1921)

Marooned Pirate - Book of Pirates (1921)

England ended up being marooned on the Indian Ocean island of Ile de France or Mauritius with three other loyal crew members. They were given little provisions and forced to scavenge. Within four months they built a small boat and managed to sail across the Indian Ocean to the African island and pirate haven of Madagascar. Arriving at St. Augustines Bay, England survived for a while on the charity of other pirates in the region. Eventually he died in 1721 from a possible deadly tropical disease.

The Flying Gang

Sources

Primary Sources

Johnson, C. (1724). A General History of the Pyrates (2nd Edition, Volume I). London, Great Britain: T. Warner.

Johnson, C. (1724). General History of the Pyrates (2nd Edition Volume I) - Chapter V, Of Captain Edward England and his Crew. London, Great Britain: T. Warner.

Secondary Sources

Johnson, C., & Fraser, C. L. (1922). Pirates..the Lives and Adventures of Sundry Notorious Pirates. New York: R.M. McBride and Company.