Pirates > Pirate Rounders > Henry Every's Crew

Henry Every's Crew

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Background

British West Indies[edit] Approximately six or seven of Every's men determined to stay in the West Indies after the crew broke company, where they soon married local women.[87] One of these men, Joseph Morris, was apparently forced to surrender all of his jewels upon a poorly-placed wager and subsequently lost his sanity.[88] North American colonies[edit] About seventy-five of Every's crew sailed to North America in hopes of escaping the transcontinental manhunt. His crew members were sighted in the Carolinas, New England, and in Pennsylvania, where some even bribed Governor William Markham for £100 per man. This was enough to buy the governor's allegiance, who was fully aware of their true identity and reportedly even allowed one to marry his daughter.[89] Although other local officials, notably magistrate Captain Robert Snead, tried to have the pirates arrested, the governor's protection ensured that the pirates remained audacious enough to boast of their exploits "publicly over their cups."[73] When Captain Snead's persistence started to irritate the governor, the magistrate was reprehended: He [Markham] called me rascal and dared me to issue my warrants against these men, saying that he had a good mind to commit me. I told him that were he not Governor I would not endure such language, and that it was hard to be so treated for doing my duty. He then ordered the constables not to serve any more of my warrants; moreover being greatly incensed he wrote a warrant with his own hand to the Sheriff to disarm me.[89] Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Virginia, and other colonies published the proclamation for Every's capture, but rarely went beyond this. Although harboring pirates became more dangerous for the colonial governors over time, only seven of Every's crew were tried between 1697–1705, and all of these were acquitted.[73] British Isles[edit] On 30 July 1696, John Dann (Every's coxswain) was arrested for suspected piracy at his home in Rochester, Kent. He had sewn £1,045 in gold sequins and ten English guineas into his waistcoat, which was discovered by his chambermaid, who subsequently reported the discovery to the town's mayor, collecting a reward in the process. In order to avoid the possibility of execution, on 3 August Dann agreed to testify against other captured members of Every's crew,[73] joining Phillip Middleton who had given himself up to authorities a few weeks prior. Soon after, twenty-four of Every's men had been rounded up, some having been reported to authorities by jewelers and goldsmiths after trying to sell their treasure. In the next several months fifteen of the pirates were brought to trial and six were convicted. As piracy was a capital crime, and the death penalty could only be handed down if there were eyewitnesses, the testimony of Dann and Middleton was crucial. The title page of the report issued in 1696 by the High Court of Admiralty following the trial of Every's crew The six defendants—Joseph Dawson, 39 years old, from Yarmouth; Edward Forseith, 45, Newcastle upon Tyne; William May, 48, London; William Bishop, 20, Devon; James Lewis, 25, London; and John Sparkes, 19, London—were indicted on charges of committing piracy on the Ganj-i-sawai, with the trial commencing on 19 October 1696 at the Old Bailey.[90] The government assembled the most prominent judges in the country to attend the trial, consisting of presiding judge Sir Charles Hedges, Lieutenant of the High Court of Admiralty, Sir John Holt, Chief Justice of the King's Bench, Sir George Treby, Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, and six other prominent judges.[91] Other than Joseph Dawson, all the pirates pleaded not guilty. One of the accused mutineers was David Creagh, second officer of the Charles II. He testified that after refusing to participate in the mutiny—the only officer to do so—he was ordered to return below deck. On the way to his cabin, Creagh encountered William May, Captain Gibson's former steward. May, described by Every as one of the "true cocks of the game, and old sportsmen,"[91] was zealously supportive of the mutiny, and Creagh testified of their bone-chilling exchange: I met with W. May, the Prisoner at the Bar. What do you say here? says he. I made him no Answer, but went down to my Cabin; and he said, God damn you, you deserve to be shot through the Head; and he then held a Pistol to my Head. Then I went to my Cabin, and presently came orders from Every, that those that would go ashore, should prepare to be gone. And when the Captain was got out of Bed, who was then very ill of a Feaver, Every came and said, I am a Man of Fortune, and must seek my Fortune.[38] Despite considerable pressure on the jury to find the defendants guilty, with Judge Advocate of the Admiralty Sir Dr Thomas Newton reminding the jury that the consequences of an acquittal would be "the total loss of the Indian trade, and thereby the impoverishment of this kingdom,"[90] the jury passed a verdict of not guilty. The shocked court rushed through another indictment, and twelve days later the pirates were tried on a different set of charges, this time on account of conspiring to steal the Charles II with piratical intent. Although legally dubious today, the 17th century court assumed the defendants had the legal burden of proving themselves innocent of mutiny, having been found aboard "a ship...run away with."[92] As before, the court continually impressed the need for the pirates' conviction. Judge Hedges condemned the "dishonorable" former jury and instructed their successors to act with "a true English spirit" by passing a conviction, repeatedly reminding them to "support...the navigation, trade, wealth, strength, reputation, and glory of this nation."[93] When the guilty verdict was read aloud in court soon after, no one could have been surprised. The pirates were given their last chance to show why they should be spared execution, with most simply claiming ignorance and pleading for mercy. May argued that, being "a very sickly man," he had "never acted in all the voyage,"[94] while Bishop reminded the court that he was "forced away," and, being only eighteen years of age during the 1694 mutiny, desired mercy.[95] Joseph Dawson, the only defendant to plead guilty, was granted a reprieve. The remainder of the death sentences were upheld. Sparkes was the only pirate to publicly express some regret, but not for piracy, which was of "lesser concern"—instead, he was repentant for the "horrid barbarities he had committed, though only on the bodies of the heathen," implying that he had participated in the violation of the women aboard the Mughal ships. His "Last Dying Words and Confession" declared that his eyes were "now open to his crimes," and he "justly suffered death for such inhumanity."[68] On 25 November 1696, the five prisoners were taken to the gallows at Execution Dock. Here they solemnly gave their dying speeches before a gathered crowd, which included Newgate Prison ordinary Paul Lorrain.[96] As they faced the River Thames, the place where the Spanish Expedition voyage began only three years earlier, the pirates were hanged. John Dann escaped the hangman by turning King's witness. However, he remained in England, having received on 9 August 1698 an "Order for one Dann, lately Every's mate but pardoned, to attend the Board to-morrow."[97] This he did on 11 August at the East India House, giving details of his voyage and plunder on board the Fancy. In 1699, Dann married Eliza Noble and the following year became a partner to John Coggs, a well-established goldsmith banker, creating Coggs & Dann at the sign of the King's Head in the Strand, London.[98] The bankers (particularly Dann) were duped by Thomas Brerewood, one of their clients, and in 1710 the bank became insolvent. Dann died in 1722.

Pirate Rounders

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources