They owned they had met the man of war [H.M.S. Scarborough] on this station, but said they had no business with her, but if she had chased them they would have kept their way. Deponent told them an Act of Grace was expected out for them but they seemed to slight it. Among the crew was a nephew of Dr. Rowland of this Island etc. They asked whether there were any more traders on the Porto Rico coast, etc., and sent to look for them etc. They intended for Hispaniola to careen and lie in wait for the Spanish Armada that they expected would immediately after Christmas come out of the Havana for Hispaniola and Porto Rico with the money to pay the Garrisons etc… He believes they had much gold dust on board etc.

Edward Salter, the cooper, who formerly sailed on the Speedwell, Capt. George Moulton of Wapping, London with Martin Towler, then served on Bostock’s Margaret. These men joined Thache and his crew on December 5th, perhaps not so willingly as their excited mate Robert Bibby, “a Leverpool man.”

In this deposition, Henry Bostock thought it important to mention Edward Salter’s service with Capt. George Moulton. Why did he do this unless there was something memorable that may have happened to Capt. Moulton, Mr. Salter, and Speedwell. Indeed, there was an incident that occurred five years earlier at the end of the recent Queen Anne’s War on 19 July 1712. This incident was so important that it influenced the deliberations over the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) that ended that war. Speedwell was one of four ships that were attacked by a six-ship fleet under French Adm. Jacques Cassard at the island of Montserrat—and Speedwell was the only ship to survive!

“Monsieur Cossart with several French Men of War and Sloops, having landed about 3,500 Men at Carr’s-Bay in the Island of Montserrat, and taken the said Island except the Dodan Fort which stands on an inaccessible Hill, into which the Inhabitants were fled. That the French had taken and burnt all the Ships in the Road, except the Speedwell, Captain George Moulton, who cut his Cable and came down to Nevis.”

Damages claimed by the inhabitants of Montserrat were estimated at £180,000 and eventually came to £204,406. Article XI of the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) stated “The same commissaries shall moreover inquire as well into the complaints of the British subjects concerning ships taken by the French in time of peace, as also concerning the damages sustained last year in the island called Montserrat and others.” This was a direct reference to the events of 19 July 1712 and the reason that the complaints continued for so long. These events caused grave international concern and newspaper articles appeared in England detailing these events in English, Dutch, and French.

Capt. George Moulton of Speedwell,  and wife Rachel Forward lived in the Wapping district of London, England, on Gravel Lane with children: Rachel, George, and Jonathan, James, and John. Capt. Moulton passed away in winter of 1723/4. George and his brothers John and Thomas regularly sailed and traded in the Windward Islands, particularly to Nevis, St. Christophers (now St. Kitts), and Antigua.

Edward Salter appears to have been possibly from Nevis or St. Christophers. At the time that Edward Thache took him, he was then sailing in Bostock’s Margaret, registered in St. Christophers.

Presumably, he remained with Thache and his men from Bequia to Hispaniola, the Bay of Honduras, on to the Charles Town blockade and finally, shipwrecked in Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina. Later, he was taken by Lt. Robert Maynard on Thache’s captured Spanish sloop Adventure and carried to Virginia for trial.

Ironically, the trained lawyer Robert Earl Lee, author of Blackbeard the Pirate, assumes like so many others that Capt. Charles Johnson, or Nathaniel Mist wrote his A General History of the Pyrates with something akin to divine inspiration and takes this polemical work as gospel. That assumption allowed him to accept this 1724 narrative over other evidence available to him. It should be noted that Mist had only admiralty documents and newspaper articles to work with here, from 3,000 miles away. He did not extensively use the trial documents for Thache as he certainly did for Stede Bonnet’s trial, published in 1719—clearly this omission should raise some suspicion. Did he even have them? Why did Virginia not publish Thache’s trial as South Carolina did Bonnet’s? Thache was certainly more “notorious” than his junior partner Bonnet! Lee’s Note 7 on page 217 states:

Johnson, in his text, at p. 56, states that there were taken to Virginia "fifteen prisoners, thirteen of whom were hanged." Samuel Odell was acquitted and Israel Hands was later pardoned. On p. 59, Johnson lists the names of those hanged, as follows: John Carnes; Joseph Brooks, Jr.; James Blake; John Gills; Thomas Gates; James White; Richard Stiles; Caesar; Joseph Philips; James Robbens; John Martin; Edward Salter; Stephen Daniel; and Richard Greensail. Since there are fourteen names on this list, Williams, at p. 117, has suggested that Johnson probably erroneously placed on the list of those hanged at Williamsburg the name of one of the pirates killed at Ocracoke. Both lists appear on the page of Johnson's book.

The only primary source reference that Lee used was the Executive Journal for the Council of Colonial Virginia, Vol. III and it stated on page 522 only that “That two of the Pyrates now Condemned be hung up in chains at Tindalls Point in York River and Two more at Urbanna in Rappahannock River.” Lee used this single reference, from February 1719 and before Thache’s trial in March, surrounded by many other references to actions against pirates that did not belong to Thache’s crew, to imply that these were Thache’s men. Still, the reference in A General History that Lee used to declare that Samuel Odell and Israel Hands alone survived execution cannot be confirmed due to the fact that the trial records were lost to fire. Although not obvious in his text, Mist seems to refer to these records, to which he probably did not have access:

It appearing upon Tryal, that one of them, viz. Samuel Odell, was taken out of the trading Sloop, but the Night before the Engagement. This poor Fellow was a little unlucky at his first entering upon his new Trade, there appearing no less than 70 Wounds upon him after the Action, notwithstanding which, he lived, and was cured of them all. The other Person that escaped the Gallows, was one Israel Hands, the Master of Black-beard’s Sloop, and formerly Captain of the same, before the Queen Ann’s Revenge was lost in Topsail Inlet.

But, then, Mist also said that Israel Hands was captured in Bath Town, having already been disabled by Thache in a most deceitful and horrific manner. He also stated “Hands being taken, was try’d and condemned, but just as he was about to be executed, a Ship arrives at Virginia with a Proclamation for prolonging the Time of his Majesty’s Pardon.’” He conflated Israel Hands with William Howard, who was the only pirate saved by a pardon arriving on Micajah Perry’s Avarilla, under command of Capt. Joshua Lirland. Virginia’s Council records clearly state this. What of the matter of Samuel Odell’s (possibly later lived in the Shenandoah, Virginia) 70 wounds? Presumably, he was innocent and would not fight Maynard and his men. How did this innocent man get 70 wounds in a fight that he probably would have avoided? Like the story of Blackbeard’s notoriety and his fourteen wives, we must be suspicious of the details in A General History, especially those for which we can obtain little or no verification from primary sources. This book was, at best, historical fiction.

Further contrasting A General History, there was also the inconvenient presence of Edward Salter and James Robbins in Bath Town well after the trial in Williamsburg. For Salter, particularly, a respected former associate of Capt. George Moulton of HMS Speedwell, there is every reason to believe that he would be found not guilty. In fact, there is no reason to assume any particular pirate’s execution following the trial in March 1719. No known primary record claims that they were all executed. A substantial Edward Salter died in Bath in 1734. His estate papers included the name of Robert Boyd, another possible ex-pirate found at Cape Fear River with Stede Bonnet. Salter passed away in the financial prime of his life after a close association with the “gentlemen” who probably had Thache killed: Edward Moseley and his “Family.”

Professional Research & Maritime Historian, Author, & Conservator

Edward Salter, cooper

Pirate Biographies– Edward Salter

From the will of Edward Salter of Bath County, North Carolina, 5 Feb 1734

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Carr's Bay, Montserrat

Detail from Baylus C. Brooks, Quest for Blackbeard: The True Story of Edward Thache and His World, page 372-373:

The massive attack in Christmas 1717 probably did not happen, as no further word in English or French records appears on that account. The next month, Gov. Walter Hamilton on St. Christopher’s Island sent several affidavits to the Board. Among them is mentioned a “pirate ship and a large sloop… commanded by one Captain Teatch, the sloop by one Major Bonnett an inhabitant of Barbadoes.” The report is vague, alleging that some say that Bonnet commands both ships and the ship having twenty guns, twenty-six or maybe forty. The most reliable information was their position to windward of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, just east of Puerto Rico. The governor included the deposition of Henry Bostock, master of Margaret of St. Christopher’s:

Capt. Tach took his cargo of cattle and hogs, his arms books and instruments. The ship, Dutch built, was a French Guinea man, 36 guns mounted and 300 men. They did not abuse him or his men, but forced 2 to stay and one Robert Bibby voluntarily took on with them. They had a great deal of plate on board, and one very fine cup they told deponent they had taken out of Capt. Taylor, bound from Barbados to Jamaica, whom they very much abused and burnt his ship. They said they had burnt several vessels, among them two or three belonging to these Islands, particularly the day before a sloop belonging to Antego, one (Robert) McGill owner.