Professional Research & Maritime Historian, Author, & Conservator
Petition of Richard Taylor and crew of Cassandra—26 Apr 1723 p1
Petition—Richard Taylor and crew of Cassandra—26 Apr 1723
From the author of Quest for Blackbeard, the genealogies of various pirates will be explored in similar depth in Brooks’ Dictionary of Pyrate Biography, currently in the planning stages.
Brooks has over 35 years of experience in genealogical research, has worked as a professional genealogist, and lately studied in the Maritime Studies Program at East Carolina University as a professional historian.
His peer-reviewed article, “ ‘Born in Jamaica of Very Creditable Parents’ or ‘A Bristol Man Born’? Excavating the Real Edward Thache, ‘Blackbeard the Pirate’ “ in the July issue of North Carolina Historical Review includes the genealogy of the most famous pirate of them all! It’s expanded upon in Quest.
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Petition of the pirates from on board the Cassandra at Pines near Caledonia the 26th April 1723—CO 137/52
To his Grace the Duke of Portland Captain General and Governor of his Majesties Island of Jamaica*
May it please your Grace -
It being our misfortune not to know, to whom we directed our first petition, this comes to implore your Pardon for not dictating as we ought, and that our ignorance may not prejudice us in your Grace's favour. We have lately had the honour of a letter from Captn: Laws Commander of his Majesties Ship Mermaid, with a coppy of your Grace's pardon to some that have already apeal'd to your Grace, and found mercy. We humbly solicite & x x x with all humility implore for your Grace's pardon, that we may once more Serve our King and Country. We had Surrendred our Selves to Captn: Laws upon the receipt of his letters to us, but knowing our Selves to have been a longer time under these circumstances, tho against our inclinations, than those persons that received your Grace's Clemency was the only obstacle, therefore We humbly beg, and with all submission wait for your Grace's answer, and tho it should be our misfortune not to Obtain your Grace's act of indemnity, the which , would be the greatest calamity that can befall us, We will never more molest nor commit any acts of hostility against any nation, but content our Selves to live here amongst the indians destitute of all hopes & bid farewell to all relations, & what is more dear our liberty to live in our native country.
May he that is the giver of all good, Shower down, on your Grace all happiness & prosperity in this life, & eternal felicity in the next, is the Sincere prayers of Your Grace's most humble & most Obedt: Servts: to command -
Richd: Taylor Wm: Fox Wm: Bates
*In 1721, [Henry Bentinck, Duke of] Portland accepted the post of Governor of Jamaica, which was a not a very prestigious post, but accepted by him nonetheless after losing a huge amount of money in the South Sea Bubble the previous year. He died in office in 1726 at Spanish Town and his body was returned to England for burial; he was interred in Westminster Abbey in the vault of the Dukes of Ormond.
"BENTINCK, Henry, Visct. Woodstock (c.1682-1726), of Titchfield, Hants." History of Parliament Online.
Captn: Laws Letter to the Governor of Porto Bello* dated the 5th of May 1723.
Sr The Sixteenth [26th?] of last month received a petitio directed to his Grace the Duke of Portland Captain General & Governor of the Island Jamaica; & Since that another from the Pirates this side Pines both of which, I have Sent to his Grace. I can't help taking notice how officious you have been in Sending a Sloop with officers to treat & invite the abovementioned pirates into your port, & on Such Articles, I think encouragement enough to fill the Seas with the like Villains; In the first place I must acquaint you, the Ship did belong to the East India company, subjects to the King my Royale Master taken with a considerable vallue on board by these people ow in her, & that they have taken Several other vessels belonging to the Subjects of Great Brittain likewise from the french & Dutch, & a very valuable Ship from the Portuguese In which was a Vice Roy on board; they never took any thing belonging to the Subjects of Spain, nor have they one person belonging to the Subjects of Spain, nor have they one person belonging to the Crown of Spain on board, so shall be glad to know by what authority you assume to pardon those people, for the crimes they have been guilty of, first to the King my Royale Master whose Subjects thjey once were, & the damage they have done his Subjets, likewise the Subjects of foreign Princes. if they have been forced, as they represent in their petition, no Prince in the Universe is more ready to Shew mercy than the King my Royale Master, if otherwise none more desirous to do other Princes justice but you invite them in on Such Articles, as if they have been acting something that is meritorious. I can't think it a Service
*Gerónimo de Badillo, governor of Cartagena de Indias and Panama
Capt. Laws Letter from the Grout [at “Monkey Key” or Puerto de Mança, about five miles SW of Portobello—see map]
Dated ye 6th May 1723
To his Grace the Duke of Portland
My Lord. This morning have had Advice from Portabell, that the Spaniards are all mad to get the Pirates into their port & the Governor of Panama is coming down on that occasion, which will take up some time, so if your Grace thinks proper to Send any encouragement may be here before they can accomodate. I likewise Send my brother to your Grace, who has been on board the Ship I am
My Lord &c
Captn: Laws's Letter to the Pirates on board the Cassandra Dated the 8th of May 1723 -
Country Men - Your first petition, I sent by the Snow, the latter have dispatched with my brother to his Grace the Duke of Portland & dare engage you'ill have a favourable answer in 16 or 20 days -
You have been all pleased to declare how desirous you are to return to your allegiance to Serve King George my Royal Master & your native country, but to my very great Surprise, hear of your sudden change, that you are going to declar your selves Subjects to the Crown of Spain. that is in Short turning Banditoes as long as you live, & hable to come to an untimely death when met with at the same time if what is represented in your petition be fact, I don't see that you are in the least danger in coming in and enjoy your relatios, & Serve your native country which in all manner of good principle have not left you, is what you ought to be proud of; I would not have you in the least think, that I take this pains with any view of private interest I am above it, & my honour won't let me promise any thing, but what I'm resolv'd to perform, not as these petty Governors do here which have not so much power to promise pardon as my Self were you of any other nation, but my own, on no account would put pen to paper. I have only this to repeat, which I promised in my former, whoever has a mind to come & Serve his King & Country Shall have nothing taken from them by me or any of my people those, that don't think proper to come in on what I promise, my advise is to them as Englishmen to stay for his Grace the Duke of Portland Captn: Genl: & Governor of Jamaica's answer I am
Postscript. As for your people being in Portabell, I'm not a stranger to it, & must tell you, they have not the liberty to speak to any of the factory, so you may judge what is to be expected when full in their power J. Laws -
Answer from the Pirates to Captn: Lawes
Sr Your's we reced, & are much obliged to you for your great care & trouble in taking so much pains to get us to our native Country again. Sir, We do assure you, it was a fault of Mr. Laws, when he on board us, by questioning whether the Petitions should go to Jamaica or not, which put us into a Stranger amusement; & it was to be questioned had not the Portabell Sloop arrived the day after Mr. Laws departure but we should aquitted the ship & a gone headlong we know not whether but Sir, Since you have taken so much trouble beyond our deserts we Shall content ourselves to wait for his Grace the Duke of Portland's answer. Sir all from us unfortunate people who are Cassandra May 14th 1723. Sr. Your most obedient & hble Servants
Note that the crew of Cassandra petitioned and had a series of correspondence with Jamaican authorities that resulted in Richard Taylor and his men joining the Spanish as privateers against England.
Note also that the transcription performed for the bound volume of the Calendar of State Papers in 1936 was in error. That document erroneously states that Richard Taylor was “Wm. Taylor” (see below):
All documents were assumed to be “William Taylor” because
Of an error in transcribing the mention of his name on
The first page (see image to right)
This pairs well with Vincent Pearse’s 209 pirates which includes a “Richard Taylor”