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Depositions of Mid. Clement Downing, HMS Salisbury—16 & 28 Oct 1724

Deposition – Clement Downing —16 & 28 Oct 1724

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Information of Clement Downing late a Midshipman on board of his Majesty's Ship Salisbury – 16 Oct 1724

HCA 1/55, ff. 79-80


Offin Dni promot con

Thomam Matthews – [part of the investigation of Thomas Mathews for his Courts-Martial in 1724]


The Information of Clement Downing late a Midshipman on board of his Majesty's Ship Salisbury now living at the house of Mr. Woodall in Bell Savage Yard London aged 28 years taken before the worshipfull John Andrew Dr. of Laws one of the Commiss:rs of Oyer & Terminer & Gaol Delivery for the Adm.y of England at his Chambers in Drs Comons London on the 16th Day of October 1724 in the presence of Brian Rushworth Not.y Publick

This Informt. saith that in the Month of April in the year of our Lord 1722 his majestys Ships the Lyon[,] Exeter[,] & Salisbury were at Charnock Point at the Island of Madagascar, and he the Informt. with the Boats Crew & some of the Officers of the Salisbury went on Shoar to water the Ship but before they went on Shoar (to wit) the next Morning after the Arrival of the Ships at the sd Point, Mr. Crawford one of the Leiftenants, with one of the Midship Men of the Lyon (whereof Captain Thomas Matthews the Comodore of ye sd. Ships was Comandr) brought Orders on board the Salisbury from the sd Comodore that she the Salisbury should sail directly for St. Marys which is about[?] some few Leagues ---- from the sd Point & which she accordingly did, & they there found great Quantitys of Goods which were much damaged (to wit) Pepper[,] Ginger, & broaken China  which lay in large heaps upon the Shore & some very good Forax [Borax?*] and Gym Libanum [Gum Olibanum**] all which Goods (as the Informt. believes) had been left there by the Pirates And when the Salisbury had been at Anchor there for a short time, the sd Leiftenant returned on board the Lyon in order (as he declared) to inform the sd Comodore of the sd Goods & soon afterwards a Signal was made on board, the sd Comodore for the Salisbury to weigh Anchor & return to the Point which she accordingly did & imediately afterwards the sd Comodore on board the Lyon in company with the Exeter sailed for St. Marys & the Salisbury lay at Charnock Point to refit the head of her foremast, and when he the Informt. with the Boats Crew & Officers were on Shoar to water the Ship as beforementioned they saw a white Man coming down towards the Shoar with about 20 or 30 black Men armed with fire arms & when they were come down the sd white Men asked what the said Ship were & from whence her came & Mr. Davis the mate of the Salisbury telling him that they were merchants Ships & that they lay there for water & Provisions he replied in these or the like words (No No I know better. You are the Squadron of Men of War that are come to look for us (meaning as the Informt. apprehended & believes) himself & other Pirates And then ye sd Mr. Davis asked him what his name was, And he then declared that his Name was William Plantin that he was born at Chocolat Hole at Jamaica & that he had belonged to a Pirate Ship called the Dragon & that he had got great Wealth by taking a Ship that came from Judah off of the Streights of Babliamendum [Straits of Bab-el-Mandeb], & another Ship with the portuguese Vice Roy on board out of Don Maskareen Road [La Réunion] bound for Europe & that he lived with his family upon an Island which he had fortified & given the name of Ranter Bay & that the Natives inhabiting the sd Island sung Songs in praise of Plantin the king of Ranter Bay or to that effect[.] And also saith that the Exeters boat with one Mr. ffrost a Midhsip Man & also a Carpenter of the Exeter being on Shoar to cut a flying Jibb Boom they went off in order to give Information] on to the Squadron concerning the sd Plantin. And the said Plantin also declared that the Pirates had fitted out the Cassandra to carry 40 Guns (meaning as the Informt. apprehended & believes) a Ship called the Cassandra belonging to the East India Company and which was reported to have been taken by the Pirates) & that they had also fitted ye sd. portuguese Ship to carry 70 Guns & that they were gon out with ye sd. Ships & then asked where ye Informt.s Captain & Leiftenant were[.] And farther saith that there were afterwards carryed on Shoar from ye Lyon in the Salisbury's long Boat several Baskets or hampers of glass Bottles & some small Casks of Arrack & the Comodore & Captain Cockburn Comander of the Salisbury went on Shoar in the Salisbury's Barge & they then went with the Informt. & others of the Boats Crew up into the Countrey to meet some Oxen which the Comodore had bought for fresh Provisions & when they had got about a Mile & half they met Charles Collins one of the boats Crew of the Salisbury coming down who told them that Mr. Davis (the mate) & Mr. Bassett a Midshipman of the Salisbury) were coming down with the Oxen[.] And then the Comodore asked them when ye white Men would come down & the sd Mr. Davis told him that they would come in a Day or two[.] And then the sd. Comodore & Captain Cockburn & the rest of the Men returned on board & ye sd. Casks[,] Baskets[,] or hampers with a pit silver Mug[,] a Silvers knives & fforks a ffirken of Butter a parcel of Sugar[,] Candy[,] & other Goods were kept in the Boat all Night & the next Day the sd. Comodore[,] Capt. Cockburn[,] the Informant & others went on Shoar again & then ye aforesaid Goods were delivered out of the Boat on Shoar[.] And he the Informt. saw the same delivered to the Servants or Afents of the aforesd. Plantin by the sd. Mr Davis & Mr. Bassett & he the Informt. heard ye Comodore order ye sd Mr. Bassett to go to ye sd Plantins house & to see ye sd. Goods safely delivered & to be very carefull in his Accounts & the next Day about four in the afternoon the sd Mr. Bassett came down again & he the Informt. then being with ye Salisburys Barge on board the Lyon was ordered by ye Comodore & Captain Cockburn to fetch the sd. Mr. Bassett on board the Lyon which ye Informt. accordingly did[.] And he the sd Mr Bassett afterwards (to wit) on ye same Day told the Informt that he had paid the said Comodore the Money for the aforesd Goods & that he had rec'ed of the sd Plantin and delivered to ye sd Comodore five Barrs or Wedges of Gold & several Diamonds & then showed the Informt a Diamond about the bigness of a large Pea which (As he told the Informt,) he ye sd Mr Bassett had for himself[.] and farther saith that at another time there were carryed on Shoar from the Lyon several large Puncheons of Arrack & a Butt of Madera Wine, & he the Informt. & the rest of the Company on board the Salisbury saw a St. Georges fflag coming down towards ye Shoar & the Comodore then imediately went on Shoar & he the Informt. & others on board the Salisbury were informed by the Boats Crew that ye Comodore feasted with the sd Plantin & 2 other white Men (to wit) James Deering[,] a scotch Man & the other a Dane the greatest part of the Day & that ye sd white Men had rec'ed Advice that Ranter Bay was attackt by the Natives & that thereupon they were gon away in a hurry & had left their Liquor in the Woods[.] And saith that ye Salisburys Boats went on Shoar to assist in ye bringing off the sd Liquors & the sd Mr. Bassett (who went on Shoar with the sd Boats) told ye Informt. that the sd Liquor was carryed on board the Lyon[.] And farther saith that when they were at Sea ye sd Mr Bassett showed the Informt. ye Money which (as he declared) he had reced of the said Plantin for the last parcel of Goods before mentioned & told the Informt. that he was going on board the Lyon by the Order of the sd Captain Cockburn to pay ye same to ye Comodore & saith that ye sd Money was all Gold (to wit) Cuppers & Cherquins [may refer to Dutch coins] & the Informt. verily believes that the Bagg wherein the sd Gold then was did by the Bulk of it) containe between 4 & 5 hundred pounds Sterling[.] And the sd Mr Bassett did then carry the same on board the Lyon.


                                        Clement Downing


16th. Oct 1724. Jurat corum me    J. Andrew Sent to me B: Rushworth N:P:



*Borax is a salt formed by the combination of boracic acid with the marine alkali or soda. It is brought from the East Indies, where it is said to be found at the bottom or on the margin of certain lakes, particularly in Thibet. It is said to be artificially prepared in Persia, like niter. It comes in three states. 1. Crude borax tinkal, or chrysocolla, from Persia, in greenish masses of a greasy feel, or in opake crystals. 2. borax of China, somewhat purer, in small plates or masses, irregularly crystallized, and of a dirty white. 3. Dutch or purified borax in portions of transparent crystals, which is the kind generally used. It is an excellent flux in docimastic operations, a styptic in medicine, and useful in soldering metals.


**Frankincense (also known as gum olibanum), is an aromatic resin used in incense and perfumes, obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia in the family Burseraceae, particularly Boswellia sacra (prob. B. thurifera, Indian frankincense).



The farther Inform[ati]on of the before named Clement Dow[n]ing – 28 Oct 1724

HCA 1/55, f. 93


Offm DNI con Pratum

Capneum Mathews [part of the investigation of Thomas Mathews for his Courts-Martial in 1724]

The farther Inform.on of the before named Clement Dow[n]ing taken before the worshipfull John Andrew Dr of Laws one of the of Oyer & Terminer and Gaol Delivery for the Admiralty of England at his Chambers in Doctors Commons London the 28th Day of October 1724 in the presence of Brian Rushworth No.ry Publick.

This Informt. saith that on the 26th. instant one Richard Moor living (as he declared) at the house of one Rose at the kings head in Wapping owned & confessed to ye Informt. at the house of one Stoney ate the white hart in Wapping that he the R Moor & one Gyles Neal & John Thurston had been forced into the Service of the Pirates & that he [they] had been in their Service in the East Indies between 3 & 4 Years, And that he well knew a Pirate Ship called ye Dragon that had cruised there & that he well knew one Plantin a Creolian & one Deer[,] a reputed Scotch Man[,] & another who (as the sd Moor declared) was a reputed Dane & that the said Plaintin & Deer & the sd Dane had belonged to the sd Ship the Dragon & that she had taken a Ship with a Portuguese Vice Roy on board of her[,] for which he the sd Moor belonged/had been at Madagascar & that they had there found some Letters which Comodore Mathews had left there with the Natives for Captain Cockburn the Comander of the Salisbury & that they had thereby discovered the Names[,] force[,] & Station of the Squadron of English Men of War that were sent out to seek for the Pirates & that upon the reading of the sd. Letters one Taylor (who was the Quarter Master of the sd pirate Ship) uttered these or the like Words (Damn my Blood God forgive me for swearing heres a Squadron of Men of War sent to look after us but they dont much care for the seeing of us[;] they are more upon the trading account[,] but however lets stand one by another and take Care of ourselves.)


                                Clem.t Downing


Jurat 28.vo Oct 1724

coram me

J Andrew


present me B: Rushworth N: P:

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