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William Snelgrave to Humphrey Morice—30 Apr 1719

Letters – William Snelgrave to Humphrey Morice—30 Apr 1719

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William Snelgrave, "William Snelgrave to Humphrey Morice," 30 Apr 1719, Humphrey Morice Papers of the Bank of England.


Hond. Sir


        On the 4th instant I arrived on this coast to your great loss and my sad mishap, being taken by pirates after this manner, Mr. Jones who had behav'd himself well all ye passage was got in liquor ye day as made ye land, so durst not trust him to carry ye ship in, but haveing an extract of Capt. Gordon's Journall went by that tell twas dark, and anchord of ye Cape 1 1/2 mile from the shore; between 7 & 8 a clock in ye evening ye officer of ye watch told me a boat was very near uss, I went on ye deck haild her, & was answerd they belonged to ye 2 friends Capt. Ellott from Barbados, Mr. Jones said then they are friends, and called for lantherns, I said would trust no boat and orderd all hands to be called, ye words were hardly out of my outh but there was a volly of small arms fir'd at uss, I commanded ye people to their quarters, but before half of ye men could get in the steridge ye pirates were on ye decks & prevented laying the grateings; I call'd to ye people to go forward with me and sally up through ye forecastle, but ye confusion and noise was so great was not regarded, and they call'd out for quarter upon wch ye pirates ceas'd fireing, haveing shot Hugh Ross in ye side and Capt. Gordon's black in ye arm. The Quarter master of ye pirates came down into ye Steridge, asking were was ye Comdr. told him I was, he asked me what was ye reason I order'd a great gun to be fired at ye boat and ye people to defend ye ship, I replied it was my duty, upon wch he clapt a pistoll to my breast, but putting it one side with my hand it fir'd under my arm, he then beat me with his Cuttlash unmercifully, and order'd me with ye people on deck, as soon as came up, ye boatswain of ye pirates told me they never gave quarter to any Comdr. who offer'd to defend his ship, and strikes at me with his broad sword but God was pleased to cause ye blow to take ye raise on ye quarter deck, otherwise had been cleft down, then they beat me again, but all my people beg'd they would not abuse me, saying they never were with a better Comdr. upon wch they left of and fell to beating them, Mr. Richardson was cut on ye head wth several others that suffer'd. They had turn'd their boat adrift haveing drank damnation to one ye other if they did not take ye ship, so order'd me to send one of my boats with 4 hands to take up theirs but if they did not return declar'd would pistoll me, Mr. Jones offers readily to go & tho' very dark luckily found her, but as he came along side would have had ye people given 3 chears, they had more prudence then to comply for not one would have been left alive if they had done it. By this time ye Pirates ship was come down and fir'd at uss, then they sent me onboard, Mr. Jones going with me, I was treated civil enough, and they told me should have no further hurt to my person, provided ye people gave me a good character.


I had not been 1/2 an hour onboard ye pirate, but ye master tells me my chiefe mate had enter'd with them, and advis'd to take ye ship for their own use, saying she sail'd well and was much fitter then their own, this extreamly surpriz'd me, I got an opportunity of cautioning him of his folly, he denied it which ye master overhearing, threatned to cut him down for lying; and further told me, Mr. Jones had desir'd to be seemingly forc'd. The next day Mr. Jones being sober signs their articles, excusing himself to me his circumstances were bad at home, and yt. he had no love for his wife, upon this thought proper to converse as little wth him as possible. The next day he persuades ye people to enter saying I design'd it my self, so he got 9 to do it. God only knows whether this man had any hopes of meeting with pirates here when he advis'd to touch at this place, for Phas. Christopher one yt has enter'd & afterwards repented told me wth tears in his eyes, yt he said to him ye day before came in here he was in hopes to meet with pirates.


The day after I was taken [5th April] they concluded to keep ye ship for their own use, theirs being old, so took up ye deck to make a teer of ports fore and aft, saying they would make me a voyage by bestowing ye cargo on me and would give me of my own all but what they wanted, I represented your goodness to sailors & beged order might be taken to save ye goods which they promis'd; Capt. Glynn was so kind to come onboard when he heard of my misfortune, amd there being 3 pirate ships here went and spoke to ye 3 Captains who all promised much more then perform'd; for the Cargo was strangely dissipated, much was thrown overboard besides what they kept for their own use, & a great deale given to ye white people & blacks onshore, The rest through Capt. Glyns assistance with his sloop & a briganteen [Rising Sun?] wch ye pirates had quitted is saved, but most of ye peice goods were wetted by ye malt spirrits and rain, for they open'd the cases throw'd ye goods Loose, & if did not take them so fast as they fancied often threw some overboard.


Have not yet had time or weather to dry & overhaule all ye goods yt is saved for tis but 3 days past since ye pirates are gone [27th April], and ye white people onshore promise to deliver what they have got + if will allow them salvage, but doubt their being so good as their words.


I have lost most of what I had; what is saved have mention'd at ye foot of this Letter, for my sole comfort in this sad misfortune is, that if I approve myself an honest tho' unfortunate man I shal not loose ye favour of ye best of masters; and ye reason I mention what I sav'd of my own is because cannot now inform what is sav'd of ye cargo, for some of my people has pretended to part of ye goods for salvage & because refus'd their unreasonable request has assposs'd me as if did design to convert them to my own use, but in a day or two design in ye presence of Capt. Glyn & some others with ye people yt comes with me to take an inventory of all yt is saved, and shal then resolve what to do wth ym for am in a very great streight at present what to resolve on. should have come in this ship but ye care of ye goods prevents me, she is to stop at Repungo, so hope shal not be long after her; Capt. Glyn & my selfe with about 12 of my people shal come about 10 days hence in ye Parnall snow Capt. Morris bound for Bristoll, ye rest has shipt themselves for ye West Indies, except ye Carpenter & Mr. Fox who comes in this wth.out asking me, ye last haveing taken pett because I reprov'd him for standing still when he saw me working in drying ye goods.


The Pirate as took uss had been here a month, ye others came in 10 days after, have gent down in ye list ye ships taken here by ym. All ye people with myself were detain'd prisoners tell just before ye Pirates sail'd, haveing us'd those as would not enter with them wth great barbarity; & have given me for them but 1 barrel flower and one of beefe, besides haveing ym naked, but as I know your goodness allows every thing in reason, so shal endeavor to provide for ye people as comes with me: The Almighty has been graciously pleas'd to support me in this severe tryall, & my hope is in his good time to return to my native country and approve my self to you an honest tho' unfortunate Servt.


Accot. of goods sav'd of my                      Wm: Snelgrave

private adventure . .                                River Sierrelion April 30th.

4 1/2 hhgs french brandy                                          1719

10 Box Irons

20 peices of course cherryderries

3 peices of buckram


Pirates Names.

Windham  Capt. Cocklin. 34 Guns. 90 men. late ye Bird Gally

King James C[apt]. Davis - 32 Guns. 130 men.

Duke Ormond. C[apt]. Le Booze  22 Guns. 95 men; late Sarah gally


Ships taken by these.

1. Mons. Channel;    Society .  .    London.  .  .   Plunder'd, but little

2. Jno. Bennet  .    Robt. & James.  Do .  .  .  .   Burnt

3. James Chrichton,  Nightingall .   Bristoll . . .  Plunder'd

4. John Thompson _   Jacob & Jaell . London  .   .   Burnt

5. Henry Morris _    Parnall  .      Bristoll  .  .  Plunder'd

6. _  _ Ellott .  .  Two Friends .   Barbados .   .  Carried wth. ym. for a tender

7. Davd. Chrichton  .Queen Elizabeth. London   -     Plunderd but little

8. James Nisbett   . Edwd. & Steed  . Barbados   -   Plunder'd

9. Jonathn. Lamb .   Sarah Gally  .  . London .  .   taken for a privateer

10. Wm. Snelgrave .  Bird Gally  .  . Do. -    -      Do.

11. De Vitry .   .   Saint Antonio . St. Malloes  -  Plunder'd & run ashore

12. -- Willson .  .  Dispatch  -   African company.. Plunder'd . .

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