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Alex. Spotswood and John Vickers, 3 Jul 1716

Depositions – Spotswood & Vickers, 3 Jul 1716

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July 3.


240. Lt. Governor Spotswood to the Council of Trade and Plantations. Abstract. Refers to enclosed affidavits relating to Bahamas. A nest of pirates are endeavouring to establish themselves at Providence and by the addition they expect of loose disorderly people from the Bay of Campeachy, Jamaica and other parts, may prove dangerous to British commerce, if not timely suppressed. A vessel of the force they have captured will soon render them formidable to the number of merchantmen passing through the Gulf from Jamaica. Has commissioned the master of a sloop to make enquiries as to their strength and designs. It highly concerns H.M. service that some Government should speedily be established there and the place made defencible against sudden attempts by pirates or the Spaniards, who have so often obstructed the settlement thereof, as well knowing that, should the English grow strong there, that island might be reckoned the very key of the Gulph of Florida. He committed to prison one Captain Forbes, a pirate who came to Virginia last month, after beating the Spaniards from their batteries on the coast of Florida for guarding wrecks and was accessory to taking the French ship (encl. i.), but he escaped. Has asked the Admiralty for an additional guardship, not relying on the professions of the gang at Providence that they will only seize French and Spanish ships. They have already plundered some trading vessels belonging to these parts. Mr. Ludwell (v. 24th May) writes that he will send his answer to the Council of Trade, without allowing the Governor a sight of it, unless he will submit the dispute between them to the determination of the Council. This is not a reasonable request, for six out of ten Councillors are his relations, and by his 44th Instruction the Council have no cognizance of such cases. Asks to see his answer. Except this dispute with the Auditor, this Colony is perfectly easy, etc. Signed, A. Spotswood. Endorsed, Recd. 5th, Read 10th Sept., 1716. 3¾ pp. Printed, V.H.S.C., Spotswood Papers II., 168.




240. i. Deposition of John Vickers; late of the Island of Providence. In Nov. last Benjamin Hornigold arrived at Providence in the sloop Mary of Jamaica, belonging to Augustine Golding, which Hornigold took upon the Spanish coast, and soon after the taking of the said sloop, he took a Spanish sloop loaded with dry goods and sugar, which cargo he disposed of at Providence, but the Spanish sloop was taken from him by Capt. Jennings of the sloop Bathsheba of Jamaica. In January Hornigold sailed from Providence in the said sloop Mary, having on board 140 men, 6 guns and 8 pattararas, and soon after returned with another Spanish sloop, which he took on the coast of Florida. After he had fitted the said sloop at Providence, he sent Golding's sloop back to Jamaica to be returned to the owners: and in March last sailed from Providence in the said Spanish sloop, having on board near 200 men, but whither bound deponent knoweth not. About 22nd April last, Capt. [Henry] Jenings arrived at Providence and brought in as prize a French ship mounted with 32 guns which he had taken at the Bay of Hounds, and there shared the cargo (which was very rich consisting of European goods for the Spanish trade) amongst his men, and then went in the said ship to the wrecks where he served as Comodore and guardship. There are at Providence about 50 men who have deserted the sloops that were upon the wrecks, and committ great disorders in that Island, plundering the inhabitants, burning their houses, and ravishing their wives. One Thomas Barrow formerly mate of a Jamaica brigantine which run away some time ago with a Spanish marquiss's money and effects, is the chief of them and gives out that he only waits for a vessell to go out a pirating, that he is Governor of Providence and will make it a second Madagascar, and expects 5 or 600 men more from Jamaica sloops to join in the settling of Providence, and to make war on the French and Spaniards, but for the English, they don't intend to meddle with them, unless they are first attack'd by them; nevertheless Barrow and his crew robb'd a New England brigantine, one Butler master, in the harbour of Providence and took a Bermuda sloop, beat the master and confined him for severall days, but not finding the said sloop fitt for their purpose, discharged her. About a year ago one Daniel Stillwell formerly belonging to Jamaica, and lately settled on Isle Aethera [Eleuthera], went in a small shallop, with John Kemp, Matthew Low, two Dutchmen, and—Darvell to the coast of Cuba and there took a Spanish lanch having on board 11,050 pieces of eight, and brought the same into Isle Aethera; and Capt. Thomas Walker of Providence having received advice thereof from the Governor of Jamaica, seized Stillwell and his vessell, but upon the coming of Hornigold to Providence, Stillwell was rescued and Capt. Walker threatned to have his house burned for offering to concern himself, Hornigold saying that all pirates were under his protection. It is common for the sailors now at Providence (who call themselves the flying gang) to extort money from the inhabitants, and one Capt. [Alexander] Stockdale who came passenger with deponent to Virginia was threatned to be whipp'd for not giving them what they demanded, and just upon his coming from thence he payed them 20sh. for which the aforementioned Barrow and one Peter Parr gave him a receipt on the publick account. Many of the inhabitants of that Island had deserted their habitations for fear of being murdered. Sometime about the beginning of March one Capt. [Francisco] Farnandez, an inhabitant of Jamaica, in the sloop Bennet mounted with 10 guns and with about 110 men took a Spanish sloop with about three millions of money as it was reported and silks and cochenile to the like value and brought the sloop into Providence and there divided the money and goods among the men and is returned to the North side of Jamaica to try whether he may go home in safety and if he found he could not he gave out that he would return to Providence and settle amongst the Rovers. Signed, John Vickers. Endorsed as preceding. 2 pp.



"America and West Indies: July 1716," in Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 29, 1716-1717, ed. Cecil Headlam (London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1930), 139-159.

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