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Report of Acting-Gov. Peter Heywood—3 Dec 1716

Depositions – Report of Peter Heywood, 3 Dec 1717

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Dec. 3.


411. General Heywood, Commander in Chief of Jamaica, to the Council of Trade and Plantations. On the first of the last month I writ to your Lordships by the Kent gally Capt. Thoms. Lawton, who in his intended voyage to the Windward passage was taken by the pirates, and robbed of what they thought fitt and turned loose, he came to Port Royall, and now sails with two other ships the George Capt. Patterson and the Brocham Joseph Jewell under convoy of H.M.S. Adventure, who returned from her last voyage the 18th Dec. the Capt. very much out of order, but as he tells me his whole company in a very good state of health, but complains much of the refractoriness of his officers, he is now pretty well recovered, and writes me he should be ready to sail with the aforementioned ships the fourth of this instant, so that I continue my aforesaid packets on board the said ship. Encloses Acts and Journals etc. On the 4th Dec. H.M.S. Swift Capt. Durell arrived at Port Royal, I desired the Capt. to have taken a cruize with the Adventure being a proper vessell for the service drawing but little water, but he tells me he dair not stirr without orders from home, besides that he has but six guns (tho' capable to carry 18) and his complyment of men but 40, which I must acknowledge too few to adventure on these pirates by himself they generally going two and two, with seventy or eighty desperate rogues, and 10 or 12 gunns in each sloop they take more then half the ships and vessells that are bound either to this Island or the French settlements on Hispaniola, and Spaniards that comes in their cruize, as well as those that go from hence taking something out of all they meet, and very often burn their vessells, others they disable just leaving them sufficient to bring them down, out of some they meet with rogues that willingly desert, as lately a Guinea ship Capt. Evans out of whom they took 40 choice men slaves and all their gold and what else they thought fitt, and then dismist her, from which ship the master reports 4 of his men deserted to the pirates, out of a ship from New England they took what they thought for their purpose, and then forced the Carpenter away with them, on the last of December [sic] a poor turtler came before me and said they had robbed him of his netts and what little he had on board, and then turned into him three of their gang (and a little boy) that they did not approve of, first whipping them inhumanely and burning matches between their fingers ears and toes, they would not lett the little boy who I take to be about 12 or 13 years of age, because he desired to leave them go without a daudorus as they called it, a good whipping, they give me an accompt of one they hanged for an example for offering to leave them and another they beat and abused so much that they beleived he could not live, and then without any remorse thro' him overboard and drowned him. To inumerate the villanys we have accompts some of them commit would I fear be to tro'blesome to your Lordships, but we have great reason to fear they have taken some vessells and murdered all the people taking out what they wanted and then burning the vessells. We have one particular reason to believe the truth of this, for the pirates that lye the windermost, that we know have a very great plenty of Madera wines and other liquors, but they would not let the master of the Guinea man or any others they have taken know when or where they gott them, there is of these pirates of all nations, those to windward are generally Spaniards, and some few French, but most mulattos, quarteroons and negroes, they lye from the leward part of the Island of St. John de Porto Reco down along the south side of Hispaniola, then on the other side Hispaniola, from Cape Nicola down the north west, and west of Hispaniola, and upon the south side to the Isle of Ash, then on the coast of Cuba from the south estermost end down to the south key and Trinidado lyes others, and from the Isle of Pines clear round to the bay of Hondo, and so on to the Havana and bay of Matances, and from thence to the Island Providence, how many is uncertain, and make that Isle their chief rendezvous taking all nations they meet with, one of those small rogues lately took a Spanish ship of 22 gunns, and 22 pattareroes, a very rich ship from Cadiz, as I am informed, in short these seas are full of these Rovers which will in particular be a very great detriment to this Island, hinder both vessells coming to us from H.M. Northern Plantations, and putting a stop to the little trade our merchants have to the Spanish coast, they give out they want but a good ship or two fit for their purpose and then they design farther off in particular to the coast of Brazil. I am inclined to beleive some of them may go for they generally take all the good instruements they meet with etc. H.M. two Companys of foot want a great many recruits to fill them up, the last list I see of Lord Archibald Hamilton's Company had but 61 seargeants, corporalls, drummers, private men, etc. and they very ragged, having had no clothing these six years past, and their arm's hardly fitt for use, having been here as I think full 14 years, and now have more then seven months pay due to them, but Coll. Delawna's Company which is barrackt at the Fort on Port Royall is much fuller of men, but I beleive in the same circumstances for clothes and arms and the fortifications at that place is very much out of repair, and wants an ingeneer to rectifye and new model the same. Refers to enclosed deposition of Joseph Eels, taken before myself and Council to whom we gave an assurance that he should be secured of his life by a noli prosequi provided he made a full discovery of what he knew of the late piracys committed in the Bay of Hondo, upon this information and deposition we ordered Daniel Axtell and Jasper Ashworth to be apprehended, and committed by a warrant from the Chief Justice as correspondents with and accessorys to pirates and piracys. Upon taking up of these persons a great many are fled, that a warrant was issued to apprehend both as principles and accessarys, and what to do with these men, we know not as yett, not having a Commission under the Broad Seal of England as the statute of the 11th of King William directs, nor Admiral Vice Admiral a deputy to whom to direct a Commission pursuant to the statute of the 28th of Hen. VIII. We are likewise necessitated to keep under confinement the said Joseph Eels for want of sufficient security designing to make use of him as evidence for the King in this behalf which he has promised upon being secured himself to become. I farther advise you that the said sloop Mary which was commanded by the said Leigh Ashworth was condemned as the goods of pirates in the Court of Admiralty here, she being concerned in the piracys committed on the French ship in the Bay of Hondo at which time the said Eels was quartermaster on board her under the command of the said Leigh Ashworth etc. Signed, Peter Heywood. Endorsed, Recd. 1st, Read 3rd April, 1717. 2 pp. Enclosed.



"America and West Indies: December 1716, 1-15," in Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies: Volume 29, 1716-1717, ed. Cecil Headlam (London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1930), 211-232.

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