ATTENTION ALL SHIPPING!
Ahoy there, sea dogs and other reprobates! Those of you with the eyesight of the wandering albatross will have noticed that for a good many moons, our stout vessel has not appeared in your spyglass. And, mayhap, you have wondered at it.
But, as you know, the mind of our Captain is never at rest. He is always working on schemes, ventures, and stratagems, both with and without the rest of the crew. And so, about three months back, we reassembled and made our vessel shipshape for …
A NEW VOYAGE!
All of the crew have been working like dogs on the Captain’s latest enterprise. And now we are all aboard, to bring you …
THE RICHEST ROGUES AFLOAT!
We are telling the story of the Whydah Gally, the slave ship which Black Sam Bellamy captured on her maiden voyage. He went on to plunder no less than fifty three vessels, and with that booty stowed in his hold, turned for home – and for his true love, Maria Hallett, whom he hoped to marry.
Alas! For the vanity of mortal hopes! On the night of 26th April in the year of Our Lord seventeen hundred and seventeen, a tempest of the most hellish proportions brewed off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts Colony. Weighed down as she was, the Whydah went down in the storm, together with all her cargo and all hands, save two whom the Lord’s grace plucked from the raging waters. Neither of these two was Sam Bellamy, and so he perished, and all his hopes with him.
Our Captain has hand-picked the finest crew, including noted sea-dogs The Hoy Shanty Crew, to bring you this epic tale of treasure, booty, adventure and thwarted love. And, mayhap, the vanity of man and the righteous judgement of the Lord on all wicked slave traders. But I leave that to the consciences of my readers.
For those more learned among you, I have heard say that an enterprising gentleman named Mr Barry Clifford, Esq., having explored the depths of the ocean, has discovered the wrecked Whydah, and salvaged some of her goods. These he has generously put on display for the enjoyment and edification of all persons, at the Whydah Pirate Museum in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts.
In the meantime …
PREPARE TO BE BOARDED!
Further bulletins will follow.
Fair winds, landlubbers! Tis Mother Cutbeard here.
We have taken some respite from our daily toil of plundering Spanish treasure-ships and dispatching malefactors, because we have been preparing for a wedding. Yes indeed, our young Calico Cat, as skilled in healing herbs as she be in the use of the cutlass, has chosen a pirate to make her own.
We put into Weymouth, so that Cat and her intended, Martin, could plight their troth before the magistrate as well as by the laws of the sea.
Of course, it is dangerous business, if you be a pirate, which we are, to come face to face with a magistrate. So Cat and her betrothed have been living among the populace, in disguise as a pair of honest young citizens, for a number of months. We have been at sea, but on receipt of Cat’s signal, at dead of night, we put ashore, though we stayed on board till daybreak.
Naturally none of us, not the Captain, not Mistress Page, not Jamaica Jill or myself , and certainly not the Silent Sinner, who has sold his soul to the Evil One (or so ’tis said) but who still insists on a clean white shirt every day, dare to show our faces to a magistrate, so Cat and her Martin went without our help to make their union legal. Then the real wedding feast began.
We played, danced and skylarked till the midnight hour. We even paid the landlord for our drink – well, for some of it. And assured him that our pistols were a mere courtesy detail. As children and small animals were present, you understand.
Twas hard to say farewell to Cat and her husband at the end of the day, but we whall be sailing with her again, once their honeymoon be over.
We shall be pirating again next month, so in the meantime we wish our Cat and her sweetheart a fair wind and a pleasant honeymoon. We hope to welcome them both back on board just as soon as they crave more company and fresh adventures.
Come and join us in Ipswich on Friday 17th December! Yes, we’re going to be holding the good ship On The Huh to ransom from six o’clock in the evening, demanding rum and excellent food in exchange for music.
If you would like to come along (and you know you would – the alternative will be walking the plank into the Wet Dock!) it will cost you the very reasonable sum of £5.00, which will include one free glass of rum.
Yes, it’s true! At 6.50 on Friday evening, Captain Morgan’s Rum Do will be taking to a stage and delivering some of our choicest ditties to the discerning public.
You cannot imagine what a relief it is, after all these months of sitting becalmed on a not-very-Caribbean island, to be setting sail with the rogues we all know and (in some cases) love!
Henry Every, also known as Henry Avery (20 August 1659 – after 1696), sometimes erroneously given as Jack Avery or John Avery, was an English pirate who operated in the Atlantic and Indian oceans in the mid-1690s. He probably used several aliases throughout his career, including Benjamin Bridgeman, and was known as Long Ben to his crewmen and associates.
Dubbed “The Arch Pirate” and “The King of Pirates” by contemporaries, Every was infamous for being one of few major pirate captains to escape with his loot without being arrested or killed in battle, and for being the perpetrator of what has been called the most profitable act of piracy in history. Although Every’s career as a pirate lasted only two years, his exploits captured the public’s imagination, inspired others to take up piracy, and spawned works of literature.
Every began his pirate career while he was first mate aboard the warship Charles II. As the ship lay anchored in the northern Spanish harbour of Corunna, the crew grew discontented as Spain failed to deliver a letter of marque and Charles II’s owners failed to pay their wages, and they mutinied. Charles II was renamed the Fancy and Every elected as the new captain.
Every’s most famous raid was on a 25-ship convoy of Grand Mughal vessels making the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, including the treasure-laden Ghanjah dhow Ganj-i-sawai and its escort, Fateh Muhammed. Joining forces with several pirate vessels, Every found himself in command of a small pirate squadron, and they were able to capture up to £600,000 in precious metals and jewels, equivalent to around £91.9 million in 2021, making him the richest pirate in the world. This caused considerable damage to England’s fragile relations with the Mughals, and a combined bounty of £1,000 – an immense sum at the time – was offered by the Privy Council and the East India Company for his capture, leading to the first worldwide manhunt in recorded history.
Although a number of his crew were subsequently arrested, Every himself eluded capture, vanishing from all records in 1696; his whereabouts and activities after this period are unknown. Unconfirmed accounts state he may have changed his name and retired, quietly living out the rest of his life in either Britain or on an unidentified tropical island, while alternative accounts consider Every may have squandered his riches. He is considered to have died anywhere between 1699 and 1714; his treasure has never been recovered.
If you are a Doctor Who fan (and who isn’t?) you will remember Henry from the episode “The Curse of the Black Spot”
We have, at last, set up a dedicated YouTube channel to showcase the Captain’s wonderful songs. In addition, we will be posting a new video every week, showcasing our Pirate of the Week. Please go and have a look!
This week, we are starting with a little ‘un – John King:
John King (c. 1706/9 – April 26, 1717) was an 18th-century pirate. He joined the crew of Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy while still a juvenile, and is the youngest known pirate on record.
On November 9, 1716, Bellamy and his crew, sailing the sloop Mary Anne (or Marianne), attacked and captured the Antiguan sloop Bonetta, which was then en route from Antigua to Jamaica. John King, then aged between eight and eleven, was a passenger on the Bonetta. According to Abijah Savage, the Bonetta’s commander, the pirates looted the ship for 15 days, during which time King demanded to join Bellamy’s crew. “(F)ar from being forced or compelled (to join),” Savage wrote in his report, “he declared he would kill himself if he was restrained, and even threatened his mother, who was then on board as a passenger and his father who did not like him.” While teenage pirates were common in the 18th century, and though the Royal Navy employed young boys as “powder monkeys” to carry gunpowder from ship’s magazine to their cannons, boys of King’s age were unknown as pirates. However, after an initial show of defiance, Bellamy allowed King to join him. In the subsequent months, Bellamy and his crew would capture and loot many ships, including the Whydah in February 1717, a heavily armed slave galley which Bellamy claimed for his flagship. On April 26, 1717, the Whydah was wrecked in a storm off the coast of Cape Cod, killing Bellamy and most of his crew, including King.
King’s remains were tentatively identified in 2006, when Barry Clifford, principal of Expedition Whydah Sea Lab & Learning Center in Provincetown Massachusetts, and Project Historian Ken Kinkor had partial human remains recovered from the wreck analyzed by researchers at the Smithsonian Institution and Center for Historical Archaeology in Florida. The remains, consisting of an 11-inch fibula encased in a shoe and silk stocking, were determined not to belong to a small man, as originally thought, but to a young boy of King’s approximate age.
On Talk Like A Pirate Day 2020, at one minute to three, as a confident finger moved to jab the “Go Live” button on Facebook – it disappeared! Calamity! Were we sunk before we began? No, we weren’t, we managed to go live only five minutes late, but our carefully planned schedule went straight out of the porthole and we had to improvise. Everything we had planned appeared, if not on the live event feed, then on the event page. Thanks to Carys, who kept her head while the crew were losing theirs!
For those of you who missed the live show and for those of you who are gluttons for punishment, The Silent One has compiled a YouTube edition which brings everything together in one place (or, more accurately, two places) Please enjoy …
Well, our Autumn Gathering at the Olde Smack has fallen victim to the plague – it’s not a big place, and, as you probably know, the nearest it can come to “social distancing” is “not taking the next pirate’s drink out with your elbow (unless you mean it)” – so we have decided to embrace all the technology available to us and go virtual.
This year’s gathering will be live-streamed on Facebook on 19th September from 1500-1745 hrs, with a mix of pre-recorded and live sets from the Silver Darlings, ourselves, Carys (and Max the Pirate Cat) and, headlining, The Captain’s Beard. Please join us for a chat online – and bring your own rum!
Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/events/307205290562083/?
We are both sorry and delighted to tell you that two of our summer gigs have been postponed. Sorry, because we were looking forward to playing out this summer, and delighted, because those same gigs will be happening in summer 2021:
Folk at the Boat, Ipswich: postponed to June 2021 – date to be confirmed
Chickenstock, Stockbury, Kent: 23rd July 2021 – and, if you buy your festival tickets before 23rd July this year, you will be paying 2020 prices! Go to the festival website for full details: https://www.chickenstockfestival.co.uk/
So far, our own Autumn Gathering is set to go ahead at the Olde Smack, Leigh on Sea on 19th September – we’ll keep you posted.