A Pirate in the Chesapeake Bay


In the Maryland Historical Society's Fund Publication, No. 37,
page 164, may be found the following remarks made by Dr. Bray
on the character of Governor Nicholson then of Virginia : " Considering
this Governor's late Heroick Actions in the Conquest of
the most desperate of Enemies, the Pirates, who were so infatuated
as to approach his Province, and in whose Reduction his own
Personal Prowess, Presence and Valour had a share, but that it
was necessary to the Service of his Prince, of his Government,
and of its Trade, almost to a Fault. It's hard to say, whether
Arms or Letters have the greatest Right to challenge him for
their General."

Reference is here made to an event of great importance to the
Colonies of Maryland and Virginia, which, although now forgotten,
must have been much talked of In the presence of Dr. Bray,
who arrived in Maryland but a short time before it took place.
A pirate ship, which had taken several vessels off the Capes,
entered Lynnhaven Bay with several of her captures, intending
to take in water and provisions, and fit out one or more of the
captured vessels, as members of the pirate fleet, which then numbered
four vessels, and of which the chief was La Paix, or
" The Peace " as she is generally called in the papers relating to
the event of her defeat and capture by H. M. ship Shoreham,
Captain Passenger, after a battle which lasted ten hours, and was
sustained on both sides with great courage and determination.
It was not only by his decision and prompt action that Governor
Nicholson aided in bringing about the result of this; for it
was in a great measure owing to him, that there was a man-of-war
stationed in the Chesapeake Bay.

From the time of his arrival in Maryland, he urged on the
authorities at home the importance of having one or more vessels
of war stationed in the Chesapeake, for the protection of the
inhabitants of Maryland and Virginia; and in accordance with
his recommendation, men-of-war had been sent out. In the order
providing for sending them, it was made a condition that they
should be good sailers, and should be relieved every year.

The Shoreham had arrived some weeks before to relieve the
JEssex Prize which at the time of the fight was under repair, and
being made ready for the voyage home, so that she was in no condition
to take any part in a fight with a pirate.

The Essex Prize was a small vessel carrying only sixteen guns,
so that it was perhaps well for the Colonies that she was relieved
by a larger ship, which was able to cope with the "Peace,"
which carried twenty guns and had a crew of 140 men.

The narrative of these events is drawn partly from a copy of
the record of a case in the Court of Admiralty held in May, 1700
in Hampton Town, Virginia, one of the Rawlinson MSS. in the
Bodleian Library, and partly from the letters of Governor Nicholson
of Virginia, in the Public Record Office, London.

On the 17th of April, 1700, the pink Baltimore of Bristol, was
captured by a pirate, who put sixteen of his own men on board
the pink. One man was killed, and six men were taken on board
the pirate, leaving six men (with the pirate crew) on the pink.

The next day the same pirate took, in Lat. 36°, a sloop, the
George, Ca.pt. Joseph Forrest, of Pennsylvania, 25 Tons, and
carried Capt. Forrest and some of his men on board their own
ship, after plundering the George, taking with other things about
£ 200. in gold and leaving six of their own men to take charge of
the sloop.

A few days later, or on the 23 day of April, the ship Pennsylvania
Merchant, of 80 tons, bound from London to Philadelphia,
was nearing the Capes of the Delaware, when late in the day, a
vessel was seen to be following her, and the next morning was
found to be close to her. The pirate La Paix, for it was she, ran
up " a blood-red flag," fired several guns at the Pennsylvania
Merchant, and called on her " to heave-to," which order the Captain,
Samuel Harrison, thought it best to obey.

The pirates then boarded her and made the ship's company and
the passengers—thirty-one persons in all—go with them to their
own ship, first taking from their prisoners everything of any value
which they had about them, among other things, a " watch enamelled
green and gold," from one of the passengers, Thomas Murray
of Pennsylvania.

They then proceeded to rifle the ship, taking from her provisions,
sails, rigging, spars, etc., and then on the second day setting fire
to and abandoning her. Samuel Harris testified, that having been
sent on board the Pennsylvania Merchant "to fetch a hatt for
some one in the boat," he " saw the Pilote, by name John Hoogling
making a fire in the great Cabbin, and another person, the
Carpenter, cutting a hole in the side, which persons came on board
the boat and left said ship burning and sinking."

The pirates then stood in towards the land, and came to an
anchor. They then announced their intention of going inside the
Capes of the Chesapeake to take in water, after which they would
cruise outside until they should meet a pink which belonged to
them and was to join them near the Capes.

This pirate ship was of 200 tons burthen, ninety feet long,
carried twenty guns and one hundred and forty men, mostly
Frenchmen or Dutchmen, and was commanded by Louis Guillar,
a Frenchman. She was a formidable antagonist, and there were
three other vessels, subject to the orders of Capt. Guillar, only
one of which made its appearance on the coast, at the time of the
capture of La Paix, and of that one we shall hear presently as
" the pink," no name being mentioned. La Paix lay at anchor all
day Saturday, and during the night got under way, and early on
Sunday morning a ship was seen coming out of the Chesapeake
Bay. All the prisoners were ordered below into the hold, and
ranging near the ship—which proved to be the Lndian King bound
for London—they fired on her and forced her to surrender. The
captain—Edward Whitaker—was ordered to go on board La
Paix, and when he reached her deck, he and his boat's crew were
bound and detained as prisoners, the pirates taking his boat and
boarding the Indian King, where they took prisoners Captain
Baldwin Matthews, Mr. George Livingstone, a merchant of Philadelphia,
and Samuel Crutchfield. These were bound, with their
arms made fast behind them, their money and valuables were
taken from them, and they were carried by the pirates to their
own ship, which the crew of the Indian King were ordered to

Soon after, the Friendship of Belfast, bound for Liverpool, was
seen a few miles outside the Capes, when the pirate bore down on
her, fired several shot at her and commanded her master to come
on board. One of the shot struck and killed the master, Hans
Hamell, but the first mate, John Colwell, went on board with
four of his men, who were all detained as prisoners, while the
boat, manned by some of the pirates, went back to the Friendship,
when the crew and passengers were ordered into the forecastle, and
the usual work of plundering went on, until the pirates thought
they had all the more portable valuables in the ship, when they
returned to La Paix, first ordering the crew to make sail, and
stand into Lynnhaven Bay, following the " man-of-war," as they
called their own ship.

Before they anchored in Lynnhaven Bay, another ship was seen
—the Nicholson, commanded by Robert Lurten or Lurting, bound
for London. This ship was hailed and ordered to strike, the
order being accompanied by several shot, which wounded some of
the crew, and as usual produced a ready compliance with the
orders issued from La Paix. Captain Lurten was ordered to come
on board, and when he did so, he and his men were made prisoners
and confined in the hold, while some of the pirates taking his
boat, went on board the Nicholson, and forced the crew to help
them in throwing overboard more than one hundred casks of
tobacco, as well as a great deal in bulk. This was done to make
room on the Nicholson for guns, ammunition, provisions, water,
etc., as the pirates intended to fit her out in order that she
might join them, she being a large vessel and a very good

Captain Guillar now anchored in Lynnhaven Bay with his
captures, consisting of the ships Friendship, Indian King and
Nicholson, the pink Baltimore, and the sloop George, and he began
at once to take in water, and transfer provisions, sails, cordage,
and whatever else he wanted, to his own ship, that she might be
ready for another cruise.

While he was thus busily occupied, a vessel which had been
lying in Lynnhaven Bay, when he entered the Capes, was making
her way to Kiquotan or Hampton, which place she reached on
Sunday, about noon, when her master told Captain John Aldred,
commander of H. M. ship Essex Prize, that he had seen a fleet
of pirates coming into Lynnhaven Bay.

It so happened, that on that Sunday afternoon, there were
gathered at the house of Col. Wm. Wilson, at Kiquotan, the
Governor, Col. Nicholson, Captain William Passenger, Commander
of H. M. ship 8ho7-eham, Joseph Mann, Esq., and some other
gentlemen of the Colony, when Captain Aldred made his appearance,
and told them the report he had just heard of the arrival of
a fleet of pirates in the Chesapeake Bay.

The news was startling, no doubt, and broke unpleasantly on
the quiet of their Sunday afternoon, but there was no hesitation or
discussion as to what was to be done. In a short time, in obedience
to the orders of the Governor, Capt. Passenger was on his
way to his ship to get everything ready for a start that evening,
and the following despatch was written and sent to Lieut. Col.
Ballard or Major William Buckner at Yorktown.
Kiquotan, April 28, 1700.
Between 3 & 4 o'clock in the afternoon.
Capt. John Aldred Commander of his Maj^S Ship
" Essex Prize hath just now given me an Ace— th' there are 3
or 4 Ships or Vessels in Lynhaven Bay who are supposed to be
pyrates. I doe therefore in his Majties name eomand you that
upon sight hereof you give Notice to the Comanders of the Ships
& Vessels in York River th4 they may take care of their Ships
and Vessels, and that you do immediately order the Militia in
yor parts to be ready, and you must forthwith dispatch an Express
to the Coi? & Chief Officers of Middlesex, Lancaster, Northumberland
and Westmoreland Counties to be ready.
The Co1 or Chief Officer of Northumberland I doe Impower in
his Majties name, forthwith to press a good boat & able men and
send an Ace* to any of his Majties Officers, either Military or
Civill in his Majtles Province of Maryland of these 3 or 4 Ships
or Vessels being in Lynhaven Bay, and that they are desired
immediately to dispatch an Express to his Excy Nathaniel Blakiston
esqr his Majties Captn Gen1 & Govern1 in Chief, & Vice Admirall
of his MajUes Province of Maryland and I doe hereby promise to
any person or psons who shall take or kill any Pyrate that shall
belong to Either of these 3 or 4 Ships or Vessels in Lynhaven
Bay a reward of twenty pounds Stirlen for each pyrate they shall
either take or kill.

To Lieut Co11 Thomas Ballard or Major William Buckner at
Yorktown who are to take a copy hereof & Dispatch it as directed.
Each Co11 or Chief Officer is also to take a copy hereof & dispatch
it as directed. Lieut Co1 Ballard, Thos Ballard & Majf Wm Buckner
are to send to the Honble Co1 Edmd Jennings with a copy of
this, and they are likewise to send a copy of this to Co1 Phillip
Ludwell who is in his Majtle8 name Comanded to have the Militia
of James City ready by this order of Kiquotan Ap* 28, 1700.
Lieut Co1 Miles Cary Commander in Chief of his Majtie8 Militia
in Warwick County, Cols or Chief Officers of Princess Ann
Nanzemond & the Isle of Wight, Co1 Mason or any of the
Comanding Officers in said Norfolk County.

Having thus made preparation to resist any descent by the
pirates on the shores of the Bay, Governor Nicholson, accompanied
by Capt. Aldred, Joseph Mann, Esq., and Peter Hayman,
Esq., went on board the Shoreham, which was called in the Navy
List a " Fifth Rate," and carried twenty-eight guns and about
one hundred and twenty men, so that she was somewhat stronger
than La Paix.

About sunrise on Monday morning, the Pirates saw the Shoreham
coming out of James River, with the " King's Jack flag and
ancient spread abroad," and at once a signal was made from La
Paix, ordering all her men on board, an order which was promptly
obeyed by all except two who were sound asleep on the Nicholson,
and who were afterwards overpowered, and sent on board the

A report of the movements of the Shoreham was made by Captain
Passenger in the following words, viz.:
On board his Majestys Ship the Shoreham.
On Sunday the 28th April about 3 in the even, I lay with his
Majesty's Ship Shoreham at Kiquotan a watering when there
came in a Merchant Ship that brought the news of a pirate in
Lynhaven bay that had taken some Virginia Men bound out of
the Capes. At which news I immediately called all my people
from the Shore that were filling water, and made a sign" for all
the Masters of the Merchant Ships,, that Lay there bound out, to
take some men out of them by reason I wanted seven men of my
Complement. I took eight men out of their boats & weighed
anchor and turned down. The wind being contrary & night
coming on the pylot would venture no further So we came to
anchor about three Leagues short of the Pirate. About 10 at
night his Excellency firancis Nicholson esqr Governour of Virginia,
came on board with Cap' Aldred of the Essex Prize and
Peter Hayman esqr who remained on board during the whole

At 3 in the morning being the 29'? of April I weigh'd and at
4 made the pirate where he lay at anchor and we came within
half a mile he loosed his Topsails and got under Sail, with a
design as they have since told me, to get to windward and board
us, and said this is but a small fellow we shall have him presently
I guessed his Intentions and kept to windward fired one shott
at him. He immediately hoysts a Jack Ensign with a broad
Pendent all Red, and return'd me thanks. So then the dispute
began being about 5 oclock in the morning and continued till 3 in
the afternoon, the major part of which time within pistoll Shott
of one another. It was a fine Top Gall!, gale of wind and I sailing
something better than the pirate so that he could not get the
wind of me to Lay me on board wcl1 was his Design, Notwithstanding
he made several Trips, and when I gott just in his hause,
I went about likewise. So after we had shott all his masts, yards,
sails, Rigging all to shatters, unmounted several guns and hull
almost beaten to pieces, and being very near the shore he put his
helm a Lee so the Ship came about, but he having no Braces,
bowlines, nor sheets to haule his Sails about, and we playing small
shott and partridge so fast that all his men run into the hold, so
the Ship drove on shore, with all her shatter'd sails aback, I
immediately Let go my anchor in 3 fathm water so he struck his
ensign. I left off firing. They had laid a train to 30 barrels of
powder and threatened to blow the Ship up and they must all
perish. So the English prisoners that were on board interceded
for one to swim on board of me to acquaint me of his designs and
in the name of all the rest desire they might have some promise
of quarter Otherwise those resolute fellows would certainly blow
up the Ship, and they must all perish with those piraticall villains.
And the Captain would have it from under hand in writing. His
Excellency the Governour being on board. In regard of so many
prisoners that were his Maj'l? subjects thought fit to send them
word under his hand and Lesser Scale, they should all be referr'd
to the Kings mercy, with the proviso they would quietly yield
themselves up prisoners of war.

It has been said that the crew of La Paix was composed almost
entirely of Frenchmen or Dutchmen, but that there were a few of
other nationalities. Among the latter was one John Hoogley or
Hoogling, who was born in New York of Dutch parents, was the
Pilot of ia Paix, one of the foremost in the plundering of the
prisoners, and as many said was "held in much esteem by the
Pirates." He spoke English very well, was about 30 years old,
and a " thick sett fellow, with short curled hair, round face & a
great thick neck." He made, during the fight, several visits to
the prisoners in the hold, who numbered forty or fifty, and who
were of course very anxious to know how the fight was going,
and what was to be their own fate.

At his first visit, he told them " Oh ! Damn her, she is a little
thing and we will soon have her;" a few hours later, he said "he
hoped in a short time to get to windward of them and have the
dogs," and about 3 p. m. he announced that La Paix, having
been forced into shallow water, where she was at the mercy of the
Shoreham, they—the Pirates—had determined not to surrender,
but to blow up their Ship with all on board.

As may be supposed, at hearing this the prisoners were alarmed
for their own safety, and joined heartily in the suggestion that one
of their number should swim to the Shoreham and inform the
commanding officer of the resolution of the pirates, and the deplorable
condition of the prisoners in their hands.

At the instance of Capt. Samuel Harrison of the Pennsylvania
Merchant and others, permission was obtained for John Lumpany,
a young man of 23 and one of the passengers on the Pennsylvania
Merchant, to undertake this mission and thereby, as was hoped,
save the lives of the prisoners.

That he was successful we have seen, and he returned with the
following document given to him by Governor Nicholson, viz.:
Virginia ss
On board his Matys Ship Shoreham off Cape Henry this 29th
April 1700 betwixt four and five of the Clock post meridiem.
Whereas Cap' Lewis Guillar Commander of the Laypasse hath
proffer'd to surrender himself men and Ship, together with what
eifeots therunto belonging provided he may have quarter, which I
grant him on the performance of the same and refer him and his
men to the mercy of my royal Master King William the third
whom God preserve.

Given under my hand and Lesser Scale at armes the day and
yeare above written.

About four o'clock the pirates hauled down their " blood red
flag," hoisted a white flag and ceased firing, after a fight lasting
ten hours, during which twenty-five or thirty of them were killed
and many wounded, but of these there is no number given.
Of the casualties on the Shoreham there is no mention except
in one instance. . Peter Hayman, Esq., who went on board with
Governor Nicholson, was killed by a shot from the pirate, while
standing on the quarter deck, by the side of the Governor.

The Shoreham, however, received much damage, had to have a
new mainmast, and undergo many repairs before she was fit for
another cruise. •

It has been said that after the capture of the Pennsylvania
Merchant, the Pirates told Capt. Harrison that when they had
taken in water they would go out again to meet a pink which
belonged to them, and would soon be near the Capes of the
Chesapeake. This pink (whose name is not given) was a vessel
of about one hundred tons, and forty or fifty men, but carried no
great guns, only small arms, and was a remarkably fast sailer.
On the 23d of April, or on the same day that La Paix was seen
from the Pennsylvania llerchant, this pink seized, about thirty
leagues from Cape Henry, the ship Barhadoes Merchant of Liverpool,
bound to Virginia, and in the language of Capt. Fletcher,
" They, designing to get some good ship and more company, used
much kindness to Deponent and his men, persuading them to join
the Pirates, but when they refused, the Pirates used them cruelly,
cut away his masts, sails, rigging and bowspritt, threw overboard
their books, took all their candles, broke the compass, and disabled
them so that they supposed the ship would perish and never give
any intelligence."

The pirates stripped the Captain and beat him with the flat
of their cutlasses, amused themselves with jeering at the Captain
and crew, and asked why they cut away their masts, complained
that there was no ammunition nor tobacco on board and left them,
taking the Carpenter and one other man, and the ship's long-boat.
Fortunately the foremast, and its sails and rigging were close
to the ship, and the crew getting them on board, rigged jury
masts, and made sail upon her, so that on the Sunday evening
before the battle in Lynnhaven Bay, the ship got in the Capes
and anchored in Accomac.

This same pink captured a brigantine which had just come out
of the Capes, in sight of the house of Adam Hayes, about eight
or ten miles south of Cape Henry, and after taking from her
sails, her foreyard and provisions, cut off her rudder head in order
to disable her, and plundering the chests of the crew, left her and
stood away to the North East.

They also took and scuttled a ship of about 110 Tons, which
had been loaded in York River, and was believed to be a ship
commanded by Capt. Wheeler " who brot the Brandy and Wine
into York river."

A boat came ashore in Queen Anne County, Va., with seven
men who had been prisoners on this pink and were sent off—as
they supposed—because it was too crowded on board, there being
nine left, in addition to the fifty pirates.

On hearing of these facts, Mr. Adam Thorougood, Sheriff of
Queen Anne County, sent a letter to Capt. Passenger to inform
him of the depredations beiug committed by this pink. This
letter Capt. Passenger gave to Mr. Benjamin Harrison with the
request that he would give it to the Governor, as he, Capt.
Passenger, could not then write, because there was "much
Company still with him," although Mr. Harrison and some others
were then going ashore.

Mr. Harrison wrote from Williamsburg at ten o'clock in the
evening, and dispatched his letter to the Governor at Jamestown,
which was still the Capital and the residence of the Governor,
and was distant from Williamsburg about seven miles.

At eleven o'clock on the same evening the Governor wrote to
Capt. Passenger " if his Majtys Ship ' Shoreham' under your
command be at present capable of going to Sea to look after the
Pirates in the Pink &c. I would have you do it so soon as God
willing wind and weather permits, but if the ' Shoreham' be not
in a sailing condition then you may if you think convenient, send
yr boat or boats to look after sd Pirates in order either to take or
burn the sd Pink & I hereby authorize & impower you to stop
all Ships & vessels from going out of the Capes & order them to

The Shoreham was not in a condition to go, but Capt. Passenger
sent several boats under the command of his first Lieutenant.
They could not see anything of the pink, nor was she again heard
of near the Capes.

The damage done by La Paix and her consort was very great,
and may be summed up as follows, viz. : one ship burned, another
sunk, four captured, 110 casks of tobacco, a great deal in bulk,
many goods from England thrown overboard, two brigantines
captured and much damaged, one pink and one sloop captured,
make a list, which, without taking into consideration the anxiety
and suffering of forty or fifty prisoners held on La Paix, caused
much alarm among the inhabitants of Maryland and Virginia.

At a Court of Admiralty held at Hampton Town, the following
order was passed on the 15th May, viz.:
"The Court orders the said Ship called the 'Peace' be forfeited
with all her guns ammunition sails furniture & apparel to
be divided & apportioned accdg to rules & orders of the sea in
such cases made & provided.
A true Copy

An inventory, which was taken after the captured goods had
been returned to their owners, shows that La Paix carried on
deck twenty iron guns with all things belonging to them, and that
in addition there were in the hold 13 guns, of which 8 had
carriages and 5 none. There were " 30 fire arms," 2 barrels
of pistol-shot, and 32 half and quarter barrels of gunpowder,
but nothing is said of large shot of any kind, or of cutlasses,
without which weapon one can hardly imagine a pirate.
In the matter of provisions, there was one barrel of beef, 13
casks of bread, 19 barrels of flour (of which 2 were musty), 1
cask of oatmeal and 3 jars of oil, a small supply for 140 men;
and it must have been a matter of congratulation among them
when they saw themselves with such a supply of provisions as
they found on the captured ships, congratulations which were
however soon turned to curses on their ill fortune in venturing
inside the Capes.

When the pirates surrendered, it was on the conditions set forth
in Governor Nicholson's letter, viz.: Quarter to the captain and
his men, and he refers them to the mercy of the King; so that
it is not easy to understand why three of them were tried and
condemned to death at Kiquotan, "pursuant to an Act of Assembly
about pirates, the same as in Maryland." Such is the fact, and
they were : John Hougling or Hoogley, of whom mention has
been made several times, as one of the leading men on the pirate
ship; Cornelius Franc, a Dutchman, and Francois Delanne, a

These prisoners, however, made their escape from the house in
which they were confined (although they were guarded by six
armed men) by undermining the house, and crossing the bay in a
canoe which they found near the place of their confinement.

Pursuit was begun at once, and twenty pounds reward was
offered for the apprehension of each one of the three, alive or
dead. They were stopped and held prisoners by Mr. Edmond
Curtis, on Sunday morning, as he thought they were pirates or
marauders of some kind. They were delivered to the Sheriff of
Princess Anne County, and were executed according to the
sentence pronounced by the Court. The others were sent home
to England in irons, and all the blacksmiths in and near Kiquotan
were kept busy for several days making shackles for them.

Twenty-five or thirty of the pirates were killed in the fight,
eight died of their wounds, three were executed in Virginia and
ninety-nine were sent to England by the first fleet, which sailed
on the 9th June, 1700, and numbered 67 ships, convoyed by
the Essex Prize. Two of the ships, the Indian King and the
Nicholson, which had been in the hands of the pirates a short
time before, now carried, the first, five and the second, three,
of the pirates who were on their way to England, to learn what
fate was to be awarded to them. What became of them, the
writer has not been able to learn and with their departure from
"Virginia must end the story of "A Pirate in the Chesapeake