Welcome to the discussion thread for the story, How a Secret Map Brought Down a Pirate Alliance on the Irish Coast. You can share your comments and thoughts about the story in the conversation below.
This was a great addition to my off and on fascination with pirates of all eras. What initially sparked my interest was an illustrated copy of Shel Silverstein’s version of Daniel Dafoe’s A General History of Pyrates. Of course, Daniel Dafoe of Robinson Crusoe fame, certainly had no hand in writing it. The most likely culprit was Nathaniel Mist writing under the pseudonym o f Captain Johnson. It was a marvelously entertaining biography of the most notable pirates, shamelessly romanticized, exaggerated and generously garnished with outright lies. Silverstein’s much abridged illustrated version was subtly subversively worse, much like his infamous, hilarious, Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book. Both were considered too unseemly for the Dallas Public Library and deaccessioned. That’s how they fell into my hands when a Dallas librarian I knew presented them to me as a gift, knowing my irreverent sense of humor.
My copy of the pirate book lies somewhere buried in the mountainous stacks of esoteric literature in the living room. In searching to see if it were still in print, I found it had become an unobtainable, elusive as a pirate’s treasure and probably just as valuable if I ever considered selling it (which I never would).
I do recall from many perusals it contained reasonably factual accounts of such notables as Mary Reed, Ann Bonney, Edward Teach (Blackbeard) and several lesser known scoundrels. Selected quotes in quaint archaic English accompanied Silverstein’s darkly humorous violent illustrations.
Prior to their official founding November 10, 1775 at Tun Tavern, the U.S. Marines had a long history of volunteering for what eventually became the British Royal Marines. Drawn from the colonies in Virginia and Georgia, they battled pirates from Colombia to North Africa. Like the privateers in the article, they were little less than pirates themselves. Most were relatively young men attracted to what the French term, Le Baroud, the piratical life. Prospective recruits were asked to show up with their own rifle, a hatchet and a bag of corn. The fringe benefits were far more enticing than doing basically the same job against Indigenous Americans for free. I think a little of that attitude still remains in the boys and girls lining up to wear the eagle, globe and anchor in sunny foreign climes. Semper Fi, Mac. LOL!
It should be ‘leeskaart’ or ‘paskaart’, not leeskarte. Wiki Rutter (nautical) - Wikipedia got it wrong too!
I’ve found the spelling in these older accounts variable and far from standardized in any language. But there’s usually a specialist waiting in the wings to come forward and set the record straight. Thanks.
Try not to give the impression that privateering was banned in Britain in the 17th century. It was very much alive and well during the Dutch wars of the mid-17th century and in the wars against France in the 18th and 19th (though Britain was more likely to be on the receiving end in the latter). There’s even a folk song called “Barratt’s Privateers” that describes a botched raid on American shipping in 1778.
For all you Americans out there, remember that when John Paul Jones proclaimed that he had “not yet begun to fight” he was commanding a privateer.