The True & Complete Memoirs of the Pyrate Captain Extraordinaire!
The Illustrious Captain, John ‘Bartholomew’ Roberts
The Most Successful Pyrate of ALL Time!
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On their first voyage they were supposed to ferry a company of soldiers, commanded by John Massey, to man a fort that had recently been destroyed. Captain Russel, however, had plans to collect slaves around the Gambia river until he felt he had enough to make it worth his while. The Royal African Company cared little about the plight of the crew, being interested only in profits & backed Russel's decision.
For months they remained off the coast with little for the crew to do aboard ship & no place to go on shore. The weather was unbearable & deseases such as dysentery, malaria & scurry were taking their toll on the crew. When they could stand no more, Lowther, Massey & most of the crew plotted a mutiny & seized the ship from Russel.
The men agreed that, due to their actions, they could never go back to England & they also agreed they would have to seek their fortunes as pirates. Lowther was duly elected captain. Russel & any crew member that was not in agreement were marooned. The Gambia Castle was renamed, the Happy Delivery and modified her into a pirate ship now manned by some 50 men in her crew.
1. The captain is to have two full shares; the master is to have one share and a half; the doctor, mate, gunner, and boatswain, one share and a quarter.
2. He that shall be found guilty of taking up any unlawful weapon on board the privateer, or any prize, by us taken, so as to strike or abuse one another, in any regard, shall suffer what punishment the captain and majority of the company shall think fit.
3. He that shall be found guilty of cowardice, in the time of engagement, shall suffer what punishment the captain and majority of the company shall think fit.
4. If any gold, jewels, silver, etc. be found on board of any prize or prizes, to the value of a piece of eight, and the finder do not deliver it to the quarter-master, in the space of 24 hours, shall suffer what punishment the captain and majority of the company shall think fit.
5. He that is found guilty of gaming, or defrauding another to the value of a shilling, shall suffer what punishment the captain and majority of the company shall think fit.
6. He that shall have the misfortune to lose a limb, in the time of engagement, shall have the sum of one hundred and fifty pounds sterling, and remain with the companymas long as he shall think fit.
7. Good quarters to be given when call'd for.
8. He that sees a sail first, shall have the best pistol, or small-arm on board her.
They began plundering ships in the waters of the Caribbean in June of 1721. The name of Lowther soon became synonymous with ruthlessness due to the cruel treatment given to those on the ships they attacked. They tortured the passengers as well as the crews in thier efforts to get their hands on every possible bit of booty aboard. Lowther ignored the fact that his men brutally raped the women. He offered his victims two choices, immediate death or submission to slavery on the pirate ship. Most had no stomache for it & commited suicide. Others were slashed with swords & dumped into the water to become shark bait before their ship was torched & sunk.
There's only one recorded account in which Lowther departed from his usual cruelty. Off Hispaniola Lowther came along side a French Sloop with a large shipment of wine & brandy. Massey went aboard disguised as a merchant & pretended to be haggling over a price with the French Captain, but he soon tired of the game. "We can take it al for free, Captain." he whispered. The meaning was understood immediately. The pirates were allowed to unload 5 hogsheads of wine, 30 casks of brandy plus bags of other valuables. Lowther returned five pounds to the French Captain for being so cooperative.
Being a foot soldier, not a sailor, Massey wanted to attack the French colonies on land to add to their plunder. He argued continually about it with Lowther until it was brought to a vote by the crew. Most crewmen sided with Lowther & Massey declared that he wanted to leave Lowther's ship. A small Sloop was taken, amoung others, during the next few days & Massey said he wanted it. Having found him to be a nuisance, Lowther was happy to give Massey the Sloop & be rid of him & his soldiers. Later in 1793, an English count found Massey guilty of piracy & hanged him for his crimes.
While en route to the Bay of Honduras, Lowther met up with a fellow pirate. Edward Low & his crew of a dozen or so. After Low & his crew joined up with Lowther on the larger ship, Low's smaller ship was sunk.
In January of 1722, Lowther stumbled upon a 200 ton Merchant ship, the Greyhound. A fierce hour long battle ensued before the Greyhound surrendered. Lowther's men again beat & tortured the crew in search of hidden treasure before setting the ship on fire. When a number of other ships were soon taken, several of them were kept as consorts.
When it became time to scrape the barnacles from the hull again they sought moorage in a secluded area offering many hidden coves amoung well hidden islands in the Gulf of Montique. A band of natives took advantage of this extremely vulnerable time & attacked. There was little choice but to set the Happy Delivery on fire & fleee in the Sloops. The Ranger was the largest among them with 10 cannon & 8 swivel guns, so Lowther selected her as his command ship.
They overcame several more ships as they headed northward toward the American coast. On May 28 they took a Brigantine, the Rebecca. Edward Low decided to part company at this time. They split the crew of 88 men between them. Low taking his men on the Brigantine.
Lowther easily plundered several small ships off the coast of America, but they proved to be of little value. An encounter with the Amy, off the coast of South Carolina, however, proved to be devastating. Much to Lowther's surprise the Amy put up a fierce battle, firing their cannon effectively at the Ranger. While attempting to dodge the attack, Lowther's ship ran aground & the Amy made good her escape. Damage to Lowther's Sloop was severe & he lost many crewmen. They limped to the waters off North Carolina to winter there in the coastal woods where they could make repairs.
They had the Sloop shipshape by the spring of 1773, set sail & plundered ships near Newfoundland Banks. By August they were again prowling the islands of the West Indies. Lowther needed to beach his Sloop again in October 1723 & selected a hidden cove on a small, unhibited isle nother of Tortuga to make the needed repairs.
Another Sloop, the Eagle, under Captain Walter Moore, was in those waters at that time. Sighting Lowther's careening Sloop & knowing the island was not a typical stop for any law abiding merchants, he suspected pirates & decided to investigate. In the cove, Moore fired a warning shot & demanded they show their colors. Lowther raised St. George's flag & fired back at the oncoming Sloop.
Incensed at the hostile reaction, Moore fired at the helpless Sloop until the pirates surrendered. Lowther & about a dozen of his men escaped into the woods on the island to hide. Moore sent 26 of his men to capture them. Only 5 crewmen were caught in the ensuing 5 days. Another group of 23 men was sent to find the remaining men in the woods, but they could only locate 4 more. Lowther, 3 men from his crew & a cabin boy were still missing. Not wanting to waste any more time there, Moore sunk the Ranger & sailed away from the island.
It was reported sometime later that Lowther had been found with his booty nearby, his pistol at his side & a bullet hole in his skull. It was rare, but Lowther had escaped the typical fate of pirates, capture & hanging, by taking his own life.
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