The Book of Pirates and Highwaymen

BOOK: The Book of Pirates and Highwaymen
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Tales from the

TERRIFIC
REGISTER

The Book of Pirates and Highwaymen

For Keziah, who wants to be a pirate when she grows up.

First published 1825

This edition first published 2010

The History Press

The Mill, Brimscombe Port

Stroud, Gloucestershire,
GL
5 2
QG

www.thehistorypress.co.uk

This ebook edition first published in 2014

All rights reserved

© Cate Ludlow, 2010, 2014

The right of Cate Ludlow to be identified as the Author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

This ebook is copyright material and must not be copied, reproduced, transferred, distributed, leased, licensed or publicly performed or used in any way except as specifically permitted in writing by the publishers, as allowed under the terms and conditions under which it was purchased or as strictly permitted by applicable copyright law. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author’s and publisher’s rights, and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

EPUB ISBN
978 0 7509 6175 2

Original typesetting by The History Press

Tales from the

TERRIFIC
REGISTER

The Book of Pirates and Highwaymen

E
DITED BY

C
ATE
L
UDLOW

Editor’s Note

The
Terrific Register
is part of the glorious, gruesome, sensational, shocking and downright dreadful underbelly of nineteenth-century publishing. The Victorians, who we love to picture as prudish, had an absolute mania for gore: they read papers with headlines such as ‘Shocking Murder of a Wife with a Scythe!’, bought hundreds of ‘authentic’ accounts of executions, and loved anything to do with dark deeds, adventure and the supernatural. This collection is one of the forerunners of the genre of penny bloods and dreadfuls, the epitome of this underbelly. The roots of this genre, roughly speaking, are simple: all at once printing was cheap, and everyone – including the very poorest children – could read. Children and adults, from the slums all the way upwards, wanted something exciting to thumb through. They got it in titles such as
Varney the Vampire, or, the Feast of Blood
;
History of the Pirates of All Nations
;
Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
;
The Wild Boys of London
and so on.

All of these stories in the
Terrific Register
are (allegedly) true. Some of them are fairly surprising. None are pleasant. Whatever magazine or series of books you devoured as a child, rest assured that the child of 185 years ago felt the same about the
Terrific Register
. You won’t find anything more gruesome, more hideous, more hair-raising or more downright fun to dip into.

The Book of Pirates and Highwaymen

Black-Beard, The Pirate

Thatch or Teach was the real name of this sanguinary desperadoe. He obtained his cognomen of Black-beard, from that large quantity of hair, which covered his whole face. His beard was black, which he suffered to grow to an extravagant length; as to breadth, it came up to his eyes; he was accustomed to twist it with ribbons, in small tails, after the manner of the Ramellies wigs, and turn them about his ears: in time of action he wore a sling over his shoulders, with three brace of pistols, hanging in holsters like bandaliers; he wore a fur-cap, and stuck a lighted match on each side under it, which appearing on each side of his face, his eyes naturally looking fierce and wild, made him altogether such a figure that imagination cannot form an idea of a fury from hell to look more frightful.

If he had the look of a fury, his humours and passions were suitable to it; we shall relate two or three more of his extravagancies, by which it will appear, to what a pitch of wickedness human nature may arrive, if its passions are not checked.

In the commonwealth of pirates, he who goes the greatest length of wickedness, is looked upon with a kind of envy amongst them, as a person of extraordinary gallantry, and is thereby entitled to be distinguished by some post, and if such a one has courage, he must certainly be a great man. The hero of whom we are writing was thoroughly accomplished in this way, and some of his frolics and wickedness were so extravagant, as if he aimed at making his men believe he was a devil incarnate; for being one day at sea, and a little flushed with drink:– ‘Come,’ says he, ‘let us make a hell of our own, and try how long we can bear it’; accordingly he, with two or three others, went down into the hold, and closing up all the hatches, filled several pots full of brimstone and other combustible matter; and set it on fire, and so continued ‘till they were almost suffocated, when some of the men cried out for air; at length he opened the hatches, not a little pleased that he held out the longest.

One night, drinking in the cabin with Hands, the pilot, and another man, Black-beard without any provocation privately draws out a small pair of pistols, and cocks them under the table, which being perceived by the man, he withdrew, and went upon deck, leaving Hands, the pilot, and the captain together. When the pistols were ready, he blew out the candle, and crossing his hands, discharged them at his company: Hands, the master, was shot through the knee, and lamed for life; the other pistol did no execution.– Being asked the meaning of this, he only answered, that if he did not now and then kill one of them, they would forget who he was.

His depredations at length became so formidable, added to the terror which his known desperate character and that of his crew every where inspired, that an application was made to the lieutenant-governor of Virginia to issue a proclamation for his apprehension, and two sloops of war were fitted out under the command of Lieutenant Maynard, who was commissioned to attack him. This however could not be managed so secretly but Black-beard had intelligence of it; but either he disbelieved or despised it, for he took no care to get out of his way; but put his vessel in a posture of defence and waited the result.

The night before the engagement, he sat up and drank the whole night, with some of his own men, and the master of a merchant-man, and having had intelligence of the two sloops coming back to attack him, one of his men asked him, in case any thing should happen to him in the engagement with the sloops, whether his wife knew where he had buried his money? He answered, that nobody but himself and the devil knew where it was, and the longest liver should take all.

At length they met. Lieutenant Maynard came to an anchor, but the place being shoal, and the channel intricate, there was no getting in where Thatch lay that night: and in the morning he weighed, and sent his boat a-head of the sloops to sound, and coming within gun-shot of the pirate received his fire: whereupon Maynard hoisted the king’s colours, and stood directly towards him, with the best way that his sails and oars could make. Black-beard cut his cable, and endeavoured to make a running fight, keeping a continual fire at his enemies, with his guns; Mr Maynard not having any, kept a constant fire with small arms, while some of his men laboured at the oars; Black-beard’s sloop ran aground, and Mr Maynard’s drawing more water that that of the pirate, he could not come near him, so he anchored with half gun-shot of the enemy; and in order to lighten his vessel, that he might run aboard, the lieutenant ordered all his ballast be thrown overboard and all the water be staved, and then weighed and stood for him; upon this, Black-beard hailed him in this rude manner: ‘D––––n you for villains, who are you? And from whence came you?’

BOOK: The Book of Pirates and Highwaymen
10.41Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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