Pirate & Slave Ships (Bristol)
Bristol Pirates Hanged in America
In July 1718 Captain Woodes Rogers arrived in Nassau, the Bahamas, as Governor. He ultimately granted amnesty to 2,000 pirates.
Given that Bristolians seemed to comprise about 10% of the pirates hanged, where the information is available, it is probable that some 200 pirates pardoned in the Bahamas were from Bristol or the West Country.
Thomas Price Henry Virgin hanged at White Point, Charles Town, South Carolina on November 8 1718
Stede Bonnet left Blackbeard in June 1718 with a gang of pirates that Blackbeard cut loose. They robbed some ships and headed south with their vessels. They took shelter in the River Fear at Cape Fear, North Carolina.
By happenchance they were attacked and captured by a detachment from Charles Town, South Carolina, who were looking for Charles Vane. In the battle, 7 pirates were killed and 35 captured. About half of Bonnet's crew were from America or Jamaica, and half from Great Britain. At least 9 were English, 5 Scottish, 1 Irishman and there was a Dutchman, and a Portuguese.
On Saturday November 8 1718 23 of them were hanged at White Point, Charles Town, including Thomas Price and Henry Virgin, both from Bristol. A further 26 were hanged at the same place in December 1718. Bristolians were probably similarly represented.
James Skyrm was hanged at Cape Corso, Guinea in March 1722, along with 51 members of his crew, including the following Bristolians - Richard Harris, D Littlejohn, Cuthbert Goss, Thomas Giles, William Child, John Griffin, Israel Hynde and Peter Scudamore.
James Skyrm sailed from Bristol in the summer of 1720 as First Mate on the Greyhound. Bartholemew Roberts, the Welshman, captured the Greyhound, a Bristol vessel, off Africa in October 1720. James Skrym, from Somerset, was first mate and he joined the pirates, with enthusiasm.
Skrym was put in charge of a ship renamed the Ranger. In the next year, in consort with the Royal Fortune they attacked many ships, including the Phoenix, the York, the Jason and the Mercy from Bristol, and they added crewmembers with every capture.
Sir John Yeamans - The founding of Charleston South Carolina
The largest brewery in Bristol in the 1640s was owned by John Yeamans. One of his sons founded Charleston, South Carolina, and another was Mayor of Bristol.
In the early 1600s John Yeamans owned Bristol's largest brewery. It was much later sold to the Saunders family, who ran it for a hundred years. It eventually became the Georges' and then the Courage Brewery. Yeamans had 13 children, John was the eldest (born in 1610) and Robert was born in 1616.
Sir John Yeamans (as he later became) was one of the early settlers to prosper on the Caribbean island of Barbados. He owned a sugar plantation in Barbados.
He married his second wife in 1650 in very despicable circumstances. He poisoned her husband, Col Berringer, married Margaret, and acquired their estate.
In 1663 along with several residents of Barbados he purchased from the Indians a tract of land thirty-two miles square on the Cape Fear river, North Carolina. Sir John was appointed their governor and in the autumn of 1665 he arrived from Barbadoes with a band of emigrants and founded a town. However in 3 years it failed and was abandoned. Yeamans returned to the West Indies.
In 1670 with three ship-loads of emigrants that had arrived from England Yeamans founded a settlement further south at Charles Town on the Ashley river for the 8 Proprietors that the King had bestowed the land rights upon. John Lock, Sir John Yeamans, and James Carteret were created landgraves.
Yeamans would have become Governor, but he is listed as the 3rd Governor only because he did not arrive with the original settlers. He arrived several months later, and the 80 yr old governor Sayles he appointed in his absence had died. He then had to remove Sayles' replacement and he then took over.
In 1671 Dutch emigrants arrived from New York and others from Holland, and Sir John arrived from Barbadoes with 200 African slaves, the first that were landed in any numbers on the North American continent. He imported the slaves to grab the largest plantation, qualifying for an additional 100 acres for each slave.
Sir John Yeamans was not a good governor. He proved to be "a sordid calculator," bent only on acquiring a fortune. He only enriched himself, exporting food during a shortage.
In 1674 Yeamans was removed from office.
He died of disease in Charles Towne in August 1674.
His descendents (the Moores) became very prominent in the following half century and his son and his descendents became slave dealers.
Yeamans’ brother Robert was the Sheriff, Mayor (in 1669) and Chief Magistrate of Bristol, as well as a ship owner and a merchant, who had an early involvement in the Caribbean trade. Redland Court was owned by Sir Robert Yeamans in the 1680s. He died childless. Sir John’s grandson, Colonel Robert Yeamans of Barbados, eventually inherited Redland Court.
Admiral William Penn
William Penn was born at Bristol in 1621, of the ancient family of the Penns of Penn Lodge, Wilts. He was Captain at the age of twenty-one; Rear-Admiral of Ireland at twenty-three; Vice-Admiral of England and General in the first Dutch war, at thirty-two. He was subsequently M.P. for Weymouth, Governor of Kingsale, and Vice- Admiral of Munster.
He was a highly successful commander, and in 1654 he obtained possession of Jamaica. He was appointed a Commissioner of the Navy in 1660, in which year he was knighted. After the Dutch fight in 1665, where he distinguished himself as second in command under the Duke of York, he took leave of the sea, but continued to act as a Commissioner for the Navy till 1669, when he retired to Wanstead, on account of his bodily infirmities, and dying there, September 16th, 1670, aged forty-nine.
He was buried in the church of St. Mary Redcliffe, in Bristol, where a monument to his memory was erected.
William Penn - The Son and the Proprietor of Pennsylvania
William Penn is known, of course, as the founder of Pennsylvania. He is also known as a famous Quaker and for his 'Great Treaty' with the Delaware. However, Penn did not name his colony after himself (as he feared would be assumed), but after his recently departed father.
He had wanted to call the colony 'New Wales' or 'Sylvania' but King Charles II intervened, suggesting instead 'Pennsylvania'.
Onesiphorus Tyndall - Slave Trade
The Old Bank in Corn Street, Bristol, was the first bank established in the city, in 1750. Two of the founding partners, Merchant Venturers Onecipherous Tyndall and Isaac Elton, had interests in the African and Caribbean trades. In Bristol, many of the directors of the early local banks had direct or indirect involvement in the slave trade.
Slaving voyages lasted up to two years, and the ship carried a large valuable cargo on each part of the voyage. Money lenders might be needed to help investors buy the ship or the cargo, insurance was required to cover the possible losses, and banking systems were needed to transfer money from the Caribbean and America to Britain.
Isaac Elton formed a partnership with Onesiphorus Tyndall who was trading in slaves. Their private bank was opened in Bristol in 1750 as Tyndall, Elton, Lloyd, Miller, Knox & Hale by a partnership of Onesiphorus Tyndall, a West India merchant and drysalter, Isaac Elton, Harford Lloyd, William Miller, a grocer, Thomas Knox and Matthew Hale, the managing partner. All but one of the bank's founders were traders to Africa.
Originally called Bristol Bank, it became known as Bristol Old Bank from 1752. This was one of the banks that eventually merged into the National Westminster Bank. In the late 18th century The Old Bank moved to what is now the Wig and Pen pub. The bank issued banknotes until 1844.
17th century Brass manillas and copper cooking vessels found in an excavation of the cellars of the Llandoger Trow tavern in King street recently. They were used for barter with the African tribal Kings and manufactured upstream on the banks of the River Froome by the Quaker families.
Caravans of slaves, with foot shackles and neck linkage, were marched from many hundreds of miles to the Guinea coastline Forts by the African Kings,
who looted their outposts to provide labour, which they could sell for $9 worth of goods, usually bottles of spirits and cooking utensils, which were all made in Bristol.
The glass from the sandstone & kilns of Redcliffe , Branding with a red hot silver iron the initials of the plantation owner ,on all new arrivals in the Colony. The slaves that had survived the crossing of the ocean were shackled together in the slave markets of the coastal ports. They had been fattened up, cleaned & polished to obtain the best prices at auction.
Tread mills were used on the Sugar islands which lacked running water to turn the grinding mills. the unfortunate slaves were tied to a rail along the top, if they slackened they were cut down whipped and their hair cut off. there was only a 20 minute period to break up the sugar cane stalks before the sap crytallised after being cut, so everyone worked fast.
It needed Edward Colston of Bristol to seal the cane into hogsheads immediately after being reaped and transport them to the River Avon, where he set up the first sugar refinery, and so made his fortune from the growing demand to sweeten tea by the middle classes in England.
Life below decks was vile, over one third did not survive the journey from Africa where they had never seen the open sea before. The unpleasant cramped conditions allowed infections to spread rapidly. The dead were thrown over the side to the waiting sharks..You could always tell a slaver by the number of sharks that followed it and the bad smell, downwind.
Bristol sailors had to be Press Ganged to serve on these ships as they could also be dumped overboard as they reached the destination port by the Captain, who could then have a larger share of the profits.
Bristol's historic harbour
Bristol's harbour only looked like it does today at High Tide. The rest of the time the ships sat, tilted, on the muddy river banks. In 1804 the City built a large lock downstream 2 miles and turned the River Avon Harbour into a lake. This meant that the ships could then be moved around and loaded anytime, not just at high tide.
300 years ago, in 1700, there would have been dozens of tall masted ships moored at the quays on both rivers. In the 1500s the main trade was wine from the Continent and exporting wool cloth. By the mid 1600s it was sugar and tobacco from America. In July 1685, 19 ships arrived in 2 days from Virginia, all full of tobacco.
Out of Bristol, there were 80 sugar ships and 50 tobacco ships, and another 100 ships trading with the Continent. At 30 sailors per ship, that's a requirement for 7,000 sailors.
Bristol Ships captured by Pirates
Stede Bonnet left Blackbeard in June 1718 with a gang of pirates that Blackbeard cut loose. They robbed some ships including 2 Bristol Snows in July 1718 near Philadelphia, en route to Bristol. The take was some goods and 150 pounds.
They headed south with their vessels. They took shelter in the River Fear at Cape Fear, North Carolina. By happenchance they were attacked and captured by a detachment from Charles Town, South Carolina, who were looking for Charles Vane.
In the battle, 7 pirates were killed and 35 captured. About half of Bonnet's crew were from America or Jamaica, and half from Great Britain. At least 9 were English, 5 Scottish, 1 Irishman and there was a Dutchman, and a Portuguese.
On Saturday November 8 1718 23 of them were hanged at White Point, Charles Town, including Thomas Price and Henry Virgin, both from Bristol.
Bartholomew Roberts was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales, in 1682.
He was third mate on a Bristol slaver in 1719 off the coast of Africa, when fellow Welshman, Howell Davis, attacked. Roberts joined Davis, who was killed a few weeks later on Sao Tome. Roberts led the pirates to safety & was elected to replace their dead captain.
They then sailed across the Atlantic to South America. A few weeks later they came upon a fleet of forty-two Portuguese treasure galleons & two warships anchored off the coast of Brazil. The pirates sailed alongside the heaviest laden ship & fired a full broadside. They boarded the ship, captured it & headed for the open sea, outrunning the pursuing warships. They acquired the cargo including jewels & 40,000 gold moidores ($130,000) & a diamond studded gold cross, intended for King of Portugal.
They raided north through the West Indies and up as far as Newfoundland. They sailed into Trepassey in Newfoundland, in a sloop with only ten guns & sixty men. With 'colors flying, drums beating & trumpets sounding.' The crews of the twenty-two ships at anchor in the harbor, immediately withdrew & fled to safety on shore.
Roberts had several ships; his original ships, the Ranger & then other vessels he captured, all three he renamed Royal Fortune. One (the second) was a Bristol ship, the third French.
Some time later, Roberts & his men were back in the West Indies. They escaped warships from the islands of Martinique and Barbados, that were out to get him.
Roberts ranged back to Africa. Captain Chaloner Ogle, commander of the warship Swallow, had been sent to capture him. On Feburary 5, 1722, Ogle found Roberts & his three ships anchored in Cape Lopez, West Africa. Believing that the Swallow was a merchantman, Roberts sent the Ranger out after her. She headed for open seas. Out of sight of the harbor, Ogle ordered his men to attack. Ten pirates were killed & twenty wounded before surrendering. Ogle swiftly returned to Cape Lopez for the remaining pirates. Roberts, seeing that the Swallow was a warship, ordered the Royal Fortune to sail for the open seas. The Swallow heading straight for the Royal Fortune and fired a broadside which toppled the Royal Fortunes mizzenmast. When the smoke cleared, Roberts was slumped over a cannon, dead.
Bartholomew Roberts, was a strict disciplinarian. He never drank liquor, only tea. He held religious services aboard ship & in the four years that he raged upon the seas he & his men had captured & plundered more than 400 ships.
Virginia - In 1686 nineteen tobacco ships arrived in Bristol in one convoy from Virginia loaded with tobacco. Bristol has been a major market for Virginia and North Carolina tobacco. Regrettably, Bristol slave ships supplied half the slaves to Virginia in the first half of the 1700's.