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Biographies of Famous Pirates

Captain John Coxon


    This lucky fellow became one of the most famous of the "Brethren of the Coast." In the spring of 1677, in company of other English buccaneers, he surprised and plundered the town of Santa Marta on the Spanish Main, carrying away the Governor and the Bishop to Jamaica. In 1679, Coxon along with others, raided towns in the Gulf of Honduras, which proved very successful, as they brought back with them large amounts of plundered goods. In December, 1679, he met with pirates Sharp, Essex, Allinson, Row, and other buccaneer chiefs at Point Morant, and in January set sail for Porto Bello. Landing some twenty leagues from the town, they marched for four days, arriving in sight of the town on February 17th, "many of them were weak, being three days without any food." They quickly took and plundered the town, hurrying off with their spoils before the arrival of strong Spanish reinforcements. The share of each man in this enterprise came to one hundred pieces of eight. A warrant was then issued by Lord Carlisle, the Governor of Jamaica, for the apprehension of Coxon for plundering Porto Bello, and another was issued soon after by Henry Morgan, when acting as Governor, but nothing seems to have resulted from these.

    Sailing north to Boca del Toro, they careened their ships, and were joined by pirates Sawkins and Harris. From this place the buccaneers began, in April, 1680, to land and cross the Isthmus of Darien, taking the town of Santa Maria on the way. Quarrels took place between Coxon, who was, no doubt, a hot-tempered man, and Harris, which led to blows. Coxon was also jealous of the popular young Captain Sawkins, and refused to go further unless he was allowed to lead one of the companies. After sacking the town of Santa Maria, the adventurers proceeded in canoes down the river to the Pacific. Seizing two small vessels they found there, and accompanied by a flotilla of canoes, they steered for Panama, and, with the utmost daring, attacked, and eventually took, the Spanish fleet of men-of-war one of the most remarkable achievements in the history of the buccaneers.

    Coxon now quarrelled again with his brother leaders, and began a march back across the isthmus; his party of seventy malcontents including Dampier and Wafer, who each published accounts of their journey. By 1682 Coxon seems to have so ingratiated himself with the Jamaican authorities as to be sent in quest of a troublesome French pirate named Jean Hamlin, who was playing havoc with the English shipping in his vessel, La Trompeuse. Later in the same year Coxon procured letters of marque from Robert Clarke, the Governor of New Providence Island at the time, to act as a "privateer." The name of the ship Coxon commanded at this time is unknown, but it was a vessel of eighty tons, armed with eight guns, and carrying a crew of ninety-seven men. Coxon was continually being arrested and tried for piracy, but each time this wiley rogue managed to escape the gallows.




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