Home

Piracy

Biographies

Brethren

Flags

Games

Glossary

Humor

Movies

Shanties

Ships

Sources

Treasure

Weapons









Captain John Halsey

    Halsey was born in Boston, and became a privateer in the service of the Great Britain commanding the 10-gun brigantine Charles during the War of the Spanish Succession. In 1704, He raided French fishing fleets in Newfoundland and later sailed to Fayal in the Azores and then to the Canary Islands where he attacked Spanish ships en route to Barcelona. During the voyage, several of his men deserted as he put his lieutenant ashore at Cape Verde. However they were subsequently returned to Halsey by the Portuguese governor who recognized the validity of his privateer's commission. In late 1704 and early 1705 Halsey was in the Caribbean, raiding off Caracas, Venezuela alongside Adrian Claver and other privateers. However, as his letter of marque expired the following year, he turned to piracy and sailed to Madagascar.

    As he made his way through the Cape of Good Hope, putting into the Bay of Saint-Augustin for water, wood and other provisions, Halsey picked up several castaway sailors of the lost Degrave, formerly under the command of a Captain Young. Leaving St. Augustine, he sailed for the Red Sea in search of treasure ships which the Mughal Empire operated in the Indian Ocean. In late 1706, the Charles spotted a large Dutch ship which Halsey declined to attack, reluctant to offend a European power. His crew condemned the captain and his gunner for cowardice and relieved them of their posts.

    The crew, who presumed the ship to be a lone merchantman, pressed forward with their attack only to discover, as they approached their intended victim, that the Dutch ship was well gunned. It fired a warning shot towards the Charles, which injured a crew member manning the wheel as well as unstripping the swivel gun and severely damaging the topsail. The Dutch attack caught the crew off guard and many fled into the ship's hold. Despite the damage, the Charles escaped and Halsey was reinstated as commander shortly afterwards. Next in February, 1707 Halsey seized two coastal traders at the Nicobar Islands. Then Halsey sailed to the Straits of Malacca. He found little success there, as his crew was now afraid to fire upon any ship larger than their own after the encounter with the Dutch ship.

    Returning to Madagascar, Halsey recruited additional men including his Quartermaster Nathaniel North. While visiting Mocha in the Red Sea, in August of 1707, Halsey encountered a British squadron of five ships with a total of 62 guns. Halsey displaying immense courage and attacked the squadron. The largest of the British ships fled and the others scattered in all directions. Halsey captured two of the ships, taking 50,000 in cash and cargo. Following his return to Madagascar in January 1708, his flotilla was virtually destroyed in a hurricane. David Williams was chosen as captain of Halsey's final capture, the Scottish Neptune, though it was almost immediately lost in the hurricane. Halsey died of a fever soon thereafter. Of his death, the book - A General History of the Pyrates states "He was brave in his person, courteous to all his prisoners, lived beloved, and died regretted by his own people."




BIOGRAPHIES / SOURCES