Captain Thomas Paine

    Born in 1632, Thomas Paine was a colonial American privateer. His father died young and his mother, Martha, remarried to Thomas Mayhew, the governor of Rhode Island. During the late 17th century, he raided several Spanish settlements. Paine participated in a raid with Jan Willems, looting Rio de la Hacha in 1680 as well as driving the French out of Block Island. In June of the same year, Paine joined forces with Michel de Grammont and a captain named Wright at Blanquilla Island. Together with 50 men they successfully raided the town of Cumana although it was defended by 2,000 Spanish soldiers. A resident of Jamestown, Rhode Island, Paine had received a commission from Jamaica's governor Sir Thomas Lynch which instructed him to "seize, kill, and destroy pirates"; however, in March 1683, he joined the privateers John Markham, Jan Corneliszoon, Conway Woolley and a French Captain "Brehal" (actually a nickname of Michiel Andrieszoon) in a raid against the Spanish town of Saint Augustine, Florida.

    In command of an eight-gun barque, the Pearl, Paine led his crew of sixty men under the command of Captain Brehal, who possessed a French privateering commission obtained from the governor of Saint Domingue. As did the others, Paine sailed under a French flag as the fleet arrived off the Florida coast. However, finding the Spanish had prepared for their arrival in advance, they were forced to withdraw, eventually abandoning their raid after looting the surrounding area. Returning with Brehal and Markham to New Providence, they were reportedly wanted by governor Robert Lilburne, who wished to detain both Markham and Paine for violating England's peace agreement with Spain; however he was unable to do so "for want of a force", and they eventually left for the Bahamas to join Corneliszoon and Woolley in salvaging the wrecked Spanish treasure galleon, the Nuestra Senora de las Maravillas.

    Their efforts apparently met little success and he and Brehal sailed north to resupply at Rhode Island. Although New England was traditionally friendly towards privateers, the two were arrested on orders by visiting governor Edward Cranfield who charged Paine with carrying a counterfeit commission. Paine was eventually cleared and Brehal allowed to leave. In 1687, he marries the daughter of Caleb Carr, Jamestown judge, and settles in the same town. In July of 1690, Paine was commissioned to drive the French pirate Picard from Block Island, which he did. In 1692 he was appointed a captain in the militia, and in 1698 he was admitted as a freeman of Rhode Island. Paine stayed in Rhode Island and went into semi-retirement, becoming a respectable merchant. But was also involved in the buying and selling of cargo, including for local pirates like Captain William Kidd, who visited Paine in 1699. He set sail again in 1706 to successfully hunt down a French pirate. Paine finally died in 1715, at the age of 82 and was buried on his property.