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Captain William Fly

    In April 1726, Fly's career as a pirate began shortly after he signed on as a boatswain to sail with captain John Green on the snow Elizabeth, of Bristol. She was bound from Jamaica for the West African coast. It wasn't long before William and Green began to clash until one night Fly led a mutiny that resulted in Green being tossed overboard. Having captured the ship, the mutineers sewed a Jolly Roger flag, renamed the ship Fame's Revenge, elected William Fly as captain, and set sail for the coast of North Carolina. Here they took the sloop John and Hannah, although they appear to have run it aground then set fire to it out of spite. On June 5th, they sighted the John and Betty. After capturing her they found and took very little of value, some sails and small arms, as well as six men.

    They continued onward taking a sloop off Delaware Bay and after again finding little of value this time let her go. Sailing north toward New England, they found themselves off Nantucket and next took a fishing schooner off Brown's Bank. Using this vessel they then tried to take another schooner, leaving only Fly and three pirates on board the snow, along with some fifteen forced men. The forced men seeing the odds so greatly in their favor revolted and captured Fly and the other pirates and sailed for and arrived at Great Brewster on the 28th of June. The pirates were given a trial and all were sentenced to die.

    Reportedly, Fly approached the hanging with complete disdain and even reproached the hangman for doing a poor job, re-tying the noose and placing it about his neck with his own two hands. His last words were, roughly, a warning to captains to treat their sailors well and pay them on time - "Our captain and his mate used us barbarously. We poor men can't have justice done us. There is nothing said to our commanders, let them never so much abuse us, and use us like dogs." Fly urged that "All masters of vessels might take warning of the fate of the captain that he had murder'd, and to pay sailors their wages when due." William Fly and his crew were hanged at Boston Harbor on 12 July 1726. Following Fly's execution his body was hung in chains (gibbeted) on Nixes Mate Island in Boston Harbor as a warning to others not to turn to piracy. His death is considered by many to mark the end of the Golden Age of Piracy.




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