Pirates, Privateers & Corsairs
Did the Barbary Pirates visit Devon?
There is quite a lot of evidence that the Barbary Pirates did visit Devon & Cornwall. We also know that some of the local pirates including the Nutt brothers from Lympstone joined them in some of there raids.
Barbary Pirates raid Iceland
The Turkish Abductions (Icelandic: Tyrkjaránið) were a series of slave raids by Ottoman pirates that took place in Iceland between June 20 – July 19, 1627. Pirates from Morocco and Algeria, under the command of Dutch pirate Murat Reis, raided the village of Grindavík on the southwestern coast, Berufjörður and Breiðdalur in the Eastern Region (the East Fjords), and Vestmannaeyjar (islands off the south coast); they captured an estimated 400–800 prisoners to sell into slavery.
Barbary Pirates raid Ireland
Having sailed for two months and with little to show for the voyage, Janszoon turned to a captive taken on the voyage, a Roman Catholic named John Hackett, for information on where a profitable raid could be made. The Protestant residents of Baltimore, a small town in West Cork, Ireland, were resented by the Roman Catholic native Irish because they were settled on lands confiscated from the O’Driscoll clan. Hackett directed Janszoon to this town and away from his own. Janszoon sacked Baltimore on June 20, 1631, seizing little property but taking 108 captives, whom he sold as slaves in North Africa. Janszoon was said to have released the Irish, and taken only English captives. Shortly after the sack, Hackett was arrested and hanged for his crime. “Here was not a single Christian who was not weeping and who was not full of sadness at the sight of so many honest maidens and so many good women abandoned to the brutality of these barbarians”.Only two of the villagers ever returned to their homeland.
Murat Reis the Younger (c. 1570 – c. 1641)
Jan Janszoon van Haarlem,commonly known as Murat Reis the Younger (c. 1570 – c. 1641), was a Dutch pirate who “turned Turk” after being captured by a Moorish state in 1618. He began serving as a Barbary pirate, one of the most famous of the 17th-century “Salé Rovers”. Together with other corsairs, he helped establish the independent Republic of Salé at the city of that name, serving as the first President and Grand Admiral. He also served as Governor of Oualidia
Why not look at the history and biographies of the well known Pirates, Privateers & Corsairs
Piracy is an act of robbery or criminal violence by ship or boat-borne attackers upon another ship or a coastal area, typically with the goal of stealing cargo and other valuable items or properties. Those who engage in acts of piracy are called pirates. The earliest documented instances of piracy were in the 14th century BC, when the Sea Peoples, a group of ocean raiders, attacked the ships of the Aegean and Mediterranean civilizations. Narrow channels which funnel shipping into predictable routes have long created opportunities for piracy,as well as for privateering and commerce raiding. Historic examples include the waters of Gibraltar, the Strait of Malacca, Madagascar, the Gulf of Aden, and the English Channel, whose geographic structures facilitated pirate attacks.
The story of women on board Royal Navy Ships at the time of Trafalgar
The Naval ships in the 17th & 18th centuries had many more women on board than people realise. Often, they were disguised as men and the Naval records record them as men. In particular there were many “Powder monkey’s” who were young girls dressed as women. There were few opportunities for work on shore and the navy was one of the biggest employers. The picture above shows Ann Hopkins who was one of the few women who were recorded and paid as women serving in the Navy.
There were women on board RN ships before and during the battle of Trafalgar. They ranged from the wives of Captains and Officers. One or two Captains were reprimanded for taking women on board but many were not.
Jennette was recovered from the sea during the battle of Trafalgar. She had been on the French ship “Achilles”, seen on fire in the background.
Some of the roles of Women on board
Wives on board of :
Officers, Carpenters, Master Gunners, Boatswains
Passengers (Government Officials), Powder Monkeys, Daughters/sons of the families on board, Women crew disguised as men
Women Pirates, Prostitutes
Women helping the wounded and surgeon, Washing / sewing
Salcombe gold (Found by South West Maritime Archaeological Group)
Salcome Cannon Site
The Salcombe Cannon wreck site is close to two other designated wreck sites in the Erme Estuary which the South West Maritime Archaeological Group (SWMAG) are investigating. In 1992 this group described the Salcombe Cannon site as: “A cannon site with nothing else visible” but in 1994, following seabed changes, other artefacts including gold were revealed and the SWMAG began recording the site. Gold jewellery and coins dating between 1510 and 1636 have been recovered from the site and were purchased by the British Museum in 1998. For two seasons information about the site was initially kept confidential between the Receiver of Wreck, the finders and the Archaeological Diving Unit (working for the Advisory Committee on Historic Wreck). The site was designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act in 1997 when news about it was made public. The vessel is unknown but is dated between 1630 and 1640, and it has yielded the largest ever find of Moroccan gold in Europe .
Moorsans Bronze age site
MoorSands site is from the middle Bronze Age (12th century BC)and is located off Prawle Point, south coast of Devon. it is in position 50 12 42N 03 44 20W and there is a 300m exclusion zone. The current licensee for the site is Neville Oldham. The site is of significant archaeological importance and consists of scattered middle Bronze Age implements about 1300 BC and suggests it was a vessel’s cargo which would make MoorSand one of the oldest shipwrecks discovered in Britain to date.
There is no evidence of any ship remains but the site indicates there was trade between Europe and the UK at the time. The adjacent image shows some of the artefacts that are in the British Museum (Photo British Museum)
Erme Estuary finds
IThe River Erme is a small river which flows from the edge of Dartmoor to the south coast of Devon. Near its mouth, sandy beaches are
exposed on either side at low water. Seaward of the beaches, the estuary is flanked by commanding cliffs, while across the entrance is a
notorious reef called Mary’s Rocks. These rocks give the appearance of being split in two but consist of one reef with very narrow entrance channels on either side. They are only partially exposed at low water, while at high
water they can be covered by as much as 2 m. Immediately adjacent to the river mouth is the village of Mothecombe, but the dominant local
manor is Ermington, which has records dating back to the inquisition made during the reign of Edward I. Between the reef and beach there is 7-10 m of water, depending on the state of the tide. This can give the impression from the sea,
particularly at high water, that it is a tranquil and hospitable bay providing safe anchorage. However, it is far from being a place of refuge and local knowledge and extreme caution are required to navigate a boat safely to the
deep water behind the reef, even during calm conditions.
To sail no more