NAU, Captain Jean David, alias Francis L'Ollonais.
A Frenchman born at Les Sables d'Ollone.
In his youth he was transported as an indented labourer to the French Island of Dominica in the West Indies. Having served his time L'Ollonais went to the Island of Hispaniola, and joined the buccaneers there, living by hunting wild cattle and drying the flesh or boucan.
He then sailed for a few voyages as a sailor before the mast, and acted with such ability and courage that the Governor of Tortuga Island, Monsieur de la Place, gave him the command of a vessel and sent him out to seek his fortune.
At first the young buccaneer was very successful, and he took many Spanish ships, but owing to his ferocious treatment of his prisoners he soon won a name for cruelty which has never been surpassed. But at the height of this success his ship was wrecked in a storm, and, although most of the pirates got ashore, they were at once attacked by a party of Spaniards, and all but L'Ollonais were killed. The captain escaped, after being wounded, by smearing blood and sand over his face and hiding himself amongst his dead companions. Disguised as a Spaniard he entered the city of Campeachy, where bonfires and other manifestations of public relief were being held, to express the joy of the citizens at the news of the death of their terror, L'Ollonais.
Meeting with some French slaves, the fugitive planned with them to escape in the night in a canoe, this being successfully carried out, they eventually arrived back at Tortuga, the pirate stronghold. Here the enterprising captain stole a small vessel, and again started off "on the account," plundering a village called De los Cagos in Cuba. The Governor of Havana receiving word of the notorious and apparently resurrected pirate's arrival sent a well-armed ship to take him, adding to the ship's company a negro executioner, with orders to hang all the pirate crew with the exception of L'Ollonais, who was to be brought back to Havana alive and in chains.
Instead of the Spaniards taking the Frenchman, the opposite happened, and everyone of them was murdered, including the negro hangman, with the exception of one man, who was sent with a written message to the Governor to tell him that in future L'Ollonais would kill every Spaniard he met with.
Joining with a famous filibuster, Michael de Basco, L'Ollonais soon organized a more important expedition, consisting of a fleet of eight vessels and 400 men. Sailing to the Gulf of Venezuela in 1667, they entered the lake, destroying the fort that stood to guard the entrance. Thence sailing to the city of Maracaibo they found all the inhabitants had fled in terror. The filibusters caught many of the inhabitants hiding in the neighbouring woods, and killed numbers of them in their attempts to force from the rest the hiding-places of their treasure. They next marched upon and attacked the town of Gibraltar, which was valiantly defended by the Spaniards, until the evening, when, having lost 500 men killed, they surrendered. For four weeks this town was pillaged, the inhabitants murdered, while torture and rape were daily occurrences. At last, to the relief of the wretched inhabitants, the buccaneers, with a huge booty, sailed away to Corso Island, a place of rendezvous of the French buccaneers. Here they divided their spoil, which totalled the great sum of 260,000 pieces of eight, which, when divided amongst them, gave each man above one hundred pieces of eight, as well as his share of plate, silk, and jewels.
Also, a share was allotted for the next-of-kin of each man killed, and extra rewards for those pirates who had lost a limb or an eye. L'Ollonais had now become most famous amongst the "Brethren of the Coast," and began to make arrangements for an even more daring expedition to attack and plunder the coast of Nicaragua. Here he burnt and pillaged ruthlessly, committing the most revolting cruelties on the Spanish inhabitants. One example of this monster's inhuman deeds will more than suffice to tell of. It happened that during an attack on the town of San Pedros the buccaneers had been caught in an ambuscade and many of them killed, although the Spaniards had at last turned and fled. The pirates killed most of their prisoners, but kept a few to be questioned by L'Ollonais so as to find some other way to the town. As he could get no information out of these men, the Frenchman drew his cutlass and with it cut open the breast of one of the Spaniards, and pulling out his still beating heart he began to bite and gnaw it with his teeth like a ravenous wolf, saying to the other prisoners, "I will serve you all alike, if you show me not another way."
Shortly after this, many of the buccaneers broke away from L'Ollonais and sailed under the command of Moses van Vin, the second in command. L'Ollonais, in his big ship, sailed to the coast of Honduras, but ran his vessel on a sand-bank and lost her. While building a new but small craft on one of the Las Pertas Islands, they cultivated beans and other vegetables, and also wheat, for which they baked bread in portable ovens which these French buccaneers carried about with them. It took them six months to build their long-boat, and when it was finished it would not carry more than half the number of buccaneers. Lots were drawn to settle who should sail and who remain behind. L'Ollonais steered the boat towards Cartagena, but was caught by the Indians, as described by Esquemeling. "Here suddenly his ill-fortune assailed him, which of a long time had been reserved for him as a punishment due to the multitude of horrible crimes, which in his licentious and wicked life he had committed. For God Almighty, the time of His divine justice being now already come, had appointed the Indians of Darien to be the instruments and executioners thereof."
These "instruments of God," having caught L'Ollonais, tore him in pieces alive, throwing his body limb by limb into the fire and his ashes into the air, to the intent "no trace nor memory might remain of such an infamous inhuman creature."
Thus died a monster of cruelty, who would, had he lived to-day, have been confined in an asylum for lunatics.
Born on Prince Edward Island, where his father had a grant of land for services rendered in the American war. He was a wealthy man, a member of the Council and a Colonel of the Militia. In order to set his son up in life he bought him a captaincy in the Militia and a fine farm, where young Nelson married and settled down. Buying a schooner, he used to sail to Halifax with cargoes of potatoes and fruit. He seems to have liked these trips in which he combined business with pleasure, for we learn that on these visits to Halifax he "was very wild, and drank and intrigued with the girls in an extravagant manner." Getting into disgrace on Prince Edward Island, and losing his commission, he went to live near Halifax, and became a lieutenant in the Nova Scotia Fencibles, while his wife remained on the island to look after his estates, which brought him in £300 a year. Meeting with a Scotchman called Morrison, together they bought a "pretty little New York battleship," mounting ten guns. Manning this dangerous toy with a crew of ninety desperate characters, the partners went "on the account," and began well by taking a brig belonging to Mr. Hill, of Rotherhithe, which they took to New York, and there sold both ship and cargo.
They next cruised in the West Indies, taking several English and Dutch ships, the crews of which they treated with the greatest brutality.
Landing on St. Kitts Island, they burnt and plundered two Dutch plantations, murdering the owners and slaves. Sailing north to Newfoundland they took ten more vessels, which they sold in New York. After further successful voyages in the West Indies and off the coast of Brazil, Nelson felt the call of home ties becoming so strong that he ventured to return to Prince Edward Island to visit his wife and family, where no one dared to molest him.
By this time Nelson had been a pirate for three years and had, by his industry, won for himself a fortune worth £150,000, but his Scotch partner, Morrison, being a frugal soul, had in the meantime saved an even larger sum. Eventually their ship was wrecked in a fog on a small barren island near Prince Edward Island, and Morrison and most of the crew were drowned, but Nelson and a few others were saved. At last he reached New York, where he lived the rest of his life in peaceful happiness with his wife and family.
Hanged at Kingston, Jamaica, in February, 1823. At the time of execution it was observed that he was covered with the marks of deep wounds. On the scaffold he wept bitterly. An immensely heavy man, he broke the rope, and had to be hanged a second time.
NORTH, Captain Nathaniel.
Born in Bermuda, and by profession a lawyer, Captain North was a man of remarkable ability, and in his later calling of piracy he gained great notoriety, and was a born leader of men. His history has been written fully, and is well worth reading. He had many ups and downs in his early seafaring life in the West Indies; being no less than three times taken by the pressgang, each time escaping. He served in Dutch and Spanish privateers, and eventually rose to being a pirate captain, making his headquarters in Madagascar. From here he sailed out to the East Indies, and preyed on the ships of the East India Company. Several times he was wrecked, once he was the only survivor, and swam ashore at Madagascar stark naked. The unusual sight of a naked Englishman spread terror amongst the natives who were on the beach, and they all fled into the jungle except one, a woman, who from previous personal experience knew that this was but a human being and not a sea devil. She supplied him with clothes, of a sort, and led him to the nearest pirate settlement, some six miles away. On another occasion when the pirates were having a jollification ashore, having left their Moorish prisoners on the ship at anchor, North gave the prisoners a hint to clear off in the night with the ship, otherwise they would all be made slaves. This friendly hint was acted upon, and in the morning both ship and prisoners had vanished. The pirates having lost their ship took to the peaceful and harmless life of planters, with North as their ruler. He won the confidence of the natives, who abided by his decision in all quarrels and misunderstandings. Occasionally North and his men would join forces with a neighbouring friendly tribe and go to war, North leading the combined army, and victory always resulted. The call of piracy was too strong in his bones to resist, and after three years planting he was back to sea and the Jolly Roger once more. On one occasion he seized the opportunity, when in the neighbourhood of the Mascarenhas Islands, to go ashore and visit the Catholic priest and confess, and at the same time made suitable arrangements for his children to be educated by the Church. North evidently truly repented his former sins, for he returned to resume his simple life on his plantation. On arriving home he found the settlement in an uproar. He soon settled all the disputes, appeased the natives, and before long had this garden-city of pirates back in its previous peaceful and happy state. Beyond an occasional little voyage, taking a ship or two, or burning an Arab village, North's career as a pirate may be considered to have terminated, as, indeed, his life was shortly afterwards, being murdered in his bed by a treacherous native. North's friends the pirates, shocked at this cold-blooded murder, waged a ruthless war on the natives for seven years: thus in their simple way thinking to revenge the loss of this estimable man, who had always been the natives' best friend.