WAFER, Lionel. Surgeon, buccaneer, and author.
Believed to have been born about the year 1660.
He could speak Gaelic and also Erse, which languages he had learnt during his childhood, which was spent partly in the Highlands of Scotland and partly in Ireland.
In 1677 he sailed as mate to the surgeon of the Great Ann, of London (Captain Zachary Browne), bound for Java.
Two years later, he again sailed as surgeon's mate on a voyage to the West Indies. He deserted his ship at Jamaica and set himself up as a surgeon at Port Royal, but one day meeting with two noted buccaneers, Captain Linch and Captain Cook, he agreed to sail with them as ship's surgeon.
Wafer's subsequent adventures are recounted by Basil Ringrose in his "Dangerous Voyage and Bold Assaults of Captain Bartholomew Sharp and Others," and by William Dampier in his "New Voyage Round the World." After taking part in 1679 in the futile expedition of the buccaneers to Panama, Wafer joined the party of malcontents who left Captain Sharp and returned on foot across the Isthmus of Darien. Wafer was accidentally wounded in the knee by an explosion of gunpowder on May 5th, 1681, which he recounts in his narrative as follows: "I was sitting on the ground near one of our Men, who was drying of Gunpowder in a Silver Plate: But not managing it as he should, it blew up and scorch'd my knee to that degree, that the bone was left bare, the Flesh being torn away, and my Thigh burnt for a great way above it. I applied to it immediately such Remedies as I had in my knapsack: and being unwilling to be left behind by my companions, I made hard shift to jog on."
The whole story of these adventures is told by Wafer in a book he wrote, and which was published in London in 1699. It is called "A New Voyage and Description of the Isthmus of America, giving an Account of the Author's Abode there," and is illustrated by some quaint copperplates.
Wafer and his companions suffered extreme hardships as they struggled through the dense tropical jungle during the wettest season of the year.
On one occasion when in danger of his life, Wafer was spared by the Indians owing to his skill as a phlebotomist, after he had been allowed to exhibit his skill to an Indian chief called Lacentra, when he bled one of his wives so successfully that the chief made Wafer his inseparable companion, to the no little discomfort of the buccaneer, who wished to reach the Atlantic and rejoin his companions who had left him behind.
Wafer described the birds, animals, fishes, and insects with considerable minuteness, although it is obvious that he had no special training in, or great gift for, natural history. Wafer eventually reached Philadelphia, where he availed himself of King James's general pardon to pirates.
One of Captain Lowther's crew in the Happy Delivery. Hanged at St. Kitts on March 11th, 1722.
WEAVER, Captain Brigstock.
Of Hereford, England.
One of Captain Anstis's crew in the Good Fortune when he took the Morning Star. After the prize had been converted for Anstis's use, Weaver was given command of the Good Fortune. He proved himself to be a capable pirate captain, taking between fifty and sixty sailing ships in the West Indies and on the Banks of Newfoundland.
Here are particulars of a few of his prizes:
In August, 1722, he took a Dutch ship, and out of her got 100 pieces of holland, value £800, and 1,000 pieces of eight. On November 20th in the same year he plundered the Dolphin, of London (Captain William Haddock), of 300 pieces of eight and forty gallons of rum.
Out of the Don Carlos (Lot Neekins, master) he stole 400 ounces of silver, fifty gallons of rum, 1,000 pieces of eight, 100 pistols, and other valuable goods.
Out of the Portland, ten pipes of wine valued at £250.
This period of prosperity came to an end, for in May, 1723, Weaver, dressed in rags, was begging charity at the door of a Mr. Thomas Smith in Bristol, telling a plausible tale of how he had been taken and robbed by some wicked pirates, but had lately managed to escape from them. The kindly Mr. Smith, together with a Captain Edwards, gave Weaver £10 and provided him with a lodging at the Griffin Inn. Being now dressed in good clothes, Weaver enjoyed walking about the streets of Bristol, until one day he met with a sea-captain who claimed former acquaintance and invited him into a neighbouring tavern to share a bottle of wine with him. Over this the captain reminded the pirate that he had been one of his victims, and that Weaver had once stolen from him a considerable quantity of liquor; but at the same time he had not forgotten that the pirate had used him very civilly, and that therefore, if he would give him four hogsheads of cider, nothing further would be said about the matter. Weaver would not, or could not, produce these, and was apprehended, brought to London, and there tried and sentenced to death, and hanged at Execution Dock.
One of Captain Lowther's crew. Hanged at St. Kitts in March, 1722.
WHETSTONE, Sir Thomas, or Whitstone. Buccaneer.
In 1663 he commanded a ship, a Spanish prize, armed with seven guns and carrying a crew of sixty men. In August, 1666, Sir Thomas was with a small English garrison of some sixty men in the buccaneer stronghold of New Providence in the Bahama Islands. Suddenly a Spanish fleet arrived from Porto Bello, and after a siege of three days the garrison capitulated. The three English captains were carried prisoners to Panama and there cast into a dungeon and bound in irons for seventeen months.
One of Captain George Lowther's crew. Hanged on March 22nd, 1722, at St. Kitts.
WILGRESS, Captain. Buccaneer.
Sent by the Governor of Jamaica in 1670 to search for, and capture or sink, a Dutchman called Captain Yallahs, who had entered the Spanish service to cruise against the English logwood cutters. But Wilgress, instead of carrying out his orders, went a-buccaneering on his own account, chasing a Spanish vessel ashore, stealing logwood, and burning Spanish houses along the coast.
WILLIAMS, Captain John, alias "Yanky." Buccaneer.
In 1683, when the pirate Hamlin in his famous ship, La Trompeuse, was playing havoc with the English shipping around Jamaica, Governor Lynch offered Williams a free pardon, men, victuals, and naturalization, and £200 as well if he would catch the Frenchman.
WILLIAMS, Captain Morris. Buccaneer.
In November, 1664, he applied to Governor Modyford to be allowed to bring into Port Royal, Jamaica, a rich prize of logwood, indigo, and silver, and, in spite of the Governor's refusal, he brought the ship in. The goods were seized and sold in the interest of the Spanish owner. At this time the English Government was doing all it could to stamp out the pirates and buccaneers.
WILLIAMS, Captain Paul.
A Carolina pirate, who began as a wrecker with the pirate Bellamy in the West Indies. He later on took to piracy and ended a not too glorious career by being hanged at Eastman, Massachusetts. Williams was one of the pirates who accepted King George's offer of pardon at New Providence Island in 1718.
A Cornish pirate, who sailed from Jamaica with Captain Morrice, and was captured by the Dutch. Eventually he reached Boston, and sailed with Captain Roderigo in 1674 in the Edward and Thomas, a Boston vessel.
Tried for piracy, but acquitted.
One of Captain George Lowther's crew. Tried for piracy at St. Kitts in March, 1722, and acquitted.
WINTER, Captain Christopher.
Of New Providence Island.
He took a sloop off the coast of Jamaica, the mate on board which was one Edward England, who, on Winter's persuasion, turned pirate and soon reached the summit of his new profession.
In 1718 Winter accepted the King's offer of pardon to all pirates who surrendered. Winter soon afterwards not only returned to piracy, but did even worse, for he surrendered to the Spanish Governor of Cuba, and turned Papist. From Cuba he carried on piracy, chiefly preying on English vessels, and made raids on the coast of Jamaica, stealing slaves, which he took away to Cuba. The Governor of Jamaica, Sir Nicholas Laws, sent Lieutenant Joseph Laws, in H.M.S. Happy snow, to demand the surrender of Winter and another renegade, Nicholas Brown, but nothing resulted but an exchange of acrimonious letters between the Lieutenant and the Governor of Cuba.
WITHERBORN, Captain Francis.
Captured, with his ship, by Major Beeston and brought to Jamaica. Tried for piracy at Port Royal, he was condemned to death, and sent a prisoner to England.
WOLLERVY, Captain William.
A New England pirate who sailed in company with a Captain Henley in 1683 off the Island of Elenthera. He burnt his vessel near Newport, Rhode Island, where he and his crew disappeared with their plunder.
His reign was short, lasting but six months from start to finish. He was first heard of in September, 1718, when he set out, in company with eight other desperadoes, from New York in a small open boat "upon the account." They were provided with a few biscuits, a dried tongue, and a keg of water, half a dozen old muskets and some ammunition. They sailed down the coast for 150 miles, entered the river Delaware, and rowed up to Newcastle, and there seized a shallop. The news of this enterprise was quickly spread abroad, and roused the whole coast. Going down the river again, still in their open boat, they took another sloop belonging to a mulatto called Black Robbin. They changed into this sloop, and next day met with another sloop from Hull, which suited their purpose better. By now the country was much alarmed, and the Government sent out H.M.S. Phœnix, of twenty guns, to cruise in search of the pirates. In the meantime the latter sailed to the Bahama Islands and took another sloop and a brigantine. Worley now commanded a tidy craft of six guns and a crew of twenty-five men, and flew a black ensign with a white death's head upon it. So far all had gone well with the pirates, but one day, when cruising off the Cape of Virginia, Worley sighted two sloops as he thought making for the James River, but which were really armed vessels sent in search of him. Worley stood in to cut them off, little dreaming what they really were. The two sloops and the pirate ship all standing in together, Worley hoisted his black flag. This terrified the inhabitants of Jamestown, who thought that three pirates were about to attack them. Hurried preparations for defence were made, when all of a sudden the people on shore were surprised to see the supposed pirates fighting amongst themselves. No quarter was asked, and the pirates were all killed in hand-to-hand fighting except Captain Worley and one other pirate, who were captured alive but desperately wounded. The formalities were quickly got through for trying these two men, so that next day they were hanged before death from their wounds could save them from their just punishment. "Thus," writes Captain Johnson, "Worley's beginning was bold and desperate, his course short and prosperous, and his end bloody and disgraceful."