Of the Island of Antigua.
One of Major Bonnet's crew of the Royal James. Tried for piracy at Charleston in 1718, but found "not guilty."
Born at Rhode Island in 1794, he was brought up on a farm there. Ran away to sea in the United States sloop-of-war Harriet. Was in action off Pernambuco against H.M.S. Peacock, afterwards serving with credit on board the Chesapeake in her famous fight with the Shannon; but after his release from Dartmoor as a prisoner of war he opened a grocery shop in Ann Street, called the "Tin Pot," "a place full of abandoned women and dissolute fellows." Drinking up all the profits, he was compelled to go to sea again, and got a berth on a South American privateer. Gibbs led a mutiny, seized the ship and turned her into a pirate, and cruised about in the neighbourhood of Havana, plundering merchant vessels along the coast of Cuba. He slaughtered the crews of all the ships he took. In 1819 returned to private life in New York with 30,000 dollars in gold. Taking a pleasure trip to Liverpool, he was entrapped by a designing female and lost all his money.
In 1830 he took to piracy once more and shipped as a seaman in the brig Vineyard (Captain W. Thornby), New Orleans to Philadelphia, with a cargo of cotton, molasses, and 54,000 dollars in specie.
Gibbs again brought about a mutiny, murdering the captain and mate. After setting fire to and scuttling the ship, the crew took to their boats, landing at Barrow Island, where they buried their money in the sand.
He was hanged at New York as recently as 1831.
An English buccaneer of Jamaica, who in the year 1663 was in command of a "junk" armed with six guns and carrying a crew of sixty men.
GRAFF, Le Capitaine Laurens de. Filibuster.
Commanded Le Neptune, a ship armed with fifty-four guns and a crew of 210 men, in the West Indies in the seventeenth century.
Was "boss" of Barataria, the smugglers' stronghold off the Island of Grande Terre, near Louisiana, until shot by Jean Lafitte in 1811.
GRAMMONT, Sieur de. French filibuster.
One of the great buccaneers. Born in Paris, he entered the Royal Marines, in which he distinguished himself in several naval engagements.
He commanded a frigate in the West Indies, and captured near Martinique a Dutch ship with a cargo worth £400,000, which he carried to Hispaniola, but there lost all of it through gambling, and, not daring to return to France, he joined the buccaneers.
He sailed to Curaçoa in 1678 with the Count d'Estrees' fleet, which was wrecked on a coral reef off the Isle d'Aves. De Grammont was left behind to salve what he could from the wreck. After this, with 700 men he sailed to Maracaibo, spending six months on the lake, seizing the shipping and plundering all the settlements in the neighbourhood.
In June, 1680, de Grammont, with an obsolete commission and a small party of men, made a brilliant night assault on La Guayra, the seaport of Caracas. Only forty-seven men took part in the actual attack on the town, which was guarded by two forts and by cannon upon the walls. The pirates were attacked next day by 2,000 Spaniards from Caracas, but with the greatest skill and bravery de Grammont got almost all his party away, though wounded himself in the throat. He carried away with him amongst his prisoners the Governor of the town.
He retired to the Isle d'Aves to nurse his wound, and later went to Petit Goave.
In 1683 took part in the successful English and French attack on Vera Cruz, and afterwards, when Vanhorn died of gangrene, de Grammont, his lieutenant, carried his ship back to Petit Goave. In 1685 he received a fresh commission from de Cossey, the Governor of Dominica, and joined forces with the famous buccaneer Laurens de Graff at the Isle of Vache, and sailed with 11,000 men for Campeachy. Taking the town, he reduced it to ashes and blew up the fortress, returning with the plunder to Hispaniola. Before leaving, however, to celebrate the Festival of St. Louis, they burnt a huge bonfire, using 200,000 crowns worth of logwood.
Grammont at this time commanded a fine ship, Le Hardy (fifty guns and a crew of 300 men).
In 1686 de Grammont was granted a commission of "Lieutenant du Roi," in order to keep him from harassing the Spaniards, and yet not to lose his valuable services to his country.
In order to have one last fling at the old free buccaneering life before settling down to the more sedate and respectable calling of an officer in the French King's navy, de Grammont sailed off with a party of 180 desperadoes, but was never heard of again.
GRAND, Pierre le.
A native of Dieppe in Normandy.
Le Grand was the man who, having made one great and successful exploit, had the good sense to retire. He was the first pirate to take up his quarters at Tortuga Island, and was known amongst the English as "Peter the Great." His name will go down to posterity for his "bold and insolent" action when in a small open boat with a handful of men he seized a great Spanish galleon.
Pierre had been out on the "grand account" for a long while, meeting with no success. When almost starving and in despair, a great Spanish fleet hove in sight, and one ship, bigger than the rest, was observed sailing at some little distance behind the other vessels. The mad idea entered the head of the now desperate pirate to take this ship. The pirates all took an oath to their captain to fight without fear and never to surrender. It was dusk, and in these tropical latitudes night follows day very quickly. Before the attack, orders were given to the surgeon to bore a hole in the bottom of the boat so that it would quickly sink, thus taking away any hope of escape should the enterprise fail. This was done, and the boat was paddled quietly alongside the great warship, when the crew, armed only with a pistol and a sword a-piece, clambered up the sides and jumped aboard. Quickly and silently the sleeping helmsman was killed, while Pierre and a party of his men ran down into the great cabin, where they surprised the Spanish admiral playing cards with his officers. The admiral, suddenly confronted by a band of bearded desperadoes in his cabin with a pistol aimed at his head, ejaculated "Jesus bless us! are these devils or what are they?" While this was going on others of the pirates had hurried to the gun-room, seized the arms, killing every Spaniard who withstood them. Pierre knew, as scarcely any other successful pirate or gambler ever did, the right moment to stop. He at once put ashore all the prisoners he did not want for working the ship, and sailed straight back to France; where he lived the rest of his life in comfortable obscurity, and never again returned to piracy.
The news of this exploit spread rapidly over the West Indies, and caused the greatest excitement amongst the pirate fraternity of Tortuga and Hispaniola.
Men left their work of killing and drying beef, while others deserted their plantations to go a-pirating on the Spaniards, in much the same way as men went to a gold rush years after. Those who had no boat would venture forth in canoes looking for rich Spanish treasure ships.
It was this wild deed of Pierre le Grand that was the beginning of piracy in the West Indies, towards the latter half of the seventeenth century.
GREAVES, Captain, alias "Red Legs." West Indian pirate.
Born in Barbadoes of prisoners who had been sent there as slaves by Cromwell. Most of these slaves were natives of Scotland and Ireland, and, owing to their bare knees, generally went by the name of Red Legs. Young Greaves was left an orphan, but had a kind master and a good education. His master dying, the lad was sold to another and a cruel one. The boy ran away, swam across Carlisle Bay, but by mistake clambered on to the wrong ship, a pirate vessel, commanded by a notoriously cruel pirate called Captain Hawkins. Finding himself driven to the calling of piracy, Greaves became very efficient, and quickly rose to eminence. He was remarkable for his dislike of unnecessary bloodshed, torture of prisoners, and killing of non-combatants. These extraordinary views brought about a duel between himself and his captain, in which the former was victorious, and he was at once elected commander.
Greaves now entered a period of the highest piratical success, but always preserved very strictly his reputation for humanity and morality. He never tortured his prisoners, nor ever robbed the poor, nor maltreated women.
His greatest success of all was his capture of the Island of Margarita, off the coast of Venezuela.
On this occasion, after capturing the Spanish Fleet, he turned the guns of their warships against the forts, which he then stormed, and was rewarded by a huge booty of pearls and gold.
Red Legs then retired to the respectable life of a planter in the Island of Nevis, but was one day denounced as a pirate by an old seaman. He was cast into a dungeon to await execution, when the great earthquake came which destroyed and submerged the town in 1680, and one of the few survivors was Greaves. He was picked up by a whaler, on board of which he served with success, and later on, for his assistance in capturing a gang of pirates, he received pardon for his earlier crimes.
He again retired to a plantation, and was noted for his many acts of piety and for his generous gifts to charities and public institutions, eventually dying universally respected and sorrowed.
Taken with other South American pirates by H.M. sloop Tyne, and hanged at Kingston, Jamaica, in 1823.
Hanged at Kingston, Jamaica, on February 7th, 1823.
Commanded the frigate James (fourteen guns, ninety men). Belonged to Tortuga Island and Jamaica in 1663.