LAFITTE, Captain Jean.
Jean and his brother first appeared in New Orleans in the year 1809. Though blacksmiths by profession, they soon took to smuggling goods brought by privateersmen and pirates. The headquarters of this trade was on the Island of Grande Terre in Barataria Bay. This island was inhabited and governed by ex-pirates; one Grambo being the acknowledged chief, until he was shot by Jean Lafitte.
In 1813, the Baratarians were denounced by the Governor of Louisiana as pirates. This made no difference to the pirate smugglers, who grew more and more rich and insolent. The Governor then secured an indictment against Jean and his brother, Pierre, who retained the very best and most expensive lawyers in the State to defend them, and they were acquitted. In 1814, war was declared with England, and Jean was invited by the English to fight on their side, with the offer of a commission in the navy and a large sum of money. He refused this, and eventually General Jackson accepted his offer of the services of himself and his Baratarians, who proved invaluable in the Battle of Orleans, serving the guns. He disappeared completely after the war until 1823, when a British sloop of war captured a pirate ship with a crewof sixty men under the command of the famous Lafitte, who was amongst those who fell fighting.
LANDRESSON, Captain Michel, alias Breha.
Accompanied Pain in his expedition against St. Augustine in 1683. He was a constant source of annoyance to the Jamaicans. His ship was called La Trompeuse, but must not be confused with the famous ship of that name belonging to Hamlin. Landresson, when he had got a good booty of gold, jewels, cocoa, etc., would go to Boston to dispose of it to the godly merchants of New England. In 1684 a Royal proclamation was published in Massachusetts, warning all Governors that no succour or aid was to be given to any of the outlaws, but, in spite of this, Landresson was received with open arms and the proclamations in the streets torn down.
In 1684 he was at San Domingo, in command of La Fortune (crew of 100 men and fourteen guns). At this time the filibuster was disguised under the alias of Le Capitaine Breha.
Captured in 1686 by the Armada de Barlorento, and hanged with several of his companions.
Hanged in 1722 at the Island of St. Kitts, with the rest of Captain Lowther's crew.
One of Captain George Lowther's crew. Hanged at St. Kitts on March 11th, 1722.
The greatest triumph and most important exploit of this pirate was the attacking, and eventually taking, of a powerful French ship of twenty-four guns.
Lewis enjoyed a longer career than most of the brethren, and by 1717 he was already one of the leading piratical lights of Nassau, and his end did not come till ten years later. In 1726, he spent several months on the coast of South Carolina and Virginia, trading with the inhabitants the spoils he had taken from vessels in the Atlantic. He learnt his trade under the daring pirate Bannister, who was brought into Port Royal, hanging dead from his own yard-arm. On this occasion, Lewis and another boy were triced up to the corvette's mizzen-peak like "two living flags."
Lewis, amongst other accomplishments, was a born linguist, and could speak with fluency in several languages, even the dialect of the Mosquito Indians. He was once captured by the Spaniards, and taken to Havana, but escaped with a few other prisoners in a canoe, seized a piragua, and with this captured a sloop employed in the turtle trade, and by gradually taking larger and larger prizes, Lewis soon found himself master of a fine ship and a crew of more than fifty men. He renamed her the Morning Star, and made her his flagship.
On one occasion when chasing a vessel off the Carolina coast, his fore and main topmasts were carried away. Lewis, in a frenzy of excitement, clambered up the main top, tore out a handful of his hair, which he tossed into the wind, crying: "Good devil, take this till I come." The ship, in spite of her damaged rigging, gained on the other ship, which they took. Lewis's sailors, superstitious at the best of times, considered this intimacy of their captain with Satan a little too much, and soon afterwards one of the Frenchmen aboard murdered Lewis in his sleep.
Taken by H.M. sloop Tyne, and hanged at Kingston, Jamaica, in February, 1823.
LINCH, Captain. Buccaneer.
Of Port Royal, Jamaica.
In 1680 Lionel Wafer, tiring of the life of a civil surgeon at Port Royal, left Jamaica to go on a voyage with Captains Linch and Cook to the Spanish Main.
Famous in his day for his activities in the West Indies, this pirate had his headquarters at New Providence in the Bahamas.
LOW, Captain Edward, or Loe.
Born in Westminster, he began in very early life to plunder the boys of their farthings, and as he grew bigger used to gamble with the footmen who waited in the lobby of the House of Commons. While still quite small one of his elder brothers used to carry little Edward hidden in a basket on his back, and when in a crowd the future pirate would, from above, snatch the hats and even the wigs off the heads of passing citizens and secret them in the basket and so get away with them. The Low family were the originators of this ingenious and fascinating trick, and for a time it was most successful, until the people of the city took to tying on their hats and wigs with bands to prevent their sudden removal. When he grew up, Ned went to Boston and earned an honest living as a rigger, but after a while he tired of this and sailed in a sloop to Honduras to steal log-wood. Here Low quarrelled with his captain, tried to shoot him, and then went off in an open boat with twelve other men, and the very next day they took a small vessel, in which they began their "war against all the world." Low soon happened to meet with Captain Lowther, the pirate, and the two agreed to sail in company. This partnership lasted until May 28th, 1722, when they took a prize, a brigantine from Boston, which Low went into with a crew of forty-four men. This vessel they armed with two guns, four swivels, and six quarter-casks of powder, and saying good-bye to Lowther, sailed off on their own account. A week later a prize fell into their hands, which was the first of several. Things soon became too hot for Low along the American coast and the West Indies, as several men-of-war were searching for him; so he sailed to the Azores, taking on his way a big French ship of thirty-four guns, and later, in the harbour of St. Michael, he seized several vessels which he found at anchor there. Here they burnt the French ship, but let the crew all go, except the cook, who, they said, "being a greasy fellow would fry well in the fire, so the poor man was bound to the main mast and burnt in the ship to the no small derision of Low and his Mirmidons."
Low and his crew now began to treat their prisoners with great brutality. However, on one occasion the biter was bitten. It happened that one of the drunken crew, playfully cutting at a prisoner, missed his mark and accidentally slashed Captain Low across his lower jaw, the sword opening his cheek and laying bare his teeth. The surgeon was called, who at once stitched up the wound, but Low found some fault with the operation, as well he might, seeing that "the surgeon was tollerably drunk" at the time. The surgeon's professional pride was outraged by this criticism of his skill by a layman, and he showed his annoyance in a ready, if unprofessional, manner, by striking "Low such a blow with his Fists, that broke out all the Stitches, and then bid him sew up his Chops himself and be damned, so that the captain made a very pitiful Figure for some time after." Low took a large number of prizes, but he was not a sympathetic figure, and the list of his prizes and brutalities soon becomes irksome reading. Low, still in the Fancy, and accompanied by Captain Harris in the Ranger, then sailed back to the West Indies, and later to South Carolina, where he took several prizes, one the Amsterdam Merchant (Captain Willard), belonging to New England, and as Low never missed an opportunity of showing his dislike of all New Englanders, he sent the captain away with both his ears cut off and with various other wounds about his body.
Low and Harris now made a most unfortunate mistake in giving chase to a ship which on close quarters proved to be not a merchant vessel, but H.M.S. Greyhound. After a short fight, the coward Low slipped away, and left his consort, Harris, to carry on an unequal contest until he was compelled to surrender his ship.
Low's cruelties became more and more disgusting, and there can be little doubt that he was really by this time a lunatic.
In July, 1723, Low took a new ship for himself, naming himself Admiral, and sporting a new black flag with a red skeleton upon it. He again cruised off the Azores, the Canaries, and the Guinea coast, but what the end was of this repulsive, uninteresting, and bloody pirate has never been known.
LOWTHER, Captain George.
Sailed as second mate from the Thames in the Gambia Castle, a ship belonging to the African Company, sixteen guns and a crew of thirty men. On board as passengers were Captain Massey and a number of soldiers. Arriving at their destination, Massey quarrelled with the merchants on shore, and, a few days later, with Lowther, seized the ship, which he renamed the Delivery. They now went a-pirating, their first prize being a Boston ship, and cruising about off the Island of Hispaniola, several more were taken, but nothing very rich. Lowther quarrelled with Captain Massey, who, being a soldier, wished to land on some island to plunder the French settlements, but this was not agreed to, and Massey and his followers were sent away in a sloop. Life for Lowther now became a series of successes, prizes being taken, and visits to land being occasionally made for the crew to enjoy a drunken revel.
Having met with Captain Low, for a while the two sailed together, and took the Greyhound, a merchantman, and several more rich prizes. Lowther now commanded a small pirate fleet, and styled himself Admiral, his flagship being the Happy Delivery. While careening their ships in the Gulf of Matigue, they were suddenly attacked by the natives, and the pirates barely escaped in a sloop with their lives. Lowther soon improved himself by seizing a brigantine, and in her shaped his course to the coast of South Carolina, a favourite resort for the pirates. Here he attacked an English ship, but was so roughly handled that he was glad to run his ship ashore and escape.
In 1723 he steered for Newfoundland, taking many small vessels there, and returning to the West Indies. While cleaning his ship at the Isle of Blanco, he was suddenly attacked by a South Sea Company's ship, the Eagle, and the pirates were compelled to surrender. Lowther and a dozen of his crew escaped by climbing out of the cabin window, and, reaching the island, hid themselves in the woods. All were caught except Lowther and three men and a boy. He was shortly afterwards found lying dead with a pistol by his side, and was supposed to have shot himself. Three of his crew who were caught were carried to St. Christopher's, and there tried for piracy and hanged.
LUKE, Captain Matthew.
This Italian pirate had his headquarters at Porto Rico, and specialized in attacking English ships. In 1718 he took four of these and murdered all the crews. In May, 1722, Luke made a terrible mistake. Perceiving what he thought to be a merchant ship, he attacked her, to find out all too late that she was an English man-of-war, the Lauceston. Luke and his crew were taken to Jamaica and hanged. One of his crew confessed to having killed twenty English sailors with his own hands.