UPTON, Boatswain John.
Born in 1679 of honest parents at Deptford.
Apprenticed to a waterman, he afterwards went to sea, serving on different men-of-war as a petty officer. Until July, 1723, when 40 years of age, Upton lived a perfectly honest life, but his wife dying, Upton found she had contracted various debts and that he was in danger of being arrested by the creditors. Leaving his four orphans, Upton hurried to Poole in Dorsetshire, and was taken on as boatswain in the John and Elizabeth (Captain Hooper), bound for Bonavista in Newfoundland. He seems to have continued to sail as an honest seaman until November 14th, 1725, when serving as boatswain in the Perry galley, on a voyage between Barbadoes and Bristol, the vessel was taken by a pirate, Cooper, in the Night Rambler. At his subsequent trial witnesses declared that Upton willingly joined the pirates, signed their articles, and was afterwards one of their most active and cruel men.
Upton kept a journal, which was his only witness for his defence, in which he described how he was forced to sign the pirates' articles under threats of instant death. If his journal is to be believed, Upton escaped from the pirates at the first opportunity, landing on the Mosquito coast. After being arrested by the Spaniards as a spy, he was sent from one prison to another in Central America, at last being put on board a galleon at Porto Bello, to be sent to Spain. Escaping, he got aboard a New York sloop and arrived at Jamaica in December, 1726. While at Port Royal he was pressed on board H.M.S. Nottingham, serving in her for more than two years as quartermaster, until one day he was accused of having been a pirate. Under this charge he was brought a prisoner to England in 1729, tried in London, and hanged, protesting his innocence to the last.