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Captain Blood - The History Behind the Novel
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 4:51 pm    Post subject: Captain Blood - The History Behind the Novel Reply with quote

by Cindy Vallar



Peter Blood, bachelor of medicine and several other things besides, smoked a pipe and tended the geraniums boxed on the sill of his window above Water Lane in the town of Bridgewater.

The most important sentence a writer pens is his first, for its words are what compel a reader to delve deeper into the story. Perhaps if I hadn’t already been familiar with the story of Peter Blood, I might not have read further, for this Peter Blood bears little resemblance to the character who’s convicted of treason, sold into slavery, and escapes to become a famous pirate. Yet in this single sentence Rafael Sabatini reveals the depth of his research and knowledge about England and the year 1685. If Peter wasn’t a doctor, his life wouldn’t be altered by the events that unfold on this particular night. If he didn’t reside in this particular town, he wouldn’t be close to the upcoming battle that decides who rules England. Even the choice of geraniums isn’t left to chance. John Tradescant, a botanist who worked for King Charles I, introduced these South African flowers to England in the seventeenth century and, when colonists sailed for the New World, they brought geraniums with them.



Politics and religion have long played a role in English history, and to understand the rebellion that leads to Peter Blood’s conviction as a traitor, we must go back in time to the reign of Henry VIII. While married to Catherine of Aragon, a daughter of Isabel and Ferdinand of Spain, Henry met Anne Boleyn. Desperate for a male heir, he opted to set aside Catherine for Anne and thought the pope would grant his request to do so. The pontiff didn’t; six years later, Henry and Anne got together, and believing she carried his son, he took matters into his own hands. He declared his marriage to Catherine dissolved and married Anne. In doing so, he named himself head of the Church of England, which in time became the Anglican Church.
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When Henry died, he had three children – one son and two daughters. Edward VI reigned for only six years, and on his death, Henry’s elder daughter became queen. There was just one hitch – Mary was a Catholic was married to Philip of Spain, the true defender of the Catholic faith. During her reign, Mary’s main goal was for England to reconcile with Rome. When the Protestants objected, she forced her beliefs on them. Anyone who failed to convert was burned at the stake, which led to her earning the nickname “Bloody Mary.” Elizabeth inherited the crown on her sister’s death, and the Church of England once again became the country’s religion.



Never having married, Elizabeth needed to choose an heir, for with her death the House of Tudor ended. The monarch who got the nod was James VI of Scotland, who belonged to the Royal House of Stuart. James was a stalwart believer in the principle of divine right: his “subjects . . . were inferior beings, the nobles ‘feckless and arrogant’ and full of conceit, the merchants concerned only with their own profits, the craftsmen inherently lazy and given to rioting, the clergy troublemakers who led the people astray.” (Erickson, 2004) Although christened a Catholic and tolerant of his friends who practiced that faith, James became a staunch defender of the Protestant faith. His eldest surviving child was a daughter named Elizabeth, but his son, Charles, inherited the throne. Since Elizabeth wed a Protestant, the Elector of Hanover, James evened the scales by arranging for Charles to marry a Catholic princess of Spain. Neither the Scots nor the English favored such a union, so Charles waited until he became king to marry Princess Henrietta Maria of France, a fervent Catholic. The changes he instituted with the church, his resolute belief that his power came from God, and his failure to listen to the wishes of either Parliament or his people, led to civil war. The Puritans, led by Oliver Cromwell, came to power and beheaded Charles I. His family fled to France and monarchy ceased to exist.

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 4:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

At least not in England. Charles’ son, Charles II, was proclaimed King of Ireland and Scotland. After Cromwell’s death, his son Richard became Lord Protector, but he lacked the strength to control the various political factions and talk of restoring the monarchy surfaced. If Charles II would respect Parliament’s authority, he was welcome to become King of England. Not only did he concur with Parliament, but he also assured its members he would practice religious tolerance. So in 1660, Charles became the monarch of three nations.



“All appetites are free, and God will never damn a man for allowing himself a little pleasure.” (217, Erickson) These words from Charles II best describe him. He was a vigorous man who feared nothing. Intelligent and thoughtful, he spoke his mind. His charisma attracted people, especially women. While his wife, Catherine of Braganza, never gave him any children, his numerous mistresses did.



His first love was Lucy Walter of England, whom he met while living in exile in Holland. She always maintained they had wed in secret, although Charles never confirmed this and no proof of the marriage has ever been found. After his son was born, Charles adored his son, James, who lived with his royal grandmother and aunt in Paris until his father was crowned King of England, at which time he joined the royal court in London. At fourteen he became the first Duke of Monmouth, and once he wed, he adopted his wife’s surname, Scott. He was an impressionable young man, who lacked the maturity that comes with age and often heeded the advice of the wrong people. These traits would lead him down a treacherous path, and once again, politics and religion took center stage.

Having no children with Catherine, Charles needed to choose a successor: either his son or his brother. Had Lucy married Charles as she claimed, that meant James Scott was next in line to the throne. If not, James Stuart was the rightful heir.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 4:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

James the son had three advantages: people liked him; he was young; and he was a Protestant. But was he legitimate? And did he possess the tact, diplomacy, and intelligence to make him a good monarch?



Many people thought James the brother the better choice, but he practiced Catholicism, as did his second wife, Mary of Modena. James was more virtuous and serious than Charles, and he was intelligent and had done well as Lord High Admiral of the realm.


In the end, Charles concurred with the majority and named his brother his heir. This led to James Scott becoming embroiled in a plot to kill his father and uncle. Once the conspiracy was discovered, James went into exile and remained there until his father collapsed, lapsed into a coma, and died in 1685.


The Earl of Lauderdale wrote, “This good prince has all the weakness of his father without his strength. He loves, as he saith, to be served in his own way, and he is as very a papist as the pope himself, which will be his ruin.” (226, Erickson) Others apparently agreed and once again attempted to correct the situation. They cajoled and argued until James Scott, the Duke of Monmouth, agreed to mount a rebellion and take the crown from his uncle. It is this decision that leads to the evening on which Peter Blood’s story begins.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 4:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part 2: The Monmouth Rebellion
When “The Messengers,” the first chapter of Captain Blood, opens, it is the eve of battle. Everyone in Bridgewater knows the Duke of Monmouth intends to launch a surprise attack that night. Peter Blood, though, cares little for fighting; he’s been there and done that already. He has set aside a life of “wandering and adventuring” to “embark upon the career for which he had been originally intended and for which his studies had equipped him.” He is a physician, unlike Jeremiah Pitt, the nephew of his neighbors, two elderly spinsters. This young lad forsook his chosen profession – ship’s master – to follow the duke “in defence of Right.”

Here Sabatini provides us with the first description of our hero.

He had a pleasant, vibrant voice, whose metallic ring was softened and muted by the Irish accent…. It was a voice that could woo seductively and caressingly, or command in such a way as to compel obedience. …[H]e was tall and spare, swarthy of tint as a gipsy, with eyes that were startlingly blue in that dark face and under those level black brows. In their glance those eyes, flanking a high-bridged, intrepid nose, were of singular penetration and of a steady haughtiness that went well with his firm lips. Though dressed in black as became his calling, yet it was with an elegance derived from the love of clothes that is peculiar to the adventurer he had been, rather than to the staid medicus he now was. His coat was of fine camlet, and it was laced with silver; there were ruffles of Mechlin at his wrists and a Mechlin cravat encased his throat. His great black periwig was as sedulously curled as any at Whitehall. (Sabatini, 4-5)


Peter is what was called “black Irish,” and, with the swarthiness of his complexion, Sabatini hints at Blood’s ancestry. Ireland and Spain traded with each other in the Middle Ages, and with both countries firmly rooted in Catholicism, that alliance remained strong even in Queen Elizabeth’s reign. Twenty-five ships of the Armada wrecked off the coast of Ireland, and those who survived found sanctuary in that country. Throughout the association there was an exchange of peoples between both countries, and some Spaniards married Irish colleens, and their offspring resembled the fathers, with their dark coloring and black hair.
While doctors today wear white coats, their daily dress mirrors our own. This was not so in the past. From an early period in history, clothes have distinguished a person’s rank and occupation, such as the hat barber-surgeons wore. What sets Peter apart from others of his profession are the ruffles and cravat. Mechlin is expensive lace made in Mechlin, Flanders. Sometime in the past, Peter encountered this Belgian textile, although it wasn’t called this in England until Queen Anne’s time. Shirts had lace at the base of the sleeves, and sometimes this lace covered the wearer’s hands. A cravat hid the shirt’s front opening. Men did wear large wigs. The majority preferred natural hair color, although some continued to powder theirs.

At twenty years of age, Peter received his medical degree from Trinity College in Dublin. Thomas Smith, an apothecary and the city mayor, founded the school in 1592. Peter’s training included a variety of courses, dissections, case studies of patients’ histories, and hands-on work with apothecaries. Sir William Temple wrote the first medical curriculum, but more disciplined instruction and practice didn’t take place until John Stearne became Regius Professor of Physic in 1662. Although medicine was taught, the official medical school didn’t open until 1711, several decades after Peter’s graduation. In spite of this training, Peter had a “certain wildness” that perhaps he inherited from his ancestors, who were related to the Frobishers. Martin Frobisher, one of Elizabeth’s Sea Dogs, explored the northern regions of the New World and brought back to England the first Inuit in the second half of the sixteenth century. He discovered Baffin Bay and the Hudson Straits. His partner once said of him, “Frobisher grew into such a monstrous mind that a whole kingdom could not contain it but already, by discovery of a new world, he was become another Columbus.” (Ronald, 213)
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perhaps because his mother’s family was from Somersetshire, Peter chose to settle down in Bridgewater. On this particular evening, he retired and the two armies clashed at the Battle of Sedgemoor, three miles away, sometime after midnight on 6 July 1685. The Earl of Feversham, Louis Duras, commanded the Royalist troops. As often happens on night marches in unfamiliar territory, problems arose and the advantage of surprise was lost. For three hours the battle raged, but by five or six o’clock that morning the Monmouth Rebellion had ended.

Among those present at the battle was a young doctor named Henry Pitman who was visiting relatives in Sandford, another town in Somersetshire. Friends convinced him to see the Duke of Monmouth and his army as they marched to Taunton. As he later wrote in A Relation of the Great Sufferings and Strange Adventures of Henry Pitman in 1689:

After some stay there, having fully satisfied my curiosity, by a full view both of his person and his army; I resolved to return home: and in order thereunto, I took the direct road…but…if we went forward, we should be certainly intercepted by the Lord of Oxford’s Troop, then in our way; we found ourselves, of necessity, obliged to retire back again to the Dukes forces, till we could meet with a more safe and convenient opportunity. (Pitman, 433)

That chance to return home never came. He lost his horse and, unable to secure another, he “was prevailed…to stay and take care of the sick and wounded men.” Like the concern Peter showed to captured Spanish seamen later in Captain Blood, Henry “saw many sick and wounded men miserably lamenting the want of chirurgeons to dress their wounds. So that pity and compassion on my fellow creatures, more especially being my brethren in Christianity, obliged me to stay and perform the duty of my calling among them, and to assist my brother chirurgeons towards the relief of those that, otherwise, must have languished in misery; though, indeed, there were many who did, not withstanding our utmost care and diligence.” (Pitman, 434)
Sabatini read Pitman’s account and based Peter Blood’s story on this surgeon’s. The author never disclosed how he came to select the name Blood for the novel’s hero, but it was a surname well known during Charles II’s reign. During the seventeenth century, if not earlier, England’s state regalia (more commonly referred to as the Crown Jewels) were viewable by the public. In 1671 an Irishman named Thomas Blood attempted to purloin the crown, orb, and scepter from Martin Tower. Arrested as he fled, he was imprisoned, but refused to “answer to none but the King himself.” Blood got his wish – King Charles, among others, questioned him at length. For whatever reason, the king opted to pardon Thomas Blood and gave him title to lands in Ireland. Thereafter, he frequently appeared at Court.

Peter Blood becomes embroiled with the rebels only after Jeremiah Pitt fetches him to tend Lord Gildoy, who “is sore wounded…at Oglethorpe’s Farm by the river….” (Sabatini, 7) Peter goes willingly. While ministering to Gildoy, Captain Hobart of Colonel Kirke’s dragoons comes in search of rebels. This regiment did participate in the Battle of Sedgemoor. Its actual name was the First Tangier Regiment, but was more often referred to as Kirke’s Lambs and its leader was Colonel Percy Kirke. For twenty-two years before being recalled to England, this regiment guarded Tangiers from the Moors. Peter is aware of the regiment’s past, for when Hobart orders his men to take Gildoy outside, he intervenes. “’In the name of humanity, sir!’ said he, on a note of anger. ‘This is England, not Tangiers.’” (Sabatini, 11) During his visit to Tangiers, Samuel Pepys heard tales of rape and plundering on the part of the regiment. Hobart and his men demonstrate this in Captain Blood. Having arrested the rebels, Hobart sends them on their way.

…[T]here was the fullest confirmation of Mr. Blood’s hideous assumption that to the dragoons this was a conquered enemy country. There were sounds of rending timbers, of furniture smashed and overthrown, the shouts and laughter of brutal men, to announce that this hunt for rebels was no more than a pretext for pillage and destruction. Finally above all other sounds came the piercing screams of a woman in acutest agony. (Sabatini, 17)


Like his fictional counterpart, Henry Pitman was arrested and “commited to Ilchester Gaol by Colonel Hellier; in whose porch, I had my pockets rifled and my coat taken off my back, by my guard: and, in that manner, was hurried away to prison; where I remained, with many more under the same circumstances, until the Assizes at Wells….” (Pitman, 434) As often happened following a rebellion, the victor sought vengeance. In this case, that man was King James II, and while Pitman failed to share his opinions of this man, Peter Blood’s unjust incarceration – at least in his eyes – gnawed at him until “the unspeakable imprisonment had moved his mind to a cold and deadly hatred of King James and his representatives.” (Sabatini, 17)
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Imprisonment did not guarantee a rebel the right to a trial. In 1848 T. B. Macauley – a historian, politician, and essayist – published The History of England from the Accession of King James II. Chapter five covered the Monmouth Rebellion, and in it Macauley wrote about Lord Feversham and his orders after the battle ended:

A considerable number of prisoners were immediately selected for execution. Among them was a youth famous for his speed. Hopes were held out to him that his life would be spared If he could run a race with one of the colts of the marsh. The space through which the man kept up with the horse is still marked by well known bounds on the moor, and is about three quarters of a mile. Feversham was not ashamed, after seeing the performance, to send the wretched performer to the gallows. The next day a long line of gibbets appeared on the road leading from Bridgewater to Weston Zoyland. On each gibbet a prisoner was suspended. Four of the sufferers were left to rot in irons. (Macauley, 418)

Sabatini’s version of the aftermath was equally grim and unforgiving.
…[I]n that first week after Sedgemoor, Kirke and Feversham contrived between them to put to death over a hundred men after a trial so summary as to be no trial at all. They required human freights for the gibbets with which they were planting the countryside, and they little cared how they procured them or what innocent lives they took. (Sabatini, 1Cool

One of those whose life was snuffed out was James Scott, Duke of Monmouth. Although he attempted to flee England, he was captured three days after the battle and taken to London. King James visited his nephew on 14 July, then signed Monmouth’s death warrant. The next day Scott walked from his cell in the Tower of London to his place of execution, Tower Hill. Like others destined to die, he spoke briefly, then gave his executioner six guineas to make the killing blow swift and neat. John Ketch failed in that regard. It took five blows before he severed the traitor’s head.
Henry Pitman found himself standing in the dock before Lord Chief Justice Jeffreys at what became known as the Bloody Assizes. Henry’s account explainded how he and others were coerced into confessing, which merely served to acquaint Jeffreys with their crimes and provide “the [True] Bill against us, by the Grand Jury”, rather than proving them guilty of treason. As the trials began, Jeffreys made certain no one would recant his confession and prolong the trials. He “caused about twenty-eight persons at the Assizes at Dorchester, to be chosen from among the rest, against whom he knew he could procure evidence, and brought them first to their trial.” Anyone who dared to say “Not Guilty” was shown evidence to contradict such a plea. Then Jeffreys “immediately condemned [them], and a warrant [was] signed for their execution the same afternoon.” (Pitman, 435)

That singular mass execution convinced most of the remaining prisoners to plead guilty and throw themselves on the mercy of the court. The traitors, Henry included, were “condemned ‘to be hanged, drawn, and quartered.’ And by his order, there were two hundred and thirty executed; besides a great number hanged immediately after the Fight. The rest of us were ordered to be transported to the Caribbee Islands.” (Pitman, 435-6)

The sentence of execution Henry initially received was what guilty traitors could expect. Major General Thomas Harrison was one of the men who condemned King Charles I to death, and once the king’s son, Charles II, returned to England and claimed the crown, he had these men brought to the Old Bailey. The judge told Harrison:

That you be led to the place from whence you came, and from thence be drawn upon a hurdle to the place of execution, and then you shall be hanged by the neck and, being alive, shall be cut down, and your privy members to be cut off, and your entrails be taken out of your body, and, you living, the same to be burnt before your eyes, and your head to be cut off, your body to be divided into four quarters, and head and quarters to be disposed of at the pleasure of the King’s majesty. And the Lord have mercy on your soul. (225-226, Abbott)

In essence such an execution meant he was first hanged, but not enough to kill him. Then the executioner cut him open, removed his guts, and burned them while Harrison yet lived. Unlike most traitors, though, Harrison was also castrated. Finally, he lost his head, and his corpse was divided into four parts and mounted in various parts of the city as a warning to others – just as William Kidd’s body was placed in a gibbet and left to rot at the mouth of the Thames to discourage seamen from following the sweet trade.
While Henry Pitman appeared at the Autumn Assizes in Wells, Peter Blood was tried in the Great Hall of Taunton Castle, which meant the latter’s trial occurs before that of his real counterpart. The Assizes opened at Winchester on 25 August 1685. From there it progressed to Dorchester, then Exeter and Taunton. Court opened in Wells on 23 September. Nearly five hundred men were tried at Taunton alone.
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Like Henry, Peter Blood appeared before Lord Jeffreys, “a tall, slight man on the young side of forty, with an oval face that was delicately beautiful.” (Sabatini, 20) Born in 1648, Baron George Jeffreys began studying law in 1663. Four years later he married Sarah Neesham, and they had seven children. During his tenure as the Duke of York’s Solicitor General, he received a knighthood in 1677. He was appointed Lord Chief Justice of England two years before the Monmouth Rebellion and became Lord Chancellor in 1685. His brutal judgments and penchant for taunting defendants with elaborate details of their impending punishments earned him the moniker “Hanging Judge” Jeffreys. When roused, he spoke with religious fervor and great anger. His devout loyalty to King James eventually led to his being charged with treason and imprisoned in the Tower of London. He died in 1689 of kidney disease, which Sabatini alluded to in Peter Blood’s speech prior to sentencing.

I, being a physician, may speak with knowledge of what is to come to your lordship. And I tell you that I would not now change places with you – that I would not exchange this halter that you fling about my neck for the stone that you carry in your body. The death to which you may doom me is a light pleasantry by contrast with the death to which your lordship has been doomed by that Great Judge with whose name your lordship makes so free. (Sabatini, 29)

When asked for his plea, Peter responds, “It’s entirely innocent I am.” (Sabatini, 21) His ignorance of proper trial procedure is the first hint of what justice was like in the seventeenth century. Unlike today where a defendant is considered innocent until proven guilty and has a lawyer to defend him at trial, if Peter has an attorney, he can only consult with him on specific points of law. Only Peter may question the witnesses, which he declines to do of the prosecution’s only witness, Captain Hobart. Peter tries to call witnesses of his own, but Jeffreys neither allows other rebels to testify nor postpones the trial until witnesses can appear in court. The heated exchange between these two demonstrates the inequity of England’s justice at the time – someone unfamiliar with legal proceedings pitted against another who is well versed in law and how trials are conducted. Since Jeffreys’ appointment as Lord Chief Justice comes from the king, Peter’s fate is sealed before he declares himself innocent of the charges. Giving aid to the enemy makes him as guilty as if he had fought at the Battle of Sedgemoor and, therefore, he is condemned to death. Such a sentence wasn’t fictitious. Dame Alice Lisle, an elderly widow, provided shelter to John Hickes, a rebel preacher. Condemned for treason, she received the punishment of being burned alive. King James II heeded pleas for mercy, and instead, she was beheaded.
Pitman’s and Blood’s death sentences weren’t carried out because the Secretary of State, Sir Robert Spencer, Earl of Sunderland, sent word that “rebels should be furnished for transportation to some of His Majesty’s southern plantations, Jamaica, Barbados, or any of the Leeward Islands.” (Sabatini, 31) Henry and Peter would be sold into slavery for at least ten years. Such a “reprieve” wasn’t unusual, for Irish rebels had suffered similar fates during Oliver Cromwell’s reign as Lord Protector – perhaps as many as 50,000 between 1641 and 1660. By 1669, around 8,000 Irish worked the plantations on Barbados, while another 4,000 could be found on other Caribbean plantations.

Sabatini refers to other historical facts in these three chapters of Captain Blood. When Captain Hobart says, “Which you reached by way of Lyme Regis in the following of your traitor Duke”, he makes reference to where Monmouth came ashore at the start of the rebellion. (Sabatini, 12) Peter Mewes, who intervened to end the mass hangings, was Bishop of Winchester. He had supported the Stuarts in the English Civil War, but later followed James Scott in his bid to gain the throne. Robert Ferguson, who “preached a sermon containing more treason than divinity” at Castle Field, was a Scot and Presbyterian minister. (Sabatini, 1) He became embroiled in the Rye House Plot, which resulted in a hasty departure to the Netherlands in 1682. He also fled there after the Battle of Sedgemoor and was tried for treason in absentia. He was convicted of treason and condemned to death, although the sentence was never carried out because he did not return to England until William III of Orange’s arrival during The Glorious Revolution in 1688. Ferguson died impoverished.
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One participant who was not executed for his part in the Monmouth Rebellion was Lord Grey, of whom Sabatini wrote:

Later they heard that Lord Grey, who after the Duke – indeed, perhaps, before him – was the main leader of the rebellion, had purchased his own pardon for forty thousand pounds. Peter Blood found this of a piece with the rest. His contempt for King James blazed out at last. (Sabatini, 19)

Grey would eventually become Lord Privy Seal once William III became King of England.

Part 3: Transport to the Caribbean
Life on a wooden sailing ship was anything but romantic. Seamen lived in damp, cramped, and filthy quarters. Cockroaches, fleas, and rats infested the vessel. The latter gnawed through anything, including a ship’s hull, while sea creatures and plants worked on the hull from the outside. Food spoiled or became infested. Drinking water became foul. The lower decks reeked of bilge water, human excrement, and body odor from poor ventilation. Bathroom facilities were primitive.

The era’s equivalent of toilet paper was a rope kept dangling in the water. When stormy weather prevented using the head, sailors were known to urinate and defecate into the hold. They rinsed their clothes by towing them in the sea, and on rare occasions bathed using a bucket of fresh water (soap was useless in salt water) shared by many men. (Gibbs, 24-25)

Conditions were worse for prisoners convicted of treason and transported to the colonies. Henry Pitman barely mentioned the five-week voyage: “…had a very sickly passage, insomuch that nine of my companions were buried at sea.” (Pitman, 436) Sabatini expanded on this somewhat in Captain Blood:
From close confinement under hatches, ill-nourishment and foul water, a sickness broke out amongst them, of which eleven died…The mortality might have been higher than it was but for Peter Blood. (Sabatini, 32)

Such sickness wasn’t unusual in such close confinement and unsanitary conditions. Following the rebellion, 890 prisoners left Bristol and Weymouth for Barbados, Jamaica, and the Leeward Islands. In his recounting of the rising’s aftermath, Macualey wrote this about the transport ships:
The human cargoes were stowed close in the holds of small vessels. So little space was allowed that the wretches, many of whom were still tormented by unhealed wounds, could not all lie down at once without lying on one another. They were never suffered to go on deck. The hatchway was constantly watched by sentinels armed with hangers and blunderbusses. In the dungeon below all was darkness, stench, lamentation, disease and death. Of ninety-nine convicts who were carried out in one vessel, twenty-two died before they reached Jamaica, although the voyage was performed with unusual speed. The survivors when they arrived at their house of bondage were mere skeletons. During some weeks coarse biscuit and fetid water had been doled out to them in such scanty measure that any one of them could easily have consumed the ration which was assigned to five. They were, therefore, in such a state that the merchant to whom they had been consigned found it expedient to fatten them before selling them. (Macauley, 455)

This passage contradicts Peter’s experience once he arrives in Barbados, for these treasonous rebels were not sold at auction as he is. Lord Jeffreys determined each rebel was worth ten to fifteen pounds after expenses, and the competition for the grants of slaves was fierce. When Secretary of State Lord Spencer wrote to the Lord Chief Justice in September to announce King James’ instructions to transport the prisoners, he included the following list:
• 200 to Sir Philip Howard, Governor of Jamaica
• 200 to Sir Richard White
• 100 each to Sir William Booth, a Barbados merchant
• Sir James Kendall, later Governor of Barbados
• Sir Jerome Nipho, the Queen’s Italian Secretary
• Sir William Stapleton, Governor of the Leeward Islands
• Sir Christopher Musgrave
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Henry Pitman made no mention of being sold at auction, only of being “consigned to Charles Thomas and his Company,” who, in turn, commanded him to serve Robert Bishop. The list above certainly implies these men were already slated for specific masters, but in some manner at some point there had to be an exchange of funds to compensate the royal treasury.
Sabatini, however, chooses to have his characters experience being sold. For example, Colonel Bishop stops before Jeremiah Pitt and “fingered the muscles of the young man’s arm, and bade him open his mouth that he might see his teeth.” (Sabatini, 34) Bishop purchases the former navigator for £15. Pitt’s experience wasn’t far off the mark. Chevalier Laurent d’Arvieux, a diplomat from France stationed in one of the Barbary states in the seventeenth century, wrote:

They examine their teeth, the palms of their hands, to judge by the delicacy of the skin if they are working folk; but they’ll pay special attention to those with pierced ears, which implies that they are not common folk but people of quality who’ve worn earrings since childhood. (Ekin, 178)

Henry Pitman’s master was Robert Bishop, who “grew more and more unkind unto us, and would not give us any clothes, nor me any benefit of practice…. Our diet was very mean. 5 lbs. of salt Irish beef, or salt fish, a week, for each man; and Indian or Guinea Corn ground on a stone, and made into dumplings instead of bread.” (Pitman, 443) Unlike his fictional counterpart, this Bishop eventually owed so much money all his property, including Pitman, was confiscated and resold.
Sabatini’s description of Colonel Bishop implies a penchant for extravagance, similar to that which led to Robert Bishop’s penury:

After [Governor Steed], in the uniform of a colonel of the Barbados Militia, rolled a tall, corpulent man who towered head and shoulders above the Governor, with malevolence plainly written on his enormous yellowish countenance. At his side, and contrasting oddly with his grossness…came a slight young lady…. (Sabatini, 33)

While these convicted rebels were welcome labor for the plantations, the government of Barbados took no chances with the presence of such “dangerous” men. In his account, Pitman included a copy of An Act for the governing and retaining within this island, all such rebel convicts, as by His most sacred Majesty’s Order or Permit, have been, or shall be transported…. Henry considered this “inchristian and inhuman”. It contained rules governing these rebels during their period of servitude and regulations to prevent citizens from abetting them in any escape attempt. One example of the former was:
That is one or more of the aforesaid Servants or rebels convict[ed], shall attempt, endeavour, or contrive to make his or their escape from off this island before the said Term of Ten Years be fully complete[d] and ended; such Servant or Servants, for his or their so attempting or endeavouring to make escape, shall, upon proof thereof made to the Governor, receive, by his warrant, Thirty-nine lashes on his bare body, on some public day, in the next market town to his Master’s town, be set in the pillory, by the space of one hour; and be burnt in the forehead with the letters F. T. signifying Fugitive Traitor, so as the letters may plainly appear in his forehead. (Pitman, 439)

The word “Servants” was a euphemism for “slaves”. In 1651 Cromwell sent rebel convicts to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Thirty-five Scots ended up working for the ironworks. “They felled trees, chopped wood, and hauled load after load to the charcoal pits…. Some Scots wielded picks and shovels in the swamps, or dredged the lakes and ponds…. Others tended crops and cattle… producing much of the food for the worker population, or spent countless hours loading, unloading and measuring carts of charcoal, mine ore, and iron bars.” (Rapaport, 4Cool During the following year, the wood these “servants” chopped amounted to £500 in wages saved, for these men earned no money for their backbreaking labor.
Some of the rebels in Captain Blood toil on Colonel Bishop’s sugar plantation. Gentlemen planters with large estates discovered that growing and harvesting sugar cane made them wealthy. Barbados was the principal supplier of Caribbean sugar, and a thriving plantation was around two hundred acres, which meant the number of such estates was relatively small. Thus a few men wielded a lot of influence in the governing of the island.

While indentured servants were the principal workers when these plantations first began, by the time the prisoners arrived, African slaves did much of the backbreaking work. Regardless of where slaves worked, they were treated as property to be used and abused as their owners saw fit.

The lash was the primary implement used “to make sure that they weren’t lazy about the work and didn’t try to run away.” (Lester, 33) Branding was a more severe form of punishment, especially for escapees. The Ancient Romans burned an “F” on runaways and robbers, while France branded galley slaves with “TF” until 1832. On 10 October 2006, Lord Phillips, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, presented a lecture at Oxford on crime and punishment.

Today criminal records are kept on computer. Up until the end of the 18th century they were recorded by branding the criminal, in the courtroom, after conviction, ‘T’ for thief, ‘F’ for felon, ‘M’ for manslaughter and so on. The letters were burned on the thumb, the hand or the wrist.

Pitman mentioned such a punishment in his account, which Sabatini incorporated into Captain Blood. One rebel fled, but “was tracked, brought back, flogged, and then branded on the forehead with the letters ‘F.T.,’ that all might know him for a fugitive traitor as long as he lived.” (Sabatini, 42)
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 5:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unlike his friends, Peter has relative freedom because of his medical training and skill at easing the governor’s gout. Edward Steed, whom Sabatini describes as “a short, stout, red-faced gentleman, in blue taffetas burdened by a prodigious amount of gold lace, who limped a little and leaned heavily upon a stout ebony cane”, was indeed Governor of Barbados at this time. (Sabatini, 33) His signature adorned the Act for the governing and retaining within this island, all such rebels convict, as by His most sacred Majesty’s Order or Permit, have been, or shall be transported from his European dominion to this place, which Henry Pitman referred to in his account. Whether Steed actually suffered from the gout, I don’t know, but it was a common affliction in colonial days.

Gout strikes mostly men – usually between the ages of forty and seventy – who eat large quantities of meat and drink prodigious amounts of alcohol. The intense pain strikes suddenly, usually attacking the large toe. While there are other doctors on Barbados, Peter seems to be the only one who brings the governor any relief, and Peter plays on this indebtedness several times in the story until Colonel Bishop decides the uppity doctor needs to be taught a lesson. Before that happens, though, Peter uses his “freedom” to plan an escape with the assistance of those other physicians.

While these men plant the seed of freedom in the fictional characters’ minds, Henry Pitman resolved to flee because his brother died. He also gave up hope that he’d receive a pardon, which his relatives back in England attempted to secure for him. Nor could he endure the abuse. Around this time he made the acquaintance of John Nuthall, “a carver; whose condition was somewhat mean, and therefore one that wanted money to carry him off the island: I imparted my design unto him, and employed him to buy a boat of a Guiney Man that lay in the road; promising him for his reward, not only his passage free, and money for his present expenses, but to give him the boat also, when we arrived at our port.” (Pitman, 445)

Once again the true story and the fictional one collide. Peter colludes with a man named Nuttall, “who follows the trade of shipwright” and wishes to leave the island, but they encounter a problem because of that act Governor Steed and the assembly enacted.

…every Owner or Keeper of any small vessel…shall, within twenty days after publication thereof, give into the Secretary’s Office…[security] in the sum of Two Hundred Pounds sterling…that he will not convey or carry off…any of the aforesaid rebels convict….
…if any Owner or Keeper of such small vessel…hereafter make sale…thereof, without first giving notice in the Secretary’s Office…such vessel…shall be forfeited to His Majesty his heirs and successors…. (Pitman, 441)
After Nuttall bought a boat, an officer sought him out for failing to declare the purchase as the law required. Nor did he pay the ten pounds surety – a far smaller amount than the declaration actually states. The real Nuthall, however, didn’t make the same mistake because Pitman made certain “he…gave in security for [the purchased boat] at the Secretary’s Office, conformable to the custom and laws of the island.” (Pitman, 445) Not that this mattered; government officials became suspicious and demanded Nuthall name the real purchaser. Although he denied anyone else was involved, they didn’t believe him and raised the surety. When told of this, Henry told him to sink the boat. That made the officials more suspicious, but they had no use for a sunken boat and washed their hands of the matter.
The supplies that both Henry and Peter acquired for their escape are similar. The former’s list cites “[a] hundredweight of bread, a convenient quantity of cheese, a cask of water, some few bottles of Canary and Madeira wine and beer…a compass, quadrant, chart, half-hour glass, half-minute glass, log and line, large tarpaulin, a hatchet, hammer, saw and nails, some spare boards, a lantern and candles.” (Pitman, 446) Peter’s supplies include “a hundredweight of bread, a quantity of cheese, a cask of water and some few bottles of Canary, a compass, quadrant, chart, half-hour glass, log and line, a tarpaulin, some carpenter’s tools, and a lantern and candles.” (Sabatini, 5Cool

Many of these tools are those a seaman would utilize during a voyage. The compass, quadrant, and chart are navigational tools. That last item is a mariner’s map that provides necessary details to insure a ship’s safe passage through a body of water: what the coast looks like; any distinguishing landmarks to differentiate one spot from another; how deep the water is; and what the tides and currents are. Yet the information on seventeenth-century charts wasn’t necessarily correct because much of the world remained unexplored or hadn’t been studied enough. Also, nations jealously guarded their charts from each other. A prized treasure pirates and early privateers sought once they captured a Spanish ship were the sea charts. Much of the west coast of South America was unknown to English seamen until Bartholomew Sharp captured the Santa Rosario in July 1681. He wrote in his journal, “In this prize I took a Spanish manuscript…. It describes all the ports, roads, harbours, bays, sands, rocks and rising of the land and instructions how to work the ship into any port or harbour. They were going to throw it overboard but by good luck I saved it – and the Spaniards cried out when I got the book.” (Rutherford-Moore, 1Cool

Another important instrument at sea was the compass, which allowed helmsmen to steer steady and true courses. The quadrant permitted a navigator to affix the vessel’s latitude. John Davis invented this instrument, also called a back staff, in 1595. It allowed the user to take his position without gazing directly into the sun as the earlier cross-staff required. The log and line were used to determine a vessel’s speed and the depth of water in which she sailed. Sandglasses allowed those on board to measure the passage of time. Those used in navigation contained sufficient sand to pass from one glass to another in increments of one hour, thirty minutes, or thirty seconds. Seamen used the first two to time the watches, the periods in which men were on or off duty. All were essential for navigating across the ocean successfully.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 5:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How Henry Pitman and his comrades escape differs from that of Peter Blood and his friends. Henry’s group departs late on the evening of 9 May 1685. Edward Steed entertains a fellow governor from another island. Although he puts the militia on alert, the “reveling, drinking, and feasting to excess” results in “drowsy security and carelessness.” (Pitman, 447)

…we embarked in our small vessel; being in number eight, viz., John Whicker, Peter Bagwell, William Woodcock, John Cooke, Jeremiah Atkins, and myself, which were Sufferers on the account of the Duke of Monmouth: the other two were John Nuthall, who bought the boat for me, and Thomas Waker. (Pitman, 448)

Just as Colonel Bishop is about to give Peter his comeuppance for being impudent and giving aid to Jeremy Pitt contrary to orders, providence intervenes in the form of Spanish privateers, who attack Barbados.
By sunset two hundred and fifty Spaniards were masters of Bridgetown, the islanders were disarmed, and at Government House, Governor Steed…supported by Colonel Bishop and some lesser officers, was being informed by Don Diego, with an urbanity that was itself a mockery, of the sum that would be required in ransom. (Sabatini, 78-9)

Ransoming captives was normal, and in this particular instance, the ransom amounted to 100,000 pieces of eight and fifty cows. If paid, Don Diego wouldn’t torch the town. The buccaneers frequently attacked settlements of the Spanish Main and threatened similar devastation. Both sides parleyed, and, while the negotiations took place, the majority of men “were smashing and looting, feasting, drinking, and ravaging after the hideous manner of their kind.” (Sabatini, 79) When Henry Morgan captured Portobello, he demanded a ransom of 350,000 pesos while his men plundered the city. The Spanish negotiator eventually got Morgan to accept 100,000 pesos. He wrote, “Thence being under sayle we sent the hostages on shoare, leaving both towne and castles entirely….” (Earle, 77)


Henry Morgan and a Spanish Galleon

During this timely diversion, Peter Blood and his comrades make their way to the harbor and row out to the Cinco Llagas, the Spanish privateer. They steal aboard the ship and quickly subdue what few Spaniards remain.
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part 4: Escape from Barbados
Although the idea of Captain Blood came from Henry Pitman’s account of his experiences as a rebel convict, the novel’s narrator provides another source – the log Jeremiah Pitt kept while sailing with Peter Blood. Later on, the narrator elaborates on this:

In addition to his ability as a navigator, this amiable young man appears to have wielded an indefatigable pen…. He kept the log of the forty-gun frigate Arabella, on which he served as master, or, as we should say today, navigating officer, as no log that I have seen was ever kept. It runs into some twenty-odd volumes of assorted sizes…they are preserved in the library of Mr. James Speke of Comerton…. (Sabatini, 119)

Pitman’s account is a mere handful of pages, but at times as harrowing as some of his fictional counterpart’s adventures. He and his comrades depart Barbados in a small boat that leaks badly, “[b]ut having the conveniency of a tub and a large wooden bowl; we now fell to work, and in a little time, we pretty well emptied our boat: and then we set our mast, and hoisted our sail, steered our course south-west as near as I could judge…. For although we endeavoured all we could to stop her gaping seams with our linen and all the rags we had…yet she was so thin, so feeble, so heavily ladened, and wrought [laboured] so exceedingly by reason of the great motion of the sea, that we could not possibly make her tight, but were forced to keep one person almost continually, day and night, to throw out the water, during our whole voyage.” (Pitman, 449)
To complicate matters a strong wind splits the rudder, then five nights later “…the sea began to foam, and to turn its smooth surface into mountains and vales. Our boat was tossed and tumbled from one side to the other; and so violently driven and hurried away by the fury of the wind and sea, that I was afraid we should be driven by the island in the night-time…”. (Pitman, 452) In spite of these hardships, they eventually arrive at Saltatudos to rest and make their boat seaworthy enough to take them to “Curaçoa.” But they aren’t the only ones on this island.



The other inhabitants turned out to be privateers – a word often used by buccaneers to describe themselves, rather than saying pirates – who had once crewed aboard a privateer mounting forty-eight guns and captained by a man named Yanche. They had intended to attack Saint Augustine in Spanish Florida, something Sir Francis Drake had done in 1586 and Robert Searle in 1669. (Such devastating attacks would lead to the erection of a stone fortress known as Castillo de San Marcos, which can still be seen today.) Beforehand, though, the privateers went ashore “to turn turtle [i.e., on their backs],” but natives attacked them. By the time they returned to the rendezvous point, their ships were nowhere in sight.

Turtles were a common food of the buccaneers. Alexandre Exquemelin wrote of these creatures:

…the green turtles…are of middling size, being a good four feet in breadth. Their shell is thicker, covered with small scales about as thick as the horn used in lanterns. These turtles are extremely good to eat – the flesh very sweet and the fat green and delicious. This fat is so penetrating that when you have eaten nothing but turtle flesh for three or four weeks, your shirt becomes so greasy from sweat you can squeeze the oil out and your limbs are weighed down with it.
…No special implements are carried for catching the green turtles…but when these creatures come on shore every night to lay their eggs, they can be levered over by two men with a hand-spike. Once laid on their backs, the turtles cannot budge. (Exquemelin, 74, 75)
Pitman also described how he and the others turned turtles.
…we walked along the sea shore to watch for tortoises or turtle: which when they came up out of the sea…we turned on their backs. And they being incapable of turning themselves again, we let them remain so till the day following, or until we had conveniency of killing them: for if they were sufficiently defended from the heat of the sun by shade…they would live several days out of the water.
...in the night-time, to turn turtle; and in the day-time, we were employed in killing them: whose flesh was the chiefest of our diet, being roasted by the fire on wooden spits. (Pitman, 456)
These creatures fascinated him, for he wrote several times about them and how the men prepared and ate the food the turtles provided. Rather than eat bread, which wasn’t available to them, they beat the yolks of the turtle eggs “in calabashes with some salt; and fried them with the fat of the tortoise, like to pancakes, in a piece of an earthen jar found by the sea-side….” (Pitman, 457-Cool
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 06, 2017 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Such lengthy explanations were common inclusions in early accounts of life in the West Indies, and buccaneers wrote a number of these. The first part of Exquemelin’s The Buccaneers of America described Hispaniola – its geography, as well as the vegetation growing and creatures living there. But this book was merely the first of the travel/adventure books pirates wrote. Lionel Wafer, another buccaneer surgeon, published his account in 1699 and much of it discussed the exotic places and people he met and the flora and fauna he encountered. Two years earlier, William Dampier came out with A New Voyage Round the World, which the Royal Society considered a “factual, talented, and richly detailed account of people, places, things, plants, fishes, reptiles, birds and mammals.” (Shipman, 4) Between this book and subsequent ones, Dampier introduced a number of words into the English language: avocado, cashew, chopsticks, sea-lion, sub-species, thunder-cloud, and many others.



The privateers on the island attempted to dissuade Henry and his comrades from repairing their boat, instead suggesting they become privateers like themselves and accompany them in their piraguas. Failing to convince the rebel convicts in this idea, the privateers burned the leaky boat expecting Henry and company would go with them rather than remain on the island until a ship passed in “eight or nine months” or risk capture by Spaniards who would accuse them of being pirates.

But this contrivance answered not their expectations. For notwithstanding they burnt our boat and took our sails and other utensils from us, I continued my resolution, and chose rather to trust Divine Providence on that desolate and uninhabitable island than to partake or be any ways concerned with them in their piracy: having confidence in myself, that GOD, who had so wonderfully and miraculously preserved us on the sea and brought us to this island, would, in like manner, deliver us hence, if we continued faithful to Him. (Pitman, 454-5)

Four of the privateers opted to remain with Henry and the others. Three months passed before a ship ventured near the island. Those aboard turned out to be privateers. Henry was the only one invited to join the captain aboard the ship, “where I was not only feasted with wine and choice provisions; but had given me by the Doctor a pair of silk stockings, a pair of shoes, and a great deal of linen cloth to make me shirts, &c.” (Pitman, 462)
Since the privateers were bound for port with a recently captured prize, Henry requested that he and his comrades accompany them. As was the custom on pirate ships, however, the captain could not make that decision “without the consent of the Company, having but two votes and as many shares in the ship and cargo….” (Pitman, 462) Once the men gathered in the waist, they agreed to take Henry, but not his companions. They didn’t, however, leave those men empty handed.

…they sent them a cask of wine, some bread and cheese, a gammon of bacon, some linen cloth, thread and needles to make them shirts, &c. And the next day, they permitted them to come on board, and entertained them very courteously. (Pitman, 462)

Two days later Henry and the privateers sailed for Providence in the Bahamas. The English had abandoned the island earlier, but had returned to settle only eight months earlier. “[T]hey had built a town by the seaside; and elected a Governor from among themselves: who, with the consent of twelve more of the chief men of the island, made and enacted divers laws for the good of their little commonwealth; being as yet under the protection of no Prince.” (Pitman, 464)
Henry stayed for about two weeks, then departed aboard a ketch bound for Carolina and New York. One morning he went for a walk and encountered an acquaintance from Barbados, the island where he had escaped his enforced servitude. This man told him:

…of the different resentments people had at our departure, and how after we were gone, our Masters had hired a sloop to send after us; but thinking it in vain, they did not pursue us. However, they sent our names and the description of our persons to the Leeward Islands, that so, if any of us came thither, we might be taken prisoners and sent up again. (Pitman, 466)

The man also recounted numerous rumors of what had become of Henry and his companions, but most believed they had perished at sea.
Soon after this meeting, Henry set sail for Amsterdam. Five weeks later, the ship stopped at the Isle of Wight, and Henry headed for Southampton incognito, only to learn upon his arrival that this disguise was unnecessary. His relatives “had procured my Pardon; and joyfully received me, as one risen from the dead.” (Pitman, 466) He ended his account with a devout prayer to the Almighty for seeing him through his trials while residing “at the sign of the Ship, in Paul’s Churchyard, London” on 10 June 1689.

this story will be continued tomorrow......
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PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 7:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whereas Henry remains true to his principles and devout in his faith that God will deliver him, Peter Blood and his friends see no such deliverance for themselves. Out in the harbor rides the Spanish ship Cinco Llagas, which Blood feels is a far better vessel than the small boat originally purchased for their escape. To gain control, they must steal aboard and overpower any remaining Spaniards. This is not an unusual tactic for pirates to employ, but boarding by stealth does have disadvantages. One danger is they may be sighted before they reach their intended target. Another is the enemy may have guards aboard who have tricks up their own sleeves for dealing with thieves. Blood and his men are most vulnerable as they ascend the ship and come over the rail. They must be willing to fight to the death, for retreat isn’t an option.



What differs in this boarding action from those pirates normally employed is the lack of preparation time. Peter has no time to evaluate the vessels available to him and select the best one to suit their purpose. Nor has he any time to learn more about the Cinco Llagas or devise a well thought-out plan to guarantee success. One trait Peter does possess that was essential in any successful pirate, though, is he thinks on his feet and takes advantage of whatever opportunities present themselves. He also leads by action, rather than words.

Shipwrights did not design pirate ships and sell them to sea raiders. Like Blood, pirates acquired their vessels through appropriation, either sneaking aboard at night or attacking a potential prize at sea in the light of day. Then they adapted these vessels to suit their needs. For example, after Bartholomew Roberts and his company captured the Onslow, they made “[a]lterations as might fit her for a Sea-Rover, pulling down her Bulk-Heads, and making her flush, so that she became, in all Respects, as compleat a Ship for their Purpose, as any they could have found; they continued to her the Name of the Royal Fortune, and mounted her with 40 Guns.” (Defoe, 229)

Most pirates start out with small boats and work their way up to larger and larger ships, but Peter acquires a large ship from the first. Sabatini calls it a frigate, a naval vessel Spain first built in Flanders in the early 1600s. As the century progressed, other navies also adopted her as did privateers. In the latter half of the seventeenth century, this type of warship had three masts and was “smaller than ships-of-the-line and typically with 20 to 44 guns in one or two batteries.” (Glete, 69)

When Don Diego de Espinosa y Valdez returns to the ship at dawn, Peter has his men haul the four treasure chests aboard while Ogle, a former gunner in the Royal Navy, prepares a surprise for the men in the eight boats heading for the Cinco Llagas. Once Don Diego climbs aboard, Hagthorpe deftly wields a capstan bar to “put him to sleep” and stows him in his cabin. Meanwhile, “a round shot struck the water within a fathom of the foremost boat…a second shot, better aimed…came to crumple one of the boats into splinters, flinging its crew dead and living, into the water.” (Sabatini, 87) More shots followed before the three remaining boats headed back to the wharf where the puzzled islanders waited.

Thankful for this timely salvation, Governor Steed sends Colonel Bishop to the Spanish ship to thank those aboard. The man who greets him bears little resemblance to a certain physician indentured to him. Peter has abandoned his tattered rags for an outfit purloined from Don Diego’s wardrobe.

…a lean, graceful gentleman, dressed in the Spanish fashion, all in black with silver lace, a gold-hilted sword dangling beside him from a gold embroidered baldrick, a board castor with a sweeping plume set above carefully curled ringlets of deepest black. (Sabatini, 89)

Stupefied to find Blood facing him, Bishop is nevertheless jubilant. He calls the rebel convicts’ actions heroic and offers to write King James II of their exploits, for which “some portion of your sentences shall be remitted.” (Sabatini, 90) Hagthorpe suggests they toss him overboard, while Wolverstone suggests hanging him from the yardarm. Peter, however, clarifies there’s only one captain on the frigate and he intends to set sail with Bishop aboard as a hostage until they pass the fort that could stop their escape. Only then does Peter release Bishop so he can swim back to shore. While some may assume this violates the pirate code, they technically are still in battle and thus, Peter has the right to make command decisions without putting it to a vote of the others. Sabatini takes literary license, though, and perpetuates a pirate myth – walking the plank.
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