Monday, December 17, 2012
People: The Tale of William Lewis
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, among 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 the intimacy of their captain with Satan a little too much, and soon afterwards one of the Frenchmen aboard murdered Lewis in his sleep.
~ from The Pirate's Who's Who by Philip Gosse
Header: Captain Lewis from The Pirate's Own Book by Charles Ellms via Project Gutenberg