Friday, February 13, 2009

Charles Vane, Charles Towne Pirate

If you've read The Red Siren, you may remember the scene in the Pink House when Dajon and Faith and Lucas go in to rescue Hope. There was a pirate there who gave our Captain Waite a bit of trouble. His name was Charles Vane and he was a real pirate at the time. I thought you might be interested to know a bit about the rascal.

Charles Vane's was a very successful pirtate in his day, and in particular in 1718. His pirating career began when he joined other pirates in 1716 raiding Spanish ships that were recovering silver from galleons that sunk in 1715 off the Florida coast. In May 1718, two captains of plundered vessels reported Vane and his crew to Governor Bennett in Bermuda for his piracy.
When the new Governor Woodes Rogers arrived in New Providence, Nassau with two accompanying man-of-wars (HMS Milford and HMS Rose ), offering pardons to pirates in late July 1718, Vane set fire to a French sloops and set sail, firing a few shots at the entering man-of-wars as he sailed past them. Vane and his crew were the only pirates in New Providence that did not accept the pardon at Woodes' arrival.

A couple of days after his flight, Vane captured a sloop which he kept as a consort and sent Yeats aboard to command. In late August/early September, Vane and his consort were operating off the Carolina coas, attacking shipping entering and leaving Charleston. (and hanging out at the Pink House--which was an actual Pirate hangout in Charles Towne)

Outraged by the recent string of pirate attacks outside Charleston, the Governor and Council of South Carolina planned to rid the menacing pirates, in particular Vane, and commissioned two armed sloops led by Colonel William Rhett to find him.

While off Ocracoke Island, North Carolina in September 1718, Vane met up with Blackbeard and the pirate ships saluted one another and the two pirate crews proceeded to spend a week together in a typical pirate party. (Yikes!) After departing company, Vane continued his plundering successes and hoped to meet with Yeats again, but instead plundered a few more vessels from Charleston.

Blackbeard's and Vane's crew celebrated together on the Carolina coast
On November 23, Vane came across a vessel in the Windward Passage and hoisted his pirate flag. But instead, the vessel retaliated with a broadside and it was discovered to be a French man-of-war. Vane fled the scene but the next day the crew confronted Vane and stated he was a coward. The crew elected the quarter master, Calico Jack Rackham as the new captain of the brigantine and Vane and his fellow supporters were set off on a small sloop.

In the following months, Vane and his new crew started from scratch again quite successfully by plundering several vessels. In February, Vane's sloop was wrecked on an uninhabited island in the Bay of Honduras during a fierce storm where most of the crew drowned. Vane survived but found himself marooned. Finally, a ship arrived but unfortunately for Vane it was commanded by an old acquaintance and former buccaneer Captain Holford. Holford would not rescue Vane from the island stating, "Charles, I shan't trust you aboard my ship, unless I carry you a prisoner; for I shall have you plotting with my men, knock me on the head and run away with my ship a pirating." And with that, Holford sailed away leaving Vane alone again.

Luckily another ship soon arrived and this time no one knew Vane so he was allowed on board. Unluckily, Captain Holford's ship met with this ship and he was invited aboard to dine by the captain. While there, Holford accidentally saw Vane working onboard and quickly informed the captain who Vane truly was. On knowing this, the captain relinquished Vane to Captain Holford who threw him in his hold and turned him over to the authorities in Jamaica where he was soon tried for piracy on March 22, 1720 and was hanged at Gallows Point and his body hung in chains at the small islet Gun Cay.
Now, you can see why he gave our Dajon Waite some problems.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction. This is certainly true of Vane's story. Thanks for sharing!