Ahoy Matey!

  • May 26, 2011
  • Posted By: Pennsbury Manor
With the release of yet another Pirate movie, I thought I’d share some of our own William Penn’s experience with the swashbuckling menaces!  In April of 1700, Penn wrote to the Board of Trade explaining some of his troubles: 
Pennsbury Manor | Ahoy Matey!
Painting of Captain Kidd as imagined by the artist Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, ca. 1920

There came lately to my Notice this Information, That when Captain Kidd was off our Capes, there went on board him Geo: Thomson, Peter Lewis, Henry Stretcher, William Orr, & Diggory Tenny from the town of Lewis in Sussex (now Delaware) the three first staid on board 24 hours, the two last but an hour, but both Companies brought Goods on Shoar, I hear to the Value of 300l, which they concealed and Sold as they could dispose of them, Some are yet in their Custody: Thomson Lewis and Orr were under suspicion of being old Pirates…here are 5 of them in this Government, but 3 of them have followed a Life of Husbandry, turning Planter, the other have Trades.

Penn goes on to say that the men in question, claiming that they did not know they were dealing with the infamous Captain Kidd, were in jail and cooperating with Penn. The General Assembly had, in Penn’s absence, repealed some of the laws regarding commerce with Pirates, and the men, who “Our present Law will hardly reach,” were allowed to live inPennsylvania.  Penn writes…

…It is true they are poor and married men, & have Children, but such men must not be endured to live near the Sea-Coasts nor trade, least they become Receptacles and Broakers for Younger Pirates. … Since many of those reputed Pirates had some Years agoe been permitted to live in this & other Provinces, on Condition, that they left them not without leave, and behaved well while they Staid.  I wait the Kings Orders about them.  I have them all under good Bonds of Real and Personal Estate to be accountable and so Suffer them to live with their families, on their Plantations, till I receive further Directions about them.

~ Written by Mary Ellyn Kunz, Museum Educator

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