Sessions, 1536-1834: Maritime Crime and the Silver Oar”.
“Dr. Fisher Littleton presided over the Admiralty court and took the view that those who adhered to James II were “not enemies, but rogues”. The prosecution proceeded at the Admiralty Sessions held at the Marshalsea in February 1694, even though the nine accused men asserted that they fought under a lawful commission issued by James II. At these hearings, Captain John Golden and Thomas Jones were convicted for treason and Patrick Quidley and Darby Collins for piracy. On March 5, 1694, they were hanged.”
Orwaldstone, then still referred to as Old Rye, and Margate Limb of Dover, have
gathered together in council at St. James Church, near Dover Castle. The steady
decline in revenues and the increasing pressure of more taxation from King
Charles II had been a vexing matter. As was explained at the time, “If you have
a tormenting boil, you lance it as best you can.”
inevitably faces in matters of cause-and-effect. For now, the downside to a
tacit approbation of piracy on the high seas has been set aside in favor of its
Warden of the Cinque Ports and Constable of Dover Castle. The forty-nine year
old Beaumont will stand for election to Parliament later in the year and he
will be raised to a lieutenant colonelcy in Our Holland Regiment (the 4th
Regiment). Both of these achievements will require more money that he has on
hand as of January 10th, which is why he agreed to meet with young,
aggressive, impatient Captain Patrick Quidley and his uncle, Squire David
Quidley, late in the season the preceding year of Our Lord, 1684 and in so
doing, he became the third member of the conspiracy. Both Quidleys are high
commoners and prominent men within the family that has prospered in building,
drydockage and repairs to shipping in the ports that the Lord Warden oversees.
franchises, liberties, customs and usages of the ports and gathers such as is
owed to the crown, taking a salary for himself. Unfortunately, Beaumont’s taste
for the gaming table and wooing other men’s wives has been his undoing and he
took liberties with the Royal Exchequer. At the beginning of the new year,
after the Feast of the Epiphany, he will be required to settle financial
matters with the Charles II’s factotums.
after the King dies in twenty-seven days by his successor James II, who will
need all the friends he can get. But that is still a month in the future.
a brigantine of ten guns and two swivels, required a significant investment.
The funds have been raised by offering shares to interested members of the
family with ten percent ownership gifted to the Lord Warden in exchange for a
letter of marque of dubious legal standing.
the first voyage of the Gull.
diminishes as the Lord Warden, flanked by four Hollanders in uniform, carrying
snaphaunce muskets takes the dias.
guard announces, quieting the meeting without threat of malice.
in the middle. He’s chosen to wear his honorary Admiral’s uniform today, but
still looks every bit the profiteer. He smiles broadly with his brown, rotting
teeth and dismisses the guard, who follow Captain Patrick Quidley from St.
James through a side door that leads to the graveyard.
yes even me, to announce the success of our joint venture in commerce, which we
shall all toast with rum!” As soon as he makes the announcement, servants begin
to distribute mugs and then the toast is offered by the Lord Warden, himself,
“King Charles, God save the King!”
Captain Patrick Quidley returns into the church, flanked by the musketeers and
by seamen, also armed with muskets. A stout cart is wheeled in with a chest on
it. The cart is pushed to the front of the church and is opened. It’s filled
with gold and silver plate, gold dubloons, pieces of eight and religious
articles of gold and precious stones.
Portuguese galleon, San Jose de Padre of
twenty brass guns, which their most esteemed cousin, Patrick, took at sea in
the Brigantine Gull.
Lisbon, carrying His Eminence, Antonio Brandao, Archbishop of Goa on his way
home following his term in office, blundered into the path of the Gull. God had clearly taken a holiday where the fate of the Archbishop was concerned.
Islands and the coast of Morocco, which was hardly an original place to ambush
a slow, heavy ship beating up the coast against the wind. The lumbering
Portuguese galleon, badly in need of careening, managed one broadside against
the Gull only to have four of its
brass guns explode due possibly to wear and poor handling. Looking at twenty dead and bleeding gunners took the fight out of the others, now concerned for themselves. The Gull,
with fresh canvas and a new, smooth hull, danced around her and swept her decks
with grapeshot, killing the captain and the Archbishop. The first lieutenant
raised the flag of the Holy See. Gull
raised the black flag and the lieutenant struck his colors.
had been at war. As fate would have it, 1684 was one of the few years that
England was not at war with anyone and neither was Portugal. In fact, they had
been allied through the marriage of Catherine of Braganza and Charles II, and
that made Quidley’s choice of a Portuguese galleon a dangerous one. In his
defense, Captain Quidley said that he hadn’t known of a certainty that the ship was
Portuguese until they boarded her, found the body of the Archbishop and
confronted the terrified crew.
was, there wasn’t much to do but salvage what they could, maroon surviving
members of the crew and half a dozen priests on La Gomera Island in the Canary
Chain and scuttle the San Jose de Padre.
cargo consisted of 230 bolts of silk fabric, 84 casks of saltpeter, 30 casks of
opium, 45 casks of indigo, and 70 hogsheads of wine and 100 of brandy. 12 puncheons of a better grade of brandy bore the archbishop’s seal.
account for over half of the value of the take, estimated at £35,000. Subtracting the £9,800 cost of the sturdy Gull, it left £24,800 to be distributed
of which £3,000 went directly into the pocket of John Beaumont, the
King’s Warden and associated bribes amounting to an additional £400.
The Quidleys were thrilled with their investment and Patrick was toasted until he couldn’t not stand.
|LL – back to writing|
A lesser man, with command of a regiment of foot at
his fingertips might have thought to seize the treasure in the Church of St.
James that very day but the plain truth is that the pirate crew were better
armed, more numerous, and there would have been a lot of explaining for the
Warden to do.
given to the crew of the Gull, there
present to oversee the transaction, the Quidley family disburses back to their
homes, the Warden takes his gold down a narrow, cobbled road, then across the courtyard to Dover Castle and the
matter rests for the moment. Everyone is rich and content. What could go wrong?