. Thomas Hollingsworth the Pirate
There was a notorious pirate named Thomas Hollingsworth who sailed with Captain
William Kidd, and was last known to history as he sailed his ship to escape
the chase of a French privateer..."Into Dublin Harbour" and up the Liffey
River. Was he the father of John, Samuel and William Hollingsworth, that
particular "spelling" but really a family continuously using that spelling,
is to be found mainly in the Parish of Wigan, Lancashsire, not far from Manchester,
nor for that matter, from Mottram, Cheshire. (this was taken from Harry Hollingsworth's
HR March 1988 issue)
Thomas sailed with Captain Kidd during the 1690s as a privateer and went
on to captain his own ship.
The following is from Pirates of the Eastern Seas (1618-1723), by Charles
On page 30 in the chapter marked "Avery and Kidd," a brief history of the
final exploits of the main gang of the pirates is given. After having befuddled
and conned many prominent officials, including those of the British East
India Company, warrants for them went out. . After not getting a pardon for
themselves from the Govenor of Jamaica (he refused their bribe of L20,000),
they split up and attemted to disappear, some doing so in New England - names
The remainder bought sloops at New Providence in the Bahamas (warning: in
the old documents it is called simply "Providence" which confused us as to
whether Rhode Island was meant), in a final desperate attempt to get home.
One Captain Farrell skippered the "Sunflower" carrying Henry Avery and 19
of his crew, which let them off at Dunfanahan on the north Irish coast. From
there they went to Dublin. Another sloop commanded by Captain Hollingsworth
took sixteen pirates to Dublin. After more than a thousand pounds reward
was put up by the British Admiralty and the East India Company, on 19 Oct
1696, 24 of the pirates were arrested and tried, which resulted in six being
hanged and the rest transported as slaves to Virginia. Apparently Thomas
Hollingsworth was not among the 24 who were apprehended. (Harry Hollingsworth
in his HR says the Wexford Hollingsworths were associated with Dublin at
this time. Did Thomas turn good, go straight and become our Arklow, County
Wicklow and County Wexford progenitor???)
Thomas Hollingsworth the Pirate !!
by Harry Hollingsworth
A lot of people live in fear that some well-meaning ancestor-hunter
in their family, will some day find the "horse-thief" of the clan! Your editor
has found the Pirate in the Hollingsworth clan! (Run for cover, and for shame!).
This fellow was a bona fide water-bourne highwayman of the late 17th century,
a contemporary of, and perhaps an acquaintance of, the infamous Captain Kidd!
At least, they both were on the high seas at the same time in the same dirty
business. Old England didn't frown on their business quite like the French,
or others, who seemed to be their target, however.
In the Calendar of (British) State Papers, Colonial, America &
West Indies, Volume containing correspondence, etc., for the years 1696 &
1697, (Huntington Library, San Marino, Calif.) we find the scurrilous reports:
(p.259 et seq.).
"East India House #517. Secretary to the East India Company to William
Popple. Forwarding certain documents respecting certain ports in America
from which the ships concerned in the late piracies in the Red Sea where
set forth, (signed) Ro. Blackborne (Endorsed) Dec. 18, 1696. Annexed: (517
i) T. South to the Lords Justices of Ireland. Dublin, 15 August, 1696. The
best place to send shipping to meet the pirates is to Fernando, an island
in latitude 3 or 4 degrees where they must touch to water in Feb., or March.
The owners of Capt. Wake's ship live in Boston, New England, and were going
in a brigantine to bring clothes and necessities to meet him at Fernando;
but hearing that we were coming to Providence they followed us thither but
did not arrive till after we came away. THOMAS HOLLINGSWORTH now sailed from
Galway will meet Wake at Providence, where Wake will certainly be within
six or eight weeks, or else not till after Christmas. HOLLINGSWORTH left
money for Governor Trott. Wake had already had a pardon for piracy in King
James's time... All the ships that are now out (except Tew, from New York
& Want, from Carolina), are from New England. They build their ships
in New England..."
(517 iii-ibid) "Narrative of Philip Middleton, of the Ship Charles
Henry, to the Lords Justices of Ireland, given on 4 August, 1696 (he himself
a pirate - Ed.)... another sloop commanded by HOLLINGSWORTH was chased into
Dublin by a French Privateer. She had 16 more of the crew of Charles Henry
(Ibid, Volume for 1700. Page 277, citation #466 xi) "Examination (dated
March 25, 1700) of James Brown who sailed from Rhode Island in 1695 on the
Susanna, Thomas Wake, Commander, as a privateer with a Commission from the
Governor or Deputy Governor. The company were all upon shares. In the seas
of India they met with the Phancy, Henry Every, Commanding, who plundered
the Susanna. Examinant being weary of being aboard in those parts, with one
Capt. Smithsend, and THOMAS HOLLINGWORTH (sic), embarked on the Phancy, which
was then designed for Providence." (NOTE: Captain Kidd is referred to in
the same group of papers.)
(Ibid, Page 417, cit. #636 ii) "Copy of a Deposition of Sampson Pendley,
Master of the Mayflower of Boston. In 1696 he heard Daniel Smith, William
& Benjamin Griffin, THOMAS HOLLINGSWORTH, ____ Mincks, Anthony Packer
& Thomas Joy, several times declare that they came to Providence in the
Fancy with Henry Avery (sic) the Pirate." Dated July 12, 1700 at Bermuda.
Well, that is the extent of the record available to us. This writer
has not seen any extraneous matter on this man. Obviously he is not the Thomas
Hollingsworth, son to Valentine the Quaker, and surely not the Thomas Hollingsworth
of London, also a Quaker of the same period! Some records of Providence,
Rhode Island, Boston or the Royal Navy, may give more about this man. "Hollingsworth
" may have been a pseudonym, but this suggestion is doubtful, it would be
a highly unusual alias to take.
Continued next week.........
A bit of Hollingsworth History:
The following additional information about the Indian Ocean Pirates
and our own "Thomas Hollingsworth the Pirate" was sent to me by our member,
Simon Hollingworth of Australia. (I included Capt. Kidd's "farewell speech"
from a website on the internet.)
Thanks Simon for sending this interesting "follow-up"!
Thomas Hollingsworth the Pirate !!
(Follow-up information from Simon Hollingworth regarding the article
included in the March, 1967 issue of the Hollingsworth Register (Vol. 3,
No. 1) written by the late Harry Hollingsworth)
Indian Ocean Pirates
With the decline of the Spanish Main towards the end of the 17th century
many pirates shifted their unwelcome intentions towards growing trade in
the East. The treasure ships of the Indian Mogul and the merchant men of
the various East India Companies provided attractive targets. Most pirates
made off for the island of Madagascar (off the east coast of Africa). However,
such was the damage to trade and resulting European feeling in India, that
governments (and sometimes the traders) were forced to act against the pirates
often engaging privateers to seek out and capture pirate ships. Madagascar
Pirates -For 30 years from 1690 - 1720 the island of Madagascar was the principle
base of the pirates preying on the rich trade of the Indian Ocean. Not colonized
and barely explored, Madagascar was the ideal bolt hole for pirates driven
out of the Caribbean. A visitor at the end of the 17th century accounted
17 pirate vessels and an estimated population of 1500 men. At various times
the island played host to many of the most notorious pirates of the time,
including Captain Kidd, Thomas White and Thomas Tew.
William Kidd (1645-1701) Captain Kidd experienced a short-lived pirating
career but in it he managed to have a great many people killed, some of which
he himself murdered in cold blood. Eventually captured and shipped to England
from New York, Kidd experienced a terrible death: the hangman’s rope broke
twice, the third time it held. Once he was dead: his body was dipped in tar
and hung by chains along the Thames River. Kidd’s body served as a warning
to all would-be pirates for years to come.
Kidd's farewell speech (unconfirmed):
My name was Captain Kidd, when I sail'd, when I sail'd,
And so wickedly I did, God's laws I did forbid,
When I sail'd, when I sail'd.
I roam'd from sound to sound, And many a ship I found,
And then I sunk or burn'd, When I sail'd.
I murder'd William Moore, And laid him in his gore,
Not many leagues from shore, When I sail'd.
Farewell to young and old, All jolly seamen bold,
You're welcome to my gold, For I must die, I must die.
Farewell to Lunnon town, The pretty girls all round,
No pardon can be found, and I must die, I must die,
Farewell, for I must die. Then to eternity, in hideous misery,
I must lie, I must lie.
Thomas White (1720's)
Henry Avery (aka John Avery, Long Ben/Capt. Bridgeman) (1665-1728?). In September
1695, Avery's ship, Fancy waited outside Mocha for the pilgrim fleet to arrive.
Avery was joined by several American pirates:
Captain Joseph Faro on Portsmouth Adventure from Rhode Island
Captain Want on Dolphin from Philadelphia.
Captain William Maze on Pearl from Rhode Island
Captain Thomas Tew on Amity from New York
Captain Wake on Susannah from Boston.
This new group effectively doubled the pirate crew numbers and were able
to plunder the pilgrim fleet and the Great Mogul's ship producing about 1000
lbs. of loot for each crewman.
It would appear Thomas Hollingsworth provided relief to Captain Wake on the
Susannah of Boston (see below).
Calendar of State Papers (CO 323 2 Nos 25, 25i-iv) in the UK National Archives.
T South to the Lords Justices of Ireland Dublin, 15 Aug 1696. I have this
morning obtained the following account:- The best place to send shipping
to meet with the pirates is to Fernando, an island in latitude 3º or
4º, where they must touch to water in February or March. The owners
of Captain Wake’s ship live in Boston, New England, and were going in a brigantine
to bring clothes and necessaries to meet him at Fernando; but hearing that
we were coming to Providence they followed us thither but did not arrive
till after we came away. Thomas Hollingsworth, now sailed from Galway, will
meet Wake at Providence, [p.260] where Wake will certainly be within six
or eight weeks, or else not till after Christmas. Hollingsworth left money
with Governor Trott. Wake had already had a pardon for piracy in King James’s
time. Thomas Jones is concerned in Captain Want’s old barque and lives in
Rhode Island. Want is gone to the Persian Gulf and in all probability is
either at Rhode Island or Carolina by this time. He broke up there about
three years ago after a good voyage, and spent his money there and in Pennsylvania.
Captain Tew had a commission from the Governor of New York to cruise against
the French. He came out on pretence of loading negroes at Madagascar, but
his design was always to go into the seas, having about seventy men on his
sloop of sixty tons. He made a voyage three years ago in which his share
was £8,000. Want was then his mate. He then went to New England and
the Governor would not receive him; then to New York where Governor Fletcher
protected him. Colonel Fletcher told Tew he should not come there again unless
he brought a store of money, and it is said that Tew gave him £300
for his commission. He is gone to make a voyage in the Red Sea, and if he
makes his voyage will be back about this time. This is the third time that
Tew has gone out, breaking up the first time in New England and the second
time in New York. The place that receives him is chiefly Madagascar, where
they must touch both going and coming. All the ships that are now out are
from New England, except Tew from New York and Want from Carolina. They build
their ships in New England, but come out under the pretence of trading from
island to island. The money they bring in is current there, and the people
know very well where they go. One Captain Gough who keeps a mercer’s shop
at Boston got a good estate this way. On first coming out they generally
go first to the Isle of May for salt, then to Fernando for water, then round
the Cape of Good Hope to Madagascar to victual and water and so for Batsky
(sic), where they wait for the traders between Surat and Mecca and Tuda,
who must come out at a certain time because of the trade-wind. When they
come back they have no place to go but Providence, Carolina, New York, New
England and Rhode Island, where they have all along been kindly received.
It is hoped that by means of this information they may be taken. Signed T
South. 1½ pp.
Thomas Hollingsworth - Pirate or Privateer?
By Bill Hollingsworth (January 2009)
Thomas Hollingsworth first appears in the Indian Ocean and disappears
again from Galway City, Ireland. Where he came from, or went to, I don't
know. Neither do I know whether he is related to the American or Irish Hollingsworths,
or in fact if he is the son, born about 1670 or 1678, of Thomas Hollingsworth
and Martha Scampton. Charles Grey in his book "Pirates of the Eastern Seas"
suggested Hollingsworth sailed with Captain Kidd in the Sunflower and landed
in Dunfanahan on the north-west coast of Ireland. Actually, he may not have
done either. But though his appearances are brief, he does manage to pop
up in the middle of one of the great sea odysseys of the so-called "Golden
Age of Piracy". To give context to his appearance, and perhaps to give a
clue as to his origins or his later fate, here is the full tale as I perceive
it: La Coruna, Galicia, Spain 7 May 1694: The crew of the frigate Charles
II had been unpaid for months. While the captain was drunk, the crew mutinied,
led by the former first mate, Henry Every. Every declared "I am captain of
this ship now. I am bound to Madagascar, with the design of making my own
fortune, and that of all the brave fellows joined with me." They renamed
the ship "The Phancy" or "The Fancy" and set sail for Cape Verde. Heading
south along the African coast, the pirates plundered three British vessels
at the Cape Verde Islands and took two Danish vessels near Sao Tomé/Principé
off the west coast of Africa. Early in 1695, they reached Johanna Island
(Anjouan) in the Comoros, where Every seized a French pirate ship loaded
with booty. Most of its crew joined him, making them more than 170 men. After
a brief stop at Madagascar to replenish supplies and wait for suitable weather,
Every set sail for Perim Island at the mouth of the Red Sea with the intent
of intercepting vessels carrying pilgrims traveling between Mecca and India.
He reached Perim by September 1695. Several American pirates were already
there - Captain Joseph Faro (Farrell) on Portsmouth Adventure from Rhode
Island and Captain William Want on Dolphin from Philadelphia. These two new
ships each had a crew of about 60, so the pirate fleet now had three ships
and over 350 men. Three days later, even more American pirates arrived -
Captain William Maze on Pearl from Rhode Island, Captain Thomas Tew on Amity
from New York, and Captain Thomas Wake on Susannah from Boston. On 8 September
1695, the pirate fleet sighted two vessels. The first was the Fateh Mahmamadi,
an unarmed merchantship owned by Abd-ul Ghafur, which carried gold and silver
valued at more than £50,000. The second ship proved more significant;
it was the Gang-i-Sawai, one of the Great Moghul's largest ships. Armed with
forty to eighty great guns and four hundred musketeers, captained by Muhammed
Ibrahim. Although the forty-six gun Fancy was no match for the larger ship,
Every didn't hesitate to attack. One of the pirates' first shots broke the
main mast and one of the Gang-i-Sawai's guns exploded, killing or wounding
a number of sailors. The Gang-i-Sawai didn't surrender, though, and the battle
at Cape St. John, raged for hours. Every's crew looted their prizes at the
island of Socotra and split the booty at Réunion Island, where most
of the French pirates remained. The East India Company estimated the plunder
at 325,000 pounds. After giving small sums to the other pirate ships, each
man received about 1,000 in cash plus some of the jewels, Every taking two
shares as captain. Somewhere here Thomas Hollingsworth joined the Phancy.
Some reports state that Henry Every tricked the other crews into putting
all the booty onto the Phancy and then he sneaked away. Others suggest that
Thomas Wake's ship, the Susannah, was looted. For whatever reason, Thomas
Hollingsworth, Captain Smithsend and James Brown came aboard the Phancy,
which then sailed for the Bahamas, stopping at Sao Tomé before crossing
the Atlantic. "Examination (dated March 25, 1700) of James Brown who sailed
from Rhode Island in 1695 on the Susanna, Thomas Wake, Commander, as a privateer
with a Commission from the Governor or Deputy Governor. The company were
all upon shares. In the seas of India they met with the Phancy, Henry Every,
Commanding, who plundered the Susanna. Examinant being weary of being aboard
in those parts, with one Capt. Smithsend, and THOMAS HOLLINGWORTH, embarked
on the Phancy, which was then designed for Providence." Also "Deposition
of Sampson Pendley, Master of the Mayflower of Boston. In 1696 he heard Daniel
Smith, William & Benjamin Griffin, THOMAS HOLLINGSWORTH, ??? Mincks,
Anthony Packer & Thomas Joy, several times declare that they came to
Providence in the Fancy with Henry Avery (sic) the Pirate." Dated July 12,
1700 at Bermuda." So, if Thomas Hollingsworth was on Wake's Ship, it might
mean he originated in Boston too. In the next section Thomas makes more appearances
before falling off the radar on reaching Ireland
We have no record of the Ulster Hollingsworths from the mid 17th Century.
But then, a Samuel (son of Thomas?) pops up in County Wexford from nowhere
in the early 1700s. Were Thomas' family disposessed in Ulster and driven
underground in the 1640s? Did his position force him to become a pirate or
"sea tory"? Is he the origin of the Dublin and Wexford Hollingsworth?