Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P. O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
When William Gunter retired on Sunday evening, he assumed the next day would dawn as it had for much of his life. His wife would prepare breakfast, then he and his seven sons would go about their work. Little did he, or anyone else, realize that his life, as well as the lives of more than one hundred other residents of this remote fishing village, would be irrevocably changed forever.
During Elizabeth I’s reign, Sir George Carew described Baltimore’s harbor as being “. . . a pool about half a league over, where infinite numbers of ships may ride, having small tides, deep water and a good place to careen ships." (Ekin, 55)
The name of this remote town, located on the southwest coast of Ireland in County Cork, was believed to have come from the Gaelic baile an tí mhóir, which meant “town of the great house.” Great house referred to the fortified tower house, which the Irish called Dún na Séad (Fortress of Jewels; also known as Dunashad Castle).
Prior to the English invasion of Ireland, this remote village was home to the O’Driscoll clan. “The surname comes from the Irish O hEidirsceoil, from eidirsceol, meaning ‘go-between’ or ‘bearer of news’. The original Eidirsceol from whom the family descend was born in the early tenth century, and since then they have been strongly associated with west Cork, in particular the area around Baltimore and Skibbereen, where they remained powerful up to the seventeenth century. They were part of the Coca Laoighde tribal grouping, descended from the Érainn or Fir Bolg, Celts who were settled in Ireland well before the arrival of the Gaels . . . . Their arms reflect the family’s traditional prowess as seafarers . . . .” (Grenham, 104-105)
The O’Driscolls engaged in both legal and illicit seafaring occupations – pilchard fishing and trade on the one hand; extortion, piracy, and smuggling on the other. Their dominance in these latter occupations eventually gained the wrath of some Waterford merchants, who had been robbed of a cargo of wine. In retaliation, these men razed two principal castles of the clan, including Dún na Long (Fort of the Ships), and the Franciscan friary on Sherkin Island. They also sacked and burnt Baltimore and stormed Dún na Séad.
In 1573 Fineen O’Driscoll, who was also called Fineen the Rover, became chieftain. With England seizing Irish property either by force or through legal trickery, he was astute enough to recognize that he might lose the clan’s lands and his title. Rather than allow that to happen, he opted to collaborate with the English. To that end he renounced his Irish title before seeking an audience with Queen Elizabeth. She bestowed an English knighthood on him and granted him legal title to the Driscoll hereditary lands. When he returned home as Sir Fineen, his kinsmen no longer retained any rights to the clan’s lands and he could do with them as he wanted. This so enraged his son, that the young man joined Hugh O’Neill and the other Irish men and women who wished to oust the English from their homeland. Eventually they sought assistance from Spain and a Spanish invasion occurred in 1601. While some O’Driscolls fought with O’Neill and seized much of Sir Fineen’s holdings, the uprising failed. Sir Fineen sided with England and eventually reclaimed his property, but he also incurred significant debt and had to mortgage his land, including Baltimore, to satisfy his debtors.
Following the failed uprising, the Irish began to drift away from Baltimore and by 1608 only a few remained. During the first decade of the seventeenth century, a group of English Protestants, who favored the teachings of John Calvin, sought a place to establish a new village where they might worship freely. Thomas Crooke, son of the Reverend Thomas Crooke who ministered to these refugees, entered into negotiations with Sir Fineen and obtained a twenty-one-year lease on the town and surrounding farmland in exchange for £2,000. According to the Lord Bishop of Cork, Crooke “at his own charges . . . gathered out of England a whole town of English people, larger and more civilly and religiously ordered than any town in this province that began so lately . . . ” and relocated them to Baltimore. (Wilson, 111) In 1612 the town became a Royal Borough, which meant town fathers could make their own laws and hold weekly trials for minor infractions. “Chasten[ed] delinquents” were punished in the pillory or at the whipping post, which were located in the courtyard of Dún na Séad. (Ekin, 35) James I of England knighted the younger Crooke in 1624, even though the king disliked Calvinists. Thereafter, pirates dared not consider the town a friendly port.
Although the Irish no longer lived in the town, those disinclined toward the English usurpers often harassed the settlers, while Walter Coppinger, who believed he had a legal right to the land since he had loaned money to Sir Fineen, used the courts to gain control of Baltimore. All he succeeded in obtaining was control of Dún na Séad.
Under the English, Baltimore prospered. Aside from the fishing folk, the town became home to other craftsmen, including “bakers, brewers, coopers, ship carpenters, smiths, netmakers, ropemakers, pulleymakers, and many other trades.” (Ekin, 35) The town itself was divided into two parts. The Cove was the lower section closest to the harbor where most of the fishermen and their families lived in thatched cottages. The shopkeepers and craftsmen lived and worked farther up the hill in the main part of town situated around Dún na Séad, which overlooked the bay. Ten houses paralleled two of the enclosure walls surrounding the fortified tower house. Other homes paralleled the outer perimeter. Another eight cottages occupied a neat row near the harbor, while eight more stood above the tower house and nine others were situated on its far side. The largest of the homes, four in all, had been built on the highest ground overlooking the bay. A smattering of others dotted the rough terrain of the countryside. The residents worshiped at Tullagh Church on the outskirts of Baltimore. In all approximately two hundred people lived in the main portion of the town, while another hundred lived in the Cove. Twice each summer, the town hosted a three-day fair that people from all over County Cork attended.
In 1630 rumors of an impending pirate attack began to circulate. Piracy was nothing new to Ireland. Sir Henry Mainwaring had once described the country as a “nursery and storehouse of pirates.” This time, however, the threat came from a new quarter – the Barbary Coast. The mayor of Waterford sounded a warning, writing in November 1630:
Cornelius O’Driscoll, an Irish pirate with his rendezvous in Barbary, is in the neighborhood with a ship of two hundred tons and fourteen guns. (Tinniswood, 129)
The Earl of Cork considered word of an impending Algerine raid on Munster so serious a threat that he sent word to King James’ Secretary of State, Dudley Carleton, Viscount Dorchester. The earl also believed Baltimore should be fortified and, in an effort to convince the viscount to grant the funding for this project, had a detailed map of the town drawn, which he then forwarded to Carleton.
Your lordship many observe how the town and harbor lyeth and how narrow the entry of the harbor mouth is, and how easily and fit it is to be fortified and secured. (Tinniswood, 129)
Earl of Cork's map of Baltimore, Ireland (1630)
This map showed thirty-six homes, with smoke rising from their chimneys, in the principal portion of the town and another twenty-six buildings located in the Cove. Each home there would have been a cottage of one or two rooms with a single chimney and no windows. Six fishing boats bobbed in the harbor, while their nets dried on the shingled beach. Two pairs of seine boats, with their nets extended, trawled Roaringwater Bay for fish. Closer to Sherkin Island, where the ruins of Dún na Long stood, two armed ships rode at anchor. To the far left of the map were two other vessels, one of which fires a salute as it sets sail into the Atlantic. In spite of the Earl of Cork’s due diligence, the town and harbor remained undefended.
If the rumors proved true, it wouldn’t be the first time Barbary pirates ventured into British waters. Only five years before, they had seized twenty-seven vessels near Plymouth, England. But they had never before raided Ireland.
More than 1,500 miles from Baltimore, two ships sailed from Algiers in May 1631. In command was Murat Reis, a renegado who began life as Jan Janszoon.1 He was born in Haarlem, Holland around 1570, but little is known of his early years until he enters the historical records in 1605 as a privateer fighting for Dutch independence from Spain. At some point he fell victim to Barbary corsairs.2 Rather than endure life as a galley slave aboard a xebec or galliot, the traditional vessels these pirates used, he opted to convert and join their ranks. He began his career under Suleiman Reis, a successful corsair who had once sailed with Simon Danseker.3 After Suleiman was killed in action in 1619, Murat relocated to Salé in Morocco. A contemporary source said of him:
In a short time, [Morat] grew in esteem among them by the many prizes he took, that in time they made him Admiral of their fleet, which charge he held a long time, to their enriching and to the great detriment of Christian merchants. (Ekin, 49)
When Murat first arrived in Salé, the pirate haven fell under the domain of the sultan of Morocco. Soon after, the corsairs declared their independence and elected fourteen of their own to govern the port. The reis who presided over this ruling body, known as tā’ifat al-ra’īs, was deemed their admiral, and the first man to serve in this position was Murat. To reclaim some control over his wayward subjects, Sultan Moulay Zidan al-Nasir appointed Murat Governor of Salé in 1624 and gave his daughter to be Murat’s second wife.4 This position added to Murat’s wealth, since he received a percentage of any prizes taken, fees from ships that anchored in the harbor, a portion of money paid to pilots for guiding ships into port, and a share from each deal brokered in the trading of plunder.
His familiarity with European-built ships allowed him to extend his hunting grounds. In January 1622, he had a crew of eight Dutch renegadoes, thirteen Dutch slaves who refused to abandon their Christian faith, eighteen Moriscos, twenty-four “Turks and Moors,” and a Spanish renegado named Juan Rodelgas.5 Ten months later, they were sailing in the English Channel. When their food supplies ran out, Murat sought refuge in Holland because the sultan of Morocco had recently signed a treaty with the Netherlands. For Murat, it was a homecoming of sorts since this was the country of his birth. But his welcome was a frosty one. His first visitors turned out to be his first wife – the one he married while still Jans Janszoon – and their children. A contemporary who witnessed the reunion wrote:
[She] came on board to bid him leave the ship; the parents of the crew did the same but they could not succeed in bringing them to do this as they (the Dutch renegade crew) were too much bitten of the Spaniards and too much hankering after booty. (Wilson, 99)
What further raised Dutch ire was that Murat allowed new recruits from his homeland to join his crew. This was in direct violation of what the magistrates of Veere had ordered. The Dutch, who had been fighting for their independence from Spain since 1583, desperately needed young men to continue to wage war. Nor did Murat win any allies when he next visited Dutch waters. Even though the treaty with Morocco was still in force, he attacked a vessel flying a Dutch flag. Just as they attempted to board the prey, she struck the Dutch ensign and hoisted her true colors, those of Spain. A bloody fight ensued, and Murat and his men barely survived. When the battle ended, most of his crew was either dead or wounded. His ship crept into Amsterdam, but the authorities refused him any assistance. They wouldn’t even allow him to bury those who had died because his actions clearly showed his intent to violate the treaty. Left with no other option, Murat ordered his remaining men to entomb their fallen comrades in the icy water.
Not all men felt the same animosity as the Dutch. John Harrison, an Englishman sent to Salé in 1626, described Murat as “a Dutch renegado, but a great friend to our nation.” (Ekin, 47) His success as a pirate made him wealthy; his exploits showed him to be intelligent, charismatic, and courageous. Since turning to piracy, he had honed his tactics to a fine art.
They very deliberately, even at noonday, and indeed just when they please, leap ashore and walk on without the least dread, and advance into the country, ten, twelve or fifteen leagues or more . . . and infinite numbers of souls – men, women, children, and infants at the breast – [are] dragged away to a wretched captivity. (Ekin, 41)
The following year, fifteen galliots sailed into the Atlantic under Murat’s command. This time they raided the coasts of Portugal, Spain, and France before landing on Lundy Island in Bristol Channel. This became Murat’s base of operations for the next five years, and during that time he launched numerous attacks on coastal shipping and villages.
One of his more daring feats came when an enslaved Dane proposed an exchange. He would guide the pirates to the North Seas in exchange for his freedom. Murat and his men set sail on three ships on what became a five-thousand-mile round trip adventure. Their final destination was Iceland, which they reached in June 1627. Icelanders later reported that these invaders “killed people, cursed and beat them, and did all that was evil”, which included raping women in Reykjavik. (Tunniswood, 132) But the only booty they acquired was salted fish and hides. Next they attacked Grindavík, but those villagers fled across lava fields and didn’t emerge from their hiding places until after the marauders weighed anchor. Murat’s last stop was Heimaey. Horrific rumors of these pirates had already reached the coastal island, describing the pirates as:
Turks with claws instead of nails, spitting fire and sulphur, with knives growing out of their breasts, elbows and knees. (Tunniswood, 132)
When the local fishermen and traders tried to mount a defense, thirty were slain before they surrendered. Murat sailed for home, taking with him four hundred men, women, and children to sell into slavery. Soon after, Icelanders made it legal to kill any Turk on sight; the law remained on the books until its repeal three and a half centuries later. Even today, liturgy used in Iceland contains a prayer asking God to protect them from “the terror of the Turk.” (Tunniswood, 132)
Salé, Morocco in the 17th century
By the time Murat arrived back in Salé, the political climate within the city and Morocco had grown even more volatile. Rather than allow his family to remain at risk, he moved his family back to Algiers.
Four years later, in 1631, Murat seized “nine Portingales, three Pallicians (?), and seventeen Frenchmen” as he sailed the Atlantic. The sailors were shackled and placed in the hold of his ships until they could be sold into slavery, while his men appropriated marine supplies and anything else of value before scuttling the two French ships. (Wilson, 119) On 17 June, they prowled the waters between Ireland and Lands End.
One Captain Matthew Rice, a Dutch renegado, in a ship of three hundred tons, twenty-four pieces of ordnance, and two hundred men, and another ship of one hundred tons, eighty men, and twelve iron pieces, . . . took a ship of Dartmouth of sixty tons, wherein one Edward Fawlett was master, with nine men therein; they took therewith her masts, cordage, and other necessaries, with all the men, and sunk the hull, as they had done to two French ships before. (Dennehy, 540)
Murat knew ship masters possessed intimate details of the coastal waters in which they frequently sailed. Since Fawlett (also spelled ffawlett) often traded with ports along southern Ireland, Murat offered him a deal. If he revealed what he knew of the harbors and coves, Murat would free him before he and his ships returned to Algiers. At ten o’clock in the morning, on Sunday, 19 June 1631, Murat’s ships arrived off the coast Cork. He was fifty miles from Baltimore.
Murat needed a pilot to safely navigate the River Brandon to Kinsale, the corsairs’ intended target. The man chosen for this task was James Hackett of Dungarvan, who had set sail with five other men instead of attending mass that Sunday morning. After the pirates seized his twelve-ton fishing boat, they used it to take a second prize. These vessels were needed to ferry the corsairs ashore. While his men were gone, Murat Reis questioned Hackett. The fisherman tried to dissuade the Algerine from hitting Kinsale, saying, “. . . the place was too hot for them, for besides the fort, there were there the King’s ships . . . .” (Ekin, 101) Even though Murat had 200 men and twenty-four guns aboard his ship, plus an additional eighty pirates and twelve guns aboard a consort, he didn’t want a fight. His preference was a stealth attack with quick ingress and egress, preferably with a good haul of booty and slaves. Rather than endure a life of slavery, Hackett bargained for his freedom, offering Murat of an alternative target just forty miles to the east.
At twilight the invaders anchored out of sight of Baltimore in the inlet of Eastern Hole. Murat selected ten men to accompany him on a reconnaissance mission, and to muffle the oars as they rowed ashore the corsairs wrapped them with sacking. Being well acquainted with the village, Edward Fawlett accompanied them. According to the official report of the attack, he “piloted them along the shore, and showed them how the town did stand, relating unto them where the most able men had their abode.” (Ekin, 106) Two hours later, Murat and his men returned to their ship. It was just after midnight.
On Monday, 20 June, at two o’clock in the morning, 230 corsairs – a combination of janissaries, renegadoes, and Christian slaves armed with muskets and scimitars – landed on the shingle beach. Some carried long sticks wrapped with tar-soaked canvas to set fire to thatched roofs; others toted iron bars to break down doors. As quietly as possible, they slipped through the Cove, the lower portion of the village. A handful of men separated from the main group at each door they passed. When all were in position, Murat signaled them to launch their attacks. Screaming loudly, they battered down the doors, swept into the twenty-six houses, and herded the disoriented villagers into the streets. What they felt was probably similar to the experience of Emanuel d’Aranda, a Flemish writer captured nine years later.
I felt as though I were in a dream in which those around me were strange phantoms inducing fear, wonder and curiosity. (Ekin, 114)Stephen Broddebrooke’s wife, who was pregnant, and her two children became separated from her husband, who managed to elude their captors. John Davys resisted and was slain. While trying to protect his wife, Timothy Corlew was also killed. In all, 99 residents of Baltimore were taken prisoner, including William Gunter’s wife and seven sons.
A small contingent of pirates drove the confused and terrified victims down to the boats. Murat deployed another sixty corsairs, armed with muskets, to protect the narrow path leading from the beach to the main section of the village. Then James Hackett conducted Murat and his remaining men up the hill, where they repeated their tactics. They smashed down the doors of forty more cottages, but only found ten additional people. The few who escaped the initial attack had warned these villagers of impending danger. They either sought refuge in the darkness of the night or sheltered within the stone walls of Dún na Séad.
Unexpected musket fire from higher on the hill and the echo of pounding drums caused Murat to break off the attack. He led his men back to the beach, where they and their captives were rowed back to their ships. Before the sun peeked over the horizon, the pirates sailed for home. Their 109 prisoners – twenty-two men, thirty-three women, and fifty-four children – joined the captive sailors already imprisoned below decks.
Ashore Baltimore’s mayor scribbled a note on a scrap of paper, which he then sent to Deputy Vice Admiral Sir William Hull in Leacon.
June 20, 1631.In addition, the town burgesses sent another courier ten miles east to Castlehaven, requesting that a merchant ship anchored there pursue the pirates. The ship’s master refused. The news soon reached the Lord President of Munster, Sir William St. Leger in Mallow and Captain Francis Hooke at Kinsale. The latter was urged to set sail in the naval pinnace Fifth Whelp to rescue the stolen villagers, but he delayed leaving for four days because he lacked provisions for the journey.6
Baltimore, this present Monday morning.
Right Worshipful Sir,
. . . this last night, a little before day, came 2 Turk men of war . . . with a loose boat to set their men ashore, and they have carried away of our townspeople, men, women and children, one hundred and eleven, and two more are slain; the ships are at present going westward.
I thought presently to give your Worship intelligence, and have sent a messenger apurpose, and I pray to give him content for his pains, and I am doubtful that they will put in about Leamcon or Crookhaven. I pray give intelligence westward. This with my service remembered.
I rest, etc.
(desiring excuse, having no paper.) (Ekin, 122-23)
Before Murat’s ships cleared Irish waters, he sent two elderly captives, Ould Osbourne and Alice Heard, ashore when he freed Edward Fawlett, James Hackett, and two unnamed Dungarvan fishermen. Not long after they reached shore, Fawlett and Hackett were taken by authorities and questioned. The former convinced his interrogators that he cooperated with the pirates only under duress and was released. Hackett, on the other hand, wasn’t as lucky. The Earl of Cork and the Viscount Loftus, both Lord Justices of Ireland, believed he had “expressed much disloyalty and disaffection in bringing them [to Baltimore], when it appeared plainly that he might have put them into other harbours where they might have been taken, and so the mischief which happened might have been prevented.” (Tinniswood, 139) At his trial witnesses testified that he led “the raiders, his head held high.” (Ekin, 117) Hackett was condemned “as an enemy to the state and country . . . .” (Tinniswood, 139)
[He] was . . . carried to Baltimore and hung on a high cliff, facing the sea, and looking down to the very channel through which the miscreant had but a short time before so treacherously and cruelly conducted the galleys of the bloodthirsty and marauding tyrants. (Ekin, 245)Fear and outrage became rampant throughout Britain. Welsh Justices of the Peace demanded the government fortify the town of Milford Haven. In a note to the Privy Council, the Lord Justices of Ireland listed the victims, described the raid as unparalleled, and claimed the attack was an insult to the king’s honor. Charles I concurred, but during the next two months, nothing was done because the various parties involved were too preoccupied with blaming each other to go after Murat. On 23 August, the king had had enough.
You shall inform us where the responsibility for this negligence lies. You blame the two captains appointed to guard the coast, and they blame each, but we are not satisfied with these recriminations. You shall inform us about what was left undone to guard against such a thing. (Tinniswood, 140)Assigning blame and preventing another such occurrence took precedence over the victims. By the time anyone made even a half-hearted attempt to rescue them, Murat and his ships were well quit of Irish waters. On 28 July, James Frizell, the English consul to Algiers, wrote:
Morrato Fleming and his consort brought from Baltimore in Ireland 89 women and children with 20 men.7 (Tinniswood, 140)Two weeks after their arrival, Frizell asked London for funds to pay their ransom. His request received stony silence.
When January 1632 came, King Charles had still had no response from the Lord Justices in Ireland. On receipt of Lord Dorchester’s request for a report on “the Turkish piratical raid at Baltimore”, the Earl of Cork and the Viscount Loftus claimed “[t]he attempt was so sudden as no man did or with reason could expect it.” (Tinniswood, 140-141) How could they provide an immediate response to the attack when the Algerines were in the village for only a few hours and Dublin was around 184 miles (354 kilometers) away?8 Nor was it possible to predict which of the many harbors around Cork might face an invasion. “[T]o guard every one of the places with competent strength to resist invasion” required far more ships and manpower than the whole of Ireland possessed. (Tinniswood, 141) From their perspective, Captain Hooke was at fault for failing to pursue the pirates.
While the authorities argued among themselves, the people who still lived in Baltimore struggled to regain normalcy in their lives. A company of soldiers arrived to defend the fort. Houses were repaired or rebuilt. But the devastation wrought, the fear of another invasion, and the loss of so many residents remained fresh in the villagers’ minds. Those left behind slowly drifted away. Two centuries later, a historian described the town.
It is now a poor decayed fishing town with not one tolerable house in it. Here are the ruins of an ancient castle of the O’Driscolls, [and] a few poor cabins. (Tinniswood, 141)Perhaps the person most affected by the tragedy was William Gunter. He traveled first to Dublin and then to London to plead for assistance in getting back his wife and seven sons. The Lord Justices looked on him with compassion and pity, but did nothing. Neither did anyone else. He never saw his family again. They and most of the others stolen that night simply vanished once they arrived in Algiers. History recorded the fate of only three captives.
No account of the journey back to Algiers exists, but other captives later wrote of what they experienced. The pirates fettered male captives with iron shackles or placed them in wooden stocks. Once the ships were well away from land, they might have been freed. The women and children could walk around the ship, as long as they stayed away from the quarterdeck. The corsairs shared their food with and spun stories for the children. They erected canvas walls in some parts of the vessels to provide the women with a modicum of privacy.
Harbor of Algiers in 1500s
Reverend Devereux Spratt, an Anglican priest who served in Ireland, found himself a captive of Barbary corsairs in 1641. He later wrote:
[B]efore we were out of sight of land, we were taken by an Algiers pirate, who put men in chains and stocks.Another man taken prisoner in 1785, this time by Yusuf Reis, was James Leander Cathcart.
This thing is so grievous that I began to question Providence and accused God of injustice in his dealings with me, until the Lord made it appear otherwise by his ensuing mercies. (Ekin, 127)
It is impossible to describe the horror of our situation . . . forty-two men shut up in a dark room in the hold of a Barbary cruiser . . . filthy in extreme, destitute of every nourishment and nearly suffocated . . . (Ekin, 134)Five weeks after their kidnapping, the people of Baltimore arrived in Algiers on the morning of 28 July 1631. The only extant record of their arrival appeared in official correspondence between London and the Barbary States.
Morrato, [a] Fleming, and his consort from Baltimore in Ireland eighty-nine women and children and twenty men, moreover twenty-four men which they took out of a barque of Falmouth, master John [illegible surname], and two fishing boats which they set adrift, in all: 133. (Ekin, 162)What happened to these people? First stop – the palace. According to the articles under which the Algerine corsairs sailed, fifteen slaves belonged to the bashaw and he could choose whichever ones he desired. He was also permitted to select one out of every eight females over the age of twelve for his harem, regardless of whether they were married or not.9 After the chosen were parted from their families, the remainder were taken to the slave market, where the men were stripped nearly naked, and put on display. A French diplomat, Chevalier Laurent d’Arvieux, described what happened.
They examine their teeth, the palms of their hands, to judge by the delicacy of the skin if they are working folk; but they’ll pay special attention to those with pierced ears, which implies that they are not common folk but people of quality who’ve worn earrings since childhood. (Ekin, 178)
Dutch engraving of Algiers slave market by Jan en Casper Luyken
The slaves were auctioned off to the highest bidders. Emanuel d’Aranda shared his experience.
An old and very decrepit auctioneer with a staff in his hand took me by the arm and led me on various circuits of the market, and those who felt like buying me asked my homeland, my name and my profession . . .The experience of the females was even more humiliating, according to Aaron Hill, a traveler to Algiers.
They felt my hands to see if they were hard and calloused from work. Then they made me open my mouth to establish whether my teeth were strong enough to chew sea-biscuits aboard the galleys. (Ekin, 179)
[T]hey feel their breasts, hands, cheeks and foreheads; nay, proceed, if curious in the nicety of search, to have the young and wretched creatures taken privately to some convenient place where, undisturbed . . . [they can] discover instantly by proofs and demonstration, whether the pretended virgin has yet been robbed of that so celebrated jewel. (Ekin, 181)The purchase price of just two Baltimoreans was recorded. Joane Broddebrooke sold for 150 Spanish dollars, while Ellen Hawkins went for 86.10
Father Pierre Dan, a member of the Order of the Redemption that worked to free enslaved Christians, witnessed what happened to the villagers.
It was a piteous sight to see them exposed for sale at Algiers, for then they parted the wife from the husband, and the father from the child; then, say I, they sell the husband here, and the wife there, tearing from her arms the daughter whom she cannot hope to see ever again. (Lane-Poole, 145)
[T]here was not a single Christian who was not weeping and who was not full of sadness at the sight of so many honest maidens and so many good women abandoned to the brutality of these barbarians. (Ekin, 177)
Priests redeeming Barbary Slaves
The value of 100 slaves in 1631 equated to £2,500 (£5,831,000 or $9,800,000 today). Women often worked in houses, although the pretty ones might become concubines. Men became laborers, unless they possessed a skill that might net their masters a greater profit. Some were condemned to the galleys. Children became pages or concubines; young boys might be raised according to Islamic traditions.
Oh! Some must tug the galley’s oar, and some must tend the steed;While the women went home with their masters, the men lived in the bagnio – their home at night. Their heads were shaved. A heavy metal ring was fitted around one ankle. During the day, a chain was fixed to the ring and they had to drag it around all day while they worked. They received one blanket and a change of clothes.
This boy will bear the Scheik’s chibouk and that a Bey’s jerreed.11
Oh! Some are in the arsenal, by beauteous Dardanelles;
And some are in the caravan to Mecca’s sandy dells. (Lewis, 50)
A year after their capture, a petition from English slaves in Algiers arrived in London.
[We are] lying in most miserable slavery that, by [our] barbarous usage, [we] are ready to famish for want of bread. (Ekin, 246)The price set for their ransom? £100 each – a price few, if any, could afford. The money was not forthcoming.
In a letter dated 18 February 1634, James Frizell, the English consul to Algiers, wrote:
Of 109 persons taken from Baltamore (being 89 women and children and no. 20 men) here remaining now are 70 persons only to be ransomed, 40 being dead and turned Turks, perforce. And not one of them as yet redeemed, but only one woman, by Mr. Job Frogmartino from Loagorno through his Jewish Factor. (Ekin, 247)Another thirteen years passed before anyone else was ransomed. Parliament finally sent Edmund Carson to Algiers to negotiate the release of all British captives in 1646. The list he compiled contained only two names from Baltimore – Joane Broddebrooke and Ellen Hawkins.12 Although they left Algiers with 244 other freed slaves, history failed to record whether they returned to Baltimore or what became of them.
Some villagers probably died from disease. Others accepted their fate and melded into society. William Okeley, an English slave, said of his captivity, “[We were] so habituated to bondage that we almost forgot liberty, and grew stupid and senseless from our slavery.” (Ekin, 286)
But it was possible to improve one’s station in life. There was a hierarchy among the slaves, and some may have climbed those ranks as time passed. Those willing to convert might have married, had children, and prospered. More than two centuries after that fateful night in Baltimore the Irish Republican poet Thomas Davis penned “The Sack of Baltimore,” forever memorializing what occurred.
What became of Murat Reis after he sacked Baltimore? In 1635 the Knights of Malta captured him, and Father Dan noted what happened when news of his imprisonment reached Algiers.
One day I saw in the street more than 100 women rushing pell-mell to console the wife of that renegade and corsair . . . this they accomplished, vying with one another in great demonstrations of dole and woe, not without shedding of tears, whether real or feigned, as is their custom upon which such untoward and fatal occasions. (Wilson, 140)Somehow, Murat made his way back to Morocco in 1640, where he became governor of the fortress at Oualidia. At the end of the year, a ship arrived carrying the new Dutch consul and Murat’s daughter Lysbeth. More than a decade had passed since he’d seen his Dutch wife, so when Lysbeth visited him, “both began to cry, and having discoursed for some time he took his leave in the manner of royalty.” (Wilson, 140) She stayed through August of the following year before returning home, where she disappeared from the historical record. No mention of Murat was made after 1641, perhaps because he died.
Aside from his Dutch children, Murat also had two sons, Anthony and Abraham, by his Moorish wife, whom he called Margriete. They eventually followed in their father’s footsteps as Barbary pirates, but later immigrated to New Amsterdam and took the surname of van Salee. Not much is known about Abraham, but Anthony developed quite a reputation. He purchased 200 acres on Long Island, which the locals often referred to as “Turk’s Plantation.” According to an episode of PBS’ Frontline, his offspring married well. Their descendants include Vanderbilts, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and Humphrey Bogart.
Victims of the Raid Taken to Algiers
Source: The Council Book of Kinsale
Abram Roberts, his wife, and three children
Alexander Pumery’s wife
Besse Peeter’s daughter
Bessie Flodd and her son
Christopher Norwey, his wife, and child
Corent Croffine, his wife and daughter, and three men
Dermot Meregey’s two children and a maid
Evans, his boy, a cook, his wife, and a maid
John Harris’s wife, mother, and three children, and a maid
John Ryder, his wife, and two children
John Slyman, his wife, and two children
Michael Amble, his wife, and his son
Ould Haunkin, his wife and daughter
Ould Osburne’s maid
Richard Lorye, his wife, sister, and four children
Richard Meade, his wife, and three children
Robert Chimor’s wife and four children
Robert Hunt’s wife
Sampson Rogers and his son
Stephen Broddebrooke’s pregnant wife and two children
Stephen Pierse, his wife, his mother, and three children
Thomas Payne, his wife, and two children
Timothy Corlew’s wife
William Arnold, his wife, and three children
William Gunter’s wife, seven sons, and a maid
William Mould and a boy
William Symons, his wife, and two children
1. Murat Reis can also be spelled “Murad Reis” or “Morat Rais.” Reis is Turkish for “captain,” although a literal translation is “head, chief, or chairman.” Other names attributed to Jan Janszoon are Jan Jansen, Jan Jansz or Janz or Janse, Matthias Rais, Morato Arraez, Morat Ariaz, Caid Morato, Matthew Rice, John Barber, and Captain John. A renegado was a Christian who converted to Islam. When Janszoon turned Turk, he took the name of Murat. Once he became a corsair captain, he was called Murat Reis. To distinguish him from the earlier and more famous corsair of the same name, Murat was often referred to as Murat the Younger. There are no historical records that describe his appearance.
2. Circa 1613, or as late as 1618, are the dates given for his capture, but his sons were born in 1607 and 1608, which would indicate he was actually captured and converted to Islam sometime earlier. It’s also possible he went to the Barbary Coast of his own volition, just as other Europeans had, and turned to piracy. If he was captured, it was most likely while he was in the Canary Islands in 1618, when Algerines raided Lazerote.
3. Suleiman Reis (also spelled Sulayman Rais) was a renegado, whose birth name was Ivan De Veenboer. Like Murat, Danseker was known by a variety of names, including Siemen Danziger, Zymen Danseker, Simon de Danser, and Simon Simonson. He was a contemporary of John Ward (Yusuf Reis) and earned the moniker “Captain Devil.” Unlike Ward, Suleiman, and Murat, Danseker never converted to Islam.
4. In actuality, the sultan’s daughter was Murat’s third wife, since he already had a wife in Holland. Since she was a Christian, however, and he was now a Muslim, his first wife wasn’t recognized in Islamic society.
5. Juan Rodelgas became a Barbary slave after Suleiman Reis captured him in 1617. Although Juan escaped, he was recaptured and placed in chains. Only then did he convert and become a Barbary pirate. In October 1622, he escaped again. When he reached the Canary Islands, he was interrogated by the Inquisition. He told them he had been forced to convert, and the following year, he was permitted to return home to Spain.
6. At the time of the attack, Hooke and Sir Thomas Button, Admiral of the King’s Ships in Ireland, were engaged in a bitter argument over supplies. The former was supposed to patrol the Irish coast, for weeks at a time. The lack of sufficient and edible supplies, however, prevented him from doing this. Button’s refusal to provide what Hooke needed caused Hooke to dig in and refuse to sail, to the detriment of Murat’s captives. At the end of 1631, Hooke was given a choice, obey his orders to cruise or his name would be forwarded to the Admiralty for dereliction of duty. Button’s corruption eventually led to formal charges in 1633. With his reputation destroyed, society shunned him. He died the following year.
7. The consul’s numbers were off by two. There were actually eighty-seven women and children.
8. Today, it takes approximately four hours to drive from one city to the other. In 1631 there were three ways to travel between Baltimore and Dublin – foot, horse, or boat – all of which required significantly more time.
9. Once women entered a harem as concubines or servants, they were rarely seen outside its walls. Wives had more freedom, and sometimes the bashaw wed a slave. For example, Helen Glogg of Scotland was taken captive in the mid 18th century and sold in Algiers. She eventually became the most important of the bashaw’s wives.
10. Neither woman is mentioned by name in the official list of villagers who were taken, but their names are known because of their eventual rescue. Ellen may have been one of the servants.
11. A chibouk is a tobacco pipe. A jerreed is a javelin.
12. Since the names of most of the female captives were not recorded, Joane might have been Stephen Broddebrooke’s wife or daughter.
For more information, I recommend the following resources:
Davis, Robert. “British Slaves on the Barbary Coast,” BBC 17 February 2011.
Davis, Thomas Osborne. "The Sack of Baltimore," A Victorian Anthology, 1837-1895 edited by Edmund Clarence Stedman. Riverside Press, 1895.
De Courcy, John. “Algerian Corsairs,” The Encyclopedia of Ireland edited by Brian Lalor. Yale, 2003.
Dennehy, W. P. “The Turk in Ireland,” The Catholic World 38:226 (January 1884), 536-543.
Ekin, Des. The Stolen Village: Baltimore and the Barbary Pirates. O’Brien Press, 2006.
Grenham, John. Clans and Families of Ireland: The Heritage and Heraldry of Irish Clans and Families. Wellfleet Press, 1993.
Jamieson, Alan G. Lords of the Seas: A History of the Barbary Corsairs. Reaktion Books, 2012.
Konstam, Angus. Piracy: The Complete History. Osprey, 2008.
Lane-Poole, Stanley. The Story of the Barbary Corsairs: Islamic Pirates of the Mediterranean 1504-1881. Leonaur, 2012.
Lewis, Brenda Ralph. The Pirate Code: From Honorable Thieves to Modern-day Villains. Lyons Press, 2008.
Murray, Theresa D. "From Baltimore to Barbary: The 1631 Sack of Baltimore," History Ireland 14:4 (July/August 2006).
Playfair, Robert Lambert. The Scourge of Christendom. Smith, Elder, & Co., 1884.
Tinniswood, Adrian. Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the 17th-Century Mediterranean. Jonathan Cape, 2010.
Wilson, Peter Lamborn. Pirate Utopias: Moorish Corsairs and European Renegadoes. Autonomedia, 1995.
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