Sentenced To Be Hanged As A Pirate, He Died A Gentleman,
Respected By Friends And Neighbours
Yarmouth Vanguard, Tuesday, November 7, 1989
Three hundred years ago, in the year 1689, it was August 12th (o.s.), two captains from Boston, Thomas Pound and Thomas Hawkins, anchored their ketch, the "Mary", about four miles below Fort Royal, at Portland, Maine, which was under the command of Silvanus Davis. They sent ashore John Darby to fetch some water, as he was known to Commander Davis. He told him that the ketch was just back from Cape Sable, where she had been robbed by a privateer brigantine of some lead and most of their bread and water. He asked that a doctor be sent aboard to take care of its master, who had hurt his foot. But when Davis learned that there were on board a certain Captain Pound and a so-called Captain Hawkins, he suspected immediately that he was dealing with "rogues". In the meantime, a number of soldiers of the Fort had managed to escape and make their way to the ketch, bringing with them arms and clothing. Davis asked that the soldiers be sent back to the fort with the booty they had stolen. But Pound laughed at the request and not only refused to return any of the arms and clothing (which had been stolen from the sleeping soldiers) but he threatened to go into the harbour and cut out a sloop which was there anchored.
There was about nothing true in what Darby told Davis. The truth is that Thomas Pound had asked Thomas Hawkins to take him, with his fishing vessel, to Nantasket, about ten nautical miles south-east of Boston. They had just left Boston, when Pound told Hawkins that his real purpose was to become a pirate and asked Hawkins to join with him, which he did. Pound was to take charge of the operations. It was on that same day that they seized the ketch "Mary", leaving their fishing vessel to its captain, Allen Chard. Two days later, they were in Casco Bay, when John Darby went ashore to fetch water and told his made-up story to Silvanus Davis.
After helping himself to a calf and three sheep grazing on an island, Pound set sail for Cape Cod, and early on the morning of the 16th came upon the sloop "Good Speed," owned by David Larkin. As it was a larger vessel than the "Mary", she was taken over by the pirates, leaving to the captain the ketch and setting him free. Pound told him to tell the Governor of Boston that if he dared come up to get them, everyone of his men would die. While in Cape Cod, he sent some of the crew ashore, where they killed four young hogs. Shortly after, they plundered another vessel from Newburyport, north of Boston (on the New Hampshire border) with its twenty half-barrels of flour, sugar, rum and tobacco.
Sailing out of Nantucket Sound, south of Cape Cod, the sloop ran into a stiff north-easter and was forced away to Virginia. Here, Pound managed to fetch some other spoil in the shape of an old sail, a piece of linen cloth and some dyes, before heading back towards Massachusetts. On their way, Hawkins noticed that they were being followed; but they finally outran their pursuer.
Not long after they had reached Cape cod, Thomas Hawkins, who was getting tired of Pound's maneuvering, succeeded in making his escape. He met Captain Jacobus Loper, a Portuguese whaler, who was getting ready to sail for Boston. Here, Hawkins thought that he would be safe and escape the grip of the law. But instead Loper thought best to turn him over to the Boston authorities and soon Hawkins was shackled and safely lodged in prison.
A few days later, the ketch "Mary", that the pirates had seized from Chard and that they had exchanged for the "Good Speed," was on its way, in search of the "Good Speed," which was at anchor in a cove, south-east of Cape Cod, where Pound was getting ready to sail to Curacao, the Dutch colony near the South American coast. As soon as the "Mary" reached the "Good Speed", Pound, in his surprise, climbed on deck with his sword flourishing in his hand and shouting: "Come you Digs, and I will strike you presently". When he was told that if he would yield they would be given good quarter, he replied: "Ei yee Dogs, we will give you quarter by and by." But it was not long before Pound himself was hit by a bullet, when "several bones were taken out." There were casualties on both sides. The pirates were finally captured and brought to Boston, fourteen of them. This was taking place at about this time of the year, exactly 300 years ago. Most of them, including Pound and Hawkins, were found guilty of felony, piracy and murder. They were sentenced to be "hanged by the neck until they be dead."
Jan. 27 (1690), the day that the hanging was to take place, Hawkins had already the rope around his neck practically, when someone ran to tell the hangman that the Governor had postponed the hanging. He was even completely pardoned, probably at the request of his sisters, who had married high ranking officers of the colony. Finally, all, except one, received their pardon, Pound included. Pound and Hawkins were then placed on the "Rose" to be sent into exile in England.
Reaching Cape Sable, the "Rose" was intercepted by a French privateer of thirty guns, and a vigorous combat took place. The captain of the "Rose" was slain and several others; Hawkins finally died of his wounds. Somewhat bruised, the "Mary" was able to reach England, without any other incidents.
Here, Thomas Pound was pardoned entirely for whatever mischiefs he would have done on the coast of the American colony. He even wrote right away to Governor Andros of Massachusetts, who was in London, giving him the latest news from New England. In 1691, he published in London "A New Map of New England," now very rare, of which I am the proud owner of a copy; it served as a basis for other charts for nearly fifty years aft. August 5, 1690, just a few months after his arrival in England, he was appointed captain of the frigate "Sally Rose", of the Royal Navy. In 1697, his ship was stationed at Virginia under his old patron Governor Andros. In 1699, he retired to private life and died in 1703, at Isleworth, county Middlesex, a "gentleman, respected by friends and neighbors".