Originally a privateer for England in the War of the Spanish Succession, but
when the war ended, rather than return to 'honest' service, he opted to go 'on
the account' instead. Plundering anything that looked interesting in the wasters
of the West Indies, he soon created a reputation for being a bold, creative, and
As time proceeded, however, he heard news of the famed Woodes Rogers'
appointment to the Governor of Bahamas, and in wise bit of insight, decided that
the heyday of piracy in those waters was finally (for the time being) at an end.
Calling a meeting of his crew, he explained to them that he felt the best course
of action lay in sailing across the Atlantic for Africa. From there, they would
travel north and operate out of Madagascar like Thomas Tew, Henry Every, and
dozens of others had twenty years before. When they arrived, though, they spent
months looking for any prize worth taking. Several small ships were captured,
mostly out of a sense that they should be doing some sort of piratical function,
but all in all, they were worthless prizes.
Then, in October of 1720, more than a year after arriving in the waters off
India, they were patrolling outside Bombay when they sighted a large Arab ship
heading east towards an East India Company trading center at Surat. After a
brief chase, the ship surrendered without a fight.
Condent's men ransacked the hold to discover she was laden with a cargo of
silks, spices, drugs, and £150,000 in gold and silver. Condent realized that the
East India Company would be stark raving pissed about this blatant assault on a
ship that it obviously was connected to, so he made sure that all the passengers
were treated fairly and decently until he dumped them on shore. Immediately upon
having done so, Condent raced away to the old pirate sanctuary of St. Mary's to
divide the loot. Each man's share came to about £2,000 apiece. Leaving a great
deal of the ship's luxurious cargo scattered on the beach, he then absconded for
the French Island of Bourbon.
The Governor there gave French pardons to Condent and his crew for a bribe
of the loot. France loved anyone that helped to inconvenience or embarrass the
East India Company. Condent realized that this was a once in a lifetime strike
and so retired with his treasure, eventually moving to France and investing
wisely soon became a wealthy shipping magnate. Many of his crew followed his
example (£2000 was more than most men of that time made in a lifetime of honest
naval service) and settled down as well. The last documented survivor of the
crew died of old age in 1770, 50 years after the taking of the Arab ship.
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