Henry Johnson

(a.k.a. Henriques the Englishman)

English Pirate
   

Born: Unknown

Died: Unknown


Henriques the Englishman, or Henry Johnson, operated around 1730, and was born in Northern Ireland. Little is known of Henry Johnson early life. All we know is that by 1730 he was operating a pirate ship off the coast of Rhode Island. His ship was the Two Brothers a sloop armed with 18 guns and a crew of around 50.

As pirates go, Henry was an odd lot. He picked up the moniker Henriques the Englishman from his crew. Johnson was actually Irish but his mostly Spanish crew considered anyone from the British Isles an Englishman. It was somewhat uncommon for an "Englishman" to command a crew of Spanish pirates. Henriques managed to do this for one very good reason. He was very successful at what he did.

There were other qualities about Henriques that made him stand out from other captains. Often we see pirates in movies who are missing a hand or a leg but rarely do we read such accounts of real pirate captains. Henriques is an exception. Henriques was missing a hand. This did little to slow him down. In battle, he would often start off by balancing his rifle on the stub of his arm and firing his expert accuracy. Afterwards he would drop the rifle and attack like a beserker swinging his cutlass madly at anyone in his way.

This was the case when he attacked the John and Jane off Swan Island near Jamaica. The John and Jane was armed with eight carriage guns and ten swivel guns and possessed a crew of twenty five. After fighting off the pirates for almost five hours, the John and Jane was boarded. Henriques was known as pirate who gave no quarter and asked for none in return. An exception was the John and Jane.

The pirates had stripped the crew and was preparing to hang everyone on board in pairs. Suddenly, from a cabin, Henriques heard the scream of a woman. When Henriques entered the cabin he found a woman stripped of her clothing and about to be #$%@! by a pirate named Pedro Poleas. Henriques fired one of his pistols in the air, dropped it and then drew a second pistol. He then exclaimed "I'll blow out the brains of any man who should raise the least violence to this woman."

The woman was a Mrs. Groves, her husband, a doctor had been killed earlier in the fighting. They had been passengers on the ship. Henriques was so enraged by the actions of Poleas that he made his pirates gather up any personal belongings of Mrs. Groves and her husband and insure that no further sorrow would come to her. Following this Henriques and another pirate named Echlin, stopped the hangings that were about to take place.

Henriques and his pirates then departed the ship leaving much of the booty behind. This was just one sign of the complexity of the "Englishman" who sailed with Spaniards. Henriques was wanted throughout the Americas, by all nations. There was not a safe port for him in anywhere yet he managed to have a long career, confounding all pursuers and terrifying all in his wake. With the exception of his staunch rule against violence against women, he was an extremely blood thirsty pirate. Despite being wanted everywhere, there is no record of him ever being killed or captured.


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