By C.H. Haring


Manuscript Sources in England

Public Record Office:

State Papers. Foreign. Spain. Vols. 34-72. (Abbreviated in the footnotes as S.P. Spain.)

British Museum:

Additional MSS. Vols. 11,268; 11,410-11; 12,410; 12,423; 12,429-30; 13,964; 13,975; 13,977; 13,992; 18,273; 22,676; 36,314-53.

Egerton MSS. Vol. 2395.

Sloane MSS. Vols. 793 or 894; 2724; 2752; 4020.

Stowe MSS. Vols. 305f; 205b.

Bodleian Library:

Rawlinson MSS. Vols. a. 26, 31, 32, 175, 347. Tanner MSS. Vols. xlvii.; li.

Manuscript Sources in France

Archives du ministère des Colonies:

Correspondance générale de Saint-Domingue. Vols. i.-ix.

Historique de Saint-Domingue. Vols. i.-iii.

Correspondance générale de Martinique. Vols. i.-xix.

Archives du ministère des affaires étrangères:

Mémoires et documents. Fonds divers. Amérique. Vols. v., xiii., xlix., li.

Correspondance politique. Angleterre.

Bibliothèque nationale:

Manuscrits, nouvelles acquisitions. Vols. 9325; 9334.

Renaudat MSS.


Printed Sources

Calendar of State Papers. Colonial series. America and the West Indies. 1574-1699. (Abbreviated in the footnotes as C.S.P. Colon.)

Calendar of State Papers. Venetian. 1603-1617. (Abbreviated in the footnotes as C.S.P. Ven.)

Dampier, William: Voyages. Edited by J. Masefield. 2 vols. London, 1906.

Gage, Thomas: The English American ... or a new survey of the West Indies, etc. London, 1648.

Historical Manuscripts Commission: Reports. London, 1870 (in progress).

Margry, Pierre: Relations et mémoires inédits pour servir à l'histoire de la France dans les pays d'outremer. Paris, 1867.

Pacheco, Cardenas, y Torres de Mendoza: Coleccion de documentos relativos al describrimiento, conquista y colonizacion de las posesiones españoles en América y Oceania. 42 vols. Madrid, 1864-83; continued as Coleccion de documentos ineditos ... de ultramar. 13 vols. Madrid, 1885-1900.

Pointis, Jean Bernard Desjeans, sieur de: Relation de l'expedition de Carthagène faite par les François en 1697. Amsterdam, 1698.

Present state of Jamaica ... to which is added an exact account of Sir Henry Morgan's voyage to ... Panama, etc. London, 1683.

Recopilacion de leyes de los reynos de las Indias, mandadas imprimir y publicar por rey Carlos II. 4 vols. Madrid, 1681.

Sharp, Bartholomew: The voyages and adventures of Captain B. Sharp ... in the South Sea ... Also Captain Van Horn with his buccanieres surprising of la Vera Cruz, etc. London, 1684.


Thurloe, John. A collection of the State papers of, etc. Edited by Thomas Birch. 7 vols. London, 1742.

Venables, General. The narrative of, etc. Edited by C.H. Firth. London, 1900.

Wafer, Lionel: A new voyage and description of the Isthmus of America, etc. London, 1699.

Winwood, Sir Ralph. Memorials of affairs of State ... collected from the original papers of, etc. Edited by Edmund Sawyer. London, 1725.

Among the printed sources one of the earliest and most important is the well-known history of the buccaneers written by Alexander Olivier Exquemelin (corrupted by the English into Esquemeling, by the French into Oexmelin). Of the author himself very little is known. Though sometimes claimed as a native of France, he was probably a Fleming or a Hollander, for the first edition of his works was written in the Dutch language. He came to Tortuga in 1666 as an engagé of the French West India Company, and after serving three years under a cruel master was rescued by the governor, M. d'Ogeron, joined the filibusters, and remained with them till 1674, taking part in most of their exploits. He seems to have exercised among them the profession of barber-surgeon. Returning to Europe in 1674, he published a narrative of the exploits in which he had taken part, or of which he at least had a first-hand knowledge. This "history" is the oldest and most elaborate chronicle we possess of the extraordinary deeds  and customs of these freebooters who played so large a part in the history of the West Indies in the seventeenth century, and it forms the basis of all the popular modern accounts of Morgan and other buccaneer captains. Exquemelin, although he sadly confuses his dates, seems to be a perfectly honest witness, and his accounts of such transactions as fell within his own experience are closely corroborated by the official narratives.

(Biographies of Exquemelin are contained in the "Biographie Universelle" of Michaud, vol. xxxi. p. 201, and in the "Nouvelle Biographie Générale" of Hoefer, vol. xxxviii. p. 544. But both are very unsatisfactory and display a lamentable ignorance of the bibliography of his history of the buccaneers. According to the preface of a French edition of the work published at Lyons in 1774 and cited in the "Nouvelle Biographie," Exquemelin was born about 1645 and died after 1707.)

The first edition of the book, now very rare, is entitled:

De Americaensche Zee-Roovers. Behelsende eene pertinente en waerachtige Beschrijving van alle de voornaemste Roveryen en onmenschliycke wreend heden die Englese en France Rovers tegens de Spanjaerden in America gepleeght hebben; Verdeelt in drie deelen ... Beschreven door A. O. Exquemelin ... t'Amsterdam, by Jan ten Hoorn, anno 1678, in 4º.

(Brit. Mus., 1061. Cf. 20 (2). The date, 1674, of the first Dutch edition cited by Dampierre ("Essai sur les sources de l'histoire des Antilles Françaises," p. 151) is doubtless a misprint.)

(Both Dampierre (op. cit., p. 152) and Sabin ("Dict. of Books relating to America," vi. p. 310) cite, as the earliest separate account of the buccaneers, Claes G. Campaen's "Zee-Roover," Amsterdam, 1659. This little volume, however, does not deal with the buccaneers in the West Indies, but with privateering along the coasts of Europe and Africa.)

This book was reprinted several times and numerous translations were made, one on the top of the other. What appears to be a German translation of Exquemelin appeared in 1679 with the title:

Americanische Seeräuber. Beschreibung der grössesten durch die Französische und Englische Meer-Beuter wider die Spanier in Amerika verübten Raubery Grausamheit ... Durch A. O. Nürnberg, 1679. 12º.

("Historie der Boecaniers of Vrybuyters van America ... Met Figuuren, 3 Deel. t'Amsterdam, 1700," 4º.—Brit. Mus., 9555. c. 19.)


This was followed two years later by a Spanish edition, also taken from the Dutch original:

Piratas de la America y luz a la defensa de las costas de Indias Occidentales. Dedicado a Don Bernadino Antonio de Pardinas Villar de Francos ... por el zelo y cuidado de Don Antonio Freyre ... Traducido de la lingua Flamenca en Espanola por el Dor. de Buena-Maison ... Colonia Agrippina, en casa de Lorenzo Struickman. Ano de 1681. 12º.

(Brit. Mus., G. 7179. The appended description of the Spanish Government in America was omitted and a few Spanish verses were added in one or two places, but otherwise the translation seems to be trustworthy. The portraits and the map of the isthmus of Panama are the same as in the Dutch edition, but the other plates are different and better. In the Bibl. Nat. there is another Spanish edition of 1681 in quarto.)

This Spanish text, which seems to be a faithful rendering of the Dutch, was reprinted with a different dedication in 1682 and in 1684, and again in Madrid in 1793. It is the version on which the first English edition was based. The English translation is entitled:

Bucaniers of America; or a true account of the ... assaults committed ... upon the coasts of the West Indies, by the Bucaniers of Jamaica and Tortuga ... especially the ... exploits of Sir Henry Morgan ... written originally in Dutch by J. Esquemeling ... now ... rendered into English. W. Crooke; London, 1684. 4º.

(Brit. Mus., 1198, a. 12 (or) 1197, h. 2.; G. 7198.)

The first English edition of Exquemelin was so well received that within three months a second was published, to which was added the account of a voyage by Captain Cook and a brief chapter on the exploits of  Barth. Sharp in the Pacific Ocean. In the same year, moreover, there appeared an entirely different English version, with the object of vindicating the character of Morgan from the charges of brutality and lust which had appeared in the first translation and in the Dutch original. It was entitled:

The History of the Bucaniers; being an impartial relation of all the battels, sieges, and other most eminent assaults committed for several years upon the coasts of the West Indies by the pirates of Jamaica and Tortuga. More especially the unparalleled achievements of Sir Henry Morgan ... very much corrected from the errors of the original, by the relations of some English gentlemen, that then resided in those parts. Den Engelseman is een Duyvil voor een Mensch. London, printed for Thomas Malthus at the Sun in the Poultry. 1684.

(Brit. Mus., G. 13,674.)

The first edition of 1684 was reprinted with a new title-page in 1695, and again in 1699. The latter included, in addition to the text of Exquemelin, the journals of Basil Ringrose and Raveneau de Lussan, both describing voyages in the South Seas, and the voyage of the Sieur de Montauban to Guinea in 1695. This was the earliest of the composite histories of the  buccaneers and became the model for the Dutch edition of 1700 and the French editions published at Trevoux in 1744 and 1775.

The first French translation of Exquemelin appeared two years after the English edition of 1684. It is entitled:

Histoire des Aventuriers qui se sont signalez dans les Indes contenant ce qu'ils ont fait de plus remarquable depuis vingt années. Avec la vie, les Moeurs, les Coutumes des Habitans de Saint Domingue et de la Tortuë et une Description exacte de ces lieux; ... Le tout enrichi de Cartes Geographiques et de Figures en Taille-douce. Par Alexandre Olivier Oexmelin. A Paris, chez Jacques Le Febre. MDCLXXXVI., 2 vols. 12º.

(Brit. Mus., 9555, aa. 4.)

This version may have been based on the Dutch original; although the only indication we have of this is the fact that the work includes at the end a description of the government and revenues of the Spanish Indies, a description which is found in none of the earlier editions of Exquemelin, except in the Dutch original of 1678. The French text, however, while following the outline of Exquemelin's narrative, is greatly altered and enlarged. The history of Tortuga and French Hispaniola is elaborated with details from another source, as are also the descriptions of the manners and customs of the cattle-hunters and the freebooters. Accounts of two other buccaneers, Montbars and Alexandre Bras-le-Fer, are inserted, but d'Ogeron's shipwreck on Porto Rico and the achievements of Admiral d'Estrees against the Dutch are omitted. In general the French editor, the Sieur de  Frontignières, has re-cast the whole story. A similar French edition appeared in Paris in 1688, (Brit. Mus., 278, a. 13, 14.) and in 1713 a facsimile of this last was published at Brussels by Serstevens (Dampierre, p. 153). Sabin (op. cit., vi. 312) mentions an edition of 1699 in three volumes which included the journal of Raveneau de Lussan. In 1744, and again in 1775, another French edition was published in four volumes at Trevoux, to which was added the voyage of Montauban to the Guinea Coast, and the expeditions against Vera Cruz in 1683, Campeache in 1685, and Cartagena in 1697. The third volume contained the journal of R. de Lussan, and the fourth a translation of Johnson's "History of the Pirates." (Brit. Mus., 9555, aa. 1.) A similar edition appeared at Lyons in 1774, but I have had no opportunity of examining a copy. (Nouvelle Biographie Générale, tom. xxxviii. 544. The best bibliography of Exquemelin is in Sabin, op. cit., vi. 309.)

Secondary Works

Of the secondary works concerned with the history of the buccaneers, the oldest are the writings of the French Jesuit historians of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Dutertre (Histoire générale des Antilles. Paris, 1667-71), a chronicler of events within his own experience as well as a reliable historian, unfortunately brings his narrative to a close in 1667, but up to that year he is the safest guide to the history of the French Antilles. Labat, in his "Nouveau Voyage aux Isles de l'Amerique" (Paris, 1722), gives an account of eleven years, between 1694 and 1705, spent in Martinique and Guadeloupe, and although of little value as an historian, he supplies us with  a fund of the most picturesque and curious details about the life and manners of the people in the West Indies at the end of the seventeenth century. A much more important and accurate work is Charlevoix's "Histoire de l'Isle Espagnole ou de S. Domingue" (Paris, 1732), and this I have used as a general introduction to the history of the French buccaneers. Raynal's "Histoire philosophique et politique des établissements et du commerce européen dans les deux Indes" (Amsterdam, 1770) is based for the origin of the French Antilles upon Dutertre and Labat and is therefore negligible for the period of the buccaneers. Adrien Dessalles, who in 1847 published his "Histoire générale des Antilles," preferred, like Labat and Raynal, to depend on the historians who had preceded him rather than endeavour to gain an intimate knowledge of the sources.

In the English histories of Jamaica written by Long, Bridges, and Gardner, whatever notice is taken of the buccaneers is meagre and superficial, and the same is true of Bryan Edwards' "History, civil and commercial, of the British colonies in the West Indies." Thomas Southey, in his "Chronological History of the West Indies" (Lond. 1827), devotes considerable space to their achievements, but depends entirely upon the traditional sources. In 1803 J.W. von Archenholz published "Die Geschichte der Flibustier," a superficial, diffuse and even puerile narrative, giving no references whatever to authorities. (It was translated into French (Paris, 1804), and into English by Geo. Mason (London, 1807).) In 1816 a "History of the Buccaneers in America" was published by James Burney as the fourth volume of "A chronological History of the Discoveries in the South Seas or Pacific Ocean." Burney casts but a rapid glance over the West Indies, devoting most of the volume to an account of the voyages of the freebooters along the coast  of South America and in the East Indies. Walter Thornbury in 1858 wrote "The Buccaneers, or the Monarchs of the Main," a hasty compilation, florid and overdrawn, and without historical judgment or accuracy. In 1895 M. Henri Lorin presented a Latin thesis to the Faculty of History in Paris, entitled:—"De praedonibus Insulam Santi Dominici celebrantibus saeculo septimo decimo," but he seems to have confined himself to Exquemelin, Le Pers, Labat, Dutertre and a few documents drawn from the French colonial archives. The best summary account in English of the history and significance of the buccaneers in the West Indies is contained in Hubert H. Bancroft's "History of Central America" (ii. chs. 26, 28-30). Within the past year there has appeared an excellent volume by M. Pierre de Vaissière describing creole life and manners in the French colony of San Domingo in the century and a half preceding the Revolution. (Vaissière, Pierre de: Saint Dominigue. (1629-1789). Paris, 1909.) It is a reliable monograph, and like his earlier volume, "Gentilshommes campagnards de l'ancienne France," is written in a most entertaining style. De Vaissière contributes much valuable information, especially in the first chapter, about the origins and customs of the French "flibustiers."

I have been able to find only two Spanish works which refer at all to the buccaneers. One is entitled:

Piraterias y agresiones de los ingleses y de otros pueblos de Europa en la America espanola desde el siglo XVI. al XVIII., deducidas de las obras de D. Dionisio de Alcedo y Herrera. Madrid, 1883. 4º.

Except for a long introduction by Don Justo Zaragoza based upon Exquemelin and Alcedo, it consists of a  collection of extracts referring to freebooters on the coasts of Peru and Chili, and deals chiefly with the eighteenth century. The other Spanish work is an elaborate history of the Spanish navy lately published in nine volumes by Cesareo Fernandez Duro, and entitled:—

Armada espanola desde la union de los reinos de Castilla y de Aragon. Madrid, 1895.

There are numerous chapters dealing with the outrages of the French and English freebooters in the West Indies, some of them based upon Spanish sources to which I have had no access. But upon comparison of Duro's narrative, which in so far as it relates to the buccaneers is often meagre, with the sources available to me, I find that he adds little to what may be learned on the subject here in England.

One of the best English descriptions of the Spanish colonial administration and commercial system is still that contained in book viii. of Robertson's "History of America" (Lond. 1777). The latest and best summary account, however, is in French, in the introduction to vol. i. of "La traite négrière aux Indes de Castille" (Paris, 1906), by Georges Scelle. Weiss, in vol. ii. of his history of "L'Espagne depuis Philippe II. jusqu'aux Bourbons" (Paris, 1844), treats of the causes of the economic decadence of Spain, and gives an account of the contraband trade in Spanish America, drawn largely from Labat. On this general subject Leroy-Beaulieu, "De la colonization chez les peuples modernes" (Paris, 1874), has been especially consulted.

The best account of the French privateers of the sixteenth century in America is in an essay entitled: "Les corsairs français au XVIe siècle dans les Antilles" (Paris, 1902), by Gabriel Marcel. It is a short monograph based on the collections of Spanish documents brought together by Pacheco and Navarrete. The volume by E. Ducéré  entitled, "Les corsairs sous l'ancien regîme" (Bayonne, 1895), is also valuable for the history of privateering. For the history of the Elizabethan mariners I have made use of the two works by J. S. Corbett: "Drake and the Tudor Navy" (Lond. 1898), and "The successors of Drake" (Lond. 1900). Other works consulted were:

Arias de Miranda, José: Examen critico-historico del influyo que tuvo en el comercio, industria y poblacion de Espana su dominacion en America. Madrid, 1854.

Blok, Pieter Johan: History of the people of the Netherlands. Translated by C. A. Bierstadt and Ruth Putnam. 4 vols. New York, 1898.

Brown, Alex.: The Genesis of the United States. 2 vols. Lond., 1890.

Crawford, James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of: Bibliotheca Lindesiana. Handlist of proclamations. 3 vols. Aberdeen, 1893-1901.

Dumont, Jean: Corps universel diplomatique. 13 vols. Hague, 1726-39.

Froude, James Anthony: History of England from the fall of Wolsey to the defeat of the Spanish armada. 12 vols. 1870-75. English seamen in the sixteenth century. Lond., 1901.

Gardiner, Samuel Rawson: History of the Commonwealth and Protectorate, 1649-1660. 3 vols. Lond., 1894-1903.

Geographical and historical description of ... Cartagena, Porto Bello, La Vera Cruz, the Havana and San Augustin. Lond., 1741.

Gibbs, Archibald R.: British Honduras ... from ... 1670. Lond., 1883.


Hakluyt, Richard: The principal navigations ... of the English nation, etc. 3 vols. Lond., 1598-1600.

Herrera y Tordesillas, Antonio: Historia general de las Indias. 4 vols. Madrid, 1601-15.

Hughson, Shirley C.: The Carolina pirates and colonial commerce. Baltimore, 1894.

Lucas, C. P.: A historical geography of the British colonies. 4 vols. Oxford, 1905. Vol. ii. The West Indies.

Monson, Sir William: The naval tracts of ... Edited ... by M. Oppenheim. Vols. i. and ii. Lond., 1902—(in progress).

Oviedo y Valdes, Gonzalo Fernandez de: Historia general de las Indias. Salamanca, 1547.

Peytraud, Lucien: L'Esclavage aux Antilles françaises avant 1789, etc. Paris, 1897.

Saint-Yves, G.: Les compagnes de Jean d'Estrées dans la mer des Antilles, 1676-78. Paris, 1900.

Strong, Frank: Causes of Cromwell's West Indian expedition. (Amer. Hist. Review. Jan. 1899).

Veitia Linaje, Josef de: Norte de la Contratacion de las Indias Occidentales. Sevilla, 1672.

Vignols, Leon: La piraterie sur l'Atlantique au XVIIIe siècle. Rennes, 1891.

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