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John Halsey

English Pirate

Born: Unknown

Died: 1708

Originally a native of Boston, Captain Halsey began his career in 1704 as a privateer, raiding French and Spanish shipping for the English. His letter of marque expired in 1705, however, and he was forced to accept a new commission taking him and his crew to fight pirates on the other side of the world in the Red Sea. Relunctantly, he turned towards Madagascar in command of the 10 gun sloop, Charles.

In late 1706 Captain Halsey was nearly deposed by his crew, who thought him to be a coward after refusing to fire upon a larger Dutch ship spotted in the Indian Ocean. His crew was convinced the ship was nothing more than a slow moving merchantman - an easy prize for the taking. Captain Halsey's intuition was soon proven correct, however, for soon after Halsey was deposed, the "defenseless" Dutch ship turned on the Charles and began firing. The Charles was quickly overwhelmed by the larger ship and driven off. Captain Halsey was immediately reinstated by the crew as their captain.

In 1707, Captain Halsey seized two coastal traders at the Nicobar Islands and made way for the Straits of Malacca. He found little success there, as his crew was now afraid to fire upon any ship larger than their own after being so resoundedly beaten during their encounter with the Dutch ship a year earlier.

Eventually it became necessary to put into port for supplies and crew, so Halsey made way for Madagascar. It was here that Captain Halsey enlisted the former Captain Nathaniel North as his new Quartermaster.

Soon after in August, 1707, While visiting Mocha in the Red Sea, Captain Halsey and his crew encountered a British squadron of five ships with a total of 62 guns.

Being so outmanned and outgunned, most captains would have chosen to flee, but displaying extraordinary courage, Captain Halsey chose to turn and attack the squadron. Surprisingly, the largest of the British ships turned and fled, causing the others to scatter in all directions. Captain Halsey was able to capture two of these ships, taking more than 50,000 in cash and cargo.

In 1708, Captain Halsey returned to Madagascar, but a hurricane struck soon after and two of his ships were destroyed by the storm. Captain Halsey became sick with a fever and died later that year. He was buried with great ceremony.

Of the ceremony, the Pirate chronicler Daniel Defoe wrote:

"He was brave in his person, courteous to all his prisoners, lived beloved, and died regretted by his own people. His grave was made in a garden of water melons, and fenced in with pallisades to prevent his being rooted up by wild Hogs."

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