SIR HENRY MORGAN.
Pirate who became Governor of Jamaica (1688)
The distinguished courage of Sir Henry Morgan, and the scenes in which he engaged, entitle him to occupy the first station in this history. He was a native of Wales, and descended of a respectable family. His father was a wealthy farmer, but young Morgan had no inclination to that industrious mode of life. Abandoning his father's house, he hastened to a sea-port town where several vessels were bound for the isle of Barbados. He went into the service of one of these; and, upon his arrival in the island, was sold as a slave. Having obtained his liberty, he went to Jamaica. Finding two pirate vessels ready to go to sea, he went on board one of them, with the intention of becoming pirate. Having performed several successful voyages, he agreed with some of his companions to unite their wealth to purchase a vessel; which being done, he was unanimously chosen captain.
With this vessel he went to cruise upon the coasts of Campeachy, and, capturing several vessels, returned in triumph to Jamaica. Upon his arrival, one Mansvelt, an old pirate, was equipping a fleet with the intention of landing upon the continent and pillaging the country. The success of Morgan induced Mansvelt to choose him for his vice-admiral. With a fleet of fifteen ships and five hundred men, they set sail from Jamaica, and arrived at the isle of St. Catharine. Here they made a descent, and landed the greater part of their men.
They soon forced the garrison to surrender, and to deliver up all the forts and castles, which they demolished, only reserving one, into which they placed an hundred men, and the slaves they had taken from the Spaniards. They proceeded to an adjoining small island, and, having destroyed both islands with fire and sword, and made what arrangements were necessary at the castle, which they had garrisoned, they set sail in quest of new spoils. They cruised upon the coasts of Costa Rica, and entered the river Calla with an intention to pillage all the towns upon the coast. Informed of their arrival and of their former depredations, the governor of Panama collected a force to oppose the pirates. They fled at his approach, and hastened to the isle of St. Catharine to visit their companions that were left in the garrison. Le Sieur Simon, the governor, had put the large island in a posture of defence, and cultivated the small island with such care, that it was able to afford fresh provisions to the whole fleet. The vicinity of these islands to the Spanish dominions, and the ease with which they could be defended, strongly inclined Mansvelt to retain them in perpetual possession.
With this view, he returned to Jamaica to send out greater numbers, that so they might be able to defend themselves in case of an attack from the Spaniards. He signified his intentions to the governor of Jamaica, upon his return home; but, afraid of offending the king of England, and of weakening the strength of his own island, the governor declined complying with his wishes. Baffled in his designs, he went to the island of Tortuga to solicit reinforcements from the governor, but, before he could effect his purpose, death suddenly put an end to his wicked career. Meanwhile, the governor of the garrison of St. Catharine receiving no intelligence of his admiral, was greatly anxious concerning the cause of his long absence. The Spanish governor of Costa Rica, apprised of the injury whch would accrue to his master, by these two islands remaining in the hands of the pirates, equipped a considerable fleet to retake the islands. But, before proceeding to extremities, he wrote to Le Sieur Simon to inform him, that if he willingly surrendered, he should be amply rewarded, but if he resisted, severely punished. Having no hope of being able to defend the islands against such a superior force, he surrendered them into the hands of their rightful owner. A few days after this, an English vessel arrived from Jamaica with a large supply of men, women, and stores. The Spaniards, seeing the ships from the castle, prevailed upon Le Sieur Simon to go on board to decoy them into the harbour; which he dexterously effecting, they were all made prisoners.