Captain Henry Morgan & The Atlantic World

Detailing the research into the illustrious career of one of the most notorious figures of the Early Modern world

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The Legend Continues

As the semester comes to a close, it’s time to leave you all with my final post detailing my work with Dr. Donoghue. It’s been a fascinating few months delving into the world of the Captain Morgan, and his legacy that continues to interest historians hundreds of years after his death.  It seems fitting to end this semester by writing about the last years of Morgan’s life, those which proved to be the most problematic for the Captain.  In October 1683, reports began to reach London concerning a series of riots that occurred in Jamaica, known as the Point Riots.  While not explicitly stating what caused them, the State Papers detail the depositions taken directly following the riots; these depositions would condemn Morgan and lead to his so-called fall from grace with the British government and the Jamaican Assembly.  It was recorded that a Mrs. Wellin heard Morgan exclaim “God damn the Assembly” in his drunken state (Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies October 1683).  In the matter of a few days, Morgan’s character and position as a politician in Jamaica were questioned by members of the assembly, believing he was too “irregular” to continue to serve the government’s best interests.  On October 12th, 1683, Morgan was charged with “disorder, passions, and miscarriages at Port Royal on various occasions” and for “countenancing sundry men in disloyalty to the Governor” (Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America and West Indies October 1683).  Morgan countered these charges, claiming he was a scapegoat taking the blame for the faults of others.  Yet, once it was proved that Mrs. Wellin’s deposition held truth, Sir Henry Morgan was swiftly removed from all commands and government offices.  Drunken and disorderly conduct was not uncommon amongst Morgan’s contemporaries in government, but in Morgan’s case it was put to the question as to “whether it be to the King’s services that he be continued in any employment, and carried in the negative”. Morgan had offended King Charles II’s pawns in the Jamaican government (individuals that already disapproved of his conduct), giving them the ammunition they required to remove him from power.


Port Royal, Jamaica

Morgan had distinctly offended Sir Thomas Lynch, one of Charles II’s Jamaican pawns; in 1684, Lynch wrote to Sir Leoline Jenkins, Secretary of State for the Colonies, regarding Morgan’s refusal to pass the recent set of Navigation Acts decreed from England.  His concern regarding their passage stemmed from the “drunken little party of Sir Henry Morgan’s” that opposed the new legislation (Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America, and West Indies March 1684).  Morgan had a history of offending Sir Thomas Lynch, exclaiming on many occasions that he had accepted bribes to support the ineffective Royal African Company in the Jamaican Assembly.  Lynch was incredibly critical of Morgan, writing that in his drink he “abuses the Government, swears, damns, and curses most extravagantly, and if you knew all of his excesses and incapacity you would rather wonder why he ever was in employment than why he was turned out” (Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America, and West Indies March 1684).  It seems that the true piratical spirit never left Morgan when he transitioned to a career of politics, seeking to benefit himself rather than present a cordial attitude towards those he disliked in government.  Lynch also claimed that Morgan continually tried to discredit his service as the Governor of Jamaica, supposedly doing so to turn Lynch out of office and become governor himself.  Lynch wrote that Henry Morgan was “so uncivil to me, and mightily elated at the prospect of governor” (Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America, and West Indies March 1684).


Secretary Leoline Jenkins

Yet, Henry Morgan was not alone in his fall from grace; his kinsman Charles Morgan, the lawyer Roger Elleston, and Colonel Robert Byndloss were all suspended from their offices in May of 1684.  Sir Henry Morgan and Colonel Byndloss were removed from the Jamaican Assembly, while Charles Morgan was dismissed from his offices as Captain of the Forts in Port Royal.  In Sir Thomas Lynch’s 1684 letter to Secretary Jenkins, he wrote that both Charles and Henry Morgan lived without “respect to the law, truth, or justice” (Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America, and West Indies March 1684).  The actions of these men reached the Lords of Trade and Plantations in London, ordering that Morgan’s petition for their case be formally heard in the council.  Although the future seemed bleak for Morgan in 1684, he would later be reinstated to the King’s favor in the last year of his life.


King Charles II

It’s been quite an incredible semester spent researching the illustrious Captain, an adventure which has spanned multiple continents and countless hours of research. While we many never discover the treasure of a simple explanation for the mysteries surrounding his career, it is certain that Captain Henry Morgan’s legacy will continue to live on in the pages of history.


Growing Fears and Frustrations

With just a few short weeks left in the semester, I find myself digging further into the rise of turmoil within the Jamaica colony.  Aggravated by privateers and inadequate communication between the central government in London and the colonial assemblies, Jamaica grew increasingly frantic.  Since the peace between England and Spain in July of 1670, relations between the two countries had grown increasingly strained.  A petition was made to the King by merchants and traders operating in Jamaica regarding the Spanish, who continued to target and torment the English in the West Indies.  An act had been passed by King Charles II to prohibit transporting goods, such as sugar and tobacco, to any dominions in the West Indies other than those under English possession; this was a direct attempt to circumvent the actions of the Spanish, including “the intolerable injuries, unheard of cruelties, innumerable depredations and bloody murders committed by the Spanish upon His Majesty’s subjects in the West Indies since the peace with Spain” (Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America, and West Indies: Volume 10, September 1678).  


(Spanish Privateers defeated by Henry Morgan at Lake Maracaibo in 1678)

In August of 1679, Henry Morgan was called upon to aid in the planning of defense for the Jamaica colony under the governorship of Lord Carlisle.  He recommended a, “strengthening of the breastwork, arming the new works, providing for fire-ships,” (Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America, and West Indies: Volume 10, August 1679) aimed at better preparing the colonies for the imminent attack of both the Spanish and uncontrollable privateers.  It seemed as though the British government had created a monster it could no longer control, legalizing privateering only to villainize the men it once lauded when the practice became too unpredictable for government benefit.  Jamaica was constantly at the ready to combat privateers, yet the colonial officials were more delicate with the Spanish considering the treaty of “peace” they shared with the English.  It was written that the Governor, “had always men-of-war with him, so you will keep him fully informed as to these privateers and their movements” (Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America, and West Indies: Volume 11, October 1683).  

Issues with the monopoly granted to the Royal African Company caused an inadequate supply of slaves to be brought to Jamaican plantations.  On October 3, 1683, a petition written by the Planters and Merchants of Jamaica reached the Lords of Trade and Plantations.  Frustrated by declining trade relations with the Royal African Company, the colonists wrote that they were not “empowered by the island to agree to any discontinuance of the contract of the Royal African Company to furnish Jamaica with negroes” (Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America, and West Indies: Volume 11, October 1683); essentially, they were requesting that the Lords of Trade and Plantations allow for colonists to acquire an adequate amount of slaves through means other than the Company.  The letter, written by our own William Beeston, remarked upon the corrupt nature of the Royal African Company; they sought to break their contract with the Jamaica colony and find the highest bidder for their slaves to gain the most profit (which would inevitably benefit the King himself).  


(Diagram of the composition of a typical Atlantic slave ship; profit was clearly valued over the respect of basic human rights)

In March of 1684, members of the Royal African Company were called to the Lords of Trade and Plantations to supply Jamaica with the promised 5,000 slaves, as outlined in their contract with the colony.  On March 4th, it was “recommended further that you signify your intention to uphold the company’s rights and that you direct the company to take care to provide the island with five thousand negroes within a year” (Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America, and West Indies: Volume 11, March 1684).  In May of the same year, it was decided that the Lords of Trade and Plantations would grant the Royal African Company their petition to be re-heard before the council regarding the supply of slaves to Jamaica; it seems highly unlikely that the King would allow the monopoly he created for his favorites to be undermined, even if the Company grew to be increasingly unpopular with the colonists in Jamaica.  Profit was of the utmost importance in the colonies, and no person understood this ideal better than the King.  


(Map of English Plantations in America and the West Indies, ~1700)

Trouble for Royalists

As the end of the semester (along with tens of pages of research papers to write) looms closer, I find myself entrenched in the study of Henry Morgan.  I’m very much so looking forward to having the opportunity to present my research again this Saturday, April 12th, at Loyola’s Undergraduate Research & Engagement Symposium as part of the 2014 Weekend of Excellence.  Entitled, “The 17th Century Enigma of Captain Henry Morgan and the Atlantic World,” this presentation delves into the ambiguous background of Morgan’s youth as detailed in the competing accounts of Alexandre Exquemelin and Philip Ayres.  I had a wonderful experience presenting my research in poster form at the Chicago Area Undergraduate Research Symposium last Saturday, and was pleasantly surprised by the amount of interest that was shown in my research.  As a student of history, I stood alone at the symposium amongst those studying biology, chemistry, and the like; I find those subjects to be a bit over my head, so perhaps its best that I stick to the humanities.

I’m also looking forward to continuing to work as Dr. Donoghue’s research assistant for my senior year; the extra time for research is a blessing in disguise, as there are always new discoveries to be made in the world of history.  I spent a bit of time this past week digging further into an idea I explored a few weeks ago, referring to the debts owed by Royalist men like Sir Nicholas Crispe.  I came across an article by historian Joan Thirsk entitled, “The Sales of Royalist Land During the Interregnum”.  During the Interregnum period, Royalist estates had been sequestered by the victorious Parliamentarians seeking to punish those who had supported, or continued to support, Charles II.  A committee had been created to deal with the Royalists who agreed to pay their debts to Cromwell’s government, known as the Committee for Compounding with Delinquents.  This committee gave Royalists an opportunity to regain their sequestered lands through further payments to the government.  The price of regaining these sequestered holdings was based upon the estate’s worth and the extent to which the individual had supported the Royalist cause.  The first sale of Royalist land occurred in 1651 under the directive of the Sequestration Committee of Oliver Cromwell’s government. The Royalists whose lands were sold were those who refused to pay composition; composition was an agreement between the debtor and creditor to accept less than was actually owed on a debt.  The Sequestration Committee authorized the sale of land belonging to those Royalists that continued to oppose Parliamentary rule.  Sales of these estates, however, were recorded in relative secrecy in the Chancery.  This act of secrecy reflected the uncertain nature of the future of these deals; there was a lingering sentiment within the English that the Royalists could rise up at any time and instate Charles II as the rightful ruler of England.


(Royalists entrenched in the English Civil War)

The ever cunning Royalists, however, found a way to circumvent the system in the event that they were considered irreparable delinquents by Cromwell’s government.  Royalists utilized agents as trustees to buy back their land and hold it in trust until they could rightfully return to their estates (in the impending event that Charles II would return to his throne).  Interestingly, London merchants purchased most of this confiscated Royalist land; they had the liquid assets necessary to buy the estates.  This factor emphasized the rise of the merchant class, where a majority of the money was held in society.  London creditors were more apt to sell the confiscated estates than their counterparts in the countryside, perhaps reacting to the greater concentration of wealth within the burgeoning metropolis.

One of these wealthy merchants, Sir Henry Johnson, utilized this newfound opportunity to purchase the lease on the Blackwall Yard in 1656.  Blackwall, located along the Thames River, was an incredibly important center of shipbuilding in England for almost four centuries.  Once owned by the East India Company, Blackwall played an important role in 17th naval warfare; as the Anglo-Dutch Wars continued to rage throughout the latter half of the 17th centuries, more and more ships needed to be commissioned to supply the growing demand.  Samuel Pepys commissioned Royal Navy ships to be built at Blackwall, as the royal dockyards could not supply the need of the government.


(18th Century depiction of the Blackwall Yard)

In an interesting twist of fate, Johnson’s son, also named Henry Johnson, became a governor of Cape Coast Castle in the early 18th century.  Cape Coast Castle was used as a stronghold in West Africa for the Royal African Company at the height of trans-Atlantic slave trade.  Hundreds of slaves were held in these “slave castles” as a last stop on their journey to the American and Caribbean colonies.  It’s more than certain that Henry Morgan would have encountered slaves journeying from Cape Coast Castle throughout his time in the Jamaica colony, a sad truth of imperial expansion into the Atlantic World, in which racial hierarchy served as the grossly ambiguous and immoral foundations for the slave trade controlled by the Royal African Company.


(1682 depiction of the layout of Cape Coast Castle)

A True Contemporary

The past week has been incredibly hectic while I’ve been busy working to prepare my presentations for the upcoming CAURS and LUC symposiums.  I’m very much looking forward to being able to share with others this little piece of history I’ve dedicated my studies to for the past semester.  I’ve spent a great deal of time this semester attempting to create a contextual history of the 17th century Atlantic World in order to better understand Henry Morgan’s career.  What this contextual analysis has provided me with is a unique understanding of Morgan’s personality, as there are so few existing references to his youth or personal life.  I’ve found that many of Morgan’s contemporaries, or those who came to the West Indies to try to play their hand at its newfound potential for economic success, share a strikingly similar life story to the illustrious Captain.  While it was common for wealthy and powerful British bureaucrats at this time to keep a diary (Samuel Pepys diary is one of the greatest resources for understanding 17th century Britain), archaeologists and historians have never discovered a diary that can be personally attributed to Henry Morgan.  By delving into the personal accounts of Morgan’s contemporaries and the letters he and others wrote throughout their lifetime, we can better understand the mind behind the legend of Henry Morgan.

William Beeston’s career is strikingly similar to Henry Morgan’s; interestingly, he was only a year younger than Morgan, and came to the West Indies around the same time.  Born in 1636, Beeston entered Jamaica in 1660 at the age of 24, and began a political career that would span decades.  In 1664, Beeston was elected to represent Port Royal in Jamaica’s First House of Assembly, the governing body of the day which met in St. Jago de la Vega.  Many of the references to Jamaica’s government in the Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America, and West Indies refer directly to St. Jago, and not to the infamous town of Port Royal.  Beeston was not a man to keep his opinions silent; rather, he served his colony as an outspoken member of government, continuously commenting upon the unstable nature of the seemingly haphazard Jamaican government and the ambitious nature of those running it.  This attitude caused Beeston to make many enemies, as is common throughout history when men step forward to speak out against conventions within government.  However, this is not to say that William Beeston was an outright promoter of social justice and welfare; he was a favorite of King Charles II (a common theme that has followed me throughout this semester).  In 1667, the King silenced Captain Beeston’s opposition by restoring his naval command on the island of Jamaica.  It was written that, “his majesty requires that said Capt. Beeston with servants, goods, and necessaries be permitted freely to embark in any of his Majesty’s ports on any vessel bound for said island or any of the Caribbees” (13 February 1667, Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America, and West Indies, Volume 5: 1661-1668).  It is interesting to note that within this compilation of correspondences in the month of February 1667, there exists another directive from the King in reference to maritime issues.  In this case, the King granted a warrant to Lord Willoughby, Governor of the Caribbean, to impress ships. The warrants states, “His Lordship may have occasion for ships of strength as well to repel enemies as to execute any sudden design upon them, his Majesty hereby grants him authority to impress any such ships in any part of his Government as he shall have need of for his Majesty’s service” (February 1667, Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America, and West Indies, Volume 5: 1661-1668).  While Captain Beeston spoke out against the ambitious nature of those within the government, he was simultaneously benefitting from the patronage of King Charles II, who took away the personal liberty of countless numbers of sailors for the supposed greater good of England. 

Image (A plan for Port Royal, Jamaica)

In 1675, William Beeston was named a commissioner of the Admiralty along with Henry Morgan; it seems as though from this point forward, the careers of these two men would be interconnected.  Leading up to this accolade, Beeston had convoyed a fleet of merchantmen to England in 1672, and served as a negotiator on behalf of Governor Modyford to deal with English privateers in Cuba and Hispaniola.  By the time he was named commissioner, privateering had become a hotly debated issue within the English government.  In 1676, a reference from Peter Beckford in St. Jago de la Vega refers to Governor Vaughan’s attempts to suppress privateers, as they had begun to seize ships carrying the cargo of the Royal Company (which had been granted a monopoly on the slave trade by the King), to which many of the King’s favorites and family members belonged.  By this time, privateering had become the greatest threat to Jamaica’s success; yet, it was proving incredibly difficult for Lord Vaughan to suppress something that had once been so legal, and which continued to be incredibly lucrative.  In a letter to the Lords of Trade and Plantations, Lord Vaughan wrote that he feared the privateers had, “grown more numerous, and under the pretence of French Commissions prey upon the Spaniards to the great dishonour of this Government” (4 April 1676, Calendar of State Papers Colonial, America, and West Indies, Volume 9: 1675-1676 and Addenda 1574-1674).  While this was not only bad for British foreign relations and attempts to maintain international peace, the privateers undermined the profits the King planned to make off of English colonies in the West Indies.

Image (William Beeston’s signature)

William Beeston eventually served as governor of Jamaica from March 1693 to January 1702, replaced by General William Selwyn. When he became governor of the island, he returned to a Jamaica that had been ravaged by the earthquake of 1692 and a fever epidemic that had swept the population; Jamaica was suffering in terms of finance and population.  To leave you all with another interesting connection within the 17th century Atlantic World, William Beeston’s daughter, Jane Beeston, eventually married Sir Thomas Modyford, 5th Baronet, a descendant of the infamous governor of Jamaica.  

The Losing Side of War

It’s been a while since my last blog post, as I’m still attempting to readjust to being back in the endless, bitter winter of Chicago after my absolutely incredible trip to London.  But, never fear, I have not forgotten our Henry Morgan even amidst such a busy semester (with a never ending to-do list)!   In fact, Morgan has recently become my top priority, as I will be presenting my research on our illustrious Captain at both the Chicago Area Undergraduate Research Symposium and Loyola’s Weekend of Excellence Research Symposium.  While the presentation is a work in progress, I have continued my research into the 17th century Atlantic World and Morgan’s contemporaries; this week, I focused on learning more about Sir Nicholas Crisp and the fate of many Royalists during the English Civil War, much of which may have impacted a young Henry Morgan’s family.

sir nicholas crisp Sir Nicholas Crisp

Sir Nicholas Crisp was a royalist, pioneer of the West Africa trade, member of the Council of Trade and Foreign Plantations, and a stockholder in the East India Company; essentially, he involved himself in every lucrative and influential facet of the growing system of transatlantic trade he could find in the early 17th century.  As a member of the Company of Royal Adventurers, also known as the “Guinea Company,” Nicholas Crisp was just one of many royal favorites who received a 31-year monopoly over the transatlantic slave trade from King James I.  Along with Martin Noell and Thomas Povey, two men who have been explored extensively in my research endeavors, Crisp was a stockholder and benefactor in the Company.  Sir Crisp was granted a patent, or an exclusive right, from the King to trade slaves between Guinea and areas throughout the West Indies.  Once the powerful figures in Whitehall realized how lucrative the slave trade would be, and how seemingly necessary it was to make English colonies and plantations successful, it granted exclusive rights of the trade to the Kings family and favorites (as detailed in the post regarding Thomas Povey and Martin Noell).  In 1640, Sir Nicholas Crisp was knighted by Charles I for his service to the crown and involvement in the Company of Royal Adventures (probably a result of the amount of money he had raised for the King).  Unfortunately for Crisp, the English Civil War broke out, and he was on the wrong side.  He escaped London after being accused of “secret service” to the King, and was forced by Parliament to surrender his patent for slave trading in the West Indies.

In November 1653, Parliament passed “An Act for the Deafforestation, Sale and Improvement of the Forests and of the Honors, Manors, Lands, and Tenements and Hereditaments within the usual Limits and Perambulations of the same. Heretofore belonging to the late King, Queen, and Prince.”  With an incredibly long and rambling title, the Act essentially seized all land, properties, and money belonging to the deposed King, his family, and Royalist favorites.  These lands were to be redistributed to benefit the commonwealth; the benefit of the Commonwealth was interpreted as giving the lands and properties to Cromwell’s favorites.  It was essentially the creation of a new system of hereditary inheritance based upon loyalties to the Interregnum government, stating, “It is hereby further Enacted, That the said Trustees, their Heirs and Assigns, shall have, hold and enjoy the premises, free and discharged from the payment of and from all maner of Tithes, in as large and ample maner, as the said King, Queen, and their eldest Son, or either of them respectively held… on the said Five and twentieth day of March, One thousand six hundred and forty one” (Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642-1660).

The men to which these lands were granted were all Parliamentarians actively involved in Cromwell’s Interregnum government.  Robert Aldworth, the elder, was a Bristol-born merchant who acquired a majority of his wealth through the slave trade, perhaps benefitting from the removal of a Royalist monopoly over the transatlantic slave trade held by the Company of Royal Adventurers.  Aldworth began the sugar processing business in Bristol, known as “sugar houses,” refining sugar imported from the Spanish and Portuguese colonies in Brazil.  The sugar Aldworth’s houses refined was harvested by African slaves; he was a member of the Society of Merchant Venturers, who would later successfully bring an end to the monopoly over slave trading the Royal African Company received from Charles II.  His son, also named Robert Aldworth, was a member of the House of Commons in the First Protectorate Parliament under Oliver Cromwell between 1654 and 1660.  In April of 1660, he became a member of the Convention Parliament, which held no allegiance to either the Commonwealth or the Monarchy. While this parliament was mainly Royalist, the Parliamentarian Aldworth successfully transitioned to the Restoration period of Charles II, continuing his political career.  It was the Convention Parliament that proclaimed upon the Restoration of Charles II that he had been the lawful monarch since his fathers death in 1649, essentially ignoring the existence of the Interregnum period.

IMG_2886 Modern-Day Parliament

The Royalists named in this Act of Cromwell’s Parliament in 1653 were not so lucky as the aforementioned individuals; Sir John Jacob, Sir Job Harby, Sir Nicholas Crisp, and Sir John Harrison were forced to come up with a sum of £276,146 to be paid as a “Publique-Faith Debt,” an absolutely staggering figure considering a normal family would survive on far less than £100 pounds a year.  In order to pay such a fine, which was coupled with an interest fee of £6 upon every £100 pounds still remaining in the debt, Sir Nicholas Crisp was forced to sell his lucrative share in the Company of Adventurers to pay his debts to Parliament and the Commonwealth.  Sir John Harrison was fined £10, 745 for continuing to support a restoration of the rightful King during the Interregnum, and was removed from his seat in Parliament in September of 1643.  Sir John Jacob’s lands were sequestered by Cromwell as a result of continued Royalist support.

Yet, the story does not end sadly for these men, as Charles II was gloriously restored to monarchial rule and crowned on April 23rd, 1661.  Sir Nicholas Crisp, along with countless other Royalists, had continued to support Charles II throughout the Interregnum period.  After fleeing to France following Charles I’s execution, Crisp continued to raise money for the royal cause.  Along with other Royalist supporters, he had signed a declaration supporting General George Monck’s fight to restore the Stuart Monarchy; his son Christopher Monck would become Lieutenant-Governor of Jamaica in 1687, a year before Henry Morgan’s death. Sir John Harrison was restored to his seat in Parliament, and served in the Cavalier Parliament until his death in 1669.  Sir John Jacob was granted many titles and offices by the King in recognition of his Royalist support, eventually being made Baronet of Bromley.

general george monck General George Monck

Wherever Henry Morgan fits into this tumultuous and twisted story, he seems to be a man very much so like his contemporaries on both Royalist and Parliamentarian sides; he risked his life for a cause, yet the exact cause he fought for continues to be a mystery.

Finding Barbados in London: the “Povey Papers”

It always seems as though Spring Break flies by in the blink of an eye, which seems especially true when you get to spend it in London.  My surprise trip to London was an utter success and quite a surreal experience to walk in the footsteps of monarchs like Henry VIII and our infamous Charles II.  I may have been on break, but I did not forget my duties as a research assistant.  Amazingly, I got to sift through the papers compiled in Egerton MS 2395 in the British Library that I have been researching all semester, or what I refer to as the “Povey Papers”.  I felt quite official and academic at the library amongst other historians, especially when I was given a year long pass to the library.  Although I only had the chance to read through a few documents in the compilation of the Povey Papers (it weighed almost 15 pounds and I was on vacation, after all), I did find some interesting and revealing information.


(A very rainy Monday perfectly fit the mood for visiting the gloomy Tower of London, where many Royalists were imprisoned after the English Civil War)

Folio 48 of Egerton MS 2395 contains a pamphlet dated from 1653, entitled “A Brief Relation of the Beginning and ending of the Troubles of the Barbados, with the true causes thereof”.  It details yet another story of ambition in the lives Colonel Humphrey Walrond and his younger brother Edward Walrond, two Royalists of wounded pride who sought to take advantage of the seemingly relaxed system of government in the West Indies.  Like countless numbers of their contemporaries (Henry Morgan included), their ambition for monetary and political gain was encouraged by the physical distance between the West Indies and the British Parliament; they “little doubted but in a short time to gain the Government into their hands, and by that means amply to Repair their broken Fortunes” (f. 48, Egerton MS 2395).  Humprey Walrond saw an opportunity to make Barbados a continuing center of support for the Royalist cause, seeking to further its reputation as a place of asylum for those who supported Charles II as the rightful monarchial ruler of England.

The Walrond’s soon enacted a campaign of terror, preying on Royalist fears of the Cavalier faction in Barbados infiltrating and overthrowing their asylum’s government.  Humphrey Walrond eliminated the islands treasurer Guy Molesworth, falsely claiming that he was a Cavalier; the mere accusation of Cavalier loyalty was a serious offense in a Royalist asylum, where every man had been slighted by Cromwell’s government in some way.  Humprey’s claims were supported by the oratories of his brother Edward Walrond, who claimed that “there was a very formidable Malignant party in the Island which daily increased, and would in time master this island, and turn all well-affected to the King from thence” (f. 48, Egerton MS 2395).

I spent time in last weeks post detailing the political relationship between Governor Thomas Modyford and Admiral Henry Morgan in Jamaica in the 1670’s, in which Modyford entrusted Morgan with an incredible amount of power and discretion.  In the Povey Papers, I found a reference to Thomas Modyford early in his career on the island of Barbados during the Interregnum period of Cromwellian power.  General Thomas Modyford enters the saga of the Walrond brothers, attempting to circumvent the power they had gained through terror and violence, seeking instead to reason with the Cavalier faction in Barbados.  While the Walrond’s wanted to eradicate the threat Cavaliers posed to their power, Modyford instead sought to unite the two groups to create a policy of neutrality.  Modyford’s assertion of the importance of neutrality was not simply based upon a desire to avoid war (he did begin his career as a general); he recognized the importance of the Cavaliers to the success and prosperity of Barbados, as they controlled the incredibly lucrative sugar industry on the island.

While the wording of the pamphlet turns towards propagandist phrasing, much like Philip Ayres’ account of Henry Morgan, it emphasizes the important role Thomas Modyford played in ensuring the future success of the island of Barbados.  The author makes Modyford the saving grace of the island of Barbados against the tyrannical rule of the Walrond brothers; “Thus may you see that by the excellency of one mans temper and Conduct, with Gods blessings theron, this rich spot of Land, containing at least thirty thousand Souls, Reduced and United to their Native Country without Bloodshed” (f. 48, Egerton MS 2395).


Folio 48 also includes a short but revealing statement regarding the treatment of Royalists following the English Civil War as they faced the consequences of losing the fight for monarchial power in England.  Barbados was made to be an island of neutrality, a policy fundamental to the islands prosperity seeing as it housed both Royalists and Roundheads.  This policy was maintained until, “the Parliament prevailing, multitudes of the Royal Party being made Prisoners, were sent thither to be sold as Servants” in Barbados (f. 48, Egerton MS 2395).  The idea of captured Royalists being sent to the West Indies as indentured servants is one explored by Dr. Donoghue in his first book, Fire Under the Ashes; interestingly, this action directly connects to the infamous merchant Martin Noell, a man I have encountered many times this semester.  Noell was accused by members of Parliament of selling 72 captured Royalists into indentured servitude in 1655.  He claimed it was an attempt to rid London’s prisons of men that could be far more beneficial to England’s prosperity by working on plantations in the West Indies, rather than sitting idly in a prison cell.  Royalists were transported to places like Barbados along with countless men and women imprisoned during Cromwell’s attempted conquests of Scotland and Ireland.

This makes an interesting connection to Alexandre Exquemelin’s claim that Henry Morgan was sold into indentured servitude in Barbados in the 1650’s; like most families during the English Civil War, Morgan’s was divided along Roundhead and Royalist lines.  While it seems unlikely that a wealthy youth like Morgan would be “spirited away” to the West Indies, it aligns with the policies of the times.  Royalists captured and imprisoned by Roundheads often opted to serve as indentures in the West Indies if their lands had been taken by the government, and the majority of volunteers to indenture in places like Barbados were young men. Exquemelin’s tale is common of Morgan’s contemporaries, leaving another unanswered question regarding Henry Morgan’s ambiguous origins.


(While Henry Morgan evaded imprisonment in the Tower, Thomas Modyford was not so lucky-he served 2 years. It’s quite surreal to think I may have walked on the same ground as these men.)

Henry Morgan: A Self-Made Legend?

This week was one where I truly feel like I made some significant gains in this research project, and I feel as though I may have peeled back another layer of the mystery of Captain Morgan.  Aside from applying to the Chicago Area Undergraduate Research Symposium this week, with the very distinct potential of presenting my research to a room full of people, I also received the incredible surprise that I will be traveling to London for Spring Break! Time has already been set aside for trips to both the British Library and the UK National Archives, where I may finally get my hands on some of these incredible manuscripts I have only read about.


(I distinctly hope that I might find manuscripts with similarly colorful bindings like An Essay of Barbadoes fond at the Newberry Library.)

I found some incredible references in the Calendars of State Papers Colonial, America, and West Indies that span much of Morgan’s career from 1663 to 1681.  In March of 1666, Henry Morgan gave a testimony before Governor of Jamaica, Thomas Modyford, regarding his expedition to the Bay of Mexico in January of that year. This account also references two other men involved in the leadership on the expedition, Captain John Morris and Captain Jackman.  Captain John Morris was the son of a famed buccaneer in the West Indies during the 1660’s and 1670’s, operating in the same expeditions as Henry Morgan.  Even more revealing, John Morris, Sr. served under Admiral Christopher Myngs in his campaigns against the Spanish in the West Indies.


Admiral Christopher Myngs Painted by Sir Peter Lely in the Flagmen of Lowestoft Collection at the National Maritime Museum in London (another stop on the trip to London!)

Henry Morgan enlisted the aid of a group of Mosquito Indians in the Bay of Mexico; they inhabited Porto Bello, along with other groups of inhabitants that were seen as enemies of Spain, as their cruelty against minorities led groups like the Indians to rebel against the Spanish.  In later years of the Golden Age of Piracy, Captain Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy of the ship Whydah would enlist a man named John Julian, part Mosquito Indian, to be the pilot of his crew.  This example emphasizes the importance of the cosmopolitan crews of Golden Age pirates, an idea that began even in the mid-17th century, with two seemingly opposing groups uniting against a common enemy in the Spanish.

In July of 1670, Governor Thomas Modyford gave Admiral Henry Morgan an official grant as commander-in-chief for the protection of Jamaica in charge of ships, soldiers, and seaman.  He was also granted the duty of creating a fleet to be, “well manned, armed, and victualled, and by the first opportunity to put to sea for defence of this island, and to use his best endeavour to surprise, take, sink, disperse or destroy the enemy’s vessels “(CSPWI Volume 7: 1669-1674). Henry Morgan was to be the last and superior authority to his men, second only to King Charles II.  In his instructions to Morgan, Governor Modyford also gave Morgan power to make any discretionary decisions not expressly outlined in his letters.  With such an incredible wealth of power and responsibility, it seems only likely that Morgan used this to his advantage, like so many other men close to ordained power had done before him.  The most interesting instruction of Modyford was to inquire as to how English prisoners had been treated by Spanish, emphasizing that the English must endeavor to do better in their treatment of the Spanish if Morgan happened upon any prisoners;  Henry Morgan was to be the example of a gentleman of the British Empire, exceeding the Spanish “in civility and humanity, endeavouring to make all people sensible of his moderation and good nature and his inaptitude and loathness to spill the blood of man” (CSPWI Volume 7: 1669-1674).  This instruction relates to the goal of Philip Ayres in his work The Adventures of Capt. Barth. Sharp and Others in the South Sea, in which he sought to reduce the slander against Henry Morgan and express the true gentle and trustworthy nature of Henry Morgan.  Yet, it seems unlikely to me, and hopefully any other reader interested in piracy, that any pirate, sanctioned or not, would be kind and generous to those that approached him with a sword.

A later account from April 1681 leads us to a Henry Morgan that had fallen out of favor with King Charles II and the government in London.  Henry Morgan’s loyalties had been ambiguous throughout his career, and as the monarchy began to see piracy as a threat rather than an asset, Morgan fell on the losing side of that battle.  Those in power viewed him as bipartisan, helping either the Empire or pirates when it benefitted him.  Yet, in his plea to Sir Leoline Jenkins, Secretary of State for the Southern Department, Morgan claims that he had always sought to discourage piracy in the West Indies, as the King viewed it as a threat.  The Southern Department, in which Sir Jenkins was an essential member, was responsible for Southern England, Wales, Ireland, and the American colonies.  It is in this letter of Henry Morgan’s that we see the true man come forth; Morgan was a self-made man, spinning whatever story he could to make himself seem favorable, and therefore personally benefit, to the ideas and people in power.  Morgan writes that the slanderous claims made against him by men like Francis Mingham and the Earl of Carlisle, Charles Howard, were done merely to make themselves seem more favorable to King Charles II as Morgan fell from grace.  Morgan writes that he had always obliged the king in his dislike of privateers, even receiving “thanks from several Spanish Governors in the Main for exerting so much care and vigilance in the suppression of privateers” (CSPWI Volume 11).

Henry Morgan is like so many other men of his period who sought an opportunity to gain power and influence in society.  That opportunity came in the form of the expansion to the West Indies that came at great cost to the Spanish Empire.  It seems understandable that those men like Morgan, who experienced the Spanish daily in the West Indies, would find the transition to a delicate peace with Spain confusing and difficult to understand. It also seems understandable that Henry Morgan would continue to do whatever was beneficial for his ultimate concerns of wealth and power.

The Enigma of the Captain

Henry Morgan, as I expected, is proving to be quite the mysterious figure.  I headed to the Newberry Library this past week to obtain a reader’s card, and I found quite a few incredible manuscripts along the way, one of which told an entirely different tale of Morgan than those I had heard before.  


I was pleasantly surprised to be able to find an original copy of a book at the Newberry I had only seen on the internet archives; The Adventures of Capt. Barth. Sharp and Others in the South Sea by Philip Ayres, published in 1684. Philip Ayres was a successful author of many books and pamphlets in the late 17th century, eventually writing his own history of English privateers in response to Alexandre Exquemelin’s The History of the Buccaneers of America.  Ayres claims much of the story had been falsified by the Dutch author for his own benefit.  This is truly where the task of extracting truth from fiction becomes especially difficult, as there are two completely opposing contemporary views of the same story of Henry Morgan.  Alexandre Exquemelin accounts Morgan as being the son of a wealthy Welsh yeoman, who sought passage to Barbados when he was a boy by selling himself into indentured servitude, as he was completely uninterested in continuing the family’s business in Wales; “Morgan, when young, had no inclination to the calling of his father, and therefore left his country, and came towards the sea-coasts to seek some other employment more suitable to his aspiring humor” (Exquemelin, A.O. The History of the Buccaneers of America. (Boston: Benjamin B. Mussey & Co., 1853). p. 99).  

Ayres, however, has quite a different view of how Morgan’s passage to the West Indies transpired, writing instead that, “It is sufficiently known he was descended of an honourable Family in Monmouthshire, and went at first out of England with the Army commanded by General Venables for Hispaniola and Jamaica” (Ayres, Philip. The Adventures of Capt. Barth. Sharp and Others in the South Sea. (London: Printed by B.W. for R.H. and S.T. and are to be sold by Walter Davis, 1684). Preface).  Perhaps this is where Dudley Pope’s Harry Morgan’s Way sought its foundation for the recounting of Morgan’s naval career.  Ayres’ history of privateers in the West Indies is a response to the supposedly falsified claims of Exquemelin, who  stereotyped Henry Morgan and his crew to be thieves and murders in the eyes of readers.  Ayres writes his account in an attempt to counteract the defamatory claims of Exquemelin, “All those cruelties, contrary to the nature and temper of an Englishman, I have heard absolutely contradicted by persons of infallible credit; and any may be convinced of the foulness of the Scandal thrown on this Excellent Man” (Ayres, Preface). He claims that since Morgan was under the commission of Sir Thomas Modyford, he shouldn’t even be considered a pirate or a buccaneer, even if he violated the peace with Spain.  Instead, Ayres believes that Exquemelin dramatically depicted Morgan as a ruthless murderer to make himself remembered in history as the foremost historian on buccaneers in the West Indies.   Philip Ayres has an incredible amount of respect for Henry Morgan, writing that “Perchance never Man behaved himself with more true valour and resolution of mind to accomplish what he had undertaken” than the Captain (Ayres, Preface).  

By making men like Morgan resemble barbarians, Exquemelin portrays all the English in the West Indies as villains, leaving that stained reputation in the respected histories of the early modern period. What’s important to remember of this time period, however, is the wars England was involved in.  At the time Exquemelin’s account was written, the Dutch authors native homeland was the enemy of England both at home and abroad.  At the time of Morgan’s raid on Panama in 1671, the second Anglo-Dutch War had recently ended, and the third was about to begin.  Whether or not Exquemelin’s claims were true, Ayres expresses a distinct distaste for the man and his opinions.  Exquemelin’s history created much discord between himself and Henry Morgan, who had reportedly been close confidantes; records show that Exquemelin served as Morgan’s barber-surgeon in the early 1670’s.  

A significantly interesting aspect of Ayres’ history shows Henry Morgan’s connection to English merchants in the West Indies; this connects to last week’s blog post concerning the power merchants like Martin Noell and Thomas Povey gained in their time.  These merchants seem to support the good-natured character of Henry Morgan that Philip Ayres so dutifully attempts to portray; “The English Merchants of Cadiz… affirm that those very persons confessed, Sir Henry Morgan was so far from doing any such base Actions, That they highly applauded his Generosity, and the Care he took, That none of those severe things should be practised by his Men” (Ayres, Preface).  Morgan’s historic capture of the City of Panama was incredibly important for the English merchants to maintain control of the port, and therefore continue to undermine the Spanish and profit at their downfall.  The City of Panama was “the greatest Mart for Silver and Gold in the whole World: for it receives all the goods and Merchandise coming from Old Spain, in the Kings great Fleet” (Ayres, 142).  It seems, therefore, that it was well in the merchant populations interest to maintain a good relationship with Henry Morgan, the man who would secure one of the wealthiest ports in the West Indies. 


While the truth to either of these tales continues to be ambiguous, the challenge continues seeing as one cannot simply ask the author what is true and what is false.  That is where the job of the historian reveals itself, and perhaps digging further into the archives of the Newberry will reveal some further truths. 



Martin Noell & Thomas Povey: More than Mere Merchants

In the early modern period, wealth was a means to political power, and the accruement of greater levels of wealth was a goal which all men aspiring to political greatness sought. Powerful merchants like Martin Noell and Thomas Povey serve as models of the countless numbers of men who took advantage of, or attempted to take advantage of, the growing world of trade in the West Indies in the mid-17th century.  Per the suggestion of Dr. Donoghue, I spent this past week delving into the lives of Noell and Povey in an attempt to create a foundational understanding of the world of trade and English interests Henry Morgan sought to protect early in his career.  I found two very compelling sources pertaining to these distinguished men, both interpreting Martin Noell and Thomas Povey as men who successfully (success measured in monetary and political terms) transitioned from the Interregnum period to the Restoration of Charles II.  The first of these sources is a compilation, Papers Relating to the English Colonies in America and the West Indies, 1627-1699, in the British Library (Egerton Mss 2395).  Edited by Professor Kenneth Morgan at Brunel University, this source is taken from Thomas Povey’s own collection of sources relating to his involvement in the West Indies and the creation of the Royal African Company.  British Committees, Commissions, and Councils of Trade and Plantations 1622-1675 by Charles M. Andrews serves as a history of all the aforementioned organizations created and operated in the 17th century; Martin Noell and Thomas Povey were members of many of these groups, including the Company of Royal Adventurers created by Charles II, which later became the Royal African Company.  



Guinea of the Royal African Company, prominently displaying the visage of of James II.  The coin also depicts the logo of the Royal African Company, the elephant and castle. 


Martin Noell was an incredibly important figure in both English trade and politics in the mid-17th century; his merchant vessels were used during wars with the Dutch and Spanish under orders of English Letters of Marque.  In 1655, Noell acquired 20,000 acres of land in Jamaica, later serving on both the Trade Committee and Committee for Jamaica.  After enjoying the favor of Cromwell during the Interregnum period, Noell was able to successfully transition to the Restoration and gain the favor of King Charles II; he was knighted for his service to the crown in 1662. The success of Thomas Povey’s career was largely supported by the influence of Martin Noell, an already powerful figure in the English government, as shown by Povey’s appointment to the Committee for Jamaica.  Povey and Noell’s individual reputations as wealthy and powerful merchants transferred to give them a great deal of prestige in London society; their influence on the creation of mercantile policy in the West Indies and American colonies is essential to understanding the connection between London and places like Jamaica, which seemed so far outside England’s direct sphere of influence.  Their job, therefore, was to ensure that they would benefit from the early expansion of British dominion into areas like Jamaica and Barbados.

Martin Noell and Thomas Povey did just that– in the mid-1650’s, the two powerful merchants proposed the creation of a West India trade company to be formally incorporated by an act of Parliament.  This direct act would give their company, “diverse privileges and assistances, and an immunity and sole trade in any place they shall conquer or beget a trade with the Spaniard’s dominion” (Egerton Ms. 2395, f. 202).  The ultimate goal was to monopolize trade in the West Indies and extend its benefits to their close allies, believing mercantile power would lead to political influence in these newly conquered areas.  Yet, their early attempts to create such a company were thwarted by the death of Oliver Cromwell, and the ensuing chaos that led to the 1660 Restoration of King Charles II.  


The grand procession of King Charles II to his coronation on April 23rd, 1661; such grandeur reaffirmed to the English people that their long-lost monarch was truly returned to the country, and especially returned to power. 

Yet, the work of men like Povey and Noell was not completely lost upon the newly restored monarch; Charles II realized how lucrative and beneficial organized trade in the West Indies could be for the monarchy.  He therefore saw necessity in addressing issues of political security and trade protection brought forth by planters and merchants abroad.  On July 4th, 1660, Charles II appointed members of the Privy Council to a Board for Trade and Plantations.  The job of such a group was to, “review, heare, examine and deliberate upon any petitions, propositions, memorials, or other addresses, which shall be presented or brought in by any person or persons concerning the plantations, as well in the Continent as Islands of America” (Andrews 62).  Martin Noell and Thomas Povey were granted their wish- to be at the forefront of the expansion to the new frontier of the West Indies. 


The Man, the Myth, and the Rum?

The name “Captain Morgan” has become synonymous with the spiced rum company since the 1940’s, but the ties between pirates and rum stem from the very beginnings of maritime history.  The consumption of rum as a daily tradition made the tumultuous life at sea more bearable for sailors, yet it also served as a form of indulgence in the constant cycle of enjoyment Port Royal became known for.  The image of the rugged, redcoat pirate that has become so iconic distorts the person of the true man behind the rum, the Welsh privateer Sir Henry Morgan.  This week, I viewed a documentary the Captain Morgan Spiced Rum company produced in 2013 in their attempt to dispel this stereotype of Henry Morgan.  The documentary entitled The Unsinkable Henry Morgan follows the search for Morgan’s ship, The Satisfaction, which, according to legend, ran aground in the shallow reef of Panama in the 1671 attack on the island.  While the search for Morgan’s ship is ultimately unsuccessful, the most remarkable aspect of this documentary was the extent to which Henry Morgan remains an incredibly relevant subject of conversation for natives of Panama.  Each individual interviewed had a different anecdote of Morgan’s raid in Panama passed down through generations; some remembered the Captain as a ruthless warrior and others remarked upon his infamy with the women of Panama.  The trick of this research project continues to be the search to dispel truth from rumor; Sir Henry Morgan is proving to be an enigma.


Reproduction of Morgan’s long-lost flagship The Satisfaction as recreated by the archaeologists behind The Unsinkable Henry Morgan. 

Morgan’s raids throughout the West Indies made him an incredibly wealthy man and landowner, dying in 1688 with an estimated worth of £5,263 (Jamaica Archives Inventory); in a modern economy, Morgan would be worth millions of pounds. The extent of Morgan’s wealth was not uncommon in the West Indies in the 17th century, as merchants took advantage of the opportunity to buy and sell rare commodities found in places like Jamaica to the wealthy populace in London.  I spent time this week reading Nuala Zahedieh’s article The Merchants of Port Royal, Jamaica, and the Spanish Contraband Trade, 1655-1692,” which outlines the growth and development of illicit trade in the West Indies. Morgan, like so many other early privateers of his time, benefitted greatly from the unlawful and rugged environment of places like Port Royal.  Privateers comprised almost a third of Port Royal’s population, as the location gave them an incredible locational advantage for exploiting the Spanish and taking their valuable cargo.  Politicians and privateers of the mid-17th century were in the same business of profit, which was profit at the expense of Spain.  Privateering was essential to maintaining the rowdy and indulgent standard of living people in Port Royal had grown so accustomed to in the age of Henry Morgan.


Port Royal in the days of Henry Morgan.

My next step in this project is to dig into the manuscripts and archives of the Newberry Library. My goal is to find letters and documents pertaining to the relationship between Jamaica and London, specifically on the behalf of merchants.  Hopefully, this will give me some insight into the complex  economic and political relationship between the Old and New Worlds.