Quelch’s Gold: Piracy, Greed, and Betrayal in Colonial New England
by Clifford Beal
It was the golden age of Piracy – a privateer out of New England went “freelance”, violating his letter of marque and plundering a fortune in Portuguese gold. Upon his return home, he was tried and sentenced amongst a deafening uproar of injustice in a region only recently recovering from the Salem Witch Trials. To this day, folks still seek the gold these pirates left behind, while living in a nation founded partly on sparks generated by this very pirate’s conviction. And odds are, you don’t have a clue who I’m talking about.
John Quelch was in many ways the very embodiment of a 1704 pirate. Beginning as a legal privateer, he followed much in the footsteps of his more famous predecessor Captain Kidd as he abandoned the terms of his commission in favor of hunting more lucrative prey. The evidence is pretty clear, and quite damning. That Quelch and his men, armed with a Letter of Marque to hunt the French in the Northern Atlantic instead headed south to Brazil to plunder Portuguese gold is pretty much beyond question. And yet, in the eyes of history this is far from an open-and-shut case, leaving many questions. Continue reading
Caribbean Pirates: A Treasure Chest of Fact, Fiction, and Folklore
by George Beahm
Caribbean Pirates: A Treasure Chest of Fact, Fiction, and Folklore, is exactly as it claims – a vast collection of pirate data culled from many sources. In the past I’ve reviewed books of this same format, and questioned the usefullness of such works, this being the digital age where information is never more than a few mouse-clicks away. Author George Beahm, however, has no small experience in this matter – he’s previously written a large line of pop culture reference books, with topics ranging from Harry Potter to seafood (and pretty much everything in between.) Having read Caribbean Pirates, I can now see the value of such a book, as Beahm does an excellent job of not only collecting, but compiling, processing, and conveying pirate data into a final product that’s both informative and entertaining. Continue reading