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Who was George Lowther?
Although it is unknown when pirate George Lowther was
born, it is known that he died in 1723 or 1724. He was most well known for his
cruel ways of torture and punishment. He used these especially cruel tactics
when attacking another ship, and trying to find out from the crew where the
treasure on that ship was. One of his most favoured methods of torture was to
placing burning rope between the victim’s fingers. The rope would slowly burn
the fingers and if left long enough, burn the flesh off entirely.
Lowther’s pirating career began when he worked as a
second mate for the Royal African Company. The ship that he worked on was called
Gambia Castle. This ship held approximately thirty pirates as crew as well as
many soldiers. These soldiers were under the command of John Massey and were on
their way to work on a fort that had been demolished. Upon arriving at the fort,
they ran into another ship that was under the command of Captain Charles Russel.
They attacked the ship and won the small battle that ensued.
After their victory, Lowther informed his men that
it was now unsafe to return back to England. They would be severely punished for
seizing Russel’s ship. Lowther provided them with an alternative plan of sailing
the seas and creating a fortune for themselves by doing so. They changed the
name of the Gambia Castle to Delivery. They changed the layout of the ship so it
could become a real pirate ship and the original crew as well as the soldiers
made up the approximately fifty-man crew. They created documents pertaining to
how the ship should be run, along with a number of rules and regulations that
would be abided by while on the ship. These documents were signed and a Bible
was used to swear them in as official documents of the ship.
The pirates began to seek their fortunes in the
Caribbean in June 1721. It was not long until they came across a sailing ship
that carried wine and brandy. Massey masked himself as a merchant that was
trying to bargain for a better price for the goods so that he could get onboard
the sailing vessel. He carried on the pretence of haggling for some time until
he told Captain Lowther that they would be taking the wine and brandy for free.
Lowther understood Massey’s meaning and they continued to take through violence
thirty casks of brandy and five hogsheads of wine, and whatever other valuables
they could find on the sailing ship.
Massey wanted to take the attacks to the French
colonies on the land nearby. He was much better on foot than he was on water and
so this seemed a good opportunity for him. Lowther did not wish to attack the
colonies and so after some time spent was spent arguing between the two
captains, they put it to a vote among the crew members. The crew voted with
Lowther and it was decided that they would not attack the French colonies.
Over the course of the next few days, Lowther
captured many ships, among them another sailing vessel. It was at this time that
Massey announced that he wanted to leave Lowther’s ship. Lowther was happy to be
rid of someone who constantly argued with him and so, he gave Massey the latest
sailing vessel so he could continue to sail the seas and the two parted company.
Lowther continued to attack and plunder ships and he was on his way to Honduras
when he encountered pirate Edward Low and his ship. Low’s small ship was sinking
and so he joined Lowther and his crew onboard Delivery. Their first big attack
was taken upon a huge merchant ship Greyhound. An hour-long battle with the
enemy ship resulted in the Greyhound’s crew being tortured and beaten and all
goods from the ship were taken by Lowther and Low. It was soon after this that
the two captains continued to take other vessels as well as other sailing ships
to create a fleet of pirate ships.
The fleet found an isolated area in the Gulf of
Matigue to organize themselves. Not long after, the natives came upon them and
attacked the Delivery. The pirates fled the scene on the many sailing vessels
that they had in their possession. They were making their way to the American
coastline when they encountered the brigantine Rebecca. Over the course of these
last few attacks, the crew had become divided. Half of them wanted to remain
loyal to Lowther and follow his command while the other half wanted to follow
Low’s command. Low decided to go his own way and took 44 men with him on the
recently captured brigantine, while the other 44 men stayed with Lowther.
Lowther and his crew continued to attack vessels
along the coast of America but they did not find anything that was extremely
valuable. They then ran into the ship Amy and expected the crew onboard that
ship to surrender as the others had. To their surprise, the Amy crew did not
surrender and instead, ensued in a very aggressive and gruesome battle with
Lowther’s men. While the captain of Amy was killed during that battle, so were
many of Lowther’s men and his ship was very badly damaged. Deciding that they
needed time to recoup, Lowther took the rest of his men to North Carolina. They
stayed there an entire winter season.
Once spring came in 1723, Lowther and his crew took
back to the seas and travelled along the coast of Newfoundland before moving on
to the West Indies. In October of that same year, Lowther set his vessel on a
desolate island northeast of Tortuga. The captain Walter Moore soon sailed by on
his vessel Eagle and seeing Lowther’s vessel he immediately suspected it of
being a pirate ship. Moore fired one shot into the air, a signal that the ship
was to show its colours. Upon seeing the shot, Lowther raised his pirate flag
and fired back at Moore.
Moore was not expecting this aggressive response
and he then attempted to capture the pirates. Most of them flew out of the
windows of the ship onto land. Moore pursued them and many of the crew
surrendered while five more were captured. Moore then reported to another
sailing vessel that Captain Lowther, as well as approximately nine more pirates
were on the run. The sailing vessel set out to find them and while they found
four more pirates, Lowther and three other pirates were still on foot, as was a
Lowther was found eventually. He was dead from a
pistol wound apparently done by his own pistol. It is thought that he had taken
his own life, although that was rare for a pirate.
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