Artilces are terms and conditions
agreed to by the crew of the pirate ship*. In some cases a Captain
was elected and then articles signed and in other cases articles
were signed and then a captain elected.
The word articles may have its roots in one of two places. It may
come from the religious definition where articles refer to: the
separate items of any summary of faith or from the political
definition where it means: each of the distinct heads or points
of an agreement or treaty.
Privateers also signed articles but the terms and conditions were
drawn up between the ship's captain and the the person issuing the
letter of marque or owner of the sailing ship. Afterwards the crew
was chosen by the captain and those joining would agree to abide
by the articles.
Below are examples of Articles fo the Pirate ship Revenge
commanded by Captain John Phillips and those for the Privateer Articles
of the Mars
* When ships were captured, sailors were sometimes given the opportunity
to join a pirate crew by signing the Articles. Sometimes this was
voluntary and other times it was choice between a cruel death and
turning pirate. Surgeons and other people possessing special qualities
who were sometimes allowed to remain with the crew as "guests"
and were not forced to sign articles and were treated well so long
as the performed their special duties for the crew and caused no
trouble. Another condition was often that they testify on behalf
of the crew should they wind up before a court.
for the Pirate Ship, Revenge
||Every man shall obey civil command;
the captain shall have on full share and a half in all prizes. the
Master, Carpenter, Boatswain, and Gunner shall have one share and
||If any man shall offer to run away, or keep any secret
from the Company, he shall be marroon'd with one bottle of powder,
one bottle of Water, one small Arm, and shot.
||If any Man shall steal any Thing in the Company, or
game, to the value of a piece of Eight, he shall be Marroon'd or shot.
||If at any Time we should meet at another Marrooner
(that is, Pyrate) that man shall sign his Articles without Consent
of our Company, shall suffer such Punishment as the Captain and Company
shall think fit.
||That a man that shall strike another, whilst these
Articles are in force, shall receive Moses's Law (that is 40 Stripes
lacking one) on the bare Back.
||That Man that shall snap his Arms, or smoak Tobacco
in the Hold, without cap to his Pipe, or carry a candle lighted without
lanthorn, shall suffer the same Punishment as in the former Article.
||That Man that shall not keep his Arms clean, fit for
an Engagement, or neglect his Business, shall be cut off from his
Share, and suffer such other Punishment as the Captain and Company
shall think fit.
||If any man shall lose a joint in time of Engagement,
shall have 400 Pieces of Eight: if a limb, 800.
If at any time you meet with a prudent Woman, that
Man that offers to meddle with her, without her Consent, shall suffer
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for the Privateer, Mars
||Imprimis, That the said Dennis McGillycuddy, for himself,
and in Behalf of the Owners of the Privateer, shall put on board the
said Brigantine a sufficient Number of Great Guns, Small Arms, Powder,
Shot, and all other necessary warlike Stores and Ammunition; as also,
suitable Provisions sufficient for the said Brigantine, during the
whole Cruize; which Cruize is to be understood to be from the time
of the said Brigantine's sailing from the Port of New York, until
the Time of her returning thither again, for which there shall be
no Deduction made out of the said Company's Shares: And in Consideration
thereof, the Owner of the said Brigantine or his substitutes, shall
have and receive One Half of all Prizes, Goods, Wares, Merchandizes,
Monies, Effects, etc. that shall be taken during this Cruize; the
other Half shall be divided, and paid to the said Brigantine's Company,
by the Captain aforesaid, according to the Rules hereafter stated.
||That the Captain shall have and receive, for himself,
Six Full Shares, and shall be granted all Privileges and Freedoms
which have been granted any Captains of Privateers: That the Lieutenants
and Master, shall each of them have Three Full Shares, That the Captain's
Clerk, Mates, Steward, Prize-Master, Gunner, Boatswain, Carpenter,
and Cooper, shall each of them have and receive Two Full Shares. That
the Gunner's Mate, Boatswain's Mate, Doctor's Mate, Carpenter's Mate,
and Cooper's Mate, shall each of them have and receive One Share and
||That the doctor of the said Privateer, or whoever is
at the Expence of the Chest of Medicines, shall have and receive the
Sum of Pounds, if well furnished. Also the doctor shall have and receive
for himself Three Full Shares, as also all Medicines and Instruments
belonging to any Doctor that shall be taken.
||That if any Person spies a Sail, and she proves to
be a Prize worth One Hundred Pieces of Eight a Share, he shall receive
Forty Pieces of Eight at Six Shillings. And the first Man who enters
on boarding a Prize in an engeagement, and strikes her Colours, shall
receive Half a Share for his Bravery.
|| That all the rest of the said Brigantine's Company,
such as shall be deemed able and sufficient Seamen, shall each of
them have and receive One Full Share, out of the Effects, Plunder
and Prizes, that shall or may be taken by the said Brigantine during
the Cruize, Provided, They are not found guilty of the Faults or Crimes
|| That as to the Proceedings of the Vessel, and undertaking
any Enterprize at Sea, or on Shore, and into what Port any Prize shall
be Carried that shall be taken during the Cruize, shall be left entirely
to the Captain's Election.
||That all the small Plunder, shall be brought to publick
Sale, and be delivered to the highest Bidder, for which their Shares
shall be accountable, excepting the Captain's Perquisites, which are
such as did belong to the Captains of Prizes, and such Clothing as
the Captain shall think proper to allow the Prisoners.
||That if any person belonging to the said Brigantine,
be killed in an Engagement, or die on board, his Share or Shares,
of all Prizes taken in his Life-Time, shall be paid to his Executors,
if so appointed by Will; but if no Will be made, then his Part of
what was got as aforesaid shall go to his Widow, or Heirs at Law,
if claim'd in Twelve Months, from the Time of said Brigantine's Arrival
into her commission'd Port; and on Failure thereof, said Share or
Shares shall be and belong to the general Interest of the Whole.
That if any of the Company do disannul any of the
Officers Commands for the Good of the Cruize, or the general Interest,
he or they shall be fined and punished as the Captain and Officers
shall direct. And if any of the Company do Assault, Strike, or Insult
any Male Prisoner, or behave rudely or indecently to any Female
Prisoner, he or they shall be punished as the Captain and Officers
shall direct. And if any of the Company begin an Attack, either
by firing a Gun, or using any Instrument of War, before Orders be
given, by the proper Officers, he or they shall be punished; but
if any of the said Company do refuse to make an Attack on the Enemy,
either at Sea or Land, at the Command and in the Manner ordered
by the Captain and proper Officers, or do behave with Cowardice
in any Engagement, he or them shall forfeit his or their Share or
Shares for such Refusal or Cowardice; and if any of the Company
get drunk, or use blasphemous and prophane Words, they shall be
punished as the Captain and Officers shall direct: And likewise
if any of the Company do desert the said Schooner before her Return
to New-York, he or they shall forfeit their whole Shares to the
Owner and Company, first paying such Brigantine's Debts as are contracted
by the Captain's Knowledge.
That whoever of the Company shall breed a Mutiny
or Disturbance, or strike his Fellow, or shall Game with Cards or
Dice for Money, or any Thing of Value, or shall sell any strong
Liquors on board, during the Voyage, he or they shall be fined as
the Captain and Officers shall direct. And if any of the Company
be found pilfering or stealing any Money or Goods of what kind soever,
belonging to the said Privateer or Company, he or they shall forfeit
his or their Share or Shares of the Prize-Money or Effects then
and afterwards taken by the said Brigantine, during the whole Cruize,
to the Owner and Company.
||That if any of the Company in an Engagement with the
Enemy, or in the true Service of the Cruize, shall lose a Leg or an
Arm, or be so disabled as to be deprived of the Use of either; every
such Person shall be allowed out of the effects or Prize first taken,
(before any Division be made) the Sum of Six Hundred Pieces of Eight,
at Six Shillings; or the Value thereof in Goods, at the Price according
to public Sale: But if there be not so much taken at that Time, the
vessel and the Company shall keep out till they have enough for that
Purpose; Provided no extraordinary Accident happens.
||That the Division of any Money or Effects taken this
Cruize, Dead Shares shall be deducted out of the Whole, which shall
be divided by the amongst the most Deserving and them that does most
for the benefit of the Cruize.
||That any Prize or Prizes that shall be taken during
the Cruize, shall be with all Speed sent into the Port of New-York,
in order that the same may be libelled against in the Court of Admiralty
for Condemnation, and to no other Place whatsoever, except said Prize
shall be so disabled that she could not proceed to said Port: And
any Person or Persons which shall be aiding or assisting, or shall
give his or their Consent for sending any Prize or Prizes, into any
other Port but the Harbour of New-York aforesaid, shall forfeit his
or their Share to the Owner and Company; and that no Division shall
be made till they return to the Port of New-York.
||That in Case any neutral Property, or any Property
whatever, be taken and sent into Port, and after Condemnation be had,
an Appeal should be entered by the Claimants, then, and in such Case,
it shall be Lawful with the full Consent of the Captain and Company
of the said Privateer, for the Owner, or his Attorney, to compromise,
compound, and settle, by giving up any Sum or Part of he Prize, as
shall seem most advisable to him for the general Interest, that the
Captain and Company may receive each and every one of them their just
and lawful Right and Prize-Money, and not be kept out of their Money
until the Appeal may be determined in England; and in Case no such
Compromisation can be made, then a certain Sum, shall be lodged out
of the Prizes before taken, to prosecute the said Appeal: And it shall
likewise be lawful for the Owner or Agent of the said Privateer to
discharge any Capture that may be made during his said Cruize, without
the formality of a Prosecution, in order that all unnecessary Charges
may as much as possible be avoided.
||That it shall not be lawful for the said Officers and
Company, or either of them, to demand or sue for the Prize-Money so
to become due to them, or any Part thereof, until fourteen Days after
the Sale of such Prize or Prizes, the settlement of the Accounts relating
to the said Cruize, and the actual Receipt of the Money by the Agent
appointed to manage the Affairs of the said Cruize.
|| That if it should happen, that the said Briganteen,
by Means of any Fight, Attack, or Engagement, be lost, sunk or disabled,
so as she may be thereby rendered unfit for any further Service as
a private Vessel of War to cruize; that then, and in such Case, the
Owner of said Brigantine, shall be entitled to take to himself, and
for his own sole Use and Property, any Ship or Vessel taken during
the Cruize, with her Guns, Tackle, Furniture, Ammunition, and Apparel,
not exceeding the Value of the Brigantine at the Time of her Sailing;
which Ship or Vessel so taken shall be to the Owner in Lieu of the
||That in Case of the Death of the Commander, the next
in Place shall strictly observe and comply with the Rules, Orders,
Restrictions and Agreements, between the owner of the said Brigantine
and the said Commander.
||God Save the King, and Success to the
Mars, and all her brave Crew.
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