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William Lewis

(Career Pirate from Nassau)

William Lewis is probably the most astounding accomplishment of this pirate was the longevity of his career. He was also an accomplished linguist, able to speak fluently most of the native languages of the Caribbean as well as Spanish, French, and English. By 1717, he was already famous among the islands of the Bahamas. Early in his career, while serving with his mentor, Captain Bannister, Lewis was captured and suspended from the mizzen "as if he were a living flag". Somehow he managed to escape execution.

One of his more daring feats was the attack and plunder of a French 24 gun Man-O-War with a smaller lesser armed Schooner. At the time he was still a young captain and his actions thrust him into the hierarchy of the Brethren of the Coast.

On another occasion, Lewis was captured by the Spaniards and taken to Havana to be hanged. He managed to escape with a few other prisoners. At first they stole a canoe, then they overtook a piragua. With the piragua he captured a sloop, and with that a still larger ship, until he eventually had a fine Man-O-War with a crew of more than fifty. He renamed this ship the Morning Star (A common name of many pirate ships) and began to terrorize the Atlantic coast from the Spanish Main all the way north to Virginia.

It wasn't until 1727, that Lewis would make a fatal mistake. Lewis came upon a wonderful prize off the Carolina coast and decided he had to have it. As he approached the prize he ran up his colors and the ship attempted to outrun him. Lewis gave chase and a running sea battle started. The Morning Star was faster and it looked like she would surely overcome the slower trading ship. In the ensuing mélée the other ship got lucky with a few cannon balls and managed to take out Lewis' fore and main top masts. It appeared as if the prize was going to escape after all. In a fit if insanity Lewis clambered up the top mast and began pulling his hair out and throwing it in the wind. As he did this, he shouted "Good Devil take this till I come!".

Remarkably his ship sped up and the Morning Star overtook the other vessel. This ship proved to be a great prize, better than anyone in the crew had imagined. That night, members of the crew continued to remark at how Lewis had managed to overtake the other ship after he had made a pact with Satan. The crew, being a superstitious lot, began to fear for their lives. After discussing the matter for some time, they decided their only option was to take a vote and draw straws. One member of the crew was selected and he entered the cabin of William Lewis. A short time past and then a shot rang out. The crew kept the day's prize and gave the devil his due. William Lewis was murdered in his sleep.

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The only author and editor of all pages on the site. Most of what I write about is based on years of book reading on the topic. My first web page was published back in 1994.

Updated: 04 September 2022