CAPTAIN JOHN BRADDICK'S TRIAL 
FOR COMPLICITY WITH PIRATES

Captain John Braddick of Southold, Long Island was father of David Cutler Braddock and grandfather of John Cutler Braddock.

While sailing from Boston back to his homeport of Southold, Long Island, Captain Braddick made the mistake of buying goods from a ship along the way anchored in a cove near Cape Cod. It turned out that the goods had been taken from ships captured by Bartholomew Roberts, considered to be the most successful pirate of all time, and sent to New England to sell. Braddick was tried by the governing council and found guilty. 

Following are pages from the New York Council journal—photos and transcriptions—covering his trial.  A fire at the New York Historical Society in 1911 charred the tops of the journal book pages. Consequently, much of the trial is illegible. However, enough of it is legible to tell an interesting story of Braddick's involvement.

Like many other early colonial documents, punctuation is almost non-existent in the journal pages. Therefore, appropriate commas and periods have been added to make what is written more understandable.

 

His Excellency communicated to the Board
 several depositions relating to a vessel
that was seized at Southold commanded
by Captain Braddick, as likewise of a vessel
commanded by one Norton from whom
Braddick received Negros and other goods, 
all which the said Norton had from the
pyrate ship commanded by one Roberts.

Captain Braddick appearing before
this Board pursuant to orders, gave in
his examination upon oath the following
words (vizt).

The first several lines of the journal page on which Captain Braddick’s testimony is continued are too charred to decipher. Based on the un-charred words in those lines and information from other sources, his testimony in those lines is that while passing through Vineyard Sound loaded with goods from Boston, he sailed into Tarpaulin Cove, anchored, and went aboard a ship commanded by Benjamin Norton of Rhode Island—the page is readable from there on:

told him he was taken by pirates.
Said pyrates gave him that ship he’d be Commander of called the Porto Prince. After being there he was asked by the said Norton whether he would take a
sloop called the Revenge, five Dutch men belonging to the said Porto Prince, and the said Norton told him the said Braddick that he was to pay the said Dutch men twenty
five pounds sterling each and that he had
not money to pay them, but he would sell
[?]
on board him the said Braddick ten Negros and seven tearces of sugar and one tearce
of ginger and six baggs of cocoa, and after receiving on board the said sloop Revenge
the particulars before mentioned, he then, the said Braddick, proceeded to New London where he entered  all those goods he
had taken on board at Boston, but did
not report the goods received from on board
the Porto Prince, that the said Braddick proceeded from thence to Long Island
then reported the said Negros to Coll
[Colonel]

Enough of he first several lines of the next page are readable enough to see that they are about paying duties on what had been obtained from Norton.

.........................that he afterward was
seized by John Stackmaple Esq. And further, the said Norton told him the Examinant that the pyrates had put
several hogsheads of sugar and quantities
of cocoa on board the Porto Prince and
that they had flung several hogsheads
of sugar and quantities of cocoa over
board. The said examinant was also
informed by the said Norton that the said
ship Porto Prince
and the Negros, sugar, and cocoa and other goods were given to
Norton by the said pyrates. And the examinant further sayeth that when
he took those Negros, sugar, and cocoa
on board, he made no bargain with the
said Norton for any reward, but that the
said Norton told him he should pay
with the produce of those goods twenty
five pounds sterling to each of the
Dutch men he took on board, and
for the remainder, he should account
with him the said Norton when he
saw him next, and further sayth not.

Heard and examined before)

The Governor and Council)                     John Braddick

In Council this 19th day of May 1721)

Four Dutch crewmen of the Porto Prince testified next. The testimony in their  depositions went all the way back to the capture of the Porto Prince by pirate Roberts, a.k.a. Black Bart. Three of the Dutch crewmen of the Porto Prince made the following joint deposition and later made individual depositions.

Claus Benning, Bastin de Keyser,
George
du Ref, all mariners of Porto Prince,
sworn upon the Holy Evangelists of
God, depose and say that on the seventh
day of July, new style,
in the year one thousand seven hundred and twenty, they had
set sayle from Flushing in Zealand as mariners on board the ship Porto Prince,
the burthen
of three hundred tons or [illegible word], mounted with twenty two guns and navigates with one and fifty men, one Captain William Keysome being master or commander, bound on a voyage to Cape Benda on the coast of Guinea when some time after they arrived
and with the cargo they then had on board (which consisted of powder small arms and
dry goods), traded with the natives for
three hundred and fifty slaves and a small quantity of elephants teeth which, when they had on board, they sailed from Cape Benda bound for the island of St. Eustace, but on their way touched at the island of Dominico,
in order to take in some water, where they
sold about two hundred fifty slaves,
for which they received part money, some
cocoa, and one hundred forty seven
hogsheads of white sugar, that whilst they
lay at an anchor of the said island of Dominico on the twenty ninth day of January,

The following page is a continuation of the deposition of Claus Benning, Bastin de Keyser, and George du Ref. As with the previous pages, the first several lines are partially illegible. Words in those lines that can be read are and forty Men and "commanded by one Roberts and and eighteen guns and thirty men.” The lines that follow are fairly legible:

came to the said island of Dominico with English colours flying, and the pyrates had 
a black flagg at the main top mast head, 
upon which the Dutch ship fired a 
gun at them, whereupon, the pyrate’s ship 
and brigantine engaged them, which lasted 
four hours. When finding the pyrate’s too 
hard for them, they cut their cables and ran 
the ship on shoar, and the captain and 
all the rest of the crew got on shoar, except 
the deponents and six more who endeavored 
to get on shoar, but the Negros getting 
hold of them in the water, they got hold 
of a rope to save themselves and returned 
into their ship, which when they got on 
board, they found about eight of the pyrates 
on board who had broke open their chests 
and took all their cloaths and small 
arms and lay’d them together on the deck 
and then fell to drinking , that several 
other pyrates came on board them and 
continued going and coming from and 
to their said ship with their boats 
for two days, in which time they 
carryed away part of their provisions, 
strong liquors, cloaths, small arms, 
and ammunition, that on the first 
of February, the pyrate ship and brigantine 

This following page is a continuation of the deposition of Claus Benning, Bastin de Keyser, and George du Ref. The first several lines of it are charred, and some of the words to the right side of the lines have been partially obliterated, requiring some guesswork. From the few legible words in the first several lines, it appears that the pirates captured a French fly boat containing a cargo of sugar and indigo. The lines that follow are fairly legible:

consisted of sugar and indigo. (as these 
deponents were informed by the Pyrates), 
that the next day they sailed to 
Spaniole and, by the way, touched at an island where they lay two days, then 
proceeded on their voyage to Hispaniole and 
a place called Samina Bay, where the pyrates careened
their ship and brigantine, 
and continued their four or five weeks, 
that some time in the beginning of 
March, two sloops came into Samina Bay from Coracoa
(as the deponents were informed), each mounted with four guns and manned 
with about eight men, who sailed in 
company with the pyrates, that when 
they lay at Samina Bay, the pyrates took nineteen great guns out of the said Dutch 
ship and put seven of them on board 
the said ship in the room thereof, 
that about the eighteenth day of the 
said month of March, Captain Roberts 
the commander of the pyrate ship with 
masters of the two aforesaid sloops and 
divers others of the pyrates came on board

This following page is a continuation of the deposition of Claus Benning, Bastin de Keyser, and George du Ref. The first few partially legible lines are about cargo aboard the Porto Prince. The rest of the lines are for the most part legible:

not, that the said Benjamin Norton told 
these deponents he had been taken on 
the brigantine then in company with 
them by the said Roberts and his crew 
about four days before they took the 
Dutch ship, the Porto Prince, (being then commanded by the said Benjamin Norton), weighed their anchor and sailed from 
Samina Bay, the pyrates being bound, 
as the deponents were informed, to cruze to 
the Windward of Barbados, and the said Benjamin Norton with the said Dutch 
ship Porto Prince with five of the said Norton’s men and two of the crew 
belonging to the said Porto Prince and 
these deponents, for Block Island 
or Rhode Island, that about the first of May, they came in sight of Block Island but could not get in, therefore went 
away for Tarpawling Cove where they 
came to an anchor, that after they 
had lain in Tarpawling Cove about 
two or three days, one Captain Braddick 
came along side the said ship Porto Prince with a sloop, who took on board out 
of the said ship six hogsheads of white sugar

The following page is a continuation of the deposition of Claus Benning, Bastin de Keyser, and George du Ref. Discernable words of the partially legible lines of it appear to name other items loaded on Captain Braddick’s ship and that he gave each of the three deponents and two other men on the Porto Prince twenty-five pounds sterling each.

the note given them by the said Captain
Norton by order of the pyrates. That
after these deponents, with the other
Dutch men, on board of Captain Braddick,
arrived at Southold on Nassau Island,
where they landed the aforesaid goods
and slaves and lodged them in the
Braddick house, that when the deponents
and the other two men came from on
board the said ship Porto Prince, that directly
nor indirectly, they know not what is
[illegible word]
of the said Benjamin Norton or any of the
men, neither do they know of any other
goods being taken out of the said ship
Porto Prince while she lay at Tarpawling, aforesaid, nor during the term of her voyage
from Samina Bay, aforesaid, by any person
or persons whatsoever than the said goods
taken out by the said Captain Braddick,
and further these deponents say not.

                                                     his
                                                                    Claus  X Benning
                                                                                       mark

                                                                                             his
                                  Bastin  X  de Keyser
                                                 mark

  
                                   George du Ref              

In addition to the above joint deposition, each of these three men made separate depositions. Following are only those depositions legible enough to decipher and are not repetitive. The legible words of the first several lines read and sayeth that Captain Braddick did sell three Negro women for The rest of the lines are fairly legible.

and fifty pounds each, and that the Captain
Braddick delivered a Negro boy about
twelve years of age to a doctor of physical
living at New London, that the said boy
was delivered on the first day of May
Inst, and the said Negros were sold
about ten or twelve days ago. The said
deponent further sayeth that he had a

ps.
 of muslin of eight and twenty yards,
more or less, and one wholeps. of Calico,
and one whole ps. of Harlem striped
linnen, and a considerable quantity
of bedding and wearing apparell, all of
which the said Captain Braddick
detained on account of the deponents
expenses and of twenty eight shillings
received of him by the said deponent, and
further this deponent saith not.

                                           his
                         Bastin  X  de Keyser
                                       mark

 

Tunus Goverson, a fourth crewman of the Porto Prince, made the following deposition:

     Tunus Goverson, being sworn
on the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God, deposeth and saith that he asked
Captain Braddick why he sold some Negros, they being for
the King’s use. Capt. Braddick told him that he had not sold them but
had quartered them out to save charges.
The deponent further saith that he saw
eight sloops which came up with Captain Norton in Tarpawling Cove, and that
one of the sloops was commanded by
a man of thicke stature who said
he was bound from New York to Boston, and further saith not.

          his
            Tunus    Goverson
       Mark

Not all the words of the next entry, made on May 23, 1721, are legible. Following are the ones that are:

It is the opinion of this …
Excellency secures with all …
the goods pyratically taken …
been found on board the said Braddick … conformable to his Majesty’s instructions

The next entry is the first part of a letter from Chief Justice Lewis Morris to the Council. The remaining part, which was at the top of the next page, was too charred to read. Justice Morris’  makes it sound as if Captain John Braddick may have been committed to jail for complicity with pirates:  

Sir,
           I yesterday allowed His Majesty’s
writ of habeas corpus to Braddick but am
loath to do anything further in it till
I receive some directions from Your
Excellency and Council, by who he was committed

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