The Consequences Of The 1700 Piracy Act

2013 Words 9 Pages
The biggest difficulty historians face in relying heavily on the trial reports is their varying form and content. Although the 1700 Piracy Act required registers to keep minutes of the proceedings, like much of everything surrounding piracy law, there were no specifics on what that meant. It is clear from the collection of these trials that the point of the recorder was not to capture every word uttered in court. Depending on the court the narrative changes between first and third person, and the level of included material varies considerably. Some records, such as John Quelch and William Kidd, are incredibly detailed, providing information for pre-trial proceedings and recording the motions and evidence of the prosecution and the defense. …show more content…
Piracy poised inherent difficulties in the West Indies. Pirates generally plagued regions far from concentrated power centers, and the islands of the West Indies, with their many inlets and shallow waters, made navigation difficult for the deep sea sailing Men of War. This made capturing pirates difficult and risky. The Royal Navy’s attempts to suppress piracy failed for more reasons than geography and topography. They had neither the resources, man power, nor desire to defeat piracy for much of the period. Active pirates in the Atlantic at any given time between 1716 and 1726 equaled 15% of the total sailors in the entire Royal Navy. Additionally, HMS officers found it more profitable to commence in trade with distant ports while on patrols than to engage pirate vessels. The Piracy Act of 1721 criminalized such activities by Royal Navy …show more content…
If the Mariners of any Ship shall violently dispossess the Master, and afterwards carry away the Ship it self, or any of the Goods, or Tackle, Apparel, or Furniture, with a felonious Intention, in any place where the Lord Admiral hath, or pretend to have Jurisdiction; this is also Robbery and Piracy.”
Hedges contended that mutiny was not considered piracy until the mutineers made away with the ship or some of the goods. This interpretation was completely in conflict with the 1536 Piracy Act which considered any crime on the sea to be an act of piracy. Yet it is a belief that remained embedded in the courts. The vice-Admiralty judge for South Carolina stated during the trial of Stede Bonnet in 1718 that “Piracy is a Robbery committed upon the Sea, and a Pirate is a

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