Hi Tom,


I've been doing a bit of compiling regarding our (in)famous relative and I've been holding off writing to you until I'd gotten it together.

This is what I believe to be true at the moment concerning "Thomas Hollingsworth - The Pirate". He first appears in the Indian Ocean and disappears again from Galway City, Ireland. Where he came from, or went to, I don't know. Neither do I know whether he is related to the American or Irish Hollingsworths, or in fact if he is the son of Thomas Hollingsworth and Martha Scampton, born about 1670 or 1678. But it does make an interesting story.

Though his appearances are brief, he does manage to pop up in the middle of one of the great sea odysseys of the so-called "Golden Age of Piracy".

Charles Grey in his book "Pirates of the Eastern Seas" suggested Hollingsworth sailed with Kidd and landed in Dunfanahan (probably Dunfanaghy) on the north-west coast of Ireland. Actually, he may not have done either.

To give context to his appearance, and perhaps to give a clue as to his origins or his later fate, here is the full tale as I perceive it.

 La Coruna, Galicia, Spain 7 May 1694

The crew of the frigate Charles II had been unpaid for months. While the captain was drunk, the crew mutinied, led by the former first mate, Henry Every. Every declared "I am captain of this ship now. I am bound to Madagascar, with the design of making my own fortune, and that of all the brave fellows joined with me." They renamed the ship "The Phancy/Fancy" and set sail for Cape Verde.

Heading south along the African coast, the pirates plundered three British vessels at the Cape Verde Islands and took two Danish vessels near Sao Tome/Principe on the west coast of Africa.

Johanna 18 February 1695

Early in 1695, they reached Johanna Island (Anjouan) in the Comoros, where Every seized a French pirate ship loaded with booty. Most of its crew joined his gang, bringing to it more than 170 men.

It was here at Johanna that Every wrote his famous letter.

To All English Commanders.

Let this satisfy that I was riding here at this instant in the Fancy, man-of-war, formerly the Charles of the Spanish expedition who departed from La Coruna 7th May 1694, being then and now a ship of 46 guns, 150 men, and bound to seek our fortunes. I have never yet wronged any English or Dutch, or ever intend whilst I am commander. Wherefore as I commonly speak with all ships I desire whoever comes to the perusal of this to take this signal, that if you or any whom you may inform are desirous to know what we are at a distance, then make your ancient [ship's flag] up in a ball or bundle and hoist him at the mizzen peak, the mizzen being furled. I shall answer with the same, and never molest you, for my men are hungry, stout, and resolute, and should they exceed my desire I cannot help myself. As yet an Englishman's friend,

At Johanna, 18th February 1695

Henry Every

Here is 160 odd French armed men at Mohilla who waits the opportunity of getting any ship, take care of yourselves.

 Perim Island at the mouth of the Red Sea September 1695

After a brief stop at Madagascar to replenish supplies and wait for suitable weather, Every set sail for Perim Island in the Red Sea with the intent of intercepting vessels carrying pilgrims from Mecca to India. Soon Every discovered that he was not alone, several American pirates were there waiting for the fleet as well - Captain Joseph Faro on Portsmouth Adventure from Rhode Island and Captain Want on Dolphin from Philadelphia. These two new ships each had a crew of about 60, so the gathering pirate fleet now had three ships and over 350 men. Three days later, even more American pirates arrived - Captain William Maze on Pearl from Rhode Island, Captain Thomas Tew on Amity from New York, and Captain Wake on Susannah from Boston. This new group of three effectively doubled the pirate crew numbers.

It would seem likely that Thomas Hollingsworth was on Wake's Ship, which might mean he originated in Boston too.


Cape St. John, 8 September 1695

On 8 September 1695, the pirate fleet sighted two vessels. The pirates' first objective was to capture the Fateh Mahmamadi, which carried gold and silver valued at more than £50,000. She was an unarmed merchantship owned by
Abd-ul Ghafur.

The second ship proved more significant, for it was the Gang-i-Sawai (Ganj-i-Saway or Gunsway), one of the Great Moghul's largest ships. Armed with forty to eighty great guns and four hundred musketeers, she was captained by Muhammed Ibrahim. Although the forty-six gun Fancy was no match for the larger ship, Every didn't hesitate to attack. Luck was with the pirates, for one of their shots toppled the mainmast and one of the Gang-i-Sawai's guns exploded, killing or wounding a number of sailors. She didn't surrender, though, and the battle raged for hours.


Every's crew looted their prizes at the island of Socotra. In addition to gold coins, the pirates seized many jewels and a saddle and bridle encrusted with diamonds.


The booty was split at Reunion Island, where most of the French pirates stayed. The East India Company estimated the plunder at 325,000 pounds.  After giving small sums to the other pirate ships, each man received about 1,000 in cash plus some of the jewels. Every took two shares as captain, and he may also have grabbed some loose gems.

Somewhere here Thomas joins the Phancy. Some reports state that Henry Every tricked the other crews into putting all the booty onto the Phancy and then he sneaked away. Others suggest that Thomas Wake's ship, the Susannah, was looted. For whatever reason, Thomas Hollingsworth, Captain Smithsend and James Brown came aboard the Phancy, which then sailed for the Bahamas, stopping at Sao Tome before crossing the Atlantic.

 Royal Island

In the Caribbean, the pirates sold some of their plunder at Saint Thomas and sailed to the Bahamas in April coming to Royal Island off Eleuthera, fifty miles from New Providence in the Bahamas, in late April 1696. To gain the governor's goodwill, they gave him their ship, gold, and ivory tusks valued at £1,000. The pirates hoped to gain pardons, but since Governor Nicholas Trott wasn't a royal governor, he lacked the power to grant them. Thomas Hollingsworth was one of three or four people who brought Every's letter of offer to Trott. Two of the others were Robert Chinton and Henry Adams.


They sailed for Jamaica in hopes of obtaining the pardons from Jamaican Governor William Beeston. On 15 June, he wrote to the Council for Trade and Plantations in London, "They are arrived at Providence and have sent privately to me, to try if they could prevail with me to pardon them and let them come hither; and in order that I was told that it should be worth to me a great sum (i.e. £24,000), but that could not tempt me from my duty."

As a result of Governor Beeston's refusal, Every returned to the Bahamas where he and his men lived aboard the Fancy, even though they had given her to Governor Trott. Either purposely or through negligence, the ship was driven ashore in a gale. After salvaging her guns and whatever else they could, the pirates dispersed.

New Providence to Ireland

Hollingsworth leaves from New Providence mid - May 1696 on the sloop The Isaac. Every leaves about three weeks later on the Sea Flower.

From the deposition of John Dann we learn that Every landed at Dunfanaghy in the Sea Flower - with John Dan(n), John Sparks, Joseph Dawson and Philip Middleton aboard - at the latter end of June. The Sea Flower was then given to Joseph Faroe (Farrel? Faro?) who intended to return in her to America. This may be where Charles Grey's confusion with Joseph Farrel and the Sunflower arises.


The following document appears to give us a new enlightenment. It suggests that the Isaac let off most of the crew and cargo at the remote Achill Island (not actually an island, but an isthmus) before arriving at Westport. It then made the short journey down the coast to Galway.





62. Abstract, Letters from Ireland. June 16-July 7, 1696.

An Abstract of Letters relating to the Sloop Isaac of Providence, whereof Captain Thomas Hollandsworth Commander.

Thomas Bell Esqr., Sheriff of the County of Mayo, in his Letter of the 16th of June 1696 says That on the 7th instant came into Westporta small Vessell of about 30 tuns, whereof he had no account till the 14th, upon which he immediately went thither, and only found the Master, whom they call Captain Thomas Hollinsworth, and two men more on board. That they had no other Loading but Gold and Silver, which they conveyd away, and sold the Ship to one Thomas Yeeden and Lawrence Deane of Gallway, Merchants. It was a very considerable Sume they had, of which Mr. Bell desires the Government may be informd, that he may have further direction therein; And adds that he found two baggs of about Forty pound worth of Mony not passable in this Kingdom, in the hands of the said Mr. Yeeden and Mr. Dean, and took their Bond of a hundred pound to have the same forthcomeing to answer the Governments pleasure.

The said Mr. Bell in his Letter of the 20th of June further says, That since the writing of the above Letter he mett two of the Crew belonging to the said Vessell, by name, James Trumble and Edward Foreside, in whose hands he found about 200 l., and seizd on their persons and goods, but found none of the said Guilt or Bullion in their Custody, and now hath them with their said goods in his hands, and hopes to find a great deale more of the said Guilt and Bullion in the Country, or those that carry it away, the common report being that the said Ship was worth Twenty Thousand pounds in Gold, Silver and Bullion; And further adds That he receivd a Warrant from Sir Henry Bingham, Barronet, and John Bingham, Esquire, requiring him forthwith to produce the said Trumble and Foreside with their Goods before them, which he obeyd and will give a further account per next post.

Mr. Farmer Glover, Generall Supervisor of the Revenue, in his Letter of the 25th of June from Gallway says, That having had some Account of a sloop being putt into Westport he hastned thither, but she was gon thence (the day before he gott there) towards Gallway; On examinacion he found she came from New Providence in America by Cocquett from thence, had on board Three Tunn and a half of Brazelett Wood and a great quantity of Coyne and Bullion; It is likewise reported that before her Arrivall at Westport she putt into a place calld Ackill and there landed severall Passengers and Goods; That the Officer at Westport says he dischargd at one time 32 baggs and one Cask of Mony, each as much as a man could well lift from the ground; That there are severall Reports in the Country, some saying she was a Privateer, others a Buckaneer, or that she had Landed some of the Assassinators, which no doubt but their way of comeing into the Country gave great cause of Suspition, for as soon as they had Landed they offerd any Rates for HorsesóTen pounds for a Garran not worth Forty shillings and Thirty shillings in Silver for a Guinea for lightness of carriage;

That on these consideracions he seizd the Sloop untill Bond was given according to Law; That she is sold to two Merchants of Gallway and designd to be fraighted out soon.

Mr. Lee the Collector of Gallway, in his Letter of the 26th of June, gives an Account That the Sloop that lay at Westport is come into the Harbour of Gallway; That the Master hath made Report of his Ship and Invoyced upon Oath at the Custom House, and entred into Bond with Security not to depart without Lycence as usuall; That the Master says each person on board took his share of the Silver and Gold and went away with it, That Mony paying no Duty, and being frightned in thither by a Privateer, there being no place there to make a Report, he could not hinder the men to carry off their Fortunes, but on Oath denys the knowledge of any other Goods whatsoever; That the Officer placed on board swears that since he came thither he did not see dischargd or carried out of the Ship any Goods whatsoever but Mony and Melted Silver, of which they took out 32 baggs and one small Cask; That he opened severall of the baggs, in which were Dollars, and that this quantity belongd to two men and the Master, the rest being carried away and the men gon, they have brought part of their Mony hither by Land, And that the Sheriff hath caused part of it to be Lodgd in the Country untill further Order. The said Mr. Lee has also inclosed a Copie of the Masters Pass and Clearings at the Custom House in Providence, And that the Captain of the Sloop brought a Pacquett for His Majestie and deliverd into the Post Office in Gallway.

Mr. Vanderlure, Collector at Ballinrobe, in his Letter of the 2d of July writes, That he has usd all Lawfull ways and means to discover what Goods were Landed on that Coast where the Sloop from New Providence arrivd, which was near Westport, but before that she sett on Shoar at Ackill head about a dozen Passengers, English and Scotch, who had a considerable quantity of Gold and Silver Coyne with some Bullion. most part of the latter they parted with at Westport and elswhere, but as for any thing else he cannot learn they had; That he has in his keeping in a small bagg about 5 l. worth of broken Silver belonging to Mr. Currin and Mr. Samuel Bull and likewise about 9 l. worth of course melted Silver Securd with one Mr. John Swaile in Foxford, which also belongs to them, which they alleadg they brought from the aforesaid Passengers; That there is one Crawford, a dweller in Foxford, who told the said Mr. Vanderlure and others, That there was one of the Passengers who had some peices of Muslin in a bagg. the said Crafford absented himself when Mr. Glover and Mr. Cade were at Foxford to examin that matter, but there is a Summons left at his house to appear at Gallway on Munday next to give his Testimony and knowledge therein; That assoon as the said Mr. Vanderlure had notice of that Sloop being in that part of the Country he desird the Surveyor to send an Express to Mr. Lee, the Collector of Gallway, to acquaint him of the Vessell's Arrivall, which accordingly was don and an Officer sent from Gallway who went in the Vessell thither; That two of the Ships Crew are st[op]t and in Custody of the High Sheriff of the County of Mayo by a Warrant from Major Owen Vaughan, a Justice of Peace, upon an Information of one of the Passengers That that Sloop was the King's Pacquett Boat. they have 2700 plate Cobbs in the sheriffs hands, which he secured when he Seizd the said persons. It is said they have about 100 worth of the Coyne. The names of the said Seizd persons are Edward Foreside and James Trumble, who desire themselves and cash might be removd to Dublin, to answer what shall be laid to their Charge.

Mr. Bartholomew Cade, Surveyor at Ballinrobe, in his Letter of the 2d of July says he has been with Mr. Glover according to the Commissioners directions, and for an account of their proceedings in each particular referrs to Mr. Glovers Letter.

Mr. Glover in his Letter of the 3d of July from Gallway gives an account That he is returned from Ballinrobe District, where he has been making all strict Enquiry about the Sloop putt in at Westport, and says, That as yett there appears no substantiall proof of any Goods Landed lyable to Duty, except such as were taken by the Officer, Mr. Currin, which he says he had seized from them, that the said Mr. Glover has taken them from the officer and deliverd them into the Custom House. As for the 14 pound æ worth of Silver bought by the Officer, it is in Charge with the Collector Mr. Vanderlure. No question but the Master of the Sloop hath forfeited and been lyable to the Penalty according to Law, for by Affidavit of one of his Sailers he proves that at Ackill, where they first landed their Passengers, there being no Officers present, there was taken off board and Landed severall large baggs belonging to the Passengers. what was in the baggs he cannot tell, but that they were stuffed full of something. That the said Mr. Glover had likewise Informacions from severall persons that they heard one George Crawford of Foxford say that he had seen Eight peices of Muslin with some of the Passengers which came out of the Sloop. That he went to Foxford to examin the said Crawford, but he went out of the way so that the said Glover could not see him, but left a Summons at his house for his appearing at Gallway the Munday following.

Mr. Humphry Currin, in his Letter of the 7th of July from Gallway, says, That a small Sloop from the West Indies Landed at Ackill about 10 or 12 Passengers and that he saw them at Westport and one of them was putting something in a bagg which he examined and found 5 yards and Ω of Striped Muslin, 2 yards and Ω of Cottened Cloth, 2 yards of Quilted Linnen, with 10 small Cravatts and 4 Silk Handkerchiefs, which he then Seizd as lyable to Duty, and said he must carry them to the Custom House of Gallway; That he supposd the Kings share would be remitted and ignorantly gave him the next day 4 Cobbs for it and told him if the Law would allow him more he should have it; That the said Currin shewd the Linnen to Mr. Cade and told him he must go with them to Gallway, but delayd it till after the next Office; That he was advisd to carry the Passengers to a Justice of Peace, which he accordingly did; That he bought for himself and a friend 5 pound of broken silver and 9 pound of melted course Silver and deliverd it to Mr. Glover's Order."

 So it seems we have some corroboration that Thomas Hollingsworth was in Galway at that time. Next we hear a report that Hollingsworth left Galway before 15 August intending to meet up with Thomas Wake in Providence. 

"T South to the Lords Justices of Ireland Dublin, 15 Aug 1696. I have this morning obtained the following account:- The best place to send shipping to meet with the pirates is to Fernando, an island in latitude 3º or 4º, where they must touch to water in February or March. The owners of Captain Wake's ship live in Boston, New England, and were going in a brigantine to bring clothes and necessaries to meet him at Fernando; but hearing that we were coming to Providence they followed us thither but did not arrive till after we came away. Thomas Hollingsworth, now sailed from Galway, will meet Wake at Providence, [p.260] where Wake will certainly be within six or eight weeks, or else not till after Christmas. Hollingsworth left money with Governor Trott. Wake had already had a pardon for piracy in King James's time."

 We also hear the following from Philip Middleton (from your website Tom):

"Narrative of Philip Middleton, of the Ship Charles Henry, to the Lords Justices of Ireland, given on 4 August, 1696 ... another sloop commanded by HOLLINGSWORTH was chased into Dublin by a French Privateer. She had 16 more of the crew of Charles Henry aboard."

 This confuses me Tom, for two reasons:

1.    They apparently contradict each other. Did Hollingsworth actually go to the Bahamas to meet Thomas Wake, making the Philip Middleton statement false? Or did he encounter a French Privateer on leaving Galway? In which case, if he sailed into Dublin Bay there would be nowhere to go but to ground. Is that the origin of the Dublin Hollingsworth?

2.    If Thomas Wake was double-crossed by Every in the Indian Ocean, and Hollingsworth joined Every on the Phancy, why would Hollingsworth be wanting to meet him?     

So, did Thomas Hollingsworth come from Boston? And did he go to New Providence or end up trapped in Dublin?


Another thing – why was Thomas Hollingsworth the one who took the letter to Governor Trott AND the one who brought the Isaac to legitimate landfall in Galway? Was it in some way linked to the deception of Thomas Wake? Also: could he have used Wake's piracy-pardon to become legitimate?

 Something to muse over.


 Ps. Final note: Henry Every himself escaped capture, but several of his men were brought to trial, condemned and executed . When first tried, on the 19th of October 1696, they were acquitted . They were, however, re-tried on other counts, on the 31st of October . The charge of Lord Chief Justice Holt to the jury, and the address of Sir Charles Hedges, the admiralty judge, shows that they felt both the importance and the uncertainty of securing a verdict."

Joseph Dawson, Edward Forseith (was this the Edward Foreside from Hollingsworth's ship?), William May, William Bishop, James Lewis, and John Sparkes were tried and found guilty. They were executed on November 26, 1696 in London, at Execution-Dock.