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Old May 16th, 2017, 10:28 AM   #1
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The Pirate Code of John Phillips


Good day,

I am currently researching legal structures aboard pirate vessels. This is for a pen and paper roleplaying campaign, so I am unsure if this is the right forum, as it has nothing to do with homeworks or official assignments. Thus, if I am wasting everyone's time with a matter of purely personal interest, i humbly apologize.

Anyway. The "General History of the Pyrates" by Charles Johnson gives an account of the pirate code in use aboard the "Revenge" lead by Captain John Phillips. The rules seem pretty straightforward, but there is one sentence that puzzles me:

"If at any Time we should meet another Marrooner [that is, Pyrate,] that Man that shall sign his Articles without the Consent of our company, shall suffer such Punishment as the Captain and Company shall think fit. "

Now, although I am not a native speaker, I pride myself in a good grasp of the English language. That sentence, however, remains a mystery to me as it is a little archaicly formulated and does not seem to make sense.

So, there is something that deserves punishment, which is determined by the crew by popular vote. So far, so good. The perpetrator of this crime is, presumably, a pirate not part of the original crew.
However, the deed in itself seems unclear. It seems that the punishment is for signing Phillips' code without the crew approving, but that seems nonsensical. I mean, if it is to keep people from joining the crew against the crew's wishes, it seems like a very weird edge case.
Is it something to do with stowaways ("Signing his articles" as an indirect formulation of "coming aboard")? Am I missing something incredibly obvious?

Anyway, thank you for the time you took to read this, and I hope I could get some help.
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Old May 16th, 2017, 11:29 AM   #2

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My Italian English tells that it's about a man of the crew of Philips signing the Articles of the pirate they have met, without the Consent of Philips' company.
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Old May 16th, 2017, 12:27 PM   #3
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That would, indeed, make sense and now that it was pointed out to me it seems quite obvious. I thank you for your assistance, all the while kicking myself that i could not see it myself.

Last edited by Feomathar; May 16th, 2017 at 12:39 PM.
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Old May 16th, 2017, 12:41 PM   #4

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Du bist willkommen [you're welcome].

I've got German roots ...
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Old May 16th, 2017, 01:36 PM   #5

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Try this:

Piracy in the Caribbean got its start when buccaneers began attacking ships passing those isolated islands were they were "marooned". That is, left behind after deserting some previous crew. They were sailors, daring and outlawed by regular society. They made their living by capturing ships, and the great prize would be part of the Great Spanish treasure fleets that sailed twice a year to Spain. A small band in boats that were sometimes smaller than a modern "whale boat" would surprise and capture a ship. When the ship was sound and was well stocked, the captured crew were offered the opportunity to join up with the buccaneers. Failure to volunteer might be risky, as the pirates generally had little use for niceties. Having a larger ship with more firepower, and surprise could grow a small group into a small flotilla.

Port Royal was one of a number of places where pirate crews could land, sell their spoils, get drunk and spend a few hours with "fallen women". When more than one crew was in port, it wasn't unusual for sailors to leave one crew and join another. The sentence quoted from the "Articles of the Revenge" is saying that the new crewman had to be acceptable to the existing crew.

During the Golden Age of piracy, life on a pirate ship was almost a pure Democracy. Every man equal and whose assent had to be obtained for how their little band operated. The Captain was theoretically "elected", but was absolutely obeyed when the ship went into action. Navigation was a prized skill, so if the Captain did the navigation he had a lot of leeway in deciding where to go. If the crew didn't like it, the Captain might be forced to change his course, or intentions. The crew during most periods followed the lead of the Master at Arms, their elected spokesman. Pirates were generally lazy with little discipline unless entering a battle. They drank, and so pirate ships tended to be sloppy. There were, of course exceptions. Some Captains held almost unlimited power if they were lucky, or as frightening as Edward Teach.
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Old May 16th, 2017, 03:55 PM   #6

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Feomathar View Post
Good day,

I am currently researching legal structures aboard pirate vessels. This is for a pen and paper roleplaying campaign, so I am unsure if this is the right forum, as it has nothing to do with homeworks or official assignments. Thus, if I am wasting everyone's time with a matter of purely personal interest, i humbly apologize.

Anyway. The "General History of the Pyrates" by Charles Johnson gives an account of the pirate code in use aboard the "Revenge" lead by Captain John Phillips. The rules seem pretty straightforward, but there is one sentence that puzzles me:

"If at any Time we should meet another Marrooner [that is, Pyrate,] that Man that shall sign his Articles without the Consent of our company, shall suffer such Punishment as the Captain and Company shall think fit. "

Now, although I am not a native speaker, I pride myself in a good grasp of the English language. That sentence, however, remains a mystery to me as it is a little archaicly formulated and does not seem to make sense.

So, there is something that deserves punishment, which is determined by the crew by popular vote. So far, so good. The perpetrator of this crime is, presumably, a pirate not part of the original crew.
However, the deed in itself seems unclear. It seems that the punishment is for signing Phillips' code without the crew approving, but that seems nonsensical. I mean, if it is to keep people from joining the crew against the crew's wishes, it seems like a very weird edge case.
Is it something to do with stowaways ("Signing his articles" as an indirect formulation of "coming aboard")? Am I missing something incredibly obvious?

Anyway, thank you for the time you took to read this, and I hope I could get some help.

'The articles' is an old fashioned way of saying a man has signed a contract or made an oath to join a ships company and accepts all the rules relevant to that contract. Pirate ships work by a crude form of democracy so a man cant join unless all the crew agree.

If a man abandons the crew to join another crew he weakens their group, if a man from another crew attempts to join without the consent of the crew he weakens the political structure of the crew.

The Captain is elected by the crew but its by the crews consent and he can be removed if he doesnt meet the expectations or bring enough profit.

As near as i can tell its basically saying the Captain cant just bring in outsiders on his own whim and get them to sign a contract, exceeding his authority and setting up his own power clique, he has to do it with the crews approval.
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Old May 16th, 2017, 04:47 PM   #7

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Pirate Lifestyle | The Pirate Code
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Old May 16th, 2017, 08:41 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Asherman
Piracy in the Caribbean got its start when buccaneers began attacking ships passing those isolated islands were they were "marooned". That is, left behind after deserting some previous crew. They were sailors, daring and outlawed by regular society. They made their living by capturing ships, and the great prize would be part of the Great Spanish treasure fleets that sailed twice a year to Spain. A small band in boats that were sometimes smaller than a modern "whale boat" would surprise and capture a ship. When the ship was sound and was well stocked, the captured crew were offered the opportunity to join up with the buccaneers. Failure to volunteer might be risky, as the pirates generally had little use for niceties. Having a larger ship with more firepower, and surprise could grow a small group into a small flotilla.
Actually the buccaneers were originally French hunters. They had lived by killing cattle for their hides. They decided to hunt the Spanish instead. Initially they did it in small fast boats and their guns had longer range that any of the Spanish ones. Imagine Quigley Downunder in a boat rather than on a horse. and they attacked from the aft of their victim's vessels. This has never been covered by Hollywood in a movie.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Online Etymological Dictionary
Buccaneer (N,)
1660s, from French boucanier "user of a boucan," a native grill for roasting meat, from Tupi mukem (rendered in Portuguese as moquem c. 1587): "initial b and m are interchangeable in the Tupi language" [Klein]. For Haitian variant barbacoa, see barbecue. Originally used of French settlers working as hunters and woodsmen in the Spanish West Indies, a lawless and piratical set after they were driven from their trade by Spanish authorities in the 1690s.
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Old May 17th, 2017, 02:18 AM   #9

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Sophia is correct.
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Old May 17th, 2017, 01:47 PM   #10
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Feomathar,

Since you are German I think you would be interested of having a look at Jacobs Du Buqcuoy. He was a Dutch chart-drawer, who was taken as a forced-man by the pirates Taylor and La Buse in 1721. He wrote down his memories in his book “Landmessers Und Landchartenverfertigers in Diensten Der Ostindischen Compagnie, Sechzehenjhrige Reise Nach Indien”. I am unsure if this is a translation from Dutch or if he actually wrote it in German.

My German is not at its peak, but I have read it. It’s a tough read, but truly interesting. Have a look at pages 76-77. There you will find the articles of John Taylor.

I am fascinated of the ones concerning women. ”Wer eine solche Weibesperson schändet, muss mit dem Tode bestraft werden.” The one touching a woman of a captured ship shall be punished by death. Gentle-men thieves, I would say!
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