Post-classical history


Fishers of Men: The Sack of Baltimore


The men didn’t like passing through the Straits. It made them nervous.

Murad watched as one of the Janissaries tossed the little bundle of candles over the side, an offering to the long-dead holy man who still promised them protection from the safety of his shoreline tomb.

Once he would have laughed. Now, without thinking, he murmured to himself the ancient form of words, at once a profession of faith and a prayer. There is no other God than God, and Mohammed is his messenger.

The candles vanished in the rolling sea.

Fifteen hundred miles away, on the coast of County Cork, the people of Baltimore were preparing for the first sighting of the glittering, rippling, silver-bright shoals of fish which meant security for the entire community for another year.

It was June 1631, and Baltimore had come a long way since Captain John Jennings and his friends played hide-and-seek with the king’s ships around the inlets and islands of Roaringwater Bay. Pirates still appeared from time to time, but the presence at Kinsale of the Fifth Whelp, a fast, well-armed new pinnace under the command of Captain Francis Hooke, made this particular corner of Ireland less attractive to them than it had been in the past.

As a result, Baltimore’s black economy—the trading in stolen goods, the whores, the cattle, and casks of ale left in isolated coves—had declined dramatically. The Protestant colony planted here at the beginning of the century had put down roots and all but ousted the native Catholic population, and a “town of English people, larger and more civilly and religiously ordered than any town in this province,” as the Lord Bishop of Cork had called it, was knuckling down to earning a more or less honest living.1

It prospered. That summer about two hundred people were living in neat rows of houses beside the O’Driscolls’ ancient Fort of Jewels, which overlooked the harbor. A second group of over a hundred lived a few hundred yards below, close to a little cove. There were stalls, alehouses, work-shops, brewers and bakers, a Friday market, a pretty stone-built church. The mayor, elected each year by twelve burgesses, presided over a weekly court; farmers and village people from all over West Cork came to the big three-day fairs which were held in June and October.

Baltimore wasn’t entirely reformed. Its merchants still bought the occasional chest of sugar without inquiring too closely into its provenance. But these days the place owed its wealth not to pirates but to a cousin of the herring, the humble pilchard.

Every summer, boys stood watch along the cliffs for the telltale shimmer on the waves which meant the arrival of the first shoals. As soon as one was sighted, the cry went up and men scrambled to put out to sea, eager for the teeming silver which meant security and prosperity for the entire community. They worked in teams: perhaps a dozen or more in the main vessel, the seine-boat, and half a dozen in a smaller follower. The fishers were guided by “huers,” who would track the shoal’s movement from their vantage points on high ground; at a given signal a seine up to 400 yards long was dropped to form a vertical curtain. The crews of the seine-boat and the follower then rowed as hard as they could, one going clockwise and the other counterclockwise, to draw the net round the shoal. When they met, they heaved up weighted draw-ropes on the bottom of the net to trap the writhing mass of pilchards in a kind of purse. Then, using oval baskets, they emptied the fish into their boats and either set off in search of another shoal or turned for home.

It was a hard, frantic business, and the catch was just the start. The pilchards were unloaded in the cove and taken to storehouses called “palaces” (from the old Anglo-Norman palis, meaning an enclosure), where they were arranged in layers, with salt between each layer. There they stayed for up to three weeks. Then the salt was shaken off and the fish were rinsed in fresh water before being taken to pressing-houses, where they were tightly packed into casks and pressed with heavy weights. “The pilchards are squeezed down,” explained an eighteenth-century commentator on the County Cork pilchard industry, “[and] the barrels are again filled up and so again till they can hold no more. Under the casks are convenient receptacles to hold the oil, blood and water; the oil is got by scumming off the top. The fish being thus pressed, the barrels are headed and sent to market.”2 A single catch might bring in 600 barrels of pilchards.

Baltimore revolved around the pilchard industry. It sustained not only the fishermen, but coopers and carpenters and ropemakers, shipwrights and merchants and factors. Most of the women worked in the palaces and pressing-houses. Pilchard oil filled the lamps which lit their homes, and was used in preparing the leather they wore. Their great fear was that one day the notoriously unpredictable shoals wouldn’t come.

Murad still marveled at the way the Janissaries would sit so still and silent, for hours on end. The motion of the ship meant little to them. The commands he gave his crew, as he sat cross-legged on his mat, they ignored. They had not come on this voyage to climb rigging or haul in the sails.

Sometimes they talked to each other, or smoked, or gambled. Sometimes they cleaned their muskets and oiled their scimitars. Mostly they just sat, in their tall red caps and long sashed robes and iron-heeled slippers, and looked out at the sea passing by.


A Barbary Coast raïs, a corsair captain.

In Dublin, a rumor reached the Earl of Cork that Algerian pirates were planning to attack Munster. His informant believed their targets would be two recently built forts: Haulbowline, which commanded the mouth of Cork harbor, and Castlepark, put up in 1604 on a peninsula overlooking Kinsale. Unlikely though this seemed, the earl took the intelligence seriously enough to pass it on to London. Cork and Kinsale were both ripe “for Turks to lay eggs in,” he told Viscount Dorchester, the king’s secretary of state, not setting much store by Captain Hooke and his Whelp.

There had been several security scares in these waters recently. In July 1630, Lord Esmond, governor of the fort at Waterford, complained to London that “the pirates on the coast are very bad”;3 and the same month Captain Hooke reported he was unable to engage with Spanish warships which had taken two prizes because “the Irish fishermen warn them of our presence.”4 That November, the mayor of Waterford warned the authorities that “Cornelius O’Driscoll, an Irish pirate with his rendezvous in Barbary, is in the neighborhood with a ship of 200 tons and 14 guns.”5 Cornelius was one of the O’Driscolls who had ruled Baltimore before the coming of the English planters, and his appearance, together with the report that Turks were planning a visit to that part of Ireland, prompted the Earl of Cork to revive an idea proposed by Lord Deputy Chichester back in 1608, that Baltimore must be fortified to prevent its use as a safe haven by pirates.

The earl ordered a map to be drawn up and sent to Viscount Dorchester, so that “your lordship may observe how the town and harbor lyeth and how narrow the entry of the harbor mouth is, and how easily and fit it is to be fortified and secured.”6 This map shows 1631 Baltimore in remarkable detail. Thirty-six houses, plumes of smoke rising gently from their chimneys, are grouped around the Fort of Jewels, with a further ten houses standing in two rows within the walls of the fort. The settlement down at the cove is represented by another twenty-six buildings. Most are obviously houses, but three pairs set apart on the shore could be the fish palaces and pressing-houses.

In the bay, two seine-boats and their followers are fishing, and a small fleet of six fishing boats lies in the cove. Two armed ships are anchored in deep water below the cliffs of Sherkin Island, which acts as a breakwater for the harbor, protecting it from the ravages of the Atlantic. A third ship is at anchor behind a little headland at the harbor mouth, just out of sight of the town, and a fourth puts out to sea in full sail, cannon blazing in salute. It isn’t clear what these ships signify, although given that the anonymous cartographer has chosen to portray a snapshot of everyday life at Baltimore, most likely they are patrolling naval vessels and visiting merchantmen. The only sign of defense is a gun emplacement projecting out into the bay from the sixteenth-century Castle of Dunalong on Sherkin Island.7 Heavy ordnance placed here would be capable of playing over the western side of the 500-yard-wide entrance to Baltimore harbor; but since Dunalong was still an O’Driscoll stronghold, the Earl of Cork presumably felt something a little more reliable was called for.

Viscount Dorchester’s response to the Earl’s proposal hasn’t survived. The map—or a copy of it—found its way into the hands of Thomas Wentworth, who took up his appointment as the Lord Deputy, the king’s representative in Ireland, in July 1633. Perhaps that implies that the idea of fortifying Baltimore was passed back and forth from one government office to another. Wentworth did nothing about it, either.

In any case, by 1633 it was too late for Baltimore.

The two French ships were easy. His men stripped them of ropes, rigging, canvas, and everything else of value. They stripped their crews, too—seventeen Frenchmen, nine Portuguese, and three Spaniards—and shackled them in the hold of the pirate vessel. But the ships themselves were worth nothing. Where Murad was going, they would be a liability. The men stove in their planking with iron bars and watched from the deck as they disappeared beneath the waves.

Murad was a veteran. As Jan Janszoon of Haarlem he had worked with Suleiman Raïs, another Dutch renegade and a onetime member of Simon Danseker’s crew. Around the time of Suleiman’s death, in 1620, Janszoon converted to Islam, took the name Murad, and became a raïs himself, operating first out of Algiers, then from Salé on the Atlantic coast of Morocco, where he rose to become head of the taifat al-raïs. He was back in Algiers by the spring of 1627, when a Danish captive approached him with an offer to pilot an expedition to the Northern Seas if Murad would buy him his freedom.

The result was an epic 5,000-mile voyage to Iceland and back. Murad’s men, a motley mixture of Christians and Muslims, Franks and Turks, free men and slaves, arrived off the Icelandic coast in June 1627 and immediately began raiding small settlements and spreading terror and confusion. They took three Danish merchant ships. They killed. They raped—the Icelanders were shocked to see it was the European renegades rather than the more disciplined Janissaries who “killed people, cursed and beat them, and did all that is evil.”8 Eventually, in one final raid, they stormed ashore on July 16, 1627, at Heimaey, an island off the coast which was inhabited by a little community of fishermen and traders. Terrified at rumors of “Turks with claws instead of nails, spitting fire and sulfur, with knives growing out of their breasts, elbows and knees,”9 the islanders mounted a halfhearted defense and then surrendered. Murad was back in Barbary a month later. He had with him 400 Icelanders, whom he sold in the slave market of Algiers. The Icelandic liturgy still includes a prayer beseeching God for protection against “the terror of the Turk.”10

Now Murad was out on the cruise again. On Friday, June 17, 1631, somewhere off Land’s End, the farthest point of Cornwall, in the southwest of England, he caught up with a sixty-ton Englishman out of Dartmouth and treated her as he had the two French vessels. His men “took therewith forth masts, cordage, and other necessaries with all the men, and sunk the hull.”11 Her crew of ten were shackled and put down in the hold with the other captives.

Nine of them, at least, were. The master, Edward Fawlett, traded regularly with Ireland. He knew the lay of the Waterford coast, the harbors and coves of County Cork. When he was questioned, he made no secret of the fact. Realizing the man might prove useful, Murad offered Fawlett his freedom in return for that knowledge.

And the raiding party sailed on.

OLord our heavenly father, high and mighty king of kings, lord of lords, the only ruler of princes, which dost from Thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth, most heartily we beseech Thee with Thy favor to behold our most gracious Sovereign Lord King Charles.”

It was the morning of Sunday, June 19, and Baltimore was at prayer. The modern Protestant church stood on the shore of a small bay opposite the island of Ringarogy, a little way out of the town; and a long, straggling line of men, women, and children had just walked along the cliff and down to the strand, to that church, just as they did every Sunday. The talk as they picked their way over the coastal path would have been of ordinary things: the summer fair which was to take place the following weekend, the imminent arrival of the year’s first pilchard shoals. Like its church, the Protestant community was young; there were plenty of small children to fidget through the endless sermon.

And like its church, the community was set apart. Protestant settlers were not universally admired in Ireland. A resentment at English inroads, already common enough, had been fueled in recent years by clumsy attempts to repress Catholic institutions and to Anglicize Irish society. On St. Stephen’s Day in 1629 there had been a riot in Dublin when a 3,000-strong crowd stoned the archbishop, the mayor, and their officers for interrupting a Catholic service and attempting “to lay hand upon the friars, and seize upon the house.”12 Anyone who wore the traditional Irish cloak and woolen trousers was barred from bearing arms or keeping gunpowder. The time-honored practice of carrying a skene (a short dagger) was outlawed. In fact, anyone who persisted in “the barbarous custom of wearing mantles, trousers, skenes and such uncivil apparel . . . to the disgrace of this kingdom amongst civil nations” risked the humiliation of being brought before a sheriff and having their skene broken in two, and their cloak and trousers taken from them by force and cut up in pieces.

There is no evidence that the Baltimore planters ever tried to un-trouser their neighbors or take a pair of scissors to an O’Driscoll leine-chroich. They were hardworking, decent people who kept to themselves, rather than arrogant colonialists determined to impose their culture and values on a native people. They were strangers in a strange land who wanted nothing more than peace and an opportunity to worship in their own way.

“In all time of our tribulation,” intoned the minister in the little church on the strand that Sunday, “in all time of our wealth, in the hour of death, and in the day of judgment”—and here he paused for the congregation’s response.

“Good Lord deliver us.”

James Hackett was a Catholic and afraid. While the people of Baltimore knelt in prayer, his twelve-ton fishing boat was being boarded by pirates, and he and his crew of five were being quizzed by the pirate captain, “Matthew Rice, a Dutch runogado.”13

Murad Raïs came upon Hackett’s little mackerel boat as it put out its nets off the Old Head of Kinsale, about sixty miles west of Hackett’s home at Dungarvan and forty miles east of Baltimore. By luck or by judgment, the Earl of Cork’s informant had been right—Murad’s target was Kinsale, and although Edward Fawlett, the master of the vessel captured off Land’s End, knew the coast, the renegade corsair was looking for someone with more detailed local knowledge of the harbor—a pilot who would be able to guide him safely up the river Bandon to where the town lay. During the Iceland raid in 1627 one of his ships had sailed into harbor while the tide was low and run aground. He’d learned his lesson then.

Murad also needed boats to take his men ashore. A prize crew piled into Hackett’s vessel and went after a second fisherman from the Dungarvan fleet, while the captain interrogated Hackett about Kinsale and its harbor.

The man was scared and eager to please. He told Murad straight out that Kinsale was too hot for them. To get anywhere near the town they would have to pass under the guns of the king’s fort at Castlepark, which stood on a small promontory on the west bank of the Bandon and covered the approach. And if they managed to negotiate that obstacle, they would sail straight into Francis Hooke and the guns of the Fifth Whelp.

Murad was well armed. His own ship carried 200 men and twenty-four pieces of brass ordnance, and he was accompanied by another with eighty men and twelve iron guns. But that wasn’t the point. He wasn’t looking for a fight. So he listened carefully as Hackett offered to guide him to a far easier target less than a day’s sail away. It didn’t take him long to make up his mind: he ordered his ships to alter course for the west, and at ten o’clock that night the raiding party reached Baltimore.

They anchored just outside the harbor in the calm summer twilight, out of sight of the town at the mouth of a little inlet called the Eastern Hole. Fired up and keen for action, Murad himself led a small reconnaissance party, ordering his men to wrap sacking round their oars to deaden the sound of their rowing and taking as his guide not James Hackett but Edward Fawlett, who clearly also knew Baltimore well. According to the official report of the incident, Fawlett “piloted them all along the shore, and showed them how the town did stand, relating unto them where the most able men had their abode.”14

They were gone for more than two hours. Aboard the two ships, Janissaries and corsairs waited in silence, listening for the shouts or the barking of dogs or the popping of muskets which would tell them their captain had been discovered. It was after midnight before Murad returned.

“We are in a good place,” he told them with a smile. “We shall make a bon voyago.”15

The water lapped against the shore in the darkness, and Baltimore

At two o’clock on the morning of Monday, June 21, the pirates came ashore at the cove. There were 230 of them in all: eccentrically dressed European renegades, ragged Christian slaves, and fearsome Janissaries in tall red caps, long robes, and tight canvas breeches, with iron-shod slippers and drooping mustaches. Most carried muskets and scimitars. Some brought firebrands to set light to the thatched roofs of the little houses; others had iron bars to break down their doors.

The raiders ran up the pebbly beach in the darkness as quickly and quietly as they could and stationed themselves in groups of nine or ten outside the first houses. Then they waited.

But only for a matter of seconds. At a word from Murad, hell came to Baltimore, as the pirates smashed their way simultaneously into every home in the cove, screaming at the tops of their voices. Bleary-eyed, bewildered, and half asleep, families were punched and kicked and dragged out into the street, where the flames from the torches and the flickering light thrown by burning buildings showed them a scene beyond their nightmares. English renegades in Murad’s crew were ordering them down to the boats in their own language, but others used lingua franca, Turkish, Arabic, perhaps even Gaelic. All used the unmistakable language of violence and intimidation. People were milling around in the dark, crying, begging on their knees, calling for their children. One of the townspeople, a heavily pregnant woman named Joan Broadbrook, was separated from her husband in the confusion. He managed to escape inland; Joan was taken, along with their two small children. John Davys put up a fight; he was killed. Timothy Curlew tried to defend his wife; he was killed, too, and his wife was taken. William Gunter was away from home that night: when he returned he found his home in ruins and no sign of his wife or their seven sons.

We know nothing about these people except for some names recorded in a tally of the lost after the raiders had gone: Bessie Flood and her son; Bess Peeters’s daughter; Richard Lorye, his wife, his sister, and four children; John Harris, his wife, his mother, three children and a maid. There were ninety-nine in all.

Murad wasn’t done with Baltimore yet. A dozen or so men were detached to herd his victims down to the boats, while James Hackett—who had come ashore with the corsairs and was playing his part as local guide with rather too much enthusiasm—led the pirates up toward the main part of the town, which lay about 500 yards away along a narrow coastal track. Like a good general, the pirate captain secured his line of retreat by deploying sixty musketeers to guard the track, while he and the remaining force advanced into the town and began smashing their way into house after house.

Fugitives from the cove had got there before them. Although they broke into forty homes, they only found another ten settlers; the rest had fled into the darkness or taken shelter behind the walls of the Fort of Jewels. Farther up the hillside someone took a potshot at them; someone else began pounding a drum to warn the neighborhood.

That was enough for Murad, who wasn’t interested in becoming involved in a siege or a gunfight. He ordered his men back down to the cove. As quickly as they could, they pushed off the crowded little boats and rowed into the bay. Before daybreak they were aboard their ships and preparing to hoist their sails, while their bruised and frightened new captives—22 men, 33 women, and 54 children, 109 in all—were put belowdecks with the rest.

By sunrise the whole countryside was alive with fear and rumor. The mayor of Baltimore, Joseph Carter, scribbled a note to Sir William Hull, the deputy vice-admiral at Leamcon:

This last night, a little before day, came two Turk men of war of about 300 tons, and another of about 150, with a loose boat to set their men ashore, and they have carried away of our townspeople, men, women and children, one hundred and eleven [he was off by two], and two more are slain. The ships are at present going westward.16

The pirates were heading toward Leamcon and Crookhaven. Carter begged Hull to warn people.

At the same time the shocked burgesses of Baltimore dispatched a messenger cross-country to Castlehaven, ten miles to the east. A merchant ship was lying at anchor in Castlehaven harbor, and they pleaded with its master to set out in pursuit of the pirates. He could not be persuaded. The news of the raid was taken on to the Lord President of Munster, Sir William St. Leger, at Mallow; and to Captain Hooke at Kinsale. On the following day, Tuesday, Sir William Hull reported (wrongly, as it happened) that the Turks were still in sight, plying off the southwest tip of Cork and waiting for more of their number to arrive for an attack on the returning Newfoundland fishing fleet later in the summer. St. Leger urged Hooke to give chase. The burgesses of Baltimore urged Hooke to give chase. Everyone urged Hooke to give chase.

The Fifth Whelp was one of two naval pinnaces charged with scouring the seas around Ireland for pirates. The other, the Ninth Whelp, was commanded by Sir Thomas Button. The valiant but venal veteran of the 1620 Algiers expedition was still admiral to the Irish coast and was supposed to patrol the Irish Sea while Hooke looked after St. George’s Channel and the western seas. However, Button spent most of his time ashore, leaving command of the Ninth Whelp to his lieutenant (and nephew), Will Thomas, while he concentrated on extracting money from the Admiralty. His current strategem involved contracting to supply both Whelps himself, but keeping Hooke on short, poor-quality rations and pocketing the difference. The previous October he had rather splendidly informed the secretary to the Admiralty that he was too ill to travel and suggested that perhaps the pay and supplies due to both Whelps might be sent directly to him at his house in Cardiff?

As a result of all this, Francis Hooke was engaged in an acrimonious dispute with Button, firing off letters of complaint to anyone in government who might listen. On June 10, 1631, only ten days before the Baltimore raid, he had written to Lord Dorchester: “Victual goes through so many hands before it reaches us that we are made poor to make others rich. If only I could get the right to victual my own ship, I will engage my own life that the King’s service will not be impeded in the future as it has been in the past.”17 He was supposed to be in Limerick to escort a fleet of corn ships, he said. But as things stood, he felt unable to leave Kinsale unless he got some decent victuals on board.

Those victuals still hadn’t arrived by the time of the raid. And so, unfortunately for Captain Hooke’s subsequent career—and even more unfortunately for the Baltimore captives—he chose this moment to make a stand. For four days he refused point-blank to sail. When he finally did set out from Kinsale, there was no sign of Murad. Button, for his part, remarked piously to the Admiralty on “how dishonorable and how unchristianlike a thing it is, that these Turks should dare to do these outrages and unheard-of villainies upon his Majesty’s coasts, by reason of the weakness of the guards.”18

Murad had little use for old people—they had no value. Before he hoisted sail for Algiers he sent ashore an elderly man and woman, Old Osbourne and Alice Heard. Edward Fawlett, James Hackett, and another unidentified Dungarvan fisherman went with them.

Murad kept his promises.

Hackett and Fawlett were picked up and interrogated soon after being put ashore, and while the Englishman seems to have convinced the authorities that whatever he did to aid the pirates he did under duress, Hackett was not so lucky. The Lord Justices of Ireland—the Earl of Cork and Viscount Loftus, who shared the post of chief governor at the time—were of the opinion that he had “expressed much disloyalty and disaffection in bringing them [to Baltimore], when it appeared plainly that he might have put them into other harbors where they might have been taken, and so the mischief which happened might have been prevented.”19 They made it clear to the judges of the Cork assize that the unfortunate man was to be arraigned and tried, that due process was to be observed, and that he should be found guilty. The judges did not disappoint: Hackett was condemned and hanged “as an enemy to the state and country.”20

The raid caused outrage and alarm. The justices of the peace for Pembroke begged the government to fortify Millford Haven in southwest Wales, because they feared “the accession of another imminent peril by the Moors who have carried captives out of Baltimore.”21 The same month, the Lord Justices of Ireland wrote to the Privy Council with a list of the victims, describing the raid as a disaster without precedent, even in war-time. It was an insult to the king’s honor, they said.

Charles I agreed. After two months of bickering, in which the Lord Justices put the blame on Captain Hooke for refusing to stir out of Kinsale at the crucial moment and on Button for staying at home—and the Admiralty blamed the Justices for failing to control the two sailors, and the two sailors blamed each other—on August 23 the king sent an impatient letter to Cork and Loftus, urging them to discover exactly what had gone so wrong with the defense of the realm that two Algerian pirate ships could sail into an Irish harbor, abduct more than a hundred of his subjects, and sail away again without anyone doing anything to stop them. “You shall inform us where the responsibility for this negligence lies,” he told them. “You blame the two captains appointed to guard the coast, and they blame each other, but we are not satisfied with these recriminations. You shall inform us about what was left undone to guard against such a thing.”22

No one paid much attention to the captives. There was a rumor that Murad was still hovering off the Irish coast; another that both his ships had been taken by Spaniards off the Spanish coast. In fact, he made for the Straits and Algiers as soon as he left Munster. An entry in a register of captives kept by the English consul at Algiers records that on July 28, “Morrato Fleming and his consort brought from Baltimore in Ireland 89 women and children with 20 men.”23 (The figures were off by two—there were eighty-seven women and children.) Two weeks later the consul informed London of the captives’ arrival and asked for money to pay their ransom. None came.

Autumn turned to winter, and in Dublin the two Lord Justices were still pondering their response to the king’s demand for someone to blame. In January 1632 Lord Dorchester wrote from Whitehall to say that Charles I was surprised not to have received word from them regarding “the Turkish piratical raid at Baltimore,” and this galvanized them into action. Their report went out of its way to exonerate themselves. “The attempt was so sudden as no man did or with reason could expect it.”24 The pirates were only in Baltimore for a few hours. Dublin was so far away. There were so many harbors in that part of West Cork that it was impossible to predict where a raid might take place or “to guard every one of the places with competent strength to resist invasion.”

All of which was perfectly fair. But when it came to the Whelps, the justices stretched the bounds of credibility. They did their best to put the blame for the raid squarely on Francis Hooke—“we observed the Fifth Whelp oftentimes to lie idly and unprofitably in harbor while [your] subjects lay open to spoil at sea”—and announced disingenuously that only three weeks before the raid they had given Sir Thomas Button £200 to victual both ships, so how could Hooke pretend that want of victuals prevented him from leaving Kinsale in pursuit of Murad? Deliberately or not, they quite missed the point.

The year 1632 saw a flood of fear. The Algerians were bound to come back. Whitehall ordered more ships to be sent to Munster, in the expectation that “the Turkish pirates who surprised some of his Majesty’s subjects at Baltimore last summer will attempt the like again this next summer with greater forces and in divers places.”25 A Captain Robert Innes urged the Irish authorities to ask the king for three or four Mediterranean-style galleys “for preventing all piracies by sea and sudden depredations and landings of Turks and renegadoes.” Fast, maneuverable, and versatile, they could be crewed by shaven-headed criminals who might be grateful to act as galley slaves for a fixed term in return for their liberty. Beacons were set up along the coast that year, and the president of Munster was authorized to arm the locals. “But please take every care that arms are not put into the hands of disloyal people.”26

In Baltimore, the survivors put the pieces of their lives back together. A company of soldiers was stationed in the Fort of Jewels, and the mayor and burgesses offered to pay for the building of a blockhouse if the king would provide the ordnance for it. The burned-out houses in the cove were rebuilt—some of them, at least—but people drifted away, and the town never recovered. “It is now a poor decayed fishing town,” wrote one nineteenth-century historian, “with not one tolerable house in it. Here are the ruins of an ancient castle of the O’Driscolls, [and] a few poor cabins.”27 A Dutch renegade’s accidental encounters with a Devon sailor and a Dungarvan fisherman had changed this corner of Ireland forever.

In the winter of 1631-32, William Gunter, who had lost his wife and seven sons in the Baltimore raid, traveled to Dublin and then to London to plead for help from the government. The Lord Justices agreed he was “a special object of pity and compassion.” But no one acted, and Gunter never saw his family again. Like the rest of the captives, they simply vanished into Barbary.

A year later, and Murad Raïs is answering the muezzin’s call from the Djemaa el-Kebir, as he always did, making his intention to pray and adopting the qiyam, both hands raised. How many of the Baltimore captives, strangers in a strange land, knelt as he did on their mats in a dusty North African city? How many of the Gunter boys chose to forget how they had once sat in the little church on the strand 1,200 miles away and asked God to deliver them in the time of their tribulation, and now testified with Murad that there is no God but God and Mohammed is his messenger?

And who dares to blame them if they did?

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