Appendix: Miscellaneous 1610

Pages 559-563

Calendar of State Papers Relating To English Affairs in the Archives of Venice, Volume 12, 1610-1613. Originally published by His Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1905.

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Miscellaneous 1610

1610. Jan. 10. Capitano della Guardia di Candia. Venetian Archives. 872. Copy of the trial of the prisoners taken in the ship seized by His Illustrious Lordship Civran, Captain of the Guard of Candia, on the 3rd of January, 1610.
Laus Deo.
1610, 3rd of January, new style; at sea off the Island of Melos.
This day at dawn Antonio Civran, Captain of the Guard of Candia, in his galley accompanied by Commanders Contarini and Gabriel, his consorts, was sailing towards Garabuse. Off Cape Spada, two sail were sighted far out at sea; they looked like men-of-war. The Captain made for them to search them. They were steering a westerly course, but on sighting the galleys they put about and made for the Archipelago. They were overhauled about three o'clock, and the usual signals were run up, when the larger of the two and the nearer replied by a shot from a loaded cannon and ran up the sign of battle; she kept on all her sail and bore away on her route. Thereupon the Captain gave orders to his commanders to clear for action. They followed up with sail and oar, firing all the time, up to the first hour of night, and then, by the grace of God, under the Island of Melos, she was taken. On board her as far as we know at present there were found only eight men alive, all the rest were killed by the artillery and musketry or had thrown themselves into the water. These eight men by the Captain's orders were chained and kept under close guard.
Same date.
Vicenzo Burchier, gaoler of the galley-slaves, reports having placed in chains the eight men who were found alive in the said ship, and that he has them in close custody.
Same date.
I, the Chancellor, received orders from the Illustrious Commander to diligently examine the said eight men.
Same date.
In execution of above orders, a young man of about twenty-two was brought to the cabin (Piciol) (fn. 1) of the Commander. He is of the average height; his brown beard is just growing. He said “My name is Amat of Barbary: I do not know who my father was. I, along with thirty Turks and fifteen English and French, was put by force on board this ship which has been captured this evening. This ship was taken by us last Sunday week off Melos. This ship is supposed to hail from the Black Sea, as the cargo consisted of wool, hides and preserved meat. We found not a soul on board her, for at our appearance they all fled ashore. We were alone when we made our prize. Our captain is named Sanson, an Englishman; he was in command of the ship, while one Mehmet Reis was in command of the soldiery. We have made two other prizes, one was a ship hailing from Tripoli with a cargo of spices and other goods, and one was a French saetta with a cargo of wine, hailing from Candia. The first was captured about a month ago off a great island whose name I don't know, but it is not far from here; the Frenchman we captured a few days earlier, off a little isle about a hundred miles away from the big island; I believe the little isle is called Cerigo. The ship hailing from Tripoli was a French berton bound for France. We were three bertons all in company, all fitted out in Tunis. When we sighted the Frenchman, we gave chase, and after fighting a good while we took her. She had a large crew, but I can't say how many, though I should think little short of fifty, all French. We took the men and distributed them among us, while twenty-five of ours were put on board her to take her to Barbary. The French saetta we captured without a fight, as all three of us bore down on her together. On board her there were not twenty men all told; there were two women. The crew told us they were bound for Venice. This ship too we sent to Barbary with a crew of five and twenty of us; her own crew was likewise divided among our ships. Of the other bertons one fled under shelter of the island for which we were making, that was Captain Sanson's ship; the other two parted company in a storm twenty days ago. Among all three the bertons had a crew of five hundred men; most of them Turks, but some French and English. Captain Sanson had two hundred men on his, but he has only a hundred now, as the rest have been sent back with the prizes; he had twelve good guns on board besides two he put on board us. His object was to use her as a consort in making other prizes, and also for mutual defence should he fall in with the great galleys. Sanson has been out buccaneering before. He is a man of medium height, dark, with a slight black beard; he is about thirty. On the other hand this is the first time Mehmet Reis has been out with a berton, though he has been out before in a galliot. The commanders of the other two bertons are Ali Reis Murad of Barbary, and Captain Schiavo (?Shaw) an Englishman. Three other bertons put out from Tunis, but sailed away for Cyprus and Syria. They were better manned than ours, they are bigger vessels and better armed. One is commanded by Otman Reis, of Barbary, that is the biggest and best armed of all, she has about three hundred harquebussiers on board, all from Barbary. Another is commanded by Ali Reis of Biserta, and the third by Captain Ward, an old English pirate; both these are well armed with good hands and better guns. When first we sighted the galleys we thought they were the great galleys, but when we saw them get out oars we took them for pirate galliots; then when we heard the trumpets and drums we thought they were Christian galleys, but never believed they were Venetian as they fell away to leeward, though at last the constant firing from their bow chasers told us that they could not be anything else. Sanson fled, although he had armed this ship with intent to engage the great galleys if he fell in with them.” He was then addressed thus: “You were on board to pillage and plunder in Venetian waters; justice will proceed to mete out condign punishment.” He exclaimed “Mercy.” Asked who the other prisoners were he said one was a Spanish renegade, one a blackamoor and two others Frenchmen who had been made slaves in the ship that was captured on its way from Tripoli.
Same date.
Examination in the Captain's cabin of a man of medium height, small beard, dark skin, wounded in one leg. He spoke a mixture of Spanish, Turkish and Italian. Called Francesco de Salto, son of the late Diego. Declared he was a Christian. Told to expose his person he was seen to be circumcised. Said he had taken service as a soldier on board the berton of Captain Sanson. Asked who was this Sanson he replied that he was the pirate who had captured this ship. “You are out buccaneering then?” “I am out to try my luck.” Has been with Sanson two months and a half. Sanson fitted in Tunis and sailed thence. Six bertons sailed in company; three made for Tripoli, Syria and Cyprus, and three for these waters. We captured three ships, one Frenchman bound for Tripoli, one with a cargo of wine, hailing from Constantinople, and this ship. This ship Sanson captured alone, the other two he captured in company. The Frenchman was a berton, bound for Brittany with a cargo of cotton and spices. The ship with the cargo of wine was a French saetta, bound for Venice. These prizes were sent to Barbary. The berton was captured off Candia, and the saetta off Cerigo. The saetta had a crew of fifteen with two women, the berton upwards of forty. The berton was captured after two hours' brave resistance, the saetta surrendered without a fight. The crews were divided among the buccaneers. The prizes were sent into Barbary with fifty of Sanson's men. Sanson's was the best manned ship. He had upwards of two hundred men. The other two numbered three hundred men between them. The commanders were Sanson with Mehmet Reis, Captain Schiavo (? Shaw), an Englishman, and Ali Reis Murat of Barbary, Ali Reis and Captain Ward, an old English pirate, well found in men and guns. The ship we are in we picked up derelict last Sunday week, nine days ago, off Melos. By its cargo we thought it came from the Black Sea and was bound for Venice. At Melos we sold some goods. Sanson fitted it up with men and guns to sail in consort. When we fell in with the galleys we took them for the great galleys, but on seeing them out-oars, we thought they were buccaneers, for Captain Petro, an Englishman, in command of the ship, said that Venetians were wont to fire at long range and not to attack so boldly; we knew they were Christian galleys by the sound of the trumpets and drums. Sanson fled for fear, and tried to run ashore, and we don't know what has happened to him. Of the rest of our men twenty jumped into the sea and the rest were killed, partly by the artillery with slugs (con quelle scaglie) and partly by musketry. As the men fell they were thrown overboard so as not to terrify the rest. I stayed on board, as I was wounded in the leg. My other companions found alive are a Turk, a blackamoor, and two Frenchmen. He was told that justice would be done on him, and he cried “Pity on poor me.”
Same date.
Examination of a blackamoor, of medium height, early beard, about twenty years of age. Speaking Moorish, he said his name was Musa of Barbary. His master put him on board Sanson's ship. He confirms previous witness. The English pirates were mostly with Captain Sanson. Captain Petro wished to surrender to the galleys, but Hasan Reis in command of the soldiers would not, for he knew they were Venetian galleys by the fire of their bow guns, and surrender meant death, not slavery, as Petro said. Among the prisoners the three half dead were an Englishman and two Frenchmen.
Same date.
Examination of a big man, with brown beard, apparently about forty years of age. Spoke French. Said his name was Isaac Bigin. Said he was captured off Candia about the seventh of last month, by three bertons. He was bound for Brittany. Asked if that was his right course, he explained that they had put into Cyprus to make purchases. Confirms preceding expositions.
Same date.
Examination of a man of moderate height; red complexion; apparently about forty. Said his name was Jacomai, of San Malo (Semalo). Confirms the preceding witness, in whose company he was captured by the pirates. The Frenchman was called the “Le Leon d'Or.”
4th of same month at sea.
The other three prisoners are wounded to death, one Englishman and two Frenchmen. They cannot utter an intelligible word. The commander ordered that they need not be examined.
6th of the said month.
Two stow-aways found in the ballast.
Same date.
Orders that these two be put in chains and examined.
Same date.
Examination of a man of medium height, black close shaved beard, large moustache. Says he is a Turk, called Monsur or Zibel. Says he was forced on board. Declares they took no other prizes than this ship. Is told not to tell lies. Condemned.
Same date.
Examination of a blackamoor of about twenty. Speaking Moorish he said his name was Mehmet. Was put by force on board the buccaneer. Confirms previous depositions. Condemned.
Same date.
The Commander ordered the prisoners to prepare their defence within three days; the three moribund prisoners were at once decapitated as being patently pirates.


  • 1. Piciol = Pizzuolo = the last cabin at the stern of a ship. See Greglielmotti, “Vocabolario Marino e Militare,” s.v.