The Dread Pirate Keating

I was Googlingâ„¢ for more historical records and came across the following pamphlet referencing an 18th century pirate by the name of Maurice Keating.

Keating (M.) The Genuine Narrative of the Life and Transactions of Major Maurice Keating, The noted Pirate and Murderer, Who was executed on Monday the 27th of December, 1784, at Cuckold’s-Point, near Port-Royal, in the Island of Jamaica. … To which is added, A True and Faithful Account of the Loss of the Brigantine Tyrrell, And the uncommon Hardships suffered by the Crew. London: Printed by J. Miller … . [1784.] 8vo, pp. 16.

37135

For the whole of the long title see Stevens’ “Nuggets,” No. 1587.

Source: Sabin, Joseph, A Dictionary of Books relating to America, From Its Discovery to the Present Time , published 1877 by J. Sabin & Sons, New York, p. 398. Available via books.google.com.

 

 

As I’m going through a pirate phase with my young daughter, I decided to look for more information on this pamphlet and came across it referenced on Mitchell’s West Indian Bibliography as “Exceptionally scarce”:

The Genuine Narrative of the Life and Transactions of Major Maurice Keating, the Noted Pirate and Murderer, who was Executed … near Port Royal in the Island of Jamaica … (London: Printed by J Miller) 16 pages 8vo pamph, [1784]. Piracy. Maurice Keating. Port Royal. Jamaica. Exceptionally scarce. BL, Sab 37135

 

 

Digging deeper on Google Books, I found the referenced Stevens’ “Nuggets”, with the following exhaustively long title:

KEATING (Maurice). The Genuine Narrative Of the Life and Transactions of Major Maurice Keating, The noted Pirate and Murderer, Who was executed on Monday the 27th of December, 1784, at Cuckold’s Point, near Point-Royal, in the Island of Jamaica. Which contains a particular account of his being shipwrecked and reduced to the greatest necessities, and afterwards being concerned with three others in seizing the schooner Friendship, Captain William Lewis, bound from Virginia to St. Thomas’s, in which they had agreed to take their passage, with the fixt resolution to seize the vessel the first opportunity, and to murder all the persons belonging to her, without distinction; in which diabolical scheme they too well succeeded. – On the Captain, Mate, and particularly on a Mr. Wilkinson, who was also a passenger, they exercised the most unheard of cruelty, although the unhappy gentleman begged earnestly for his life in the most pathetic manner. – The particulars of the extraordinary manner of his being discovered, and his confession of the whole transaction before the magistrates at Kingston. – Likewise an account of his behaviour at the place of execution, and a particular narration of his life, which he delivered to a gentleman the night before he suffered. N.B. This narrative is published as a caution to captains of ships to be particularly careful what passengers they take on board; and is one of the most bloody scenes of villainy ever heard of since the time of the noted pirate Blackbeard. To which is added, A True and Faithful Account of the Loss of the Brigantine Tyrrell, And the uncommon Hardships suffered by the Crew. London: Printed by J. Miller, No. 74, Rosemary-lane. [1784] 16 pp. half mor. 8vo.

(10s. 6d. 1587)

Source: Stevens, Henry, GMB FSA, Historical Nuggets: Bibliotheca Americana Or A Descriptive Account of My Collection of Rare Books Relating to America, published 1862 by Whittingham and Wilkins, London, p. 398. Available via books.google.com.

And, looking for some additional information about the trial, found in the General Index to the Colonial Records (1860):

Piracy, execution for, xii., 537
Evidence from Jamaica against Maurice Keating, &c., xiv., 268

Source: Hazard, Samuel, General Index to the Colonial Records in 16 Volumes and to the Pennsylania Archives in 12 Volumes, published 1860 by Joseph Severns and Co., Philadelphia, p. 300. Available via books.google.com.

Unfortunately, I have not yet found the 1860 Colonial Records. I did find what appears to be mention of one of Maurice’s fellow pirates, Benjamin Johnson:

In July, Benjamin Johnson was hung at Jamaica, for piracy and murder, on board the schooner Friendship: his plea, of being born in the United States, was overruled.

Source: Southey, Thomas, Chronological History of the West Indies, Vol. III, published 1827 by Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, and Green, London, p. 6. Available via books.google.com.

Sounds like an interesting story of which I’m glad I was not a part of. We romanticize piracy during the age of sail, but much like the piracy of today, it was a nasty, brutish business.

I do wonder, given the name, if Major Maurice Keating, was related to the Narraghmore Keatings, of County Kildare?


Update 26 January 2008: See more on Maurice Keating’s misadventures here.

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