Captain Charles Vane.

Famous for his piratical activities off the coast of North America, specially the Carolinas.

In 1718, when Woodes Rogers was sent by the English Government to break up the pirate stronghold in the Bahama Islands, all the pirates at New Providence Island surrendered to Rogers and received the King's pardon except Vane, who, after setting fire to a prize he had, slipped out of the bay as Rogers with his two men-of-war entered. Vane sailed to the coast of Carolina, as did other West Indian pirates who found their old haunts too warm for them.

Vane is first heard of as being actively engaged in stealing from the Spaniards the silver which they were salving from a wrecked galleon in the Gulf of Florida. Tiring of this, Vane stole a vessel and ranged up and down the coast from Florida to New York, taking ship after ship, until at last the Governor of South Carolina sent out a Colonel Rhet in an armed sloop to try and take him. On one occasion Vane met the famous Blackbeard, whom he saluted with his great guns loaded with shot. This compliment of one pirate chief to another was returned in like kind, and then "mutual civilities" followed for several days between the two pirate captains and their crews, these civilities taking the form of a glorious debauch in a quiet creek on the coast.

Vane soon had a change of fortune, when, meeting with a French man-of-war, he decided to decline an engagement and to seek safety in flight, greatly to the anger of his crew. For this he was obliged to stand the test of the vote of the whole crew, who passed a resolution against his honour and dignity, and branded him a coward, deprived him of his command, and packed him off with a few of his adherents in a small sloop. Vane, not discouraged by this reverse of fortune, rose again from the bottom rung of the ladder to success, and quickly increased in strength of ships and crew, until one day, being overcome by a sudden tornado, he lost everything but his life, being washed up on a small uninhabited island off the Honduras coast. Here he managed to support life by begging food from the fishermen who occasionally came there in their canoes.

At last a ship put in for water, commanded by one Captain Holford, who happened to be an old friend of Vane's. Vane naturally was pleased at this piece of good fortune, and asked his dear old friend to take him off the island in his ship, to which Holford replied: "Charles, I shan't trust you aboard my ship, unless I carry you as a prisoner, for I shall have you caballing with my men, knock me on the head, and run away with my ship a-pirating." No promises of good behaviour from Vane would prevail on his friend to rescue him; in fact, Captain Holford's parting remark was that he would be returning in a month, and that if he then found Vane still on the island he would carry him to Jamaica to be hanged.

Soon after Holford's departure another ship put in for water, none of the crew of which knew Vane by sight, and he was too crafty to let them find out the notorious pirate he was. They consented to take off the shipwrecked mariner, when, just as all seemed to be going well, back came the ship of friend Holford. Holford, who seems to have been a sociable kind of man, was well acquainted with the captain who was befriending Vane, and Holford was invited to dine on board his ship. As the guest was passing along the deck of his host's ship on his way to the great cabin he chanced to glance down the open hold, and there who should he see but his dear old friend Vane hard at work; for he had already won his new master's good graces by being a "brisk hand." Holford at once informed his host that he was entertaining a notorious pirate, and with his consent clapped Vane in irons, and removed him to his own ship, and when he arrived in Jamaica handed his old friend to the justices, who quickly tried, convicted, and hanged him.


Taken from The Pirates' Who's Who:Giving Particulars Of The Lives and Deaths Of The Pirates And Buccaneers by Philip Gosse. Originally published by Burt Franklin of 235 East 44th St., New York 10017 in 1924 and in the public domain.

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