Alexander Dalzeel (c. 1662-1715) was born in Port Patrick,
Scotland, sometime in the vicinity of 1662. Enlisting on ships crews
from a young age, Dalzeel quickly worked his way up through the ranks
until, by the age of 23, he captained his own ship and had completed
half a dozen expeditions. After arriving in Madagascar in 1685,
Dalzeel joined up with the infamous Henry Avery.
In August 1694, Avery and his crew, including Dalzeel, encountered
the Ganj-i-Sawai as part of a 25-ship convoy. The ship, which
carried the daughter of the Great Moghul, was
traveling from present day Saudi Arabia to the lands controlled by
the Moghul Empire (currently the Indian Subcontinent). Chasing the
ship through the night, Avery formed a temporary alliance with four
other priates in the area to attack the convoy. After a brutal battle,
the heavily outnumbered pirates seized the Ganj-i-Sawai and its
£500,000 of loot.
With a sizeable retirement and a ship full of new concubines, Avery
resigned as captain and named Dalzeel as his successor. Shortly
afterwards, Dalzeel left the Indian Ocean to seek his fortune in the
When they arrived in the West Indies, Dalzeel and his crew had
little success in their search for targets. Running low on supplies
and cash, they finally sighted a Spanish war galleon. Though
outnumbered, outsized, and outgunned, Dalzeel ordered the ship be
attacked. To ensure that his crew would not hold back, he ordered a
hole be drilled in the hull of his own ship, drowning all the crew if
they did not succeed. Despite the odds, Dalzeel and his men seized the
galleon and sailed for Jamaica.
However, it was in Jamaica that Dalzeel's luck would abandon him.
While attempting to capture a flotilla of a dozen Spanish pearl ships,
Dalzeel was apprehended by the Spanish and forced to surrender his
ship. Left ashore in Jamaica, Dalzeel assembled another crew and set
sail for Cuba. Soon after, he and his crew were again captured when
they attacked three Spanish war ships. This time the Spanish were not
so lenient and he was sentenced to be hanged at sea. However, before
his execution, Dalzeel managed to make his escape by stabbing an armed
guard and floating to shore on two empty barrels.
Again without a ship or crew, Dalzeel fell in with a band of pirates
and convinced them to attack the ship that formerly held him prisoner.
Though it was successfully captured, both ships sank in a storm off the
shore of Jamaica. Surviving the tempest in a canoe, Dalzeel then
gained a privateer charter from the French monarchy to fight
for them during the War of the Spanish Succession. In 1712, he was
captured by the English who convicted him of treason and ordered he
be hanged, drawn and quartered.
For reasons unknown to history, the Earl of
Mar obtained a royal pardon for Dalzeel. Back in the Old World,
Dalzeel sailed for the coast of France, capturing a French ship.
However, he was quickly apprehended off the coast of his home of
Scotland and hanged in London on December 15, 1715.