Captain Nicholas Vanhorn. A Dutch filibuster.

Of Hispaniola.

Sailed from England in 1681 in command of the Mary and Martha, alias the St. Nicholas, a merchant ship. Vanhorn soon showed his hand by putting two of his merchants ashore at Cadiz and stealing four Spanish guns. Next he sailed to the Canary Islands, and then to the Guinea coast, plundering ships and stealing negroes, until November, 1682, when he arrived at the city of San Domingo. In April, 1683, he picked up some 300 buccaneers at Petit Goave, and joined the filibuster Laurens in the Gulf of Honduras with six other buccaneer captains, who were planning an attack on the rich city of Vera Cruz. The fleet arrived off the city in May, and the pirates, hearing that] the Spaniards were expecting the arrival of two ships from Caracas, they crowded a landing party of 800 men into two ships, and, displaying Spanish colours, stood in boldly for the city. The inhabitants, imagining these were the ships they were expecting, actually lit bonfires to pilot them into the harbour. Landing on May 17th two miles away, they soon found themselves masters of the town and forts, all the sentinels being asleep. For four days they plundered the churches, convents, and houses, and threatened to burn the cathedral, in which they had put all the prisoners, unless more booty was forthcoming. An Englishman found the Governor hiding in some hay in a loft, and he was ransomed for 70,000 pieces of eight. While this was taking place a Spanish fleet of fourteen ships had arrived from Cadiz, and anchored just outside the harbour, but would not venture to land nor to attack the buccaneer ships. The buccaneers, feeling it was time to depart, sailed right past the fleet without opposition to a cay not far off, and there divided the spoils; each of the 1,000 sailors getting 800 pieces of eight as his share, while Vanhorn's own share, was 24,000 pieces of eight. This division of the spoil did not take place without some bickering, and the two leaders, Vanhorn and Laurens, came to blows, and Vanhorn was wounded in the wrist. Although the wound was little more than a scratch, he died of gangrene a fortnight later.

It is significant that Vanhorn had originally been sent out by the Governor of Hispaniola to hunt for pirates, but once out of sight of land and away from authority the temptation to get rich quickly was too great to resist, so that he joined the pirates in the expedition to sack Vera Cruz.

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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