What did John Blackmore do to be accused of piracy in 1698? It turns out that, according to records in the Archives of Maryland website, Blackmore got into trouble a bit earlier with the colonial government. That was because he was accused of refusing to go along with certain requirements for merchant vessels.
Blackmore was the captain of a ship called the Anne, also referred to as the Ann. He was supposed to post bond before sailing between England and any American plantation. In spite of this, “John Blackmore Marriner Commander of the Ship Ann belonging to this Province of Maryland” was accused of disregarding the law in this regard on one occasion, and on “divers” (diverse, or different) occasions before. The jury, however, found him not guilty.
Various records discuss legal squabbles like this in the 1690s. One record dated 1693 refers to John Blackmore and his ship the Ann “riding in Potuxent River” before he had posted bond. This would have been the Patuxent River, which is a tributuary of Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. On one occasion, perhaps the same occasion, he had loaded 80 hogshead of tobacco before posting bond.
One book refers to the case of Edward Randolph v. John Blackmore and the Ship Ann. That source refers to documentation on “the same offense” which had been dealt with 9 months earlier. The book notes that records are incomplete. By design? If he was so innocent, why was he getting into these legal issues?
A few lines down in the same book, reference is made to “Gabriel Parrott v. His Majesty.” This was, presumably, the same Gabriel Parrott who was the associate of Blackmore who was discussed in the last post. It was Parrott who provided security for Blackmore and Cotter when they were arrested.
In the book reference, the charge was that of perjury. Only part of the proceedings were recorded – then interrupted. By design? One of the records refers to John Blackmore, who it was said should be allowed to leave the courtroom “without delay” after it was determined that the only issue was a “false clamor.” If it was false, then why the clamor?
A secondary source refers to “secret conferences” being held in Annapolis in 1696 right after a ship from England was docked. The local buzz was that pirates were being sought by the government, and soon afterward Blackmore and Cotter were arrested. That sounds, however, like events in 1698.
A 1695 record refers to Blackmore as “master” of the “Pinck Ann of Maryland.” A pink was a type of sailing ship. Pinks generally had large capacity for cargo and were usually square-rigged. Pinks that were used as merchantmen were generally only used for short distance trips in protected channels. The court records make it sound, however, as though the Anne was used to cross the Atlantic.
The Anne of the 1690s couldn’t have been the ship of that name which was used in 1623 to support the Plymouth colony – or could it? That ship was financed by the Merchant Adventurers, a London-based group which used the ship to send primarily passengers to the Plymouth colony in 1623. The ship then returned to England.
It was accompanied by the considerably smaller Little James, which carried cargo, for the most part. The fact that the Anne which sailed to Plymouth colony was much larger suggests that it might have been a ship of considerable size. In addition, records dated 1692 refer to the ship Ann of New Castle. Was this later Blackmore’s ship?
Published correspondence and documents from Edward Randolph includes a reference to John Blackmore’s ship Ann of Maryland being the subject of a “Speciall Court” trial in 1694. At that time, Blackmore was “acquitted by Proclamation.”
That was in June. Then the same ship was tried at a provincial court in St. Mary’s and acquitted.
British PRO records refer to the 1698 arrest of John Blackmore and William Cotter “on suspicion of being pirates.” Finally in 1698 in Annapolis, the strangely worded “Acts of Pyracy” document emerged:
Port of Annapolis July the 22d. 1698
Be it remembred that the day & Year above mentioned Came bfore us John Hammond, Richd. Hill & Thomas Tasker Gent Justices of his Majestys Provl. Court John Blackmore & William Cotter together with Gabriel Parrot of Ann Arundel County Gent & the said John Blackmore William Cotter & Gabriel Parrott their Security Acknowledged themselves each & every of them to Stand & be indebted unto our Sovereign Lord William the third King of England Scotland france & Ireland in the sum of five hundred pounds Sterl. a peice that they the said John Blackmore & William Cotter shall personally appear & be forth Coming when ever his Majestys pleasure is known concerng. them, in the mean time to be of good Behaviour as to any Acts of Pyracy in default whereof they are Contented the said Separate Sums of Money Sterl. shall be Leavied upon their & every of their Bodies goods Chattels Lands Tenements & hereditaments
Capt & Cognit Coram
Nobis Die et Anno
The last post noted that John Blackmore is said to have given power of attorney to Katherine or Catherine Phipps or Phips in 1712, and that she is believed to have been the wife of George Phips. Another unconfirmed report is that there was in Anne Arundel County a George Phips who married a Catherine (however spelled), but that she might not have been the same Catherine Phipps (or however spelled) who was given power of attorney.