Copyright 2001, David Stapleton
Another of the little known pirates that I have run across , but from what little I have been able to find here is his story.
William Fly's origins are unknown, although it is probable that he is of British decent. He does not appear to have been very educated or even terribly skilled as a seaman. He first surfaces as a boatswain aboard the snow Elizabeth of Bristol bound from Jamaica for the Guinea coast in April of 1726. By May of that same year he appears to have convince some like minded souls that they should take the ship and go on the account. The evening of the 27th of May the mutineers lightened the ship by the tune of one captain and one mate by tossing them over the side, ignoring their entreaties for mercy.
Having taken the ship they then set sail for the coast of North Carolina. Here after some trickery they took the sloop John and Hannah, although they appear to have run it aground and set fire to it out of spite. The 5th of June they sighted the John and Betty and took very little of value, some sails and small arms, as well as six men. They next took a sloop off Delaware Bay and after finding little of value let her go. Proceeding for Martha's Vineyard, they missed and found themselves off Nantucket and next took a fishing schooner off Brown's Bank. Using this vessel they then tried to take another schooner, leaving only Fly and three pirates on board the snow, along with some fifteen forced men. The forced men seeing the odds so greatly in their favor revolted and captured Fly and the other pirates and sailed for and arrived at Great Brewster on June 28th, 1726.
The pirates were given a trial and all were sentenced to die. The execution was performed on July 12th, and Fly's body was hung in chains at the mouth of Boston harbor. Fly approached the hanging with complete disdain and even reproached the hangman for doing a poor job, showing him how to mange the ropes more efficiently.
The average career of a pirate during the Golden Age was under two years, Fly seems to have been one of the ones to bring the average down with a career length of about two months. His career also illustrates the fact that, contrary to popular mythology, most acts of piracy failed to turn up masses of gold doubloons or pieces of eight. Most plunder was of much more mundane quality, ranging from bundles of tobacco, logwood, cloth, or spices. If pirates were lucky they would find enough food and shipboard supplies to meet their own needs let alone to sell and get rich.
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