Pirates and Privateers: Swashbuckling stories from the East Coast


142 pages
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography
ISBN 1-55439-013-3
DDC 364.16'4




Reviewed by Clint MacNeil

Clint MacNeil teaches history, geography, and world religion at St.
Charles College in Sudbury.


The first part of Glasner’s book deals with privateers and the second
with pirates. Notwithstanding their differences, both groups gained
their wealth through theft and, if necessary, violence.

Privateers were members of privately owned vessels. Their sole purpose
was to interfere with enemy trade routes and, ultimately, to intercept
and claim foreign vessels as “prizes” that would later be auctioned.
Operating with a licence or letter of marque, privateers defended
coastal communities and made their owners wealthy during times of war.
Owners of neutral ships who were mistakenly captured received

Pirates were bloodthirsty individuals who operated without a licence
and attacked all ships indiscriminately. Pirates terrorized, tortured,
and callously murdered their victims. Others were forcibly recruited by
the pirates, arguably a fate worse than death.

In 1798, the Charles Mary Wentworth protected the commercial interests
of Liverpool, Nova Scotia. Although a memorable vessel, she was
overshadowed by the exploits of the Liverpool Packet, which claimed more
prizes than any other vessel in Nova Scotia history. Among the more
extreme privateers was Captain Alex Godfrey, who slaughtered the crew of
the Santa Rita and left the vessel resembling “a butcher’s shop hit
by a hurricane.”

Ironically, there were respectable pirates, including Sir Henry Morgan,
lieutenant-governor of Jamaica. Less than respectable were Edward Low,
renowned for his sadistic brutality; Captain George Fielding, who
murdered the crew aboard the Saladin in 1844; and Edward Jordan, who
turned to piracy in a desperate attempt to avoid his creditors.

Drawing on numerous sources, Glasner provides a fascinating account of
a violent Maritime history that one hopes will never be repeated.


Glasner, Joyce., “Pirates and Privateers: Swashbuckling stories from the East Coast,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 24, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/16618.