Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Black Pirates Month: Peter Cloise

Peter Cloise was a Caribbean slave who was "taken" from his "owner" by the English pirate Edward Davis in the mid-1600's. According to accounts, Cloise and Davis became fast friends and pirated together not only in the Caribbean but also off the coast of Brazil. Davis and Cloise were Buccaneers-- although the term eventually came to be synonymous with "pirate," in Cloise's day the "Buccaneer" label was given to Caribbean pirates with large crews who often attacked coastal cities. England gave letters of marque to Buccaneers, legalizing their raids against England's main rival in the region-- Spain.

Not much is known about Cloise. He was arrested in 1688, and contradicted Davis' statement that he was "never a privateer," which may have been damning or exonerating, depending on who was doing the prosecuting. In any case Davis was pardoned by King James II and Cloise may have been the recipient of that deal as well. Possibly related to the pardon: some of the loot that Cloise and Davis raised were used to build a college in the name of the next generation of royals: William and Mary.

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