The ''Iroise''

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The Iroise


Jersey privateers were not very scrupulous about the division of the spoils they obtained, and the money thus obtained was soon spent. By A C Saunders


Privateers frequently quarrelled over the division of the prize money. Chevalier tells us how two Jersey privateers cruising along the coast of Brittany came to blows over a prize. The first vessel the Iroise captured an English vessel loaded with coal, and a prize crew having been put aboard, she sailed for Jersey. When on its way, the prize was met by the Doggerbank, and although the prize was a Jersey capture and the crew were Jerseymen, the master of the Doggerbank took possession of it and making for a Brittany port sold the vessel and cargo at a very good price.

When the captain of the Iroise heard of the fate of the prize he immediately set out to find the Doggerbank, and fortune favoured him, for cruising along the Welsh coast, they found the Doggerbank aground at low water in Penmarch Bay, with the master and most of the crew ashore. On the master's return to his ship he was exceedingly wroth at finding it in the hands of strangers. He pointed out that he had a commission as an authorised privateer, but they assured him that exchange was no robbery and, as he had seized and sold their prize, they proposed to keep his vessel and politely suggested that he and his crew should go ashore and spend the money they had received from the sale of the prize.


They were a bold, bad, unscrupulous set of men and hesitated not in doing many foul things to gain their ends. If an unfortunate French vessel was captured, they did their best to persuade the master to say that she was English, and if he hesitated, torture was often adopted to obtain satisfactory information. They did not mind using such effective methods as burning matches between the witnesses' fingers or placing the victim's fingers in the windlass, and so by one means and another many so-called large prizes were obtained.

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