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Thomas White (pirate)

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Thomas White (died 1708) was an English pirate active in the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean. He was only briefly a captain on his own, but served under several more prominent captains such as George Booth, John Bowen, Thomas Howard, John Halsey, and Nathaniel North.


Originally a Royal Navy sailor, White made his way from Plymouth to Barbados where he captained the merchant trading vessel Marigold.[1] Off of Guinea in 1698 his ship was captured by French pirates.[2] They killed a number of English crewmen but a sympathetic French pirate spared him.[2] The French pirates kept the Marigold and burned their own ship, then burned the Marigold when they took another vessel.[1]

Some sources say the French pirates had been captured by John Bowen and George Booth.[3] White refused to join them as a pirate and they made him a slave instead.[4] White escaped when Booth and Bowen wrecked their ship near Madagascar in 1701. After a number of adventures in captured ships, he then signed on as quartermaster with Thomas Howard’s ship Prosperous until Howard shared out the voyage’s loot and retired in 1703.[4]

Other sources say Booth and Bowen were aboard the ship but the French were still in control when the drunken French sailors wrecked the ship in 1701.[1] White escaped, cared for by a local chieftain whose tribesmen killed the French pirates who came ashore. When pirate William Read stopped by, White joined him willingly.[1] Read died at sea, replaced by a Captain James, and after trading their vessel for a captured prize ship near Mayotte they took several vessels before returning to port.[1]

White then sailed with Nathaniel North. When White and thirty of the crew went ashore on Madagascar to resupply, North sailed away without them.[4] White and his men located an abandoned ship in 1704 and sailed it into the Red Sea, plundering several vessels.[3] They continued through August 1706, capturing British ships, and divided their plunder.[4]

He briefly settled on Madagascar and married a native, but in 1707 signed on as quartermaster to John Halsey.[2] White retired to Madagascar when Halsey returned there in 1708, where White died that March of illness[2] and alcoholism.[3] At his funeral he was buried with much ceremony. In his will he asked that his son be returned to England for his education, which was done.[2]

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  1. ^ a b c d e Grey, Charles (1933). Pirates of the eastern seas (1618-1723): a lurid page of history. London: S. Low, Marston & co., ltd. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e Gosse, Philip (1924). The Pirates' Who's Who by Philip Gosse. New York: Burt Franklin. Retrieved 23 June 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Romano, Heidi Bosch. "Pirate History: Famous Pirates, Privateers, Buccaneers, and Corsairs U-Z". www.privateerdragons.com. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d Humanity, History of. "Infamous Pirates | Thomas White". www.goldenageofpiracy.org. Retrieved 10 July 2017.