William Snelgrave

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William Snelgrave was an English sea captain, slave trader, and ivory trader on the West African coast. He was captured by pirate captains La Bouche, Thomas Cocklyn, and Howell Davis along the coast of West Africa in 1719. He was originally attacked by Cocklyn's quartermaster for failing to surrender. He was beaten and shot in the arm, but his men cried out "For God's sake, don't kill our captain, for we were never with a better man." Snelgrave was then spared. Snelgrave wrote about his captivity with the pirates. He described how Davis claimed that "their reasons for going a pirating were to revenge themselves on base merchants and cruel commanders of ships." This probably explains why Snelgrave was spared, despite the fact that he intended to fight the pirates.[1]

In 1727 he arrived at Whydah which had just been captured by Dahomey. His account of this event, which he learned of second hand, has been the main source of many modern historians.

In 1734 he published A New Account of Some Parts of Guinea and the Slave-Trade. He was not critical of the Atlantic slave trade like other traders became and dedicated his book to the European merchants of West Africa.


  1. ^ Black Bart Roberts: The Greatest Pirate of Them All by Terry Berverton


  • Law, Robin. "A Neglected Account of the Dahomian Conquest of Whydah (1727): The 'Relation de la Guerre de Juda of the Sieur Ringard of Nantes" in History of Africa, 15 (1988), p. 321-338.
  • Snelgrave, William. A New Account of Some Parts of Guinea, and the Slave-Trade (1734)