Aaron Smith – Pirate? [Part Three: Questions]

July 30, 2010

We have this picture of Aaron Smith from his narrative The Atrocities of the Pirates.  Smith was the poor victim of pirates, the wimpy man who was bullied into committing various atrocities (including killing other men, albeit pirates), the just man who was unfairly put on trial by his peers.

Then we have the opposing image of Smith as painted by the Times of London articles.  Aaron Smith is an eloquent and influential public speaker – an ability which requires a fair measure of intelligence and confidence.  Aaron Smith is burly (albeit honest looking!), so he’s hardly the small, wimpy character from the narrative.

Even more revealing are his tendencies of:

  • violent outbursts – on two different occasions he viciously assaulted men.
  • disrespect for authority – no fear in court, whether on trial for life or assault.  He received additional fines for his behaviour in/out of the courtroom.
  • being involved in ‘shifty’ business schemes – comparative to ‘loan-sharking’.  Also a potential smuggler.

We have these two diametrically opposed views of Aaron Smith, somewhere in between lies the real Aaron Smith.  I don’t know if he set out to be a pirate.  I don’t know if he took advantage of the opportunity to make some money when he was in the company of the pirates.  I don’t know if he was the victim he claimed to be.

All I have are these various voices speaking out from 140-170 odd years ago.

Who was Aaron Smith?


Aaron Smith – Pirate? [Part Two: The Trials]

July 30, 2010

Now begins an investigation into the life and nature of Aaron Smith.  Below are actual contemporary newspaper articles pertaining to Aaron Smith.  These articles go well beyond Aaron’s experiences on the pirate ship Zephyr.  As you will see, there is a definite pattern of violent behaviour.

The Trials of Aaron Smith:

December 21, 1823 – Piracy & murder – acquitted.  This was the first trial which resulted from the events contained in The Atrocities of the Pirates (Industry & Vittoria).

July 15 1829 – 2nd piracy trial – acquitted  This was the second trial which resulted from the events in The Atrocities of the Pirates.  Smith was recognized by a victim of the 3rd shipped he assisted in sacking (Dutch – Prevoyante).

July 22 1842 – Smith linked to a fraud trial – referred to as “an atrocious swindler.”

???? 1848 – Smith brought up on warrant for assaulting Richard Owen.  Read this article.

April 5 1850 – civil trial – Smith sues man (Heath) for recovery of 300 pounds on Bill of Exchange.  The defendant claimed that Smith altered the acceptance of the original bill without his consent.  Additionally, the altered bill was never presented to Heath.  It seems that Smith has taken up the profession of a ‘bill discounter’ (basically equates to modern-day pay-day-loan services).

December 10 1850 – Smith v. Cooke – libel suit launched by Smith as a result of a series of letters which appeared in the Times of London between June & July 1850.  Cooke accused Smith of being a ‘pirate’ (essentially stating that Smith ‘got away with murder’.”  Smith ultimately wins the suit – using the duress defense which was successful at two previous piracy trials.

July 30 1852 – Smith brought up on another warrant for assaulting an omnibus driver.  Read this article.

And then this little snippet from the July 30 1852 Times of London:

February 17 1855 – Smith v. Chubb & others.  Smith (as bill discounter) brings civil action to “recover damages for negligence in not investigating the title of one Edward Hughes to certain property, which he mortgaged to the plaintiff (Smith) as a security for certain loans of money.”  It didn’t work out for Smith in this case.  Read the comments of the judge and jury.

August 1 1859 – Smith v. Bird.  Smith brings action against Bird to recover funds against a bill of exchange.  Bird claims Smith isn’t the bona fide holder of the bill.  There’s a long story as to how the bill landed in Smith’s hands.  In the end, the jury found in favour of Smith.  However, here’s a little clip of the article, which contains some discourse between Smith and the defense attorney.

Then there’s a couple of articles from March 8 & 23 1861:

Please continue onto Aaron Smith (Part Three).