On This Day: 23 December 1680

On this day in 1680, John Dunaway made a sworn statement. Dunaway was a crew member on the small ketch, Dispatch, commanded by Captain Thomas Bowrey, when it was taken by pirates on the Malabar Coast of India.

The Dispatch had left Bombay (Mumbai) with a cargo of rice for Muscat (the capital of Oman) when they were blown further from the coast than intended because their main mast had been damaged. Unable to return to Bombay because the winds were against them, they headed for Goa. They were defenceless because their gunpowder had got wet in the storm.

Just off shore, they were attacked by pirates. The attack started 30 minutes before sunset and the pirates stayed with them through the night. Fearing for the lives of the Europeans on board, at 3:00 a.m. Bowrey, Dunaway, a Portuguese boy and three lascars silently slipped into their boat and rowed towards the shore. They left 11 more lascars on board. As the sun rose, the six in the boat watched the pirates board the ketch.

Having successfully escaped, it took five days for the small boat to reach Goa. 40 days later, several of the lascars left on board the Dispatch joined them in Goa from the port of Burgara where they had been stranded by the pirates. The lascars confirmed that the pirates had intended to kill the Europeans had they remained on board.



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