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426 LYDE, A PRISONER IN FRANCE, IN Oct. 1689. FR. Lyde.
them that lie languishing under their torments. And so I will first give you an account of my being taken the first time.
In the month of February, 1689, I (Robert Lyde, a native of Topsham, "a lusty young man, aged about twenty-three," see P. 453) shipped myself on board a Pink [a fishing boat? in Topsham, of 80 tons burden, Mr. Isaac STONEHAM, Master, bound for Virginia, and from thence to Topsham again : and on the 18th of May following, we arrived there.
After we had taken in our lading, we set sail homeward bound, with 100 Sail of merchantmen, under the convoy of two Men-of-war.
About a fortnight after, the winds separated us from our convoy : so that our ship with several others, made the best of our way for England; but, soon after, left each other's company.
The 19th of October following, we came up with two Plymouth vessels that were of our said fleet: being then about 40 leagues to the westward of Scilly, having the wind easterly.
On the 21st of the same month, we saw four other ships to leeward of us; which we took to be some of our said fleet. But one of them proved to be a French Privateer; which came up under our lee quarter, and went ahead of us, and took a Virginia-man of our former fleet, belonging to London: which gave us three an opportunity to make our escape from the said Privateer. But the two Plymouth men being in great want of provisions, and an easterly wind being likely to continue; they bore away for Galicia in Spain. But our ship kept on her way for England.
The Mate of our ship and I made an agreement, in case we should be taken by the French, and left on board our own ship; although they should put ten men on board with us, to carry the ship and us to France : yet, if we lost sight of the Privateer, to stand by each other and attack them; and if it did please GOD that we should overcome them, to carry home the ship.
On the 24th of this month October, 1689), we were, as I feared, taken by a Privateer of St. Malo, of 22 guns, 8 R. Lyde. 7 MISERIES OF ENGLISH PRISONERS IN FRANCE. 427
1693. patteroes (carronades), and 100 and odd men. But the Mate's design and mine was spoiled : for we were put on board the Privateer with three more of our men; and the Master with four men and a boy left on board, with eight Frenchmen, to navigate the prize to St. Malo.
On the 26th, we had as much wind as could well blow at south-south-west, so that the Privateer could not take care of the prize, and so left her: and in some time after, she arrived at Havre de Grace.
Then I made it my endeavour to persuade our Mate and the (three) other prisoners, to attack the Frenchmen (about a hundred) on board the Privateer; being very positive, with the assistance of GOD and theirs, to overcome them, and carry home the ship (with less trouble to my share than I found in this which is done). But they concluded it impossible; and so we continued attempting no resistance at all.
On the 28th of October (1689), we arrived at St Malo; and were carried on shore and imprisoned, and in all respect, during the space of seventeen days, were used with such inhumanity and cruelty, that if we had been taken by the Turks we could not have been used worse. For bread, we had 6lbs., and one cheek of a bullock, for every 25 men for a day: and it fell out, that he that had half of a bullock's eye for his lot, had the greatest share.
This makes me wish that I could be the prison keeper, and have my liberty to do the Frenchmen that are brouglit in, their justice.
They daily adding to our number until the prison was so full, that swarms of vermin increased amongst us, not only here at St. Malo, but also at Dinan whereunto we were removed ; insomuch, that many of our fellow prisoners died, three of whom were our Mate and two more out of the five of our company: and all that did survive, were become mere skeletons. I was so weak that I could not put my hand to my head. There died out of 600 men, upwards of 400 through their cruelty, in three months' time.
They plundered us of our clothes, when we were taken. Some of us that had money purchased rugs to cover our rags by day, and keep us warm by night: but, upon our return home from France, the Deputy Governor of Dinan (in hopes
428 The Friends' ADVENTURE SAILS SEPT 30, 1691. [leve
either to kill us with cold, or to disable us for Their Majesties' service at our return) was so cruel as to order our said rugs to be taken from us; and himself stayed, and saw it performed. And when some of our fellow prisoners lay a-dying; they inhumanly stripped off some of their clothes three or four days before they were quite dead.
These and other their barbarities made so great an impression upon me, as that I did then resolve never to go a prisoner there again; and this resolution I did ever since continue in, and, by GOD's assistance, always will !
And so I was released [? by exchange), and, through the goodness of GOD, got to England.
And after I had been at home so long as to recover my health and strength fit
to go to sea again ; I shipped myself as Mate of a vessel of Topsham (the Friends' Adventure] of 80 tons burthen, Roger BRIANT Master, bound from thence to Oporto in Portugal, and from thence to London.
Accordingly, on the 30th day of September, 1691, we began our voyage ; and on the 27th of December following, we arrived at Oporto.
On the 24th of February following (1692), we set sail from thence to London.
On the 29th day, being then about 25 leagues north-west from Cape Finisterre, about six in the morning, we saw a ship, which came up with us at a great pace. At ten in the morning, he was within half a league of us; and then put out French colours and fired a gun, whereby we knew him to be a Frenchman.
Then I took a rope yarn, and seized two parts of the topsail hilliers (halliards or ropes) together, that our men might not lower the topsail; for I was desirous to have as much time as possibly I could, to hide some necessaries, to attack the Frenchman i.e., the prize crew).
At which, the Master perceiving and knowing my intention, said, “ Mate! are you in the same mind now, as you have been in all the voyage ? " for I had often been saying what I would do towards the retaking of our ship.
I answered, “ Yes ;” and said, “I did not question but, with GOD's assistance, to perform what I had said."
R. Lyde.TAKEN BY A FRENCH PRIVATEER OF 36 GUNS. 429
'The Master said he believed I could not do it; but if I should, he thought it was impossible for me to carry home the ship.
Notwithstanding all this, I was not discouraged, but desired him to pray for a strong gale of wind after we were taken, that we might be separated from the Privateer, and be out of sight of her.
Then I went down in the forecastle, and hid a blunderbuss and ammunition betwixt decks, amongst the pipes of wine. Before I went aft again the topsails were lowered ; and I perceiving that it would not be long before the enemy would be on board us, I took a five gallon vessel of my own wine (probably Port], and with a hammer beat in one head, and put several pounds of sugar in it, and then drank to the Master: and said that “I designed that I would drink my fill of it, while I had the command of it: and if it would please GOD that I should be continued on board, I hoped that I should not be long dispossessed of the rest.
Betwixt ten and eleven o'clock, by the Privateer's command, we hauled up the coasts and braced to.
Then the Privateer's boat, full of men, came on board us: and I stept over the side, with my hat under my arm, handing the French gentlemen in, till one of them took hold of my coat, and I (not daring to resist him) helped it off: and ran aft into the cabin, and saved myself from further damage.
After they had taken away almost all our clothes, and what else they pleased; the Lieutenant ordered me and a boy (John Wright, about sixteen years old) to stay on board: which I was very glad of; but could heartily have wished they had left a man in the boy's room.
Before the Master and I pürted, for he and four of our men and a boy were carried on board the Privateer; I asked him privately, “What he had done with the money he had in a bag ?"
He told me he had given it to the Lieutenant, and withal would know of me, why I made that inquiry.
I answered, “ Because I did not question but I should have secured that on board, by retaking our ship."
But the Master said, " It was an impossible thing to be done."
430 LY'DE AND J. Wright ARE LEFT ON BOARD. [R. Les
I replied, Although it seemed to him to be so; yet nothing was impossible to be effected by GOD, in whom I put my trust."
Soon after, the Lieutenant and our men returned aboard the Privateer; having left seven of his men on board our ship to navigate her to St. Malo.
In three hours' time, the Privateer was out of our sight, which I was very glad of.
I asked the Master, “If I should fetch a barrel of wine up," in hopes to make them drunk; and then I should command them with the less trouble.
He said I might, if I could find one. Then I fetched a barrel of five gallons of sweet strong wine, and kept it tapped in the steerage. I drank freely of it, hoping that they thereby would be induced to do the like, and so drink to excess; but that stratagem failed me, for they were never the worse for drinking, all the time I was their prisoner.
Then I acquainted the boy with my intent, and persuaded him to assist me in overcoming them; and I would, with the assistance of GOD, carry the ship to Galicia in Spain. I continued soliciting him for his compliance in that, and the third for England [?]; but could not prevail with him.
On the 3rd of March (1692], we saw Ushant in the night. Being within two ships' length of the Fern Rock and in great danger of being lost, they called up me and the boy to save our lives. When I came up and saw that the Frenchmen had got the tackle in the boat and were going to hoist her out, I told the boy "to stay aft; for when the boat is overboard, they may all go in her, if they will! but they shall not come aboard again : for I will not leave the ship, because I shall get the ship off presently.” For the wind was west-north-west; and the Frenchmen never minded (thought] to trim the sails close by the wind, and I would not tell them of it because I would get them out of the ship, till I saw they did not get out the boat, but gazed at the Rock, some crying, and others calling to saints for deliverance. Then I desired, and helped them to trim the sails, and soon got the ship off again.
On Friday (4th March, 1692), at noon, we being about 10 leagues to the eastward of Brest, with the wind easterly: they bore away for Port bean, or some such name they