Terrible Privateer - Captain Death

Coming upon such a reference as: “It was equipped at Execution Dock, commanded by Captain Death, The appellation of his Lieutenant was Devil, and the surgeon's name was Ghost” Demanded further research – the following extracts give clues to the source of the story -the Narrative pdf, below, contains the Declaration made out to obtain her Letter of Marque.

Perhaps history does not afford a more remarkable instance of desperate courage than that shewn by the officers and crew of an English Privateer called "The Terrible," of 26 guns and 200 men, under the command of Captain Death. On the 23d December 1757, he engaged and made prize of a large French ship, the Grand Alexander, from St. Maloes, after an obstinate battle, in which his brother and sixteen seamen were killed. He directed his course for England with his prize and forty men; but in a few days fell in, off St. Domingo, with the Vengeance, a Privateer of 36 guns and 360 men, the Commander of which ordered an attack on the prize, which was easily retaken. The two ships then bore down upon the Terrible, the mainmast of which was shot away by the first broadside. Notwithstanding this disaster, the Terrible maintained such a furious engagement against both, as can hardly be paralleled in the annals of the British Navy. The French Commander ( Mons. Bourdas) and his second Lieutenant were killed, with two-thirds of the existing crew ; but the gallant Captain Death, with the greater part of his officers and nearly his entire crew, having met with the same fate, his ship was boarded by the enemy, who found no more than twenty-six persons alive, sixteen of whom were mutilated by the loss of a leg or an arm, and the other ten grievously wounded. The ship itself lay a wreck upon the water, and presented a scene of horror and desolation. The victorious vessel was so shattered that it was scarcely able to tow the Terrible into St, Maloes. This adventure was no sooner known in England than a subscription was raised for the support of Death's widow and the surviving portion of the crew. There was a strange combination of names in connection with this privateer, the Terrible. It was equipped at Execution Dock, commanded by Captain Death, The appellation of his Lieutenant was Devil, and the surgeon's name was Ghost. Ritson, in the second volume of " a Select Collection of English Songs," in three volumes, Lond. 1783, in a footnote to a version of Captain Death, observes, that "this strange circumstance, mentioned by some writers, seems entirely void of foundation," but he gives no authority for contradicting the received impression. He states that the ballad was "written, as 'tis said, by one of the surviving crew," There are some slight differences between his version and the present. We also find a copy in "Early Naval Ballads," contributed to the Percy Society by J. O. Halliwell, in which there are some variations, evidently modern.
Source: A Pedlar’s Pack of Ballads and Songs W.H.Logan Edinburgh 1869


At an early period, little more than sixteen years of age, raw and ad- venturous, and heated with the false heroism of a master who had served in a man-of-war, I became the carver of my own fortune, and entered on board the Terrible Privateer, Captain Death. From this adventure I was happily prevented by the affectionate and moral remonstrance of a good father, who, from his own habits of life, being of the Quaker profession must begin to look upon me as lost.
Source: Rights of Man Thomas Paine ed. Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner London 1906

Terrible PDF