TALES OF PIRACY AND SHIPWRECK

Sufferings of John Turner, chief mate of the country ship, Tay, bound for China, under the command of William Greig, including the seizure of him and six lascars in the cutter, and their captivity and danger amongst the ladrones …  Also a curious account of Peter Serrano, who having escaped from shipwreck, lived seven years on a sandy island, on the coast of Peru. 

London, Plummer for Thomas Tegg, [1809]. 

12mo, pp. [3], 8–28 (complete); with folding aquatint frontispiece (‘Lieut. Turner & boats crew of the ship Tea, made prisoners, by the ladrone pirates.  London, pub. by T. Tegg, Feby. 18 1809’); a little light foxing, caption and imprint cut from foot of frontispiece and pasted to blank verso; overall very good in marbled wrappers, housed in modern blue cloth folder and slipcase, gilt lettered spine label.

£1500

Approximately:
US $1911€1760

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Sufferings of John Turner, chief mate of the country ship, Tay, bound for China, under the command of William Greig, including the seizure of him and six lascars in the cutter, and their captivity and danger amongst the ladrones …  Also a curious account of Peter Serrano, who having escaped from shipwreck, lived seven years on a sandy island, on the coast of Peru. 

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Scarce account of piracy and shipwreck, with a striking aquatint frontispiece portraying a pirate attack. 

The greater part of the narrative is devoted to the unfortunate John Turner, who, having sailed from Mumbai (Bombay) to China aboard the Tay in the summer of 1806, was captured by pirates while sailing a cutter to Macao.  The text describes his five-and-a-half-month captivity (before being ransomed), during which he was continually threatened with torture and execution and witnessed a fellow captive nailed to the deck of a junk, whipped, and then cut to pieces.  It relates his meagre diet and notes that ‘the space allowed him to sleep in at night was never more than about eighteen inches wide, and four feet long’.  There is much of interest on Chinese piracy; the author estimates that ‘between five and six hundred’ vessels were engaged in piracy off the south coast of China, and discusses their typical armaments, crew, tactics, and treatment of captives.  The dramatic frontispiece shows the moment of Turner’s capture. 

The second part tells the story of the sixteenth-century Spanish sailor Pedro Serrano, who was alleged to have spent seven years on a desert island off the coast of Peru, relating how he survived on turtles, set fires to alert passing ships, and after three years was joined by another unfortunate shipwrecked sailor who took him for the devil, his overgrown hair and beard giving him the appearance of ‘some wild, savage creature’. 

Library Hub records only two copies in the UK (British Library and Durham University). 

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