|Courtesy of the ever-so-talented FootnoteMaven.|
[This is a submission for Jasia's 100th Edition of the Carnival of Genealogy hosted on her blog Creative Gene. This is also a second installment to my "They Had Balls" series, which I hadn't planned on making a series, but everyone seemed to like it. So here goes...]
I was all set to talk about the ancestor who was surrounded by a whole bunch of really upset people who had fire in hand when another ancestor started squawking about how I never talk about him. "Was he not good enough? " he asked. "Was his story not captivating enough?
[See? I told you on a good day I can't get some dead people to shut up.]
Anywho, this particular ancestor went on and on at 3am this morning. Then he proclaimed that if his story couldn't captivate y'all, then no one's story could because, after all, he was a pirate. [That's right. A pirate.] And that he didn't brave the high seas and defy nations just so everyone could forget him. And that if he had wanted to be forgotten, he would've just been a candle maker. [His words, not mine.]
[Sigh.] Between you, me, and the gate post, some ancestors are really high maintenance. And I should've guessed this one was when I met the man ~ Captain Edmund du Chastell de Blangerval. See what I mean? High. Maintenance.
And I don't even know for sure if he really is mine. I mean, his story took place such a long time ago, but I think I can make a pretty good circumstantial case that we are indeed related with tax rolls, militia rolls, land records, and wills. I even tracked all the possible family members with the last name Casteel (which is what the Captain's last name ended up evolving to) through 1840 on a digital map using Family Atlas software. And barring any male siblings along the way who managed to not leave a paper trail of some kind, I think the Captain is my 8th great-grandfather.
And why would I go to so much trouble? Well, I think all ancestor's stories are worth the trouble, but we're talking about a pirate here. Yes. A pirate. How cool is that? [Aargh!]
So before I feed the Captain's ego any more, let's get to his story.
The Captain's recollections of his beginnings are rather fuzzy. In his defense he says, "Who could blame me? It happened a long time ago. Before my pirate gig." And he's right. It's rumored that he was born in about 1668 in Kent, England and that his Flemish family fled to there because of their Huguenot status. It sounds a bit "romantic" to me, but hey, he's a pirate. And I haven't made it across the pond research-wise because I have my own Captain identification problems over here to sort out.
Here's what I do know about him. He married a woman by the name of Christian VanBon (which later evolved into Bonde). And what kind of woman married a soon-to-be pirate? I dunno. Probably some one with a whole lot of patience and faith, I would guess. Also, she'd have to be able to handle the household by herself for long stretches of time. At least she had her parents nearby there in Philadelphia.
To be fair to the Captain, though, he wasn't always known as a pirate. He was more of a merchant and privateer. And the difference between a pirate and a privateer? Privateers owned and ran armed ships and they had a commission from the government to use these ships against nations and to capture merchant ships. So. Government-sanctioned hired guns.
And a pirate? Non-government-sanctioned hired guns who have gone rogue, or at the very least, they're working for the enemy.
How did the Captain become known as a pirate? Well, we only have one written reference to him being called a pirate. When Captain Thomas Robinson came from England to report back to the Earl of Romney in 1697, he says there were warrants out for the arrest of some men, including our one and only Edmund du Castell. He also complained to the Earl that these men were cocky "pyrates" who walked around Philadelphia liked they owned the place and no one seemed to care. [I'm paraphrasing. Obviously.]
Well, duh. Of course they were cocky. Who would want an indecisive pirate or privateer, right? For goodness sakes, look at both job descriptions. Would you really want someone who couldn't make a decision or someone who wasn't sure of one's self or their abilities to seek out and take over hostile ships with deadly force? Of course not. Personally, I want my pirate to bring his "A-game".
And I think Queen Anne wanted her pirate, um, I mean privateer, to bring his "A-game" to her war in 1702. The sloop Resolution was outfitted for the one and only Captain Edmund du Chastell, and he went about doing what he did best under a Letter of Marque from Queen Anne.
So, pirate or privateer? I would imagine he was a little of both depending on whose payroll he was on.
Either way, he had balls. No two ways about it.
And Stephen Talty in his book, Empire of Blue Water, [which is a fantastic read about the life and times of Captain Morgan] explains how Captain Morgan's pirate ships would hunker down and wait out a hurricane while at sea.
Excuse me? Wait out a hurricane?
On a ship in the middle of the sea?
A wooden ship? [Shiver me timbers.]
Oh, and there was the time in 1701 when Captain Edmund was so sick in Barbados, that he had his ship's physician help him with making his will. He was that sick. Not to mention far away from home. Could you imagine? In that time period? Yet, a year later he was working for Queen Anne.
No doubt. The Captain had balls.
But he wasn't the only one who had them.
Christian, his wife, had some pretty big ones herself. I would imagine she had a few sleepless nights while her Captain was out working. Out making "it" happen on the high seas.
And I bet some days she wished the Captain had just been a candle maker.