- Gregory N Flemming
His story was taken up by his local pastor, John Barnard, who published it in Boston in the same year. Publication in London followed in 1726 and it was hugely popular, following on the success of Defoe’s novel ‘Robinson Crusoe’ which had come out in 1719; but Ashton’s story was the real thing.
Gregory N Flemming has now rescued this tale from obscurity and republished it against a backdrop of deep and scholarly research into the political, historical, commercial and social background relating to Boston, Marblehead, Honduras and 17th century piracy, the last pretty well suppressed by 1727 after 400 of these criminals had been deservedly hanged.
The volume is furnished with a useful and relevant bibliography and an interesting selection of contemporary illustrations. It is well indexed and the sources are annotated as endnotes. The asides remitted to the notes meant keeping two markers in play while reading it. The style runs well, in spite of occasional minor repetitions. Unfortunately some strictly maritime matters like gun drill, while correctly described in an absolute sense are presented in a lubberly manner (‘pulleys’ for blocks etc.) with incorrect terminology. Caulking turns up as ‘corking’ on p.62 but that may be a word processing error.
The book gave me a welcome and educational exposure to colonial life on the Atlantic seaboard, and to the brutal realities of ‘traditional’ piracy, and I much enjoyed it.
Four Mr Mushroomheads.