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Colonial slave trader - Alexander Spotswood, Governor of Virginia




Alexander Spotswood (born 12 December 1676 died 7 June 1740) was a British Army officer, explorer and lieutenant governor of Colonial Virginia.

British rule involved mistreating slaves to tend plantations, as revenue for the Crown. The rights and wrongs of which sent mixed signals, where the level of moral corruption amounted to a staggering hypocrisy, and acceptance of the human suffering it caused. Telling us much about the character of colonial slave masters and politicians. Many of which traits and ceremonies survive to this day in the United Kingdom.

Spotswood was severely wounded in the chest by cannon fire at the Battle of Blenheim in August 13 1704, ending in a major British victory. Medicated on the battlefield, he was sent to London to convalesce, where he survived and kept the cannonball, which he would show to his friends and guests.

He returned to Flanders on 11 July 1708, fighting in the Battle of Oudenaarde, Netherlands, where his horse was killed and he fell prisoner to French troops. But Duke of Marlborough, the winner of the battle, obtained his release by negotiating personally with the enemy, and Spotswood returned to his duties as quartermaster general to oversee corn supply for the troops.

His resentment at the slowdown of his military career grew. Despite good relationships and the trust of his superiors, he was stuck in the rank of lieutenant colonel. His ambitions, fuelled by the many but never kept promises of promotion, were continuously frustrated. In September 1709, having spent half of his life in the army, he finally snapped, taking his leave and returning to London.

During the war, Spotswood had made good friends not only with the Duke of Marlborough, but also with his commander, George Hamilton, 1st Earl of Orkney. Hamilton had held the post of governor of the colony of Virginia from 1704, but resided in London and was represented on American soil by a plenipotentiary delegate, with a nominal mandate as deputy governor. In 1707 the deputy governor, Robert Hunter, had been captured by the French at sea and the colony was thus temporarily administered by a local government. At the suggestion of Hamilton himself, with an additional push by Marlborough, on February 18, 1710 Queen Anne appointed Spotswood as vice governor of Virginia. On April 3, Spotswood left for the Americas from the port of Spithead, in southern England, aboard the man-of-war HMS Deptford, in convoy with other British ships to ward off pirate attacks.

Virginia was the most prosperous and populous of the Thirteen British Colonies. The inhabitants numbered around 80,000, including 20,000 slaves most of them from the Bight of Biafra employed in the vast tobacco plantations, at the service of a confederation of landowners. Apart from native Indians, the other looming threat were pirates, who attacked ports and robbed ships, greatly hampering trade. The most famous and feared among them, Edward Teach, who went down in history as Blackbeard, had recently returned to sail the seas, having received the King's pardon and having later surrendered to the governor of North Carolina, Charles Eden, who was probably in cahoots with him. When Blackbeard attacked a convoy of ships in front of Charleston Harbor in May 1718, looting and taking prisoners, the Carolina residents sought help from neighbouring Virginia.


Although Spotswood did not have a specific mandate from King Charles which was necessary for the arrest and trial of pirates , Spotswood decided to intervene, wary that Carolina should deal with the problem, but spurred on by the prospect of obtaining Blackbeard's accumulated wealth, thought to include Henry Morgan's Panamanian gold; unaccounted for since 1671. 


Spotswood quickly had former Queen Anne's Revenge quartermaster William Howard arrested and questioned, though Howard had retired from piracy and lived in Virginia, suspecting that he was still in contact with Blackbeard. From Howard, later pardoned, he learned that Blackbeard was with a few men in one of his usual shelters, the Ocracoke Inlet.

Ocracoke was in North Carolina, out of his jurisdiction, but Spotswood was now determined to capture the pirate as quickly as possible, dead or alive, even by violating the sovereignty of another colony. So alluring was the expectation of riches, he was willing to brave further admonitions from on high.


Blackbeard was known to have studied Henry Morgan's exploits and tactics, and reasoned, like many others, including Alexander Spotswood, that the whereabouts and recovery was just a matter of time. Unfortunately for the dark bearded pirate, Spotswood incorrectly calculated from much idle gossip speculating as to the source of Blackbeard's funding of wild parties and the like, that the pirate must have recovered the stash that King Charles II was deeply troubled over, threatening to hang Henry Morgan, who stood his ground, and bargained as to his usefulness, such that the English monarch, agreed to his demands, made as they were from the gibbet. So to speak.


Thus us was that without waiting for the authorization of the House of Burgesses, he sent two warships against Blackbeard under the command of Navy Lieutenant Robert Maynard. On November 22, 1718, after five days of search, the pirates were taken by surprise, at what is now known as the Battle of Ocracoke, Maynard, aboard HMS Pearl, attacked Blackbeard's ship, who was killed in a short and bloody fight. Nine of his men died with him, and Maynard lost a dozen of his men. It is fair to say that Blackbeard was tortured with 20 cuts and five shot wounds, in an effort to get the pirate to reveal the location of the Panamanian gold.


Blackbeard knew he'd probably find the additional clues with Henry Morgan's corpse. But took this secret with him to the grave, even though in great pain, realising that Spotswood and Maynard had set trap him. Cursing Lieutenant Robert Maynard and his descendants, for his torture and murder - and taking what he knew with him to Davy Jones locker.


On the death of their captive, Maynard and his crew ransacked the Adventure, finding very little in the way of contraband and no gold or jewels, save only for the parchment and other papers, that appeared to be of little value. Nevertheless, as that was all to be had. The papers were had, to accompany Lt. Maynard to London, not to be disclosed to the Admiralty or Spotswood, but rather to become cherished items, held to be of value one day. For that reason, they were guardedly passed down the generations.


Two days later, Maynard returned to Jamestown with fifteen prisoners, who were later hanged, and Blackbeard's severed head was stuck on the tip of the bowsprit, to tell Spotswood that despite his best efforts to illicit the whereabouts of the Spanish treasure, there was no clue or sign of the hoard, aboard the Adventure.


The export of tobacco was still one of the most lucrative activities, but in recent times, overproduction had caused prices to drop. In addition, in a period considered the golden age of piracy, the southern waters of British America were swarming with pirates and corsairs. Coming from the Caribbean Sea, they sailed northwards along the American coastline as far as Virginia, making harmful raids. Moreover, the land borders of the colony were at that time threatened by the aggressive behaviour of numerous Native American tribes.

Spotwood was removed from office in April 1722. When he arrived in Williamsburg, Spotswood learned that, despite the popular support he enjoyed, King Charles had decided to revoke his position as governor. On September 25, with Spotswood back in Williamsburg, James Blair, who had been absent for the past 12 months, and the new governor, Hugh Drysdale, an Irishman, arrived in the New World on the same ship. The Drysdale nomination, dated April 3, 1722, was made official and Drysdale was sworn in as governor on September 27.







Only gold, silver and gemstones were worth anything to captains of old. The currency was easy to trade and did not corrode, so ideal to be secreted in the most inhospitable environments.










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Alexander Spotswood

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 The Adventures of John Storm - Kulo Luna the $Billion Dollar Whale       Queen Cleopatra last Paraoh of Egypt - The Mummy       




Draft scripts for Kulo-Luna and Cleopatra The Mummy are published with 'Treasure Island' under development for 2024 release. The three films could be shot back to back - as a franchise - to make the most of the Elizabeth Swann. Screenplays available in Final Draft format for Studio executives, producers & directors.








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The rights of Jameson Hunter and Cleaner Ocean Foundation to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted in accordance with section 77 and 78 of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. This website and the associated Treasure Island artwork is Copyright 2023 Cleaner Ocean Foundation and Jameson Hunter. This is a work of fiction. Names and characters are the product of the authors' imaginations, and any resemblance to any person, living or departed, is entirely coincidental.