Edward Low

Story by Lois Carol Wheatley

Edward Low clearly hadn't read the pirate rulebook and didn't realize that as a pirate, he was in it for the money. Low had a legendary sadistic streak and apparently was in it for the many cruel and vicious opportunities to maim and torture that would come his way.

Any number of Charles Dickens novels would give the flavor of this man's boyhood. Low made his way as a pickpocket and a thief in Westminster, England, and no doubt had some constable on his heels when he fled to America. In Boston he married Eliza Marble and got a real job as a ship rigger, but then his son died in infancy and his wife died in childbirth. This might account for why he hated New England and New Englanders so much, and why he did his worst to victims who were fool enough to admit that they hailed from that region.

In 1722 Low took to the sea aboard the Honduras, bringing with him a group of men who planned to mutiny and take over the ship. Their scheme failed and he and his friends were set adrift. A small sloop came along to rescue them and that was Low's chance to get his ship and crew. He vowed to "go in her, make a black Flag and declare War against all the World."

He worked his way up the corporate ladder, serving for a time as a lieutenant for George Lowther, another famous Carolina pirate, before striking off on his own as captain of the Rebecca. Early in his career he took over 13 fishing vessels in the Nova Scotia harbor and outfitted one of them, a schooner he renamed Fancy, with ten guns.

Now invincible, he began to shock and appall his fellow pirates. He developed his own special technique of cutting off a victim's lips, cooking them, and force-feeding them to the victim. He used his cutlass, a short, slightly curved saber, to kill 53 Spanish captives in a single rampage. He once sewed a crew of New England sailors into a sail and rolled them overboard.

By the time Low arrived in North Carolina waters, the British were on high alert and the warship H.M.S. Greyhound was in hot pursuit. It is unclear exactly what happened as a result of this encounter. Some say after the Fancy took a terrible pounding from the British it sank in a horrible storm. Another story floating around is that Low was set adrift by own crew, picked up by a French ship, and tried and hanged for his crimes.

Terms: North Carolina Pirates, Edward Low

Information on North Carolina Pirate Edward Low.

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