- The Atlantic Odyssey of Richard Tookerman: Gentleman of South Carolina, Pirate of Jamaica, and Litigant before the King's Bench
- Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal
- University of Pennsylvania Press
- Volume 15, Issue 3, Summer 2017
- pp. 539-590
- View Citation
- Additional Information
This article is a microhistory of Richard Tookerman, an alleged pirate who appeared in South Carolina, Jamaica, England, and other locations in the greater Atlantic world. Accused of trading with pirates and of assisting the pirate Stede Bonnet's escape from a South Carolina jail, Tookerman eventually resurfaced in Jamaica, where in 1721 he was apprehended by Admiral Edward Vernon. Sent to London to stand trial for crimes that included piracy and Jacobite activity, Tookerman went free by virtue of a writ of habeas corpus, which emboldened him to countersue Vernon for false imprisonment and negotiate a favorable cash settlement. The investigation of Tookerman's life reveals new dimensions of piracy by tracking individuals in local administrative records from several colonies in an attempt to connect piracy at sea with the land-based communities that supported it. Tookerman was a minister's son and self-styled "gentleman of South Carolina," and his rather ordinary life challenges the idea that pirates were a uniquely deviant kind of human being, thereby complicating the very idea of what it meant to be a "pirate." Tookerman's ability to evade the law in several maritime communities indicates a lingering sympathy for pirates, even as the British colonial governments tried to eradicate them.