In the middle of May in the year 1704, an 80-ton brigantine, the Charles, quietly slipped into the cove at Marblehead, Massachusetts. Her sudden and unexpected reappearance, some ten months after she had left under mysterious circumstances, quickly started tongues wagging. Over the following three weeks, a drama would be played out involving the crew of the Charles and her commander, John Quelch, and the colonial governments of Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. For in the hold of the Charles lay a large quantity of Brazilian sugar, hides, cloth, guns, and gold dust and coin worth over 10,000 sterling - a huge fortune for the time worth over GBP 1 million today. It was this booty, and the circumstances of the voyage of the Charles, that would rapidly lead to Captain Quelch facing arrest and trial on charges of piracy and murder against the subjects of Queen Anne's newest ally, the King of Portugal. Occurring only three years after Captain Kidd met his end on the gallows in London, the case of John Quelch has been long overshadowed by his more infamous predecessor but it is no less compelling. Quelch's ensuing trial, the first admiralty trial ever held outside England, has been called by one historian "the first case of judicial murder in America". This book tells the fascinating story of the Quelch case, demonstrating its historical significance. Quelch's execution led to the first stirrings of American rebellion against English rule, as his high-handed treatment was viewed as an attack on personal liberty and freedom in Massachusetts. It also marked the end of the era when privateers enjoyed the protection of the authorities. Knowing that they no longer had friends in high places, pirates' careers would be far more violent and destructive; directed against all who represented the rule of law.
Originally from Providence, Rhode Island, Clifford Beal worked for 20 years as an international journalist and is the former editor-in-chief of Jane's Defence Weekly in London. He is the author of Quelch's Gold (Praeger Books 2007), the true story of a little-known but remarkable early 18th century Anglo-American pirate. But he's also been scribbling fiction from an early age: his seventh grade English teacher nicknamed him "Edgar Allen" undoubtedly due to the gothic subject matter of his extremely short stories.
For recreation, Clifford used to don plate armour and bash the tar out of people in the Society for Creative Anachronism before moving to more civilised pursuits such as 17th century rapier and dagger fighting and motorcycling (though not simultaneously). Today, he is more likely to be found at the seaside or the Savile Club in London, sharing good wine and conversation in a place where the sparring is usually only verbal.