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The artful Rattenbury then steered up to Portland, and when the master asked what land it was, replied " Alderney." Presently they came off St. Aldhelm's Head, and were distinctly suspicious when told it was Cape La Hogue. 'We were now within a league of Swanage, and I persuaded them to go on shore to get a pilot. They then hoisted out a boat, into which I got with three of them. We now came so near shore that people hailed us. My companions began to swear, and said the people spoke English. This I denied, and urged them to hail again ; but as they were rising to do so, I plunged overboard, and came up the other side of the boat. They then struck at me with their oars, and snapped a pistol at me, but it missed fire.

The boat in which they were now took water, and finding they were engaged in a vain pursuit, they rowed away as fast as possible, to regain the vessel." Rattenbury swam ashore and sent messengers, with the result that the Nancy, revenue cutter, went in pursuit of the brig and, recapturing her, brought her into Cowes the same night.

He was then forcibly enlisted in the Navy by the Press Gang, and, escaping from His Majesty's service, went cod-fishing off Newfoundland. Returning, the ship he was on was captured by a Spanish privateer and taken into Vigo. Escaping with his usual dexterity, he reached home and added another thrilling item to his hazardous career by getting married, April I7th, 1801. After a quiet interval of piloting, he resumed smuggling, in earnest ; with the usual ups and downs of fortune incidental to that shy trade. Having made several successful voyages, and feeling pretty confident, he went ashore to carouse with some friends in one of the old taverns of Beer. In the same room were a sergeant and several privates of the South Devon Militia, among others. " After drinking two or three pots of beer," he says, " the sergeant, whose name was Hill, having heard my name mentioned by some of my companions, went out with his men, and soon they returned again, having armed themselves with swords and muskets. The sergeant then advanced towards me and said, ' You are my prisoner. You are a deserter, and must go along with me.' For a moment I was much terrified, knowing that if I was taken I should, in all probability, be obliged to go aboard the fleet ; and this wrought up my mind to a pitch of desperation. I endeavoured, however, to keep as cool as possible, and in answer to his charge, I said, ' Sergeant, you are surely labouring under an error ; I have done nothing that can authorise you in taking me up or detaining me. You must certainly have mistaken me for some other person.' '

He describes how he drew the sergeant into a parley and how, while it was going on, he jumped through a trap-door into the cellar. ' I then threw off my jacket and shirt, to prevent any one from holding me, and having armed myself with a reaping-hook and a knife, which I had in my pocket, I threw myself into an attitude of defence at the entrance, which was a half-hatch door, the lower part of which I shut, and then declared that I would kill the first man that came near me, and that I would not be taken from the spot alive. At this the sergeant was evidently terrified ; but he said to his men, ' Soldiers, do your duty ; advance and seize him/ To which they replied, ' Sergeant, you proposed it ; take the lead and set us an example, and we will follow.' No one offered to advance, and I remained in the position I have described for four hours, holding them at bay."

 

 
 
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