Buccaneers > French Buccaneers > Pierre Francois
A certain pirate called Pierre Francois, or Peter Francis, waiting a long time at sea with his boat and twenty-six men, for the ships that were to return from Maracaibo to Campeche, and not being able to find any prey, at last he resolved to direct his course to Rancheiras, near the River de la Plata, in 12 deg. and a half north latitude. Here lies a rich bank of pearl, to the fishery whereof they yearly sent from Carthagena twelve vessels with a man-of-war for their defence.
Every vessel has at least two negroes in it, who are very dexterous in diving to the depth of six fathoms, where they find good store of pearls. On this fleet, called the pearl-fleet, Pierre Francois resolved to venture, rather than go home empty; they then rid at anchor at the mouth of the River de la Hacha, the man-of-war scarce half a league distant from the small ships, and the wind  very calm.Having spied them in this posture, he presently pulled down his sails, and rowed along the coast feigning to be a Spanish vessel coming from Maracaibo; but no sooner was he come to the pearl-bank, when suddenly he assaulted the vice-admiral of eight guns and sixty men, commanding them to surrender. The Spaniards made a good defence for some time, but at last were forced to submit.
Having thus taken the vice-admiral, he resolved to attempt the man-of-war, with which addition he hoped to master the rest of the fleet: to this end he presently sunk his own boat, putting forth the Spanish colours, and weighed anchor with a little wind which then began to stir, having with threats and promises compelled most of the Spaniards to assist him: but so soon as the man-of-war perceived one of his fleet to sail, he did so too, fearing lest the mariners designed to run away with the riches they had on board.
The pirate on this immediately gave over the enterprise, thinking themselves unable to encounter force to force: hereupon they endeavoured to get out of the river and gain the open seas, by making as much sail as they could; which the man-of-war perceiving, he presently gave them chase, but the pirates having laid on too much sail, and a gust of wind suddenly rising, their main-mast was brought by the board, which disabled them from escaping.
This unhappy event much encouraged those in the man-of-war, they gaining upon the pirates every mo-  ment, and at last overtook them; but finding they had twenty-two sound men, the rest being either killed or wounded, resolved to defend themselves as long as possible; this they performed very courageously for some time, till they were forced by the man-of-war, on condition that they should not be used as slaves to carry stones, or be employed in other labours for three or four years, as they served their negroes, but that they should be set safe ashore on free land. On these articles they yielded with all they had taken, which was worth, in pearls alone, above 100,000 pieces of eight, besides the vessel, provisions, goods, &c. All of which would have made this a greater prize than he could desire, which he had certainly carried off, if his main-mast had not been lost, as we said before.