Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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LOW, Edward, English buccaneer, born in Westminster, London; died in Martinique in 1724. He was entirely uneducated and manifested vicious inclinations from his childhood. After making several voyages with his brother, he went alone to Boston, where he embarked on a vessel that was bound for the Gulf of Honduras. Here he quarrelled with the captain, and, putting to sea in the long-boat with several companions, captured a small ship, on which they raised the black flag, and became pirates. By 1722 he had several vessels under his command with which he ravaged the coasts of New England and the Antilles. His crews were constantly increased by sailors that deserted their ships or were forced to join him. In the roadstead of St. Michael he took several ships, and, being in want of water and provisions, he had the boldness to demand them of the governor of St. Michael, promising to surrender the captures he had just made, and threatening to burn them if his demands were not complied with. The governor did what the pirates asked, and Low kept his word. On returning to the Antilles, he committed horrible cruelties on those who fell into his power, especially on those who concealed their money or threw it into the sea. In an engagement with a ship-of-war, in June, 1723, one of Low's vessels was so badly damaged that he left it to its fate and fled. This ship was taken and brought to Rhode Island, where two thirds of the crew were hanged. After this the career of Low was marked by greater atrocities. His fleet increased, for he often manned the vessels that he took, giving the command to one of his subordinates. Not only New England, Cape Breton, Newfoundland, and the Antilles suffered from his ravages, but they extended as far as the coasts of Guinea. Cruelty had become so familiar to him that he took an eager pleasure in torturing and murdering his prisoners. Toward the end of July, 1723, he captured a large vessel, of which he took command, with the title of admiral, and hoisted on the main-mast a black flag with a death's-head in red. When he was in the Caribbean sea in January, 1724, a quarrel arose between him and his crew. The officer next in command showed himself violently opposed to an enterprise on which Low was bent, and the latter avenged himself by murdering his subordinate in his sleep. The crew seized their leader and two or three of his partisans, lowered them into a boat, and abandoned them without provisions. A ship from Martinique met them and brought them to the island, where they were recognized and executed. See "History of the English Pirates," by Charles Johnson (London, 1734).
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