Captain Thomas Anstis (died 1723), was a pirate who lived in the 18th Century and started his life at sea under captain Howell Davis and Captain Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts. After that he began attacking ships on his own in the Caribbean seas and Eastern American shores during ‘The Golden Age of Piracy”.
Thomas Anstis started his career as a pirate in 1718 as a member of the sloop Buck which sailed from the city of Providence, Rhode Island. During this voyage, Thomas Anstis along with six others including Howell Davis, Dennis Topping and Walter Kennedy, conspired to attempt a mutiny on board the ship with the intention of sailing to southern seas as pirates.
After the mutiny Howell Davis became the captain, and after his death Captain Bartholomew Roberts took charge of the ship. Thomas Anstis served under captain Roberts till April 18, 1721, and after wards he sailed as an independent pirate in the brigantine Good Fortune.
Roberts & Fenn & Admiral Flowers:
As Roberts’ ships were moving towards Africa in the month of May, Anstis and his men slipped away aboard Good Fortune during the night. Afterwards they continued to sail in the Caribbean. Between the islands of Hispaniola and Jamaica, Anstis captured two vessels and on board one of them, Irwin, his crew gang raped, killed and threw overboard a female passenger. It is also believed that they injured one Colonel Doyle of Montserrat who tried to save the unfortunate lady.
As Anstis sailed towards Bermuda, he espied Morning Star, a treasure ship sailing from Guinea to Carolinas. After the capture of Morning Star, it was equipped with 32 guns and given under the command of John Fenn, the gunner. Anstis continued to remain in charge of the smaller Good Fortune as it had much superior handling. Anstis and his crew continued their journey towards the southeastern colonies but soon afterwards wrangling started among his crew members and some of them requested a pardon from George I of Great Britain, claiming that they did not enter piracy deliberately, and were forced by Anstis and Roberts.
Ansits’ crew sailed to an island off the coast of Cabo San Antonio in Cuba to wait for the reply to their request of pardon. The crew waited there for almost nine months until August 1722, when they finally learned that King George I had refused to pardon them and that Admiral Sir John Flowers was on his way to destroy the pirates.
Anstis and his crew continued to sail southward where they had an encounter with the Grand Cayman, the largest of the three Cayman Islands. Morning Star went aground Cayman Islands, and as Good Fortune was busy rescuing Star’s lost crew members, HMS Hector and HMS Adventure spotted and pursued the pirates. After being pursued by these two ships, Anstis had to cut his anchor cable and run for his life; although he finally succeeded in escaping he had to wash his hands of forty crew members which were picked up by a landing party of two Royal Navy ships under the command of Admiral Flowers.
Before the raid by Admiral Flowers, John Fenn had been successfully rescued and Thomas Anstis along with Fenn continued to sail to the Bay of Honduras. They managed to get hold of three or four prizes on their trip which helped them increase their crew members through captured sailors. In December 1722, Thomas Anstis sailed towards Bahamian Islands and along the way captured Antelope, a sloop which was added in his naval strength. Anstis also captured a 24-gun ship which was put under charge of John Fenn.
Last Days of Thomas Anstis:
In April 1723, Ansits and his crew anchored on the island of Tobago and had just started to careen their ships before they were hit by a surprise attack by HMS Winchelsey under the command of Admiral Flowers. Anstis and his crew were forced to burn his ships and take to the interior of Tobago Island. Their attempted escape was thwarted when his men were captured by British marines.
Anstis managed to escape on board Good Fortune but his disgruntled crew members killed him while he was asleep in his hammock. The remaining mutineers then surrendered to the Dutch near Curaçao receiving pardons, while the prisoners were hanged.
Although little is known about his family, but it is known that one of his direct descendants lives in New York these days.