British Executions

David Bruce


Sex: male

Crime: Piracy

Date Of Execution: 7 Jan 1817

Crime Location: Coast Of Africa

Execution Place: Execution Dock

Method: hanging



William Hastings and David Bruce were found guilty of piracy.

They piratically and feloniously carried away the Roebuck, laden with gold dust and elephants' teeth of immense value, the property of John George Nicholls, Esq

The Roebuck was bound for England from Africa.

They were found guilty by the High Court of Admiralty.

The Roebuck was off the coast of Africa on 5 April 1816. The captain was Captain Thomas, William Carew was Chief Mate, William Wilson was Second Mate, Richard Howells was Foremast Man and John Wilks was the cabin boy. There were also seven negoes and a passenger William Boyd. William Hastings and David Bruce were also on board as crew. Short was also among the crew.

William Carew had been unhappy and had mentioned before that he would like the ship to go to America. On 5 April he said tonight is the night and he hauled in the weather braces to give the vessel more way. William Carew then ordered that six cutlasses be brought up, one each for himself, Short, William Boyd, Richard Howells and William Hastings and David Bruce.

William Carew, William Hastings and David Bruce then drove the black men below and fastened them down.

The pirates then formed a circle and took an oath to all do everything they could to take the ship to America where it would be sold along with the cargo the profits of which would be shared equally among them except William Carew who would get a larger share for being the master.

The Captian was then called for and was told by William Carew that he was no longer the commander of the vessel. The Captain was then put into the afterhold with his cot and some clothes.

At this point they were 70 miles offshore and William Hastings was standing guard over the negroes and Richard Howells was guarding te captain. William Carew then ordered that rum be brought up so that the crew could get drunk which they did although William Carew drank little.

William Boyd then spoke to Richard Howells saying that they could take the ship back but Richard Howells said that he should not be foolish. Richard Howells then spoke to one of the negroes who had been let up on deck about his plan, and then later he spoke to William Wilson who said that a better opportunity would be later. William Boyd then warned Richard Howells to keep an eye out as he spoke to the Captain of his plan. The Captain said that he would come up as soon as the action was started.

William Wilson then got two cutlasses and gave one to William Boyd. William Boyd also found himself an axe and went to where William Carew was lying and attempted to chop off his head but missed and only seriously wounded him. He then struck at Short and then William Hastings who was lying down.Then the Captain came up with a cutlass and attacked William Hastings.

David Bruce then came up with a handspike but when he saw William Boyd with the axe he dropped the handspike and ran aft.

William Boyd then used the axe to cut the lashings on the fore-hatch and free the black people who came up to assist in retakign the ship.

The Captain then called for Short to be thrown overboard which he was. The Captain then had a long scuffle with William Carew who eventually fell overboard, but he managed to grab a rope and hung on for some minutes trying to get back on board before falling into the sea.

Neither William Carew or Short were ever seen again.

see Cambridge Chronicle and Journal - Friday 22 November 1816

note, I have assumed that David Bruce is Daniel Brace.