Jean Thomas Dulaien

French Privateer

Born: Unknown

Died: 1727

Early in the eighteenth century, the French authorities forbade the use of Tortuga as a base for corsairs and by a decree of 1718, King Louis XV offered a full pardon to all such pirates as would abandon their evil ways.
However, many of the filibusters found it hard to retire from their chosen profession and in the year 1727, Captain Jean Thomas Dulaien was off the Mexican coast with a mixed crew of Spanish and French cutthroats. He was then only 23 years old and had been well educated in Paris, where he gained his pilot’s certificate. Taking advantage of a dispute between his motley crew, the captain sided with his countrymen and the Spaniards were beaten and thrown overboard. The crew thereupon proclaimed Dulaien as their filibuster captain, renamed the ship "Sans Pitie" and hoisted the corsair flag. It was properly described in a letter of that day by the Mayor of Nantes as follows: "The flag is made of black materials with white marking upon it, seems like representations of a head cut off with a cutlass, together with bones and a sandglass."

In order to avoid the French naval patrols, Dulaien established a base on the island of West Caicos, where today one can still see the remains of his pirate lair.
When at anchor, the masts of his ship were usually disguised by tree branches, while his spies watched for innocent merchantmen plying the Caicos Passage. In less than a year the pirate acquired a small fortune, and in January 1738 he decided to test his luck no further. While at Tortuga, he allowed most of his crew to go ashore and, with ten chosen men; he hoisted sail and deserted the port of France. After a month at sea, the pirates arrived at Nantes and Dulaien received the King’s promised amnesty for himself and his crew. By the time authorities decided to seize his ship, however, most of the valuable contents had already disappeared. The ship owners of Nantes, who had often suffered at the pirate’s hand, now protested to the authorities and, on further investigations, much of the loot was traced to its various recipients. Dulaien and his crew were than arrested. After another appeal to the King, the men were released, but the captain was made to languish in prison for several years thereafter.

The original flag has been preserved in
the Bibleotheque Nationale in Paris

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