William May

a.k.a. William Maze, William Mace,
William Mason, or William Mues

English Pirate

Born: Unknown

Died: Unknown

Captain May began his illustrious career as a buccaneer prior to becoming a privateer during the Nine Years' War. In 1689, he joined up with Captain William Kidd on the Blessed William, but the crew quickly became disillusioned with Kidd's leadership. Slowly the crew came to a consensus, and decided to steal the ship while Kidd was ashore. Early in 1690, the moment the crew had been waiting for came and they stole the ship (and £2,000 in cargo) while Kidd was away, and the mutineers elected their ringleader William May as their new captain.

May fled with his new command to New York and attacked French shipping in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Moving to a prize renamed the Jacob, the pirates visited Madagascar in December 1690 and then cruised off western India with scant success. Mason and Robert Culliford got off at the Nicobar Islands (or possibly at Madagascar) and somehow made it back to New York.

May sailed in July 1693 with a Privateering commission against the French slave stations in West Africa. Commanding the 16-gun, 200-ton Pearl, he instead went to Madagascar in about January 1694 and raided Muslim shipping in the Red Sea and Persian Gulf.

In June 1695, May cruised in consort with Henry Every and shared in the rich plunder from the Gunsway. However, Every’s men took back all except £2,000 because the Pearl’s crew cheated them. May looted at least three vessels off India’s southwestern coast early in 1696. He returned to New York with some £200,000 in booty, his own share worth about £7,000.

May was back at Saint Mary’s Island, near Madagascar, in January of 1699 waiting to attack Indian pilgrim fleets returning from Mecca when he heard the news that a British squadron was pursuing the Madagascar pirates.

Having enjoyed great success as a Pirate, May realized that it was an opportune time for he and his crew to retire. They put out to sea and headed for New York, arriving there in December, 1700.  Their cargo was worth over £300,000 in booty, which shared out to nearly £3,000 a man.

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