Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Nau, Jacques Jean David

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NAU, Jacques Jean David, called L'OLONNOIS, French buccaneer, b. in Sables-d'Olonne, France, about 1634; d. on the coast of Colombia, in 1671. The surname, by which he is best known, was derived from his birthplace. He entered the merchant service when very young, and, after spending several years in the Antilles, joined the buccaneers in 1653. He won the admiration of his companions by his reckless bravery, was soon in command of a vessel, and his captures were so valuable and numerous that he was styled the “scourge of the Spaniards.” His first successes were followed by calamities, and he lost all he had won in a shipwreck, but the governor of Tortuga, who profited by his enterprises, furnished him with another vessel. He then attempted a descent on the coast near Campeche, but was defeated. His followers were taken or slain, and he escaped only by smearing his body with blood and lying among the dead, afterward reaching Tortuga in a boat, assisted by some slaves whom he had promised their freedom if they would aid him. He was soon off the coast of Cuba, and with two canoes, manned by twenty-five men, he captured a Spanish vessel with ten guns and a crew of ninety. He killed all his prisoners except one, whom he sent to the governor of Havana with a message, saying that he would treat all Spaniards in the same way, and that he would never be taken alive. Returning to Tortuga in 1666, he joined Michel Le Basque, another freebooter, and the reputation of the two buccaneers attracted so many followers that they were able to arm six vessels manned by 400 men. After taking several prizes, they captured the defences of Maracaibo, and forced the city to pay a heavy ransom. They then sailed for the harbor of Gonaives, in Santo Domingo, where they divided their booty, more than 400,000 crowns. Nau soon squandered his share, and formed the plan of capturing Grenada on the Lake of Nicaragua in 1668. First directing his course to the southern coast of Cuba, where he surprised several canoes, he attempted to gain Cape Gracias-á-Dios, but the currents drove him into the Gulf of Honduras. He pillaged some villages on the coast and took several vessels, but his booty did not equal his expectations, though he committed frightful cruelties on the inhabitants to make them discover where they had hidden their gold, and he lost many of his men. In 1670 he wished to attack the city of Guatemala, but his followers did not second him, as it was too well defended, and, after losing three months in inaction, they nearly all left him. He was shipwrecked shortly afterward in the only vessel that remained to him on the rocks of Pearl-Key, but out of the materials of his ship built a sloop, in which he reached the mouth of San Juan river. On attempting to land he was attacked by Indians and defeated with loss. After this check more of his followers abandoned him, and he was shortly afterward captured and eaten by cannibals on the coast near the Gulf of Uraba.