Page:Devonshire Characters and Strange Events.djvu/293

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233
THE PIRATES OF LUNDY

any church or consecrated ground on the island, to deposit his corpse in it, and also requested the favour of all the islanders to be present, which was accordingly complied with. After the corpse was brought in, the islanders were required to quit the chapel for a few minutes when they should be readmitted to see the corpse interred. They had not waited long without the walls before the doors were suddenly thrown open, and a body of armed men furnished from the feigned receptacle of the dead marched out and made them prisoners. The poor islanders then discovered the pretended Dutchmen to be their natural enemies the French. They then seized 50 horses, 300 goats, 500 sheep, and some bullocks, and reserving what they required, hamstringed the rest of the horses and bullocks, threw the goats and sheep into the sea, and stripped the inhabitants of every valuable, even to their clothes, and spoiled and destroyed everything, and then, satiated with plunder and mischief, they threw the guns over the cliffs, and left the island in a most desolate and disconsolate condition."

There is no other evidence that this really occurred, and the same story is told of the island of Sark, so that it is very doubtful whether the story be true.

It is, however, certain that for a considerable portion of the reigns of William and Mary and of Queen Anne, Lundy was a continual resort of the outcasts of the various parties who betook themselves to piracy as a means of subsistence, as also that it was for a time in the hands of the French in the reign of Queen Anne, and that they used it as a privateering station, and preyed upon the merchant-men who sailed from Barnstaple and Bideford, and that they made so many prizes that they termed Barnstaple Bay as "the Golden Bay."

In 1748, Thomas Benson obtained a lease of the