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Ingleton, 1988
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A Complete Narrative of Events Concerning THE PIRATICAL SEIZURE of the Brig HARRINGTON.
Sydney, August 20, 1809
Intelligence has been received by the LADY BARLOW, of the capture in the Indian Seas of the snow HARRINGTON, which was taken piratically from this Port the 17th of May, 1808. The account states that she was fallen in with by the PHOENIX, frigate on her way to Manila, and Stewart and other pirates taken out, but many others remaining on board the HARRINGTON in custody. Unfortunately the HARRINGTON went on shore on the coast of Luconia, and these pirates once more effected their escape.
It will be recalled that the HARRINGTON was missed from her anchorage in Farm Cove, on Monday morning, 17th May, 1808, being directly in view of her owner Captain William Campbell's residence close by. Between 8 & 9 o'clock, the captain reported this extraordinary circumstance to His Honor the Lieutenant Governor, who issued immediate orders for a search to be made to discover whether any of the Government gangs were absent; the result of which was that one Robert Stewart, and several others had not joined their work that morning. The pirate Stewart, was formerly an officer in the Royal Navy, and a determined Man, who had frequently endeavoured to leave the Colony in open boats. In consequence he had been put to labour in the Gaol gang, but was liberated a short time previous to the piracy.
Upon further enquiry it next appeared, that a vessel had been seen at daylight from South Head, standing off, from which joint circumstance, no further doubt was entertained of the Harrington being taken away by a body of desperadoes. A small vessel, called the HALCYON, was manned about 9 o'clock, and with ten privates of the New South Wales Corps, commanded by Sergeant Windsor, was towed out to pursue the delinquents, accompanied by a fleet of boats, filled with other parties of military and a number of officers and inhabitants who volunteered on the occasion.
But so dead was the calm that then prevailed within the Heads that it was dark before the HALCYON could make any kind of progress, and the small boats were obliged to put back; the HARRINGTON then being out of sight for many hours. Between 3 & 4 o'clock in the afternoon, Mr Fisk, chief officer of the vessel, arrived with the hands in two boats, who jointly reported, that about 10 o'clock on Sunday night, while the vessel was riding at two anchors, the ship's company in bed within the steerage, Mr Fisk was awakened in his cabin by two men at his bedside, one of whom held a pistol to his head, and commanded him to be silent, on pain of instant death. That others had proceeded in the same manner to the steerage; unshipped the ladder, and menaced all with instant death, the first that should offer to make any alarm.
Mr Fisk also reported that the villains appeared to be very numerous, and frequently struck the deck with butt-ends of fire-locks, that they cut away both anchors, and towed the vessel out; and that about 7 in the morning when upwards of twenty miles at sea, they had ordered him and the crew to go on deck, one by one, in which order they were put into two boats, and sent away from the vessel; and that after being eight hours on the water, they, at last reached shore.
Stewart appeared to be the leader in the desperate affair; and it was at first supposed that the number of pirates exceeded 30, but it has since transpired that the number was in excess of 50. The commander of the HARRINGTON, Captain Campbell, who was also nominally the owner, had intended to sail during that week to the Feejees, and in consequence had provided all necessaries for that voyage, of which fact the pirates must have been aware.
As the steps for pursuit were ineffectual, the PEGASUS was on the following Tuesday, taken up for the purpose of following the pirates. But as she had only her standing rigging up, much exertion was necessary before she was ready for sea. The emergency of the case, rendered the need of all Government aid, and on Wednesday afternoon she put out having on board Captain Symonds, Captain Ebor Bunker with his first and second officers, Captain Graham and Captain Campbell, Mr Fisk and part of the HARRINGTON'S crew; the military detachment consisting of 20 privates, a corporal and Sergeants Johns and Bradley of His Majesty's New South Wales Corps. All the officers here mentioned were well acquainted with navigation in the South Seas, and that fortunate circumstance and advantage over the pirates, combined with the factors that the HARRINGTON had neither anchors, boats nor a timepiece on board led the pursuers to hope that they would over-haul the vessel.  
It was supposed that the pirates' intention was to run away to the Bay of Islands, to commit there further enormities, by attempting to seize the American brig ELIZA, which had sailed thither on the 22nd of April previous, in order that they might obtain the urgent needs above mentioned; and at the same time, to have made themselves masters of the specie that Captain Corey had taken from Sydney as part of his cargo.
The PEGASUS took with her only six weeks provisions for 50 people, but her cruize was extended to nine weeks, and she had on board 58 men, who thus felt severely the scarcity of provisions. After calling at the Bay of Islands, she had called at Tongataboo and New Caledonia, but without hearing any intelligence of the HARRINGTON. The uneventful Cruize had been without profit and had cost the Government upwards of £1000.
The snow HARRINGTON was a well-known vessel in Sydney, of 182 tons burthen, coppered and armed. She had been owned originally by the House of Chace, Chinnery & Company of India, and had arrived in the Colony in 1800. The vessel had been employed by her Owners in Commercial Speculations between Madras, Sydney and South America; and while employed on such Speculations in Bass's Straits had discovered King's Island. During the vessel's last voyage to South America, she had been provided with a Letter of Marque from the Presidency of Fort Saint George against France and Holland, and had sailed from Sydney in April, 1804, with the Ostensible intention of procuring Seal Skins at Masafuero, &c.
On the HARRINGTON'S return from that Voyage, to Sydney, on 4th March 1805, it was found that Captain Campbell and his crew had captured a Spanish Merchant Brig, named the SAINT FRANCISCO AND SAINT PAULO, with her cargo, and a Cruizer belonging to the King of Spain, named the ESTREMINA, Commanded by Don Antonio Jose Del Campo, Ensign in the Spanish Royal Navy, out of the Ports of Coquimbo and Caldera on the Coast of Peru.
The Officers and Crew of the Brig had been turned on Shore, and those belonging to the King of Spain's Cruizer, having only four guns, had run the vessel on shore and left her after setting her on Fire, which was extinguished by the HARRINGTON'S Crew, and the vessel was afterwards got off. The HARRINGTON had also taken from the shore, at Guasco, a quantity of Copper in pigs, which transactions took place without any Knowledge of Hostilities existing between England and Spain, but, on the contrary, every local Reason to suppose that no such Event was then known in that part of the World.
If Captain Campbell had deceived himself into a belief that War did exist when he took these vessels, it was certainly his duty to direct them to Sydney, in order to shelter himself from any suspicion of Piracy. Instead of that Conduct, when he learned at Norfolk Island that no Hostilities had commenced between the two Nations in June, 1804, he ordered his prizes to Kent's Group, at the East Entrance of Bass's Straits, to await his orders, and where they were for some time concealed. A small boat arrived from Jervis's Bay, with such indirect information, as to lead the Governor to believe the ESTREMINA was there waiting for directions from Captain Campbell.
Accordingly the LADY NELSON, Commanded by Lieutenant Symmonds, was sent to bring these vessels to Sydney. On the 9th of April he returned with the ESTREMINA, the English Colours she was under in Jervis's Bay being replaced by those belonging to the King of Spain. She was caused to salute the Fort on her arrival, and that salute was returned with an equal number of Guns. The Spanish Brig was brought up to Sydney by H.M.S. BUFFALO.
As a result of these transactions, the HARRINGTON was detained in Sydney, to await the verdict, if the taking of the Spanish ships was an Act of Piracy or not; and orders to release the HARRINGTON back to Captain Campbell were received at the end of 1806. In the meantime, the announcement that war had been declared between the two Nations, had reached Sydney, and the two Spanish vessels were taken possession of by the Officers and Crew of H.M.S. BUFFALO, and claimed as their lawful prizes. This claim was upheld by the Vice-Admiralty Court at Sydney and the prizes were sold by auction.
During the HARRINGTON'S detention the firm of Chace, Chinnery & Company had failed, and on the 30th of March, 1807 Captain Campbell had departed in the HARRINGTON, ostensibly to the Port of Madras, for the benefit of the owner's creditors. Instead he proceeded to the Feejees for a Cargo of Sandalwood, and from thence to China, where he procured a valuable Cargo in exchange. But as he could not clear out for this Colony, he sailed to Malacca for that purpose and brought the cargo, which was consigned to Mr McArthur; and the HARRINGTON arrived at this Port on the 30th of March, 1808.
The entire circumstances relating to the Piratical Capture of the HARRINGTON are mysterious. There was the doubt as to her proper ownership; and why was the vessel lying a little without the Cove, fully equipped and ready for Sea, but without a guard or watch? Why was her absence not reported earlier? Now that intelligence has been received that the vessel has been unexpectedly destroyed, these circumstances will perhaps never be known.