The ''Charming Nancy''
Many Jersey privateer ships started life as French vessels, were captured by other privateers and then put to use in enlarged local fleets.
Certificate of Registry
One such was the Charming Nancy, which started life as the French St Clement and, with Michael Le Pape as master, was captured on 24 May 24 1745. She was a substantial vessel of 200 tons, with three masts, two decks and armed with 14 carriage guns.
Almost a year later, on 12 May 1746, the ship was granted a Certificate of Registry, the original of which is held by the library of La Société Jersiaise, by Francis Best, the Lieut-Governor of Jersey.
She was now skippered by Joshua Pipon and berthed at St Aubin. The owners who had equipped her as a privateer, were Philippe Lempriere, Abraham Goset, John Villeneuve, James Pipon, Thomas Pipon, Gideon Villeneuve, Nicholas Fiott, James Remon, Raulin Le Vesconte, Moyse Corbet and Francis Marett.
There is little on record for the next 18 months, but suddenly the Charming Nancy became very busy and successful under Capt Philip Winter, bringing five prizes into St Aubin in the last three months of 1747. Although most of the ships were empty or carrying little cargo, the value of the vessels alone would have delighted the consortium which owned the Charming Nancy, as well as her skipper and crew.
The Société library holds the records of the interrogations of the captains of the captured vessels.
Notre Dame du Rozaire
A Portuguese ship, trading with the French and considered a legitimate target, this vessel was English built and had probably been taken from her original owners. She had unloaded her cargo at La Rochelle and the master, Capt Silvestri Rodrigue (36) from Lisbon, put up no resistance when the Charming Nancy stopped his ship in the Channel. The 120-ton vessel had a crew of eight and was owned by Antonio Rodrigue and Antonio Manuel of Lisbon.
Elizabeth of Scarborough
This English vessel had been captured by the French 18 days before the Charming Nancy encountered her on 21 October being taken to Granville with a prize crew from La Nymphe.
The ship was owned by John Kell of Scarborough and had sailed from Whitby under the command of William Johnston. She had been chased by a Spanish vessel before being captured.
Two of the original crew remained on board with the French prize crew commanded by the Lieutenant of the Nymphe, Charles Tanqueray (31). No resistance was offered.
The ship had been returning to Chatham from North Carolina with a cargo of pitch, tar, tobacco, planks, staves and skins to be sold in London.
Dame Gertrude D'Amsterdam
The Charming Nancy captured this 168-ton ship ship without a fight on 4 November. She was captained by Dominic Goner (28) of Holland. She was trading with the French, going to Bayonne with a crew of eight and a cargo of timber and salt. The ship was owned by the widow of Jacob Betmer, of Amsterdam.
The Charming Nancy took her to St Aubin and set off again in search of more prey.
Her next target would not be taken so easily. Joseph Desquets tried but failed to outrun The Charming Nancy in his ship Heron and then fired on her several times before eventually surrendering.
The Charming Nancy was not damaged and had acquired a much more valuable cargo. Heron had sailed from St Malo to Newfoundland with salt and provisions for fishing, returned with dry cod for La Rochelle and then set sail back to St Malo with salt, brandy, wine and vinegar.
John and Mary
The last captain whose interrogation survives was James Tanqueray, also from Normandy and probably a relation of the prize master from the Elizabeth.
He appointed Perrier de Salvert prize captain of this British ship, which he captured on 27 November near Newfoundland, and was being brought back to France when The Charming Nancy came upon them. The 15 man crew, among them two of the original English crew, offered no resistance and Philip Winter secured the vessel with its cargo of salt, baled goods and earthenware.
Winter was still in command ten years later, hunting the seas together with La Defiance , skippered by Capt Le Cronier. On 30 June 1857 they captured two ships on their way from Bordeaux to America. They were both full of flour, bacon and beef, desperately needed commodities at home.
The peace with France which followed was short-lived and the Seven Years War broke out in 1759. Capt Winter, still in command of The Charming Nancy, had to wait some time after obtaining his Letter of Marque before he could put to sea as the ageing ship was being repaired.
The threat of France invading Jersey as a reprisal for the loss of so many of her ships to island privateers was strong. During July, one of the The Charming Nancy’s owners, Philippe Lempriere, allowed the States to borrow her cannon. Three were placed in St Catherine's Bay and six others scattered around the Island.