Jemmy Dawes was set in his ways in his mid-twenties, looking after his crippled mother, working hard and with no other interests. Then his mother died and the rental of the little house went with her and he was left alone in the streets of Charles I’s Southampton.
The Bench wanted no vagabonds and sent him off to sea, out of the way. Within months he had fought Dunkirk pirates aboard a sloop and had been set aboard a larger ship bound for the Caribbean where he discovered that whatever peace reigned between the countries of Europe, there was always unacknowledged warfare in the West Indies.
Set ashore to help create and man the defences of Barbados, Jemmy soon found himself roving in small craft, hunting for Spaniards or French or Dutch or Danes, all of whom were preying on the English and each other.
National ships, privateers, outright pirates, all fought in the tangled waters of the Caribbean.