What Happened at Baltimore

Today is the 387th anniversary of the taking of Christian slaves in a razzia by Muslim pirates at the Irish port of Baltimore in 1631. To commemorate the event Michael Copeland sends the following essay.

What Happened at Baltimore

by Michael Copeland

It was nearly the longest day of the year, June 20th, when the menfolk of the English fishing settlement of Baltimore in south-west Ireland, set off for a full day out at sea. The year was 1631, the weather good.

When the men returned they were faced with a hideous and life-changing shock. The village was empty: wives and families gone. While they had been out fishing a marauding force of armed muslim Ottoman slavers from the Barbary coast of North Africa had landed, taken everyone as slaves, and sailed away. Some 108 English settlers, who worked a pilchard industry in the village, and many local Irish were taken.

The muslims, Algerians and Turks, had not “misunderstood their religion”, or “perverted”, “twisted”, or “hi-jacked” it. Piracy is part of Islam. Slavery is part of Islam. They were doing what Islam authorises, taking the filthy kuffar by force as spoils of war, Islam being, as Al-Azhar University teaches, in “a permanent state of war” with non-muslims, the “unbelievers”. Sheikh Huwayni of Saudi Arabia makes this clear:

Muslims in the past conquered, invaded, and took over countries. This is agreed to by all scholars… there is no disagreement on this from any of them, from the smallest to the largest, on the issue of taking spoils and prisoners. The prisoners and spoils are distributed among the fighters, which includes men, women, children, wealth, and so on.

(Translating Jihad, 11 June 2011)

This doctrine accounts for why pantomime pirates are depicted in turbans and with scimitars. It is no coincidence, and no joke. They are based on the sea-borne muslim jihadis who plagued shipping in the Mediterranean, raided coastal Mediterranean villages, and ventured further north, attacking places such as Boscastle in Cornwall, making a slave base on Lundy Island, and even going as far as Iceland.

The ships of the young United States, lacking the protection of the British Navy, became subject to the depredations of these “Barbary Pirates” back in the 1780s and 1790s. The Barbary States declared war, the first war of the young USA. Ships were taken by force, their crews sold as slaves, or held for ransom. United States representatives John Adams and Thomas Jefferson enquired in London of the Ambassador of the Bey of Tunis why they were doing this.

“We took the liberty to make some enquiries concerning the ground of their pretensions to make war upon nations who had done them no injury, and observed that we considered all mankind as our friends who had done us no wrong, nor had given us any provocation.

“The Ambassador answered us that it was founded on the laws of their prophet [i.e. Mohammed]; that it was written in their Koran; that all nations who should not have acknowledged their authority were sinners; that it was their right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to make slaves of all they could take as prisoners; and that every Mussulman [Muslim] who was slain in battle was sure to go to Paradise.”

The Barbary States made a deal. In exchange for a large annual tribute (of jizya, protection money), they would refrain from attacking. After a few years this sum crippled the USA’s budget. Thomas Jefferson decided to stop the payments, and sent the Marines in. They landed and took the city of Derna. A negotiation liberated the American prisoners, and no more tribute was paid.

There is nothing aberrant or un-Islamic about piracy. Mohammed raided desert caravans for booty, and his example is the “beautiful pattern” to follow.

Today muslims in Somalia are plaguing shipping off the coast there, taking crews and ships for ransom. This is all standard well-established Islam-approved activity.

That raid of 1631 devastated Baltimore. Some prisoners lived out their days as galley slaves, rowing for decades without ever setting foot on shore, while others spent long years in harem or as labourers. At most three of them ever saw Ireland again. One was ransomed almost at once and two others in 1646. In the aftermath of the raid, the remaining settlers moved to Skibbereen, and Baltimore was virtually deserted for generations.

See also:


1. Notes about Baltimore and Barbary slaves from Matt Bracken:

One interesting apocryphal story about the slave-taking at Baltimore is that according to some legends, a few of the Baltimore slaves were able to ransom themselves out decades later. Some Barbary slaves were able to share their free-market salaries with their owners, similar to Frederick Douglas in Baltimore, Maryland.

Barbary slaves typically had a heavy 20-foot chain riveted permanently to their ankles, which they could carry around town on their way to work, but that identified them as slaves and prevented them from running away. Often slaves chained thusly were permitted to walk to work at certain periods when the native inhabitants would keep an eye on them. Once at work, they might be locked again by their chain, or not. These hired-out slaves shared salaries with their owners and some bought their own freedom.

Anyway, according to legend, some ransomed slaves who made their way back to Ireland brought with them knowledge of jewelry making, including some now-typical Irish designs. Stranger things have happened. The story of English lad Tom Pellow and his rise to become a Moroccan general before escaping comes to mind. White Gold by Giles Milton is the best of a dozen or so book on the subject that I have read.

2: The graphic at the top of this post illustrates the 1815 report on slavery in Algeria by Captain Walter Croker of HMS Wizard. Extracts from Captain Croker’s report (University of Toronto Library):

“…the Algerines take the lead in predatory warfare and piracy…”

“And all this is endured from a banditti, whom an American expedition of half a dozen ships of war, has reduced into complete humiliation…”

“It is to be hoped that the forthcoming motion of Mr. Wilherforce will touch upon this subject of Shipwrecked Mariners as well as upon the piracies of Algiers and Tunis.”

See LibertyGB for other historical illustrations of the taking of Christian slaves by Muslims.

For previous essays by Michael Copeland, see the Michael Copeland Archives.

23 thoughts on “What Happened at Baltimore

  1. Newsflash! Stop the presses! Shocker from England!!! Muslim pirates have landed throughout the United Kingdom, invaded city after city making thousands of young girls into their sex slaves!

    • Spain is getting invaded more so since Italy and Malta turned ships away. Some people are thrown out of their apartments to make room for invaders. (ref: voiceofeurope.com) today’s article. Some countries do nothing as invaders pour in unabated.

      How oft do my thoughts in their fancy take flight
      To the home of my childhood away,
      To the days when each patriot’s vision seem’d bright
      Ere I dreamed that those joys should decay.
      When my heart was as light as the wild winds that blow
      Down the Mardyke through each elm tree,
      Where I sported and play’d ‘neath each green leafy shade
      On the banks of my own lovely Lee.

      And then in the springtime of laughter and song
      Can I ever forget the sweet hours?
      With the friends of my youth as we rambled along
      ‘Mongst the green mossy banks and wild flowers.
      Then too, when the evening sun’s sinking to rest
      Sheds its golden light over the sea
      The maid with her lover the wild daisies pressed
      On the banks of my own lovely Lee
      The maid with her lover the wild daisies pressed
      On the banks of my own lovely Lee

      ‘Tis a beautiful land this dear isle of song
      Its gems shed their light to the world
      And her faithful sons bore thro’ ages of wrong,
      The standard St. Patrick unfurled.
      Oh! would I were there with the friends I love best
      And my fond bosom’s partner with me
      We’d roam thy banks over, and when weary we’d rest
      By thy waters, my own lovely Lee,
      We’d roam thy banks over, and when weary we’d rest
      By thy waters, my own lovely Lee,

      Oh what joys should be mine ere this life should decline
      To seek shells on thy sea- girdled shore.
      While the steel-feathered eagle, oft splashing the brine
      Brings longing for freedom once more.
      Oh all that on earth I wish for or crave
      Is that my last crimson drop be for thee,
      To moisten the grass of my forefathers’ grave
      On the banks of my own lovely Lee
      To moisten the grass of my forefathers’ grave
      On the banks of my own lovely Lee.

    • And every British bureaucrat pretends nothing is happening to their daughters and grand daughters. Meanwhile Theresa May and Nancy Pelosi are hoping to wash the invaders’ dirty feet.

      Listen up British panty wastes, keep your head in the sand and pretend nothing is happening.

  2. My grandfather was born in Skibbereen, the town just north of Baltimore. It was common talk about town how the survivors of the Baltimore raid had moved to Skibbereen and intermarried with the villagers. Every local was assumed to have a survivor in their ancestry. I use this story to explain to people why I have every right to discuss the topic of slavery and Muslim migration.

    Oh, the look on peoples faces when I tell them this story!

    • @mrsr: I appreciate your sentiments. But what you write is solace for the enemy.
      Because firstly you are saying that injustice/atrocity done to an ancestor lends entitlement to a descendant. You claim special discussion rights as a descendant. This is exactly what SJWs or Antifa generally and BLM in particular claim.

      Secondly, if being affected by Islam, even after 300 years in your case, grants special rights (here: to discuss) , then the reverse is true: not being directly affected means being allegedly fearful, timid and stupid (read: low class) if one is suspicious of Islam.

      Now this is precisely what Gutmenschen/SJWs scribble and say every time they lament a high vote for e.g. Le Pen in rural France or the AfD in rural Germany. “How can these horrible ignorant people, who have hardly any migrants in their lives, and hence no experience of them, dare to be so racist against vibrant cultural enrichers?”

      Fact is, I need not have yet been personally robbed or knifed or barred (by Sunni Lebanese) as a man from swimming at my old swimming spot because “our women are swimming here” to know what welfare migration in the hijra involves.

      • With respect, screwy logic in your argument. what mrsr writes is no “solace to the enemy”.

      • special rights ‘to discuss’??? what planet are you from?

        Everyone with a valid point has every right to discuss it. And the fact that religion of peace trades slaves can be only supported by real evidence, for example local knowledge or information passed down from ancestors.

      • “But what you write is solace for the enemy.”

        I think that’s a little strong. One can’t blame mrsr for wanting some hook to get people to listen about Muslim slavery. Perhaps we can take her statement to mean “my ancestry gives a special poignancy to my account of Muslim slave-taking”.

        But, laudable as her intentions, I’m afraid they are in vain. Leftists to not listen to facts or logic, and go almost completely on emotion. You can see this in the latest blow-up on separating children from their border-crashing, criminal parents. So, a factual account, even from one’s own history, is going to have zero effect on a person emotionally charged to believe Muslims are unjustly discriminated against.

        I think it would be hard to conclude from mrsr’s text that she thinks people without ancestors who are slaves have no right to discuss slavery.

  3. This is my neck of the woods.
    When we forget history we are doomed to relive it..
    Sometimes I look out onto the wild Atlantic ocean picturing a camp of saints scenario..I have not slept well in months. And 5G is coming to Mother Ireland..fully embraced by the lemmings. It is hard not to despair sometimes.

  4. This follows the end of my counter-jihad novel The Red Cliffs of Zerhoun, which draws heavily on the Baltimore, Ireland sea-jihad raid. Only after the end do I reveal that many of the characters in my novel are drawn directly from the corsair era.

    A historical note to readers:

    William Rainsborough, Zymen Danseker, Thomas Pellow, Jan Janszoon/Murad Rais, John Harrison, and Sidi Mohammed El-Ayyachi are all historical figures from the Barbary corsair era, and their exploits exceeded anything described in this novel.

    For example, the Dutch traitor (and convert to Islam) Jan Janszoon, also known as Murad Rais or Captain Murad, did, in fact, lead the pirate cartel in the Moroccan corsair port of Salé. In 1627, he led five ships and hundreds of Janissary troops to Iceland, where after days of plunder, rape, and mass murder, the Muslim raiders kidnapped 400 Christians into slavery.

    In 1631 Murad led another group of raiders to the village of Baltimore, Ireland, and abducted more than a hundred local inhabitants, mostly women and children bound for sex slavery. Between 1627 and 1632, pirates under the command of Murad occupied the island of Lundy in the mouth of the Bristol Channel, only twelve miles from mainland Britain. The island then served as a holding pen for captured Europeans prior to their being sent onward to the slave markets of Barbary.

    It is estimated that at least a million Europeans, mostly Spanish, French and Italian, were captured and taken to North Africa as white slaves between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. Some of the land raids were massive and prolonged, such as one in Naples in 1544, when 7,000 Italians were captured, or Granada in 1566, when 4,000 Spanish were taken.

    But for every major land incursion, there were hundreds of smaller slave-catching raids and European ships captured at sea during the three-century-long “sea jihad.” Sea trade was crippled in the Mediterranean and along the Atlantic coasts of Europe. Vast regions were depopulated, their Christian inhabitants either kidnapped into Muslim slavery, or forced to flee inland, abandoning their coastal towns, villages and farms.

    If you would like to learn more about this curiously untaught European history, I recommend the following books:

    Caliphate, Tom Kratman, 2008, (Fiction, for mature readers, free download on Amazon Kindle.)

    Christian Slaves, Muslim Masters: White Slavery in the Mediterranean, the Barbary Coast and Italy, 1500–1800, Robert C. Davis, 2003.

    Pirates of Barbary: Corsairs, Conquests and Captivity in the 17th-century Mediterranean, Adrian Tinniswood, 2010.

    Slavery, Terrorism and Islam: the Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat, Peter Hammond, 2005.

    The Stolen Village: A Thrilling Account of the 17th-century Raid on Ireland by the Barbary Pirates, Des Ekin, 2006.

    Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates, Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger, 2015.

    White Gold: The Extraordinary Story of Thomas Pellow and Islam’s One Million White Slaves, Giles Milton, 2004.

    Wholly Different: Why I Chose Biblical Values Over Islamic Values, Nonie Darwish, 2017.

    (If you read only one of these books, read the last.)

    • The Legacy of Jihad (Andrew Bostom) also goes into detail centuries ago. eye opening, none of these books mentioned above is taught in higher education in major universities , except maybe in Christian colleges.

  5. This is one of the front pages of my novel The Red Cliffs of Zerhoun, immediately before the story begins.

    Oh Prophet! We have made lawful to thee thy wives
    to whom thou hast paid their dowries; and those
    slaves whom thy right hand possess out of the
    prisoners whom Allah has assigned to thee.
    Quran 33:50

    So enormous, so dreadful, so irredeemable did the
    (slave) trade’s wickedness appear that my own
    mind was completely made up for abolition.
    William Wilberforce

    All married women are forbidden unto thee save
    those captives whom thy right hand possess.
    This is a decree of Allah for thee.
    Quran 4:24

    You may choose to look the other way, but you
    can never say again that you did not know.
    William Wilberforce

    Slavery is part of Islam. Slavery is part of jihad,
    and jihad will remain as long as there is Islam.
    Sheikh Saleh Al-Fawzan
    Saudi religious leader

    Those who cannot remember the past
    are condemned to repeat it.
    George Santayana

  6. There are two kinds of Muslim and two only: those who want to kill all the unbelievers, and those who want someone else to kill all the unbelievers.

    The second type is not an immediate danger to those of us who cherish Western civilization, but they tend to spawn the first type, and that’s something we ought to think about.

  7. I’m not being sardonic when I say I’m surprised that the Europeans, with their sea-faring technology, allowed Muslim pirate incursions to take place for such a long time, extending into the 18th and 19th centuries. This is the era that Napoleon occupied Egypt, to be chased away by British occupying Egypt, France occupied Syria, etc, etc. How is it that Europe tolerated such devastating raids without organizing another crusade, this time to wipe out the pirate bases.

    My own tendency is to think that Europe was so occupied with its own wars and rivalries, they were unable to unite on anything. Recall that for the defense of Vienna in 1683, it was the Polish king Sobieski, who came to the rescue against the Turkish invaders. The French government was less than no help, as were the rest of the European governments, who seemed more interested in picking over any remains.

    So, it’s probably not a coincidence that the Barbary Wars were fought not long after the US gained a Constitution turning it into a federation of predominant federal government and subsidiary states. In other words, the federal government gained enough power over the states, it could turn its attention outwards.

    The Constitution itself was opposed on the grounds that the federal government would sooner or later take all power to itself, a fear that turned out to be extremely well-founded. But, the other side of the coin was that a weak government is subject to foreign incursions and invasions. The US government had to be at least as powerful as it was in order to raise and equip a navy to invade the Barbary ports.

    One lesson to be taken is that people who think “god will protect me because of my faith” or “this can’t happen here because we’re so powerful” are deluding themselves. You’re safe until you’re not safe, and by then, it’s too late. The people sold into galley and sex slavery were probably no more and no less pious than the people who didn’t have to endure that fate. People who think their principles will protect them are worse than delusional.

    I hate the Republicans passionately and would love to vote the hypocrites out of office. But, the consequences of a Democratic victory in the House would be an impeachment charge that would tie up the rest of the Trump Presidency. It seems to be a choice between the brink of extinction, versus literally jumping into the pit.

    • I’m acquainted with an American lady, now (I guess) in her 60s, living in London, who worked as a lawyer in the White House. She’d usually be a Democrat supporter, but voted for Trump in 2016 as she detests the Clintons so much.

    • The french were sided with the ottomans, or at least had agreements with them, during this period, and other countries were enemy with Spain so tolerated if not profitted from the piracy . Spain was Hapsburg royalty until 1700, Borbon after, Napoleonic Spain early 1800s, the destruction/conquest of Algerian bases towards mid 1800, Salé stopped slave trade by decision of local sultan I think, changed source or banned….etc.

      So a lot of wider politics involved. Will describe some of the south coast of Spain in a moment to give a sense of how the world was then.

    • I have explored quite a bit of the outback of the south coast of Spain over many years, read up a lot on its history, enough to give me a strong sense of the period in question. This includes visiting old abandoned ruins and shelters used from 1500s to the mid 1800s etc. actually it is a time I feel physically immersed in for some reason.

      The south coast ( kingdom of Granada) was conquered in 1492 after seven hundred years of moorish rule which started after the defeat of the visigoths. The region saw a lot of turbulence in the following decades, and my sense is that after the formal conquest of pitched battles you were left with a vast half destroyed region without any own established Spanish structure to it, without own army or police, just the militia that could stay. There were rebellions of moors who remained, also unconquered territory, banditry etc. and the impression is of an almost informal melee, with moors being shipped back to africa, new settlers being invited in, a long process of registry and repartition of land and property. Apart from the occasional fortified city, the rest remained frontierland. Piracy picked up from then, often by those expelled, and attempts to settle the coast were mostly abandoned due to the dangers, the by then small population moving inland for safety. Over a period of centuries infrastructure arrived, first watch towers, the occasional fort, but the whole coast could not be militarily guarded for such a small population in a poor rural setting. The Spanish navy was too busy with other projects. I have seen video from the mid sixties of the coast, a slightly back from coast town like Mijas of several hundred had only one car belonging to the postman which served as transport… that is to say the much of the region was left in relative poverty through to that time…. it was just not worth trying to defend from the whole African coastline . As far west as Malaga you can see the mountains of Africa , that is to say no distance from enemy ports really.

      So that is one other reason why piracy was not dealt with, Spain had not the resources to commit, or they were not worth committing in relation to their shortage vs. potential reward, to trying to stop the piracy. The whole country was sparsely populated and quite rural also, Africa beyond being worth invading, or possibility of proper invasion, the region of Algeria always seeming beyond Spanish capability for some reason also.

      So three centuries of piracy yielded a lot of slaves, but put that into a yearly figure and you are talking roughly 3000 people per year for each million over that whole period, not all from Spain. So I suppose it just became tolerated as part of the difficulty of the day that could not be sorted, people’s expectations of protection and so forth being quite different during those times also.

      Very hard to put properly into words the picture I get of the region from then though.

    • Thank you. Yes, someone else just pointed the typo out, and I corrected it.

  8. A pity the article tries to placate at the end by suggesting a positive cultural exchange vis a vis the Irish jewelry. Given the lack of detail for this claim it would have been best not to make it, particularly given that Ireland is famous for its Celtic art, or rather Norse-Celtic art, which was well established by the time the Moslem raiders were carting off folk.

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