Thursday, January 26, 2012

Chapter 30 - The Pirate Adam Baldridge

Almost all the family trees on that list Jemina Collins (1736-1770) and her sisters and brother, show that their mother was the daughter of the notorious pirate Adam Baldridge. There is a question as to whether or not the mother’s name was Sarah or Elizabeth but no one seems to question that their father’s name was Abraham Collins and their maternal grandfather was the pirate Adam Baldridge. Jemina Collins was my 5th great grandmother and the great, great grandmother of my great grandmother Helen Rappleye Baker. Jemina Collins married Nathaniel Seeley (1732-1770) in 1752. This chapter will discuss two subjects. The first subject will consist of a simple and brief description of the life of Adam Baldridge. The second subject will be an analysis of the evidence as to whether or not we are descendants of the pirate Adam Baldridge.
It is actually impossible to write a story of the complete life of Adam Baldridge since nothing is known of his life before the 1690s or after the early 1700s. Of his early life and his later life we can only guess as to his activities. Adam Baldridge was probably born in England around 1660 although some have suggested that he may have been born in New York or on the island of Jamaica. Both of these locations seem unlikely however as the majority of the English speaking privateers and pirates operating during this period of history in the late 1600s were born in either England or Scotland. In an historical record of New Castle, New Jersey dated 1706 we find that a man named Adam Baldridge was listed as a donor for the construction of a Presbyterian church. Assuming that this is the same Adam Baldridge which appears to be the case, his affiliation with a Presbyterian church suggests that Adam Baldridge was of Scottish descent or possibly even born in Scotland as was his contemporary, Captain William Kidd. It is impossible to know the nature of his upbringing in England although the fact that he could apparently read and write suggests that he was intelligent and that he might have had some schooling. Furthermore, his personality was not that of an uncouth, swashbuckling individual who we might visualize as the typical pirate. In fact, after his “retirement” in New York in the late 1690s, he was described by the governor of the colony as a “sober and responsible man.” This again suggests that he was not the product of the London slums and he may very well have grown up as the second or third son of a hardworking English family who felt that it was in their son’s best interest to “go off to sea.” It is possible if not likely, that as a teenager young Adam Baldridge joined the crew of a merchant ship or possibly a privateer. Whatever the case, the fact that by 1685 Adam Baldridge was in Jamaica strongly suggests that at some point, his career had turned to that of a privateer, pirate, or slave trader.
We know that Captain Henry Morgan, one of England’s most famous privateers, began his career around 1662. A privateer differences from a pirate only in that the privateer is authorized by the government to be a pirate. In other words, the English government authorized Henry Morgan to prey on the ships of other countries such as France during wartime and in return the privateer agreed to share some of its pirated bounty with the government. In effect the privateer acted as a “private” naval force and in Morgan’s case, for England. The only thing wrong with this program was that the fine line between being an authorized privateer and being an outright pirate was often crossed. Henry Morgan was back in England for three years from 1672 to 1675 before he shipped out again and by 1680 he was in Jamaica acting as the defacto governor of the island which by that point had become the base of operations of most of the privateers and pirates operating in the Caribbean. Jamaica and its capital city, Port Royal, was also the main distribution point for most of the African slaves entering the Americas. Whether or not Adam Baldridge ever served on a ship or in a fleet under the command of Captain Henry Morgan is not known although the proximity and the historical timing of the two men might suggest that possibility.
On 25 August 1698, in a deposition taken of one Samuel Perkins in the matter of the possible piracy charges again a Henry Every, Perkins stated when describing Adam Baldridge that “. . He was informed [that Adam Baldridge] had formerly killed a man in Jamaica, and thereupon turned pirate about 13 years ago [in 1685].” As far as I know this hearsay evidence is the only mention of Adam Baldridge being in Jamaica as of 1685 and being forced to leave the island as a result of the killing of another man. Presumably Adam Baldridge served on a privateer, pirate, or on a slave trading ship between the year 1685 when he departed Jamaica and 17 July 1690, the date he arrived on the ship Fortune at St Mary’s Island located off the northeast coast of the Island of Madagascar. There is no evidence however, that he was anything other than a member of the crew on that ship or other ships during this period and there is no evidence other than the hearsay evidence presented by Samuel Perkins, that Adam Baldridge was a pirate either before or after his time in Jamaica. Furthermore, I could find nothing about Richard Conyers, Commander of the ship Fortune upon which Adam Baldridge sailed into St Mary’s other than he was the commander of a ship that traded in slaves. If he was also a pirate, he did so without achieving any lasting historical notoriety. There is no evidence to support the writings of historians that Baldridge was a pirate before he began his career on St Mary’s Island.
The Fortune’s mooring in July of 1690 in the calm inlet bay located at the southwest end of St Mary’s Island located off the northeast coast of Madagascar was probably a necessity since after months at sea they must have needed to replenish their food supplies and make repairs to their ship after its long 2,500 mile sail from the Americas. The plan for the Fortune and its crew after completing the repairs was to sail to nearby Fort Dauphin on the southeastern end of Madagascar where they would load their ship with slaves for transport back to the Americas. Apparently, despite its greater distance from the Americas, it was less expensive to purchase slaves from the Island of Madagascar than it was to purchase slaves on the west coast of Africa. In both cases, slave trading in the late 1600s and the 1700s was immensely profitable. Adam Baldridge and two other members of the crew of the Fortune elected to stay behind on St. Mary’s Island. As an historical aside, slave trading was banned by Spain in 1542, by France in 1789, by Britain in 1807, and by the United States in 1808. On the other hand, slavery itself was not outlawed by Britain until 1833, by France until 1848, and by the United States, home of Democracy and freedom, until 1865. In the 1690s slave trading was a perfectly legal if not respected profession.
We learn from the transcript of the deposition submitted by Adam Baldridge on May 5, 1699 to Lord Bellomont, Governor of the Colony of New York, and subsequently presented to the Lords of Trade in New York, of Adam Baldridge’s activities on St. Mary’s Island from 1691 until he left the island in July of 1697. The governor and the Lords of Trade beginning in 1699 were investigating on behalf of the British government piracy and illegal trade as well the possible role played by the previous colonial governor. The previous governor, Benjamin Fletcher, was accused of illegally accepting bribes for allowing privateers to sell their goods in the New York Colony without first paying the required British tariff on imported goods that were not shipped from England on British ships. Whether or not Adam Baldridge had a master plan when he decided to remain on St Mary’s Island is not known. A master plan was also not likely nor was it likely that he had been sent to the island by New York merchants to set up a trading center. We do know however, that in the short period of time of only six and a half years, he managed to build a major trading enterprise that took him from being penniless to being wealthy and from being obscure to being notorious. We also cannot help but note that he got into the business of trading with privateers, pirates, slave traders and wealthy New York merchants at precisely the right time and he got out of the business at an equally opportune time. Furthermore, despite the questionable nature of his business, he retired a wealthy man and he was never incarcerated nor hanged for the crime of piracy as were so many of his contemporaries including Captain William Kidd.
Why Adam Baldridge elected to remain on St Mary’s Island seems obvious in hindsight. The island was a tropical paradise endowed with the natural bounty of the land and sea. It was surrounded by long sloping coconut rimmed sandy beaches, crystal clear turquoise waters, coral reefs, and a sea with an abundance of rich marine life. The land was covered with lush tropical growth including an ample supply of fruits trees such as banana, pineapple and citrus trees loaded with oranges and limes that were highly prized by the mariners to prevent scurvy. The island also had plenty of fresh water and edible wild animals. The inhabitants of St Mary’s and Madagascar were called the Malagasy and they were for the most part peaceful farmers who raised chickens and cattle and grew rice. It is interesting that despite the proximity of the island to the African coast most of the native inhabitants were of Indonesian descent whose ancestors had migrated westward by sea to the island centuries earlier. Baldridge selected as a place to set up shop, the large inlet bay at the southwest end of St Mary’s Island where he had spent time over the previous few months with the crew of the Fortune. The inlet bay was calm and deep enough for the mooring of ships yet shallow in some areas allowing the wooden vessels to be hauled up onto the sandy beaches for careening and resealing the ship bottoms. The bay was virtually landlocked as it was surrounded by land on three sides some of which was elevated that allowed for good visibility of incoming ships and later for the placement of guns for the defense of the settlement. At the mouth of the bay was a sandy island and further offshore were coral reefs both of which added to the difficulty of accessing the bay by unwanted intruders (such as England’s Royal Navy who attempted and failed to take the settlement in 1699). Perhaps Adam Baldridge immediately recognized the island’s potential as a natural stop over point for merchants and pirates when he elected to remain on the island in January of 1690.
Adam must have known from the start that to survive on the island he needed to make friends with the native inhabitants. What he discovered after making contact with the natives of St Mary’s was that they were constantly subjected to raids by other Malagasy natives from mainland Madagascar. Baldridge in his May 5, 1699 deposition reported that he endeared himself to the St Mary’s natives by leading them in a “War” against the Malagasy natives from the mainland. The word war in this case is a little misleading since the purpose of the raids or attacks was not to capture land and kill enemies. The mainland Malagasy were more intent on stealing livestock and capturing woman and children for use as wives and slaves. Again Baldridge reports in his deposition that by May 1691 he “returned from war”. . . “after helping them redeem their wives and children.” Obviously his superior modern weaponry, his willingness to use the weapons, and his leadership and knowledge of the ways of battle were major factors in his and the natives of St Mary’s success. Clearly he had made friends with the local people on the island and in gratitude for his help they gave him cattle (70 head per his deposition), several “wives”, and slaves to help him build his home. He went on later with the help of native labor to build a stockade, additional living quarters, warehouses, and eventually on the top of one of the overlooks, a fortress complete with guns purchased from passing pirates. The fortress overlooked and protected his private pirate bay and compound.
In late 1691, after the construction of his new settlement was well underway, Adam Baldridge sent a letter probably by way of a passing ship on its way back to America, to a wealthy merchant and slave trader named Frederick Philipse who operated out of the New York City area. Some historians believe that it was Philipse who had actually sent Baldridge to St Mary’s in the first place to set up the pirate trading post, although I could find no evidence to support that belief and since Baldridge had been previously in the slave trading business or at least with the crew of a slave trader, it does seem likely that he would have had prior knowledge of the unscrupulous merchant Frederick Philipse. In Baldridge’s letter to Philipse he offered to sell him slaves for 30 shillings each, a cost well below the average 3 or 4 pound price paid for slaves in Africa, and a fraction of the 30 pound selling price for a slave back in America or in the Caribbean. Adam Baldridge eventually turned his island fortress into a major trading center for pirates but it was the slave trading business that was the glue that held the business together. In Philipse’ own words, slave trading was the key, “For negroes in these times will fetch thirty pounds and upward in the head . . . It is by negroes that I find my “cheivest Proffitt”. All other trade I look upon as by the by.”
According to Adam Baldridge’s deposition his first major trade with a passing ship took place in October of 1691. The ship, a slave trader named Bachelors Delight, stayed in the bay where the crew careened their ship for about a month before departing for Madagascar to collect slaves for transport back to the Carolinas. During this period, Baldridge traded some of his cattle for five guns for his fortification, and for flour and bars of iron. Thus began Adam Baldridge’s brief career as an entrepreneur and a major trader. In August of 1693 in answer to Baldridge’s letter, the ship Charles owned by Frederick Philipse arrived from New York laden with items that Baldridge could trade to the pirates, items such as gunpowder and ammunition, clothing and boots, various types of tools, sail cloth and rigging supplies, rum, wine, and beer, tar for sealing the ship bottoms, and even books. In the ensuing four years, Adam Baldridge would grow rich trading the items sent by Philipse as well as meat, fruit, and salt produced on his island to the pirates in exchange for their plundered goods, items such as looted gold, silver, diamonds, and jewels, silks, ivory, and exotic textiles, dyes, spices, drugs, and slaves taken from Moorish ships and ships owned by the East India Company. The pirates captured the ships on their trade routes between India and the Arab ports along the Red Sea. Baldridge benefited in the transactions by offering goods and supplies needed by the pirates and the pirates benefitted by finding a buyer for their looted goods plus a safe place to relax, careen their ships, and obtain the supplies needed before they returned to the sea. Frederick Philipse, the New York merchant benefited because he obtained at a low cost the valuable goods plundered by the pirates as well as a cheap supply of Madagascar slaves for trading once his ships return to America. Unfortunately, piracy was illegal per English law and ironically in the end it was the pirates who were the only big losers. Not only was their occupation risky, but many of them were captured, prosecuted and hung. On the other hand the unscrupulous Frederick Philipse lived out his life in America as a wealthy man although he was eventually removed from the Lords of Trade. Our great grandfather Adam Baldridge returned to America also a wealthy man to live out the remainder of his life.
The busiest years at the Baldridge’s “Pirates Paradise” were 1694 through 1697 where sometimes as many as one-half dozen ships were moored in the inlet harbor or resting on the sanding beaches being careened by their crews. Some historians write that as many as 1,500 pirates lived full time on the island at one point although this figure is probably greatly exaggerated. To the benefit of the pirate colony on St Mary’s, a major earthquake on the Island of Jamaica in 1693 destroyed the city of Port Royal. Previously to that point, Port Royal had been the main rendezvous location for pirates in the Atlantic Ocean and its destruction as well as the general demise of the piracy business in the Atlantic and Caribbean Oceans encouraged pirates to look to the Indian Ocean for more lucrative targets. Madagascar and the Island of St Mary’s off its west coast were ideally suited to capture the new business. Whether or not Adam Baldridge recognized the new opportunity is unknown although it is more likely he was just lucky and in the right place at the right time. The real and more interesting question is whether he anticipated the slowdown of his trading empire that was approaching. In 1697, England and France signed a treaty of peace ending years of war. With the war ended, England was no longer in need of privateers that had been commissioned to attack the enemy’s ships. As we mentioned earlier, the British Governor of the Colony of New York had been handing out commissions to privateers who he must have known were using their ships to attack all vessels regardless of the nationality of the ship. This was piracy. The governor, Benjamin Fletcher, was paid for issuing the commissions and he grew wealthy simply looking the other way and ignoring the illegal trading. With the ending of the war however, the British government turned their attention to stopping piracy and the illegal trading of goods with the Americas in violation of the Navigation Acts. Governor Fletcher was recalled to England and a new governor was sent to replace him. Shortly after the arrival of the new governor, Richard Coote, Earl of Bellomont, a major investigation of piracy began. At the same time, the wealthy merchant and slave trader, Frederick Philipse, was removed from the Board of Trade. This all began shortly after Baldridge’s departure from St Mary’s Island.
While some historians believe that Adam Baldridge left St Mary’s Island and his trading empire because “He blew it,” and “He got to greedy” which resulted in his making a colossal mistake that forced him to leave the island and return to New York. This may very well have been case and the fact that upon returning to New York he tried to convince the new governor to establish St Mary’s Island as a new colony thereby effectively circumventing the Navigation Act, strongly suggests that he did not intentionally leave his island paradise. Nevertheless, his decisions in July of 1697 also suggest a man prepared to depart. His first action was to purchase a major interest in the brigantine ship Swift that had stopped at St Mary’s for trading and careening. His second action was the most controversial as he then tricked many of the local natives on the island, men, women, and children, by inviting them to come out to the Swift which was moored in the harbor and join him in a celebration party. His crew then proceeded once the natives were on board, to haul the natives below deck, slip shackles on their wrists and chain them to the walls. They were being sold into slavery. Baldridge and the crew of the Swift immediately departed from the island. According to Baldridge in his 1699 deposition, he learned later that the island natives in retaliation for his trickery (not his words for he never acknowledged what he had done) killed 30 of the white men who remained on the island and burned the settlement to the ground. Here is where I have trouble believing that Baldridge did not intentionally leave St Mary’s. Could he have been so incredibly stupid as to believe that his actions would not destroy the important symbiotic relationship between himself and the island’s native population? Might it be a more likely scenario that he knew that the immense and immediate profit that he stood to gain by selling the natives into slavery was in his best long term interest especially if he foresaw the possibility that the pirate trade might be in its decline. We will never know whether Adam Baldridge’s departure from St Mary’s was intentional or not. We only know that per his deposition, he left the Madagascar area in October 1697 eventually arriving in New York where his name first appears in the colonial records in November of 1698.
In other colonial records we learn that his ship the Swift was reported to have run aground in March of 1698 off the coast of North Carolina near the village of Currituck. When the ship was finally located by the colonial authorities it was found abandoned but undamaged and “all provisions and stores robbed”. It is far more likely that the ship had not been robbed but following the grounding of the ship, the pirate crew had scattered taking with them everything on board. Whether or not Adam Baldridge was onboard when the Swift made its unintentional landing is unknown although it would seem likely. The ship once recovered was seized by the authorities, hauled back into the sea, and sailed back to the port of New York. Adam Baldridge sometime in the middle of 1698 learned that his ship had been seized. His name is mentioned several times in the Colonial records including in one dated 26 November 1699 wherein he appealed to the Court for the return of the Swift. Unfortunately I was unable to learn whether Baldridge ever recovered the Swift although it appears unlikely. There was ample evidence that the vessel had been engaged in the act of piracy. What is strange however is that the colonial authorities maintained the right to hold the ship, but they were never able to arrest and convict Adam Baldridge of piracy. In March of 1699, “The Council of Trade and Plantations” ordered the Colonial Governor, Lord Bellomont, to prosecute Adam Baldridge for piracy. It was after all a well known fact that he had operated the pirate trading post at St Mary’s in Madagascar. Almost comically however, Lord Bellomont reported back to the Council two months later that he was unable to prosecute Baldridge for want of a “good judge.” Apparently all of the good judges had been or could easily be bribed and Baldridge obviously had the means to do so. In return for not being prosecuted Adam Baldridge agreed to give his 15 May 1699 deposition and in doing so he implicated others as being guilty of piracy.
There is some evidence that once Adam Baldridge returned to America and discharged his problems with the New York authorities, that he did not entirely give up his career as a privateer or pirate. In the Colonial Records of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia dated 12 November 1703/4, there is recorded a discussion as to whether or not to return to New Jersey the five French prisoners captured by “Ball and Baldridge Privateer” who had landed and discharged their prisoners in Egg Harbour, New Jersey. The Council decided to return the prisoners. Nothing was mentioned about the other items pirated from the French ship by “Ball and Baldridge Privateers” that were not returned. Another interesting observation that might suggest that Adam Baldridge, merchant, continued as a privateer/pirate was his purchase on 27 July 1699 of a 500 acre island, then named “Melcum Island,” located in the middle of the Delaware River off the western border of New Jersey near the village of Salem. Was Adam Baldridge trying to recreate another St Mary’s Island for the purpose of trading his captured goods? We can only guess as to his motives. There is no documentation that he ever occupied the island or used it to store trading goods. What we do know is that on 28 April 1702 he sold the island which at that point had been renamed “Adams Forest Island”. Perhaps he had realized that his business plan was flawed. There is also a record of an Adam Baldridge purchasing a house and land in Salem, New Jersey on 3 October 1701 and in this record Adam is referred to as a “Salem Merchant”.
There are obviously a lot of things about Adam Baldridge’s behavior that are disgusting. Two issues that have been discussed were his trickery of the St Mary’s island natives when he lured them to a party on board his ship the Swift and then bound them in chains and sold them into slavery and then several years later he implicated (ratted out) his compatriots in his deposition to save himself from his own prosecution.
Adam Baldridge’s first and only known marriage was to Elizabeth Buckmaster, the wife of Edward Buckmaster. Their marriage ceremony was held at the Fort of New York sometime between 7 September 1699 and 8 October 1699. Edward Buckmaster like Adam Baldridge was a pirate and he was arrested as such in New York City in June of 1699. Colonial records indicate that on 25 August 1699, Buckmaster escaped from prison and to the best of my knowledge, he was not heard from again. Apparently his wife Elizabeth thought that with her husband now out of the picture it was reasonable for her to remarry even if she was not officially divorced or widowed. Prior to this marriage there is another record showing that on 2 December 1684 an Edward Buckmaster married a Margaret Mathews. Assuming that this is the same Edward Buckmaster, it suggests that Margaret must have died and Edward remarried his second wife Elizabeth. We know from other records that Edward Buckmaster had a least three children born between the years 1685 and 1687. We know this because after Edward’s departure (escape), his wife Elizabeth placed all three of Edward’s children into indentureship. The first child was indentured on 7 September 1699 and she signed the papers under her name Elizabeth Buckmaster. When the other two children were indentured on 9 October 1699, she signed her name as Elizabeth Baldridge and in one case, Adam Baldridge signed as a witness. Clearly the newlywed Elizabeth Baldridge wanted to begin her marriage without the burden of taking care of the children of her former husband. If we are to believe that the marriage of Elizabeth and Adam Baldridge produced at least two children as will be discussed, then I think we must assume that Elizabeth was probably younger than both her first and second husbands who were both near 40 years of age in 1699. Placing young children into indentureship was not particularly common in early America. Many of the early immigrants to America arrived from England as indentured servants and their indentureship was the manner in which they paid for their passage. I suspect that parents in America who placed their children into indentureship were poor and could not afford to pay for their care. In the case of Adam and Elizabeth Baldridge however, they were not poor, quite the opposite, and Elizabeth probably a flighty girl in her late twenties, just did not want to care for Richard, Hannah, and Mary Buckmaster, who were all under the age of 14. Adam Baldridge, not a man of high character as we have seen, either went alone with his new wife or encouraged her decision to give up the children. If Adam and Elizabeth are my great grandparents I am ashamed of their behavior in this regard.
There are two other mentions of Adam Baldridge in the Colonial records worth noting one of which is actually a positive suggesting that perhaps as Adam got older he had mellowed. The first is a mention of Adam and Elizabeth in the will of Griffith Jones of Kent County, Delaware dated 2 May 1703. It lists in the will that his beneficiaries were “Wife: Elizabeth. Sons: Griffith and Thomas. Daughter: Elizabeth. To: Elizabeth, daughter of Adam Baldridge . . .”. It goes on to list Adam Baldridge as one of the executors of the will. Griffith Jones’ will provides us with two pieces of information. First, Adam Baldridge’s wife appears to be the daughter of Griffith and Elizabeth Jones and secondly, Adam and Elizabeth had a daughter who they named Elizabeth who was born sometime between October of 1699 and May of 1793. Another intriguing but unsolved mystery is who was John Jones, the man who purchased from Adam Baldridge the 500 acre island in the Delaware River. It is too much of a coincidence not to believe that he was a relative of Elizabeth Jones Baldridge. John Jones is listed as being from New Castle, Delaware. The latest historical document that I could locate naming Adam Baldridge was dated 1706 and it lists him in New Castle, Delaware as one of the donors to a fund for the construction of a new Presbyterian Church. Hopefully by this point in his life Adam Baldridge had settled down with his wife and children and mostly abandoned his unsavory life.
History records the names of only two of the possible children of Adam and Elizabeth Jones Baldridge. That Elizabeth Baldridge was their daughter is pretty well documented per the will of Griffith Jones previously mentioned. Their other child was probably a son who they named Adam Baldridge. Unfortunately the son’s name appears only once in the Colonial records and that is in a copy of his will that was prepared on 1 October 1777 in New Utrecht, Kings County, Long Island. There are no known documents that support the belief that these two men were father and son although obviously the commonality of their names and the fact that Adam Baldridge Jr. was born in the early 1700s about the time Adam and Elizabeth Baldridge were having children suggests a relationship. The will of Adam Baldridge, the possible son, that was probated after his death in 1780 does provide us with the intriguing suggestion that one of Adam Jr’s sisters, possibly Elizabeth Baldridge, married a man named Abraham Collins. It appears that both men, Baldridge and Collins, lived in the western end of Long Island at some point in their lives and they must have known one another. They were also about the same age as Abraham Collins was born around 1698 and Adam Baldridge was born about 1704. What is really intriguing however was that Adam Baldridge Jr left the bulk of his estate to the three daughters of Abraham Collins, an action that strongly suggested that there was a family relationship and not just a friendship that bound the two men together. Furthermore, the relationship between Adam Baldridge and the Collins family was long lasting since Abraham Collins had moved to Blooming Grove in Orange County, New York by the 1730s and he died there in 1756. Additional, the will of Adam Baldridge lists each of the Collins daughters by their married names, “I leave to Sarah Coleman, Jemina Seata [Seeley], and Elizabeth, formerly the wife of David Cameron. . all of my estate “ which indicates he obviously had stayed in touch with the girls after their father’s death again suggesting that they were his nieces. There is one more circumstantial but compelling piece of evidence that supports the belief that Abraham Collins married a daughter of Adam (the pirate) and Elizabeth Baldridge. It has to be more than a coincidence that Abraham Collins and his wife named their first son Adam and their second daughter Elizabeth, after their grandparents? Incidentally, Adam Collins was not mentioned in Adam Baldridge’s will because he had died in 1770, seven years prior to the preparation of the will. It was a very common practice in this period of history to name children after their grandparents.
There is unfortunately one unsolved mystery before we can announce unequivocally that Adam Baldridge, the pirate, is the grandfather of the children of Abraham Collins including Jemina Collins, my 5th great grandmother. On 11 August 1728 the marriage of Abraham Collins to Ann Major was written into the records of the Grace Church in Jamaica, Queens County, Long Island. If this Abraham Collins is the father of Sarah, Elizabeth, and Jemina Collins all of whom are mentioned in the 1777 will of Adam Baldridge Jr, then we have to question the Abraham Collins’ supposed marriage to the daughter of Adam Baldridge. Since the first daughter of Abraham Collins, Sarah Collins, is believed to have been born around 1728 close to the date of Abraham’s marriage to Ann Major, it hard to imagine that Ann Major died and Abraham Collins’ remarried all in the span of a year or less. Nevertheless, historians and genealogists in order to justify their belief that the Collins’ girls were descended from Adam Baldridge have assumed that Ann Major must have died young and Abraham remarried before any of his children were born. Unfortunately, I could not find any records containing either a death date for an Ann Major Collins or a marriage date for an Abraham Collins marrying a woman named Baldridge. All of this clouds the issue of whether the Collins girls were descended from the pirate Baldridge which in turns spoils my ability to brag that I am the 7th great grandson of a 17th century Pirate. On the other hand, no one can prove that I am not descended from a pirate so we will just leave it at that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your Ancestor had children in Madagascar, one of them "Dama" was the first of the dynastie of the "Zafin'bala" wich mean sons of Bala, the diminutive of Baldidge. This dynastie is still alive and are settled in Tintingue point (manompana). The greatest descendant of Adam Baldridge in Madagascar was "TSIFANIN" last king of Tintingue murdered by Radama soldiers in 1826.