Captain La Bouche



A French pirate who is sometimes called Olivier Levasseur or La Buse/La Bouse. La Bouche used a Black Flag to signify that he and all who sailed with him were pirates when they attacked a vessel. He was one of the pirate captains who was on New Providence Island when captain Woodes Rogers arrived there in June 1717. He had with him orders of the English King to clear the Bahamas of pirates but found that most had taken up the offered "act of grace" which would pardon all pirates who signed it so long as they would give up this profession1.Apparantly he soon left New Providence Island and returned to his profession. La Bouche attacked the vessel of Captain John Frost in July 1717. It took him a 12 hours chase to catch up to the vessel and when he did it was 9 o'clock in the evening. The pirate vessel had twenty guns and a crew of 170. She fired a broadside of double round and partridges, and a volley of small shot. This means that each of the ten guns on a side of the ship was loaded with two round cannon balls and a bag of partridge shot. At close range this kind of shot has a devastating effect on any ship. The bombardment beat men of the deck and so shattered the hull, rigging and sails of Frost's ship that he was forced to surrender without a fight 2.
Like many pirates who had been based on New Providence he set sail for the coast of Africa and later the Indian Ocean. When captain Howel Davis had taken and sacked the fort at Gambia and with his crew was spending a day in revelry, a ship was reported, bearing down on them in full sail. The pirates prepared to fight her, when she ran up the Black Flag and proved to be a French pirate ship of fourteen guns and sixty-four hands, half French and half negroes, commanded by Captain La Bouche.
The two captains agreed to sail down the coast together. Arriving at Sierra Leone, they found a tall ship lying at anchor. This ship they attacked, firing a broadside, when she also ran up the Black Flag, being the vessel of the notorious Captain Cocklyn. For the next two days these three captains and their crews, "spent improving their acquaintance and friendship," which was the pirate expression for getting gloriously drunk. On the third day they attacked and took a Royal Africa Company Fort. While there they captured a vessel and La Bouche converted this Galley and mounted her with 24 guns. Shortly afterwards the three captains quarrelled, and each went his own way. In 1718 La Bouche was again briefly at New Providence Island 3.
In 1720 this pirate commanded the Indian Queen, 250 tons, armed with twenty-eight guns, and a crew of ninety men. Sailing from the Guinea Coast to the East Indies, la Bouche lost his ship on the island of Mayotta, near Madagascar. The captain and forty men set about building a new vessel, while the remainder went off in canoes to join Captain England's pirates at Johanna.
Captain Mackra, in the service of the British East India Company learned from these men that La Bouche and his men were still at Mayotta and set out to capture him. When he sailed near the Bay of Johanna he discovered 2 pirate vessels. The other vessel, commanded by Captain Kirby, joined him in the attack but the third vessel (a Dutchman from Oostende) sailed away. The pirates fiercely defended themselves and Captain Mackra and his men were defeated and barely managed to escape. Captain La Bouche was fortunate not to encounter Mackra and Kirby and thus luckily enough avoided being captured by them4.
In 1721 Oliver La Bouche Joined with Captain Taylor. In April of that year they captured the vessel "The Virgen of Goa" in the Bay of St. Denis de la Reunion. A passenger on board was the Vice King of India: The Comte d'Ereicera. It was a lucky capture because a Hurricane had damaged her severely and her crew were for the main part ashore. The pirates towed the Portuguese vessel to Madagascar. The capture of this vessel caused such a stir that more vessels were from then on fitted out to attempt to hunt down all pirates in the Indian Sea.
In 1730 Oliver La Bouche was captured at Madagascar by the French captain D'Hermite who commanded the vessel "La Meduse". La Bouche was brought to trial at La Reunion. He was executed on 7 July 1730 at Saint Paul de la Reunion.5

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