The life of Thomas Tew is obscured by the centuries that have passed since he lived and sailed. He was born
around 1650 and met his demise at the wrong end of a cannonball in 1695. While no one knows for sure where
Thomas Tew started his life, Newport, RI and England are both possibilities - it seems that his pirating
career started in Bermuda. He had been a privateer early in his life, but when he set sail in the name of
the Governor of Bermuda in 1692 he decided to strike out on his own. He convinced the crew of his ship,
the 12-gun sloop Amity
, to turn to pirating.
Tew and his crew sailed to the Red Sea where they were able to run down an Indian ship filled with ivory,
spices, jewels and silk along with an estimated 100,000 British pounds worth of silver and gold. After this
windfall they sailed to Madagascar to repair and then on to Newport.
In Newport, Tew was reputed to become close friends with Governor Fletcher of New York. In November of 1694
Fletcher authorized Tew to begin another Pirate cruise. Tew set off to the Red Sea to increase his fortune,
but instead lost his life while attempting to run down a Moorish ship.
These days Thomas Tew is called the Rhode Island pirate. His pirate chest is on display in the Pirate
Museum in Key West, Florida. It is the only sea chest in existence that can be traced back to a pirate.
You can learn more about Thomas Tew at wikipedia