Privateer crews were often made up of professional seamen. To privateer, one had to know how to navigate and very well, at that. In fact, privateers had to know how to steer their ship as quickly and accurately as possible. In addition to speed, they also counted on the element of surprise. To approach a ship without attracting notice, they had to tack the ship well.

Privateer crews came from different ports. The main ports were Louisburg in Île Royale, Plaisance in Newfoundland, Port Royal in Acadia and Quebec. Some privateers have even been traced back to Montreal. At times, privateer captains would also recruit in more than one port. The population was not very large and good sailors were sometimes hard to find.

Morin and His Crew Winter Over

Privateer: Le Trompeur
August 1712
Captain: Jacques François Morin dit Bonsecours
Homeport: Quebec

Le Trompeur weighed anchor in August 1712, with a few crewmembers, including two "savages" and Quebec men calling themselves freebooters. The remaining crewmembers would be recruited later in Cape Breton.

At sea, they seized two English ships: the Mutine and the Gaillarde. Since it was too far from Quebec to go back up the river before it froze, the crew decided to winter with their prizes in Acadia.

Now, when spring came back, many crewmembers decided to stay in Acadia and not to go back to Quebec with the Trompeur and its takings. They sold their share of the booty to other sailors. Therefore, the crew that declared the seizure in Quebec later was different from the one that actually made the capture.

Recruitment and the Press Gang

During periods of conflict, a States had to recruit for the Navy and encourage brave inhabitants to go sailing. This resulted in competition between the Navy and the privateers.

To prevent good navy candidates from giving in to the privateers' promises of wealth and thus leaving the Royal Navy, the British Secretary for the Colonies in 1778 intervened with new orders. Privateer ships were formally prohibited from employing Royal Navy seamen on their ships.

The Press Gang

To recruit its men, the British Navy sent armed patrols into public places to "press" seamen. Capable men were practically taken by force to serve on the ships. This practice, which was used by the English authorities in the Saint Lawrence Valley, sometimes led to cruel abuse. In 1778, the press gang went too far in Quebec: a seaman was killed during such an operation.
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