While reading about Gilbert & Sullivan's comic opera "The Pirates of Penzance" I was intrigued to find
information about the subject of piracy in general, not least the slave-taking activities of the infamous
Barbary Coast pirate mob from North Africa, essentially based in the ports of Tunis, Algiers andTripoli.
Throughout the 17th century and beyond, they marauded around the seas. Sailors from English West
West Country ports ran the very real risk of capture and enslavement at their hands. In one case, a
Cornish sailor was captured and taken as a slave to Algiers where he converted to Islam and served
on a Turkish vessel. His vessel was seized by an English Man o' War and he found himself back in
England where he faced penance for his apostacy. The threat of the Barbary pirates lasted until the
late 19th century and saw even the US Navy become involved in defeating their lawless endeavours.
It was instructive to learn that slavery was still not declared illegal iin one prominent North African
country until quite recently. As the adage reminds us: Old habits die hard.