Who Was The Flying Dutchman?

John Colyn Jope was the real name of the Flying Dutchman. History remembers him as a man who started slavery in the New England colony after bringing and selling a few dozen slaves in 1619 in the Jamestown of Virginia colony. John Colyn Jope was very likely the man who inspired Wagner to create Flying Dutchman opera. In addition to all, he was a captain of the ship White Lion and a member of the clergy.

Why Flying Dutchman?

John was a professional privateer. He earned his nickname the Flying Dutchman because of his great ship maneuvering skills and tricks he played on his consorts.

What is privateer?

During the Age of Sail( 1571–1862 ), privateers were bearers of letters of marque. Letter of marque was authorization issued by the government to a private person which allowed that particular individual to capture vessels of countries the issuing government was in war without suffering responsibilities for piracy.

Letter of Marque

Letter of Marque

John Colyn Jope was an English privateer with possible Dutch ancestry. He possessed a letter of marque from Vlissingen issued before 1619. With it, he was free to attack and plunder ships of all states that were in war with the Netherlands. And that is exactly what he did. He usually had consorts which he used to seize the cargo from stronger ships. But when it came to sharing profits, he would rarely hold to his end of the bargain. John was famous for his pinnace trick. Due to having one or two strong ships alongside his vessel, the fight would usually be over before it even began. A single ship surrounded by enemies capable of easily sinking it down would quickly announce surrender. John Jope would sit in the pinnace, sail over to ship, plunder it, and then sail away to sell the goods leaving his comrades with empty hands. They couldn’t attack his ship because that would be an act of piracy. Johny always chose partners who had letters of marque only from countries that were in piece with the Netherlands. He would then return with money and give his partners only a little piece of it stating that a better price couldn’t be negotiated. What made John so important is that he, together with an English privateer Daniel Elfirth, started slavery in New England.

The Flying Dutchman: The Doomed Ghost Ship (Real-Life Ghost Stories)

Who Started Slavery in America?

Flying Dutchman's Ship White Lion Sailing over waves

Flying Dutchman’s Ship – White Lion

Daniel Elfrith and the Flying Dutchman are referred to as men who started slavery in America. In 1619, John who was the captain of the ship called White Lion, and Daniel who was in charge of a larger ship named Treasurer, met on the sea. From that point, the Flying Dutchman took the lead. They intercepted a Portuguese slave ship Sao Joao Bautista that had a cargo of around 350 slaves intended to be transported to New Mexico(modern-day Veracruz). Those slaves all came from Angola which was, at the time being, a Portuguese colony. They took a part of Portuguese cargo and navigated to Virginia. White Lion arrived first. Governor of Jamestown George Yardley and cape merchant Abraham Piersley both came to greet flying Dutchman. They have engaged in a trade in which John Colyn Jope exchanged more than twenty slaves for food and supplies. However, Daniel Elfrith who arrived just a few days later didn’t find such a warm welcome. Nobody from Virginia wanted to trade with him. The reason for this was his letters of marque were no longer valid. Daniel Elfirth was sailing under the flag of English Earl of Warwick. Not long after Daniel sailed out England had made a treaty with Portugal which meant that the attack on Sao Joao Bautista could even be considered for piracy. As for the Flying Dutchman, he had multiple letters of marque. One was also from the Earl of Warwick but another one, as mentioned in the beginning, was from Vlissingen in the Netherlands. That fact allowed Virginias officials to trade with John without getting in conflict with the crown as back then, Virginia was under the control of England. This was one of the most famous conquests John Colyn Jope managed to achieve and while he didn’t play pinnace trick on Elfrith he still managed to get the upper hand.

Discrepancies in Virginia and Portuguese Records

Portuguese recorded that Sao Joao Bautista was attacked by two vessels sailing under English flags. Virginia records, on the other hand, mention one Dutch and one English ship. It is very likely that besides his pinnace trick, the Flying Dutchman had other aces in his hand. One of them was switching flags and showing different letters of marque.

What Happened To Flying Dutchman’s Slaves In America?

Little is known about the life of slaves who were sold from Flying Dutchman’s ship. However, some records did remain. Two of the slaves, Isabella and Anthony, managed to get married and have a child in 1624. Their son William Tucker was the first recorded Black child born in English America.

Legend of Flying Dutchmen

The Flying Dutchman is a legendary ghost ship that can never make it to the port. It is cursed to forever sail the oceans. Dutch East India Company is very likely the entity that invented the Flying Dutchman. The oldest version of the story dates back to the 18th century. However, during the 19th and 20th centuries, there were multiple reports of the ship to be glowing with what seemed as ghostly light. Flying Dutchman was connected to stormy weather. The common story speaks that Dutchman in charge of the ship attempted to get to the Cape to escape bad weather. However, he wasn’t able to get in the harbor and disappeared in a storm. According to myth, Dutchman was given the sacred task of collecting all the poor souls who died at sea and ferrying them to the afterlife.

Flying Dutchman in Modern Day

Flying Dutchman turned out to be a source of inspiration for many arts. It is not just present in the opera but also in comics and movies. He appears in Pirates of the Caribean as one of the prominent characters. Flying Dutchmans even has his place in video games. In the 1993 multiplatform game Alone in the Dark 2, a detective investigates a missing girl who he discovers has been kidnapped by the undead One-Eyed Jack who turns to be captain of the undead crew of The Flying Dutchman.

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