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Pirates of Yorkshire-Friend or Foe?

Updated: Apr 28

A beautiful woman in a bath
Pirates were not always men

The mid-17th Century was a difficult time for the people of Yorkshire; the Civil War was over; Charles I had been executed and Oliver Cromwell and his 11 Generals had taken over the country. Many Royalists had lost their lands and ownership had been turned over to Parliamentary supporters who enclosed properties and turned crops to pasture for sheep.

English wool was extremely popular in Europe until enclosure reduced fodder and demand for fine wool was taken over by the Spanish. To make things worse poor harvests, floods and drought had reduced crops and available grain. The grain that was available, was quite often purchased by engrossers in bulk from farmers, and stored away to increase prices, which reduced availability to the poor at market.

Landlords raised rack rents and started to turn off the poorer families from lands, which forced them to seek work in cities like Leeds, Hull, and York. As many fathers had been killed in the war, mothers, children and the aged turned to begging, prostitution and other criminal pursuits to survive. Other men who had lost their lands and fortunes turned to becoming coney-catchers, highwaymen, footpads, and pirates.

The port of Hull was at one stage the second largest import and export port in England behind London, exporting wool and cloth to Europe and the Baltic in return for fish, timber, and wine. Along with the increase in imports and exports came the increase in duties and excise to pay for Cromwell’s standing army. For this reason, traders and ship owners found ways to try to avoid paying them. Captains were hired as Searchers and Tide-waiters employed by the Customs House to check manifestos against goods on ships, but often it was their own ships that they were checking. They would falsify manifestos and carry far more goods than what they claimed. Others would load goods at other docks away from Customs House to escape the export taxes and others would offload far from The Haven.

A picture of a pirate
Captain Girlington of the pirate ship The Pearl

The number of ships docking in The Haven, Hulls oldest port, had tripled and the Humber River was one of the busiest estuaries in England. With so many ships coming and going the environment was ripe for pirates. They would sail out from The Haven or anchor in the river and board other trading ships, transferring goods to their own and then depart for Antwerp, the Baltic or Europe to sell the goods as their own.

Pirates of Yorkshire Friend or Foe, read Dream of Courage: Facing Fear Head On to find out.

Pirate ships usually carried far more crew than ordinary ships of a similar size. This meant they could easily outnumber European bound ships. They also altered their ships so that they could carry more cannon than merchant ships of the same size. Stories about pirate brutality meant that many of the most famous pirates had a terrifying reputation to begin with and many were known in the Haven. If identified and caught they would be hanged, but The Haven had its own ways and other merchant seamen knew what would happen to them if they were found reporting to the authorities.

The Haven had the considerable advantage of a large population, eager for contraband goods, and the city was at the root of a vast distribution system formed by the rivers Ouse and Trent. Much of the port’s trade was in coal, exported to Holland, and moved coastwise to London, and cargoes of smuggled goods slipped into the town quay in the black holds of ships returning in ballast.

Thousands of pirates were active in the 17th Century and these years are sometimes known as the 'Golden Age' of piracy. Famous pirates from this period include Henry Morgan, William 'Captain' Kidd, 'Calico' Jack Rackham, Bartholomew Roberts, Blackbeard (Edward Teach) and Grace O'Malley.

picture of author Paul Rushworth-Brown
Author Paul Rushworth-Brown

Paul Rushworth-Brown is the author of three novels:


BOOK CLUB: Skulduggery

March 27, 2023



Click to rate this book!

[Average: 5]

Skulduggery by Paul Rushworth-Brown is a historical crime story and also a story of love. It is set in the early 1600s in England during a time of unrest and violence.

Queen Bess, Elizabeth I, had died and King James now reigns. A Catholic plot against him, The Gun Powder Plot, has put the country in turmoil.

Catholics were hunted, tortured and imprisoned. The poor were poorer, food was scarce. It was a difficult and dangerous time.

On the moors of Yorkshire Thomas Rushworth is reminiscing the past, from the death of his father to the present time. There have been good times and bad, happy times and sad.

His life as a peasant is to tend in the fields for the Lord from sunrise to sunset, pruning, weeding, harvesting and ploughing.

One night Thomas and Margery, his mother, come across a drunkard who had been bashed and robbed. John Hargreaves had won money at the King’s Arms, been followed and his winnings stolen. They help John to their cottage and assist him.

This chance meeting with John Hargreaves changes the lives of both families.

Margery has noticed John’s daughter, Agnes, and has plans for her to marry Thomas.

The Hargreaves and the Rushworth families attempt to get to the bottom of the thieving and attacks, putting themselves in danger.

The historical aspect of the story keeps you interested as you learn how the rich and the poor lived at the time. All the fines, the dues, the death and wedding fees all paid to the Lord of the manor.

The relationships between the characters keep you engaged.

The dictionary definition of Skulduggery is “underhand, unscrupulous, dishonest behaviour or activities”. There is definitely plenty of this in the story.

This is a book for fans of historical fiction. It is well written using the language of the time to describe the events.

Red Winter Journey is the follow up book. This book is set in 1642 and follows the Rushworth family now caught up in the ravages of the English Civil War.

It is interesting to mention that Paul Rushworth-Brown embarked on a project to write a family history for his children. Through his research it has led him to a passion for writing historical novels.

Thank you to the Shawline Publishing Group and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read this interesting book.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading Skulduggery by Paul Rushworth-Brown. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

See the reviews on the Beauty and Lace Website. Click above!

Come on this historic journey, which twists, turns and surprises until the very end. If you like history, adventure and intrigue with a dash of spirited love, then you will be engrossed by this tale of a peasant family unexpectedly getting caught up in the ravages of the English Civil War in 1642.

"A fictional, historical novel about a loving peasant family caught up in a 1642 shocking Civil War. Humour, romance, adventure and excitement are here to enjoy. A great story."

Dream of Courage: Facing Fear Head On

An Editorial Review: Beggars, Cutpurses, Outlaws, oh my - an Editorial Review of "Dream of Courage"

Book Blurb:


Leaving the desolate moors behind, the brothers venture to Leeds with dreams of escaping poverty's clutches and carving their names into the annals of history.

In a world teeming with beggars, cutpurses and outlaws, the Rushworth brothers navigate treacherous paths, facing fear and uncertainty head on. Amidst the backdrop of a ruthless era, where murder and theft weave a web of ominous intrigue, the enigmatic tavern keeper, Smythe, holds their fates in his hands.

A pirate captain, Captain Girlington, steps into their lives, harbouring secrets and a choice between love and the call of the sea. The brutish Jacob Wilding enters the fray, driven by relentless determination to capture Robert Rushworth and claim a perilous reward.

Bound by a curse that threatens to consume them, the Rushworth brothers must confront their inner demons and forge a path back to success.

In a tale where historical fact merges seamlessly with heart-pounding fiction, Dream of Courage unravels a tapestry of suspense, intrigue and human resilience to be experienced...

"Another great work by a very talented author who loves his period works and characters from his great plots. He writes with verve and intent to deliver the imagination something unexpected and greatly appreciated... Brilliant..." Gavin, Readalot Magazine reviewer

Book Buy Link:

Like many citizens of eighteenth-century England, brothers John and Robert Rushworth just want to make their fortune. Jacob Wilding just wants a fortune as well but believes that his path to that fortune will come to fruition by capturing Robert and redeeming a reward that will completely change his life. A colorful cast of characters, adventure at sea, a bit of forbidden love, murder, and mystery make Dream of Courage: Facing Fear Head On by Paul Rushworth-Brown a book that readers won’t be able to put down. Will Jacob cash in on the bounty on Robert’s head or will John and Robert narrowly escape and find their fortunes after all? Expertly written and full of action, Rushworth-Brown has created a fantastic story in Dream of Courage: Facing Fead Head On.


Tommy loved his wife. She was younger, a country rose. Her freckled face and bright persona improved the mood of all who met her. The high cheek bones and fresh, pale skin was flushed with a rosiness from the heat of the fire. When she untied the ties of her wimple she would shake her dark hair loose allowing it to drop down past her shoulders. Her blue eyes glinted with glee.”


One thing that really sets this book apart from others about this time period is the sense of adventure that the story brings. From swashbuckling pirates to treacherous journeys, the Rushworth brothers experience a life that is most likely far more exhilarating than the average citizen of eighteenth-century England.


The evening hung heavy with a sense of impending loss as William stood outside their humble cottage, the crisp air biting at his cheeks. His gaze was fixed on the door, his heart pounding with a mixture of anxiety and hope. Isabel, his beloved wife, had been laboring for hours, and every minute that passed felt like an eternity.”


Rushworth-Brown’s writing is incredibly easy to read and follow. He writes in a way that draws the readers in and provides detailed descriptions and imagery in every paragraph. This allows readers to better picture the places, events, and people that are being referenced within the story in their minds. His use of detail is by far one of the best features of Dream of Courage: Facing Fear Head On. In addition to excellent writing, Rushworth-Brown also includes a lot of action in the story. This keeps the plot moving along nicely and creates excellent pacing. Readers who often find themselves struggling to stay engaged will most likely not find that to be an issue when reading Dream of Courage: Facing Fear Head On.


Robert paced the small chamber, his frustration gnawing at him like a persistent ache. The spoils of their illicit endeavors lay scattered on the worn wooden table—glittering trinkets, jingling coin, and the remnants of their daring escapades. But amidst the stolen treasures, an invisible divide had taken root, threatening to cleave the once unbreakable bond between the twins.”


The author clearly has a passion for history and it is very evident in his writing. He weaves the tales and describes the historical time and setting in a way that readers can visualize what life was like during this time period. One of the things that the author does is include footnotes with information about the items he references for the readers. That author clearly recognizes that many casual historical fiction readers might not possess an in-depth knowledge of particular historical terms or references so he provides that information for them via footnotes addressing everything from the description of food to job descriptions. This is unusual for a fiction book but it was a very nice touch. Readers will appreciate this thorough approach of the author.


With each strike, Will stood tall, his defiance a testament to his strength and resolve. The pain was sharp, but he refused to let it break him. As the whipping stick fell once more, Will's gaze remained steady, a spark of determination flickering within him. He would endure, he would fight, and he would stand strong for his family and the truth they held dear.”


The likely intended audience for this Dream of Courage: Facing Fear Head On are those who enjoy historical fiction and adventure books. It is fast-paced and will be a great choice for readers who often find themselves easily distracted. At close to five hundred pages, readers who are not accustomed to lengthier books might find it to be overwhelming but the pacing and action within the book will help many readers look past the length of the book. The book does appear to be part of a series which will delight readers who love Dream of Courage: Facing Fear Head On.


The fire burned low, its embers casting a faint glow upon their faces as they exchanged silent vows. The journey ahead would not be easy; they were up against powerful forces, entwined in a conspiracy that reached far beyond their understanding. But they were not alone. Their determination, their resilience, and the glimmering sapphire that now rested in their possession, would guide their path.”


A tale of adventure wrapped up with a touch of mystery, Dream of Courage: Facing Fear Head On earns a 4.5 out of five rating. Adventures and history combine to create a book that readers will thoroughly enjoy. It is a great choice for those just dipping their toes into historical fiction.


“Dream of Courage: Facing Fear Head On” by Paul Rushwoth-Brown receives 4.5 stars from The Historical Fiction Company



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