Edward Low (or Ned Low) was a Golden age pirate so cruel and brutal that he made Blackbeard look like a nice guy by comparison. He was born in London and was a petty thief and pickpocket as a young man.New! Buy Edward Low's flag here.
After travelling several years on the sea with his brother, he wound up in Boston, Massachusetts, where a marriage to Eliza Marble produced two children. Edward Low's honest work as a ship rigger apparently could not endure his temper, and an argument with his boss led him to join a sloop bound for Honduras.
His work there involved ferrying logwood stolen from the Spaniards to the main ship. Edward became enraged at his master asking more work of him, and so attempted mutiny with a shot toward the man. He soon found himself put over the side in a small boat with twelve of his fellow mutineers. The taking of a larger sloop the next day in mid-1722 marked the official start of this cruel pirate's fourteen-month career.
Edward Low fell in with the pirate George Lowther for a short time, but struck out with forty others on a captured brig the Rebecca after Lowther's inability to partner resurfaced. They plundered many fishing vessels off New England and Newfoundland, the largest was an 80-ton schooner that Low fitted with ten guns and fifty men, renamed the Fancy. A Charles Harris was placed in charge of the brig, and the two vessels eventually made for the Leeward Islands.
After a brush with death from a violent hurricane, the ships were separated for a time, but were reunited in the western Caribbean. After a time spent in repair and refitting, it was decided too dangerous to risk a confrontation with any nearby British warship, and so the course was set for the Azores to the east. Their pirate armada was augmented with the taking of a 34-gun French ship on the way.
One example of Edward Low's cruelty happened during this time of his pludering in the Azores, Madeira, and the Canary Islands. Having taken seven ships in St. John's, he demanded fresh water and supplies from the local governor in return for the ships. After the governor complied, Low kept one vessel and emptied it except for the cook, which he burned at the mast after determining he was a, "greasy fellow" who would fry well.
As pressure from local authorities increased, Low felt it best to plunder elsewhere, and headed for the Carolina coast. It was there that a confrontation with a ship turned ugly, as the vessel turned out to be the British Man-of-War Greyhound. During a furious fight, the cruel pirate abandoned his partner Charles Harris and headed east.
It is at this time in early 1724 that Edward Low's end becomes somewhat vague. One account says he was last seen sailing in the Azores and Canary Islands, perhaps later lost in a storm. Another account says that the always-irritable Low had an argument with his quartermster, shot him in his sleep, and was then put over the side in a boat with a couple of others. A ship from Martinique then took them aboard, and Low was taken back to that island to stand trial, after which he was hung.