VCH Explore

Explore England's Past

Turkish Pirates

Trade and fishing were affected by Turkish raids on west Cornwall, which began in 1625. 'Turks' were of many nationalities including disgruntled Europeans. They made the north coast of Africa their base in 1598 with ports at Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli and Salee. Christian prisoners were sold into slavery in north Africa and ransoms had to be paid for their release.

On 16 June 1640, in one of the worst raids, 60 people were taken from five fishing boats and four other vessels near Mousehole. Stories that men, women and children were taken from their beds by the Turks were widely believed, though probably unfounded. There were also Spanish, French, Dutch and local pirates, too.

Content generated during research for the paperback book 'Cornwall and the Coast: mousehole and Newlyn' (ISBN 13 : 978-1-86077-489-8) for the England's Past for Everyone series