Mr Smee the Pirate - Fiction about Fiction

In the 1960's my late Aunt always told us kids that Smee the Pirate in the Work "Peter Pan" by J M Barrie was based on her Great Grandfather, William Smee a large man with red hair who had been a lighter man on the Thames and then became Mayor of Deptford. For some reason he had upset James M Barrie and was immortalised in the book as a Pirate.

But there are no bespectacled Irish Baptists in my Smee line, and it is quite clear in the book where Smee is described as

the Irish bo'sun Smee, an oddly genial man who stabbed, so to speak, without offence, and was the only Non-conformist in Hook's crew

So is the red headedness just a coincidence? My son has red hair so there is definitely a gene in the family, was it the description as "Irish" that caused the Disney animators to make Smee the Pirate, a red head?

Unfortunately my Aunt had confused her Great Grandfathers! William Smee may well have had Red Hair, but he was a Metropolitan Police Officer. It was her Great Grandfather on her Maternal Side, James Jacob who was the Lighter man on the Thames.

 


Captain Smee the Privateer - the Facts

What is certain in History is that in the 1720's 2 sloops were active in the Caribbean, the boundary between Pirates and Privateers was marginal, the modern day equivalent of "one man's Terrorist is another Man's Patriot".

The "Princess Carolina", a 60 ton Sloop captained by William Smee was described as being a Privateer with 30 Men and 12 Guns was "beat to pieces" in Kingston harbour by the hurricane of 22nd Oct 1726

The "Glasgow", a 70 ton Sloop captained by Richard Smee was described as a Privateer with 35 Men and 16 Guns was "beat to pieces" in Port Royal by the hurricane of 22nd Oct 1726


In 1745 a Captain Smee was in command of the "Hawk" a Privateer when she captured a Dutch Brigantine which was taken to Kingston Harbour as a prize, but the Hawk was driven on shore by the Hurricane of 2 February 1745, and had only just been repaired when she was captured at Portobello in November 1745