Pirates were hanged at Waimea, Kauai in 1818

On Aug. 17, 1818, French-born Argentine naval officer Captain Hippolyte Bouchard (1780-1837) arrived at Kealakekua Bay, Hawai‘i, in command of the Argentine frigate “La Argentina.”

His reason for being there had been to recruit Hawaiian seamen to replace crew members who’d died of scurvy on his preceding voyage to the Philippines.

But, while at anchor, Bouchard observed an apparently abandoned corvette (small warship) of Argentine origin anchored nearby.

Since, as an Argentine naval officer, it was within his responsibility to investigate suspicious Argentine possessions abroad, Bouchard questioned some Hawaiians, who informed him, in English, that the corvette had come from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and had been abandoned by its crew.

Later, King Kamehameha I, provided additional information by telling Bouchard that the corvette had been captained by an Englishman named Turner, who had attempted to sell it to him prior to abandoning it and sailing off in a frigate the day before.

Bouchard, suspecting piracy, then continued his investigation by promptly setting sail aboard the “La Argentina” in search of the frigate, which he soon discovered becalmed further south off the coast of Hawai‘i.

However, Turner was not onboard, for he and several of his confederates had disembarked the frigate and had sailed for Kaua‘i aboard another ship.

Following an interrogation by Bouchard, the frigate’s nine-man Spanish crew confessed that they, under Turner’s orders, had seized the corvette “Santa Rosa” at Buenos Aires, and had sailed it to Hawai‘i.

Since an act of piracy had definitely been committed, Bouchard took the Spanish crew into custody, and upon his return to Kealakekua, punished them by means unknown.

“La Argentina,” was provisioned, “Santa Rosa” and the unnamed frigate were made ready for sailing, with officers placed in command of each of them, and Bouchard with this fleet of three ships, made way for Kaua‘i to bring Turner to justice.

At Waimea, Turner and his pirates were arrested and summarily tried.

Turner and his leaders were executed by hanging on the beach, while the others were whipped.

Bouchard then recruited Hawaiian replacements and departed Hawai‘i for California.
Hank Soboleski has been a resident of Kauai since the 1960s. Hank’s love of the island and its history has inspired him, in conjunction with The Garden Island Newspaper, to share the island’s history weekly. The collection of these articles can be found here: https://bit.ly/2IfbxL9 and here https://bit.ly/2STw9gi Hank can be reached at hssgms@gmail.com

  1. Mike Mahoney November 4, 2020 4:19 am Reply

    In the painting King Kamehameha I is wearing western clothes in 1880! I see now that traditional Hawaiians lost any sense of tradition a long time ago. Sad.

  2. Debra Kekaualua November 7, 2020 6:14 am Reply

    Their eyes, not their attire, says much more MM, obviously you not from here, transplants all have the same talk, cuz they have NO clue!

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