PI RACY, PIRATE (immediately from the Latin pirate, and remotely from the Greek nsipterhs, which had the same signi fication as our word pirate).
The offence of piracy, by the common law of England, consists in committing those acts of robbery and depredation upon the high seas, which, if committed upon land, would have amounted to felony there. (4 Black., 72.) By statute some other offences are made piracy, as by stat. 11 & 12 Wm. III. c. 7, if any natural-born sub ject commits any act of hostility upon the high seas against others of his ma jesty's subjects, under colour of a com mission from any foreign power, or if any commander or other sea-faring person shall betray his trust, and run away with any ship, boat, ordnance, ammunition, or goods ; or if he yields them up volun tarily to a pirate, or conspires to do these acts ; or if any person assaults the com mander of a vessel to hinder him from fighting in defence of his ship, or confines him, or makes or endeavours to make a revolt on board, he shall for each of these offences be adjudged a pirate. The com manders or seamen wounded, and tin widows of such seamen as are slain, in an engagement with pirates, are entitled to a bounty not exceeding one-fiftieth part of the value of the cargo on board, which is to be equally divided ; and sea men who are wounded are entitled to a pension from Greenwich Hospital.
By the stet. 8 Geo. I. c. 24, the trading with known pirates, or furnishing them with stores or ammunition, or fitting out any vessel for that purpose, or in anywise consulting, combining, confederating, or corresponding with them; or the forcibly boarding any merchant vessel, though without seizing or carrying her off, and destroying or throwing any of the goods overboard, shall be deemed piracy. (4
Blacks., 72, 269; and Abbott, On Shipping. 140, 141, 142, 239.) The dealing in slaves on the high seas is piracy, and subjects a person to transportation for life or not less than fifteen years, or to be imprisoned for not exceeding three years.
(5 Geo IV. C. 113; 1 Viet. c. 91.) The 6 Geo. IV. C. 49, for enconraqing the capture of piratical vessels, provides that officers, seamen, marines, and others, actually on board any kin(s ship at the taking or destroying any piratical vessel, shall receive the sum of 201. for each pirate taken or killed during the attack, and the sum of 51. for every other man of the crew, not taken or killed, who shall have been alive on board the pirate ship at the beginning of the engage ment.
Persons guilty of piracy were formerly tried before the judge of the Admiralty court, but the stet. 28 Henry VIII. C. 15. enacted that the trial should be before commissioners of Oyer and terminer, and that the course of the proceedings should be according to the law of the land. Further provision was made with respect to the trial of offences on the high seas by the statutes 39 Geo. III. c. 15 ; 43 Geo. III. c. 113 ; 46 Geo. III. c. 54; and now, by the stet. 4 & 5 Wm. I V. c. 36, § 22, the trial of offences com mitted on the high seas is in the Central Criminal Court. Piracy is in some cases punished with death, in others by trans portation. [Law, CRIMINAL, p. 189, 190.]