About Thomas Tew

About Thomas Tew

Captain Thomas Tew was a seventeenth century mariner.   In the 1690s, Tew sailed several times from America to the Indian Ocean. He and his crew repeatedly plundered the ships  of the Mughal Empire.   They robbed the subjects of Emperor Aurangzeb of vast amounts of treasure. This Muslim ruler was the most powerful man in the world.  Aurangzeb was greatly angered at the depredations  of Tew and his Christian crewmates.  For a short period of time, Thomas Tew’s exploits against Mughal ships made him one of the wealthiest  skippers in America.

Little is known of Thomas Tew’s early life.  He is usually associated with Rhode Island, but also spent considerable time in New York, Jamaica, Bermuda and Madagascar.  

Thomas Tew has been called a pirate. Yet the voyages to the Indian Ocean which made him famous were legal.  Captain Thomas Tew sailed as a royally commissioned privateer. Tew was licensed as a privateer by several English colonial governors, who acted on behalf of the King and Queen, William and Mary.  

Thomas Tew was authorized  to sail while flying the ‘King’s Colours’.  This meant the vessels Thomas Tew commanded flew the same flag as the British Royal Navy.