Dorset has had more than its fair share of pirates and smugglers and perhaps one of the most notorious was that of one Harry Page (aka Henry Paye). Harry Page (1395-1406) was a master pirate and smuggler who as a mariner based at Poole became the scourge of the English Channel.
He was particularly unpopular with the French who referred to him as 'Arripay'. Such was his ability that at one stage he had captured and returned to Poole 120 foreign vessels taken off the coast of Normandy and Brittany. Alongside the French the Spanish did not fair too well either where Arripay had relieved them of a highly valued and loved crucifix from Cape Finisterre. He also set alight Gojon and destroyed it. Pay had concentrated on the Bilboa iron trade but his attacks took on a more formal role after the King commissioned him in 1404 to 'provide for the destruction of the King's enemies'.
In 1405 Page was at sea with Lord Berkeley off Milford Haven, his task was to prevent any assistance reaching Owen Glendower's rebellion against King Henry V who fought in Wales against Glendower.
Eventually the French and the Spanish joined forces in despair with the full backing of their respective Kings. The attack force were fitted out with a dedicated fleet of Castilian galleys, their one mission to crush Arripay for once and all, irrespective that he was commission by the King or not. They would visit the pirate in his own harbour of Poole and destroy him.
The attack mission led by Pero Nino was a success. The revenge attack swept through Poole and despite the residents of the town attempting to defend their celebrity pirate he was forced to flee to the safety of the Great Heath.
It is believed that through the activities of Harry Page, Queen Elizabeth I granted the town the right to become a county incorporate and thus Poole seperated itself from the county of Dorsetshire for a time.
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