The First Wedding In Pirates Alley New Orleans
The tradition of being married in Pirates Alley in the French Quarter is clouded in secrecy and varies as who tells the tale. One is never sure who was actually the first to get married there but this tale as told to me often during my life is a sure as any tale of pirates, ghosts, and love. Back in the days of the Pirates of Barataria many young men from many places joined in to make a fortune. Called “smugglers” by some, hated by Spain, used by France but admired by Americans as an independent lot who at times would help the poor and ill treated.
I am told one Reginald Hicks, who began as a mere cabin boy on an English ship was taken by some pirates and raised by them. Only a lad in his early teens when captured ultimately raised himself to a first mate of a pirate ship by the time of the War of 1812. He was trusted by all his pirate brethren and their leader Jean Lafitte. He was known to go along with several other men to met with General Jackson to aid the Americans in the Battle of New Orleans, mostly as “cannoneers” as they were very good shots.
Of course Master Hicks was a good looking young man having many a lass looking at him but in his heart was none other but a beautiful Creole French girl, Marie Angel Beauchamp. She too had only thoughts of him and whenever he came into the City they would steal off into the night, keeping their love a secret as it was not permissible for a young Creole Catholic girl to be seeing a Pirate of English extraction.
As things would happen on Master Hicks’ visit to meet with General Jackson he learned that his Marie was expecting their child. He being raised as an English gentleman his first decade of life did not want to leave the city without getting married. His child would have a father and his love would not be scorned for having a child without a husband. All evening they searched in vain for a priest to marry them but most required that they both be Catholic, others would not think of doing a ceremony on such short notice. Eventually they had two options, simply jumping a broom down in Barataria or seeking out a German born baker in the jail who was also an ordained Protestant minister. Master Hicks did not want to take Marie to Barataria which meant she would have to stay and may never see her family and friends in the city again. So they very early in the morning made their way to the Cabildo and asked the jail’s warden if they could speak with the German Minister. He would only allow them to see him through the iron gate facing Orleans Alley. But right there and then they were married. Soon gathered many early arriving workers and some visitors who witnessed the first wedding in Pirates Alley. Documents drawn and signed by a Notary on his way to file others for record at the Cabildo and all present signed making the marriage both Civil and Religious.
Here again the story varies as exactly what happened. What happened to Master Reginald Hicks remains a mystery, some say he was killed in the Battle of New Orleans and seeks out his lovely Marie nightly in Pirates Alley today as a spirit. Others say he and Marie left for Galveston with Pirate Lafitte after Louisiana was sold to America. But if you go to Pirates Alley early in the morning on the right day of the right month you can hear laughter and celebration and wedding bells and a cold breeze passes you by. Could it be the ghost of Master Hicks seeking his bride?
Believe as you may.
Today couples can still get married in Pirates Alley by a German Protestant wedding officiant. For more in formation visit his web page at: http://www.figstreet.com/guesthouse/firstpiratesalleywedding.html
JK Schwehm at Fig Street.
Copyright 2003 [Fig Street, LLC]. All rights reserved.
Revised: March 25,2009 by the author