A Christian turn'd Turk

or, The Tragical Lives and Deaths of the Two Famous Pirates, Ward and Dansiker

a tragedy by Robert Daborne

first published 1612


About the Play

A Christian Turn’d Turk is one of only two surviving plays by dramatist turned clergyman Richard Daborne. The play is based on anonymously printed pamphlets describing the life of actual seventeenth-century pirate Jack Ward.

In Daborne’s day, “Turk” was the term used for any Muslim, and the center of the plot is Ward’s conversion to Islam, based again on true events—although Daborne’s version is twisted to suit his audience’s anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic prejudices.


Known Editions

  • A Christian turn’d Turke: or, The Tragicall Liues and Deaths of the two Famous Pyrates, Ward and Dansiker. As it hath beene publickly Acted. Written by Robert Daborn, Gentleman. Nemo sapiens, Miser est. London, Printed by [sic] for William Barrenger, and are to be sold at the great North-doore of Pauls. 1612

    The first and only known early edition. Appears to have been prepared from Daborne’s papers or another unreliable source.


References from Secondary Sources

  • Walter Wilson Gregg, A List of English Plays (1900)

    DABORNE, Robert. (?-1628.)

    • A Christian turn’d Turke: or, The Tragicall Liues and Deaths of the two Famous Pyrates, Ward and Dansiker. As it hath beene publickly Acted. Written by Robert Daborn, Gentleman. for William Barrenger. 1612. B.M. (644 b. 15). Bodl. U.L.C. Dyce. Huth.
  • James O. Halliwell, A Dictionary of Old English Plays (1860)

    A CHRISTIAN TURN’D TURK; or, the tragical Lives and Deaths of the two famous Pirates Ward and Dansiker. A tragedy by Robert Daborne, not divided into acts. 4to 1612. The story is taken from an account of the overthrow of those two pirates, by Andrew Barker, 4to 1609.

    Halliwell’s attribution of the story to the Barker pamphlet alone is inaccurate, as the Barker story, which does not include the pirates’ “overthrow” but ends with them still marauding on the seas, serves only as a backdrop for Daborne’s mostly invented tragedy.