I am currently researching legal structures aboard pirate vessels. This is for a Pen and Paper Roleplaying campaign. The "General History of the Pyrates" by Charles Johnson gives an account of the pirate code in use aboard the "Revenge" lead by Captain John Phillips. The rules seem pretty straightforward, however, there is one sentence that puzzles me:
"If at any Time we should meet another Marrooner [that is, Pyrate,] that Man that shall sign his Articles without the Consent of our company, shall suffer such Punishment as the Captain and Company shall think fit. "
Now, although I am not a native speaker, I pride myself in a good grasp of the English language. That sentence, however, remains a mystery to me as it is a little archaicly formulated and does not seem to make sense.
So, there is something that deserves punishment, which is determined by the crew by popular vote. So far, so good. The perpetrator of this crime is, presumably, a pirate not part of the original crew.
However, the deed in itself seems unclear. It seems that the punishment is for signing Phillips' code without the crew approving, but that seems nonsensical. I mean, if it is to keep people from joining the crew against the crew's wishes, it seems like a very weird edge case.
Is it something to do with stowaways ("Signing his articles" as an indirect formulation of "coming aboard")? Am I missing something incredibly obvious?
Anyway, thank you for the time you took to read this, and I hope I could get some help.