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- Peter Lisle was a Scottish born deckhand aboard the Betsy, an American schooner, who was captured by corsairs from Tripoli. After his imprisonment, he decided to convert to Islam and became a corsair himself, taking the name of an earlier corsair Murad Rais. The Betsy, renamed Meshuda, became his flagship, and he became the admiral of Tripoli’s navy. Lisle was caught stealing by his shipmates off the coast of North Africa, but before he had to face the consequences of his actions, the ship was captured by pirate ship out of Tripoli. As was the usual practice, the American sailors were taken prisoner, but they were soon released after the payment of a ransom. All but one. Peter Lisle, in order to avoid the punishment he had coming for his theft aboard the Betsey, chose to remain in Tripoli and convert to Islam. Lisle had made several voyages to the Levant earlier in his life, during the course of which he had become fluent in Arabic. Peter Lisle took the name of Murat Rais after his conversion, possibly as a nod to a famous seventeenth-century Algerian pirate of the same name. That earlier Murat Rais was also a western convert to Islam, a young Dutch sailor who was forced to convert when he was captured by a powerful Barbary pirate who developed a strong tendré for the young man. That young Dutchman had gone on to become one of the most famous admirals of the Ottoman Empire.
Scotsman Peter Lisle, the later Murat Rais, was a particularly opportunistic sailor, who made quite a name for himself in Tripoli. After his conversion, he shipped aboard the Betsey, which had been converted into an Arab privateer renamed the Meshuda. During his time as a Barbary pirate, Rais steadily rose in rank, ultimately becoming the commander of the Meshuda. He also accumulated a great deal of personal wealth as his share of the ships he had captured. He married the daughter of the Bashaw of Tripoli, Yusef Karanmanli, despite the fact he had a Christian wife and five children living in Wapping, London. In 1796, Rais was made High Admiral of the Barbary fleet in Tripoli. Imagine the surprise of the American commander, Commodore Richard Dale, in July of 1801, when he hailed a Tripolitan ship in the port of Gibraltar, only to receive a response in English, spoken with a Scottish accent. The ship was the Meshuda, commanded by Murat Rais. Commodore Dale was seeking news of the American Consul, James Cathcart, and verification of whether or not the United States and the Barbary pirates were enjoying a period of peace or were at war. Rais knew his ships were no match for the ships of the U. S. Navy, so he claimed peace prevailed until he could sail out of the port, despite the fact that a state of war existed between the two nations.