The period in America from 1689 to 1718 is considered the golden age of piracy. Sea Pirates have felt their presence globally ever since the beginning of seafaring. Despite their long association with the world of seas, the story of most pirates is an enigma.
Here is a sneak peek into the lives of some of the most successful pirates in the world. (Kindly note that they are not arranged according to merits or achievements, but because they were worth mentioning in the top ten list)
1. Henry Morgan
Despite being one of the best-known pirates, Captain Morgan’s status as a pirate is still unknown. Different accounts refer to him as a pirate, privateer or buccaneer. Nonetheless, he is known for his reign in the Caribbean region.
He is most famous for his attacks on Spanish vessels and plundering towns, including the likes of Puerto Principe, a Spanish town that had to be rebuilt entirely after Morgan and his men were done with it. England discreetly supported him in his attacks against the Spanish Kingdom.
He had a powerful Jamaican fleet, and folk stories claim that he may have overtaken more than 400 ships during his entire life as a pirate. He is known for his raid on Panama city, with 30 ships and 1200 men to capture enormous wealth.
He was later arrested and taken to England. However, he was pardoned and sent to Jamaica. He became the Governor of Jamaica and later went to a small plantation where he lived till the end of his life.
2. Thomas Tew
A notorious pirate, Thomas Tew, looted a large Indian ship, plundering a treasure worth £100,000, followed by another attack on a Mughal Convoy. The latest attack cost him his life but not before he earned quite some treasure, teamed up with other pirates like others and enjoyed a heroic piracy career.
3. Henry Every
A fancy pirate who captained a ship called ‘Fancy’, he is famous for having made the most of his piracy career quickly. Also called Long ben is known to have looted two major ships in quick succession, assembling a huge treasure to his credit. This indicates excellent strategic skills. But he is most famously known for never having been caught alive. He retired after the huge plunder and escaped into a world of oblivion, never to be seen again except in the folklore and legends.
4. William Kidd
A cold-blooded hardcore pirate, captain of one of the most famous pirate ships, Captain Kidd, was a privateer assigned to free New York and the West Indies of pirates. But a change in circumstances meant he faced a mutiny from his crew. A loss of another choice, he made the first brutal act of his piracy career with a murder and then never looked back. His most daring act was to loot a treasure ship, almost twice the size of his ship, along with the Malabar Coast of India.
He was hunted, the first live documented hunt in the Atlantic world. Although he asked for forgiveness, he had lost all luck. He sailed to Boston, was arrested by the New England governor, Sir Richard Bellomony and sent to England in 1700. He was hanged on 23rd May 1701. He faced a painful death as he was hanged twice. The first rope broke midway, and he had to be hanged a second time.
5. Edward Teach ‘lackbeard”One of the most famous pirates of the world
Edward Teach ”lackbeard’‘was rightly famous because of his notorious pirate ways. He intimidated others by wrapping smoking fuses into his braided facial hair and dangling numerous pistols and daggers on his chest. He was a living image of the devil and a skilled fighter. Famous for his loots, he took whatever he could. His piracy career makes a glorious account of his life.
He took over a French slave ship in 1717 and renamed it the Queen Anne’s Revenge. It was fitted with 40 guns, and with that, he blocked the port of Charleston, South Carolina, until he got a chest of medicine. After reaching North Carolina, he was killed in a skirmish with the British royal Navy. As per legend, he received 20 stab wounds and five gunshots before he died.
6. Calico Jack
The list of names of pirates all over the world would be incomplete without mentioning Calico Jack Rackham. He became captain of the ship he was sailing with as a quartermaster when he stood up against a seemingly wrong attack decision by the ship’s captain. This was the first glimpse of his leadership and piracy career. He later went on to make his ship one of the most famous pirate ships in the world. He was popular for his famous Jolly Roger Flag with a skull with two crossed swords and for having two female pirates on his crew, Mary Read and Anne Bonny.
He was granted a pardon for his earlier piracy attacks in 1719. However, he went to the sea and captured a 12-gun sloop from port Nassau, Bahamas. He had a dozen followers and only two of the women pirates to ever operate in the Carribean. One was Anne Bonny, who left her husband to be with Captain Jack, and the other was Mary Read, who disguised herself as a man, trained and lived like a pirate. In 1720, they met their end due to an encounter with a pirate hunter vessel.
7. Francis Drake
Sir Francis Drake was more active in the Caribbean during the 16th century as an English wartime sailor than a full-time pirate. He was a gifted sailor with excellent sailing skills but was not so lucky in fate. Bad luck turned him on the road of revenge, which ultimately set off his piracy career. But his intelligent strategies earned him a place as one of the best-known pirates in the world.
8. Anny Bonney and Mary Read
Presenting an extraordinary pirate story of female strength in a mman’sworld, these two female pirates were anomalies in the world of pirates. But they were headstrong, rational and knew what they did not want from life. Fate brought them both into piracy and each other’s friendship, but their skills as efficient seafarers earned them the title of famous pirates of the world. They both found their way into the pirate crew of Calico Jack but left when the ship and its captain were finally captured. Legend believes that Anny and Captain Jack were in a romantic relationship. Even friendship between Anny and Mary is thought to lurk on the verge of something more.
Anne Bonny had a difficult life. She was the offspring of her father and a servant, and once the truth was revealed, she was sent to the New World to work on a plantation, where she met a sailor named James Bonny and married him. She started mixing with pirates and left her husband for Captain Jack when she ran off from home.
9. Howell Davis
Having enjoyed a short career of piracy, this young pirate captured the entire Caribbean region with his navigational skills and daring nature to take on ships larger than his own. A rather bumpy ride throughout his career that lasted all of a year, he made some bold decisions, saw some rough phases and ultimately got his name written on some of the most influential pirates of the world.
10. Bartholomew Roberts
A notorious yet intelligent pirate, Batholomew Roberts, famously known as Black Bart, looted over 400 ships across the Caribbean, Africa and Asia. Chanced into piracy, he was a natural. He was young when the burden of a pirate’s ship’s leadership was put on his shoulders due to the death of Howell Davie, the pirate he was working with. He was bold, daring and cold-blooded. He looted more than 20 ships, excluding a slaver he set on fire with enslaved people still on it. He captured the entire region of the Caribbean and West Indies. He finally meted his end in 1722 when he was killed. His daring career makes him as famous as he is in the history of pirates.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What was Henry Morgan most famous for?
Henry Morgan was a successful privateer-pirate. He raided several Spanish ships and various Spanish colonies in the Carribean. He also attacked the Panama port once.
2. What happened to Henry Avery?
Nobody knows what happened to him or how he died. Some believe that he took his loot to Madagascar, became king and commanded thousands of men. While there is also an opposite rumour that he returned to England broke and died after losing his treasure.
3. Was Calico Jack a successful pirate?
He was one of the unique pirates during the golden age of piracy. Though he was not very charismatic and failed to get enormous wealth, he is known for his flag design and for two female pirates in his crew with whom he shared romantic relationships.
4. Why did Bartholomew Roberts become a pirate?
Famously known as the Black Bart, he worked as Third Mate on a British Slaver ship called Princess. However, it was attacked and captured by pirates headed by Howel Davis near the Guinea coast. The pirates convinced him to join them, and soon he realised that it was a great opportunity for him and became a pirate.
5. What did pirates eat?
According to historians, pirates usually ate beans, found on almost all pirate ships, as it was a source of dietary fibre and protein. They also had dried meat, especially turkey. Vegetables and fruits would go bad, so they were not a regular part of the diet.
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