Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Famous Barbados Pirates "Yoh Ho Ho & A Bottle Of Rum"

Stede Bonnet

Stede Bonnet was an early 18th century pirate. He was born  in 1688 and died in 1718.
He was sometimes called the gentleman pirate because he was a somewhat wealthy landowner before turning to a life piracy. Bonnet was born into a wealthy family life and inherited his father's estate upon his death. He joined the military for a few years and then decided to turn to piracy.

In 1717 he bought a sixty-ton ship, which he equipped with guns and named it the Revenge. This was unusual, as most pirates seized their ships by mutiny or boarding, or converted a privateer vessel to a pirate ship. Bonnet enlisted a crew of more than seventy men. He relied on his quartermaster and officer for their knowledge of sailing as he had no knowledge of sailing himself. As a result, he was not highly respected by his crew. Bonnet paid his crew wages, not shares of plunder as most pirates did. He traveled with his paid crew along the American eastern seaboard, capturing other vessels and burning down Barbadian ships.

Bonnet's first cruise took him to the coast of Virginia near Chesapeake Bay, where he captured and plundered four vessels, and burned the Barbadian ship Turbet to keep news of his crimes from reaching Barbados. He then sailed north to New York, taking two more ships, and picking up naval supplies and releasing captives at Gardiners Island. Towards the end of 1717 Bonnet returned to the Carolinas, where he attacked two more ships and used them to repair the Revenge.  Bonnet then set course for Nassau, which was then an infamous pirate den on the island of New Providence in the Bahamas. En route, he encountered, fought, and escaped from a Spanish man of war. The Revenge was badly damaged, Bonnet was seriously wounded, and half the crew was lost in the encounter. Putting in at Nassau, Bonnet replaced his casualties and refitted the Revenge.

In Nassau, Bonnet met Blackbeard. Disabled by his wounds, Bonnet temporarily ceded command of the Revenge to Blackbeard, but remained aboard as a guest of the more experienced pirate captain. Blackbeard and Bonnet weighed anchor and sailed northward to Delaware Bay, where they plundered eleven ships.

Blackbeard and Bonnet left Delaware Bay and returned to the Caribbean in November, where they successfully continued their piracy. On November 17 they attacked a 200-ton ship named the Concorde  off the island of Martinique. The crew of the Concorde put up a fight, but surrendered after the pirates bombarded them with "two volleys of cannons and musketry."Blackbeard took the Concorde and sailed south into the Grenadines, where he renamed the ship Queen Anne's Revenge, possibly as an insult to King George I of Great Britain. Some time after December 19, Bonnet and Blackbeard separated.  Bonnet now sailed into the western Caribbean. In March 1718, he encountered the 400-ton merchant vessel Protestant Caesar off Honduras but the ship escaped him.  When Bonnet encountered Blackbeard again shortly afterward, Bonnet's crew deserted him to join Blackbeard. Blackbeard put a henchman named Richards in command of the Revenge. Bonnet, surprised that his colleague had betrayed him, found himself as a guest aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge. Bonnet confided in a few loyal crew members that he was ready to give up his criminal life if he could exile himself in Spain or Portugal. Bonnet would not exercise command again until the summer of 1718.
Later Bonnet accompanied Blackbeard to South Carolina, where Blackbeard's four vessels blockaded the port of Charleston in the late spring of 1718. Needing a place to rest and refit their vessels, Blackbeard and Bonnet headed north to Topsail Inlet, where the Queen Anne's Revenge ran aground and was lost. Leaving the remaining three vessels at Topsail Inlet, Blackbeard and Bonnet went ashore and journeyed to Bath, which was then capital of North Carolina. Once there, both men accepted pardons from Governor Charles Eden under King George's Act of Grace, putatively on condition of their renouncing piracy forever.While Blackbeard quietly returned to Topsail Inlet, Bonnet stayed in Bath to get a "clearance" to take the Revenge to Denmark's Caribbean colony of St. Thomas, where he planned to buy a letter of marque and go privateering against Spanish shipping. Eden granted Bonnet this clearance.

Bonnet returned to Topsail Inlet to find that Blackbeard had beached the majority of their former crew, robbed the Revenge and two other vessels of the squadron of most of their supplies, and sailed away for parts unknown aboard the Adventure, carrying all the loot with him. Bonnet now resumed command of the Revenge. Few, if any, of his original crew from Barbados were still aboard. Bonnet reinforced the Revenge by rescuing a number of men whom Blackbeard had marooned on a sandbar.

Shortly after Bonnet resumed command, a bumboat's crew told him that Blackbeard was moored in Ocracoke Inlet. Bonnet set sail at once to hunt down his treacherous ex-confederate, but could not find him, and Bonnet never met Blackbeard again. Although Bonnet apparently never discarded his hopes of reaching St. Thomas and getting his letter of marque, two pressing problems now tempted him back into piracy. First, Blackbeard had stolen the food and supplies he and his men needed to subsist and St. Thomas was now in the midst of the Atlantic hurricane season, which would last until autumn. However, returning to freebooting meant nullifying his pardon.

Hoping to preserve his pardon, Bonnet adopted the alias "Captain Thomas" and changed the Revenge's name to the Royal James. Bonnet further tried to disguise his return to piracy by engaging in a pretense of trade with the next two vessels he robbed. Soon afterward, Bonnet quit the charade of trading and reverted to naked piracy. In July 1718, he cruised north to Delaware Bay, pillaging another eleven vessels. He took several prisoners, some of whom joined his pirate crew. While Bonnet set loose most of his prizes after looting them, he retained control of the last two ships he captured. the Francis and Fortune. On August 1, 1718, the Royal James and the two captured sloops sailed southward from Delaware Bay.

Twelve days out of Delaware Bay, Bonnet entered the estuary of the Cape Fear River and anchored near the mouth of a small waterway now known as Bonnet's Creek. The Royal James had begun to leak badly and was in need of careening. Shortly afterward, a small ship entered the river and was captured. Bonnet had the ship broken up to help repair the Royal James. The work of careening was done, in whole or in part, by the prisoners Bonnet had captured. Bonnet threatened at least one man with marooning if he did not work the Royal James' pumps. Bonnet remained in the Cape Fear River for the next 45 days

In August & September, a naval expedition was led against all pirates and Bonnett was captured. he escaped on October 24th but was recaptured. Bonnet was brought to trial and charged with two acts of piracy on November 10th. He was hung on december 10th 1718 .

Samuel Hall Lord "Sam Lord"

He was born in 1778 and died 1844. He was the son of John Lord and Bathsheba Hall Sarjeant. He had two brothers and three sisters: John Thomas, Mary Bathsheba, Richard Sargeant, Sara Bathsheba and Elizabeth Bathsheba.

He was one of the most famous pirates in Barbados. Sam Lord as he was called gained great wealth for his castle in Barbados. He did this by plundering of ships stranded in the coral reefs just off the coast of his estate. According to legend, Sam Lord would hang lanterns high in the coconut trees around his estate. Passing ships far out at sea would think it was the port in the city of Bridgetown and would sail towards the reef in the area leading them to wreck their ships. Sam Lord would then board the ships and keep the riches for his castle that he built in the parish of Saint Philip.

Sam Lord was considered eccentric for some of the design principles he insisted on building into his home. For example, the hallways slope markedly, which might indicate an insane or bad designer. But apparently Sam Lord created the slope so that, whenever hurricanes came and drove water into the house, it would drain back out of the house again instead of ruining the wood. . He was apparently a pirate with very extravagant tastes, as his castle on the southern tip of the island with enormous, tooled ceilings and an external turtle pit illustrates.

There was a calypson song written and sung by the Merrymen

He used to hang de lanterns
on de coconut trees
and lure the ships upon de reef
and when de sailors thought
they'd sighted land,
alas they ran aground
alas they ran aground!

He is said to have greatly mistreadted his wife Lucy and locked her in the dungeon whilst he entertained other women. She would later flee to England from him with their four children.

His castle was eventually turned into a hotel called the Sam Lord's Castle which closed in the early 2000's.

Henry Morgan

Henry Morgan  born in 1635 and died in 1688 was a Welsh Admiral and privateer, who made a name for activities in the Caribbean. He was one of the most notorious and successful privateers from Wales, and one of the most dangerous pirates who worked in the Spanish Main.

As young boy he was sent from Bristol, England to the island of Barbados as an indentured servant. This was a form of white slavery which was widely used at that time. Supposedly indentured servants were to work for approximately seven years and then be granted their freedom to pursue their own careers. Many holders of these servants tried to circumvent the English law by various means so that the servant would spend a longer time working for little or wages.
Morgan's freedom came when in 1654 Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell, then ruler of England, sent a large invasion force to the West Indies with the intention of capturing Hispaniola from the Spanish. The fleet anchored in Barbados, where many young men deserted their owners to join up with this invasion force
This fleet sailed for Santo Domingo on March 31st 1655. The invasion was not a successful one. The commanders did not want to return to England without some success, so they invaded the smaller Spanish colony of Jamaica and took it over.

Due to illness among the soldiers left guarding this new English colony, Cromwell recruited persons to settle there by offering them 30 free acres of land. Later King Charles II offered letters of marque to privateers using Jamaica (Port Royal) as a base. These privateers became the English "naval protection" force for the Island.

The British government sort of closed their eyes to the privateers' exploits as it needed the privateers in the area to protect its land holdings. In fact, the Governor of Jamaica was usually given a cut of the booty the privateers gained.
Henry Morgan did not go to sea until sometime between his twentieth and thirtieth birthdays. His early sea exploits have not been chronicled so little is known about this phase of his life. He did have command of his own ship by 1666. He led raids against Puerto Principe and Porto Bello. Port Bello was very brutal and involved rape, torture, and murder.

Battle Of The Maracaibo Lagoon
In 1669 Morgan ventured through the tight inlets of the Maracaibo lagoon with four hundred men and a few small ships. He sacked Maracaibo, which the Spaniards had hastily abandoned upon seeing his approach. His fleet then sailed further south to Gibralter where he lingered for weeks, torturing residents and trying to raise a ransom for the town, but only gaining about 5000 pieces of eight in total. The French buccaneer L'Ollonais had raided the area only three years earlier and had done a good job plundering the Spaniards of their riches.

Morgan at last weighed anchor and sailed north. He must have been unsettled to find that three Spanish war galleons under the command of Admiral Don Alonso Del Campo waited for him by the narrow inlets that were the only exit to the Caribbean. These war galleons -- the 40 gun flagship Magdalena, the 30 gun Luis, and the 24 gun La Marquesa -- far outclassed anything Morgan had in his motley collection of sloops and converted merchantmen. Furthermore, behind the galleons, the Spaniards had fortified an island in the narrowest stretch of the inlet with cannon and infantry.
Strangely enough (given the atrocities Morgan had inflicted), Don Del Campo offered to let Morgan go provided the privateers turn over the loot they had taken from the area. Del Campo gave Morgan and his men two days to decide their fate. The buccaneers decided to fight.
At dawn on April 31st, Del Campo awoke to find a half dozen small English ships sailing towards his fleet. He ordered the galleons manoeuvre into position and fire a broadside. The Magdalena had barely discharged her first barrage when a small English ship, ladened with explosives, crashed into the side of the galleon. A skeleton English crew of twelve men grappled their ship to the galleon, lit several fuses, then jumped over the side and swam for their lives. Behind them the exploding fireship ripped a hole in the side of the Magdalena and flames raced uncontrollably through the galleon. Within minutes Del Campo gave orders to abandon ship
Meanwhile the captain of the Luis had ineptly run his ship aground in the narrow waters by the inlet, and she too began to sink. Morgan focussed his attention on the La Marquesa, which was soon surrounded by his ships and boarded. After a short, bloody fight she was in English hands.
In the euphoria of victory Morgan ordered an immediate frontal assault against the Spanish fortifications on the island. Here, however, the Spanish held and the buccaneers were beaten back with over 30 dead and many wounded. The setback chastened Morgan to adopt a brilliant plan of deception. He sent rowboats ladened with men to the far shore of the island, only to have the men duck when the boats were out of sight and return to the ships with every man. The Spaniards, fearing a land assault from behind, turned their heavy guns away from the inlet and towards the vulnerable side of their fortifications. While the Spaniards were busily shifting their cannons and preparing themselves for infantry attack, Morgan raised anchor and sailed through the inlet unscathed

Attacking Panama
In late 1670 Morgan sailed for Panama with a fleet of thirty-five small ships and over two thousand English and French privateers. It was the largest force of privateers brought together for one venture, and it was big -- the sack of Panama, then considered the wealthiest city in the New World.
The attack was difficult because of the city's location -- on the far side of a mountainous, jungle-covered isthmus. The opening move involved reducing a Spanish fortress at the mouth of the Chagres River. In a few days the buccaneers had carried the fort, but at the expense of one hundred dead and many wounded. They then began a grueling march through the thick jungle to the Pacific side of the Isthmus of Panama. Morgan had planned to feed his small army with stores of food captured from the Spanish or foraged from the jungle. However, the retreating Spaniards set fire to all provisions before they retreated. After a few days Morgan's men were reduced eating leather, leaves, and tree bark. Malaria and yellow fever delibeted many of the men. Snakes, mosquitos, ticks, alligators, and insects tormented them. Men sank chest deep into foul swamps, hacked through thick undergrowth with cutlasses, and suffered occassional musket fire from Spanish snipers. A few men died from poison arrows fired from natives.

After eight days, Morgan's drained force camped within sight of Panama City. The next day Spanish army marched out to meet them on the plain. The Spanish governor, Don Guzman, had 2000 infantry and 500 calvary; however, most of the infantry were slaves or ill-trained militia. The governor's secret weapon, by which he set much store, was a herd of several hundred head of cattle, which he planned to have driven through English lines during the battle. Then, his forces would then swoop down to mop up the trampled buccaneers.

The battle proved short. The governor first ordered the calvary to make an ill-advised frontal attack on the buccaneeers. A couple salvos from the English and French muskets decimated the charge and the attack collapsed. The infantry put up half-hearted resistance until a detachment of Morgan's men appeared over a small hill and attacked their flank. The famed cattle scattered in all directions and soon every Spaniard was running for his life.
Morgan entered Panama with his half-starved men waving banners and blowing horns. The city was set ablaze by the Spaniards (or by the privateers themselves accidently) and burned down around them. Warehouses full of silk, spices and other riches brought from Spain's colonies in the Pacific were destroyed in the blaze. Morgan's force camped in the smoldering ashes for weeks, torturing captives to find the whereabouts of treasure they may have hidden away, and sending expeditions out into the surrounding countryside in search of fleeing citizens and their loot.

The Spanish had plenty warning of Morgan's approach and the takings from the attack were far less than anticipated. Most of the wealthier citizens had long since collected their valuables and disappeared. On the long march back to their ships the men grew mutinous as word spread that each sailor's share would amount to less than 200 pieces of eight. Rather than try to allay them, Morgan wisely took his cut of the loot aboard his ship and sailed for Port Royal, leaving a bloodthirsty mob of buccaneers behind.
Later Life
Spain's reaction to the sack of Panama was to threaten war, and England's King Charles II made a show of having both Morgan and Jamaica's governor arrested and brought back to England. They lived comfortably in the Tower of London until the furor had died down. Charles II then knighted Henry for his deeds and sent him back to Jamaica as lieutenant-governor.
Morgan never sailed again. He spent the rest of his life in Port Royal. He died there in 1688.
Centuries later he became the figurehead for The Captain Morgan Rum Company in Jamacia

Ho! Henry Morgan sails today
To harry the Spanish Main,
With a pretty bill for the Dons to pay
Ere he comes back again.

Him cheat him friend of his last guinea,
Him kill both friar and priest - O dear!
Him cut de t'roat of piccaninny,
Bloody, bloody buccaneer.

Captain "Red Legs" Greaves


As pirates go, Red Legs Greaves was not only a successful one but also a lucky one. He managed to survive his life as a pirate and live to ripe old age.
What makes this even the more remarkable was how his life began. Greaves was born in Barbados, the son of Scottish slaves. Anyone familiar with the movie "Captain Blood" recalls the scene at the beginning of the movie where several men are tried for treason and eventually sold into slavery. This was a common practice in England and was the case of the parents of Greaves. Apparently Greaves' father was the on the wrong side of the Civil war when Cromwell came to power, as were many people in Scotland and Ireland.

A short time after the elder Greaves arrived in Barbaboes as a slave, young Greaves was born and while the new son had nothing to do with the Civil War in England, he paid for the sins of his father and was a slave from the moment of birth. At first, life as a slave was at least tolerable becuase Greaves had a kind master. But his life took a turn for the worse after his parents as well as his master died and the orphaned boy was sold to another master who delighted in beating the young man.

While still in his teens, Greaves decided his only hope for survival was to run away and one night he swam across Carlisle Bay in attempt to find his freedom. After making his escape, Greaves stowed away aboard a ship hoping to sail off to a safe harbor. Unfortunately the ship belonged to a notorious pirate known as Captain Hawkins. Hawkins was known throughout the Caribbean as an unusually cruel captain, who found joy in torturing his captives and mistreating women. He rarely offered quarter to ships he attacked and was feared by even his own crew. The only reason his crew remained loyal to him was because he had a knack for finding rich prizes.

Once Hawkins found Greaves stowed away on his ship he gave him the option of signing the ship's Articles, no doubt offering the articles on a platter along with a pistol. It is uncertan if Greaves would have signed the Articles without threat but once driven to the calling of piracy, Greaves became very efficient, and quickly rose to eminence.

Despite his success, Greaves' childhood as a slave led him to hate Captain Hawkins. Greaves refused to kill for no reason and would not partake in torturing prisoners. It didn't take long for the two men with distinctly different moral codes to come to blows. While it is said that the two men had a duel over the issue, it is more likely Hawkins attacked Greaves for not following his orders and bloody fight ensued. In the end, Greaves managed to kill Hawkins and the crew which had lived in fear of the cruel Hawkins immediately elected Young Greaves the new Captain.

Greaves in turn drew up a new set of Ship's Articles which were more to his liking, which gave stiff penalties for maltreatment of prisoners and women and a willigness to offer quarter. Much to the delight of Greaves and his crew, what followed was a period of the highest piratical success. As his reputation spread thoughout the Caribbean "Red Leg" Greaves became known for his humanity and morality. He never tortured his prisoners, nor ever robbed the poor, nor maltreated women.

His greatest success of all was his capture of the Island of Margarita, off the coast of Venezuela. On this occasion, after capturing the Spanish Fleet, he turned the guns of their warships against the forts, which he then stormed, and was rewarded by a huge booty of pearls and gold. And as was true to his form, he didn't sack the town, or rape and torture the Sapniards, he just took the money and ran.

Having made off with enough money to last a life time, Greaves retired to the respectable life of a planter in the Island of Nevis. The story would end at this point but unfortunately for Greaves, one of his former victims happened to cross his path and turned him in for the bounty on his head.As was typical of the time he was quickly tried and found guilty and sentenced to be hanged in chains. (Moral or not, he was a pirate!) He was cast into a dungeon to await execution, when the great earthquake came which destroyed and submerged the town in 1680, and one of the few survivors was Greaves. Greaves was rescued by a whaling ship and in turn he joined the crew and served remarkably well. Later he would turn pirate hunter and received a pardon for his earlier crimes after assisting in the capturing a gang of pirates that habe been ravaging the whaling fleets.

After Greaves became a legally free and pardoned man he once again retired to a plantation becoming well known for being a charitable and kindly man who gave generously to many public institutions. Greaves died of old age, universally respected and missed by all in his community.

Greaves got his nickname "Red Legs" from his heritage. The kilt wearing Scots were known for going bare legged in any weather and this lifestyle led to "red legs" in the Caribbean sun. Red Legs was a common nickname for the Scots and the Irish.

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1 comment:


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