The Golden Age of Piracy and the British Contribution to its Development

Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation, 2015

89 Pages, Grade: A


Table of Contents:

v. Glossary

I. Introduction

2. Transition From Privateers to Pirates
2.1. International Problem
2.2. Heroes or Villains ?
2.3 Privateers Turned into Pirates

3. Political and Economic Interests
3.1. Pirates and Commerce
3.2. The Role of Colonial Authorities
3.3. Economic Impacts of the “Pirate Round.”
3.4. Jacobite Involvement in Piracy

4. British Responses to Piracy
4.1. Legal Reforms
4.2. The King’s Pardon
4.3. A Clash of Jurisdictions

5. Social Impacts of Piracy
5.1. People of Colour in Piracy
5.2. Female Pirates
5.3. Contemporary Perception of Pirates

6. Conclusion

7. Maps

8. Appendices

9. Bibliography


I would like to thank my supervisor, William Eddleston, Ph.D., for his kind help, patience and the time he dedicated to my work.


Able (able-bodied) Seaman - A capable and good sailor.

Articles of Agreement, A Pirate Code, Pirate Codex, Pirate Articles - The rules a pirate must follow while on a ship.

Asiento - Between the early 16th and the mid-18th century, an agreement between the Spanish crown and a private person or another sovereign power by which the latter was granted a monopoly in supplying African slaves for the Spanish colonies in the Americas. The contractor (asientista) agreed to pay a certain amount of money to the crown for the monopoly and to deliver a stipulated number of male and female slaves for sale in the American markets.

Bosun - The officer on the ship in charge of the deck crew, rigging and anchors, also called a ‘boat­swain’.

Boucan - Wooden frame for smoking meat, originally from Tupi tribe.

Brethren of the Coast - A loose coalition of pirates and privateers commonly known as buccaneers and active in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

Brig (Brigantine) - A brig is a sailing vessel with two square-rigged masts. During the Age of Sail, brigs were seen as fast and manoeuvrable and were used as both naval warships and merchant's ves­sels. They were especially popular in the 18th and early 19th centuries

Buccaneer - Freebooters, usually from Hispaniola preying on Spanish ships and settlements.

Especially in the 17th century West Indies

Cabin Boy - A beginner sailor, non-experienced.

Captain’s Log - A daily record written to record where a ship travels and what has happened to it. Doubloon - An old Spanish gold coin.

Freebooter - The English term "freebooter" derives from the Dutch vrijbuiter, "privateer, pirate, robber”.

Galleon - A large, squarish ship used in war or to carry cargo.

Jacobite - In British history, a supporter of the exiled Stuart king James II (Latin: Jacobus) and his descendants after the Glorious Revolution. The political importance of the Jacobite movement ex­tended from 1688 until at least the 1750s. The Jacobites, especially under William III and Queen Anne, could offer a feasible alternative title to the crown, and disgruntled soldiers and politicians often frequented the exiled court in France (and later in Italy). After 1714 the Whigs’ monopoly of power led many Tories into intrigues with the Jacobites.

Letter of Marque, Letter of Mark - A licence granted by a state to a private citizen to arm a ship and seize merchant vessels of another nation

Man-of-War (Man ‘O' War) - A ship built specifically for fighting. A Ship built for combat in line

Maroon - From the Latin American Spanish word cimarrón: "feral animal, fugitive, runaway” - were African refugees who escaped from slavery in the Americas and formed independent settlements. The term can also be applied to their descendants.

Mullato - Archaic meaning (17 - 18th century) This term was widely used to depict people of mixed race or people of dual descent, most often of an enslaved Black female and a White man; mixed race women were often more privileged than the enslaved from Africa but still treated as second-class citi­zens.

Negroe - Archaic meaning from 17th - 18th century. A member of any of the dark-skinned indige­nous peoples of Africa and their descendants elsewhere.

Pieces of Eight - An old Spanish silver coin.

Pressgang - To force somebody to become a member of a ship’s crew.

Privateer - English, French or Dutch sailors allowed by their Government to attack enemy ships. Quartermaster - The sailor second-in-charge to the Captain.

Sea Dog - Somebody who has been a sailor for a long time.

Sloop - A small to the mid-sized vessel with one mast and head sail.

1. Introduction

This work will analyse public perception of the entire role of privateers and their tran­sition to pirates and examine both negative and positive outcomes in various areas like diplo­macy, international trade, legal, racial and gender issues. The entire topic will be examined through various cases of pirates including Bartholomew Roberts, Sir Henry Morgan, Thomas Tew, William Kid, Jack Rackham, Stede Bonnet, Edward Teach, Samuel Bellamy, Mary Read, Anne Bony or Henry Avery as well as historical records including letters, trials and pamphlets.

“The Golden of Piracy” as a subject of academic enquiry is primarily interesting be­cause it shows us a dark side of colonialism between the 17th and 18th century and helps us to deconstruct various myths and fantasies tied to this phenomenon. Pirates in popular cul­ture are often described as rebels, adventurers, thieves, murderers and skilled sailors, but these images usually fail to explain the social, economic and political context of piracy. These depictions often raise more question than answers. Nowadays it is very popular to associate pirates from the Golden Age of Piracy with various ideas for example democracy, egalitarianism, anti-mercantilism or even anarchism, but such theories are primarily focused on rationalising actions of pirates without stating the initial question - did pirates from the “Golden Age of Piracy” follow any agenda or did they simply take the opportunity? Piracy was undoubtedly linked with freedom, but how limited this freedom was by the fact that vol­untary decision to became a pirate automatically branded an individual as a criminal?

In order to make following arguments clear it is important to choose one of the possi­ble definitions of the “Golden Age of Piracy” that suits the necessity of this work. In order to analyse the transition of pirates from legal force to illegal force, it is required to use its broadest version from the 1650s to 1730s because it includes all three significant periods that are equally affecting various factors, for example, necessary changes in maritime law, ad­ministration of colonies, trade charters and diplomacy. The broadest definition is also useful to illustrate the difference in the level of contemporary social acceptance of pirates in all three periods: The buccaneering period from1650 to 1680, The Pirate Round from 1693 to 1700 and post-Spanish Succession period from 1715 to 17261.

Firstly, this essay will discuss an interesting development of piracy from state-funded expeditions into completely illegal activity driven by various reasons. Particularly the transi­tion between legal, semi-legal and illicit separates England and Great Britain (from 1707) from other colonial powers like France, Spain or Dutch. Despite the fact that they all issued privateering licenses and therefore they had to face similar problems connected to privateer­ing, the outburst of piracy in the case of England was so dangerous that England in the late 17th and early 18th century was sometimes called a “nation of pirates”2. The biggest problem appeared to be that England in 17th century was still naturally divided on the question of using piracy as a legitimate instrument of competition against other colonial powers and based on beneficial experiences in the 16th century, and it did make sense that England in the early 17th century was still fascinated by legendary profits of Sir Francis Drake’s expeditions3. Privateers roaming colonial waters enjoyed the exceptional support, and their presence was even more emphasised by the rational argument of the benefits for England during the 17th century4. Privateers like Sir Henry Morgan proved that it was the right decision, but in times of peace, captains lost their privateering licences, hundreds of sailors became suddenly unem­ployed and colonial authorities did not have any plan how to solve this problem.

Involvement of colonial authorities was another interesting issue because around 1700 they still lacked resources or jurisdiction to hunt down pirates, but at the same time, some col­onies profited from trading with pirates because certain goods were less accessible and usually overpriced. This work will try to explore specific examples of British colonies and their rela­tions towards piracy regarding commerce and supporting expeditions or even protection of some notorious captains. This illegal activity both in local and charter trade resulted eventu­ally in lobbying from East India Trade Company or African Royal Company to secure the trade by removing pirates from colonial waters5. The political intervention of wealthy mer­chants suddenly created a moment when colonial officials and sponsors often betrayed unbearable pressure from both sides and pirates. It will be examined more specifically in cases of William Kid, Thomas Tew and Henry Avery.

This work will also analyse both legal and practical actions against pirates in British colonies and their effectiveness after 1715. The War of Spanish Succession was another military conflict and, therefore, possible way for pirates to became legal privateers, but it was also characterised by the formation of “The Republic of Pirates” in Nassau based on egalitarian ideas and rebellious principles, though this brief attempt to establish certain form of alternative and free society in the Caribbean failed6. It was followed by the “Royal Par­don” from 1718 which was designed to end piracy in British colonies once and for all, but its success was only partial7. This essay will also explore the “Royal Pardon” and its impact on

pirates of the Nassau like Benjamin Hornigold, Henry Jennings, Edward Teach “Black- beard”, Edward England or John “Calico” Rackham and their later involvement in piracy.

Some of them vanished from records; others fought to the bitter end, and Benjamin Horni­gold was commissioned to hunt down his former colleagues8.

Colonial officials willingly joined the hunt and sponsored naval expeditions to exter­minate remaining pirates. Such behaviour results in an interesting paradox in contrast with sponsored expedition for pirates and it serves as a good example of the radical change in per­ception of pirates by colonial authorities. Pirates were slowly driven out from British colonies, though the last wave of pirates represented by famous names such as Bartholomew Roberts, Edward Low and Olivier Levasseur disturbed commerce from the West Coast of Africa to the Newfoundland before they were finally vanquished in 17269. Particularly Robert's case is in­teresting because he had worked on a slave ship before pirate Howell Davis captured him and despite the fact that he originally did not want to join pirates he later became arguably the most successful pirate in history10.

The last part of work is dedicated to piracy regarding an alternative way of life for disadvantaged groups in the 17th and 18th century and contemporary negative or positive portrayal of piracy. The role of freed “Negroe”(see Glossary) and “Mullato”(see Glossary) slaves is examined through individual cases and their position among pirates. Collaboration between masterless communities like pirates and the Maroons (see Glossary) were beneficial for both, but, unfortunately, its outcome was always limited by the criminal nature of piracy itself. The question is- if various forms of co-operation between former slaves, the Maroons and pirates were based on solidarity, opportunity or rather necessity? This a was a similar

case to female pirates or more specifically women that voluntarily joined pirate crews and em­braced masculine roles. It was fascinating to see how patriarchal hegemony perceived women like Anne Bony, Mary Read, Mary Crickett and Martha “Mary” Harvey in the early 17th century. Although there were some famous names, pirate women were less than common, but their willingness to join pirates suggested how the entire issue of socioeconomic conditions in British colonies affected lower classes11.

Sometimes it was not the class, gender or race, but it was more question of political ideology that opened up the possibility to cooperate with pirates. Prominent Jacobites in Brit­ish colonies around 1715 shared a common hatred towards King George I. with pirates12. Charles Vane and Henry Jennings were traditionally associated with the Jacobites, but what about other pirates and their relations towards the Jacobites? Further exploration suggested that this relationship was occasionally useful for pirates but less beneficial for the Jacobites.

Last important chapter analyses the perception of piracy in 17th and 18th century, more specifically both negative and positive images in the public sphere that were created by pirates themselves and contemporary authorities as well. It also shows the contrast between rational attitude towards piracy and exaggerated political or religious propaganda. Particu­larly the transition from “folk heroes” to “villains” investigate how important was the role of printed media such as books by Alexander Exquemelin, Captain Charles Johnson or various state and colonial papers-Gazette (see Glossary).

It is interesting to compare various academic and contemporary sources about the Golden Age of Piracy because they show us different points of view. American historians such as Marcus Rediker are positive towards this topic while scholars from Europe like Angus Konstam shows more criticism and emphasises the criminal background regarding piracy.

The concept of revolt against colonial powers in piracy created positive perception by Latin American countries because they shared their desire for masterless society or independence. On the other hand the area of racial and gender issues related to the Golden Age of Piracy suggest further research by female scholars and people of colour because they can offer us their gaze, which obviously more or less differ from the majority of white male scholars like Burgess, Baer, Cordingly, Rediker, or Konstam. People of colour are nowadays more cau­tious when it came to the explanation of racial issues regarding piracy in the 17th century and 18 century and thanks to them we have a chance to discover smaller issues, but no less necessary, such as relations between the Maroons and pirates.

2. Transition From Privateers to Pirates

2.1 International Problem

Sir Francis Drake and Sir Henry Morgan were not historically considered pirates in England, but in truth, their actions were secured only by the commission for privateering or “letter of marque” issued by English authorities and therefore they were seen as normal pi­rates in other countries13. Especially, Francis Drake was clearly seen as a pirate by Spanish and after he successfully captured two of their massive treasure galleons (see Glossary), most notably second one called “Cacafuego”, King Philip II offered an enormous bounty on his head14. On the other hand, Queen Elizabeth I was never ashamed to admit that privateers were part of English naval force and in fact they proved themselves very useful in defending the country against Spanish Armada in August 158815. At the same time Sir Francis Drake served in this military conflict as Vice Admiral and later in 1589 commanded unsuccessful counterattack on Iberian coast, and he was not alone among privateers that participated16. However, privateers like John Hawkins, Walter Raleigh, Martin Frobisher or Humphrey Gilbert certainly brought wealth, power and military support if necessary, but at the same time “ElizabethanSea-Dogs ” (seeGlossary) andtheirrelentlessplunderingofSpanish ships became one of the main reasons for King Phillip II to declare war on England17.

During these times it was complicated to distinguish terms like adventurer, pirate, pri­vateer or explorer and to be completely clear piracy itself was widely accepted throughout the entire English society18. Nobody including Queen Elizabeth was able to foresee the possible negative outcome of such support in the long run. It was precisely Elizabethan era when the seed of future problem known as the “Golden Age of Piracy” was planted. In order to under­stand the major argument of this thesis, it is important to realise that sailors and captains in the 16th century were, in fact, celebrated as heroes and glorified for acting like pirates19. The highest English authorities accepted Their gifts from “expeditions”, but nobody truly made a difference if delivered goods were simply the result of the piracy rather than real exploration in a peaceful way. It could be easily described that there was nothing like “dirty gold” or ille­gal profit on high seas. Thanks to the names like Drake or Raleigh by the end of 16th century privateering became a highly popular form of investment and there were many hints that even Queen Elizabeth sponsored some of those expeditions, but not directly.

Unfortunately, in the 17th century, many private investors and sailors as well had to face the harsh reality instead of an easy life full of plundering and quick profits. The majority of excited adventurers ended up robbing small sloops delivering sugarcane and an encounter with treasure galleon full of gold remained only in their dreams20. Those who invested their money with expectations suffered the similar fate regarding disappointment. One of the ma­jor reasons was the fact that after the death of Queen Elizabeth, none of her successors granted privateering commissions21. Huge financial support from private circles in England slowly faded until Henry Morgan sparked the light of privateering in the 1670s22. Lack of benefactors during the first half of the 17th century might be the first major reason for falling out of favour and a sudden necessity to shift piracy more towards criminal act instead of the acceptable way to earn money.

2.2 Heroes or Villains?

Those who originally worked as privateers were praised and glorified - some of them were even knighted like Sir Francis Drake or Sir Henry Morgan23. The document called “Let­ter of Mark” (see Glossary) that officially granted permission or a “license” for privateering was no longer available and, therefore, active privateers became pirates24.The essential question should be if we can find any difference between acts of privateering and acts of piracy in real life outside the legal definition included in "An Actfor the more effectual suppression of Piracy” passed by the Parliament of England in 170025. English law by the end of 17the century towards maritime crimes was still very flexible, despite the clear legal definition and this fact shows how the line between being privateer or pirate was fragile26. The initial problem was the role of colonies and their unwillingness to act against piracy. The clearest example of all could be easily maritime career of Sir Henry Morgan, who attacked many Spanish ships, cap­tured several forts, stole enemy cargo under the privateering license. These acts could be seen as completely legal from an English point of view, but he also sacked the port of Panama de­spite the previous interdiction27. Above all, he committed this act during the time when Eng­land and Spain were not officially at war, and it was clearly the act which was not allowed and Spain demanded punishment for Morgan28. Eventually, he was called back to England, but on the other hand, the subject of his potential punishment was only the ambush on Pan­ama29. In the end, Morgan faced no punishment at all; there was no trial, and above all, he was knighted and even became Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica in167430.

It gave us the impression that instead of being punished, he was in fact awarded. The question is why Morgan would risk his life and came back to England to face punishment? Was it possible that Morgan knew that he would not face any real punishment at all? Zahediah’s research mentioned that Morgan had significant support in powerful circles both in Jamaica and England as well, but the most important issue was that his action brought a substantial amount of gold to the Royal Treasury, more specifically Spanish gold31. Perhaps it was a combination of military power, profits and popularity among both lower and higher classes that helped him to remain in favour, but the fact that throughout his career he primar­ily attacked exclusively Spanish targets - greatest rivals of England, also played a significant role in judging his deeds32. On the other hand, the possibility of any punishment for Morgan appeared to be risky because Morgan was already very popular among the people and he was respected as a leader by other Buccaneers in Jamaica. Morgan in his prime served as a good example of extremely successful guerrilla leader challenging authority.33 Punishment for Mor­gan was certainly unpopular decision regarding politics, but at the same time, Morgan’s at­tack on Panama was clearly a significant warning for English authorities that Buccaneers were a force to be reckoned and it was only a matter of time when other Buccaneers follow Morgan’s steps and eventually their actions turned fully illegal. We need to realise that Mor­gan’s reward in the form of becoming the Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica proved to be more than reasonable. It was a brilliant and cunning political manoeuvre to use Morgan’s authority among Buccaneers to restore peace and prevent any civil or military unrest in Jamaica. Ironi­cally, Morgan was expected to hunt down pirates in his newly appointed seat, and many of them were his former colleagues34. Buccaneers outlived their usefulness and they slowly be­came a burden since the situation in colonies was stabilised, but only small number of them were able to embrace peaceful lifestyle without pillaging andplundering35.

2.3 Privateers Turned into Pirates

In truth, the era called the Golden Age of Piracy became with sudden unemployment of those privateers between several military conflicts with Spain, France and Dutch in a 17th and 18th century36. Two biggest outbursts of piracy followed after the Nine Years’ War (1688-197) and the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) because in the tide of war, privateers were extremely efficient and fierce power on the high seas, but the problem was that when the time of relative peace came, and they had been cast aside, they had no choice in order to prevail than piracy37. They did what they were used to do for years. The only dif­ference was that they became unrestrained and without any limits regarding all kinds of pil­laging and plundering. Thus, British merchants became their targets along with Spanish, Dutch, Mughal or French. Although there were still some exceptions such as Benjamin Hornigold who always refused to attack British ship even after he became a pirate, in most cases, pirates did not make changes anymore and attacked any ship that crossed their way38.

Due to the Triangle Trade System colonies were recognised more profitable than ever before - plantations and slavery were among top businesses39. It was only a matter of time when the government decided to raise taxes and push forward significant changes in trans­porting the cargo to eliminate shady business and all forms of smuggling. Besides more diffi­cult conditions and bureaucratic way of imposing a new legal system in ports regarding trade and registration of ships, English Navy decided to send more warships as an instrument of protection for merchants40. Massive warships called “Man 'O' War” (see Glossary) symbol­ised the safety and demonstration of power as well. It clearly illustrated that will and right of England is still present, even though England and King himself were miles away. It was also a warning for local governors that nothing like direct sponsorship of shady activities will be tolerated. On the other hand, colonies got more freedom regarding punishment of criminals and more specifically pirates and smugglers41. During the long lasted rivalry with Spain, even at the time of official peace, it was quite common that privateers and pirates robbed Spanish ships and settlements in the Spanish Main and they did it under the protection of local gover­nors in exchange of shares42. It was useful for both sides, but it becomes more and riskier43. It was not hard to imagine what happened in the majority of cases where such bonds between local government and ex-privateers existed. Privateers were cast aside and therefore suddenly unemployed44. They could not plunder ships in the name England; they could not plunder ships for local governors and officially they could not plunder at all. Unfortunately attacking and plundering enemy ships was the only thing those sailors had been doing for couple years - in another words piracy was the only “profession”, they were able to do - piracy was a subsist­ence activity45. Joining the royal navy appeared to be the possibility, but many ex-privateers served as captains commanding their ships with loyal crewmen, and they could hardly get the same rank and position in navy46. It could also be seen as a disgrace to the uniform because privateering was indeed profitable and beneficial, but it was no longer seen as patriotic, he­roic or honourable service like in the period of “Elizabethan Sea Dogs ” (See Glossary). Military career during these times was a rather prestigious occupation, and it was hardly possible that someone with the negative reputation of being privateer/pirate could be tolerated among higher naval officers47.

Professionalisation of the Royal Navy in the 17th century was a very ambitious project and introduced several improvements in conditions for sailors. During the Restoration Era, higher payments in wartime and formalisation of compensation for injury for sailors/families were introduced48. However, the biggest change was that Admiralty started to fill positions of officers with professional sailors rather than members of nobility and development of formal­ised tests for the role of Lieutenant - “Navy List”49. Unfortunately, these changes developed by Samuel Pepys and Sir William Coventry helped to solve problems only partially. In the be­ginning, sailors were eager to join the navy, but they slowly realised that without patronage or higher education, it was almost impossible for an ordinary sailor to reach ranks of higher of­ficers. However, pressgangs (see Glossary) in wartime managed to lure or force a significant number of sailors to service50. It is not difficult to imagine sailor’s disappointment with this is­sue. If we compare these conditions with conditions on pirate ships, it becomes clear nature choice is rather joining some pirate crew to make more money. At the same time, finances were a huge issue for The Royal Navy after the Nine’s Years War and the War of the Spanish Succession and after such financial collapses were not possible to offer wages to fulfil sailor’s expectations from times of war51. Times of peace resulted in even worse outcome for sailors serving as privateers because they suddenly lost their job because governors and local authorities are no longer needed their services. Thus, many privateers decided to continue in what they did before with only one exception - their actions were suddenly illegal, and they became criminals.

Once partners, local authorities later became chief hunters of all pirates, but this task proved to be much more complicated than it was expected. It cost much money, and it was simply not effective. On the other hand, it was relatively difficult to hunt down those who were true experts on high seas and were already accustomed to dodging enemy warships. It is necessary to realise that pirates often sailed sloops (see Glossary), brigs and occasionally smaller frigates and these types of ships had better manoeuvrability than huge man ‘o’ war.52 (see Glossary) It was not as simple a task to catch a pirate as catching common thieves or smugglers. Their ships were in most occasion smaller, but heavily armed and equipped with all kinds of firepower including hooks, chain shots, grape shots and fire barrels53.

On the other hand, the majority of the pirates rather operated in shadows and pre­ferred avoiding any conflict with military ships, although there are some records about pirate vessel's engaged in a fight with the Royal Navy and sometimes they were even able to win such deadly engagement54. On of the most successful pirates captain, Bartholomew Roberts was able to defeat French warship in open combat and later took the ship for himself55. Such moments proved that pirates were not simply primitive and gruesome thieves how they were presented in an anti-pirate campaign in Europe and colonies as well. In fact, there were many capable combatants, sailors, navigators, captains and some of these people were even highly educated56. To be completely fair, not everybody among pirates was interested only in taking prizes, stealing cargo and spending gold. Many African slaves joined pirates after they were liberated from slaver’s ships and enjoyed “privileges” of being free, equal and having a right to decide own fate.57 According to Rediker, others joined pirates because of revolt, defiance or simply thirst for adventure. Sailors who felt being mistreated in navy or getting low wages on trade ships also joined pirates with a promise of better life58. Pirates were apparently more diverse and complex than how it was officially presented by British, French or Spanish at the time.

If we compare the careers of Sir Francis Drake, Sir Henry Morgan and Bartholomew Roberts, it is possible to see the development of pirates themselves, but it is also important to focus on the development of attitudes towards piracy. Elizabethan Sea Dogs enjoyed the glo­rified status and privileges such as serving in the Navy during various naval campaigns against Spanish forces. Privateers such as Drake or Raleigh enjoyed freedom in expeditions against Spanish shipping, but the Navy often took advantage of their skills and used privateers in bat­tles as the official part of the Navy. The first wave of Buccaneers was more or less allowed to plunder relentlessly for the given period, and despite their purely economic motivation, Buccaneers were perceived as heroic patriots fighting against Spanish interest. Unfortunately, raids on Maracaibo, Porto Bello and Panama were the most gruesome atrocities in the Golden Age of Piracy and yet Morgan's buccaneers were celebrated. Next generation of pi­rates participating in "Pirate Rounds" did not enjoy knighthood or retirement as wealthy planters, but some of them were able to establish extremely helpful links with colonial gover­nors and created entire syndicates including pirates, smugglers, governors and wealthy mer­chants. Unfortunately, the professionalisation of the Navy in the 17th century unintentionally created the system that leads many sailors to leave the Navy and eventually joined pirates. However, the last generation of pirates such as Bartholomew Roberts was able to overcome all obstacles and gained a remarkable reputation among lower classes and commoners.

3. Political and Economic Interests

3.1 Pirates and Commerce

Pirates spend most of the time on the high seas, but it would not be possible to survive too long without the regular visits in ports. Since most of the colonies no longer accepted non- registered ship with official documents, pirates would be easily discovered and probably tried and executed soon afterwards59. Particularly the registration of ships made the life of pirates quite more complicated, but there was still hope in the form of so-called “free ports” such as Madagascar, Abaco Island, Inagua, Cat Island or St. Kitts mostly built by local sponsors, smugglers or retired pirates60. Such destination did not require any official documents to har­bour the ship, and there was no need to pay fees. Dock fees were often overpriced and, there­fore, some merchants also used these “free ports” to avoid them, and this particular issue gave an opportunity for creating an interesting melting point in such places like Tortuga or Nas- sau61.

Sailors, pirates, merchants and smugglers formed diverse, but a cooperative group of people which was able to make a profit together.62 This contribution served best to pirates be­cause they usually plundered ship carrying various goods. Myths about dozens of treasure chests full of “golden doubloons” (see Glossary) belongs more to fairy tales than the reality.63 The truth was that plundering the ship full of gold was exceedingly rare, but it was common for pirates to capture the ship with all kinds of goods besides the gold itself.


1 Angus Konstam, The Pirate Ship: 1660-1730 (Oxford: Osprey Publishing, 2003), p.6

2 Douglas R. Burgess, “Piracy in the Public Sphere: The Henry Every Trials and the Battle for Meaning in the Seventeenth- Century Print Culture,” The Journal of British Studies 48, no. 4 (2009), p.894

3 Kris E. Lane. Pillaging the Empire: Piracy in the Americas - 1500-1750 (London: M.E. Sharp, 1998), p. 40

4 Lane, Pillaging the Empire: Piracy in the Americas - 1500-1750, p. 91-124

5 Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker, The Many-Headed Hydra: Sailors, Slaves, Commoners, and the Hidden History of the Revolutionary Atlantic (Boston: Beacon Press, 2000), p. 172

6 Colin Woodard. The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down (Orlando, FL: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007), p. 259

7 Marcus Rediker. Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age (Boston: Beacon Press, 2004), p. 9

8 Woodard. The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down, p. 284

9 David Cordingly, Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life among the Pirates. (New York: Random House, 1995), p.161-162

10 John Bankston, Black Bart (Bartholomew Roberts) (Mitchell Lane Publishers Inc, 2015), p. 20

11 Rediker, Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age, p.112.

12 Woodard, The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down, p. 196

13 Woodard, The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down, p. 2

14 David M. Loades, The Making of the Elizabethan Navy, 1540-1590: From the Solent to the Armada (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2009),p.121.

15 Phillip Gosse, The International Directory of Pirates, Buccaneers, and Other Rogues (Fireship Press: Tucson, 2008) p. 118

16 Gosse, The International Directory of Pirates, Buccaneers, and Other Rogues, p. 118

17 Loades, The Making of the Elizabethan Navy, 1540-1590: From the Solent to the Armada, p.13.

18 Douglas R. Burgess, The Politics of Piracy: Crime and Civil Disobedience in Colonial America (ForeEdge University Press of New England, 2014), p. 82

19 Burgess, The Politics of Piracy: Crime and Civil Disobedience in Colonial America, p. 83

20 Burgess, The Politics of Piracy: Crime and Civil Disobedience in Colonial America, p. 32

21 Burgess, The Politics of Piracy: Crime and Civil Disobedience in Colonial America, p. 21

22 Gosse, The International Directory of Pirates, Buccaneers, and Other Rogues, p. 226

23 Burgess, The Politics of Piracy: Crime and Civil Disobedience in Colonial America, p. 70

24 Burgess, The Politics of Piracy: Crime and Civil Disobedience in Colonial America, p.18

25 1700, 11 Will. 3, c. 7. Reprinted in Joel H. Baer, edited, British Piracy in the Golden Age: History and Interpretation, 1660-1730, Vol. 3. London: Pickering and Chatto, 2007 p.361-365

26 Burgess, The Politics of Piracy: Crime and Civil Disobedience in Colonial America, p.17

27 Gosse, The International Directory of Pirates, Buccaneers, and Other Rogues ,p .226

28 Gosse, The International Directory of Pirates, Buccaneers, and Other Rogues, p. 227

29 Gosse, The International Directory of Pirates, Buccaneers, and Other Rogues, p. 227

30 Gosse, The International Directory of Pirates, Buccaneers, and Other Rogues, p. 227

31 Nuala Zahediah. “Trade, Plunder, and Economic Development in Early English Jamaica,

1655-89,” Economic History Review 4(2), p.205-222

32 Gosse, The International Directory of Pirates, Buccaneers, and Other Rogues, p. 227

33 Terry Breverton, Admiral Sir Henry Morgan: “King of the Buccaneers ” (Lousiana: Pelican Pu­blishing, 2005), p. 75, 87 ; E. J. Hobsbawm, Bandits (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1969), p. 14

34 Gosse, The International Directory of Pirates, Buccaneers, and Other Rogues, p. 228

35 Rediker, Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age, p.98

36 Rediker, Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age, p. 28

37 Rediker, Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age, p. 18-20

38 Woodard, The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down, p.88-89

39 See Maps - 4.“Triangle Trade System” and 7.“Slave Trade”

40 Rediker, Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age, p.38

41 Rediker, Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age, p. 26

42 See Maps - 2. The Spanish Main

43 Paul A. Gilje, Liberty on the Waterfront (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), p.157 -162.

44 Rediker, Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age, p. 6-7

45 Jonathan Barnes. The Complete Works of Aristotle the Revised Oxford Translation. 6th Printing, with Corr. ed. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton UP, 1995), p. 775-776. - Aristotle’s descritption of subsis­tence in terms of animals and modes, more specifically animals that lives in water and are not able to get their living ashore.

46 Charles Johnson, A General History of the Pyrates. ed. by Manuel Schonhorn, (Columbia, SC: Uni­versity of South Carolina Press 1972), p.37-38.

47 Rediker, Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age, p.43


N. A. M. Rodger, The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain, 1649-1815, Volume 2, (W.W. Norton, 2005), p. 165-167

49 Rodger, The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain, 1649-1815, p. 168

50 Nicholas Rogers, "Impressment and the law in eighteenth-century Britain", Law, Crime and Eng­lish Society, 1660-1830. Ed. Norma Landau. 1st ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 72, 74, 92

51 N. A. M. Rodger, The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain, 1649-1815, Volume 2, (W.W. Norton, 2005), p. 295-296

52 Cordingly, Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life among the Pirates, p. 161-162

53 Konstam, The Pirate Ship: 1660-1730, p.23

54 Johnson, A General History of the Pyrates, , p.81.

55 Ibid., p.172-173

56 Woodard, The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down, p. 39

57 Johnson, A Genereal History of the Pyrates, p.244

58 Rediker, Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age, p.30-31

59 Rediker, Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age, p.41

60 Rediker, Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age, p.16

61 Woodard, The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down, p. 166-167.

62 Peter Leeson, Invisible Hook : The Hidden Economics of Pirates (Princeton: Princeton Univeristy Press, 2011), p. 81

63 Leeson, Invisible Hook : The Hidden Economics of Pirates, p. 11

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The Golden Age of Piracy and the British Contribution to its Development
University College London
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Piracy, pirates, privateering, caribbean, america, india, europe, britain, england, spain, france, ships, sailing, buccaneers, drake, morgan, avery, roberts, rackham, vane, blackbeard, mary read, anne bony, bellamy
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Dr Martin Mares (Author), 2015, The Golden Age of Piracy and the British Contribution to its Development, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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