Famous Pirates from Bristol
Pirates from Bristol
Cannon being raised
Why are pirates called pirates? Because they ‘are’. Good joke yes, but why did they ‘are’ and what did pirates of the past do and who were they? Well coming from the west of England I can see the joke as most of the country folk round here ‘ar’ as they speak.Being that the port of Bristol was home to some well known pirates it is obvious to me that the West Country dialect was one that most pirates would have used. Take Blackbeard for example. Born c 1680 in Redland Bristol this pirate became the scourge of the western Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean. Re capturing a ship from the French, the Concorde, and renaming it the Queen Anne’s Revenge, his part in pirate history assured. It is not known how many vessels Blackbeard captured during his exploits, but a database compiled by museum researchers currently contains over 45 prizes which can be directly attributed to Blackbeard’s activities. Blackbeard was eventually tracked down to Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina by the Royal Navy and killed in a brief, but bloody battle on 22 November 1718.
The queen Anne's revenge
The newly discovered Underwater remains of Blackbeard's flagship
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Another Pirate with Bristol connections was Woodes Rogers. Woodes Rogers was born around 1679. In the beginning of his career, Rogers was just an ordinary seaman and merchant. During the period between 1708 and 1711 he led a privateering expedition with two ships, the "Duke" and the "Duchess". Authorized by a group of Bristol merchants, Woodes' crew were supposed to harass the Spanish colonies throughout the coasts of Pacific. During the trip, in 1709, Rogers found and rescued Alexander Selkirk, sailor from Scotland who had been marooned there for 4 years. His personality and adventures later inspired Daniel Defoe to write famous novel, "Robinson Crusoe”. . Generally, the whole trip was very successful, and the privateers brought to England many values and one big prize ship. Rogers gained reputation and the English government appointed him to a much more dangerous task. In 1717 Rogers was officially appointed as the royal governor of the Bahamas. That region of the Caribbean was totally overwhelmed by pirates. The local governors were corrupted. They were paid well to turn blink-eye to the pirate's actions. Without any real authorities, the pirates massively gathered there and made their private heaven, doing everything they liked. In the following year, when Rogers arrived in New Providence, there were around 2000 pirates in Nassau and other local towns. Rogers was faced with serious problem to establish well-organized government and to force the pirates to surrender. Rogers had all the support, monetary and military from England. His main strategy was to offer the king's pardon to all pirates who would stop their activities immediately. Although a great number of pirates took amnesty, there were a dozen of the pirates who didn't think it was a good idea for them. Rogers even recruited from among those pardoned, because they knew the way of the pirates. Soon after, almost all sea-robbers in the area, were caught, sentenced, hanged or just killed in the battle. Rogers became their biggest enemy. All pirates feared and hated him. Some of them would just avoid the Bahamas and neighboring colonies at any cost.
Biography of Woodes Rogers
- Bristol Past: The Real Rescue of Crusoe
The life of Woodes Rogers, privateer who circumnavigated the globe and became the first Governor of the Bahamas.
Calico Jack was only a moderately successful pirate, but his charisma made him a legend. Born John Rackham he soon earned the nickname Calico from his flamboyant patterned clothing made from Indian calico. Starting as quartermaster on the pirate ship Treasure Neptune, Jack took over from its captain Charles Vane when he refused to plunder a French ship. Operating in the Caribbean Calico Jack soon built himself a reputation as a womanizing, well liked character. It was his love for two women in particular that Jack will be remembered for, Anne Bonny and Mary Read. It started when Calico Jack first stole Anne's heart, and together, they stole a ship and sailed between Haiti and Bermuda. He and Anne bore a child, but left it in Cuba so they could continue pirating. While looting a ship he noticed on the ships crew log a name he remembered: Mark Read. He signed Mark up to his ship only to see his Anne becoming more and more attached to this young lad. It turned out that Mark Read was really MARY Read and the whole matter was put right when it was found out Anne was just happy to have another woman on board. To have woman aboard a pirate ship went against the pirate code as woman were seen as unlucky. So Jack stood out from the other pirates. The other claim to fame Calico Jack had been as the inventor of the pirate flag the skull and crossbones. Before then each pirate operated under his own flag. Despite his charisma and luck with the ladies, Calico Jack was hunted down by Woodes Rogers and with his two female pirates tried and sentenced. The last words Anne Bonny said to Jack were “if you had fought like a man, you wouldn’t be hanged like a dog’.
Pirates in fiction
With its links to piracy it is not surprising that Robert Louis Stevenson set some of Treasure Island in Bristol. In fact it is in Bristol we first meet long John Silver. With his West Country accent, peg leg and parrot it is Silver that gave us some of the most recognizable popular features of a pirate.
More fictional pirates
Captain Hook was a nasty character who lost his arm to a crocodile. In Never land, the lost boys have to share an island with him and his fellow pirates. But Peter Pan makes Hook walk the plank, and the crocodile is waiting.
The Pirates of Penzance
In The Pirates of Penzance the main character Frederic was as a child apprenticed to a band of tenderhearted, orphaned pirates by his nurse who, being hard of hearing, had mistaken her master's instructions to apprentice the boy to a pilot. Frederic, upon completing his 21st year, rejoices that he has fulfilled his indentures and is now free to return to respectable society. But it turns out that he was born on February 29 in leap year, and he remains apprenticed to the pirates until his 21st birthday. By the end of the opera, the pirates, a Major General who knows nothing of military strategy, his large family of beautiful but unwed daughters, and the timid constabulary all contribute to a cacophony that can be silenced only by Queen Victoria's name.
Captain Pugwash with a goatee beard and nasal voice captained the Black Pig and famously found no treasure at all. However he was a well loved children’s character.
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