Famous Pirates and Privateers C
Caesar, runaway slave, was a member of Black Beard's crew. He was one of the few men
on board the "Queen Anne's Revenge" that Black Beard truly trusted.
Black Beard had made it clear that he would never be hanged. He had given Caesar standing orders
to blow up his ship and its crew if it were ever captured. Such was the case when the Queen Anne's Revenge
ship ran across the British Man-O-War commanded by
Lt. Maynard. Caesar had been given instructions to drop a lighted match into the ship's magazine and blow the
ship up, rather than allow the crew to be hanged. Caesar attempted to do so upon Black Beard's death, but
was prevented from fulfilling his duty by two of his fellow pirates who turned against him. Caesar and
the others were eventually hanged instead of going out in what would have been a blaze of suicidal glory.
Born in Southeastern Wales, Callice moved to London as a youth, became a
retailer and later joined the navy in about 1571. In early 1574, while commanding a royal ship,
he seized an Italian merchantman and sold her cargo in Cardiff and Bristol. For the next four years,
Callice plundered mercilessly with other captains who sailed under his leadership.
In 1577, Callice was imprisoned in London and sentenced to hang for 6 counts of piracy.
With a pardon from the Queen, Callice was paroled in 1578, but soon fled and became
a pilot for Sir Henry Knolly's in Sir Humphrey Gilbert's expedition. Gilbert planned to plunder
the Spanish Caribbean, but Knollys and Callice instead attacked ships in English waters.
In 1580, Callice plundered in the north and captured two ships near Hamburg, Germany.
In 1582 he was commissioned by Captain William Fenner to help him arrest pirates at sea.
In 1583 Callice instead looted two Scottish merchantmen
and took their cargo to Portsmouth. He kept one Scottish prize renamed the Golden Chalice but
abandoned her soon after to avoid arrest. The ship passed to Sir Humphrey Gilbert and formed part
of his 1583 Newfoundland expedition.
In 1584 William Fenner was licensed to take Spanish and
Portuguese prizes and Callice served as his lieutenant. In December Callice took command of a
captured French warship and was separated from Fenner in foul weather. Although he was arrested
in Ireland, he soon was released (or escaped) and captured several French ships.
By 1585, Callice left Wales to avoid an outstanding judgment against him and
operated along the Barbary coast. He was eventually killed in the Mediterranean circa 1586.
Cheng I Sao
AKA Ching Shih
Active 1807 - 1810
Cheng was the leader of the infamous Red Flag Fleet,
a confederation of pirates with over 1500 ships that ranged the whole Chinese coast and South to
Malaysia. When he died in 1807, Cheng I Sao (wife of Cheng) took charge as a sort of admiral and
placed Chang Pao, formerly her husband's right-hand man, in command of the operation of the fleet.
Shortly, they became involved with each other and later married. The discipline Cheng I Sao imposed
was formidable, with punishments much more severe than the pirate "articles" of the Caribbean.
Most offenses were punishable by beheading. Her battle plans were just as ruthless.
Many engagements of the Red Flag Fleet were conducted by hundreds of ships, each with
twenty to twenty-five cannons, and upwards of two-thousand pirates. The pirate ships were shallow-hulled
junks that had wide sails, but had as many as twenty oars to be rowed up rivers. Not only was her fleet
engaged in acts of piracy, they also extorted money as "protection" from the pirates themselves.
Chinese officials tried many tactics to bring the Red Flag Fleet to justice, but every expedition to
eradicate the pirates failed. The Chinese navy lost sixty-three ships in the attacks. Twice, the Red
Flag Fleet was ambushed by citizens of beset villages, only to have their towns burnt to the ground
and the men slaughtered. Even the navies of Portugal and Britain could not defeat Cheng I Sao.
In desperation, a general amnesty was offered to all pirates in 1810 and Cheng I Sao decided to
take advantage of it. She negotiated pardons for almost all of her men, and even managed to get
Chang Pao a lieutenancy in the Chinese Army. She retired with all of her fortune, ran a gambling
house and had at least one son with Chang Pao before dying in 1844. Many historians consider
Cheng I Sao to be the best pirate who ever lived.
Dutch Pirate. Chivers signed aboard the Portsmouth Adventure early 1694,
under Captain Joseph Farrell. The ship was leaving Rhode Island for the Red Sea. Once there,
Farrell helped Henry Every capture two ships rich in booty around June, 1695. While returning
to Rhode Island, the ship was wrecked on Mayotte in the Comoro Islands. Farrell was rescued by
Every and continued on with him, but Chivers stayed behind on Mayotte. Toward the end of 1695,
Chivers signed aboard the 28 gun ship Resolution. Several months later Chivers was made captain
and he renamed her the Soldado. Chivers was very successful, plundering several ships rich with
Chivers sailed in consort with John Hoar taking two East India Company ships. The two captured ships
were ransomed. When the governor of Aden refused to pay the ransom, the ships were burned. One of the
captives from the seized vessels was Captain Sawbridge. Sawbridge's constant complaining provoked Chiver's
crew into sewing up the man's lips with a sail needle.
In November, 1696, Chivers sailed into the harbor at Calcutta. He seized four ships with their crews
and demanded £10,000 random for their return. Chivers sent the following message to governor stating:
"We acknowledge no country, having sold our own, and as we are sure to be hanged if taken,
we shall have no scruple in murdering and destroying if our demands are not granted in full."
Not swayed by Chivers threat, the governor sent 10 Indian ships. When they sailed into the harbor,
Chivers fled, heading for Saint Mary's Island to make repairs and arrived in the summer of 1697.
Chivers captured the Sedgewick, an English ship, in April 1698. The captain of the Sedgewick was
very persuasive and Chivers' crew let him keep his ship after he supplied them with rum.
That September, Chivers joined forces Robert Culliford. Together they captured the Great
Mohammed and £130,000. Chivers took command of the new ship and renamed her the New Soldado.
Chivers returned to Saint Mary's Island. When four British battleships arrived at Saint Mary's in
September 1699, Chivers sunk the New Soldado in the harbor to block the passage. Chivers was
offered a royal pardon which he accepted and returned home on the merchantman Vine.
Erik Cobham was a vicious pirate who with his wife, Mary Lindsey, pirated the
Canadian seas during the golden age of piracy.
Cobham boasted that he had operated for twenty years without ever being caught, but this
probably included the later years of respectability up to his last coup in the English Channel.
He attributed his good fortune to his policy of leaving no survivors. "Dead cats don't meow,"
the pirates used to say. The Cobhams murdered all hands and sank the ships which were then listed as missing,
without survivors, and presumed lost at sea.
When they amassed a large enough fortune to suit themselves, they sold off their plunder,
and sailed to France where they bought a huge estate and a yacht.
Considered a respectable member of the community, Eric was appointed magistrate, a position that he held for twelve years.
Living out the rest of his life in the lap of luxury, Eric eventually turned to womanizing, and Mary became an alcoholic. One day after Mary was missing,
Eric sent out a search party to find her. Two days later, she was found dead of an apparent suicide.
Before Eric's death from old age, he dictated his memoirs to a priest who after his death,
had the biography published. His heirs, being decent people, wanted to bury the truth about his past
so they had all copies of the book burned. One copy managed to survive and made its
way into a French archive. That along with details provided by his biographer, which he'd
collected from others who knew Cobham late in his career, reconstructed the tales of the infamous duo.
Cocklyn, La Bouche, and Howell Davis sailed in consort for a time,
then separated ways.
Active 1668 - 1672
In 1668 Collier was in command of one of the ships taking part in
Sir Henry Morgan's raid on Portobello. Around the end of the year Collier was given command
of the 34-gun Oxford, with orders to hunt down pirates. Collier captured Captain la Veven as
well as his ship, the Satisfaction.
Collier rejoined Morgan for a raid on Maracaibo and Gibraltar, Venezuela. Disaster struck the Oxford
when several drunken pirates accidentally blew her up. Collier now disillusioned took the Satisfaction
and left. During the next 18 months, Collier cruised the Mexican shores.
In September 1670, Collier, again joined Morgan who was organizing his raid on Panama.
Collier was named vice-admiral of the expedition. While the pirates were gathering their forces,
Collier was instructed to take 6 ships to Venezuela in order to stock up on provisions and acquire
Collier's first stop was Rio de la Hacha. There he captured the fort and garrison. Known to be
more ruthless than the average pirate, Collier tortured the Spanish prisoners severely to obtain
their treasure to no avail and most of the prisoners died without divulging their secret and the
200,000 pesos was not found.
After extorting provisions from the populace, Collier rejoined Morgan's fleet in early December.
By January 1671, with Collier in command of the left wing of the assault. The victorious pirates
took over the town. Collier killed one of the Spanish chaplains, a Franciscan friar. The raid on
Panama led to the arrest of Morgan (who was released). Collier profited greatly which he used to
maintain his 1,000 acre plantation in Jamaica, which had been given to him in 1668. Until his death,
he spent his time preparing defenses against a possible foreign invasion upon Jamaica.
Active 1718 - 1720
This savage pirate came from Plymouth, England. In the Bahamas, he took to the Pirate Round and attacked merchant ships
off Africa and Arabia. He settled in Madagascar and Mauritius before retiring to St. Malo in France.
This is an excerpt from the P.R.O. Calendar of State Papers, Colonial Series:
America and West Indies, 1681-1685: no. 1163
In a letter from Sir Thomas Lynch to Secretary Sir Leoline Jenkins, Jamaica, July 26, 1683:
...They (the holders of Spanish commissions)
have committed barbarous cruelties and injustices, and better cannot be expected, for they are
Corsicans, Slavonians, Greeks, mulattoes, a mongrel parcel of thieves and rogues that rob and murder
all that come into their power without the least respect to humanity or common justice.
It was one of these, one Juan Corso, who by landing on the coast of Hispaniola and carrying away
many prisoners, slaves, etc., caused the French Government to grant commissions of war, and it is
to be feared that on the privateers' return they will destroy St. Jago de Cuba, where Corso
...The President of Panama received advice by
Don Juan de Ollo. Three months since I wrote the Governor of Havanna complaining of the piracies
of Juan Corso, and desiring to know if he owned them; but neither he nor the Governor of St. Jago
would ever answer. This Juan a month since took a boat of ours bound to New Providence; he has
killed divers of our people in cold blood. In one case he cut off a man's head because he was sick
and could not row so strongly as he expected. Barbarities like these and worse he commits daily,
so I would beg you to direct to me what to do. No redress is to be expected of any Spanish Governor.
He of St. Jago has now a New England ketch that some French seized at Salt Tortugas and forced to
come into Hispaniola. Off the coast this Juan Corso takes them and brings them into St. Jago.
The Frenchmen are then condemned to death as pirates, but the vessel and the Englishmen detained.
As the French pirates were marched to execution, the town mutinied and reprieved them from fear
of the Frenchmen's revenge, and paid the Governor two hundred pieces of eight in composition.
This is the manner in which they do everything...
Coxon was one of the most famous Brethren of the Coast.
He and other English buccaneers attacked and plundered the town of Santa Marta on the
Spanish Main, then kidnapped its Governor and Bishop. He then raided the Gulf of Honduras.
Before setting sail for his next attack at Portobello,
he joined forces with pirates Sharp and Essex. Because attack from sea was impossible,
the pirates were forced to land twenty leagues away. Their journey entailed a four-day march
through jungle, three days of which were without food. By the time the pirates arrived,
they were half starved and their feet were raw. Despite their problems, the pirates
successfully plundered the town and escaped before the nearby fleet could react, but their
booty only came to about 100 pieces of eight per man. In response to the attack,
Jamaican Governor, Lord Carlisle, and later the acting Governor, Sir Henry Morgan,
issued warrants for Coxon and his crews' arrest, but they were never captured.
Coxon plundered the town of Santa Maria next, and headed across the Isthmus of Darien.
Eventually, Coxon and the other Captains Sawkins and Harris had a falling out and the three went their
separate ways. Sawkins and Harris returned to the Atlantic side of the Isthmus while Coxon
continued by Indian canoe to the Pacific Coast. There they found two sloops which they stole.
Sailing to Panama, they attacked the Spanish Fleet and after a brief battle actually captured it.
Coxon had another falling out with his brother pirates and took off with 78 of his crew
on foot returning across the Isthmus.
Eventually, Coxon had become a hero in Jamaica and was given
letters to attack a troublesome French pirate, Jean Hamlin, although he never found him.
For several more years, Coxon pirated the seas, often under the guise of a letter of marque. He was
arrested many times, but never hanged.
This Chinese pirate
commanded a fleet of over 500 junks in the South China Sea during the 1800's. His activities
were put to an end by British warships.
Active 1690 - 1698
When the Blessed William was stolen from Captain Kidd in February 1690,
Culliford was among them thieves. William May was elected her new captain and in December he
sailed for Madagascar, then went on the hunt near India. May and Culliford jumped ship at the
Nicobar Islands and returned to New York. May was given command of the Pearl and Culliford her
quartermaster. Together they sailed for Mangalore, India. When they arrived in October, 1664,
Culliford left the ship and signed aboard the Merchantman Josiah as a gunner.
In June 1696, while the crew was at Madras, Culliford led a mutiny, seizing the Josiah.
Near the Nicobar Islands, the crew retook the ship, marooning Culliford on the islands.
Culliford was rescued by Ralph Stout, captain of the Mocha. Culliford joined Stout's crew,
and when Stout was killed circa 1697 Culliford was
Culliford sailed the Mocha for the Strait of Malacca and pursued the British ship Dorrill.
When Culliford's crew closed in, the Dorrill opened fire, this act surprised Culliford and his crew.
The salvo sheared off the Mocha's mainmast. Culliford retreated to Saint Mary's Island, near
Madagascar, plundering several ships en route. At Saint Mary's, Culliford plundered a French
ship. His booty came to £2,000. While at Saint Mary's, Culliford also encountered William Kidd.
Former grievances forgiven, the two enjoyed each others company, with most of Kidd's crew enlisting
with Culliford. Culliford left Saint Mary's in late June, 1698.
While at Saint Mary's Island, four British warships arrived. The pirates were offered a royal pardon,
which Culliford accepted.
Culliford went to London. He was arrested and tried for the piracy of the Great Mohammed, ruling
that his pardon wasn't valid. He was saved from hanging because his testimony was needed in the
upcoming trial of Samuel Burgess. Following the trial, Culliford disappeared from record. Rumor
has it that he next served aboard a naval ship.