Famous Pirates and Privateers O-R NEXT PAGE

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Grace O'Malley
Active 1560's - 1580's

This Irish noblewoman led attacks on shipping off the West coast of Ireland. In 1593 she won a pardon and a pension from Queen Elizabeth I. She then retired, handing over her business to her sons.

John Oxenham

First English captain to sail the Pacific. In 1572, Oxenham took part on the raid in Panama which was headed by Sir Francis Drake. In 1573 Oxenham was second in command, still under Sir Francis Drake, during the march to Panama. According to reports, Drake climbed a tree and saw the Pacific Ocean whereby he vowed: "besought Almighty God of his goodness to give him life and leave to sail once in an English ship on that sea" At which Oxenham seconded: "protested that unless our Captain did beat him from his company he would follow him by Gods grace." During the raid, Drake and Oxenham split forces and tried two different approaches to Panama. Oxenham returned before Drake and set sail with two ships and 57 men, including John Butler.

Oxenham made his way to the Atlantic coast to prey on shipping. He spent the winters of 1576-1577 inland. In February 1577, Oxenham (in a pinnace which his men and some escaped African slaves, the Cimarrónes built) via a river entered the Gulf of Panama. They looted the Pearl Islands where they tortured a Franciscan friar. From there they plundered two ships laden with gold and silver headed for Panama. Leaving the Pacific, they were headed towards the Atlantic when they were attacked by the Spanish. Many of Oxenham's men were killed and the treasure was recaptured. Oxenham and some of his men escaped but were hunted down, captured and taken to Panama in April 1578. A total of 18 Englishmen and 40 Africans. 14 of the Englishmen were hanged, the Africans were returned to slavery and Oxenham, Butler and Thomas Sherwell (all of whom were officers) were taken to Lima, Peru and executed late 1580.

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William Parker

Captain William Parker was a member of the lesser gentry near Plymouth. In 1587 he sailed in consort with Sir Francis Drake during Drake's raid on Cadiz, Spain.

In the 1590's Captain Parker sailed the West Indies taking several prizes. He also plundered Puerto Caballos in Honduras in 1594 and 1595. After 1596, as owner of his own vessel, he partnered with Sir Anthony Sherley, but this relationship ended when after a time no prizes were taken. Leaving Captain Sherley behind, Captain Parker attacked Campeche, Mexico. Captain Parker was wounded in the attack but survived and succeeded in capturing a frigate carrying silver which was en route to San Juan De Ulua.

Captain Parker next captured Portobello in February 1601. Portobello was a very important port being the departure point from which Peruvian treasure left for Spain. Captain Parker then sailed to Panama and plundered Saint Vincent in the Cape Verdes. He also captured and held for ransom the Cubagua pearl-boats and captured a Portuguese slave ship. His successes secured for him a prominent position in Plymouth, where he was looked upon as a hero of sorts and he became a founding member of the Virginia Company in 1606.

Captain Parker was made Vice-Admiral and left on an expedition to the East Indies, but died at Java in 1617.

Elizabetha Patrickson
Circa 1634


James Plantain
Active 1720's

Born in Jamaica, this pirate set up his base on Madagascar. He built a fortress at Ranter bay and declared himself 'King'. He kept many wives and was said to live in luxury.

el Portugués
AKA Bartolomeo
Portuguese Buccaneer
Active 1660's - 1670's

el Portugues

Famous for his lucky escapes, this Portuguese buccaneer was one of the first to be based in Jamaica. His luck finally ran out in a shipwreck.

Lawrence Prince
Dutch Pirate
Active 1670

Captain Prince was born in Amsterdam. In 1670, he sailed from Port Royal, Jamaica to Colombia. He had plans to take the town of Mompos which was over 150 miles inland, part of the trip was up the Magdalena River. Upon their arrival they found a new fort on an island river. The pirates were drove back with cannon fire. Captain Prince was determined not to return to Port Royal empty handed. In August he sailed for Nicaragua and was successful in an almost identical scheme. He sailed up the San Juan River, captured the fort and took canoes up to Lake Nicaragua where they pillaged the city of Granada.

The Spanish report of the incident states, made havoc and a thousand destructions, sending the head of a priest in a basket and saying that he would deal with the rest of the prisoners in the same way unless they gave him 70,000 pesos in ransom.

Considering that the city had been sacked by Captain Henry Morgan and Captain John Morris in 1664 they were only able to raise a small portion of the ransom. prince having his bluff called, returned to Port Royal.

Modyford, Governor of Jamaica, sent Captain Prince to join Morgan's Panamanian expedition. Morgan, seeing Prince to be a man of much spirit, made him third in command after himself and Captain Edward Collie. After the raid, the English government sent Thomas Lynch to Jamaica to arrest Modyford and Morgan for their piratical activities. Lynch, not having sufficient force to outright arrest Sir Henry Morgan, decided to try ingratiating himself to the pirates. Captain Prince was made Lynch's lieutenant and under the governorship of Lynch thrived at Jamaica, having his own plantation.

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Jack Quelch
Circa 1700's

At Half Way Rock, outside of Salem Harbor, Jack Quelch was named captain of the vessel "Charles" after its crew had murdered and dumped overboard its previous commander. From there he led his band of pirates in raids off the coast of South America. Their piracy days ended when Captain Quelch and his crew were arrested and hanged in 1704 at Boston Harbor.

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John Rackam
AKA Calico Jack
British Pirate
Died 1720

John Rackam AKA Calico Jack

John Rackam was nicknamed Calico Jack by many due to his fondness for wearing calico colored coats and britches. He is best known for his association with Anne Bonny and Mary Read, the most famous female pirates.

Rackam acquired command of his ship the Treasure when the former Captain Vane retreated from an attack of a French man-of-war. The crews' feeling that this was an act of cowardice along with Rackam's zealous protests were the behind Vane's loss of command. The crew then captured the man-of-war and the former quartermaster of Vane's vessel, became its captain, and Vane was cast off on a smaller sloop along with the members of the crew who had voted against Rackam. Eventually, Rackam turned over control of his ship to the two female pirates Mary Read and Anne Bonny, the latter of which he had whisked away willingly from her husband, and who had fought at his side in many a battle. His ship was captured in November 1720, and brought to Jamaica. Nearly the entire crew, including Rackam himself were sentenced to hang. "If he had fought like a man," said Anne, "he need not have been hanged like a dog."

Calico Jack's Flag

Active 1820's

Chief of the Malay pirates in the Straits of Makassar, Raga took many European ships and beheaded their crews. His base at Kuala Batu, Sumatra, was destroyed by an American task force.

Rahmah bin Jabr
c. 1756 - 1826

The most famous pirate of the Persian Gulf, this one-eyed captain plundered shipping for 50 years. At the age of 70, in battle with the whole fleet of Bahrain, he set fire to the gunpowder magazine on his own ship, blowing half the enemy and himself sky high.

Sir Walter Raleigh
1552 - 1618

An Elizabethan courtier and navigator, Raleigh fitted out many privateering expeditions in order to fund a new colony in Virginia, North America. On the death of Queen Elizabeth I, Raleigh's fortunes changed. In 1616 he persuaded James I to send him on another search for gold, but he returned empty handed and was beheaded.

Mary Read
British Pirate
Active 1719 - 1721

Mary Read

Dressed in men's clothes, Mary Read had fought as a soldier in Flanders and owned a tavern before sailing to the Caribbean. When her ship was captured by John "Calico Jack" Rackam and Ann Bonny, she joined their pirate crew. Captured in 1720, a female passenger on the merchant ship they had attacked noticed Read's breasts and figured out she was a woman. At her trial in 1720, like Bonny, Read escaped the gallows because she was expecting a baby. She died of fever in Jamaica in 1721.

AKA Barbarossa
Greek/Turkish Pirate
circa 1530's

He and his brother Aruj, sons of a Turk from Lesbos, took up piracy on the Barbary Coast in hopes of seizing an African domain for themselves. When Aruj was killed in 1518, Khidr took the title Khayr al-Din. He offered allegiance to the Ottoman sultan and in return received military aid that enabled him to capture Algiers in 1529. Appointed admiral in chief of the Ottoman Empire (1533), he conquered all of Tunisia. Emperor Charles V captured Tunis in 1535, but Khayr al-Din defeated his fleet at the Battle of Preveza (1538), securing the eastern Mediterranean for the Turks for 33 years. His red beard was the source of the epithet Barbarossa, used by Europeans. (Excerpt from Britannica Online)

Basil Ringrose
active 1653 - 1686

This English surgeon traveled through Panama with Bartholomew Sharp and his buccaneers between 1680 and 1682, and wrote about his travels. He was killed in Mexico.

Manuel Pardal Rivero
Portuguese Pirate

Spain, a long time victim of pirating, suffering heavy losses from the pirates and deciding that Sir Henry Morgan's Portobello raid in 1669 was the last straw, sanctioned the governors of its colonies in the procurement of privateers and disbursement of letters of marque. Few pirates responded to this act, but Captain Rivero, who was Portuguese, did and rushed out to seek enemy nation's ships to prey upon.

In 1670, Rivero, in command of the San Pedro left Cartagena for Jamaica but was forced to change course because of winds. Captain Rivero sacked the poor settlement on Grand Cayman Island and seized two small boats as well as taking four children. With his meager booty, he went to Cuba. Once there he found out that Bernard Speirdyke, the Dutch pirate, was at Manzanillo. Captain Rivero set out to do battle with Speirdyke. Captain Rivero was victorious in the battle and seized the Dutchman's ship.

Captain Rivero returned to a hero's welcome in Cartagena in March 1670 and was made admiral of the Spanish corsairs. Captain Rivero next went to Jamaica with two ships and captured a sloop and raided isolated villages in the north. His next venture took him to the southern coast of Jamaica where he issued a challenge to Captain Henry Morgan:

Governor Modyford of Jamaica commissioned Captain Morgan to defend Jamaica. Captain Morgan assembled all French and English pirates that were at Jamaica and set sail, but instead of looking for Captain Rivero, they sailed to Panama and sacked the town. While all this was going on, John Morris encountered Captain Rivero off the Cuban coast. Captain Rivero's ship was boarded by Captain Morris men. The crew panicked and jumped overboard, where they either drowned or were shot by Morris' men. Captain Morgan chased Captain Rivero ashore and shot him to death in 1670.

Bartholomew Roberts
AKA Black Bart
Welsh Pirate
1682 - 1722
Bartholomew Roberts

Black Bart's Flag Roberts was known for his excellent seamanship and was one of the greatest pirates of his day. Roberts is said to have seized 400 ships off West Africa and in the Caribbean. His biggest coup was capturing the "Sagrada Familia," a Portuguese vessel carrying a fortune in coins, diamonds and goods from Brazil. Captain Roberts was killed was killed by a blast of grapeshot from H.M.S. Swallow on February 10, 1722. His body was buried at sea by his crew and was never found. (See Thomas Anstis and Walter Kennedy)

Books on Roberts:

Woodes Rogers
English privateer
1679 - 1732

Rogers was a Privateer who helped suppress piracy in the Caribbean by offering caught pirates pardons if they changed their ways and helped him track down other pirates. Those who did not accept or who went back to their old ways were hanged. While on a privateering expedition around the world which was commissioned by Bristol merchants whose ships had been lost to foreign privateers, he rescued a Scottish seaman named Alexander Selkirk from a Pacific island, which inspired Defoe's book Robinson Crusoe. In 1717 Rogers was appointed royal governor of the Bahamas where he established orderly government.

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