Real Pirates of the Caribbean
Aaaarrrrgggghhhh! Ahoy, dere Matey! Shiver me timbers! and Ya Scurvy Dog, are all popular pirate phrases that Barbados' very own pirates may have said when they were plundering the Caribbean seas. The most famous of these buccaneers were the notorious Stede Bonnet (one time partner of the infamous Blackbeard) and Sam Lord both wealthy men turned pirate, known for plundering vessels of the high seas, wreaked ships and trickery. With Stede Bonnet actually amassing a fortune large enough to place him at #15 on the Forbes 2013 list of top-earning pirates, just 3 ranks below his friend Blackbeard the Pirate.
Imagine a tale of pirates for sale, fierce warship battles, pillaging, plundering, rocky escapes, deals cut with Blackbeard the pirate, and death ...that would be the story of Stede Bonnet aka "the pirate gentleman". Bonnet was originally a retired British army major, plantation owner, father of three and unhappily married man, before he bought and sailed the Pirate Ship Revenge to capture, plunder and burn ships.
The gentleman pirate was noted to have actually purchased his own pirate-ship and paid his 70+ crew steady wages, straying from the usual tradition of hijacking, forced labour and the sharing of the plundered spoils. However bonnets reign of terror was short lived, lasting only for 1 year from the summer of 1717 to 1718, but in that short time he amassed a fortune large enough to place him at #15 on the Forbes 2013 list of top-earning pirates, just 3 ranks below his friend Blackbeard the Pirate.
Before the first 6 months has passed, Bonnet had ravaged the "current" Eastern Seaboard of the United States, the Caribbean and the New England Coast. In doing so had lost several crewmembers and became seriously wounded in a violent battle with a Spanish Warship. Upon his injury he befriended Blackbeard (Edward Teach) who took command of the Revenge until Bonnets wounds were healed. For the next four months, the two worked together using three vessels to plunder roughly 27 ships then amicably parted ways that December.
On his own again, Bonnet returned to commanding his ship, capturing many vessels and wreaking havoc on the high seas unfortunately by March of 1718 a failed vessel capture under his command of led to the majority of his crew defecting to instead operate under Blackbeard's command, leaving Bonnet instead to stay aboard as Blackbeard's guest. Shortly thereafter both Bonnet & Blackbeard were lucky enough to be pardoned by the Governor of North Carolina, even though it was short lived.
July 1718 – In need of Money, (having been robbed himself by his former companion Blackbeard), Bonnet returned to Piracy, ravaged at least 14 vessels and add two sloops to his fleet of pirate ships.
August 1718 – Bonnet head to Cape Fear River to anchor, repair the ships and wait out the hurricane season.
September 1718 – Having Remained in Cape Fear too long, news of the pirate's location reached the navy, who set off to capture the looting criminals. And after a fierce battle with the Navy left which the pirates outnumbered and their vessel grounded Bonnet & crew surrendered.
Early October – The pirates were arrested and brought to Charleston.
Late October – Three weeks later Bonnet escaped and fled with three others to a nearby island.
November – The hunt for Bonnet left one companion shot dead and the other two wounded and led to Bonnets quick surrender. This time, again charged with piracy he was sentenced to death (as were the majority of his crew members). Notably it was reported that his incarceration led to a brief civil uprising that nearly led to the burning down of the town.
November - Bonnet wrote to the Governor to ask for clemency and was denied though is did gain him a stay of execution seven times.
December - Bonnet was hanged on Dec 10th for his crimes in Charleston.
Today a plaque commemorating Bonnet stands near Bonnet's Creek in Southport, North Carolina, on the Cape Fear River and the Yacht Basin Provision Company holds an annual Stede Bonnet Regatta near Southport, to commemorating the infamous pirate's dash for the ocean to flee capture. Bonnet he has also been depicted in several video games, novels and television shows and information the pirate can be found at the Barbados Museum, St. Michael & Arlington House in Speightstown.
The famous Barbadian Pirate Sam Lord was one of the Caribbean's most unique pirates, choosing to cleverly plunder from the shores of the island instead of ravaging the high seas. The legends state that the cunning Sam Lord would hang many lanterns in the trees on the beach near his Castle in Long Bay, St Philip. The approaching ships would mistake the lanterns for the lights of the islands capital city Bridgetown, head toward the lights and the ship would be stranded or lost on the dangerous coral reefs just off the coast of his estate. Sam Lord would then simply board and loot the ships keeping the riches in Sam Lord's Castle for himself. The eventual father of five, two of them illegitimate, died at age 66 in England.