Piracy, as we know it, is one of the most romanticised areas of history, with the ideals of a group of rebels coming together to get rich on the sea and live far away from the society that shunned them. It is a nice thought but is not the most truthful. 

Many pirates were running away from the society of Europe at the time that was often not giving them what they want. Many were already considered criminals in the black-market trade, and some were disillusioned Navy sailors that revolted against their ship. 

This article will give a brief overview of some of the most notable pirates of the early 18th century. 

Benjamin Hornigold 

Arguably one of the most successful captains during this time, Benjamin Hornigold was the closest thing the Pirate Republic of Nassau had to a founder.

With one of the largest ships and a notable name, he took it upon himself to protect the island of Nassau from the pirate hunters working against them.

Many of those who were sailing under him became notable names in their own right. After Woodes Rogers arrived in the Bahamas offering the King’s pardon to the pirates he defected to the pirate hunters but died soon into his new job title. 

Illustration of Benjamin Hornigold in Black and White.
Illustration of Edward Teach in Black and White.
Edward Teach 

Edward Teach or Thatch was more commonly known as Blackbeard (yes that one).

He was right hand man to Hornigold and spent his time working on the East Coast of America. Much of the mystique he had built up over his time as pirate likely came from him suffering with syphilis which had led to insanity.

Though he got beheaded by Lieutenant Maynard before the syphilis could kill him, his capture may have been due to his lack of awareness at the time. 

Black Sam Bellamy 

Samuel Bellamy started his career in piracy and soon after met his lover (who may or not have been married at the time) and changed his course to try and make a fortune to be able to live with her. He was known as a more Robin Hood type figure and caused as little harm as he could.

Sam is regarded as one of the most successful and richest pirates out there. He sadly never got to use this wealth as he died when his ship was wrecked. 

Illustration of Sam Bellamy in Colour.
Illustration of Henry Jennings and others in Black and White.
Henry Jennings 

Hornigold’s old enemy Henry Jennings was a privateer turned pirate, dead set on finding the wreck of the Spanish treasure fleet off the coast of Florida.

He similarly had a group of pirate captains operating under his command. He also took the King’s pardon in 1718 but instead of hunting the pirates he settled to be a plantation owner in Bermuda. 

Charles Vane 

Vane was one of the most brutal of the flying gang and employed tactics of torture to extract his information, most of his piracy was in the Atlantic and was ruthless with the ships he would capture.

As with many of the pirates he was captured and hung but was notably hard to capture. Hornigold wanted to be the one one to capture him, but failed in his mission 

Illustration of Charles Vane in Black and White.
Illustration of Calico Jack in Black and White.
Calico Jack 

Calico Jack was born as “John Rackham” but got the nickname “Calico” as he was known for wearing colourful fabrics. He began his piracy career as the quartermaster for Vane but worked up the ranks to become his own captain.

His love affair with Anne Bonny (and possibly Mary Read as well) brought them into further notice with pirate hunters. In 1720 he was captured after being too drunk to fight off the Navy ships attacking his ship whilst it was docked. 

Anne Bonny & Mary Read 

Though they are two distinct people with their own histories their pirate lives were similar. Both dressed as men to blend in with the crew until they were both outed/revealed themselves as women and became even more successful.

Both also were on Calico Jack’s ship and there are sources to say they were in a relationship with him and each other. They were both also on the ship when Jack was captured but they were not drunk and fought the hunters themselves.

Neither were convicted of piracy as they claimed they were pregnant. There are records of Mary dying due to childbirth, but the records of Bonny simply stop. 

Illustration of both Anne Bonny and Mary Read in Colour.

This is a small list, a summary of the almost 5000 pirates that were working the Caribbean at the time. There are many more pirates and other seafarers that spent their time in other areas and eras. 

From the South China Sea to the Mediterranean the idea of a group of people coming together to fight their way to wealth is one that is used across the world. And there are many more stories to be told! 

By Caileigh Russell

Edited By Athena