Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Gentleman Pirate

Although he had no sailing experience and no knowledge of shipboard life, the widowed Stede Bonnet abandoned his four children and vast plantation in his native Barbados and became a pirate. In the summer of 1717, at he age of 29, he bought a sixty ton sloop, which he named "Revenge" and equipped with 10 guns and his library of books. He hired a crew of 70 and relied on his quartermaster and officer for their sailing skills. Rather than the usual sharing of plunder, Bonnet paid his crew wages to gain their loyalty. Known as "The Gentleman Pirate", he attacked and plundered ships from the Chesapeake Bay to Honduras. He partnered for a short time with Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard, who double-crossed him and left the majority of the crew stranded on a sandbar. Bonnet eventually holed up on the Cape Fear River to retrofit his ship and wait out the hurricane season. The North Carolina governor got wind of his location and sent a posse. A great battle ensued, and Bonnet was captured. He managed to escape, was recaptured, tried, found guilty, and 18 months after becoming a pirate, hanged by the neck on Dec. 10th, 1718, in Charles Town (Charleston), South Carolina, at the age of 30.

The illustration is an 18th century engraving of Stede Bonnet.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I LOVE pirates! Great post!