A message from the author…

Ahoy there!

Jess here, the creator of Pirate Blogs! For those that are following or even just stopping by, thank you for your support!

This blog was created as part of a project for a history class; I’m a student at Stevenson University, working towards a bachelor’s degree in public history. I love history, pirates, and creative writing, and thus, this blog was born! Even though this was created for a class project, I aim to continue writing here. For this blog, I plan on taking a real-life pirate from history, study them and their story, and then retell their story as if they themselves were writing it in blog-form! I’ve already done that with Captain Bartholomew Roberts, but other pirates’ stories will be added here in the future as well!

Before I continue, I aim to “reboot” this blog, so to speak. Now that the semester is done and I’ve gotten the hang of running a blog, I’m going to take some time to upgrade and fix up the blog to make it more enjoyable and accessible for people. I plan on adding a brief bio about yours truly, a post giving you the history of the Golden Age of Piracy, and maybe some posts on a few other pirate-related topics! Mainly, I’m going to rewrite the posts on Captain Roberts, adding more events from his life. I’m going to post the entries on him in a more spread-out manner, instead of all at once. When his story is done, I already have plans for who the next pirate whose story will get told! 🙂

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What editing feels like!

In the meantime, the current blog posts on Roberts will be left up. If you have any constructive criticism to offer on what worked or what didn’t work, or what can be improved, then if you can, drop a comment or shoot me a message! I’d be very grateful for honest and helpful feedback!

I hope to have the first “rebooted” blog post about Roberts posted sometime in June. Hit that subscribe button to get notifications! Again, any support is greatly appreciated!

Hope you stay tuned for more pirate adventures! Until next time!

~ Jess

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ENTRY 4 – “A Short Life and a Merry One” by Bartholomew Roberts

When I was first dragged against my will onto Howell Davis’ ship, I had no idea what I was getting’ myself into. Or rather was Davis was getting’ me into. Who would’ve guessed that I would turn from an honest man in honest services to a bloody pirate captain? When I accepted the position of captain, I knew that there was no returning to honest services after this. Actually, I did have an opportunity to be completely pardoned, if you can believe that: the 1718 Kings Pardon spared any pirate from punishment by death if only he would completely renounce and give up piracy. Sounds all right and proper, but then I thought back to my measly salary and wretched conditions while workin’ aboard the Princess, and I went ahead and became a pirate nonetheless.

My career was a short one, but I anticipated this. “A short life and a merry one”, that was my motto, my outlook that I adopted upon becoming a pirate. I was already getting’ on in years, and being a pirate was not going to guarantee a long life. So why not make my short life a merry one and a life worthy of remembering? Heaven knows it was indeed a life to remember.

 

 

Despite the challenges of being a criminal on the sea, my crew and I rose up and became the most successful that there ever was. Over 400 vessels we took, and in just three years as well! We raided and plundered in the Caribbean, off the coasts of West Africa and South America, and even made it all the way up to Newfoundland. I was particularly proud of takin’ a diamond-studded cross intended for the king of Portugal. Right fine piece of jewelry it was, so I proudly wore it about my neck all the way up until my career came to an end.

Evidently I caused quite a stir and disruption in the Atlantic trade systems with me and my crew’s plunderin’. I’m quite alright with that, if I’m being honest. And speaking of honest, there were a number of honest fellows out there that actually admired my daring and ambitious courage. I must say, I was flattered, even though those in the trading business would’ve preferred me dead. Well, thanks to my bloody crew and their drunkenness, they would get their wish when I would meet my end in battle in Cape Lopez.

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What more can I say?                          “The Lion King Scar Gif” https://giphy.com/gifs/deliverance-to3I2nkywr2PS

“A merry life and a short one”… that was my motto, and it actually seems fitting that my life as a pirate played out in such a fashion. A short life it was, only three years of terrorizing the honest occupations that I once served in. But a merry one it was.

Before I close (and goodness knows I’ll be writing more on these here blogs), I was made known of something rather interesting. The man responsible for bringing my career to an end, Admiral Sir Chaloner Ogle, got himself a little memorial when he died. In the lengthy piece of text, they make special note of me. Sure, it was about my life and career coming to an end, but it refers to me as the “Chief of the Pirates” who infested the sea. I happen to find that quite flattering…

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Bartholomew Roberts with his ship and captured merchant ships in the background. A copper engraving[1] from A History of the Pyrates by Captain Charles Johnson c. 1724 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bartholomew_Roberts

ENTRY 3 – “Sticking to the Code” by Bartholomew Roberts

Just because you’re the captain doesn’t mean everyone respects you as one. Had to learn that pretty early on in this whole business of piracy. While me and forty or so of the crew decided to give chase to a brigantine from Rhode Island loaded with provisions, one of the crew, a young, but rather hot-headed Irishman called Walter Kennedy, was left with the Royal Rover at Devil’s Islands. What a mistake that proved to be.

The capture of the brigantine from Rhode Island proved to be a failure: the weather was against us from the start, having turned rather unfavorable, and after giving chase for a while with no hope of overtakin’ the ship, me and the boys decided to return to the Royal Rover, only to discover that there was no Royal Rover. That wretched devil Kennedy had disappeared with not only the Rover, but with a good part of the crew and our loot!

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It certainly does…“Princess Bride Relationship GIF” https://tenor.com/view/princess-bride-relationship-pirate-gif-4917883

It would be an understatement to say I was maddeningly furious. Absolutely furious. The only consolation that I had was that apparently, the fool Kennedy and his crew ended up in Scotland somehow, and his crew’s loud and obnoxious drunkenness soon gave them away to be pirates. Drunkenness and unruly behavior, I’m tellin’ you: it’s a dangerous and harmful habit…Anyways, Kennedy would eventually hang along with the rest of the treacherous devils. I would’ve preferred to kill him myself, but at least he got what was comin’ for him.

I did learn something from Kennedy’s treachery that day. Two things actually. Along with never again allowing an Irishman to join my crew, some rules needed to be established and strictly, and I mean STRICTLY enforced. Plus, I was still new to this whole piracy business. I figured I had to establish myself as the true commander somehow and show Davis’ crew that I meant business. My code that I compiled together was as follows:

I. Every man has a vote in affairs of moment; has equal title to the fresh provisions, or strong liquors, at any time seized, and may use them at pleasure, unless a scarcity makes it necessary, for the good of all, to vote a retrenchment.

II. Every man to be called fairly in turn, by list, on board of prizes because, (over and above their proper share) they were on these occasions allowed a shift of clothes: but if they defrauded the company to the value of a dollar in plate, jewels, or money, marooning was their punishment.

III. No person to game at cards or dice for money.

IV. The lights and candles to be put out at eight o’clock at night: if any of the crew, after that hour still remained inclined for drinking, they were to do it on the open deck.

V. To keep their piece, pistols, and cutlass clean and fit for service.

VI. No boy or woman to be allowed amongst them. If any man were to be found seducing any of the latter sex, and carried her to sea, disguised, he was to suffer death.

VII. To desert the ship or their quarters in battle, was punished with death or marooning.

VIII. No striking one another on board, but every man’s quarrels to be ended on shore, at sword and pistol. The quarter-master of the ship, when the parties will not come to any reconciliation, accompanies them on shore with what assistance he thinks proper, and turns the disputant back to back, at so many paces distance; at the word of command, they turn and fire immediately (or else the piece is knocked out of their hands). If both miss, they come to their cutlasses, and then he is declared the victor who draws the first blood.

IX. No man to talk of breaking up their way of living, till each had shared one thousand pounds. If in order to this, any man should lose a limb, or become a cripple in their service, he was to have eight hundred dollars, out of the public stock, and for lesser hurts, proportionately.

X. The Captain and Quartermaster to receive two shares of a prize: the master, boatswain, and gunner, one share and a half, and other officers one and quarter.

XI. The musicians to have rest on the Sabbath Day, but the other six days and nights, none without special favour.

 

After they were written up, the entire crew was ordered to swear to uphold these articles, and to swear it upon none other than the Holy Bible. Looking back on that day, I admit that the use of the scriptures seemed a bit strange. After all, we were already breakin’ goodness knows how many of God’s laws by committing acts of piracy, so why bother swearin’ on the Holy Word at all? Well, after experiencing something like Kennedy’s treachery, you couldn’t be too careful. I couldn’t afford to have more examples of such disobedience from my crew.

ENTRY 2 – “Muddy Waters” by Bartholomew Roberts

What a day. Being captured by a band of criminals was not how I had envisioned the day turnin’ out. But turnin’ out this way it did, for better or for worse. I soon met the captain of the pirate crew, a fellow Welshman named Howell Davis. Interestin’ character, Davis was. I would only be with him for six weeks, but in that time, I slowly learned the appeal of the pirates’ way of life. I was stubborn at first, indeed I was. But by the end of six weeks, my outlook had completely changed to the one shared by those whose way of life I once abhorred. Although I was forced to join the band of pirates against my will, Davis seemed to take a likin’ to me, often consultin’ me about matters regardin’ navigation and such, since I soon proved that I had some skill and experience in that area. The manner of how things were run aboard Davis’ two ships, named the Royal Rover and the Royal James, also struck me as quite odd, but not to mention preferable to my old life as an honest sailor. Although Davis held the position of captain, there was always the possibility that he could actually be voted out of that position by the other officers onboard. In fact, many major decisions such as takin’ ships and choosin’ destinations were voted on by the crew…such a different reality than where I came from, where the captain’s orders were law and no fool would dare question them. When we took our first ship since I joined Davis’ crew, my share of the spoils was unbelievable! Much more than a year’s wage in honest services…with just one ship captured!

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Now I understand why people want to be bloody pirates… “Seeing Money” http://www.reactiongifs.com/tag/dollar-signs/

I think it was at this point that I began to imagine to myself that if I earned this much just from one ship, then what could I earn from takin’ multiple ships in just one month? A couple of weeks even? I began to understand why men (and some ladies) took to this kind of profession. I got paid so little workin’ in the slave-trade. Too little if I’m being honest. Here, I could actually make more than a decent livin’…but I still had some doubts.

Eventually, we made a stop at Principe, where sadly, Captain Davis met his end after a ransom scheme of his went horribly wrong, due to the plan being discovered.

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“Retreat of Captain Howell Davis” http://www.goldenageofpiracy.org/infamous-pirates/howell-davis.php

The officers of the ship met to discuss what should be done next about the position of captain and of all the ways the meeting could’ve gone, they nominated me as one of the candidates for captain! Why me of all people, when I had barely been with them for six bloody weeks, and had been unwilling to join their band in the first place? They credited my courage, council, and skills at navigation as being the driving factors in me getting’ a nomination. Would you believe it that the rest of the voting pirates chose me as well? I had begun to realize that I was going to be in this business of piracy for the long haul, that there was no returning to honest services after this. But this confidence in me shown by Davis’ crew helped make up my mind about my commitment to this cause. I had dipped my hands in muddy waters so to speak, so if I was to be a pirate, I figured it was better to be a commander instead of simply a common man.

For my first act as captain, the crew and I swore vengeance on the town of Principe for the death of our departed Captain Davis. And did we ever.

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Just about sums it up… “Disaster Girl”. http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/disaster-girl

Attacking from both land and sea, we ended up killing a large number of the male population, looting much of the town’s valuables, and setting fire to several ships and buildings.

My past, honest self would shudder at such a deed. But now, as a pirate, I saw the opportunity to chart my own course and make a name for myself. Now if something could actually be done about the drinking problems with this lot…

Entry 1 – “Honest Work” by Bartholomew Roberts

For being the most successful pirate during our occupation’s heyday, you’d think the masses would be rememberin’ my name instead of ole Blackbeard’s (aye, I’m lookin’ at you, Ed!). I took down over 400 ships in my career, and Ed never came close to matchin’ my numbers, yet for some reason, it’s he that gets remembered. Oh well; I do get at least two incarnations in this world’s modern technology, so that ought to count for something.

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Apparently, I inspired the character, the Dread Pirate Roberts from The Princess Bride. Impressive.  “Dread Pirate Roberts”. https://www.giantbomb.com/dread-pirate-roberts/3005-32994/images/

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I made it into what they call a video game, in this case, Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. Pretty good look, I must say, so keep the mustache jokes to yourselves… “Black Bart”. http://totalwar-ar.wikia.com/wiki/Bartholomew_Roberts

 

It’s a start. I’ve learned that life tends to favor the strange and ironic in life. At least I get to be the first pirate to be writin’ on these here blogs. I assume Ed will eventually be yammerin’ away on here as well. Don’t get me wrong; Blackbeard’s a fine fellow n’ I’ve got plenty o’ respect for him. But when it comes to piracy…well I’ll just let my story speak for itself.

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Your record’s none of my business, Ed… “But That’s None of my Business” http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/but-thats-none-of-my-business

 

 

Apparently most of these other gentleman of fortune (and ladies! I didn’t forget, so no need to screech about it) have no record of their own birthdays, but I do. May 17, 1682, it is. I come from the fine country of Wales, close to the town of Haverfordwest, where my name used to be John instead of Bartholomew, which is way more of a mouthful to say.

But when you enter into the pirate business, a new name is a right fine idea. I’ll spare you the details of my life before becomin’ a pirate, as there isn’t that much to talk about other than the fact that I was an honest man once if you can believe it. A right and proper honest man, workin’ on honest ships, mostly in the slave-tradin’ business. Pretty nasty business it was: unpleasant and brutal workin’ conditions (not to mention bloody dangerous) and low pay…not entirely an ideal lot for one’s life, but one must earn a living somehow, right? I even hear the slaving ships’ conditions for sailors were even worse than the ships in the merchant navy, and that’s sayin’ plenty. Even as the second-mate aboard the Princess, the last honest ship I worked on, I wasn’t treated much better than the poor fools that were simply workin’ as ordinary sailors, often times forced into the service.

But, as I mentioned earlier, life is rather funny at times. Here I was in 1719, a 37-year-old Welshman workin’ on the Princess during a voyage, when our ship gets herself attacked by a band of bloody pirates. Of course at this point, I, as an officer of an honest ship, abhorred the crime of piracy, despite the fact that work on a slaving vessel was quite unpleasant and immoral in its own right. The criminals boarded our ship and completely ransacked it, absolute devils! Raidin’ the officer’s cabins of our clothes and takin’ some of our food, tools, and other supplies like it was nobody’s concern. I will admit that I stood by, unable to do anything while the armed pirates plundered our ship, I did notice that they wore much finer clothes than our pathetic selves did. But they were still pirates, and drunken pirates at that. So uncivilized and so undisciplined! Some of the Princess’ crew ended up volunteerin’ to join the pirates once they were finished helping themselves to our supplies, but I refused. As much as I disliked my current position on the Princess, I was still an honest fellow after all, with much to lose should I take up piracy. But of course, the pirates were lookin’ for an officer of skill to aid them in their crimes, and I was forced to join them aboard their ship as a pirate. How fortunate for me…