For centuries, pirates have been regarded as savages of the sea who were to be feared by anyone who encountered them. Their business of raiding and overtaking merchant ships was cutthroat and they were always on the lookout for their next source of wealth. While the image of swashbuckling pirates who lived it up to the fullest with drinking and wild behavior is still idolized by many, there were plenty of hazards that came with this rousing lifestyle, and everything from battle wounds to disease could easily kill them. Nevertheless, pirates still hold a special place in countless people’s hearts. Find out more about some of the most famous pirates in history below:
Edward Teach (aka “Blackbeard”), 1680 – 1718
Easily the most recognized name in piracy lore, Blackbeard was an intimidating character who earned his menacing reputation by joining every battle with a collection of weapons at the ready including two swords, pistols and knives. During the height of his power, he was captain of four ships and a crew of 300 devoted pirates. Known for often viciously killing his prisoners, he terrorized the Caribbean as he ransacked over forty merchant ships. However, his lucky streak ended when the Royal Navy captured him, beheaded him and raised his severed head in warning to other pirates in Virginia’s Hampton River area.
Sir Henry Morgan, 1635 – 1688
Captain Morgan is known for his reign in the Caribbean, where he led a powerful Jamaican fleet (discreetly supported by England) that countered against Spain. Although there are stories claiming that he may have overtaken up to four hundred ships during his years as a pirate, his most astounding work presented itself in wealthy Panama City, which he raided with thirty ships and 1,200 men to capture untold wealth. He was arrested and taken to England following this great feat, but was soon pardoned, knighted by the king and sent to Jamaica where he was named deputy governor. He spent the rest of his life there presiding over a plantation.
Anne Bonny, 1700 – unknown
While moving from Ireland to Nassau initially seemed like a wonderful opportunity for a new life, Bonny soon found herself in an unsatisfying marriage which left her disappointed. When she met “Calico Jack” Rackham, a pirate ship captain, she was swept up in the excitement of joining his crew even though it meant she needed to disguise her gender by dressing and behaving like a man, including plenty of drinking and fighting. Her thirst for brutality and violence spurred on the crew to extremes, whom she was captured with and sentenced to death. By lying about being pregnant, she escaped death, although there are no traces of her life after being set free.
Bartholomew Roberts (aka “Black Bart”), 1682 – 1722
While his career as a pirate started out involuntarily when the ship he worked aboard was captured, Roberts welcomed the challenge and proved to be an excellent leader with plenty to offer including fearlessness, a taste for adventure, charisma and superb navigational skills. He led his devoted crew on to raid more than 400 ships, a mind-blowing number to be sure. He was killed in battle against a British captain, and his loss was shocking to his steadfast crew.
Henry Every (aka “Long Ben”), 1653 – unknown
While his career began as a sailor for the British Royal Navy, he became a pirate through mutiny. He roamed the Indian Ocean and Red Sea, earning a reputation as a successful and menacing pirate. Although he only raided a few ships, they contained some of the most impressive collections of treasures one could hope for such as gold and jewels, helping him become the richest pirate of his era. Because he was so sought after, he wisely quit his gig as a pirate and vanished into obscurity with his riches.