Gentleman Pirate: Stede Bonnet

Around the year 1680, a pirate named Charles Vane was born in England and started his career as a privateer working on one of Lord Archibald Hamilton’s ships during the War of Spanish Succession from 1701-1714. Later, in 1716 Vane served under Henry Jennings and participated in an attack in Florida on the Spanish where he amassed a booty valued at 87,000 pounds of gold and silver. Keep reading below to learn more pirate Charles Vane who gained notoriety as a ruthless pirate towards the end of the Age of Piracy. 

Incredible Navigation & Combat Skills 

Vane was well known for his incredible navigation and combat skills that made him stand out amongst over pirates and crew members. While he overtook numerous vessels during his career, he maintained a volatile relationship with his crew members which contributed to the end of his career and even death.  Vane’s pirate career began in 1716 when raided ships and camps of the sunken Spanish galleons’ salvagers in coastal Florida with Henry Jennings. Vane became a captain in his own right a few years later capturing vessels and ruthlessly torturing and murdering prisoners. An important encounter occurred between Vane and the new governor of New Providence, Woodes Rogers, in 1718. Rogers arrived in the region on the flagship known as the “Delicia” along with two warships, the “Rose” and the “Milford.”  Upon seeing Rogers and his ships, Pirate Vane set his own ship on fire which was a recently captured French prize vessel, and started sailing directly towards Rogers ships. Rogers tried to maneuver his vessels to avoid contact with the burning ship, and Pirate Vane taunted Rogers before sailing away laughing. Rogers was so angered by this disrespectful act that he sent a former pirate named Captain Benjamin Hornigold to try to hunt Vane down. However, Vane evaded escape and continued his pirate escapes throughout the Carribean and eastern coast of the US.

Vane Continues to Avoid Pirate Hunters 

Pirate Charles Vane became well known in the West Indies during the years between 1716 and 1721. During that time, he travelled on his ship “Range” attacking and capturing any ships that he encountered. During one such adventure near the Carolinas, Vane captured a big warship, and subsequently promoted his quartermaster Yeates into the role of captain to oversee the 2nd ship. Together, Vane and Yeates seized many ships including their biggest capture which was a slave ship from Africa that was carrying 90 black slaves on board. The Governor of South Carolina hired pirate hunters to try to bring order to the region and capture pirates that were creating havoc in the area, but Vane was able to successfully evade capture.  On board with his own crew, Captain Vane was very rude and treated his fellow pirate companions with such disrespect that eventually his second in command Yeates decided he had had enough. Sick and tired of Vane’s abrasive and combative personality, Yeates and his followers snuck off one night taking one Vane’s ships with them. They also took part of the treasure that he and Vane had accumulated, as well as all 90 captured slaves and sailed away. 

The Downfall of Pirate Vane

The downfall of Vane occured in the year 1720. At that time, Vane was still attacking and capturing ships in the Windward Passage area located between Cuba and Hispaniola. However, one day he and his crew attacked a vessel that turned out to be powerful French Warship, and Vane decide to flee for safety. His quartermaster, Calico Jack Rackham, accused him of being a coward in front of Vane’s crew and took over control of Vane’s ship leaving Vane behind in a small captured sloop with just a few of his loyal pirate crew. Vane was skilled and quickly captured a couple of small ships and rebuilt his pirate fleet. However, not much longer a powerful hurricane near the Bay of Honduras completely destroyed his ship and his entire crew drowned except for Vane and one other survivor. Vane and the other survivor became stuck on a small fisherman’s island until they were rescued by former Buccaneer, Captain Holford, who was familiar with Vane. Since he knew about Vane’s terrible history and ruthless pirate behavior, Captain Holford promptly imprisoned and extradited Vane to authorities in Port Royal. Vane was tried in a court where he was found guilty of piracy, and subsequently hanged in November of 1720.

So ends the life of Pirate Charles Vane, one of the Age of Piracy’s most noteworthy pirates.