Monday, January 30, 2012

Bartholomew Roberts - "Black Bart"

Bartholomew Roberts (17 May 1682 – 10 February 1722), born John Roberts, was a Welsh pirate who raided ships off America and West Africa between 1719 and 1722.

He was the most successful pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy, as measured by vessels captured, taking over 470 prizes in his career.
Roberts was quoted as saying ... "In an honest service there is thin commons, low wages, and hard labour. In this, plenty and satiety, pleasure and ease, liberty and power; and who would not balance creditor on this side, when all the hazard that is run for it, at worst is only a sour look or two at choking? No, a merry life and a short one shall be my motto."
On 5 February 1722 HMS Swallow, commanded by Captain Chaloner Ogle, came upon Robert's three pirate ships, the Royal Fortune, the Ranger and the Little Ranger. The Swallow veered away to avoid a shoal, making the pirates think that she was a fleeing merchant ship. The Ranger, commanded by James Skyrme, departed in pursuit.

Once out of earshot of the other pirates, the Swallow opened her gun ports and opened fire. Ten pirates were killed and Skyrme had his leg taken off by a cannon ball, but refused to leave the deck. Eventually, the Ranger was forced to strike her colors and the surviving crew were captured.


On 10 February, the Swallow returned to Cape Lopez and found the Royal Fortune still there. On the previous day, Roberts had captured the Neptune, and many of his crew were drunk.

At first, the pirates thought that the approaching ship was the Ranger returning, but a deserter from the Swallow recognized her and informed Roberts.

The pirates' plan was to sail past the Swallow, which meant exposing themselves to one broadside. Once past, they would have a good chance of escaping.

However, the helmsman failed to keep the Royal Fortune on the right course, and the Swallow was able to approach to deliver a second broadside. Captain Roberts was killed by grapeshot, which struck him in the throat while he stood on the deck. Before his body could be captured, Roberts' wish to be buried at sea was fulfilled by his crew, who weighed his body down and threw it overboard after wrapping it in his ship's sail.