Friday, December 7, 2007

Pirates in the Caribbean- Stede Bonnet

Stede Bonnet is often referred to as "The Gentleman Pirate" turned to piracy later in life. A wealthy landowner, he had some militia experience as a young man but mostly lived high on the hog in Barbados for years. Unfortunately, his career as a planter was marked by failures and at the age of 29 he put together a ship and a crew and set his sights on brigandage. Caribbean

"There is also or has been lately over on the [North American] Coast, a pirate sloop from Barbados commanded by one Major Bonnet, who has an Estate on that island," Candler wrote his superiors in London in the summer of 1717. "The sloop is his own. This advice I had from a letter from thence, that in April last [1717] he ran away out of Carlisle Bay in the night and had aboard 126 men and 6 guns... and ammunition enough."

-Captain Benjamin Candler of the HMS Winchelsea

His ship, The Revenge, plied the coasts around Barbados and along the Eastern American Seaboard until he was seriously injured on his way to Nassau. In Nassau he met Blackbeard, and most of his crew defected to join Blackbeard's crew aboard Queen Anne's Revenge. For a time while he was recovering, Bonnet joined Blackbeard aboard his ship as a guest.

The next summer he set out again, this time as a privateer commissioned by the Governor of North Carolina to plunder Spanish shipping. He adopted the alias "Captain Thomas" and changed his ship's name to the Royal James. While the ship was being careened on the Cape Fear River, a group of pirate hunters from South Carolina led by Captain William Rhett captured Bonnet and his crew after a battle of a few hours.

Bonnet was hanged for two counts of piracy on December 10, 1718 in Charleston.

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