Bartholomew Roberts

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Bartholomew Roberts, woodcut from 1725

Bartholomew Roberts (* 1682 in Pembrokeshire , † February 10, 1722 ) was a notorious pirate .


The from Wales dating Roberts had gone already about 20 years at sea, when he in 1718 by the pirate Howell Davis in a raid on Anamaboe, one off the coast of Guinea in Davis team captured lying fishing village and ' pressed was. Six weeks later, the pirates on the island of Príncipe were ambushed by the local governor, in which Davis was killed; the rest of the crew fled out to sea. Roberts had gained so much reputation with the crew in that short time that they chose him as their leader.

From then on, the almost three-year unprecedented career of the "Black Bartholomew" began - but he was only referred to as Black Bart after his death. One of his first acts is said to have returned to Príncipe and ravaged the island in revenge. After the capture of two ships, he and his crew were tired of the coast of Guinea and set sail for Brazil .

Off the coast of Bahia they came across a fleet of 42 Portuguese merchant ships escorted by two warships , drove right into it and boarded the heaviest loaded ship, the Sagrada Familia with a crew of 150 and 40 guns, to get out of the dust immediately close. In June 1720 Roberts drove his ship, the Royal Rover , into the port of Trepassey and looted 22 merchant ships anchored there and four others completely. The best of these prizes was his new flagship Royal Fortune , which he soon exchanged for a ship of the same name.

He hijacked a number of French and British ships off Newfoundland and New England before setting off for the Caribbean . By the spring of 1721 he and his crew brought merchant shipping between St. Christopher and Martinique to an almost complete standstill. Then he sailed again across the Atlantic to Sierra Leone .

Bartholomew Roberts' first pirate flag
Flag he used later

At the end of August Roberts captured the frigate Onslow and made her the flagship of his three-ship fleet ( Royal Fortune , Great Ranger , Little Ranger ); she was the last Royal Fortune.

After the sack of eleven slave ships anchored in Ouidah , he saw what he believed to be a large merchant ship on February 5, 1722 and gave the order to the pursuit by the Great Ranger under Captain James Skyrme. The supposed prey, however, was the HMS Swallow under Captain Chaloner Ogle , a warship with 60 cannons on board. After a mock retreat, which had the purpose of getting the two ships out of sight of the rest of the pirate fleet, the Swallow suddenly turned, fired a broadside at the Great Ranger and boarded it.

On February 10, 1722, the warship encountered the Royal Fortune, which was anchored, and Ogle gave the order to attack. After being told that the warship was on course to attack, Roberts finished breakfast, put on his best clothes, armed himself, and gave his orders. In the following naval battle around eleven o'clock, standing on a carriage , his throat was slit open by a grape from the Swallow, whereupon the rest of the crew fought for about three hours before they finally surrendered. Bartholomew Roberts' body was thrown overboard, as he had requested several times during his lifetime, so that one would not get hold of him. Similar to Blackbeard 's last stand, one of Roberts' men tried to blow up the powder magazine and ship. After the pirates surrendered, however, this was overwhelmed. 95 crew members were then tried in Cape Coast Castle in Ghana , 52 of them to death by hanging .

Bartholomew Roberts had hijacked over 400 ships during his criss-cross crossing the Atlantic, making him one of the greatest pirate captains of all time.

Pop culture reception

  • An abomination pirate Roberts appears in the film The Prince's Bride ; in this story, however, the real Captain Roberts is already retired, while his successors pursue their own pirate careers under his dreaded name.
  • In the computer game Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag Roberts also appears, but is a mystical being who is in contact with a mysterious "first civilization". He is murdered by Edward Kenway, the game's non-historical protagonist.