British Empire > 1718 Kings Pardon

1718 Kings Pardon

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Background

The 1718 Kings Pardon, delivered by governor of the Bahamas territory Woodes Rogers signaled the end of classic piracy as it caused many former pirates to turn on their own and become pirate hunters themselves. Arriving in Nassau in 1718 with a small fleet of ships, Rogers offered a Kings Pardon to any man who wished to renounce piracy and return to a life of honest work.

1718 Kings Pardon - Woodes Rogers With Nassau Deed

Rogers with Nassau Deed - William Hogarth (1728)

While true pirates like Charles Vane balked at the idea and decided to make a run for it instead, others such as Benjamin Hornigold and Henry Jennings turned to the Crown and became pirate hunters to track down their old allies.

With this, it signaled the demise of the last pirate haven in the West Indies and also the last foothold the pirates held in the region. After this, piracy would only experience decline as the remaining pirates who did not accept the pardon were either killed, jailed or hung. Often pirates were gibbeted outside in public areas as a warning for potential pirates of the consequences of their actions.

1718 Kings Pardon - Gibbet

Gibbet - Bygone Punishments (1899)

Ultimately the Kings pardon was designed to reign the pirates in. The privateers served a vital purpose in the time of war, but during the time of peace they disrupted growth and halted trade. They especially impacted the slave trade by which Britain was reliant on at the time. In fact after the War of the Spanish Succession, Britain was granted the asiento or the right to import slaves to the New World.

End of the Golden Age - 1718 Kings Pardon - 1713 Asiento Contract

Asiento Contract (1713)

The pirates were impacting the Trans-Atlantic Triangular Trade and especially the slave trade by seizing slave ships and liberating the slaves to join their crews. This was impacting the West Indies colonies ability to mass produce commodities like sugar cane and other natural resources as they relied on the slaves for free labor.

1718 Kings Pardon - British Royal Navy Flag

17th Century British Royal Navy Flag

Ultimately with the Kings Pardon, a majority of the pirates agreed to give up their ways and resume a legal life. The pirates that weren't got hunted down by pirate hunters. The role that pirates played in the economic of the 17th and 18th century is unaccountable. Pirates stole the modern day equivalent of entire companies before they went down in a blaze of glory.

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