Buccaneers > William Knight

William Knight

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration


William Knight (?? - ??) was English buccaneer who was famous for partaking in a buccaneering expedition to the Viceroyalty of Peru, which was not the most typical place for a pirate raid. Between 1685 and 1686 Knight and his buccaneers looted cities all along the coast of Peru and usually ransomed them back to the governor in exchange for leaving.

Not much is known about Knight's early life as not much is known about the buccaneers in general but he is first recorded as leading an invasion of forty English and twenty French buccaneers in 1684 on the city of La Serena in Chile. However, the Spanish had a strong cavalry force stationed there and the buccaneers were forced to retreat. The next year in 1685 Knight joined a privateering expedition led by Edward Davis and was accompanied by fellow buccaneers Charles Swan, Townley and Peter Harris along with many others.

In July of 1685 the buccaneers invaded and plundered the town of Realejo and later the island of Pueblo Novo. Knight is recorded as joining them on 15 July and brought French reinforcements such as Francois Grogniet and other buccaneers likely from Tortuga. As soon as they occupied the island however, the French and English began arguing over the spoils of war and they ended up dividing the island between them.

On 7 September Davis, Knight and Harris decided to head out back to Peru with their three ships and about three hundred buccaneers. While on their cruise to Peru a disease known as spotted fever broke out on one of the ships so they took shelter in Ampala Bay and decided to try and quarantine the sick. Many of the buccaneers died and with a diminished crew they eventually set off towards the Galapagos Islands to careen their ships.

During this time they engaged with Spanish ships traveling across the Pacific and captured a few of them. By March there was only 250 of the original buccaneers left and they plundered and raided the town of Sana in the Viceroyalty of Peru that is south of Trujillo. The buccaneers were able to loot over 100,000 pesos from the city for an estimated value of £25,000. The buccaneers next raided Paita and acquired slightly less loot but gained forty slaves to join their crew.

Knights buccaneer expedition of about 290 men at this point was responsible for plundering five additional Spanish settlements between May and June. They were reported to have murdered colonial officials and even priests who refused to tell the buccaneers the location of the Spanish wealth. When the buccaneers seized the city of Pisco in July the Spanish paid them a ransom of £5,000.

Following the raids on the Pacific Coast Knight and Edward Davis decided to part ways at the Juan Fernandez Islands and the buccaneers totaled up their haul. It is believed each crew member of this expedition received about £2,500 and the buccaneers dispersed. Not much is known about Knight's activities and exploits after this and it is rumored that his ship went down while crossing the Atlantic. Then again, that is the final ending story for many of the wealthy and successful pirates so the real answer lies in history.



Primary Sources

Secondary Sources