End of the Golden Age > Pirate Hunters

Pirate Hunters

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Background

By the early 1700's the British Royal Navy was still nothing like what it was going to be several decades later. In response to the mounting pirate threat, certain governors in the New World such as Alexander Spotswood of the colony of Colony and Dominion of Virginia and Woodes Rogers of the Bahamas dispatched pirate hunters to find, capture and possibly kill the remaining pirates. Most of these pirate hunters were dispatched after the proclamation of the 1718 Kings Pardon.

In fact, most of these pirate hunters accomplished their job quite nicely, if not becoming pirates themselves by helping themselves to the slain pirates loot. Some were knighted, others faded into obscurity for their efforts. No matter what the situation there was also some controversy over how the reward and pirates loot was divided and recognition for the matter. Goes to show you, some things never change with government. While pirates would divide the treasure democratically between them, the Royal soldiers always schemed, swindled and stole from their own crew. Here are a few of the major pirate hunters of the Golden Age of Piracy.

William Rhett

See William Rhett

Colonel William Rhett is most remembered for his capture of Stede Bonnet. Moving to the Province of South Carolina in 1698, he soon rose through the ranks of early colonial government. After acquiring his own sugar plantation in 1716 Rhett was asked to help the British Royal Navy capture and help bring to trial many of the infamous pirates of the 18th century.

Pirate Hunters - William Rhett Portrait (1700)

William Rhett Portrait - (c. 1700)

After tracking Stede Bonnet out of Charles Town harbor to the Cape Fear River in the North Carolina, Rhett set out with a few ships in order to track him down. In what became known as the Battle of Cape Fear River, Stede and his crew put up a great fight as many of the boats ran aground during the battle. However as the tide lifted Rhett's ships but not Bonnet's off the sea floor, Bonnet lost his advantage and ultimately had to surrender.

Robert Maynard

See Robert Maynard

Robert Maynard was a lieutenant in the British Royal Navy, and captain of the HMS Pearl. Maynard is a famous pirate hunter who killed Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach in battle and ended his reign of terror on the British colonies for good. After being given command of two sloops named the HMS Ranger and the HMS Jane, Maynard and his crew departed from Hampton Virginia on 19 November, 1718.

On 22 November, Maynard and his crew found Blackbeard and a much reduced crew partying at Ocracoke Island. Maynard did not have any cannons on his vessels so he was able to sneak right up to Blackbeard on the island. However not one to give up without a fight, Blackbeard delivered a punishing broadside attack and killed many of Maynard's men.

However Maynard began to hide his true forces below decks to make Blackbeard think he did more damage than he actually did. When Blackbeard began to board Maynard's ship he was ambushed and surrounded by the soldiers streaming from below deck.

Pirate Hunters - Blackbeard Fighting Maynard

Blackbeard vs. Maynard - Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1920)

Seemingly surrounded Blackbeard ended up in a duel with Maynard. As Blackbeard moved into kill Maynard one of his crew stepped in and slashed Blackbeard in the back of the neck and then once more nearly decapitating him. He took nearly twenty cutlass wounds and five gunshots before he was felled. Maynard and his crew severed Blackbeard's head, tied it to the bowsprit and threw his body overboard.

The killing of Blackbeard is still celebrated every year by the crew of the current HMS Ranger who try to celebrate the victory at the Sussex University Royal Navy United as close to 22 November as possible. The victory of the Royal Navy over Blackbeard proved to be the norm, not the exception as most pirates would meet their end before the 1720's were out.

Chalonor Ogle

See Chalonor Ogle

Sir Chalonor Ogle (1681-1750) was an Admiral of the Fleet in the British navy and credited with the defeat of Bartholomew Roberts. In 1721 he captained the HMS Swallow which was the fleet flagship for operations off the West African Coast. In 1722 he encountered the dreaded pirate Bartholomew Roberts. After two punishing broadsides by Ogle's ships, Roberts was dead of a cannon shot to the throat.

Pirate Hunters - Chaloner Ogle Portrait (1745-1747)

Chaloner Ogle Portrait (1745-1747)

Upon returning to England he was knighted, the only one to ever be honored specifically for killing a pirate. He also profited by taking gold dust from Robert's cabin. Despite being a British commander (or more specifically because of) he waited for nearly three years to give his crew the reward of the goods and loot that he did claim possession of.

Ogle claimed that despite looting two of Robert's ships, he missed out on most of the treasure stored aboard the third one, the Little Ranger. By the time Ogle and his men caught up to the ship it was already emptied of its treasure by Captain Hill of the merchant ship Neptune. Chaloner Ogle lived in Middlesex county at Twickenham on Gifford Lodge. He passed away in 1750 of natural causes.

Johnathan Barnet

See Johnathan Barnet

Golden Age of Piracy

Periods

Geography

West Indies

East Indies

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources