Infamous Pirates > Amaro Pargo
Amaro Rodríguez Felipe y Tejera Machado (San Cristóbal de La Laguna, 3 May 1678 or 1695 – San Cristóbal de La Laguna, 14 October 1747), more popularly known as Amaro Pargo, was a famous Spanish pirate.
Born in San Cristóbal de La Laguna, on the island of Tenerife (Canary Islands) on 3 May, 1678 (although other sources show his birth on the same day, but in the year 1695). Despite this, the first date is accepted as the more likely one.
He was baptized by the priest Manuel Hurtado Mendoza in the Iglesia de Los Remedios (Church of the Cures; the currently a cathedral in the city). His godfather was Amaro Lopez. He was son of Juan Rodriguez Felipe and Beatriz Tejera Machado. He had seven brothers.
In 1701, he boarded as second lieutenant on a ship, the Ave Maria, nicknamed "La Chata" ("The Barge"), which was boarded by pirates. He advised the captain to feign surrender in order to start a battle from which they emerged victorious. In gratitude, the captain would give Amaro his first boat. With it he began his business activities, including participation in the African slave trade.
Trader and privateer
He conducted his affairs with a well-nourished fleet and also with many residences. Moreover, because of his beliefs as a fervent Catholic, he was responsible for important works of charity for churches, religious institutions, and the Parroquia de Nuestra Senora de Los Remedios (Parish Church of Our Lady of the Cures), now the Catedral de San Cristobal de La Laguna (Cathedral of St. Christopher of the Lake). He received a letter of marque from the King of Spain. He began a deep friendship with the nun Sister Mary of Jesus and became romantically involved with the Cuban Josefa Maria del Valdespino, with whom he had an illegitimate son, but did not come to marry. This son was named Manuel de la Trinidad Amaro. On January 25, 1725, he acceded to the nobility by being declared a hidalgo in Madrid. He founded a chaplaincy for the needy and allocated 3,000 reales for the poor in the prisons.
He used to take his own ships to America loaded with Malmsey wine from his own crops in Geneto, Tegueste and Valle Colino, and brandy from his distilleries with boilers which he had in his houses in El Agua street and La Miravala, in the localities of La Laguna and El Socorro (Tegueste), respectively, and used to sell these goods in Havana and Guyana. On his way he would attack any English and Dutch ships he encountered, bringing the booty back to Spain. Amaro Pargo fought against some of the most notorious pirates of his period, among them Blackbeard.
Pargo even came to be the richest man of the Canary Islands. Amaro Pargo was a character who in his day had the same reputation and popularity that Blackbeard and Francis Drake.
Amaro died October 14, 1747 in his hometown. He was buried in the Santo Domingo de Guzman Convent in La Laguna. On his death, his estate was substantial, and his natural son Manuel appeared in La Laguna demanding his part, but the rest of Pargo's heirs objected. Because of his relentless fight for the interests of the Spanish Crown against enemy powers, Amaro Pargo was considered a national hero in his time.