Infamous Pirates > Emanuel Wynn

Emanuel Wynn

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Background

Emanuel Wynn, also spelled Wynne was a French pirate during the Post Spanish Succession Period and the first one to generally be considered to have flown the standard black and white Jolly Roger pirate flag. The design on his flag was an hourglass beneath a set of bones to show the victim their time was running out. Not much is known about Wynn other than he began his pirate career around the end of the 17th century by raiding British merchant ships off the coast of the Carolinas in British North America.

Next he ventured into the West Indies where he plundered both British and Spanish ships. According to the British Admiralty Records in the Public Records Office, a report dated 18 July 1700 states that Wynn and his ship were engaged off the coast of the Cape Verde Islands by the Royal Navy ship named the HMS Poole under the command of a Captain John Cranby. The HMS Poole chased Wynn and his ship into a cove at Brava Island but was assisted by the local Portuguese and managed to escape.

Cranby returned to England and recounted his story. His account is generally given as the first recorded instance of a Jolly Roger flag. Given that this was about fourteen years before the Flying Gang came onto the scene this may very well be true. The flag of Wynn was described by Cranby as a black flag with;

"A sable ensign with cross bones, a death's head, and an hour glass."

As mentioned before the hourglass signified that if they did not surrender their time would be up. Both the hourglass and the crossed bones became a common theme among pirates. Sometimes the bones were replaced with swords and the hourglass replaced with a skull but generally the theme of the Jolly Roger stayed the same. It was meant to strike fear in the hearts of all imperial powers and show the pirates belonged to no nation but their own.

Little is known about the rest of Wynn's life.

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources