Infamous Pirates > Walter Kennedy

Walter Kennedy

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Background

Walter Kennedy was born in 1695 at Wapping, London at a place called Pelican Stairs. He is most famous for being apart the original mutiny that spawned the careers of Thomas Anstis and Howell Davis along with eventually conscripting Bartholomew Roberts. Walter Kennedy was originally a burglar and a pickpocket in London in his early years. He was also an anchor smith apprentice under his father. However this ended quickly after his fathers death and Kennedy went to sea in hopes to make his way.

Walter Kennedy - Walter Kennedy (1888 Pirates of the Spanish Main Trading Card)

Walter Kennedy - Pirates of the Spanish Main (1888)

Kennedy served in the British Royal Navy during the War of Spanish Succession. In fact, Kennedy was aboard a sloop-of-war named the Buck along with Thomas Anstis and Howell Davis that was part of Woodes Rogers fleet that he took to the Bahamas in order to enforce the 1718 Kings Pardon. After they landed Woodes Rogers augmented the crew with pardoned pirates and sent the Buck to Havana with a letter meant for the Spanish Governor indicating that he was not there to become a pirate but rather to fight the pirates.

Its astonishing a governor of the British Empire had to even send this letter in present days, however given the amount of rampant corruption it was not unreasonable at the time. However, the Buck never actually made it to Havana. Along the way, some of the original crew mutinied and killed the captain, Jonathan Bass along with other crew members who did not join them. After the mutiny, Howell Davis was elected captain. After sailing around for a while, they eventually conscripted Bartholomew Roberts after his ship was captured.

Walter Kennedy - Retreat of Howell Davis

Retreat of Captain Howell Davis' Crew

When Howell Davis tried to capture the governor of Principe, Walter Kennedy was apart of the crew that was ambushed by the Portuguese. In fact, he was the only one of the crew to escape alive back to the ship. With Davis and some of the crew dead, Roberts was elected captain and in dead middle of the night they returned to Principe to kill most of the people on the island. Later that year, when Roberts attempted to chase a brig off the coast of Surinam with forty of his crew Kennedy absconded with the Royal Rover after they seized a Portuguese treasure ship. After Kennedy took the opportunity to abandon Roberts with a large portion of the crew and treasure, Roberts excluded all Irish from joining his crew.

Capture & Death

Once Kennedy obtained the Royal Rover, he and the crew decided to give up piracy and set a course for Ireland. However, once the crew found out Kennedy had no idea to navigate a ship they almost threw him overboard. Due to his lack of navigating skill, the crew found themselves off the coast of Scotland instead of Ireland. He and the crew passed themselves off as shipwrecked sailors, however their rampant partying and rioting soon gave them away as pirates.

Soon the authorities came down and arrested seventeen of the crew near Edinburg on charges of piracy. Nine of the crew were eventually hanged, however Kennedy slipped away once again and retreated to Ireland. Within a few months he spent all of his fortune in Dublin. Kennedy was finally brought down when a prostitute accused him of theft and he was sent to Bridewell Prison. Here the authorities found out he was a pirate by accusation of a mate aboard a ship he captured. Upon realizing who they had in custody, he was transferred to Marshalsea prison and put on trial for piracy. On July 21st, 1721 Walter Kennedy was hung at Execution Dock in the city of London.

Bartholomew Roberts Gang

Bartholomew Roberts Crew

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources