Infamous Pirates > William Fly

William Fly

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Background

William Fly (?? - 12 July 1726) was a British pirate who was responsible for raiding the coast of British North America for a very short career of three months in 1726. Getting into the game later than most after the concept of the golden age of piracy was considered historically over, Fly began his pirating career when he signed onto sail with a Captain John Green to West Africa aboard a ship named the Elizabeth in April of 1726. William Fly is important to piracy as a whole because his death marks the true end of the golden age of piracy, a credit sometimes given to Bartholomew Roberts but not actually correct.

William Fly - William Fly (Pirates of the Spanish Main 1888 Trading Cards

William Fly - Pirates of the Spanish Main Trading Cards (1888)

Fly's journey into piracy began with an argument into the journey that led to a successful mutiny by in which he captured the ship and ended up tossing the captain overboard. After capturing the ship the other sailors signed onto be pirates and they quickly sewed together a pirate flag and sailed to the coast of the Province of North Carolina.

While on the way the crew renamed the ship Fames' Revenge and Fly was elected captain. While on the way from North Carolina to New England the crew captured five ships in two months. However, eventually he was captured while trying to seize another prize and was eventually turned other to the authorities.

Death & Legacy

Fly and the rest of his crew were hung in Boston in the Province of Massachusetts Bay on 12 July 1726. At his execution Fly became famous for having zero remorse for his actions and taunted the hangman for doing a poor job in tying his noose. Fly retied the noose himself and placed it around his neck, a true pirate. Fly's last words to the bloody hungry crowd were;

"Our Captain and his Mate used us Barbarously. We poor Men can’t have Justice done us. There is nothing said to our Commanders, let them never so much abuse us, and use us like Dogs." and that "All Masters of Vessels might take Warning of the Fate of the Captain that he had murder'd, and to pay Sailors their Wages when due."

Following his successful hanging he was gibbeted on Nixes Mate Island in Boston Harbor like many other pirates such as William Kidd as a warning not to join the trade of piracy. His death in 1726 would really mark the end of the golden age of piracy in terms of the Post Spanish Succession Period. While the pirates in the classical sense of the word would disappear into history, especially with the invention of the steam engine the trade of smuggling would continue all throughout the 18th, 19th, 20th and 21s centuries up into the present day.

While pirates are not sailing around on wooden ships plundering other wooden ships, drug runners are using the same inlets and coves along with high speed boats to evade the authorities and smuggle their cargo into the United States from Latin America and the Caribbean where it is produced. They have even upgraded their technology to include partial-submersibles and full submersibles that allow the shipment of tons of drugs at a single time.

Sources

Primary Sources

Johnson, C. (1728). A General History of the Pyrates (2nd Ed., Volume II). London, Great Britain: T. Warner.

Johnson, C. (1728). A General History of the Pyrates (2nd Ed., Volume II) - Of Captain Fly. London, Great Britain: T. Warner.

Secondary Sources