Buccaneers > Dutch Buccaneers > Bernard Claesen Speirdyke

Bernard Claesen Speirdyke

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Background

Bernard Claesen Speirdyke (?? - 1670) also known as Barnard or Bart Speirdyke, Spierdijk was a famous Dutch buccaneer during the 17th century. He may have been born in the village of Spierdijk in the Dutch Republic given his name. He was known to command the 18-gun ship named the Mary & Jane and was active in the West Indies during the Buccaneering Era. He began his career as a privateer off the coast of Cuba in the 1660's. His first voyage was to plunder and raid the village of San Tomas while sailing along the coast of South America.

In early 1670 he was commissioned by governor Thomas Modyford to bring letters from Port Royal indicating that there was goodwill and peace to the governor of Cuba. There were also several Spanish prisoners to be returned as well. Yet the Bayamo Governor was still highly suspicious and ordered a Spanish officer to search the vessel three times in order to acquire evidence of piracy.

However, since Speirdyke had an entire cargo of European luxury items that were highly desired amongst the Spanish residents he was allowed to sell his stock. This is yet another example of Spanish authorities looking the other way in regards to breaking the mercantile laws of the colonial period which forbade trading between the nations. Soon after this he set sail for Jamaica but before he left the harbor he was hailed by an English ship.

The captain of the English ship asked Speirdyke where he was coming from and he replied Jamaica. Soon the captain revealed himself as Manuel Ribeiro Pardal who was a former Portuguese buccaneer turned pirate hunter. Pardal recognized Speirdyke and engaged the Dutch buccaneer in battle. Pardal opened fire with a broadside and the battle raged on for hours in the harbor. Pardal and his crew outnumbered Speirdyke 70 to 18 but the Dutch buccaneers were formidable opponents.

As dawn broke the Dutch buccaneers sailed towards Pardal's vessel and boarded it. The hand to hand combat that ensued was vicious and despite the overwhelming numbers Pardal lost one-third of his entire crew being wounded or killed. However, eventually the superior numbers of Pardal's pirate hunters overcame the buccaneers and they surrendered. In the fighting Speirdyke was killed along with four others. Pardal sent back nine of the buccaneers to Jamaica with letters for Modyford and took four of them to Cartagena as prisoners.

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