Pirates Culture > Pirate Crew > Pirate Captain

Pirate Captain

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Background

One of the least understood pirate crew positions was the captain. According to the Pirate Code the captain was a democratically elected position and was based on the most competent and worthy individuals. Some very famous pirate captains include Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach, Charles Vane, the Flying Gang, Henry Morgan and many other famous buccaneers, pirates and privateers throughout the Golden Age of Piracy. Pirate captains could be replaced at any time through a popular vote so managing the moods, needs and wants of the crew was one of the most important aspects of this position.

Many captains were voted out of their positions for not being aggressive enough, such as Benjamin Hornigold who refused to attack British ships. Others at the same time were marooned on uninhabited islands for being too cruel. Overall the expectations for a pirate captain were exceptionally high and they were supposed to have well developed skills in sailing and navigation.

With the exception of flamboyant captains such as 'Calico' Jack Rackham and Bartholomew Roberts many pirates wore unassuming and basic clothing. Others may have adopted the clothes of naval officers or merchant men that they captured however, there are not many first hand accounts of what pirate captains wore. The most successful may have generally looked like English gentlemen.

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources