Monday, 10 February 2014

The Death of Black Bart

Bartholomew Roberts (nee John Roberts, AKA Black Bart, Casnewydd Bach, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 17th May 1682 - Died at sea, 10th February 1722)


Bartholomew Roberts with his ship and captured merchant ships in the background from A History of the Pyrates, Captain Charles Johnson 1724
Bartholomew Roberts with his ship and captured merchant ships in the background from A History of the Pyrates, Captain Charles Johnson 1724

Today we leave behind monarchs and artists and take to the seas in search of a most notorious pirate, who is about to be brought to book. Batholomew Roberts was the most feared pirate on the seas and though his career was over in less than four years, he had taken almost 500 prizes before his death.

On 5th February 1722 lookouts on HMS Swallow, commanded by Captain Chaloner Ogle, reported that they had sighted three pirate vessels including Robert's flagship, the Royal Fortune, at Cape Lopez. When a second ship, the Ranger took off in pursuit of the Swallow, the pirates came off worse when it found itself outgunned and fired upon. Buoyed by this victory, Captain Ogle made a return foray to Cape Lopez on 10th February and found the Royal Fortune still at anchor, many of the crew rolling drunk.

Roberts commanded his crew to dodge past the naval ship and escape to open sea but he was let down by his helmsman, who left his ship wide open to a broadside. As Roberts strode the deck a grapeshot from the Swallow struck him in the throat. Fearing that Ogle would claim the body, the crew weighted down their captain's body and honoured his request to be buried at sea, heaving him into the waters below.

As Roberts' body sank beneath the waves the Royal Fortune crew were overwhelmed by the Swallow, ending the Golden Age of Piracy forever.

14 comments:

Julian Rixon said...

Hard to believe that his crew had the discipline to weigh down the body and bury him at sea even in all that confusion!

Debra Brown said...

Author Evelyn Tidman wrote a book about him--Gentleman of Fortune--and says he had some decent qualities. Women on board were protected from rape, and he freed slaves from ships he captured, dropping them off on an island where they'd have a chance of survival.

Madame Gilflurt said...

I know; how loyal!

Madame Gilflurt said...

That's a really good book!

Mark Jessop said...

Wow...so much research Madame! How do you do it? Wonderful stuff.

Madame Gilflurt said...

Thank you, sir; much obliged!

Barbara Monajem said...

What a loyal crew Roberts had!

And I must say I love the name Ogle. ;)

Madame Gilflurt said...

I must admit, it made me smile.

Susan Nicola Sheehan said...

Wow! That gives him some very humanitarian qualities! And what a loyal crew!

Robert Ogle said...

History rocks and makes me smile.

Catherine Curzon said...

Huzzah!

Alison said...

I wonder if Captain Chaloner Ogle has any connection to Edward Ogle, who married Lucy Elden's sister Ann in 1787? See 'A Sad Tale' in January's postings regarding Lucy and her husband John Burford.

Catherine Curzon said...

Oh, I wonder!

Leonard Angus smith said...

Must look at the the Tidman book , it sounds like a good read , moving him from Monster , to man with a conscience.
To have his crew behave so upon his death indicates he was a fine skipper as well.