|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.