Words by Jason “J-Rockaz” Orford and Eddie STATS Houghton
If you live anyplace which receives TV signals from Earth, you are probably aware that the new Pirates of The Caribbean movie, On Stranger Tides, opened this past Friday because it was actually bigger news than The Apocalypse (which premiered Saturday to disappointing box office turnout.) Of course this just confirmed our own irrational belief-system here at LargeUp, which revolves around the idea that all gigantic pop culture phenomena actually start in the Caribbean.Well, then. Here is our top 10 list of the original gun-pon-teeth badmen, the real-life, self-made maritime gangstas who inspired the Disney World ride turned Johnny Depp movie franchise.
1. Edward “Blackbeard” Teach
Contrary to his reputation, this seaman, who chose the Bahamian island of New Providence as his base of operations for plundering the ships off the southeast US coast, was a big bluffer. Blackbeard seldom used violence and instead relied on his image and reputation to strike into his victims of waterway robbery.
2. Captain Henry Morgan
You guessed it, he’s that character on the rum bottle. Old Captain Morgan wasn’t your average pirate, though: he was paid to do the work of pirates as a privateer. He began his career working for the English as they plundered the New World from coast to coast and then went rogue launching attacks on the Spanish–using Port Royal, the now-sleepy Jamaican fishing village that was known as the world’s wickedest place before an earthquake destroyed two-thirds of the place in 1692, as his homebase–for a commission.
3. Anne Bonny
Not much is known of the Irish-born Bonny but it’s generally agreed that she was one baaad gyal who found herself equally comfortable in the company of men and women, including her pirate boyfriend John “Calico Jack” Rackham and her alleged lover and fellow lady pirate Mary Read.
4. Black Caesar
Not to be confused with the Haitian revolutionary and pirate Henri Caesar, who plundered the seas a hundred-odd years later, the original Black Caesar was perhaps the most famous pirate of African descent–although the crews of the most successful pirates, including Samuel Bellamy and Blackbeard, were largely made up of ex-slaves. The story goes that he is one of the only pirates that didn’t spill his guts when captured, but paid the cost to be the boss. Other black pirates worth mentioning are James Black, Thomas Gates, Richard Stiles, and James White, and Hendrick Quintor.
5. Hendrick Quintor
A Dutch African and the son of a sailor, he was captured in his youth by a pirate crew that also included a young Sam Bellamy (see below). Known as one of the “tuffest,” Quintor later went on to help Bellamy become the new leader of the pirates.
6. John Julien
A half-blooded Miskito Indian, Julien was the pilot of the infamous Wydah Galley (or “Wydah”). When the ship wrecked, he was one of two that was captured and later sold into slavery as “Julien the Indian.” He was ultimately hung in 1773 for killing a bounty hunter that tried to capture him after one of his numerous escapes.
7. Samuel Bellamy
A true leader of the pack, many of the better-known pirates served under him. He’s well known for the capture of the British slave ship Wydah and it’s success–and the shipwreck that followed.
8. Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts
This dude was top-ranking on the high seas during the golden age of piracy. He goes down as the most successful pirate in history, statistically speaking, having captured over 470 vessels.
9. Mary Read
The other lady of the sea, Mary was the illegitimate child of an English sea captain. Her mom disguised her as a boy in order to continue to receive child support from her deceased brother’s paternal relatives. Still in disguise, she later served in the British military and eventually joined the pirate Calico Jack’s crew once her ship was captured. Something about Mary fun-fact: she actually killed another pirate who challenged her lover to a duel before the two men could duke it out. Sail or die chick.
10. John King
The likkle rude boy pon deck. History says that at eleven years of age, he is the youngest pirate on record. He joined Sam Bellamy’s crew after the Jamaica-bound ship he was traveling on was captured.