Age of Pirates

Pirate Encyclopedia: Benjamin Hornigold

Benjamin Hornigold is cited as the "nice pirate of the West Indies." Although not much is known of Captain Hornigold himself, most of the accounts left behind by his victims speak of him as a gentleman rather than a scoundrel. One famous legend recounts that Hornigold pursued an enemy vessel for miles, only to ask for their hats once captured. It seems his crew, after a night of drinking and merriment, had tossed their own hats overboard. After taking the hats, Hornigold and his men allowed the ship to continue its voyage, gold and all.

The first historical accounts of Benjamin Hornigold date from 1713, soon after the end of the War of the Spanish Succession. A privateer during the war, it is believed Hornigold had turned to piracy out of necessity rather than desire. His short-lived career, lasting barely two years, seems to confirm that.

Hornigold's brush with fame has little to do with himself. In fact, he is better remembered as the first captain to ever recruit Edward Teach (Blackbeard), the world's bloodiest and most despised pirate of all time. Hornigold held Blackbeard in high esteem. When they captured a French sloop outside New Providence Island in the Bahamas, Hornigold immediately placed the vessel under Teach's command. Both pirates raided the Caribbean together for about a year, plundering six ships and amassing a considerable fortune in gold and jewels.

When Woodes Rogers was appointed governor of the Bahamas, he extended the king's pardon to Hornigold and in return commissioned him to hunt John Auger, Charlie Vane, and other pirates that were still terrorizing the coasts of New Providence. Blackbeard, refusing the pardon, took off to America.

In 1719, on his way to Mexico in a trading voyage, Hornigold's vessel struck a reef. The captain, along with his crew, perished at sea.

Copyright 2006 CleverMedia
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