Famous Pirates and Privateers U-Z
In 1718, Vane and his crew tortured and killed several men on two Bermuda sloops.
When Governor Woodes Rogers arrived in New Providence offering pardons to any pirates who turned
themselves in, everyone but Vane accepted his offer. Woodes then sent the former pirate Captain Benjamin Hornigold to track down Vane,
but Vane had already fled to avoid capture.
Vane pirated a sloop and put pirate Yeats in charge. Taking their pirating skills to
the South Carolina coast, Captains Vane and Yeats became very successful by
attacking ships coming in and out of port. The local government sent two armed
sloops led by Colonel William
Rhett to capture Vane. When Colonel Rhett finally caught up with Vane's crew, he overheard their plans to
head south so he set sail in that direction. An intentional deception set up by Vane, his ship actually
headed north. Although Rhett was unsuccessful in locating Vane, by chance he
ran into and captured another famous pirate of the times, Major Stede Bonnet.
In another incident, Vane had set out to capture a ship, but when he got closer and realized that
it was a larger French Man o' War, he decided to retreat, feeling they were out matched.
This decision cost him his command. Feeling his act cowardly,
his crew had him removed and elected Calico Jack to replace him as their new captain.
Vane left on another sloop, which was eventually wrecked in a storm off an uninhabited island in the
Bay of Honduras. Marooned, a ship finally found him, but its captain Holford refused to rescue him after he
recognized him from his infamous reputation. After a while, another ship finally rescued Vane, but soon after leaving the island,
the ship met up with Captain Holford's, and its captain held Vane prisoner, turning him over to
the authorities in Jamaica where he was found guilty and hanged.
Not much is known about pirate Thomas Veal other than he was one of four others who hid in Dungeon Rock in the Lynn Woods to escape capture. Reportedly, his loot remains stashed somewhere in a cave.
1584 - 1615
This English gentleman turned Turk and went off to become a Barbary Corsair at the age of 23. Based at Algiers, Sir Francis attacked English shipping but was captured by a Christian galley and enslaved.
Former Beacon Hill maid Rachel Wall accompanied by her fisherman husband George began their piracy days by stealing a vessel in Essex and devising a clever scheme in order to dupe passing ships off the Isle of Shoals into getting close enough for their dirty plans to work.
Seems Rachel was a convincing lady in distress who would stand out at the mast, screaming for help until unsuspecting passing ships would get close enough to be attacked, boarded and robbed. After gather the loot, they would destroy the evidence by murdering the crew and sinking the victims' ships.
After George Wall drowned in a storm in 1782, Rachel was rescued and returned to Boston. There, she continued to pillage docks ships in Boston Harbor and is remembered in infamy as New England's only known female pirate.
In Boston, she was arrested for and convicted of murdering a sailor, a deed she denied until reaching the gallows. Before her death from the hangman's noose, she confessed to her crimes of piracy.
AKA Yusuf Raïs
Active 1553 - 1622
In 1602 John Ward was jailed for plundering a
Danish ship in the Caribbean. Then in 1603, Ward was forced into the Royal Navy, which by some was
considered to be a fate worse than death. Shortly afterward, he and 30 others deserted at Plymouth
and stole a small bark. Despite the size of the ship, they were able to capture a
two larger ships, one with six guns, and set sail for the Mediterranean.
Two years later he stole a 32-gun warship and renamed it the Gift and used it to
plunder several merchantmen loaded with spices and silks.
In 1605 in Morocco, several English and Dutch sailors joined his crew,
including Richard Bishop and Anthony Johnson. By the end of 1606, Ward had worked a deal with Uthman
Dey, the ruler of Tunis. He was permitted to use Tunis as a safe haven from where he could strike
out in hunt for prey. In return, Uthman Dey would buy their booty for a fifth of its true value.
From their base, they took several rich prizes, including a 60 ton ship
loaded with a tremendously valuable cargo.
The winter of 1607 Ward's largest ship became unseaworthy so he secretly deserted with a few of his
crew, sailing off in a French ship. The large ship sank off Greece drowning 250 Muslim and 150 English
sailors aboard. The Tunisians were
outraged over the loss of men and Ward's desertion, but Uthman Dey,
wealthy from his dealings with Ward, offered him protection. Ward however offered King James I a
large bribe in exchange for a pardon. King James refused Ward's offer and
Ward was forced to return to Tunis. Uthman Dey kept his word, however, and Ward was safe.
Ward eventually became a Muslim and changed his name to Yusuf Reis. As Yusuf Reis, he continued
his career in piracy until 1622, up until the age of 70. By then he had both an Italian wife and also
a wife in England.
He lived out the rest of his life in luxury and may have died of the plague.
Captain White migrated to Barbados from Plymouth after serving in the Royal
Navy around 1698. White was in command of a ship taken by French pirates which was later captured by
John Bowen. After refusing to join Bowen's crew, Bowen was made into a slave and was shared by both Captains
John Bowen and George Booth.
Most of the crew retired in India and on Mauritius Island. The remainder of the crew, which included
White, sailed to Madagascar under the leadership of Captain Nathaniel North. When the ship was blown off course
toward Cape Dauphin in the south, North abandoned White along with 30 other members of the crew who
had gone ashore for provisions.
In 1704, White became captain of a small ship which had been abandoned there. With it, he plundered
the Red Sea including several Indian ships, a Portuguese merchantman and in August, 1706,
two British ships.
In 1707, White sailed under the command of Captain Thomas Halsey and died the following year in Madagascar of excessive
See Edward England.