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1970-st-christopher-nevis-anguilla-sg-219-captain-bartholomew-roberts-fine-mint-29531-pIf ye held a contest with all the pirates who ever lived, and one of the contest measurements was a count of who took the most ships…

Bartholomew Roberts would be the far and ahead, going away champion. As this Pyrate was the most successful scallywag that the world ever knew.

The rumoured tally of ships plundered by Black Bart usually is agreed upon at about 400 ships all told.

Boldness was the reason for this Pyrates success as a fearless leader, he terrorized every ship his crewe and he ever encountered throughout the Caribbean Sea. Including ship of war, thought to be his superior in every way and of the type that most all other pirates would avoid doing battle with, at any cost. 

bart-robertsBlack Bart as he was also known, a moniker that represents all his violent nature. As with many a pirate, Black Bart Roberts found himself in the doing of piracy through circumstance rather than desire.

Bartholomew Roberts was described as a towering handsome man, who loved the extravagant garb and jewelry. Often seen dressed in a stunning bright red-crimson waistcoat with expensive tricorn which displayed unique and rare red feather. Even in battle this man was always well-attired. 

Born in South Wales, by the name John Roberts. Sailing since early in his youth, he had enjoyed a berth on many ships as he was preparing for a naval career. Whilst serving on a British Slave Ship “Princess” as a Third Mate, he was enslaved himself.  It seems another pirate, Howell Davis captured his ship near Guinea coast. Howell Davis forced Roberts to join the crew. Soon thereafter, Black Bart realized that this trade was an ideal opportunity.

He seemed to be quite an amenable mate and quickly became Davis’s favorites. This all changed when in June 1719, Davis and some of the pirates were killed in ambush. The crew elected Black Bart Roberts as the new captain, in spite of the brevity of his time as a member of the ship’s company. This is when he changed his name to Bartholomew Roberts and began his pirate career. After the pirates avenged Davis’s death by destroying an entire harbor, they sailed towards the coast of Brazil where they plundered many ships including a few warships. During this voyage enormous amount of goods were taken from the Portuguese.

Focusing next on harassing the American colonies. Black Bart first, he sold the entire treasure and the stolen ships in New England. Then, he and his crew destroyed a harbor in Newfoundland. Roberts and his pirates burned over 20 captured ships there. The only exception was a French ship which had 26 cannons. It was re-named “Royal Fortune”. Black Bart had favored that name for all his flagships throughout his career.

fd3ffc518d93ae0d535d497d1b76a189Personally, Roberts seemed to be a calm person. However, one would find soon enough that on the contrary, he was a cold-blooded pirate who didn’t hesitate to do some heartless deeds. The story has been told that once, he captured a slave trader with 80 slaves on board. He heartlessly burned that ship with all slaves on it it is said. His reason? Black Bart wouldn’t waste any time or efforts to unshackle the unfortunate slaves to save them.

Roberts diligently and methodically assembled an entire fleet around him and his reputation grew immensely. In the summer of 1720, Black Bart’s armada of mighty pirates continued to sail along the American coastline where even more ships were captured until they reached the Caribbean. Once this huge fleet arrived in the West Indies, this bloodthirsty captain continued to terrorize the crown as he raided 15 English and French ships. His greatest prize was a Dutch warship of 42 guns. With this he made an attempt to sail to Africa but failed because of the winds were not in his favor, Black Bart & his armada were forced to go back to the Caribbean.

The Bartholomew Fleet continued to plunder even more ships & treasure. Even capturing the Governor of Martinique. The pirates took the Governors ship and hanged him as he was Roberts’ arch enemy. Soon after, another “Royal Fortune” was added to the fleet. It was a French ship of the line equipped with 52 guns.

In 1721, they finally completed the postponed trip to Africa and more victims were plundered in Nigeria and Liberia. Finally, the Royal Africa Company’s ship, the “Onslow“, was last big-prize capture as his judgment day was approaching.

In early February of 1722, Captain Chaloner Ogle was dispatched by the British Government to find and capture Roberts. His Ship of War, the ” HMS Swallow“, chased Roberts from the Caribbean, caught up with the “Royal Fortune” in Cape Lopez, Africa and attacked. The pirates were anchored in Cape Lopez, where they were having breakfast.

Roberts’ plan called for him to sail directly for the Swallow in order to quickly pass her and then escape. By doing this the Swallow would have to turn about to engage or chase the Royal Fortune which would give Roberts valuable time to flee. The plan however had one default, by sailing right past the British frigate, the Royal Fortune would be exposed to one of Swallow‍ ’​s deadly broadsides. Captain Roberts set out for his escape and issued the command for Little Ranger and the merchantman to leave. The following action ended badly for the pirates. bbartWhen Royal Fortune was off Swallow‍ ’​s beam, the British released a massive broadside which raked the ship. The pirates opened fire and then an additional broadside from the Swallow raked the deck where Black Bart was commanding. The pirates got clear and ran ahead of the wind, leaving the ‘Swallow’ behind. The action took place during a fierce tropical storm, and just as the ‘Royal Fortune’ seemed to have escaped when the ship hit the ‘eye’ of the storm, and were suddenly becalmed for half an hour. This gave the unaffected ‘Swallow’ time to catch up, and when they were in range, they fired their swivels (guns mounted on the bow which fired grape shot) at the ‘Royal Fortune’. Three men died, one of them being Bartholomew Roberts. A piece of shot no bigger than a penny, hit him in the throat, severed his spinal column, and he died instantly.

Without their captain, the pirates could not resist much longer and they surrendered soon after. Captain Ogle also captured Roberts’s small vessels from his fleet and found an enormous amount of gold on them.

Back Bart’s pirates were taken to the Cape Coast Castle. A trial which happened there was the biggest one for pirates in history. As they were executed, Thus ended the saga of last great pirate of Golden Age of Pirates.

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