1 Apr 2014

Bartholomew Roberts

*BARTHOLOMEW ROBERTS*


Bartholomew Roberts (17 May 1682 – 10 February 1722), born John Roberts, was a Welsh pirate who raided ships off the Americas and West Africa between 1719 and 
1722. Bartholomew Roberts was born in 1682 in Casnewydd-Bach,[6] or Little Newcastle, between Fishguard and Haverfordwest in Pembrokeshire, Wales. His name was 
originally John Roberts, and his father was most likely George Roberts. It's not clear why Roberts changed his name from John to Bartholomew but pirates often adopted 
aliases, and he may have chosen that name after the well-known buccaneer Bartholomew Sharp. He is thought to have gone to sea when he was 13 in 1695 but there is no 
further record of him until 1718, when he was mate of a Barbados sloop.
In 1719 he was third mate on the slave ship Princess, under Captain Abraham Plumb. In early June that year the Princess was anchored at Anomabu, then spelled 
Annamaboa, which is situated along the Gold Coast of West Africa (present-day Ghana), when she was captured by pirates. The pirates were in two vessels, the Royal 
Rover and the Royal James, and were led by captain Howell Davis. Davis, like Roberts, was a Welshman, originally from Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire. Several of the crew 
of the Princess were forced to join the pirates, including Roberts. He was the most successful pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy, as measured by vessels captured, taking 
over 470 prizes in his career. He is also known as Black Bart (Welsh: Barti Ddu), but this name was never used in his lifetime and also risks confusion with Black Bart of the 
American West.Bartholomew "Black Bart" Roberts was a Welsh pirate. He was the most successful pirate of the so-called "Golden Age of Piracy," capturing and looting 
more ships than pirates like Blackbeard, Edward Low, Jack Rackham and Francis Spriggs put together. At the height of his power, he had a fleet of four ships and hundreds 
of pirates. His success was due to his organization, charisma and daring. 


He was killed in action by pirate hunters off the coast of Africa in 1722. Not much is known of 
Roberts' early life, other than that he was born in Wales in 1682 and that his real first name was possibly John. He took to the sea at a young age, and proved himself a 
competent sailing man, as by 1719 he was second mate on board the slaver ship Princess. The Princess went to Anomabu, in present-day Ghana, to pick up some slaves 
in mid- 1719. In June of 1719, the Princess was captured by the Welsh pirate Howell Davis, who made several crew members, including Roberts, join his pirates. Roberts 
did not want to join, but had no choice. "Black Bart" seems to have made a good impression on the pirates. Only six weeks after he was forced to join the crew, Captain 
Davis was killed. The crew took a vote, and Roberts was named the new captain. Although he had been a reluctant pirate, Roberts embraced the role of captain. According 
to contemporary historian Captain Charles Johnson, Roberts felt that if he must be a pirate, it was better "being a commander than a common man." His first order was to 
attack the town where Davis had been killed, to avenge his former captain. Captain Roberts and his crew headed for the coast of South America to look for prizes. 


After 
several weeks of finding nothing, they hit the mother lode: a treasure fleet bound for Portugal was getting ready in All Saint's Bay off of northern Brazil. There were 42 ships 
there, and their escort ships, two massive Men of War with 70 guns each, were waiting nearby. Roberts sailed into the bay as if he were part of the convoy and was able to 
take one of the ships without anyone noticing. He had the master point out the richest of the ships at anchor. Once he identified his target, he sailed up to her and attacked. 
Before anyone knew what was happening, Roberts had captured the ship and both vessels were sailing away. The escort ships gave chase but could not catch them. 
It is easy to understand the lure of piracy; in the merchant navy, Roberts' wage was less than £3 per month and he had no chance of promotion to captaincy.
A few weeks after Roberts' capture the Royal James had to be abandoned because of worm damage. The Royal Rover headed for the island of Príncipe. Davis hoisted the 
flags of a British man-of-war, and was allowed to enter the harbour. After a few days Davis invited the governor to lunch on board his ship, intending to hold him hostage for a 
ransom. As Davis had to send boats to collect the governor, he was invited to call at the fort for a glass of wine first. The Portuguese had by now discovered that their visitors 
were pirates, and on the way to the fort Davis' party was ambushed and Davis himself shot dead.
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