Top 10 pirates

author image
Updated on 18 May, 2012 at 11:32 am


Between the 17th and the 18th century, the world witnessed a new form of robbery. This new form not only had a negative impact on the direct victims but also had a ripple effect on the most powerful economies of those times. The reason; these ‘robbers’ controlled the seas. The seas—that still remains the most important trade route for all nations. The ‘robbers’ came to be called PIRATES and surprisingly, are still around us. Topyaps brings to you a list of the top ten of the pirates (individual or groups) who once terrorized and are still troubling the peace of the world.

10. Jean-David Nau (1635 – 1668):

The French pirate who hated the Spaniards like a dog hates a cat. He is better known as François l’Olonnais. Historical accounts sates how he barbarically he treated his Spanish prisoners. His cruelty to others came around on him when his ship ran aground on a sandbar on the coast of Darien, the province of Panama. There he was captured by the Kuna tribe who chopped him to pieces and probably ate him. Exquemelin wrote that the natives: “tore him in pieces alive, throwing his body limb by limb into the fire and his ashes into the air; to the intent no trace nor memory might remain of such an infamous, inhuman creature.” That’s why he is on number ten.

9. Jean Lafitte (1776 – 1823):

Jean was a pirate and privateer in the Gulf of Mexico in the early 19th century. He and his elder brother, Pierre, are the most famous pirate brothers in history. He was the last of all the pirates of the ‘Golden Age of Piracy’. How he died is a mystery but rumors abound on stories like he helped Napoleon and died with him. Amongst the rumors are tales of him buyring his treasure somewhere along coastal Louisiana. This led to an annual festival since 1957 in which people participate playing roles of pirates and pirate hunters looking out for the ‘buried treasure’. A fishing village along Bayou Barataria in Louisiana bears his name, as does the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve.

8. Edward England (Born: ? Died: 1720):

Despite the fact that England has no credit in any big loot yet the reason of his being in this
list is the fact that he popularized the classic Jolly Roger flag. The image of the skull and two
crisscrossed bone is still regarded as the symbol of danger. Edward was not necessarily cruel and this was the reason why his crewmen deserted him on an island from where he somehow managed to reach St Augustine. He died a sad death unworthy in pirate terms.


7. Henry Avery (born around 1653/59 – died anytime after 1696):

The biggest mystery of piracy history was created when Henry Avery disappeared without a
trace. Henry was an English pirate who operated in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans in the mid-1690s. A master in deception, he had the famous name Long Ben (used as one of his many aliases). The most notorious pirate of his time, Every is most famous for being one of the few major pirate captains to retire with his loot without being arrested or killed in battle, and also for being the perpetrator of what has been called the most profitable pirate raid in history. He captured the Ganj-i-Sawai, the ship belonging to Mughal emperor Aurangazeb. The loot—worth £600,000 in precious metals and jewels—made him the richest pirate in the world. One can only fancy where he went with the booty. By the way, Fancy was the name of his ship.

6. Thomas Tew (Born: ?; Died: 1695):

In only two major pirate voyages Tew claimed a commanding position in the pirate history.
Born in England, Tew’s family moved to Rhode Island when he was a youth. Tew pioneered the route later called the Pirate Round. Both the ships that became his victims were from India. The first one surrendered despite having a garrison of 300 soldiers. It was the second one that made him both famous and ‘departed’. In September, 1695, his ship named The Amity attacked a ship believed to be the Fateh Muhammed of the Mughals. A cannon shot, however, ended his life. Thomas Tew’s sea chest is the only known sea chest with its origins leading back to a pirate, and can be seen in Pirate Soul Museum, in Florida Keys, US.

5. Anne Bonny (March 8, 1702 – possibly April 25, 1782):

Anne was an Irish woman who became a famous female pirate, operating in the Caribbean Sea. After having a troubled childhood she decided to venture out into the open sea even though she was married. She met John Rackham (Calico Jack) and took part in combat alongside men. Anny did not disguise herself as a man aboard the Revenge as is often claimed. Although Bonny is one of the best-known pirates in history, she never commanded a ship of her own. Her renown is because she was a rarity: a female pirate.

4. Bartholomew Roberts (17 May 1682 – 10 February 1722):

“Better being a Commander than a common man”. This was what Roberts believed. Born John Roberts, Bartholomew can be called the ‘king of all captures’. In total he made a record catches of 470 vessels. In popular fiction, he is one of four pirate captains mentioned in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island. His ship was named Fortune but he was not fortunate enough as he was one of the three pirates, out of a total of 275, who were killed in battle.

3. Blackbeard, Edward Teach (c. 1680 – 22 November 1718):

The man who gave birth to the legends and the countless stories of the pirates; Blackbeard was born Edward Teach and remains the most romanticized pirate to this day. He was the captain of Queen Anne’s Revenge. The name of the ship was most likely derived from his loyalty to Queen Anne of England who lost a battle in the Americas. Even though he is regarded the ‘Pirate who pirates fear’, yet he never killed any of his hostages. He had a brutal end in the hands of a little known Lieutenant Maynard who killed him and hung his head from the bowsprit of his sloop.

2. Pirates of Somalia:

The new undisputed rulers of the criminal activity on the seas; they presently are holding
30 vessels and 724 hostages while the naval forces of almost every nation are patrolling the
Arabian Sea to hunt them down. Even though they are nothing more than criminals yet their acts have been much bigger in proportions to those who came before them. The pirates may get a little sympathy because of the fact that they turned pirates to defend their coastal areas from incessant fishing by the trawlers of wealthy nations.


1. Commercial Pirates:

The biggest criminal of them all. You might be a little surprised on this selection but there is a link of this form with the one done at the sea. The word ‘piracy’ means taking something away by force from someone who is legally entitled to it. The sea pirates used to hijack other ships but never destroyed the flag used for identification. Such ships were then used as decoys to trap others. The unsuspecting victim mistook such decoys to be a friendly vessel through the flag hoisted on the ship. The same process of ‘copying the original’ is applied by the makers of pirated software. The worth of this illegal industry is not known for certain but the losses caused by software piracy runs into billions of dollars for sure. An amount that far exceeds the collective wealth of all the pirates put together.

  • Advertisement