Famous Pirate: Bartholomew Roberts
If there is a competition between all pirates in plundering ships, Bartholomew Roberts would win it by far. Perhaps he was the most successful pirate that the world ever knew. A rumor goes that he plundered around 400 ships.
The main reason for a constant success was his boldness. This fearless leader terrorized every ship he encountered throughout the Caribbean Sea. That includes many superior warships, which the most pirates would avoid at any cost.
He is also known as Black Bart, which represents all his violent activities. Like many other pirates, Roberts did not choose piracy trade by himself.
Bartholomew Roberts was described as a tall, an attractive man, who loved the expensive clothes and jewelry. He was often seen dressed in a gorgeous crimson waistcoat with expensive hat which had a unique red feather. Even in battles he was well-dressed. On his chests there was a heavy gold chain with a diamond cross hanging to it.
He was born in South Wales, and his real name was John Roberts. Since his youth, he had been on many ships, preparing for a naval life. While serving on a British Slaver "Princess" as a Third Mate, he was enslaved. A pirate, Howell Davis captured that ship near Guinea cost. The pirates forced Roberts to join the crew, but soon he realized that this trade was an ideal opportunity for him.
He seemed to be quite a good lad from the beginning and quickly became Davis ' favorite. In June 1719, Davies and some of the pirates were killed in ambush. The crew elected Roberts as a new captain, despite the short period he spent with them. He changed his name to Bartholomew Roberts and began his pirate career. After the pirates avenged Davis’s death by destroying harbor, they sailed towards the coast of Brazil where they plundered many ships including some warships. Enormous amount of goods were taken from the Portuguese.
The next destinations for harassments were the American colonies. First, he sold the entire plunder and the stolen ships in New England. Then, harbor of Newfoundland was totally demolished in a very short period. Roberts and his pirates burned over 20 captured ships there. The only exception was the French ship which had 26 cannons. It was named "Royal Fortune". Black Bart was using that name for all his flagships throughout his career.
Roberts seemed to be a calm person. However, on the contrary, he was a cold-blooded pirate who didn't hesitate to do some heartless deeds. Once, he captured a slaver with 80 slaves on board. He burned that ship with all slaves on it. The reason was he wouldn't waste any time or efforts to unshackle the unfortunate people.
Roberts assembled the entire fleet around him and his reputation grown immensely. In the summer of 1720, the mighty pirates continued to sail along the American coastline and even more ships were captured until they reached the Caribbean. Once fleet arrived in the West Indies, fearsome captain made completely new terror as he raided 15 English and French ships. This time the biggest prize was a Dutch warship, which had 42 cannons. His attempt to sail to Africa failed because of the poor winds, so the pirates were forced to go back to the Caribbean.
The fleet continued to plunder even more ships. Among many other people, they captured the governor of Martinique. The pirates took his warship and hanged him as he was Roberts' archenemy. Soon after, another "Royal Fortune" was added to the fleet. It was a French warship equipped with 52 guns. In 1721, they finally took a 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 Challoner Oglewas dispatched by the British Government to find and capture Roberts. His warship, the "Swallow", chased Roberts from the Caribbean, caught up with the "Royal Fortune" and attacked. The pirates were anchored in Cape Lopez, where they were celebrating. The fight started and Bartholomew Roberts was the first to fall. He was hit by grapeshot and died immediately. Horrified crew threw his breathless body into the sea. It was his wish, in case of his demise. 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, saga of last great pirate of Golden Age of Pirates ended.