The Canadian Pirate
(also known as Peter Eston) was an English pirate that became known not
only as one of the most notorious pirates from this country but also as one of the most successful pirates of all time. Born
around 1570, he became known to authorities as a sea pirate during his
plundering career that ranged between 1611 and 1614. During that time, he
managed to achieve a thing that few pirates in history have managed to
build in their lifetimes – to create such aformidable pirate fleet around him that he became more powerful than legitimate governments, sovereigns or
other private forces of his time. Even more impressively, he managed to
retire from piracy and live enjoying the incredible wealth he collected on
During his career as a pirate, Peter Easton was described not as a
bloodthirsty monster bent on destruction at sea, but as ahighly capable naval officer who was well-versed in tactic, leadership, and trade. He was often
praised for being a brilliant navigator, brave, bold, and tactician that
can extract the maximum from the ships and crew he possessed. These
abilities helped him to gather around him a formidable force that helped
him target more and more ambitious targets, all the while remaining in
contact with English crown which tried several times to give him pardon and
remove his dangerous presence from the sea.
During height of his career, Peter Easton was regarded as the most
successful Corsair of all time
Very little is known about the early life of Peter Easton, a man that would
eventually become one of the most successful pirates of his time. He came
from the family who had a rich history of supporting English Crown and being part of Crusades and
various sea skirmishes against Spanish Armada. His first historical record
of activity on the sea comes from 1602 when he was tasked by the commission
from Elizabeth I of England to protect the English fishing fleet in Newfoundland against
Spanish intrusions as a privateer. During those years, he actively
protected English shipping and harassed Spanish merchants and fishermen
(who were during that time also equipped for naval combat). His base of
operation was located in Harbour Grace, Newfoundland and
Labrador (today Canada), and his flagship ornamented with the Saint
George’s Cross was named “Happy Adventure”.
Fall into Piracy
Lives of many English privateers were changed forever on 23 June 1604, when
Elizabeth I was succeeded by James I who immediately sued for peace between
England and Spain. This meant that all privateers suddenly became jobless, and many of them
immediately turned to what they knew the best – piracy.
Peter Easton was one of those privateers who continued attacking Spanish
assets in Atlantic as nothing has ever happened, which immediately turned
him into a pirate. But he was not satisfied only with Atlantic coast near
Canada. Under the financial backing of the powerful Canadian family of
Killgrews, he continued harassing Spanish ships even in the Mediterranean,
seeking gold and plunder that he could sell back in pirate havens in West
Indies. When his fleet grew to the armada of 10 pirate ships, he started to
actively attack even English targets, seeking more wealth and coercing more
and more fishermen into his pirate crew.
Easton was considered as being an extremely successful pirate. During one
campaign of piracy, he plundered more than 30 ships,
managing to capture large wealth and several high-value captives. One of
those captives was even sent to obtain to Easton an official government
pardon from England for him and his entire crew, but by the time the pardon
arrived at his home base of Harbour Grace, Easton moved to Barbary Coast
where he continued to harass the Spanish. By that time, his pirate “crew”
grew into an actual army that counted more than 1500 men.
This force enabled him to execute even more daring plans, including an
incredible attack on the Spanish plate fleet in the sea around the Azores.
The details of this battle are lost to history, but what was remembered is
that immediately after that event Easton appeared on the coast of Tunis
bringing with himself incredible wealth and four large Spanish galleons.
During his years of activity, Peter Easton held a reputation of the most
dangerous and leading corsairs who fought against Spain. In a span of just
a few years, he amassed one of the largest wealth in the history of piracy
and was unmatched on the sea where he was never cornered or lost a battle
against numerous fleets who were commissioned to hunt him down.
After several successful years on the sea, the English pardon finally
reached Easton when he was anchored in the port of Villefranche, Savoy,
which was then known as a free port and a haven of pirates. He elected to accept the pardon and gained the approval of the local
Duke of Savoy who was very interested to take advantage of the very wealthy
Easton who immediately purchased a mansion, a title of “Marquis of Savoy”
and even found a wife. According to surviving documents, he remained in
Savoy where he served the local duke until 1620 when history loses track of
him. To this day, it is not known how Peter Easton lived the remainder of
his life, and how or when he died.