Famous pirates and pirate ships

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Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp portrayed the fictional pirate Jack Sparrow
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Famous pirates plundered and thieved the high seas on their pirate ships

If you are going to step into the larcenous world of famous pirates and pirate ships, you must know the pirate slang. Any good pirate worth his salt knows the lingo. Be aware that dancing the Hempen jig does not require putting on your dancing shoes: This means that you that you are about to be hanged from a hemp rope. When surprised or in disbelief, blurt out, “Shiver me timbers!” which comes from the sound that a ship makes when it runs aground or is hit by a cannon blast.


When a pirate was defrauded or cheated he was hornswaggled. Even though they were bandits by trade they didn’t take kindly to having that tables turned on them. Avaste ye! means hold fast and stop and pay attention, comparable to “Get a load of this.”


Death threats were called a black spot and were issued via a black spot or mark on a scrap of paper. More specific details, as in when and how you were going to die, would be written on the other side of the paper. A head is the ship toilet and a duffel is everything that a pirate owns. Cackle fruit is a chicken egg and Jacob’s Ladder refers to the rope ladder that is used to climb on board the ship.


Death was a common topic among buccaneers and slang was developed accordingly. Davy Jones’s Locker is the place on the bottom of the ocean that holds dead pirates and sailors. To be frightened or close to death is to be in Davy’s grip. If you threaten to kill some, that is to see you Davy Jones.


Now that you have got some of the language down pat, proceed to learn about fascinating and famous pirates and pirate ships. Grab your eye patch, your shoulder sitting parrot, your hook arm and step onto the pirate ship.


The Age of Exploration or the Elizabethan era was a time when pirates really made a name for themselves. Several types of pirate ships were used including the brigantine style of boat, which carried 100 pirates and carried 150 tons of goods. The sloop style ship was small and only carried 75 pirates. The schooner style was comparable to the sloop style in that it carried the same number of passengers and had the same weight limit as the sloop. The Man O War or frigate style was big and could transport 360 tons and 190 men. The square rigger type of shop could accommodate 70 pirates and carry 90 tons.



The pirate ships had their own set of rules called Articles, which was agreed to by the captain as well as his or her crew. These Articles set forth how the prize money from their raids and captures would be split.


Most of the famous pirate ships were stolen, with the thieves (pirates) claiming the ship as their own. Famous pirate ships included the Adventure Galley, captained by Captain Kidd; Queen Anne’s Revenge, captained by Blackbeard aka Edward Teach; The William, operated by Calico Jack (John Rackham) and women pirates Anne Bonney and Mary Reade; The Fancy, captained by Long Ben (Henry Every) and the Royal Fortune, The Great Fortune and the Great Ranger, all captained by Black Bart (Bartholomew Roberts.)


The most famous pirates of all were Blackbeard, Grace O’Mally, Black Bart, Henry Every, Henry Morgan, Calico Jack, Red Beard or Barbarossa, the nickname of Khair ad Din, and Captain Kidd.


Anne Bonney, Calico Jack and Blackbeard were pirates specifically of the Caribbean. English explorers, such as Sir Francis Drake, were considered famous pirates. Sometimes the pirates had the permission of their king or queen to plunder and pillage.


When the pirates needed some R&R they headed for Port Royal and Jamaica, where they could gather, kick back, relax and not fear arrest or attack.


The Golden Age of Piracy lasted for a little more than 100 years, from the 1500s to the mid 1600s.


Of course, the fascination with famous pirates and pirate ships rose when Johnny Depp did his brilliant portrayal of the fictional Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies.


Pirates by Name


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