Pirates (English, in Newfoundland and in the Caribbean)

Piracy existed throughout the period 1580-1730. Queen Elizabeth 1st began the era trying to prevent Piracy off the Dorset coast. She failed in her ambition.

By the 1610s piracy was a serious problem in England, particularly in the South West and in Southern Ireland. The piracy was not just from local pirates but also those from other European countries and the Barbary Coast in North Africa. Many of those from North Africa were led by Englishmen although they led crews from all over Europe and the Middle East.

The Barbary pirates would sometimes raid and take people away from coastal communities in Cornwall and Ireland to slave markets in north Africa. They also sailed the Atlantic Ocean to Newfoundland and raided the fishing communities and their fishing fleets there for vessels, crew and provisions.

Later in the period the problem was almost universal. It had spread to the Caribbean later in the C17th, where again many English men and some women were involved.

Pirates tended not to be so for very long. People moved in and out of it for short periods; it was a way of life in difficult times for many seamen. Towards the end of ‘the Golden Age of Piracy’ many of those that Woodes Rogers came across, and who lived to regret his presence in the Bahamas, are very well known today from the popular stories of the time. We explored their history in some detail and we plan to write and see produced a short play about their experiences.

By 1727 the end of the ‘Golden Age of Piracy’ was reached in the Caribbean, and Woodes Rogers was said by some to be largely responsible for that happening. Did you know that a Poole boy was responsible for such a thing? We didn’t before we began. Why is more not heard of him here?

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