Major Stede Bonnett (The Gentleman Pirate)
Bonnett spent much of his life in the King’s Guard and when he finally retired to his home in Barbados he was rich and well-educated.
But then, in 1717, much to his family and friend’s amazement be bought a sloop, called ‘Revenge’, and became a pirate. After rounding up some sailors, he and his crew sailed from Barbados to the coasts of North America. Along the way he robbed a few ships but by the time they arrived in America all his crew were aware that he knew nothing about being a pirate captain. It’s a good job that he was paying them from his own money because if wages had relied on how much they had stolen he might well have had a mutiny on board.
When they came face to face with Black Beard most of the pirates where so restless and upset with Bonnett that they were grateful to meet up with real pirates and be given the chance to sail for another captain. At first Black Beard treated Bonnett with the respect, he was after all another captain, but when he discovered that Bonnett really had no idea of what piracy was about things changed. He got one of his own crew to sail the ‘Revenge’ and forced Bonnett to stay on his ship.
When Black Beard blocked Charleston harbour and beached his ships on the northern coast, Bonnett was one of the men he marooned on the island. Black Beard also beached the ‘Revenge’ and while the stranded men didn’t think much of Bonnett they were willing to follow his orders because he was willing to help them get off the island.
Once everyone was safe, Bonnett applied for a Pardon and a Marque to become a Privateer, both of which he got. So after renaming his boat ‘Royal James’ he went off to be a Privateer against the Spanish. That was until 1718 when he became caught up in a fight and was forced to surrender. He was then taken to the court in Charleston, South Carolina where he was found guilty of the siege on their harbour and hung as a pirate.