Sir Henry Morgan
Born: Around 1635 in Monmouthshire, Wales, the son of a farmer.
Died:1688 in Jamaica of alcohol poisoning. Aged 53.
Coming from a poor family Henry Morgan wanted to make money for himself and he knew that one way to do this was by becoming a sailor. So as a young lad he went to work for a ship in Barbados. Later, having been granted a license by the English Government to become a Privateer, he sailed to Central America where he attacked and captured many Spanish ships.
In 1668, he sailed to Panama (an important Spanish port), and captured Spanish forts, castles and land. He also threatened to burn the town to the ground if the President of Panama didn’t hand over a large sum of money. Thankfully the English Government sent a message and stopped Morgan from setting everything on fire. Then, since the battle was over, Morgan sailed back to Jamaica, bought himself a house and tried not to be a pirate.
However, a few years later Spain declared war on Jamaica, so Morgan once again became a Privateer and set sail to find and destroy enemy ships. With several ships and over 2000 crewmen (including some French buccaneers) he snuck up on Panama and attacked her port. It was only the element of surprise that led to him winning the battle; Panama had many more men on their side.
Jamaica was thrilled that Morgan had beaten Panama, but England was not because officially they were not at war with Spain. So when Spain demanded that Morgan be punished for attacking them England had no option but to drag him back to England. He was never sent to jail though, thanks to some powerful friends who believed he had done the right thing. Instead he was made Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica and returned to his home in 1674.