Monthly Archives: March 2014

Blackbeard – The Most Famous Pirate!

Edward Teach, AKA Blackbeard

Edward Teach, AKA Blackbeard

The character of Blackbeard has appeared in over 300 films from Pirates of the Caribbean: Search for the Fountain of Youth to Blackbeard’s Ghost. None of these have really done justice to the actual man from history. Blackbeard was not only a pirate, he was a conniving and manipulative man, who was pardoned, but became a pirate again, and died in a fight that left him shot 5 times and cut 20 times. He once betrayed his own men, by marooning 25 of them!

Edward Teach (sometimes called Edward Thatch) reached fame as Blackbeard. He was a large and imposing man, who went into battle carrying 8 flintlock pistols, in addition to his sword, and tied lit fuses under his hat to scare his enemies. He operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of the American Colonies Although little is known about his early life, he was probably born in Bristol, England. He may havebeen a sailor on privateer ships during Queen Anne’s Wart before settling on the Bahamian island of New Providence, a base for a pirate named, Benjamin Hornigold, whose crew Teach joined sometime around 1716. Hornigold placed him in command of a sloop he had captured, and the two engaged in numerous acts of piracy. Their numbers were boosted by the addition to their fleet of two more ships, one of which was commanded by Stede Bonnett, but toward the end of 1717 Hornigold retired from piracy, taking two vessels with him.

Teach captured a French merchant vessel, renamed her Queen Anne’s Revenge, and equipped her with 40 guns. He became a renowned pirate, his nickname derived from his thick black beard and fearsome appearance. He formed an alliance of pirates and blockaded the port of Charleston, South Carolina, After successfully ransoming its inhabitants, he ran Queen Anne’s Revenge aground on a sandbar near Beaufort, North Carolina. He parted company with Bonnet, settling in Bath Town, where he accepted a royal pardon. But he was soon back at sea and attracted the attention of the Governer of Virgina, Alexander Spotswood. Spotswood arranged for a party of soldiers and sailors to try to capture the pirate, which they did on 22 November 1718. During a ferocious battle, Teach and several of his crew were killed by a small force of sailors led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard.

A more complete history of the most famous pirate can be found at:

Women as Pirates


Most pirates were men, but female pirates or Pirettes have been around since at least 232 BC. Here are some of the ladies from the “golden age” of piracy.

Gráinne Ní Mháille was Queen of Umaill, chieftain of the Ó Máille clan and a pirate in 16th century Ireland. She is an important figure in Irish folklore, and a historical figure in 16th century Irish history, and is sometimes known as “The Sea Queen Of Connaught”. Biographies of her have been written primarily in the 20th and 21st centuries by the historian Anne Chambers. She lived from 1530-1603.

Elizabetha Patrickson was active in 1634, but details are not known.

Christina Anna Skytte was active in the 1650’s and 1660’s. Swedish pirate. She actively participated in the secret piracy conducted by her brother and spouse in the Baltic sea.

Anne Dieu-le-Veut aka Marie-Anne and Marianne was active from the 1660’s through 1704. Caribbean pirate and later based in Mississippi after Tortuga was closed down. Dieu-Le-Veut was a nickname meaning “God wills it” and given to her as it seemed anything she wanted God gave her. Married to a pirate, Anne challenged pirate Laurens de Graaf to a duel after he killed her husband in 1683. He refused and she became his common law wife, fighting by his side and sharing command.

Maria Lindsey Early 1700s The wife of Captain Eric Cobham and possibly fictional. Pirate operating on the Canadian east coast.

Maria Cobham Early 1700s Often listed separately in lists of pirates but is likely to be Maria Lindsey.

Ingela Gathenhielm 1692-1729 1710-1721 Swedish Baltic pirate. Wife and partner of legendary pirate Lars Gathenhielm. Took sole control following his death in 1718.

Anne Bonny born Anne Cormac, aliases Ann Bonn and Ann Fulford, possibly also Sarah Bonny 1698-1782 1719-1720 Irish Caribbean pirate. Married to pirate James Bonny, had an affair with pirate John “Calico Jack” Rackham, and later joined his crew. Discovered another crew member Mark Read was secretly a woman (Mary Read) and the two became very close.

Mary Read, alias Mark Read c.1690-1721 1718-1720 English Caribbean pirate. As a man Mary went to sea and later joined the British army, fighting in the War Of The Spanish Succession. Mary married and settled down as a woman but returned to male dress following the death of her husband, later boarding a ship bound for the West Indies. Captured by “Calico” Jack Rackham, Mary joined his crew. In 1721, she died in prison.

Mary Harvey (or Harley), alias Mary Farlee 1725-1726 In 1725, Mary Harvey and her husband Thomas were transported to the Province of Carolina as felons. In 1726, Mary and three men were convicted of piracy. The men were hanged but Mary was released. Thomas, the leader of the pirates, was never caught.

Mary Crickett (or Crichett) 1728 In 1728, Mary Crickett and Edmund Williams were transported to the colony of Virginia together as felons. In 1729, along with four other men, both were convicted of piracy and hanged.

Flora Burn 1751 Operated on the East Coast of North America.

Rachel Wall 1760-1789 1770s Married George Wall, a former privateer who served in the Revolutionary War, when she was 16. Operated on the New England Coast. Thought to be the first American female pirate. In 1782, George and the rest of his crew were drowned in a storm. She was accused of robbery in 1789 and confessed to being a pirate. She was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging.

As you can see, the ladies did not fair much better than the men, in the pirate business. They were just better looking.

So You Think You Want A Parrot????

I have heard many people voice the following concerns about owning a parrot- 1) They are messy. 2) They are loud. 3) They can bite. 4) They can live a very long time. 5) They can have emotional problems. 6) They have a very short attention span. 7) They are a lot of work. Every one of these statements is absolutely true! But in fairness, those statement describe my children,too!

That is a very good analogy, children and parrots. They biggest difference is that the children generally grow up and leave home. The real point is that you should think about getting a parrot in the same way you should think about having children. Do you have the desire, space, time, energy, and financial resources to care for a bird?

If the answer is, yes, then what bird do you get? You can read a lot of articles telling you what species of bird you need to buy in different circumstances. These are not really bad, but birds have personalities regardless of species. It is fine to say African Greys are one person birds, as a general rule, but I have seen many exceptions to that rule. I have heard that Scarlet Macaws are beaky. Most are, but some aren’t. They point is that what you really want is a bird that you can live with and that may or may not be a particular species.

I did a lot of research before I bought my first bird, a small Senegal parrot and a few years later when I bought my macaw. Boy did I luck out. I have two wonderful birds. They both have issues, but nothing I can’t deal with. Many people aren’t so lucky. Remember that the people at the pet store just want to sell you the bird. If it doesn’t work out, that’s your problem, not the store’s.

Then how do you get the right bird? The answer is adoption. This site supports Melbourne Avian Rescue Sanctuary. At MARS you can see a lot of different birds and if you pick one that doesn’t work out, you can bring it back and find one that does work with you and your family. So, it’s not like buying as used car. You are not getting someone else’s problem bird. Birds are given up for many reasons. Their owner died, went in a nursing home, got married to a non-bird person, moved and can’t take the bird with them, or simply shouldn’t have bought it in the first place.

Remember, think before you get a bird. Then don’t shop, Adopt!

Sex and The Single Parrot


Sex and the Single Parrot

The article below is a reprint from webvet. I see no reason to paraphrase or rewrite it.

Living with Sexual Frustration in Your Pet Bird
By Gayle Soucek for WebVet

A sexually frustrated pet bird can be a problem as its loneliness will likely lead to aggressive behavior. Wild parrots are by nature extremely social creatures. Some even form life-long monogamous bonds with their mates, and spend much of their time in large cooperative flocks. In captivity or as pets, they’ll usually adapt this strong desire to pair up by choosing what they consider to be a suitable human replacement. Although this trait is part of what makes birds such desirable and affectionate pets, it can also make sharing your home with a sexually mature parrot somewhat akin to living in an episode of Sex in the City.

The degree and manner in which a parrot will display its urges depends on many factors, including species, gender, age, seasonal light changes, and even nutritional status. In general, small parrots such as budgies and cockatiels reach sexual maturity quickly, usually before they reach their first birthday. Larger parrots, including cockatoos and macaws, might not mature until 5 or 6 years of age. Breeding activity can occur year-round, but usually peaks during the long sunny days of spring and summer.
And, although there are exceptions, male parrots often fare a little worse with hormonal rushes.

“In my 25 years of experience with pet birds, mature males tend to display more aggressive behavior than mature females,” said avian veterinarian Ken Eisenberg, DVM, of All Creatures Great and Small Veterinary Practice in Downers Grove, Ill. “The males are more prone to dominance issues and displaced aggression in their quest to defend their territory. And, the birds that are the most symptomatic are often those that come into my practice suffering from chronic malnutrition from a high-energy, low protein seed-only diet.”

Symptoms of sexual frustration in birds

• Unpredictable or aggressive behavior
• Feather plucking or self-mutilating
• Frequent regurgitation of food to a favored human or toy, also known as allofeeding
• Heightened chewing and excavating activity
• Excessive screaming and vocalization
• Egg-laying in female birds. In the absence of a male bird, the eggs are of course infertile.
• Masturbation

“I think that everyone who has a single pet bird eventually deals with the issue of sexual behavior,” said avian veterinarian Scott McDonald, DVM. “With males, you can always remove the object of interest if that proves to help.”

Perhaps the best way to reduce unwanted behavior in pet parrots is to distract the bird with an alternative approved choice. For example, if your parrot begins to attempt a seduction of the family guinea pig, immediately pick up the bird and move it to a neutral place such as a playstand. Offer it a toy, and praise it lavishly when it begins a new action, such as playing with the toy. Try to take your bird’s mind off of its sexual impulses — take it outside for a few minutes, or challenge it with a game. Anything that makes it less likely to adapt a breeding behavior.

You can also prevent aggressive sexual behavior by changing around the bird’s environment. Move its cage to different locations in your house, and rearrange toys and perches within the cage. Keeping your bird on its toes, so to speak, will make breeding the last thing on its mind.

Of course, it’s always important to consult with your avian veterinarian if your parrot displays any unusual or extreme behavior. Sometimes, it might be acting out due to underlying disease or malnutrition. If health issues are ruled out, then take heart — the short days of autumn and winter are almost here, and will likely put a damper on the feathered Lothario’s libido.

Handicapped Pirates????

Did pirates really have a lot of missing parts?

Did pirates really have a lot of missing parts?

While visiting a local school whose mascot is a pirate, I saw a statue that looks like the character above. Did pirates really look like this? A pirate with a wooden leg couldn’t board a ship the crew was trying to capture. He’d also have a tough time climbing in the rigging on the masts, or even getting around on the deck in rough weather. No doubt pirates lost legs. In that day and age, if you had a really nasty leg (or arm) wound, it was easier to lop off the entire limp and treat one large simple wound, than a bunch of small complex ones. The real enemy was infection, not just the wound.

So where did this idea come from? The answer is Treasure Island by Robert Lewis Stevenson. The pirate was Long John Silver (who had a great parrot, incidentally.) That was not too far fetched, since Long John’s job on ship was cook. One of the few places, the missing leg wouldn’t be a serious handicap.

What about a hook for a hand? We can thank J.M. Barrie for that notion. He wrote Peter Pan and introduced us to Captain Hook. Again, I’m sure some pirates lost hands, but it would make it tough to board a ship, you were trying to capture.

Finally, what about an eye patch? Glass (or wooden eyes) as replacements for a natural eye you lost have been around for hundreds of years. It is a good bet that pirates wore eye patches, however.

I asked Red Legs about this and he explained that it is dark below decks, even in the daytime. Going into the hold of a ship was tricky, since a member of the opposing crew might be waiting to waylay you. If you go from daylight into a dark room, you can experience this yourself. Of course, if you wait a few minutes, your eyes adapt and you can see in the darker room. By wearing an eye patch for a while, before you go into the dark, you can negate the other sides advantage. Once in the hold, if you lift the eye patch, you can see! This is because the covered eye has adapted to the dark. The modern military teaches tricks like this to today’s fighting men and women. So a pirate with an eye patch wasn’t necessarily missing an eye, he was just getting prepared for his job.

Irish Pirates


Irish Pirates

In addition to Red Legs Greaves, there have been several other famous Irish pirates and two of them were women! Edward England, Edward Jordan, Walter Kennedy, Anne Bonny and Grace O’Malley are the most famous.

Born in Ireland as Edward Seegar sometime around 1685 He was probably raised as a Catholic. He was said to be an educated man. Seegar changed his surname to England when he turned pirate. England made his way to Jamaica and became a mate on a sloop. He was captured by the pirate captain Christopher Winter and forced to join the crew. Winter most likely took England to the pirate base on Nassau, Bahamas, for England is next reported as Charles Vane’s quartermaster, in March, 1718. Vane’s sloop, the Lark was captured by the Royal Navy, but England and the rest of the crew were released to induce the other pirates of Nassau to accept the King’s pardon. He was a famous African coast and Indian Ocean pirate captain from 1717 to 1720. The ships he sailed on included the Pearl (which he renamed The Royal James) and later the Fancy, for which England exchanged the Pearl in 1720. His flag was the classic Jolly Roger with a skull above two crossed thigh bones on a black background.

Edward Jordan (1771–1809) was an Irish rebel, fisherman and pirate in Nova Scotia. He was typical of the violent but short-lived pirates in the 19th century following the end of “Golden Age of Piracy” in the 18th century. Born in County Carlow, Ireland, he took part in the Irish rebellions of 1797-98 but was pardoned and attempted to start a new life as a fisherman in Nova Scotia. On 13 September 1809, desperate to avoid debts, he slaughtered the crew of a merchant who came to seize the schooner he owned named Three Sisters. However the captain, John Stairs, managed to escape overboard to be rescued by a passing fishing schooner and survived to spread the alarm. A few weeks later the Royal Navy schooner HMS Cuttle captured Jordan. He was convicted of piracy and executed in Halifax, Nova Scotia. His body was covered in tar and hanged from chains in an iron cage called a gibbet at Black Rock Beach in Point Pleasant as a warning to others. His gibbet joined those of four other across the harbour on McNabs Island who had been executed for mutiny aboard the brig HMS Columbine in the same year. His skull was eventually deposited at the Nova Scotia Museum.[1] It was recently displayed in the exhibit “Pirates: Myth and Reality” at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, serving as a grim reminder of the reality of piracy.

Walter Kennedy (ca. 1695 – July 21, 1721) was an English pirate who served as a crew member under Howell Davis and Bartholomew Roberts. Kennedy served in the Royal Navy during the War of Spanish Succession, where he heard tales of pirates from Henry Morgan to Henry Every, and dreamed of becoming a pirate himself. He was a crew member on the sloop-of-war Buck, part of the fleet that Woodes Rogers took to the Bahamas in 1718 to suppress piracy there. Woodes sent the Buck to Havana with a letter for the Spanish governor assuring that official that he was not a pirate, but was in Nassau to suppress piracy. Some recently pardoned pirates were added to the crew of the Buck, and before it reached Havana they, along with some of the original crew, including Kennedy, mutinied, killing the captain, Jonathan Bass, and other crew members who did not join the mutiny. Howell Davis, another mutineer, was elected captain. Kennedy was with Davis on the island of Principe when his party was ambushed by the Portuguese. He was the only member of the shore party to escape back to the ship alive. With Davis dead, Bartholomew Roberts was elected as his successor. When Roberts and forty of the crew chased a possible prize in a captured sloop off the coast of Surinam, Kennedy was left in charge of Roberts’ ship, the Royal Rover, and a large part of its crew. He took advantage of this to abandon Roberts and proclaim himself captain. Kennedy headed for Ireland, but having no skill in navigation landed on the north-west coast of Scotland instead. Seventeen of the crew were arrested near Edinburgh and put on trial for piracy, with nine of them being hanged. Kennedy himself was able to reach London where he is said to have kept a brothel in the Deptford Road. When one of his prostitutes accused him of theft, he was sent to the Bridewell Prison, where he was denounced as a pirate by the mate of a ship he had taken. Kennedy was transferred to the Marshalsea prison and put on trial for piracy. He was hanged at Execution Dock on July 21, 1721.

Anne Bonny was born on March 8, 1702 birth name Anne Cormac, in Kinsale County Cork, Ireland, the daughter of a servant woman, Mary Brennan, and her employer, lawyer William Cormac. Official records and contemporary letters dealing with her life are scarce and most modern knowledge stems from Charles Johnson’s A General History of the Pyrates (a contemporary collection of pirate biographies, the first edition accurate, the second much embellished). Bonny’s family travelled to the new world very early on in her life; at first the family had a rough start in their new home. Her mother died shortly after they arrived in North America. Her father attempted to establish himself as an attorney, but did not do well. Eventually, Bonny’s father joined the more profitable merchant business and accumulated a substantial fortune. It is recorded she had red hair and was considered a “good catch”, but may have had a fiery temper; at aged 13 she supposedly stabbed a servant girl with a table knife. She married a poor sailor and small-time pirate named James Bonny. James Bonny hoped to win possession of his father-in-law’s estate, but Anne was disowned by her father. There is a story that Bonny set fire to her father’s plantation in retaliation; but no evidence exists in support. However, it is known that sometime between 1714 and 1718, she and James Bonny moved to Nassau, on New Providence Island; known as a sanctuary for English pirates. Many inhabitants received a “King’s Pardon” or otherwise evaded the law. It is also recorded that after the arrival of Governor Woodes Rogers in the summer of 1718, James Bonny became an informant for the governor. While in the Bahamas, Bonny began mingling with pirates in the local taverns. She met Jack “Calico Jack” Rackham, captain of the pirate sloop Revenge, and became his mistress. They had a child in Cuba, who eventually took the name of Cunningham. Many different theories state that he was left with his family or simply abandoned. Bonny rejoined Rackham and continued the pirate life, having divorced her husband and marrying Rackham while at sea. Bonny and Rackham escaped to live together as pirates. Bonny, Rackham, and Mary Read stole the Revenge, then at anchor in Nassau harbour, and put out to sea. Rackham and the two women recruited a new crew. Rackham’s crew spent a lot of time in Jamaica and the surrounding area. Over the next several months, they were enjoyed success, capturing many, albeit smaller, vessels and bringing in an abundance of treasure.[citation needed] Bonny did not disguise herself as a man aboard the Revenge as is often claimed. She took part in combat alongside the men, and the accounts of her exploits present her as competent, effective in combat, and respected by her shipmates. Her name and gender were known to all from the start. Governor Rogers had named them in a “Wanted Pirates” circular published in the continent’s only newspaper, The Boston News-Letter. Although Bonny has historical renown as a female Caribbean pirate, she never commanded a ship of her own. In October 1720, Rackham and his crew were attacked by a “King’s ship”, a sloop captained by Jonathan Barnet under a commission from the Governor of Jamaica. Most of Rackham’s pirates did not put up much resistance as many of them were too drunk to fight; other sources indicate it was at night and most of them were asleep; however, Read, Bonny, and an unknown man fought fiercely and managed to hold off Barnet’s troops for a short time. Rackham and his crew were taken to Jamaica, where they were convicted and sentenced by the Governor of Jamaica to be hanged. According to Johnson, Bonny’s last words to the imprisoned Rackham were that she was “sorry to see him there, but if he had fought like a Man, he need not have been hang’d like a Dog.” After being sentenced, Read and Bonny both “pleaded their bellies”: asking for mercy because they were pregnant. In accordance with English common law, both women received a temporary stay of execution until they gave birth. Read died in prison, most likely from a fever, though it has been alleged that she died during childbirth. There is no historical record of Bonny’s release or of her execution. This has fed speculation that her father ransomed her; that she might have returned to her husband, or even that she resumed a life of piracy under a new identity.

Grace O’Malley (c. 1530 – c. 1603; also Gráinne O’Malley, Irish: Gráinne Ní Mháille) was Queen of Umaill, chieftain of the Ó Máille clan following in the footsteps of her father Eoghan Dubhdara Ó Máille. Upon his death, she inherited his large shipping and trading business (sometimes accused of being a piracy trade). The income from this business, the land inherited from her mother, and the property and holdings from her first husband, Dónal an Chogaidh Ó Flaithbheartaigh, allowed her to become very wealthy (reportedly owning as much as 1000 head of cattle and horses). In 1593, when her sons, Tibbot Burke and Murrough O’Flaherty, and her half-brother, Donal-na-Piopa, were taken captive by the English governor of Connacht, Sir Richard Bingham, O’Malley sailed to England to petition Elizabeth I for their release. She formally presented her request to Elizabeth at her court in Greenwich Palace.Many folk stories and legends about O’Malley have survived since her actual days of pirating and trading. There are also traditional songs and poems about her.

A widespread legend concerns an incident at Howth, which apparently occurred in 1576. During a trip from Dublin, O’Malley attempted to pay a courtesy visit to Howth Castle, home of Lord Howth. However, she was informed that the family was at dinner and the castle gates were closed against her. In retaliation, she abducted the Earl’s grandson and heir, Christopher St Lawrence, 10th Baron Howth. He was eventually released when a promise was given to keep the gates open to unexpected visitors and to set an extra place at every meal. Lord Howth gave her a ring as pledge on the agreement. The ring remains in the possession of a descendant of O’Malley and, at Howth Castle today, this agreement is still honoured by the Gaisford St. Lawrence family, descendants of the Baron. (Commemorating these events, there is in Howth a street of 1950s local council housing named ‘Grace O’Malley Road’.) The legendary reason for O’Malley seizure of Doona Castle in Ballycroy was that the MacMahons, who owned the castle, killed her lover, Hugh de Lacy, the shipwrecked son of a Wexford merchant she had rescued. When the guilty members of the MacMahon clan landed on the holy island of Caher for a pilgrimage, O’Malley captured their boats. She and her men then captured the MacMahons and killed those responsible for her lover’s death. Still not satisfied with her revenge, O’Malley then sailed for Ballycroy and attacked the garrison at Doona Castle, overpowering the defenders and taking the castle for herself. Her attack against the MacMahons was not the first time she interrupted someone at their prayers. Legend tells of another chieftain who stole property from O’Malley and fled to a church for sanctuary. She was determined to wait out the thief, maintaining that he could starve or surrender. The thief dug a tunnel and escaped, however, and the hermit who took care of the church broke his vow of silence to scold her for attempting to harm someone who had sought sanctuary. Her reply is not included in the legend. More than 20 years after her death, an English lord deputy of Ireland recalled her ability as a leader of fighting men, noting her fame and favour that still existed among the Irish people.

Privateers, Buccaneers, and Pirates????


Most people use these terms as synonyms, but they can mean different things. A pirate is actually an ocean going robber. The practice continues to this very day. Most people think of pirates in terms of the “golden age of piracy” 1660 to 1726 and in terms of the Caribbean, ala Johnny Depp. This is the era and place of Red Legs Greaves.

Privateers were basically legalized pirates. They were sanctioned by a particular country to attach ships for other countries, with whom their employer was at war. Private vessels would be commissioned into a ‘navy’ with a letter of marque, paid with a substantial share of whatever they could capture from enemy ships and settlements, the rest going to the crown. These ships would operate independently or as a fleet and if successful the rewards could be great. When Jean Fleury and his men captured Cortes’ vessels in 1523, they found the incredible Aztec treasure that they were allowed to keep. Later, when Francis Drake captured the Spanish Silver Train at Nombre de Dios (Panama’s Caribbean port at the time) in 1573 his crews were rich for life. This was repeated by Piet Hein in 1628, who made a profit of 12 million guilders for the Dutch West India Company. This substantial profit made privateering something of a regular line of business; wealthy businessmen or nobles would be quite willing to finance this legitimized piracy in return for a share. By the seventeenth century piracy and privateering became less of an acceptable behaviour, especially because many privateers turned into full blown pirates because they did not have to give part of the profit they made back to their country of employment.

Pirates involved specifically in the Caribbean were called buccaneers. Red Legs was correctly a pirate and a buccaneer. Roughly speaking, they arrived in the 1630s and remained until the effective end of piracy in the 1730s. The original buccaneers were settlers that were deprived of their land by “Spanish authorities” and eventually were picked up by white settlers. The word “buccaneer” is actually from the French boucaner, meaning “to smoke meat”, from the hunters of wild oxen curing meat over an open fire. They transferred the skills which kept them alive into piracy. They operated with the partial support of the non-Spanish colonies and until the 18th century their activities were legal, or partially legal and there were irregular amnesties from all nations. For the most part buccaneers attacked other vessel and ransacked settlements owned by the Spanish.

Traditionally buccaneers had a number of peculiarities. Their crews operated as a democracy: the captain was elected by the crew and they could vote to replace him. The captain had to be a leader and a fighter—in combat he was expected to be fighting with his men, not directing operations from a distance. Spoils were evenly divided into shares; when the officers had a greater number of shares, it was because they took greater risks or had special skills. Often the crews would sail without wages—”on account”—and the spoils would be built up over a course of months before being divided. There was a strong esprit de corps among pirates. This allowed them to win sea battles: they typically outmanned trade vessels by a large ratio. There was also for some time a social insurance system, guaranteeing money or gold for battle wounds at a worked-out scale.

In the end, it mattered little what you were called. Most died miserably. Red Legs being the rare exception.

Pirates Code – Articles of Agreement


If you watched the Pirates of the Caribbean, you heard mention of a pirates code. In reality there was not a single pirates code. Each ship had it’s own rules, variously called — The Article of Agreement, Chasse-Partie, Charter Party, Custom of the Coast, or Jamaica Discipline. Every pirate had to sign these and the and agree to abide by the rules. A pirate ship was a democracy and it was the standard rule that the Captain and Officers were elected.
This helps explain why many men signed up as pirates. They had far more freedom than civilians or ordinary seamen. Here are the ones of which we have copies (actual articles are copied from Wikipedia):

Henry Morgan

I. Every man has a vote in affairs of moment; has equal title to the fresh provisions, or strong liquors, at any time seized, and may use them at pleasure, unless a scarcity (not an uncommon thing among them) makes it necessary, for the good of all, to vote a retrenchment.

II. Every man to be called fairly in turn, by list, on board of prizes because, (over and above their proper share) they were on these occasions allowed a shift of clothes: but if they defrauded the company to the value of a dollar in plate, jewels, or money, marooning was their punishment. If the robbery was only betwixt one another, they contented themselves with slitting the ears and nose of him that was guilty, and set him on shore, not in an uninhabited place, but somewhere, where he was sure to encounter hardships.

III. No person to game at cards or dice for money.

IV. The lights and candles to be put out at eight o’clock at night: if any of the crew, after that hour still remained inclined for drinking, they were to do it on the open deck.

V. To keep their piece, pistols, and cutlass clean and fit for service.

VI. No boy or woman to be allowed amongst them. If any man were to be found seducing any of the latter sex, and carried her to sea, disguised, he was to suffer death; (so that when any fell into their hands, as it chanced in the Onslow, they put a sentinel immediately over her to prevent ill consequences from so dangerous an instrument of division and quarrel; but then here lies the roguery; they contend who shall be sentinel, which happens generally to one of the greatest bullies, who, to secure the lady’s virtue, will let none lie with her but himself.)

VII. To desert the ship or their quarters in battle, was punished with death or marooning.

VIII. No striking one another on board, but every man’s quarrels to be ended on shore, at sword and pistol. (The quarter-master of the ship, when the parties will not come to any reconciliation, accompanies them on shore with what assistance he thinks proper, and turns the disputant back to back, at so many paces distance; at the word of command, they turn and fire immediately, (or else the piece is knocked out of their hands). If both miss, they come to their cutlasses, and then he is declared the victor who draws the first blood.)

IX. No man to talk of breaking up their way of living, till each had shared one thousand pounds. If in order to this, any man should lose a limb, or become a cripple in their service, he was to have eight hundred dollars, out of the public stock, and for lesser hurts, proportionately.

X. The Captain and Quartermaster to receive two shares of a prize: the master, boatswain, and gunner, one share and a half, and other officers one and quarter.

XI. The musicians to have rest on the Sabbath Day, but the other six days and nights, none without special favour.

Captain John Phillips

I. Every Man Shall obey civil Command; the Captain shall have one full Share and a half of all Prizes; the Master, Carpenter, Boatswain and Gunner shall have one Share and quarter.

II. If any Man shall offer to run away, or keep any Secret from the Company, he shall be marooned with one Bottle of Powder, one Bottle of Water, one small Arm, and Shot.

III. If any Man shall steal any Thing in the Company, or game, to the Value of a Piece of Eight, he shall be marooned or shot.

IV. If any time we shall meet another Marooner that Man shall sign his Articles without the Consent of our Company, shall suffer such Punishment as the Captain and Company shall think fit.

V. That Man that shall strike another whilst these Articles are in force, shall receive Moses’ Law (that is, 40 Stripes lacking one) on the bare Back.

VI. That Man that shall snap his Arms, or smoke Tobacco in the Hold, without a Cap to his Pipe, or carry a Candle lighted without a Lanthorn, shall suffer the same Punishment as in the former Article.

VII. That Man shall not keep his Arms clean, fit for an Engagement, or neglect his Business, shall be cut off from his Share, and suffer such other Punishment as the Captain and the Company shall think fit.

VIII. If any Man shall lose a Joint in time of an Engagement, shall have 400 Pieces of Eight ; if a Limb, 800.

IX. If at any time you meet with a prudent Woman, that Man that offers to meddle with her, without her Consent, shall suffer present Death.

Edward Low and George Lowther

The articles listed below are attributed by the Boston News-Letter to Captain Edward Low. The first eight of these articles are essentially identical to those attributed to pirate captain George Lowther by Charles Johnson. Since Lowther and Low are known to have sailed together from about New Year’s to May 28, 1722, it is probable that both reports are correct and that Low and Lowther shared the same articles, with Low’s two extra articles being an ordinance, or amendment, adopted after the two crews separated.
I. The Captain is to have two full Shares; the Quartermaster is to have one Share and one Half; The Doctor, Mate, Gunner and Boatswain, one Share and one Quarter.

II. He that shall be found guilty of taking up any Unlawful Weapon on Board the Privateer or any other prize by us taken, so as to Strike or Abuse one another in any regard, shall suffer what Punishment the Captain and the Majority of the Company shall see fit.

III. He that shall be found Guilty of Cowardice in the time of engagements, shall suffer what Punishment the Captain and the Majority of the Company shall think fit.

IV. If any Gold, Jewels, Silver, &c. be found on Board of any Prize or Prizes to the value of a Piece of Eight, & the finder do not deliver it to the Quarter Master in the space of 24 hours he shall suffer what Punishment the Captain and the Majority of the Company shall think fit.

V. He that is found Guilty of Gaming, or Defrauding one another to the value of a Royal of Plate, shall suffer what Punishment the Captain and the Majority of the Company shall think fit.

VI. He that shall have the Misfortune to lose a Limb in time of Engagement, shall have the Sum of Six hundred pieces of Eight, and remain aboard as long as he shall think fit.

VII. Good Quarters to be given when Craved.

VIII. He that sees a Sail first, shall have the best Pistol or Small Arm aboard of her.

IX. He that shall be guilty of Drunkenness in time of Engagement shall suffer what Punishment the Captain and Majority of the Company shall think fit.

X. No snapping of Guns in the Hold.(The flintlocks made sparks, so that would be a good way to start a fire or blow up the ship!)

Pirates and Parrots

Topic – Pirates and Parrots

Captain Kosh

Captain Kosh

However, there are many logical reasons for keeping a parrot. They don’t eat a lot, a very good thing if there is little food left on the boat. They aren’t very big, so if there isn’t much food on board the crew won’t try to eat them. They like people, so they won’t attack the crew. They can be taught tricks, a great way to pass time on those long boring cruises. They can keep you company, even if what they say is sometimes not the right thing. They can talk, which makes them seem smarter than your average pet.

They make you look important, after all how many talking parrots are there at sea? They were worth a lot of money. Presidents George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Ulysses Grant, William McKinley, James Madison and Teddy Roosevelt all owned parrots, no wonder every pirate wanted one. Pirates probably got their parrots from the wild, off of uninhabited islands they visited or they stole them in the same way they stole gold and jewels.

There are over 300 different species of parrots across the world, ranging from 3 inches in height to a 33 inches. However the favorite parrot species of the pirates were the Macaw and Amazons. Highly intelligent birds, that love nothing more than being taught tricks and learning to speak, these medium to large parrots are native to Central and South America and can live for over 70 years. All in all an ideal companion for a pirate who spends most of his life at sea.

Parrots Are Expensive!!!

If you have not priced parrots yet, hang on to your wallet! Depending on your choice of species, the purchase price can range from $175 for a Quaker Parrot to $10,000 for a Hyacinth Macaw. You will naturally want to shop for a bird that is hand-fed, fully weaned (never under any circumstances should you buy an unweaned bird) , and well-socialized. Prices for such birds tend to be toward the upper end of the price range for each species. Let’s take a look at some estimated costs for a few common pet species: Cockatiel-$65, Quaker Parrot – $175,Alexandrine Parakeet – $300, Sun Conure -$300, African Grey Parrot – $800, Eclectus Parrot – $850, Double Yellow Head Amazon – $950, Umbrella Cockatoo- $1000, and Scarlet Macaw – $1400.

People often view adoption as a means of acquiring a “cheap” bird. While M.A.R.S. charges less than half what you’d pay in a pet store, there are still considerable costs in housing, maintaining, and caring for a bird. A good cage can cost almost as much as your bird. Food isn’t super expensive, but it isn’t free. By no means do you have to be rich to afford to have a parrot, but finances should be considered.

Buy the same token, it cost money to house the birds that MARS cares for and rehomes. Volunteer labor is free, but food, toys, facility repair, and vet visits are not free. Adoption fees do not begin to cover the cost of operation. That’s why Red Legs will show up any where he thinks he can make a buck. It’s also why the organization holds garage sales, dinners, and Easter Egg Hunts. Since the program gets good prices by buying in bulk, donating food or supplies is a very inefficient way to help out. Sad to say, but money talks. Speak to Melbourne Avian Rescue Sanctuary if you possibly can!