You decided that you don’t want your nine to five job anymore and made up your mind that you’ll change your career. Your new chosen profession: a pirate. Ah, yes, that good 17th-century ole tradition of glamorous, rogue, easily profitable but dangerous seafaring robbery. Making the waves of the seas as your home, and hopefully not yelling “Ahoy, ‘ll crush ye barnacles!” or something similar to one another. Anyway, if you wanted some figures to look up to for your new chosen career path, then you might wanna check out these pirates who once ruled the highs and lows of the seas. (But to be serious, please don’t turn to piracy.)

Jean Lafitte

The portrait said to be of Jean Lafitte. (Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

He was described by NBC News as “an elegant scoundrel” who plundered vessels from Britain, Spain, and America in the early 1800s. He was a French blacksmith who decided to venture and expand his business into something bigger, aka smuggling and piracy. Soon enough, he, his brother, and their men had the stronghold at Barataria Bay, Louisiana. His force was stronger than any of the US Navy at that time. During the War of 1812, Great Britain just bought their way into New Orleans instead of trying to fight him for access. Barataria Bay was an important approach to New Orleans, and the British offered to give him $30,000 and to make him a captain in the Royal Navy. Lafitte accepted these offers, but he had a different plan in mind. He warned the Louisiana official about the incoming peril. However, Gov. WCC Claiborne did not believe him and instead summoned the US Army and Navy to take out the whole colony, including some of Laffite’s ships. Still wanting to show his loyalty to the United States, Lafitte offered to help Gen. Andrew Jackson’s hard-pressed forces, with the condition that he and his men be given a pardon. Jackson made the deal, and the pirate’s team indeed helped in the Battle of New Orleans. After that, Pres. James Madison issued a public proclamation that pardoned Lafitte’s group.

But once a pirate, always a pirate. He returned to his good old ways after the war, especially targeting Spanish ships along the coast of Spanish America.

Black Bart

Bartholomew Roberts with his ship and captured merchant ships in the background. A copper engraving[1] from A History of the Pyrates by Captain Charles Johnson c. 1724
Bartholomew Roberts (Black Bart) with his ship and captured merchant ships in the background. A copper engraving from A History of the Pyrates by Captain Charles Johnson c. 1724. (Engraved by Benjamin Cole (1695–1766), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)
Born John Roberts, Black Bart was a Welsh forced into piracy in 1719 during that era called the Golden Age of Piracy. Regardless, he turned out to be really good at it, especially in navigation and assessing the strengths of enemy ships. Because of that, he was promoted to commander only after six days since their captain was killed.

Black Bart’s ships raided vessels off the Americas and the West African coast from 1719 until 1722. Once, they stole the best ship from the Portuguese treasure fleet of 44 ships. As a bonus, onboard the stolen vessel was 40,000 gold coins and a cross studded with diamonds that was for the King of Portugal supposedly. Aside from that, he created his own Pirate code. All in all, Black Bart and his crew were able to steal 400 ships throughout their short career from 1719 to 1722 after dying in the Battle of Cape Lopez, ending his life with a shot on his neck.

Henry Every

Pirate captain Henry Every is depicted on shore while his ship, the Fancy, engages an unidentified vessel. (Unknown author, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Henry Every, sometimes Jack or John Avery, was an English pirate whose main office was in the Atlantic and Indian oceans in the mid-1690s. He was very accustomed to the sea, beginning his life in the waters. Initially, he was enlisted as the first mate on a privateer vessel called Charles II. The vessel, however, did not see any action and simply sat in the port for many months while the crew was without pay. And so, Every decided that he would just steal the ship, and so he did, even naming it the Fancy.

Dubbed as “The Arch Pirate” and “The King of Pirates,” he was known for being one of the few pirate captains who successfully escaped without being arrested or killed during battles. He was also known as the perpetrator of what was deemed as the most profitable act of piracy throughout history. Just like the others, his career was short-lived as he only lasted two years as a pirate before dying sometime between 1699 and 1714, leaving his treasures behind but never to be found.