Black Bart

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Bartholomew 'Black Bart' Roberts - Pirate (1682 - 1722)

Probably the most successful of all the pirates from what has become known as 'The Golden Age of Pirates'. From being averse to piracy, Black Bart came to embrace it. In doing so he became ruthless and cruel, carrying out one of the most horrifically cruel acts recorded.

This page details facts about Black Bart's life and the events that shaped his history.

Black Bart the Pirate - Fun Facts for Kids !
Black Bart Fact   1: Black Bart was born as John Roberts in Pembrokeshire, Wales in 1682.
Black Bart Fact   2: John Roberts adopted the forename 'Bartholomew'.
Black Bart Fact   3: In 1719, Bartholomew Roberts was second mate on a slaving ship named 'Princess'.
Black Bart Fact   4: During February 1720, while taking on slaves from the west coast of Africa, the Princess and Bartholomew Roberts were taken by the pirate Howel Davis.
Black Bart Fact   5: Being averse to piracy, Bartholomew Roberts would have escaped had the chance arisen. However, within six weeks of being forced into the crew, Howel Davis was killed and Bartholomew Roberts was elected captain.
Black Bart Fact   6: While accepting the captaincy, Bartholomew Roberts was believed to have said that as he’d ‘dipped his hands in muddy waters, and must be a pirate, it was better to be a commander than a common man’.
Black Bart Fact   7: Immediately after his election Bartholomew Roberts and the ship’s company destroyed the fort and part of the town where their captain had just been killed.
Black Bart Fact   8: Bartholomew Roberts went on to be known as Black Bart, however it's unclear when this occurred. Some believe it may have been after his death.
Black Bart Fact   9: Black Bart sailed off the coast of Brazil for nine weeks without seeing any ships, then he came across 42 Portuguese ships waiting for two 70 gun Men of War to escort them. He sailed amongst the ships as if he were part of the fleet, and stealthily overcame one of them. Black Bart ordered the Captain to point out the richest ship, and then sailed up to it. After firing a broadside into it, he captured it and sailed off with his prize.
Black Bart Fact 10: While Black Bart indulged in luxurious pleasures in a safe area, he learned of a nearby well stocked ship and set off after it on one of his ships. While he was gone, Lieutenant Kennedy, who had been left in charge of the other ship and the prize, made off with them both.
Black Bart Fact 11: Black Bart was furious so, along with the remainder of his crew, he produced a set of ‘Articles’, to be signed and sworn to by all, binding them together. All newcomers were made to take an oath on a Bible in the presence of Black Bart. Irishmen were excluded from the benefits as Kennedy was Irish.
Black Bart Fact 12: Black Bart sailed for the West Indies, and eventually Barbados, taking several ships on the way. When the Governor heard that he was in the area, two ships were sent out, under the command of Captain Rogers, to go after him. When Black Bart saw the ships he tried to take them, not realising that they were heavily armed until Rogers opened fire. He managed to escape after throwing his guns overboard to make the ship lighter and faster. Following this incident, he was far harsher to any ships he took that came from Barbados.
Black Bart Fact 13: Black Bart sailed for Newfoundland. On arrival in June 1720, he came across 22 ships in a harbour. He sailed in with his black flag hoisted and to the sound of drums and trumpets. At the sight of Black Bart arriving, the sailors fled ashore leaving their ships at his mercy. Black Bart caused havoc including destroying the local fisheries. He burned and sank all the ships except one which he kept and mounted 16 guns onto.
Black Bart Fact 14: On his way out of the harbour, Black Bart came across 9 or 10 French Ships. Once again he destroyed all but one of the ships, which they kept, and left the previously taken ship in its place. He christened the new ship the ‘Fortune’.
Black Bart Fact 15: During July 1620, Black Bart plundered several more ships. He and his crew acted like fiends during the raids, cursing, swearing and throwing the things they didn’t want overboard.
Black Bart Fact 16: Sailing for the West Indies, Black Bart was running low on supplies and headed to St. Christopher (now St. Kitts). He was denied assistance by the Governor so, in an act of revenge, he sank two ships, and then fired on the town. Black Bart then sailed for the island of St. Bartholomew, where he was well received by the Governor. He stayed there for a period of leisure before setting off for Africa.
Black Bart Fact 17: On route, Black Bart took a French ship with a rich cargo and gave their ship in exchange. He named the new ship 'Royal Fortune'. Black Bart decided to stop off at the Cape Verde islands and restock the ship. Unable to catch the winds he had to sail back to the West Indies on the trade winds.
Black Bart Fact 18: Black Bart was ill prepared for this journey. After a while he had only one hogshead (approx. 300 litres) of water to sustain 124 men over a distance of 700 leagues (approx. 2,100 miles). Black Bart continued on his course, coming to a point where he rationed the crew to one mouthful per 24 hours. The crew became so desperate that many drank sea water, or their own urine, leading to a thirst that killed them. Two days after the water completely ran out, they finally reached land.
Black Bart Fact 19: Black Bart went on to plunder and destroy several more ships, before heading to Hispaniola to clean his ships. While there, two ships approached him claiming that they had come to visit and learn from Black Bart. He was won over by them, and after spending a few nights partying with them, he gave them all the weapons and provisions they wanted and they went on their way. Black Bart then set off for Africa.
Black Bart Fact 20: Black Bart was experiencing discipline problems as the crew spent most of the time drunk and disorderly. On one occasion he was insulted by a drunken crew mate, so he shot him. On learning of the killing, Jones, a crew mate of the shot man, approached and cursed Black Bart who ran him through with a sword. Jones managed to throw Black Bart over a gun and beat him soundly. This caused uproar and divided the crew. The Quartermaster stepped in and said that as the Captain was elected by all, no single person should violate that decision. Jones was sentenced to the lash.
Black Bart Fact 21: Off the coast of Senegal, Black Bart took two French ships. He made one of these his consort and named it the 'Ranger', the other was used as a store ship. Black Bart sailed to Sierra Leone where he arrived in June 1721.
Black Bart Fact 22: On arrival, Black Bart learned that two Men of War, the Swallow & the Weymouth, had left the area a month earlier and weren't expected back until Christmas. He decided to stay in the area for a while knowing that it would be safe. After six weeks of debauchery, Black Bart decided to return to work and follow the Men of War down the coast so that he would know of their progress. He sailed to Old Calabar, in what is now Nigeria, continuing to plunder and exchange ships as he went.
Black Bart Fact 23: Black Bart sailed to Whydah where he came across eleven ships. As most of their crews were ashore, he took control of the ships easily. He ransomed them for a price of eight pounds of gold dust per ship. All except the 'Porcupine', loaded with slaves, paid the ransom. Captain Fletcher refused to deal with Black Bart so, in one of the most horrifically cruel acts recorded, Black Bart had the ship set alight. leaving the slaves shackled to each other and facing burning or drowning. Those that jumped overboard were torn apart by sharks while the pirates looked on.
Black Bart Fact 24: Black Bart intercepted a letter warning the African Company's agent that he was in the area, and that the Swallow was following them there, so he sailed away.
Black Bart Fact 25: At Cape Lopez Bay in February 1722, the Swallow came across Black Bart's ships. Black Bart saw the Swallow. Not knowing who it was, and believing that it was steering clear of them, he sent one of his ships to chase and take it. When the ship pulled alongside, the Swallow fired a Broadside and eventually overcame the pirates.
Black Bart Fact 26: On the 10th February, Black Bart's crew saw the Swallow coming, but thought it might be their own ship returning or maybe a Portuguese or French ship. They soon recognised the ship, as one of the crew had previously sailed on her, and informed Black Bart. he decided to sail alongside the Swallow and receive a broadside before returning the shots. He did as he had said, and after returning fire was struck again by the Swallow. Black Bart was killed by this strike when grapeshot struck his throat. His body was thrown overboard by his crew.
Black Bart the Pirate (1682 - 1722) Fun Facts Info for Kids !

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