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English Privateers: Pirates for Sale

Queen Elizabeth hired sailors to fight instead of the Royal Navy against the Spanish. They were called privateers. She didn’t want to use her own navy against the mighty Spanish Armada. (It was called the Spanish Main for a reason, right?) Queen Elizabeth had a problem on her hands. When the war was over, the privateers became
pirates because they didn’t have a job anymore. Privateers didn’t attack ships from the country that paid them, but pirates did not usually care about nationality. So basically, between wars, England had to fight its own soldiers.

By: David

French Privateers

Who were some of the most famous French Privateers?
Robert Surcouf and Rene Trouin are some of the most famous French Privateers.

Robert Surcouf
A statue of Robert Surcouf.

Robert Surcouf was from the Port of St. Malo. Robert captured many British ships. Robert was considered to be a very successful privateer. When Robert returned to the Indian Ocean he captured many more prizes of all sorts. No one really knows where Robert went after that.

Rene Trouin
A painting of Rene Trouin

Rene was born on June 10, 1673 in France. His full name was Rene Duguay Trouin. Rene originally wanted to join the church, but he turned to privateering instead. At the age of sixteen he joined the Navy board. Rene’s most impressive achievement was the capture of Rio Janeiro in 1711. He was always thought of to be fierce in combat. Rene Duguay Trouin died on September 27, 1736.

What are some of the most notable accomplishments made by the French Privateers?

French Privateer's ship capturing another ship
Some of the French Privateers accomplishments varied from very successful to just average. Some of their successful accomplishments were the capturing of hundreds of British prizes along with capturing over 300 hundred British ships. The port of St. Malo grew rich because of the French privateer's profits. Over sixty French Privateers captured hundreds of prizes from the Irish Sea. Most of the French Privateers accomplishments were considered successful. Some of their average accomplishments included taking their captured prizes to Martinique and capturing three East Indiamen.

By: Geneva

American Privateers

Who are some of the most famous American Privateers?
Sir Henry Morgan and Gamaliel Bradford were two of the most famous American Privateers.

Sir Henry Morgan:
Sir Henry Morgan

No one knows for sure but most historians think that Henry Morgan was born in 1635. He spent most of his young childhood years in Whales, England. Henry Morgan dropped out of school at an early age (he said, “I was used more to the pike than the book.”) and then became a young sailor and worked his way to fame and became a privateer. As a privateer, he was a heavy drinking man who primarily spent his time raiding Spanish settlements. He was very active against the French in the 1680’s. He later died on August 25, 1688 in Lawrencefield, Jamaica. Most records say Sir Henry Morgan died from lung cancer.

Gamaliel Bradford:
A picture of Gamaliel Bradford sitting down at his desk

Gamaliel was born on November 4, 1768 in Duxbury, Massachusetts. He became a privateer at age thirteen on May 28, 1776 during the American Revolution. Gamaliel was the commander the American private armed ship during the American Revolution. Gamaliel died at Cambridge, Massachusetts on March 7, 1824.

What are some of the most notable accomplishments made by American Privateers?

A picture of an American privateer ship at battle.
Over the years, American Privateers had many accomplishments, some small and some very large. Some of their biggest accomplishments were simply that they weren’t able to be reported as surrenders during the American Revolution. During the American Revolution, most people say it was just the American Army who won over the British, but the American Privateers took British Privateer ships down with their own hands. During the American Revolution, the American Privateers also captured a British ship and returned it back to port safely. Other times, the American Privateers invaded Spanish settlements and returned to America with $1,000,000, $600,000, and $3,000,000 all at different times. Over the years, the American Privateers captured over 3,000 British merchant ships.

By: Geneva