September 19 is Talk Like a Pirate Day and to celebrate it we’re going to take a brief look at 5 pirates in history that you may not have heard of.
1) Grace O’Malley
Pirate from: 1564-1603
Story: Born in 1530 to an Irish clan Chieftain in County Mayo, Grace O’Malley didn’t become a pirate until 1564. Having had her first husband killed in an inter-clan dispute in 1560, Grace sought her revenge and then took control of the clan for her sons. In 1564 she began “maintaining” her land by land and sea with both her fathers ships and 200 men, and she did so until her death in 1603. During her time “maintaining” she caused quite a headache for the English crown in Ireland. She and her second husband were unhappy with the English Monarchy encroaching on their land so they sought to wreak as much havoc on English as they could by attacking their ships and land based men. Grace even supported the Spanish during their attempts to invade England during the reign of Elizabeth I. In the 1590’s Grace’s youngest son was facing execution for Treason and so Grace having corresponded with Queen Elizabeth I set off to meet with the Tudor Queen. When they met, Grace didn’t speak a word of English and Elizabeth didn’t speak any Irish so the meeting was held in Latin. Somehow the Irish pirate managed to convince the queen she had rebelled against for nigh on 30 years to save and release her son, and allow Grace to continue the “maintenance”of her property. Twelve months later Grace had the distinct pleasure of watching her arch enemy, Sir Richard Bingham- the English Governor of Ireland, called back to London, allowing her to continue her trade. in 1603 Grace O’Malley died at Rockfleet Castle, a property she managed to secure when she divorced her second husband and her base of operations for the 37 years of her pirating career.
2) Sir Francis Verney
Pirate from: 1607 (ish)- 1610
Story: Francis Verney was born in 1584 to sir Edmund Verney who married Frances off to his step sister at the age of 15. When Edmund Verney died in 1600, Francis was sent off to school at Trinity College Oxford while his step mother remained at court in London. Verney quickly amassed huge debts spending anywhere around £3000 per year of fine living. Losing a challenge to reclaim property from his step mother, and under pressure from his friends to repay the debtors t
hey had assured on his behalf, Verney sold up all his estate, abandoned his wife and traveled to the world. Seven years later in Morocco he joined up with a group of Mercenaries fighting for a claimant to the Moroccan throne. By 1609 Francis Verney had amassed quite a fearsome reputation for himself as a pirate on the Barbary Coast. He wreaked havoc on English vessels as repayment for the trouble he had gone through in his early years, and King James I of England was most upset when a shipment of wine he was expecting was taken by Verney. In fact the English Monarch was so fearful of Verney that he sent a man-of-war to escort an English merchant convoy to Levant. By 1610 Sir Francis Verney’s luck had changed, and he was accused of “turning Turk” during his time in Tunis. This was something most pirates of European origin were accused of when they adopted the dress style of the locals of Tunis. Not long after he spent 2 years as a galley slave to a Sicilian pirate before an English Jesuit took pity on him and paid his ransom, only after Verney had promised to convert to Catholicism though. In 1615 Verney died, at age 31, penniless and homeless, in paupers hospital in Messina, Italy.
3) Anne Dieu-le-Veut
Pirate from: 1683- unknown
Story: Not too much is known about Anne. She was born in about 1650 in Botany and later was given the name Anne Dieu-le-Veut (Anne God-wants-it) because if she wanted something it seemed that it would almost happen to easily for her. She was sent to Tortuga (yes, THAT Tortuga) at some stage before 1683 as a Filles de Roi- a women sent to marry colonists where she married Buccaneer Peirre Lelong. Lelong was killed in a bar fight in 1583 and Anne challenged his murderer to a duel in revenge. The challenged man refused to fight a women but was so impressed with her courage that he proposed to her instead, and so Anne married the Pirate Laurens de Graff in 1683. In reality though they couldn’t be married legally as Laurens had a wife he’d abandoned in years prior. After their false union Anne and de Graff ran de Graffs vessel and crew together, sharing the work equally, with Anne refusing to disguise her feminine figure like fellow pirate Anne Bonny did. In 1693 de Graff raided the English settlement of Jamaica for the French and was awarded the title of Chevalier as thanks. Unfortunately though, the following year the English took their revenge on Tortuga and captured Anne and her children holding them captive for 3 years. In 1698 Anne, her daughters, and Laurens were reunited and it is believed that they then settled in Mississippi where Laurens de Graff is mentioned as having been present in 1700.
4) Jacquotte Delahayes
Pirate from: 1656 – 1660’s
Story: Like Anne, not much is known about Jacquotte. She was born in Saint- Domingue in Haiti and had a brother who suffered from slight mental limitations. Her mother is said to have died in childbirth, as was common of the time, and when her father was murdered Jacquotte was left with the Guardianship of her brother. In 1665 Delahayes, with a crew of 100 men, took control of a small island in the Caribbean from the Spanish. She died there several years later in a shootout whilst defending the island or her “freebooter republic”as she called it. She’s most well known for her vivid red hair and it’s said that in order to evade the law she faked her own death only to return to pirating a few years later, before her real death.
5) Rahmah ibn Jabir al-Jalahimah
Pirate from: post 1783 – 1826
Story: Born in Kuwait round 1760 Rahmah ibn Jabir al-Jalahimah grew to be a leader of his tribe, taking the honor over his brother after the death of their father. After his tribe had a falling out with the Al Khalifa ( the current ruling family of Bahrain) Rahmah ibn Jabir al-Jalahimah would spend the rest of his life battling them, forming alliances with those groups who were in mutual opposition to the Al Khalifa. While he was very strict in his following of the codes of war, and never attacked the British, al-Jalahimah did launch many assaults on the Al Khalifa and the territories owned by them, particularly Bahrain. In 1826 Rahmah ibn Jabir al-Jalahimah, locked in yet another sea battle with the Al Khalifa in Qatar, set his gunpowder kegs alight killing his men, the Al Khalifa raiding party aboard his ship, his 8 year old son, and himself. He would rather have died by his own means than at the hand of his enemy. Although he is still well known for his lasting conflict with the House of Khalifa, al-Jalahimah also has another unique trait to his name. He is the first and possibly only pirate on record as having worn an eye patch. Yes, that’s right. The eye-patch that is so prolific in pirate popular culture today wasn’t actually worn until Rahmah ibn Jabir al-Jalahimah lost his eye during one of his battles.