Stede Bonnet


Captain Stede Bonnet was one of the strangest & most unlikely pirates. Originally a high ranking individual, known as Major Stede Bonnet. Major Bonnet came from an upright English family, possessing a liberal education & was known to be ''A Man of Letters''. In his middle age he seemingly had everything needed in life as a successful planter with a comfortable life. His sugar plantation brought him reasonable wealth & was amoung the best society of Bridgetown on the island of Barbados. Therefore, it was a great shock to the high society of Barbados when for no apparent reason Major Bonnet left his life as a gentleman planter to become a pirate. Doing so he mortified his neighbors who excused his actions as the result of some ''disorder in his mind'', a thought not utterly unreasonable. There were also those who insinuated that it was his aversion toward respectability that drove him to such an extreme change of career.
As a pirate, Captain Bonnet was merely an amateur. Unlike stealing or capturing a ship, as any respectable pirate would do, he purchased his own which was completely unheard of in the archives of piracy. This fast little ship was purchased in early 1717. It had ten pieces of artillery secured to her single gun deck. For unknown reasons, he renamed her the Revenge. Captain Bonnet did another unheard of thing. He payed his crew out of his own pocket instead of drawing up a contract for them to sign. It was this strategy however, that kept him from being deposed by the crew. He found his crew in the taverns & grogshops of Bridgetown & ended up signing on about seventy destitute seamen. For several days after its purchase the Revenge remained in the Bridgetown harbor which Captain Bonnet explained as his intention of pursuing an inter-island trade. Then one night he cast off. He set his course for the Virginia Capes, where he captured a few ships. In the beginning the ships he captured were only plundered until he captured the ship the Turbes, which was burned. After this every Barbadian ship taken by Captain Bonnet was burned. No one knows why.
After capturing prizes off the New England Coast & few in the northern waters, he returned to the south. At this time however, there was trouble brewing. His inexperience began to manifest itself to the crew who were slowly becoming hostile & they began whispering amongst themselves. During the increasing hostilities Captain Bonnet dropped anchor in the Bay of Honduras where he met up with the Queen Anne's Revenge, along with her Captain, Blackbeard. The two quickly befriended each other & decided to cruise together. This alliance soon proved a big mistake on the part of Bonnet. Teach became aware of his inexperience & invited Captain Bonnet aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge, where Captain Bonnet became pretty much a prisoner. Captain Blackbeard tried to convince him that a man of his education and mannerisms should not be forced to the rigors of commanding a ship like the Revenge & to move himself & his belongings to the more comfortable & spacious quarters of the Queen Anne's Revenge. There was little Captain Bonnet could do or say & soon after one of Captain Blackbeard's lieutenants, by the name of Richards took over command of the Revenge & quickly stifled the threat of mutiny by imposing stern discipline, and gaining the crew's confidence. Eventually Captain Bonnet convinced Captain Blackbeard to allow him to command the Revenge again. Soon afterwards the two parted & Captain Bonnet left his ship for the town of Bath and surrendered himself as a reformed pirate to the Governor of North Carolina, Charles Eden. This act however did not subside Captain Bonnet's desire for Piracy & he continued plundering ships until his capture by Colonel William Rhett, from whom he escaped only to be recaptured, and brought to trial under a Court of Vice-Admiralty in Charles Town (Charleston), South Carolina. Sir Nicholas Trott Esq., who at that time was the judge of the Vice-Admiralty Court, sentenced Captain Bonnet to death on the gallows & was hung for piracy on December 10, 1718.