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Pirate Stede Bonnet

Retired Army Major Stede Bonnet was about the strangest, and most unlikely pirate of all. He was apparently well off in his middle years as a successful planter. His sugar plantation brought him reasonable wealth, and he found himself among the best society of Bridgetown on the island of Barbados.

The people of Barbados were obviously surprised when Major Bonnet, for no apparent reason, chose to change careers from a rich planter to piracy. In piracy, he couldn't even capture his own ship, as any respectable pirate would. Instead, he purchased his own, which was completely unheard of in piracy. Bonnet's ship was purchased in early 1717. Ten pieces of artillery were secured to her single gun deck. For unknown reasons, the ship was renamed "The Revenge". Bonnet did another unheard of thing by paying 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, and let him remain in command. He found his band from the taverns and grogshops of Bridgetown, and ended up signing on about seventy destitute seamen. For several days after its purchase, the Revenge remained in the Bridgetown harbor, which Bonnet explained as his intention of pursuing an inter-island trade. But one night, he cast off without a word to his friends or his wife. He set his course for the Virginia Capes, where he captured a few vessels, the first of which were only plundered, and the last ship, known as the Turbes, was burned. After this every Barbadian ship taken by Bonnet was burned, as if to mark his trail.

After sailing, and capturing prizes off the New England Coast, and some in the northern waters, Bonnet 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, and began whispering amongst themselves. During the increasing hostilities, Bonnet dropped anchor in the Bay of Honduras, where he met up with the Queen Annes Revenge, along with her captain, the fearsome Edward Teach, nicknamed "Blackbeard". The two quickly befriended each other, and this strange duo, a veteran and an amateur decided to cruise together.

This alliance however, soon proved a big mistake on the part of Bonnet. Teach became aware of his inexperience, and invited Bonnet aboard the Queen Annes Revenge, where Bonnet became pretty much a prisoner. Teach 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, and to transfer himself to the more comfortable and spacious quarters of the Queen Annes Revenge. There was little Bonnet could do or say, and soon one of Blackbeards lieutenants, by the name of Richards, took over command of the Revenge, and quickly stifled the threat of mutiny by imposing stern discipline, and gaining the crews confidence.

Eventually Bonnet convinced Blackbeard to allow him to command the Revenge again. Soon after, the two parted, and 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 Bonnets desire for Piracy, and he continued to scour the sea for vessels 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 was then judge of the Vice-Admiralty Court, sentenced Bonnet to death on the gallows. He was hanged for piracy on December 10, 1718.

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