The Book of Welsh Pirates & Buccaneers

The Book of Welsh Pirates
by T.D.Breverton

Paperback 388 pages

ISBN 1903529093

Price 17.99

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This is the third of Terry Breverton’s books to be chosen by the Welsh Books Council for its ‘Book of the Month’ promotion. Wales can not only boast the most successful buccaneer in history, Admiral Sir Henry Morgan, but also the most successful pirate, ‘Black Bart’ Roberts. We have records of Roberts taking over 400 ships in two years, from the African coast to South America, from the West Indies to Newfoundland. He was ‘the last and most lethal pirate’, known across the oceans as ‘The Great Pirate’. Hywel (Howell) Davis, also from Black Bart’s Pembrokeshire, was the captain who turned Roberts to piracy. Research showed Davis to be perhaps the most cunning of all the sea rovers, a duplicitous yet brave rogue, ‘The Cavalier Prince of Pirates’, whose story deserves a film by Spielberg. We can also add ‘the most dangerous Pyrate in the realm’, Tintern’s John Callice of the 16th century, Henry VIII’s bastard son Sir John Perrot, and Sir Henry Mainwaring, the 17th century’s ‘most famous sea-rover of his day’ to the list of great pirates and buccaneers who are hardly known to history.

In the 17th century, Esquemeling, a prime source, fought with the buccaneers under Admiral Morgan, and reported his ventures in cutting across Panama. For “The Golden Age of Piracy” in the early 18th century, we have court records, trial proceedings, shipping movements etc., and can corroborate the stories of our Welsh pirates. Daniel Defoe, under the pseudonym Charles Johnson, talked to ex-pirates who knew Black Bart and Hywel Davis. Defoe’s account of the Caribbean pirates is a brilliant evocation of the times as well as the facts. Snelgrave (captured by Davis) and Atkins (who tended Robert’s injured men) wrote at first-hand about the great days of piracy. Another Welsh buccaneer, Llewellin (William) Williams, was captured by the Spanish, marooned, wrote America’s first novel (The Journal of Llewellin Penrose - Seaman), and taught America’s most famous artist, Benjamin West, to paint!


Black Bart Pennant Black Bart Pennant

The picture above shows Black Bart’s personal pennants, with the skulls of the governors of Barbados and Martinique (ABH and AMH). He was a teetotaller, who dressed in red silk from head to toe, wore a great diamond cross looted from a Portuguese man-of-war, and ordered his musicians to play hymns on a Sunday. Black Bart Roberts virtually brought transatlantic shipping to a standstill, while commanding crews made up of freed slaves, many nationalities and senior pirates who called themselves ‘The House of Lords’. These were amazing, exciting times, and hopefully this book brings them back to life.


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