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John Watling, a/k/a George Watling, was an
English pirate in the 17th century. His headquarters were located on the island
of San Salvador, named by Columbus in 1492, but John renamed it Watling Island.
In January 1681, a mutiny against Captain Bartholomew Sharp made him the leader
of the buccaneers aboard the Most Holy Trinity.
Many more pirates haunted the islands of The Bahamas visiting their favorite places like today's tourists.
Scottish sailor and pirate William Kidd anchored mostly in Elizabeth Harbour on Exuma and William Catt choose to rest on Cat Island, just east of Long Island, supposedly burying all of his crooked treasures.
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Choose one of the Disney hit movies of the Pirates of the Caribbean.
Calico Jack's black flag with scull and the crossed cutlasses was used as Pearl's pirate flag in Disney's classy action movie Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.
The Bahamas was a real paradise and save haven for pirates and privateers from the late 1600's to the early 1700's. There was little distinction between these fierce marauders as privateers simply carried a license called 'Letter of Marque' issued by a government; which made no difference to those victims whose ships were plundered. Privateers were beneficial to the crown's interests as they mostly targeted merchant ships supplying its enemies. Unfortunately for the royals, many privateers turned into piracy as potential profit increased by attacking the crowns own fleet.
Pirates and privateers are an integral part of the history of The Bahamas. The rampages of Edward Teach alias Blackbeard, Sir Henry Morgan, John Rackham alias Calico Jack and their female counterparts, Anne Bonny and Mary Read are well documented. However, to distinguish facts from legends is, in many cases, impossible. There is little information on the pirates activities in the out-islands. Traditionally, the rogues anchored their ships in the shallow waters to clean and repair the hulls or simply to rest and relax from the last battle.
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Born around 1635 in Llanrumney, Glamorgan, Admiral Sir Henry Morgan was a Welsh privateer. Morgan was one of the most notorious and dangerous pirates and he made a name in the Caribbean as a leader of the privateers. In late 1665, he commanded a ship on an expedition initiated by Sir Thomas Modyford, the governor of Jamaica, which seized the islands of Santa Catalina and Providence. His most spectacular raid, however, was his attack on Panama City in early 1671. Because he violated the peace treaty between England and Spain, Morgan was arrested and returned to England.
But instead of punishment, he was knighted in 1674 before returning to Jamaica to take the position of Lieutenant Governor. Morgan died in London on August 25, 1688. He was one of the few pirates 'retiring' from piracy with very little legal retribution. The highest point on the Bahamian island Andros is called Morgan's Bluff, a tribute to the famous buccaneer.
John Rackham, born in Bristol, England, in December 1682, was nicknamed Calico Jack for the striped pants and coat he wore. He was an English pirate captain in the early 17th century and made a living of capturing and plundering small vessels sailing close to shore.
His career as a pirate begun when he took over the 'Treasure' from Charles Vane, a fellow pirate. Calico Jack is most remembered for 'employing' Anne Bonny and Mary Read, two of the most notorious female pirates of the Golden Age of Piracy. In October 1720, Calico Jack's vessel was challenged by Captain Jonathan Barnet, one of Royal Governor Woodes Rodger's pirate hunters. Anne and Mary were trying to fend off the attackers while Calico Jack and his crew were hiding in the hold. They lost the battle and were captured and put on trial in Spanish Town, Jamaica, the following month. On November 18, 1720, Rackham was hanged, his body tarred and hanged in a cage. As a warning for other pirates, the body later was displayed on a small islet at the main entrance to Port Royal, Jamaica.