Famous Pirate Ships

Three boats with flags on a river.
Jack Taylor / Getty Images

During the so-called "Golden Age of Piracy," thousands of pirates, buccaneers, corsairs, and other scurvy sea dogs worked the seas, robbing merchantmen and treasure fleets. Many of these men, such as Blackbeard, "Black Bart" Roberts, and Captain William Kidd became very famous, and their names are synonymous with piracy. But what of their pirate ships? Many of the ships these men used for their dark deeds became as famous as the men who sailed them. Here are a few famous pirate ships.

of 07

Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge

Edward "Blackbeard" Teach was one of the most feared pirates in history. In November 1717, he captured La Concorde, a massive French ship used to transport enslaved people. He refitted the Concorde, mounting 40 cannons on board and renaming her Queen Anne's Revenge. With a 40-cannon warship, Blackbeard ruled the Caribbean and the eastern coast of North America. In 1718, the Queen Anne's Revenge ran aground and was abandoned. In 1996 searchers found a sunken ship they believe to be the Queen Anne's Revenge in the waters off of North Carolina: some items including a bell and an anchor are on display in local museums.

of 07

Bartholomew Roberts’ Royal Fortune

Bartholomew "Black Bart" Roberts was one of the most successful pirates of all time, capturing and looting hundreds of ships over a three-year career. He went through several flagships during this time, and he tended to name them all Royal Fortune. The largest Royal Fortune was a 40-cannon behemoth manned by 157 men and it could slug it out with any Royal Navy ship of the time. Roberts was aboard this ​Royal Fortune when he was killed in battle against the Swallow in February 1722.

of 07

Sam Bellamy’s Whydah

In February 1717, pirate Sam Bellamy captured the Whydah (or Whydah Gally), a large British ship used to transport enslaved people. He was able to mount 28 cannons on her and for a short while terrorized Atlantic shipping lanes. The pirate Whydah did not last long, however: it was caught up in a horrendous storm off of Cape Cod in April 1717, barely two months after Bellamy first captured her. The wreck of the Whydah was discovered in 1984 and thousands of artifacts have been recovered, including the ship's bell. Many of the artifacts are on display in a museum in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

of 07

Stede Bonnet’s Revenge

Major Stede Bonnet was a most unlikely pirate. He was a wealthy plantation owner from Barbados with a wife and family when suddenly, at about the age of 30, he decided to become a pirate. He is probably the only pirate in history to ever buy his own ship: in 1717 he outfitted a ten-gun sloop he named the Revenge. Telling the authorities he was going to get a privateering license, he instead went pirate immediately upon leaving the harbor. After losing a battle, the Revenge met up with Blackbeard, who used it for a while as Bonnet "rested." Betrayed by Blackbeard, Bonnet was captured in battle and executed on December 10, 1718.

of 07

Captain William Kidd’s Adventure Galley

In 1696, Captain William Kidd was a rising star in seafaring circles. In 1689 he had captured a large French prize while sailing as a privateer, and he later married a wealthy heiress. In 1696, he convinced some wealthy friends to fund a privateering expedition. He outfitted the Adventure Galley, a 34-gun monster, and went into the business of hunting French vessels and pirates. He had little luck, however, and his crew forced him to turn pirate not long after he set sail. Hoping to clear his name, he returned to New York and turned himself in, but he was hanged anyway.

of 07

Henry Avery’s Fancy

In 1694, Henry Avery was an officer onboard the Charles II, an English ship in service to the King of Spain. After months of poor treatment, the sailors on board were ready to mutiny, and Avery was ready to lead them. On May 7, 1694, Avery and his fellow mutineers took over the Charles II, renamed her the Fancy and went pirate. They sailed to the Indian Ocean, where they struck it big: in July 1695 they captured the Ganj-i-Sawai, the treasure ship of the Grand Moghul of India. It was one of the largest scores ever made by pirates. Avery sailed back to the Caribbean where he sold off most of the treasure: he then disappeared from history but not from popular legend.

of 07

George Lowther’s Delivery

George Lowther was a second mate on board the Gambia Castle, a mid-sized English Man of War when she sailed for Africa in 1721. The Gambia Castle was bringing a garrison to a fortress on the African coast. When they arrived, the soldiers found that their accommodations and provisions were unacceptable. Lowther had fallen out of favor with the captain and convinced the unhappy soldiers to join him in mutiny. They took over the Gambia Castle, renamed her Delivery, and set out to engage in piracy. Lowther had a relatively long career as a pirate and eventually traded the Delivery for a more seaworthy ship. Lowther died marooned on a desert island after losing his ship.​

mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Minster, Christopher. "Famous Pirate Ships." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/famous-pirate-ships-2136286. Minster, Christopher. (2020, August 27). Famous Pirate Ships. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/famous-pirate-ships-2136286 Minster, Christopher. "Famous Pirate Ships." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/famous-pirate-ships-2136286 (accessed June 9, 2023).