21 Famous Pirates That Put Jack Sparrow To Shame

François L’Olonnais Famous Pirates

François L’Olonnais

François L’Olonnais was a French pirate who attacked ships and towns in the 1660s. His hatred for Spaniards was legendary and he was known for his cruelty toward Spanish prisoners of war. His savage life came to an equally savage end as he was captured, hacked to pieces, roasted over a fire, and reportedly eaten by a tribe of cannibals in the Gulf of Darien.

Bartholomew Roberts Famous Pirates

Bartholomew Roberts

Bartholomew Roberts was a young, handsome, and well-dressed pirate that did immensely well. Roberts actually captured more than 400 vessels during his career. Despite his incredible success, Roberts despised hedonism and did not allow gambling, female passengers, or excessive drinking. He died during a battle with the HMS Swallow, a British warship.

Henry Morgan Famous Pirates

Henry Morgan

Henry Morgan ruthlessly attacked a myriad of Spanish cities and ships in service of Jamaican Governor Sir Thomas Modyford. The resulting booty made Morgan an incredibly wealthy man. He was even eventually knighted and appointed Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica. However, Morgan died from complications of alcoholism.

Edward England

Edward England

Born Edward Seegar in Ireland around 1685, he called himself Edward England and was rumored to be an educated man. He originally served as a privateer during the War of the Spanish Succession. England then became a pirate after being captured by a private vessel where he was forced to join the crew. He later died of a tropical disease in 1721.

Anne Bonny Famous Pirates

Anne Bonny

Anne Bonny was Irish and married to a small-time pirate named James Bonney. The marriage was not happy, and Bonny left him for another pirate by the name of Calico Jack. Eventually, the lovebirds and Bonny's close friend and fellow female pirate Mary Read were apprehended by English forces. Bonny avoided execution by claiming to be pregnant.

Benjamin Hornigold Famous Pirates

Benjamin Hornigold

Benjamin Hornigold was a pirate that ran raids on cargo ships. His second-in-command was none other than Edward Teach, a notorious pirate who later became known as “Blackbeard.” In his later years, Hornigold became a pirate hunter and died in an unforeseen shipwreck.

Blackbeard Famous Pirates


Born Edward Teach, he served England as a privateer and later turned to piracy at the end of Queen Anne’s War. His savagery and violence attracted the attention of Virginia governor Alexander Spotswood. After locating the famed pirate, Spotswood organized an ambush for Blackbeard and hung his decapitated head to the bowsprit of the ship.

Calico Jack Famous Pirates

Calico Jack

Born John Rackham, he was known as “Calico Jack” due to the calico clothing he wore. Calico Jack was an English pirate that was famous for two reasons: his design of the famous Jolly Roger flag (a skull with two crossed swords) and for having two female pirates, Mary Read and Anne Bonny, on his crew. Calico Jack was tried, convicted, and sentenced to hang in 1720.

Cheung Po Tsai

Cheung Po Tsai

Cheng Po Tsai was just the son of a local fisherman when he was kidnapped by the notorious pirate couple Cheng I and Ching Shih, and adopted into a life of crime. According to legend, when Cheng I died, Cheng Po took up with his adoptive mother and married her, carrying on the family business of pillage and plunder. Later in life, Cheung Po joined the Qing government and became a government official.

Ching Shih

Ching Shih

Ching Shih was a Chinese prostitute that worked on a floating brothel in Canton, China, in 1775. Shih met and then married Zheng Yi who was a powerful and wealthy pirate. After his death, she assumed power and became the world’s first female pirate lord with over 80,000 ships under her command.

Edward Low

Edward Low

Edward Low in his youth was a thief, a gambler, and a thug. Soon Low turned to a life of piracy, and he and his men captured and robbed dozens of vessels on a number of coasts. Low developed a reputation for cruelty and ruthlessness. He is believed to have been executed by hanging.

Hayedin Barbarossa

Hayreddin Barbarossa

Hayreddin Barbarossa began his naval career as a pirate, alongside his brothers, raiding Christian coastal villages and seizing ships across the Mediterranean. Barbarossa was so successful that he managed to become the ruler of Algiers, and even the chief admiral of the Ottoman Turkish navy under Suleiman the Magnificent.

Mary Read Famous Pirates

Mary Read

Mary Read was the best mate of Anne Bonny. She had a long history of cross-dressing as a man for the majority of her life and even successfully joined the British military as a man called Mark Read. She was eventually captured in the same battle as Bonny and Calico Jack. She managed to avoid execution due to pregnancy, but she died later in her prison cell due to disease.

Queen Teuta Of Illyria Bust

Queen Teuta Of Illyria

Queen Teuta of Illyria was one of the earliest recorded instances of a pirate queen. She utilized piracy as a means of controlling her kingdom. However, it eventually fell to Roman rule and any mention of Queen Teuta of Illyria was lost to history.

Samuel Bellamy

Samuel Bellamy

Born to a poor English family in 1689, Bellamy joined the British navy at age 13. Bellamy later turned to a life of piracy, gathering a crew, acquiring a couple of sailing canoes, and heading out into the open seas. He had a real knack for the work as Bellamy captured more than 50 ships from 1716 to 1717. That same year, he died during a storm in a tragic shipwreck.

Sir Francis Drake

Sir Francis Drake

Francis Drake participated in a number of English slaving voyages to Africa and earned a reputation for his piracy against Spanish ships and possessions. Sent by Queen Elizabeth II to South America in 1577, he returned home via the Pacific and became the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe. The queen later rewarded him with a knighthood.

Stede Bonnet Being Executed

Stede Bonnet

Stede Bonnet was a retired British army major with a large sugar plantation in Barbados. Tired of his nagging wife, he abandoned her, his children, land, and fortune, bought a ship and turned to piracy on the high seas. His crew and fellow pirates judged him to be an inept captain. Bonnet’s adventures earned him the nickname “the Gentleman Pirate,” and he later died by execution.

William Kidd Famous Pirates

William Kidd

Captain William Kidd was a British sea captain during the 17th century. In 1695, he was given a royal charter by the British government to apprehend any pirates that molested the ships of the East India Company. However, as the tide turned against any form of piracy, Kidd was later executed for being a pirate himself.

Yermak Timofeyevich

Yermak Timofeyevich

Yermak Timofeyevich was the leader of an expeditionary force during Russia’s initial attempt to annex a part of Siberia. He was successful and ruled over the unruly region. He later died in battle as resistance forces began to overthrow the Russian yoke.



Largely considered to be a legend, Awilda was the daughter of a fifth-century Scandinavian King. Refusing to marry her father’s choice of husband, Awilda ran off and became a pirate. The King of Denmark sent a ship manned by the crown prince to bring back Awilda. The prince fought with such valor that Awilda agreed to wed. The pair soon married and became King and Queen of Denmark.

Henry Every Famous Pirates

Henry Every

During just two years prowling the seas, Henry Every and his band captured roughly a dozen vessels and made off with tens of millions of dollars in booty. However, what's most impressive is that he did it all without ever getting captured or killed.


  1. Thomas Jefferson, our 3rd President, referred to the English as a "Nation of Pirates"; moreover, being amply represented in this article.

  2. You should have made that 22, and included Jeanne de Clisson. She was awesome! The Lioness of Brittany.


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