Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Bibliography > Pirate Primary Sources

Primary Sources


Bucaniers of America (1684-85)

Bucaniers of America (1684-85)

Primary sources are original documents, records and books that are contemporary to the period being examined. These are important to corroborate later research that can provide useful interpretation and analysis which are called secondary sources. There are not a lot of primary source accounts related to the pirates however, and most of the information is drawn from a few main central sources.


The Golden Age of Piracy spawned as much public imagination in its own time as it does now. Thus there have been countless books written about the period both historical and fiction.

Alexander Exquemelin

See Alexander Exquemelin

A General History of the Pyrates Second Edition (1724)

A General History of the Pyrates 1st Edition (1724)

The first major book about the buccaneering era was Alexander Exquemelin's work called De-Americaensche Zee-Rovers (1678) or translated to the 'Buccaneers of America' in English.

Captain Charles Johnson

See Captain Charles Johnson

The story of Blackbeard and the Post-Spanish Succession Period was told by the mysterious Captain Charles Johnson and as this is pseudonym no one really knows who published this fascinating account. Other primary source book authors at the time include Daniel Defoe who wrote about the infamous Henry Every. All of these authors were reprinted and plagiarized in all sorts of languages including English, French, German, Spanish, and Dutch.

Trial Documents

Tryals of Major Stede Bonet (1719)

Tryals of Major Stede Bonet (1719)

When famous pirates were arrested and placed on trial there were often unofficial records of the proceedings that were printed and sold to a captivated public. Records for the trials of pirates such as Stede Bonnet, Jack Rackham, Charles Vane, Anne Bonny, Mary Read, Willam Kidd and more are available and provide an interesting insight into the perspective of the colonial Admiralty courts.


During the period various newspapers and magazines published articles relating to the exploits of the pirates and the colonial officials who tried to stop them. Information regarding pirates and their trials, captures and misdeeds was available in old colonial newspapers.

Religious Sermons

Lastly, many religious officials at the time gave sermons against piracy that were an attempt to ward people away from the trade. Ministers like Cotton Mather gave fiery speeches denouncing piracy and its vices and how it was diametrically opposed to Christian values. In their sermons ministers often detailed the exploits of pirates and these give important primary source corroboration to many of the actions of the famous pirates.


Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

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