Nikolaas van Hoorn
Nikolaas van Hoorn (1635 - 24 June 1683) also called Nicholas van Horn was a famous Dutch buccaneer and privateer. Little is known about his early life and he is first recorded in 1655 as working for the Dutch merchant navy until 1659. He then bought his own ship with the money he managed to save up and began a career of buccaneering.
In 1666 van Hoorn was granted a French commission to capture Spanish ships and he became very wealthy. It was expected that after the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle he would cease his actions but he did not. He soon plundered a French ship and they sent pirate hunter after him. The French tried to unsuccessfully capture van Hoorn in 1663 and from then on he no longer took French prizes.
His next exploit was the capture of several Spanish treasure galleons. After getting information that treasure laden galleons were waiting in the harbor of San Juan on the island of Puerto Rico. He came up with a plan where he approached the Spanish governor and told him about his recent problems with the French and his need for the protection of the Spanish.
The governor foolishly allowed van Hoorn to protect the fleet of treasure galleons as they left Puerto Rico and as soon as they were past the Antilles the flotilla that the buccaneer had waiting for them sprung into action and quickly capturing the unsuspecting galleons. The total haul was estimate at 2,000,000 livres or about $20 million for the entire prize. Following this he returned to England. In England he was recruited to take part of a trading expedition funded partially by the commander of Dover Castle that was to pick up goods in Cadiz and bring them to the Caribbean to trade.
By the end of 1682 van Hoorn arrived back in the West Indies. The expedition to Cadiz was in part to pick up slaves due to the Asiento that had been granted by the Spanish to the British. One of the merchants aboard the ship named Nicolas Porcio was the legal holder of the Asineto aboard the ship which allowed him the legal authority to buy slaves and sell them to the Spanish colonies in the New World. Porcio had promised van Hoorn that he would be granted the legal authority to sell slaves as well under the Asiento but when he was unable to deliver van Hoorn left the ship and became a buccaneer.
From here van Hoorn next raided the west coast of Africa where based on the testimonies of four of his crew his goal was to capture slaves to sell. These testimonies were taken by a naval officer at Port Royal named Reginald Wilson and sent to the governor of Jamaica named Thomas Lynch. They were then recorded for history in a letter dated 4 March 1683 that was addressed to William Blathwayt, the secretary of the committee for the Trade and the Plantations.
At this point the British authorities were full aware of has status and the fact that the Saint Nicholas's Day had broken with its British owners in England.
Van Hoorn was involved with the famous Sack of Veracruz by buccaneers in 1683 along with Laurens de Graaf, Michiel Andrieszoon and Michel de Grammont among many others. Following the sack and plunder of the city the buccaneers took four thousand prisoners with them back to the Isla de Sacrificios to be ransomed back to the Spanish governor. The governor chose not to acquiesce to the pirates demands so van Hoorn ordered the execution of twelve prisoners and sent their heads in response.
This infuriated de Graaf who after arguing with van Hoorn challenged him to a duel. The two fought and van Hoorn was injured by the shot and taken in chains back to the ship. Due to the lack of medicine in the 17th century the wound was soon infected and van Hoorn eventually succumbed to his wounds and died.