Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Buccaneers > Dutch Buccaneers > Yankey Willems

Yankey Willems


Yankey Williams (?? - 1688) also called Janke or Jan was a Dutch buccaneer that was based out of Petit-Goave and was one of the buccaneers involved in the raids on both Veracruz and Cartagena de Indias. Despite being Dutch he is known to have gotten his start working with Thomas Paine in 1680 while buccaneering at Rio de la Hacha.

By September of 1681 Williams was working with William Wright who sailed together to Bocas del Toro. Wright and Williams captured a Spanish merchant ship containing a cargo of tobacco and sugar while they were sailing off the coast of Columbia. Yankey took the captured Spanish barque as his new ship and gave his old ship to Wright. Wright burned his own ship and the two headed for the Dutch port of Curacao to sell their goods.

However, the Dutch governor refused to do business with the buccaneers and they were forced to leave. Next Williams and Wright sailed to the Isla Aves and the Islas Roques where they remained until February of 1682. It is believed that here Wright left buccaneering and went back to his home on Saint-Domingue. Yankey continued to buccaneer throughout the region and in 1683 was one of the attendees of the famous gathering of the Brethren of the Coast at Roatan.

Sack of Veracruz (1683)

See Sack of Veracruz (1683)

Next Williams was part of the 17 May raid in 1683 on the city of Veracruz along with fellow buccaneers Laurens de Graaf, Michel de Grammont, Nikolaas van Hoorn, and Michiel Andrieszoon. It was Yankey Williams and de Graaf that would take two Spanish galleons and sneak into the port where they landed their buccaneer force on the shore.

From there the buccaneers managed to take out the defenses of the city as most of the soldiers were still sleeping and the rest of the fleet entered the harbor. The buccaneers looted Veracruz for three to four days before retreating at the sight of the New Spain Fleet but not before kidnapping Spanish colonists to ransom back to the governor.

After an argument involving the Spanish hostages following the raid the group would break up as de Graaf and van Hoorn dueled over possible retaliation for the governor refusing to pay the ransom. After this Yankey met up again with de Graaf, Andrieszoon and Francois le Sage where they plundered Spanish merchants off the coast of Cartagena in late November of 1683. Yankee would be present when de Graaf launched the Blockade of Cartagena and Yankee was given de Graaf's flagship following the capture of the three Spanish warships.

Yankee was next involved in the raid on Campeche in 1685. He is believed to have died in the Gulf of Honduras in 1688.

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