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Bartholomew Sharp


Bartholomew Sharp - Pirates of the Spanish Main (1888)

Bartholomew Sharp - Pirates of the Spanish Main (1888)

Bartholomew Sharp (1650 - 29 October 1702) was a famous English buccaneer and captain of the Trinity who engaged in the innovative buccaneer raid known as the Pacific Adventure along with John Coxon, Eduardo Blomar, Juan Guartem and the famous naturalist and explorer William Dampier.

Not much about his life is known and his story begins as a low level buccaneer aboard one of the many cruises around the West Indies circa 1679. When the buccaneer crew he was with needed a new captain he was elected to the position due to his leadership and sailing skills.

However, his captaincy was not to last long as he was removed from his position in January of 1681 because the buccaneers had grown impatient over waiting to plunder a Spanish town. The new captain was killed three weeks after the mutiny and Sharp was given back the command. After this the buccaneers led by Sharp went on to capture twenty-five Spanish ships and raided many Spanish coastal villages and towns.

Voyages and Adventures of Capt. Barth Sharp (1684)

Voyages of Capt. Barth Sharp (1684)

One of his most famous exploits is being the first English buccaneer to travel eastwards around the Cape Horn. Sharp was planning to navigate through the Strait of Magellan to return back to England but tropical storms blew the buccaneer off course and he had to navigate through Cape Horn. One of the best primary source accounts of this cruise comes from the book The Dangerous Voyage And Bold Assaults of Captain Bartholomew Sharp and Others that was written by Basil Ringrose and published in London in 1684.

Sharp was viewed by the Spanish as a pirate since the Buccaneering Era was drawing to a close and the practice was no longer viewed as legal by the various imperial powers per new treaties signed. Because the two empires were not at war Spain demanded England extradite him to face the criminal charges of piracy.

However, Sharp out negotiated the Spanish and gave the British and entire book of navigation maps that was taken from the Spanish ship the El Santo Rosario in July of 1681. Spanish maps were very valuable at this time because English cartography had not caught up yet. The maps were such a boost to British navigation that King Charles II granted him a pardon.

Following this Sharp moved to the Danish island of Saint Thomas. However, by 1700 he was in debt and forced to try and flee the Danish West Indies. However, he was captured by Danish authorities and sent to prison where he died two years later on 29 October of 1702.

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English Buccaneers

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Primary Sources

Ringrose, B. (1684). The Dangerous Voyage And Bold Assaults of Captain Bartholomew Sharp and Others. London.

Hacke, William (c. 1690) A Description of the Sea Coasts in the East Indies. Library of Congress.

Secondary Sources

Derek Howse and Norman J. W. Thrower (1992) A Buccaneer's Atlas. University of California Press.

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