BLACK BART AND THE MANY ROYAL FORTUNES
Bartholomew Roberts (17 May 1682 – 10 February 1722), born John Roberts, was a Welsh pirate who raided ships off the Americas and West Africa between 1719 and 1722. He was the most successful pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy as measured by vessels captured, taking over 400 prizes in his career. He is also known as Black Bart (Welsh: Barti Ddu), but this name was never used in his lifetime.It was in early June 1720 that Roberts, in his sloop Fortune, went raiding along the Newfoundland coast, eventually capturing 22 merchant vessels in the harbour of Trepassey. One of the captured ships, a brig from Bristol was taken over by the pirates and fitted with 16 cannon and was used to replace the Fortune. In July, he captured a small fleet of French ships and moved his flag to one of them after fitting it out with 26 guns. She became known as the Good Fortune, but after repair and refitting, she was renamed Royal Fortune. Roberts had a passion for the name and this wasn’t the last ship of his to carry it.
Next was a 52-gun French warship which headed over to Africa for new raiding grounds. In April 1721 at Cape Verde, the latest Royal Fortune was found to be unsound, so Roberts moved to Sea King, which was promptly renamed, yes you guessed it, Royal Fortune. The fourth vessel to carry the name was the former HMS Onslow, captured off the coast of Liberia.
This was to be the ship that the legendary Black Bart was to die on. Along with his two other ships, he was spotted by the HMS Swallow, with her veteran captain, Chaloner Ogle. Drawing one of Roberts ships away on a ruse, then destroying it, the Swallow returned and battered the Royal Fortune into submission. The pirates were captured aand met various fates from prison to death. Captain Chaloner Ogle became the only man in the Royal Navy to get a knighthood for action against pirates. Bartholomew Rooberts was buried at sea by his crew as per his wishes. A legend had ended.