Olivier La Buse

Olivier La Buse — also known as Louis Labous, La Bouse, La Bouche, La Buze, and Olivier Levasseur — was the leading French captain of the pirate republic in the Bahamas, and one of the most successful pirates of the Golden Age of Piracy. He is often said to have been born in Calais, although there seems to be little evidence for this.

La Buse first appears in English records in early 1716, when he was the captain of the pirate sloop Postillion an operating in consort with Benjamin Hornigold and Sam Bellamy. Most of the crew of the Postillion and La Buse’s subsequent commands were French, but this did not prevent him from assisting and collaborating with English-domianted pirate crews. After weeks of successful cruising in the vicinity of Cuba, La Buse and Bellamy had a falling out with Hornigold, abandoning him to embark on a successful cruise to the Eastern Caribbean together in the fall and early winter of 1716. The two appear to have remained close partners and allies.

In January 1717, off the coast of South America, La Buse’s company decided to go solo, apparently intending to capture a large “ship of force.” He appeared seven months later off the New England coast in command of a 26-gun ship crewed by some 200 men, making La Buse one of the most formidable pirates at the time. He captured several small vessels crossing the Gulf of Maine before vanishing for several months. It is possible that he was the pirate who built a fortified base in Machias, Maine and raided vessels off Newfoundland, actions falsely attributed to Sam Bellamy by Captain Charles Johnson, the author of the General History of the Pyrates, a hypothesis put forwards by Colin Woodward while researching the Republic Of Pirates. .

In June 1718, La Bous lost his ship and barely avoided being captured by Captain Francis Hume of the HMS Scarborough at La Blanquilla in the Eastern Caribbean. Escaping with 60 men in a small sloop, he eventually migrated to West Africa, where, in early 1719, he was voted captain of large pirate ship. Another refugee from the Caribbean, Paulsgrave Williams, served as his quartermaster in this period. La Bous outlived most of his colleagues and had a long and generally prosperous career in West Africa and the Indian Ocean until his capture, in 1730, by French authorities on the island of Reunion. His grave is a popular tourist site there.

By Tonton Bernardo - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18323964
By Tonton Bernardo – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,