The Republic Of Pirates

The infamous “Republic of Pirates” was a stronghold for a group of former privateers turned lawless marauders, operating in Nassau on New Providence Island during the Golden Age of Piracy.

Governed by an unwritten code, the crews of these pirate ships held democratic elections to determine their leaders and maintained a certain level of cordiality with other pirate groups. This notorious organization wreaked havoc on trade and shipping in the West Indies, until a new Royal Governor, Woodes Rogers, arrived in Nassau in 1718.

Rogers, a former privateer himself, offered amnesty to the pirates, known as the “King’s Pardon”. Many accepted this offer, and though a small number returned to piracy, British control over the Bahamas was ultimately re-established. The era of piracy in the Bahamas began with the arrival of privateer Henry Avery and his ship, the Fancy, loaded with loot from attacking Indian trade ships, in Nassau harbor in 1696. Avery bribed Governor Nicholas Trott with gold, silver, and the Fancy, which still held 50 tons of elephant tusks and 100 barrels of gunpowder.

This established Nassau as a safe haven for pirates, despite the attempts of various governors to suppress their activities. The situation on the island escalated when a combined Franco-Spanish fleet attacked Nassau in 1703 and 1706, effectively leaving the island without any English government presence.

This vacuum of power was filled by English privateers who gradually became completely lawless pirates. Over time, the pirates established their own republic with governors and controlled Nassau, attacking French and Spanish ships and repelling several attempts by these countries to retake the island. The War of the Spanish Succession officially ended in 1713, but many British privateers were slow to accept it and turned to piracy instead.

Famous pirate leaders of the republic included Benjamin Hornigold and Henry Jennings, who mentored the likes of Edward Teach, “Blackbeard”, Sam Bellamy, Stede Bonnet, Charles Vane, “Calico” Jack Rackham, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read. The republic, known as the Flying Gang, became infamous for their attacks and at their peak, commanded a fleet capable of taking on the Royal Navy.

The scale of the piracy led to calls for its suppression and eventually, George I appointed Woodes Rogers as Governor of the Bahamas with the mandate to bring an