Once upon a time, in Little Newcastle, West Wales, there lived a guy called John Roberts. John made an insignifant impact on his village, in the eleven years he spent growing up there, in the late sixteen hundreds. However, when he left to work on a royal naval ship, he soon escalated to remarkable fame. Held in utmost regard by all that cruised the dark side of the seven seas, John Robert’s legacy became more extraordinary than anyone in his small home county of Pembrokeshire could have dared imagine!
It all began when, one day, His Majesty’s royal ship, on which John was aboard, was attacked by terrible pirates. The captain among them was Howell Davies of Milford Haven, a notorious sailor among thieves who had once lived not more than twenty miles from John Robert’s own home.
So, John was quick to take advantage of this opportunity….
Rather than be enslaved or killed, he made himself useful and trustworthy to Captain Howell.
In a very little time John was right-hand man to the captain, and having learned the ropes over the years John Roberts earned his living on the wrong side of the law and the right side of the wind.
John’s navigational skills proved to be excellent, and he sailed with Howell as a pirate for some years. Later on, at the time of Captain Howell’s passing, John Robert’s never-ending legacy begins.
He was Immediately voted in as the new captain by the crew, and he is to be known as Barti Ddu in Welsh, or Black Bart in English. Respected, sharp and eloquent, Barti Ddu is set to become arguably the greatest pirate who ever lived.
Despite everything, He was clever, and strangely kind even if he captured over four hundred ships during the course of his reign! The first to fly the Jolly Roger flag, “A merry life but a short one” was his carefree moto and outlook on life.
The men valued Barti in the highest esteem, and he invented the pirate code where by every man on board should have equal share of all bounty.
So, even Pirates had their rules. Ranking among history’s most successful pirates is probably Barti Ddu.
Some might seem remarkably progressive to modern readers, it’s true?
If you’d been onboard Roberts’ vessel, the Royal Fortune, would you agree to them?
1. Rock the Vote
“Every man has a vote in affairs of moment; has equal title to the fresh provisions, or strong liquors, at any time seized, and may use them at pleasure, unless a scarcity (not an uncommon thing among them) makes it necessary, for the good of all, to vote a retrenchment.”
2. Be Smart: Don’t Steal from Pirates
“Every man to be called fairly in turn, by list, on board of prizes because, (over and above their proper share) they were on these occasions allowed a shift of clothes: but if they defrauded the company to the value of a dollar in plate, jewels, or money, marooning was their punishment. If the robbery was only betwixt one another, they contented themselves with slitting the ears and nose of him that was guilty, and set him on shore, not in an uninhabited place, but somewhere, where he was sure to encounter hardships.”
3. Gambling’s for landlubbers
“No person to game at cards or dice for money.”
4. Mind the Curfew
“The lights and candles to be put out at eight o’clock at night: if any of the crew, after that hour still remained inclined for drinking, they were to do it on the open deck.”
5. Keep Battle-Ready
“To keep their piece, pistols, and cutlass clean and fit for service.”
6. Never Bring Your Date Home
“No boy or woman to be allowed amongst them. If any man were to be found seducing any of the latter sex, and carried her to sea, disguised, he was to suffer death; (so that when any fell into their hands, as it chanced in the Onslow, they put a sentinel immediately over her to prevent ill consequences from so dangerous an instrument of division and quarrel; but then here lies the roguery; they contend who shall be sentinel, which happens generally to one of the greatest bullies, who, to secure the lady’s virtue, will let none lie with her but himself.)”
7. Stand by Your Hearties
“To desert the ship or their quarters in battle, was punished with death or marooning.”
8. Settle Disputes Onshore (with Pistols & Cutlasses, of Course)
“No striking one another on board, but every man’s quarrels to be ended on shore, at sword and pistol. (The quarter-master of the ship, when the parties will not come to any reconciliation, accompanies them on shore with what assistance he thinks proper, and turns the disputant back to back, at so many paces distance; at the word of command, they turn and fire immediately (or else the piece is knocked out of their hands). If both miss, they come to their cutlasses, and then he is declared the victor who draws the first blood.)”
9. Lose a Limb, Get Worker’s comp
“No man to talk of breaking up their way of living, till each had shared one thousand pounds. If in order to this, any man should lose a limb, or become a cripple in their service, he was to have eight hundred dollars, out of the public stock, and for lesser hurts, proportionately.” NOTE: Pieces of eight weren’t just for pirates. These Spanish coins once enjoyed widespread international use & were even accepted as legal tender in the U.S. until 1857.
10. Remember: Rank Has its Privileges
“The Captain and Quartermaster to receive two shares of a prize: the master, boatswain, and gunner, one share and a half, and other officers one and quarter.”
11. Give the Band a Break
“The musicians to have rest on the Sabbath Day, but the other six days and nights, none without special favour.”