Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Stede Bonnet- A Gentleman Pirate?


Stede Bonnet a gentleman pirate? The answer today would be no. He was a rich man who turned to crime. Bonnet's parents owned four hundred acres, a sizeable estate, near Bridgetown, Barbados. Stede's father died when he was the tender age of six, leaving his wealth and estate to his young son. Stede Bonnet married Mary Allamby in 1709 when he was twenty-one years old. They had four children, three boys, and a girl. But early in 1717, Bonnet decided to give up his life in Bridgetown and turn to a life of pirating. He walked away from his wife of eight years and his four children, never to see them again. Nothing gentlemanly about that. No, he gained his title of the gentleman pirate because he was rich, thus considered a gentleman, when he turned to pirating.

By Geo. S. Harris and Sons - This file was donated to Wikimedia Commons as part of a project by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. See the Image and Data Resources Open Access Policy, CC0,

Stede actually knew nothing about sailing or pirating. He hired a shipyard to build him the Revenge, a ten gun, sixty-foot sloop. He then hired men who were capable and knowledgeable to achieve his goal--pirating. It's said that Stede was bookish and rather odd. He hired a quartermaster and officer, who he relied heavily upon. He wasn't liked much by his crew due to his lack of leadership and perhaps his oddness. That very trait of not being like everyone else may have been why Bonnet chose to pay his pirates differently or it may just have been part of Bonnet's upbringing followed him into pirating, but he didn't split the plunder with his crew. Instead, he paid them wages. Something that was not seen in pirating.

His first venture into pirating took him up to the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia. Bonnet captured and blundered four vessels, burning one of them to keep the news of his new profession from reaching home. After leaving Virginia, he traveled further north to New York, where he overtook two more ships. He then set sail south to the Carolina's where he managed to plunder another two ships. 

                                                  Public Domain,

By September Bonnet headed to the famous pirate's den, Nausau. But on the way they spotted a Spanish man-o-war and attacked. That didn't end as he had hoped.  On top of heavy damage to the Revenge, the encounter left half of his crew either dead or wounded. Bonnet was severely injured. But Bonnet was not to be discouraged. Once on Nassau, he replaced the men he'd lost and refitted the Revenge and set sale with his now twelve-gun sloop.

It wasn't long after this that the crew and Bonnet encountered Edward Teach aka Blackbeard. The crew pleaded with Blackbeard to take over the sloop from the unstable Bonnet. Blackbeard, newly on the scene of pirating, obliged and even allowed Bonnet to stay on board. 

The two went on pirating the seas, and in November they attacked the Concorde, a much larger ship. Blackbeard liked the vessel and took it over, renaming it Queen-Ann's Revenge. No longer needing Bonnet or his sloop, Blackbeard set off on his own. 

                          By Charles Johnson -, Public Domain,                                                                         

Before long Stede found himself in trouble again when he attacked a well-armed merchant ship. Like before, he had to tuck-tale and leave. Several months later they were to encounter Blackbeard once again. His crew, pretty disheartened with their leader, took the opportunity of begging Blackbeard to take over. And as he had the previous time, Blackbeard obliged them and took charge of the Revenge, putting one of his men in Bonnet's place and had Bonnet stay with him on the Queen-Anne's Revenge. 

In early spring, the Queen-Ann ran aground. Blackbeard sent Bonnet with some of the men to arrange a pardon for the pirates. Bonnet was able to secure the pardons, however, when he returned, he discovered that he'd been double-crossed by Blackbeard. Teach had sailed off with the loot.

Never quitting, Bonnet set off in the Revenge and rescued the other pirates that Blackbeard had stranded. They continued pirating through September of 1618 until the fateful day they ran into a patrol of pirate bounty hunters led by Colonel William Rhett. Bonnet and his crew were taken and then sent to Charleston where they were put on trial and found guilty. His men were hung on November 8th and 13th. Bonnet tried for clemency but in the end, he too was hung. On December 10th, at the age of thirty, Stede Bonnet died.

Many pirates chose their profession because of lack of jobs, hunger, and lack of money. But Stede Bonnet had money, an estate, and a family. He chose the life he did some say to get away from a nagging wife. Whatever his reason for leaving, Stede Bonnet was no gentleman.

A broken heart, a controlling father, and an intrusive Scot leave Charlotte Jackson reeling. Accused of stealing an heirloom pin, she must choose between an unwanted marriage and the ruin of her family name. With the futures of her three younger sisters at stake, as well as her own reputation, Charlotte must navigate through injustice to find forgiveness and true happiness.

Eager to find the traitor who caused the death of his brother, Duncan Mackenzie comes to America and attempts to fit in with Charleston society. But when the headstrong Charlotte catches his eye, Duncan takes on a second mission—acquiring the lass's hand. After being spurned several times, he uses unconventional ways of winning her heart.

Debbie Lynne Costello is the author of Sword of Forgiveness, Amazon's #1 seller for Historical Christian Romance. She has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She writes in the medieval/renaissance period as well as 19th century. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina with their 4 horses, 3 dogs, a miniature donkey, and 7 1/2 pekin ducks.


  1. Good morning, Debbie Lynne! Thank you for posting. Before this, when I thought of pirates, I didn't think about them patrolling our rivers for ships to mistake!! And I never noticed before that you have 7 1/2 ducks?! Is there a story there I've missed all this time? Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  2. Hey Connie! It's crazy the background that some of these pirates came from. They were not very nice people. LOL. Contrary to Pirates of the Caribbean belief. I have a baby duck (at the moment) they grow fast so that 1/2 will turn to 8 shortly. She is living indoors with us at the moment because it's too cold outside for her since the young ones can't regulate their body temps. She's a sweety but very messy. I have her in a portacrib!