Better Know a Pirate: Black Bart

Bartholomew Roberts, byname Black Bart, was the pirate captain of a succession of ships the “Royal Rover,” “Fortune,” “Royal Fortune,” and “Good Fortune” who burned and plundered ships from the coasts of West Africa to the coasts of Brazil and the Caribbean and as far north as Newfoundland. His conquests are said to have included more than 400 vessels and, in terms of sheer numbers, are rivaled only by the feats of Sir Henry Morgan.

Roberts took to piracy late, after the age of 37, but he quickly rose to captaincy. He even designed a flag for himself, portraying a giant figure of himself standing, sword in hand, astride two skulls labeled A.B.H. (“a Barbadian’s head”) and A.M.H. (“a Martinican’s head”). He was finally felled by grapeshot in battle with a pursuing British warship off the Guinea coast of Africa.

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