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1635 - 1688

Henry Morgan became known as the most successful of all the privateers that operated with the consent of the British Parliament.

British ship owners were encouraged to attack Spanish, French and Dutch ships as long as they shared any treasures captured with the British Parliament and Royalty. As with Francis Drake 1542 - 1596, Henry Morgan was also sometimes referred to as a pirate.

Morgan was born during the reign of Charles I 1625 - 1649. By 1629, Charles I had dissolved parliament in an attempt to rule the country alone. He adopted a High Anglican form of worship and married a French catholic princess.

After trying to enforce his religious beliefs across England and Scotland, which many puritans saw as close to Catholicism, the parliamentarians (roundheads) rose against the king, this seeing the English Civil War break out in 1642.

Charles I was defeated by the parliamentarian leader Oliver Cromwell in 1648 and beheaded outside Banqueting House at Whitehall January 30th 1649. Oliver Cromwell then became Lord Protector of Britain until his death September 3rd 1658.

Morgan grew up during the civil war with many of his relatives fighting for Cromwell. After Cromwell became ruler of the country, in 1654, he sent an army led by General Venables to the Caribbean to attack the Spanish colonies. It was at that time Henry Morgan joined Venables forces and learned how to become a privateer.

Venables forces of over eight thousand men and many ships failed in their attempt to capture the Spanish stronghold of Santo Domingo so moved south to take control of the lightly defended island of Jamaica.

With this action seen as a total failure in England, Venables was thrown in the Tower of London on his return. Morgan had remained at Port Royal in Jamaica at that time where he worked on privateer ships based in the Caribbean.

In 1662, he captained one of the British ships that made a successful raid on the Spanish stronghold of Santiago de Cuba. Morgan again captained a ship in 1663/64 during the successful raids on San Francisco de Campeche, Hermosa, Trujillo and Granada.

After Morgan was made Colonel of the Port Royal Militia in 1666, he led successful attacks on the Spanish strongholds of Puerto del Principe on Cuba and Puerto Bello on the Northern coast of the Isthmus of Panama.

These raids captured over 250,000 pieces of eight and other treasures. In 1668, Morgan was instructed the Spanish were planning an attack on the British privateers based at Jamaica.

Henry Morgan image

Henry Morgan

In response, Morgan set out with three ships to attack the Spanish bases in the area. His attacks on Maracabo and Gibralter were met by little resistance, although they later met three Spanish Men-o-War ships at sea off Maracabo. The following battle saw one Spanish ship sunk, one fleeing the battle and the other captured.

In 1670, Morgan set out in command of 36 captains and 1800 men. They captured the small island of Old Providence, Fort San Lorenzo, and Panama City where they acquired over 400,000 pieces of eight.

During these attacks, the British and Spanish Governments had signed a piece treaty. Morgan was subsequently arrested in 1672 and sent back to Britain for questioning.

By 1675, Morgan had been Knighted and sent back to Jamaica to serve as Deputy Governor. He spent the rest of his life between this role and managing his sugar plantation.

The most successful privateer ‘ever’ died of an alcohol related illness August 25th 1688. He was buried in Palisadoes cemetery in Kingston/ Jamaica, which sank beneath the sea after the 1692 earthquake.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Morgan People List