Friday, April 18, 2014

The Value of a Pirate

How much did Alexander Spotswood, Governor of Virginia, offer as bounty for the capture of the lowliest member of Blackbeard's crew?

A buck an ear!

Seriously, the following rewards were offered by Governor Spotswood in November, 1718 to "every Person or Persons" who "shall take any Pyrate, or Pyrates, on the Sea or Land, or in case of Resistance, shall kill any such Pyrate, or Pyrates between the Degrees of thirty four, and thirty nine, of Northern Latitude, & within one hundred Leagues of the Continent of Virginia, or within the Provinces of Virginia or North Carolina":
  • For every private Man taken on Board a Pyrate ship, Sloop, or Vessel....£10
  • For every "inferior officer"....£15
  • For every Lieutenant, Master, or Quartermaster, Boatswain, or Carpenter....£20
  • For every Commander of a Pyrate Ship, Sloop, or Vessel [except, see next]....£40
  • For Edward Teach, commonly called Captain Teach, or Blackbeard....£100
This was pursuant to a Proclamation "Given at our Council Chamber at Williamsburgh, this 24th Day of November, 1718, in the fifth Year of his Majesty's Reign. GOD SAVE THE KING. A. Spotswood"

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a reprint of a 1948 article about the Mail Boat Aleta, "Boat Hauls Mail, More." You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous11:11 AM

    A buck an ear, huh? Wonder whether you were able to type that with a straight face. It brought a smile to mine. Hah!

    You should sell tickets!

    I've said it before--thanks, as always.


    The detail about the bounties was equally engaging.

  2. Anonymous2:24 AM

    Very interesting! Wherever did you find such rare historical records? hellowasn't aware that such records still existed weresuchm curious to know the source of your research.

  3. Anonymous2:40 AM

    Oh these smartphones--the only part that made sense was
    it was very interesting,
    I was surprised such records exist and curious to know your source

    1. The source for my information is Capt. Charles Johnson's 1724 book, "A General History of the Pyrates." In it Johnson reproduces a document titled: "By his Majesty's Lieutenant Governor, and Commander in Chief, of the Colony and Dominion of Virginia, A PROCLAMATION Publishing the Rewards Given for Apprehending, or Killing Pyrates."

    2. Many thanks

  4. Anonymous6:43 PM

    A buck an ear? Too much to pay for corn.