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A portrait of the imagined obese Bonnet.

Stede Bonnet aka Gentleman Pirate

Let's dive into some fascinating tidbits about the peculiar pirate, Stede Bonnet:

  1. Midlife Crisis on the High Seas: Stede Bonnet is often referred to as the "Gentleman Pirate" because he was a wealthy landowner with no maritime experience before he turned to piracy. Imagine trading tea parties for treasure hunts!

  2. Retail Pirate: Unlike many pirates who seized their ships, Bonnet bought his vessel, the "Revenge," outright. It’s a bit like buying a supercar today to impress your friends.

  3. Domestic Disputes: Rumors swirl that his decision to become a pirate was less about adventure and more about escaping a nagging wife. Talk about choosing the devil you don't know!

  4. Learning from the Best: Bonnet's lack of seafaring skills led him to join forces with the notorious pirate Blackbeard. However, it became quickly apparent that Blackbeard was using Bonnet, relegating the "Gentleman Pirate" to a guest-like status on his own ship.

  5. Bookish Buccaneer: Even after turning to piracy, Bonnet retained his love for reading. His ship had a relatively vast library, which was unique among pirate vessels.

  6. Pirate's Demise: After a series of mishaps and a rough partnership with Blackbeard, Bonnet was captured and tried for piracy. His defense? Pleading insanity, claiming that he turned to piracy due to his troublesome wife. The court wasn’t convinced, and he was hanged in 1718.

  7. Fashion Forward: Most pirates had a particular style or trademark. Bonnet was known to wear a nightcap, which wasn't the most intimidating pirate accessory but surely added to his unique persona.

  8. A Pirate’s Redemption: Before his execution, Bonnet wrote letters to beg for clemency. While his pleas were denied, it’s said that he showed genuine remorse for his actions, which was a rarity among pirates.

So, the next time you think of fearsome pirates, remember Stede Bonnet – the gentleman who chose the pirate's life, not for gold or glory, but perhaps just for a change of pace... and peace of mind!


Stede Bonnet: The Gentleman Pirate Who Swapped Books for Buccaneers

Ah, the whimsical waters of the early 18th century Caribbean! A time when the sun glinted off golden doubloons, parrots were the preferred shoulder accessory, and the smell of rum hung as heavy in the air as a tropical storm. Yet, amongst this wild and raucous backdrop, there sailed an enigma, an unexpected player in the piratical theatre - Stede Bonnet.

Stede wasn’t your average, rum-guzzling buccaneer. Picture, if you will, a man in his plush library, engrossed in a Dickensian tome, occasionally adjusting his monocle. Now imagine this man deciding, in a fit of what can only be termed an early midlife crisis, to become a pirate. Yes, our man Stede Bonnet was previously a gentleman of some standing, a retired British army major with an estate in Barbados. But the sedate life of afternoon teas and dignified debate wasn't quite enough to quell the adventurer's itch in his britches.

So, how does a man with no sailing experience whatsoever take to the high seas? Well, rather than capturing a ship in true pirate fashion, Bonnet did the next best thing - he bought one. Naming it the 'Revenge', it was akin to a lad from the city buying a sports car, albeit one fitted with cannons.

But every narrative has its antagonist. In Bonnet's tale, it was not a naval officer or rival pirate but rather gout and marital discord. Legend has it that the man fled to piracy not for gold or glory but to escape a particularly nagging wife. One might say he chose the gallows over the ball and chain.

Our greenhorn pirate didn’t fare too well initially, making rookie mistakes that had seasoned pirates chuckling into their grog. Yet, fate had a quirky turn in store. Bonnet soon crossed paths with the infamous Blackbeard, a pirate whose reputation was as fiery as the lit fuses he braided into his beard. Under Blackbeard's 'mentorship', Bonnet’s pirate game improved, but alas, he soon found himself more a pawn than a partner.

As tales often go, our 'Gentleman Pirate' met a tragic end, but not before leaving an indelible mark on the annals of piracy. His journey from a refined man of letters to a rogue of the seas serves as a stark reminder: the call of adventure, and perhaps the desire to escape a nagging spouse, can stir even the most unlikely souls.

In the cacophony of sea shanties sung about legendary pirates, spare a thought for Stede Bonnet. His tale might not be one of grand victories or vast treasures, but it’s a testament to the unpredictable winds of fate and, let's be honest, the drastic lengths some might go to for a little peace and quiet.


Once ye've gleaned all from this scroll, hoist the mainsail and set course for the vast seas of our pirates website! 🌊

Full Name: Stede Bonnet.

Known aliases or nicknames: "The Gentleman Pirate."

Birth date: Circa 1688.

Death date: December 10, 1718.

Place of birth: Bridgetown, Barbados, in the West Indies.

Type of pirate: Real pirate. He wasn't sanctioned by any government as a privateer; he turned to piracy seemingly on a whim.

Areas of operation: Primarily along the Eastern Seaboard of the American colonies, particularly from the Carolinas to Virginia, but he also roamed the waters around the West Indies.

Physical Description: Not much in the way of specifics is known about Bonnet's physical appearance as portraits and descriptions from his time were scarce. What we do know from writings is that he was a man of some education and refinement, possibly well-dressed as befitted his "Gentleman Pirate" moniker. The iconic image of him wearing a nightcap, however, has become part of his legend.

Flag/Emblem: Stede Bonnet’s flag depicted a white skull above a horizontal long bone between a heart and a dagger, all on a black background. Quite a clear message to those who saw it: there's no love lost here, and death awaits those who oppose.

Bonnet's journey from a retired army major with a substantial land inheritance to one of the seas' most famous pirates is both bizarre and intriguing. His story serves as a testament to the unpredictability of the Golden Age of Piracy and the colorful characters it produced.