Barracuda Beth

questions for realistic pirate fiction

10 posts in this topic

I am planning to write a pirate fiction here,but first,I want to ask some questions,in order to write a realistic story.

What age would cabin boys be,when they were hired/recruited? Was it frowned upon,for a girl,or woman to sail on ships,pirates or otherwise? If a girl,or woman were discovered to be onboard a ship,what would happen to her? What is the timeline,that pirates had ruled the seas? what option of pet were availabe to pirates,exotic or otherwise?

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On cabin-boys, there were a mix of things.

On merchants and private vessels, many were sons of sailors learning their future trade, crew member's sons (captains w/ their own son as a cabin boy), orphans or sons from poor families "hired out" by their legal guardians (child labor laws DID NOT exist, yet), and the like.

Age varied and they got older on the voyage, which could last a long time- months to several years. I'd say 8-12 or 14 (just remembering off-my-head, so feel free to correct that), when they would "move on" to full crew members or up to be a lower officer.

Merchants often used orphans from one of the many orphanages of the period. They either paid the orphanage for them as labor or outright "adopted" them.

On naval vessels, lower ranking midshipmen were often from middle-class families and were expected to spend a career in the navy as officers. These are the boys seen in "Master and Commander."

Edited by Tartan Jack

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Pirate fiction is my specialty; I'd be glad to help with any pirate story you'd like to write.

There's no easy answer to your question about women. The simplest way I can put it is: yes, it was frowned upon, but women went aboard anyway.

Pirates' attitude toward women was very variable. Some pirates, like Bartholomew Roberts, absolutely forbade them on board, and put to death any of his men who smuggled a woman secretly onto his ships. Then what happened to the woman if she were discovered? There was no rule about that; probably there would have been a vote of the crew about what to do with her, and the likeliest result would have been to leave her ashore at the next chance.

On the other hand, other pirates, like Calico Jack Rackham, let women serve in the crew and carry weapons.

On merchant or navy ships, it was routine for women to be given run of the ship while they were in harbor; the sailors' wives could visit them there, female peddlers and merchants would sell them things, and of course prostitutes often serviced the men. Once they put to sea, though, women were expected to be left behind. Women were seen as a source of trouble because sailors might fight over them, and it was thought that women were bad luck to have at sea. Even so, women were sometimes brought along as passengers or servants, and captains were known to bring their wives along, with the crew grumbling about it all the way. There are many examples of women serving as actual sailors on merchant or navy ships, but they seem to have always sneaked aboard in disguise, never serving openly. Judging by Cordingly's Under the Black Flag, several women sailors were discovered, and none seems to have been punished, but they apparently had to leave the crew soon after being revealed.

As to when pirates "ruled the seas," there are several different times and places that are famous today.

1) The Caribbean and east Pacific, 1520s-1590s. The time of Drake, Hawkins, Cavendish, Fleury, and Ango, all English or French sailors who raided Spain's colonies in the Caribbean and the west coast of South America. It was an open secret that their kings supported them, but for a foreigner merely to enter Spanish waters was enough for th Spanish to label them as pirates and execute them if they were caught.

2) The buccaneers of Tortuga and Port Royal. The French got established on Hispaniola and Tortuga in the 1620s, but it was when the English captured Jamaica from Spain in 1655 that the buccaneering craze really got going, and lasted through the 1680s. Again, this outburst of piracy was mostly in the Caribbean, with some expeditions into the Spanish colonies in the Pacific. This is the time of Henry Morgan, Francois l'Ollonais, Bartolomeu Portugues, the Chevalier Grammont, and Laurens de Graff.

3) The Pirate Round of the 1690s. These were attacks by Englishmen and England's American colonists against the Indian Ocean and Red Sea trade, using bases on Madagascar. This is the time of Captain Kidd, Henry Avery, Thomas Tew, and John Bowen.

4) The post-Spanish Succession period. This starts with Jennings' raid on the wrecked Spanish treasure fleet off the Bahamas in 1715, grows to a peak about 1719, and then gradually peters out by about 1725-1730. Caused by privateers and seamen left unemployed after the War of the Spanish Succession. While it lasted, it was one of the most intense and widespread pirate rampages ever: the pirates ravaged the seas from Brazil through the Caribbean and along the American east coast clear up to Newfoundland, off the slave ports of west Africa, and in the western Indian Ocean. This is the time of Bartholomew Roberts and Blackbeard.

5) The Latin American Independence period. In the 1820s, when Mexico, Colombia, and other Latin American countries threw off Spanish rule, they commissioned privateers, and Spain commissioned its own privateers in a failed effort to keep its colonies. These privateers ignored the terms of their commissions basically from the outset, and robbed any ship they could lay their hands on, continuing their depredations long after the wars of independence were over. This is the time of Benito de Soto and Diabolito, and the setting of the pirate novel A High Wind in Jamaica, and is also the only time when pirates are known to have made prisoners walk the plank.

There are many other less famous outbursts of pirate activity. The Barbary corsairs prowled the Mediterranean from the 14th century until the 19th. Various nationalities of Asian pirates cruised the South and East China Seas in the 16th and 17th centuries, and again in the early 19th. And we may be seeing a new Golden Age of Piracy in the 21st century; most piracy in the 20th century was mere petty theft, but in the 1990s and 2000s Somali pirates have begun seizing huge merchant vessels and holding them for ransom, which is theft on just as grand a scale as anything Blackbeard or Roberts ever committed.

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I have another question to ask. In the heyday of the pirate,which nationality were the majority for them?

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From what I understand, mostly English/British. Lots of French too. Also, some Dutch and a few Portuguese. But English and French primarily.

Edited by Captain McCool

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In light of this previous quote from Foxe, regarding the percentages of mariners in the Carribean by nationality, according to David Cordingly:

Quote

35% were English

25% colonial Americans

20% West Indian (mostly from Jamaica and Barbados)

10% Scottish

8% Welsh

2% Dutch, Swedish, Spanish, and French.

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i have three counts of native american

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i have three counts of native american

if they are the same i be thinkin of...were they not more Naitive South Americans?...or were some (of the 3 recorded) North American??

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one up north from maine somewhere, one from the dismal swamp of carolina, and one from south america. I believe all three were tried and sold into slavery.

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My advice - make it gritty and raw. There are enough 'romance' pirate novels out there already! I don't buy the line that Bonny and Read took to the seas for love of a man. Bonny was a damaged personality and Read a victim of circumstance.

Edited by wendy

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