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Pirates: Bartholomew Roberts

Last modified: 2012-01-13 by rob raeside
Keywords: pirates | bartholomew roberts |
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[Bartholomew Robert's flag, version 1] image by Antnio Martins

[Bartholomew Robert's flag, version 2] image by Antnio Martins


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Description of the flag

Bartholomew Roberts, alternative flag - on a black field, a man's figure (himself?) in the hoist and a skeleton in the fly, holding together an horglass in between, all in white.
Jorge Candeias, 12 November 1998

The flag Bartholomew Roberts: a man holding a sword in his right hand, standing on two skulls, all above the initials "ABH AMH". Black field.
Jorge Candeias, 12 November 1998

'The Caribbean islands of Barbados and Martinique were particularly keen to see an end to his activities (in 1720 Roberts captured the Governor of Martinique and hung him from the mast) and Roberts' flag reflects the personal vendetta he had with them.

"The jack had a man pourtray'd in it with a flaming sword in his hand and standing on two skulls subskribed ABH and AMH, that is a Barbadian's and a Martinican's Head," described an account of the time.

The man portrayed is Roberts himself. The flag he designed flew from his flagship, the Royal Fortune, a brigantine he captured from the French.' The quote comes from Timothy Wilson's 'Flags at Sea'.
David Cohen, 4 November 1998

Recently I did a bit of research into pirate flags, namely that of Bartholomew Roberts. "One of piracy's most feared flags belonged to the greatest captain of its Golden Age, Bartholomew Roberts. In his four-year career 'Black Bart', a Welshman, captured over 400 ships and fabulous wealth. The fruits of one violent engagement in Brazil against 42 Portuguese ships included sugar, hides, tobacco, gold plate, coins worth 80,000 pounds and a diamond-studded cross that was destined for the King of Portugal. He was fearless, innovative and a brilliant seaman. His fleet scoured the world for treasure, inspiring utter dread in governments and their navies. The Caribbean islands of Barbados and Martinique were particularly keen to see an end to his activities (in 1720 Roberts captured the Governor of Martinique and hung him from the mast), and Roberts' flag reflects the personal vendetta he had with them. 'The Jack had a man portrayed in it with a flaming Sword in his Hand, and standing on two Skulls subscribed ABH and AMH', i.e. a Barbadian's and a Martinican's Head,' described an account of the time. The man portrayed is Roberts himself. The flag he designed flew from his flagship, the Royal Fortune, a brigantine he had captured from the French. Roberts was killed in battle against HMS Swallow in 1722, on the African coast. The captain of the Swallow was subsequently knighted for ridding the world of the 'Great Pyrate' Roberts."

Other pirates who are known to have had their own flags are Christopher Condent, Thomas Tew, Stede Bonnet, Muslim corsairs, Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach, 'Calico Jack' Rackham, Captain Dulaien, Emmanuel Wynne, Henry Avery, Christopher Moody, Edward Low. There have been other famous pirates - men and women - but it's not certain what their flags were.
David Cohen, 3 April 1997