By Patti Usowski, Associate Circulation Manager, Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library
Calling all landlubbers! International Talk Like a Pirate Day is Sept. 19, 2022!
How did this (parodic) holiday begin? According to news reports, two friends, John Baur and Mark Summers came up with the idea in 1995 while playing racquetball. One was hit by the ball and reacted by saying, “Arrr.” They eventually wrote to humor columnist Dave Barry for help in promoting the holiday
Who are Pirates?
In Pirate by Richard Platt, the author explains that pirate means “one who plunders on the sea” whereas “privateers” were sea raiders with a government license to pillage ships. “Buccaneers” menaced the Spanish in the Caribbean and “Corsairs” roved the Mediterranean. The golden age of piracy started in the 1600s to the early 1700s. Many ships were loaded with riches like gold, tobacco, silks and spices going to America, India and Arabia. Pirates could not resist robbing their cargo.
The most successful pirate was a Welsh man named Barcholow Roberts, who captured almost 400 ships in his lifetime. He was forced into piracy after his ship was overrun by other pirates. He operated in the Caribbean and was killed in a battle with an English man-of-war.
Blackbeard is the most recognized pirate. Between 1716 and 1718, he attacked trading ships off the North American coast, according to Pirates by Rachel Wright. Blackbeard was brought to justice by a British agent named Lieutenant Robert Maynard, according to Pirates and Buried Treasure by Stephanie Bearce.
Women can be Pirates, too
Anne Bonny, an Irish girl who fell in love with Captain Jack Rackham, met Mark Read while working on a ship, according to Pirates. Except Mark turned out to be a woman named Mary! They fought alongside the men but the whole crew was captured and taken to trial in Spanish Town, Jamaica, according to Pirates and Buried Treasure.
The women escaped being hanged by claiming they were pregnant, saying, “My lord, we plead our bellies,” Rebecca Stefoff describes in Mary Read and Anne Bonny. Unborn children were innocent so both soon-to-be mothers were spared.