A Short and Merry Life - Bart Roberts Ensign
Ever wanted to make Forbes top 10 or 20 list? The hardworking pirate Black Bart’s success in the early 1700’s was enough for him to make the #5 spot on the Forbes top 20 highest earning pirates almost 300 years after his death. By the time Bartholomew died in 1722, he had plundered close to $32 million. As was the case for most pirates however, this money went out as fast as it came. Why? Live for today, for tomorrow we die was the philosophy - life was short as a pirate, a short and ‘merry’ life indeed.
Bartholomew Roberts began his sea faring career as a normal sailor around the age of 13. Born in Wales, UK he grew up in an island nation wholly familiar and extremely adept at cruising the seas and in naval trade. With most of his life spent at sea, by the time he reached his mid 30’s, he had gained a good sense of the trade and was a navigator aboard a slave ship named Princess. This ship was captured by the pirate Howell Davis in 1719 and Bart Roberts was among the few men spared and forced to join the pirates.
Captain Davis was also Welsh and took a liking to Bart, making good use of his navigating skills. The crew was also fond of him, seeing him as good luck because the pirates had several good looting sprees after Roberts joined them. This affinity by the crew put him in the right place at the right time. Just 6 weeks after joining the pirates, he was elected captain when Howell Davis was killed in battle.
Having fate deal him this hand of cards, he made the best of it, allegedly stating “that since he had dipped his hands in muddy water, and must be a pyrate, it was better being a commander than a common man.” And so began the life of Black Bart the pirate.
His formal training as a sailor aboard more traditional merchant ships probably set the foundation for his famous Pirate Code. He required fairness, order and discipline among his crew which ultimately made him not only well liked, but extremely effective as a pirate. He was resigned to his lot and made the best of it. The very best of it in fact; he went on a streak of extremely lucrative raids and hits in the Caribbean making all of his $32 million in just three years.
This rational awareness of how to be good at one’s job combined with the short, bloody trade of piracy was manifest in his infamous black flag that Roberts designed himself. The flag was likely more a personal statement of Roberts recognizing his mortal reality rather than something to cause fear in the hearts of his victims. The flag depicts Roberts and Death holding up an hourglass. Death is armed and Roberts is not. Roberts knew with what the glorious life of a pirate captain would ultimately reward him. Whatever Roberts’ feelings and purpose in the design his efficacy as a pirate did make any who saw this flag tremble in fear.
For the patriot resigned to his or her fate today, the Bart Roberts Ensign patch is a reminder – ‘be good or be good at it.’
- Woven for amazing detail
- Hook Backing
- Re-release: August 2020