Pirate Ship Names that Went Down in History

pirate ship names

If you are a film buff and enjoy the Pirates of the Caribbean series, then like many others you have wandered down the streets of history in a bid to unearth the truth. Was Jack Sparrow real? Is the Black Pearl really a pirate ship? What were the most famous pirate ship names?

In the film, the Black Pearl (formerly known as Wicked Wench) was shown as a merchant vessel for the East India Company, which traded goods like cotton, silk, indigo dye, salt, spices and opium across the globe. Instituted by the Royal Charter and signed by Queen Elizabeth I, the EIC made its fortune by trading its precious cargo across the globe. Jack Sparrow was the captain of this ship who ultimately got branded as a pirate and joined a battle to dethrone the East India Company.

The filmy cameo

Incidentally, the ship used as a prop for the film was known as the Sunset. Though there are not many sources that can clearly site the actual origin of the Sunset, the Disney franchise also mentions other pirate ship names with a notable historical root.

Queen Anne's Revenge

One of the most feared pilots, Edward Thatch, commonly known as Blackbeard loved his ship. Historical evidence suggests that he was a sailor from Bristol, England and fought in the war of Spanish succession. At the end of the war, he found himself unemployed in the Caribbean, at the last great age of piracy. So, he traveled to the pirate haven of Nassau, in the Bahamas and turned into a pirate. His ship, Queen Anne's Revenge recurrently finds mention among the most popular pirate ship names in the history of piracy.

The Cinematic Christening

Blackbeard started his career as a pirate in 1716 under the apprenticeship of Benjamin Hornigold. Hornigold shortly passed on the command of the Concorde, a French-built slave ship to Blackbeard who then rechristened it as Queen Anne's Revenge. Blackbeard modified the ship with 26 cannons, making it a total of 40 cannons on board. The 200-ton warship that could carry 125 sailors had massive sails and beams and was one of the toughest pirate ships to sail.

Queen Anne's Revenge made a prominent appearance in the Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides as the notorious Blackbeard's flagship named as Sunset. Previously, it was portrayed as Black Pearl in the film's previous installments: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. The most notable among pirate ship names, the dreaded pirate ship made a comeback in the 2017 film Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales where it featured as the warship of Hector Barbossa's fleet of pirates.

The Revenge

Not to be confused with Queen Anne's Revenge, the Revenge was commanded by The Gentleman Pirate, also known as Stede Bonnet. Dubbed by historical evidence as a close associate of Blackbeard, the Barbadian pirate was originally an army man and plantation owner. Unlike other pirates, he purchased his ship and fleet before setting out to conquer the sea in 1717. With 10 cannons and amazing defense, the Revenge was soon noted as one of the popular pirate ship names. Bonnet had a close encounter with Blackbeard in Florida. Blackbeard was taken aback by his gentlemanly behavior and promptly they set sail together. Soon after, Blackbeard grew tiresome of Bonnet's inexperience and convinced him to hand over the Revenge under his command. Bonnet complied and stayed as a guest aboard the Queen Anne's Revenge while Blackbeard's lieutenant manned the Revenge.

Interestingly, the Revenge finds mention in the Pirates of the Caribbean film trilogy as well as in the Robert Louis Stevenson classic novel, Treasure Island.

The Flying Dutchman

The mysterious ghost ship is said to bring bad luck to any poor soul who sets eyes on it. The Flying Dutchman, one of the most legendary vessels of all time has been the center of curiosity among scientists and pirate enthusiasts for years.

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In 1881, The HMS Bacchante was tailing near the shores of Australia and was sailing the young Prince George (later dubbed as King George V) and his elder brother Prince Albert Victor. Rumors say that they saw a strange red light in the distance and in that light; The Flying Dutchman appeared in the waves. However, upon investigating no ships were discovered in the distance. Coincidentally, the next morning, the crew member who first spotted the Dutchman, fell from the topmast. There have been more sightings even before and after this.

An infamous title among the popular pirate ship names, The Flying Dutchman has a long and sad history. The notorious flagship of Captain Hendrick, the legend of The Flying Dutchman is next to none. Recorded to have sunk in 1641, the ghostly ship of Dutch Captain Hendrick van der Decken is the subject of myriad folklores and nautical myths. It is rumored that the rebellious captain refused to turn away the ship at the face of a horrible gale and was subjected to rebellion. The gales ended up capsizing the ship near the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa while cursing the Captain to an eternity of unrest in the seas. The curse declared that The Flying Dutchman would be destined to roam the seas and never port.

Cinema and more

The Flying Dutchman has been seen in the popular Nickelodeon series SpongeBob QuestPants. In the Halloween special episode, the Flying Dutchman put a curse on the underwater town of Bikini Botton. It was then rescued by the protagonist SpongeBob and his friends. The supernatural warship is also a noteworthy part of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise. The legendary pirate ship was in a colossal battle with the Black Pearl captained by Jack Sparrow.

The Jolly Roger

The Jolly Roger, a traditional English name given to flags to identify pirate ships also had a warship named after it. Jolly Roger has been famously portrayed in Disney's Peter Pan as the pirate ship of Captain Hook. Considered a pirate territory, Captain Hook is seen operating out of the pirate ship with his crew of outlaws. A famous inclusion in the book of notable pirate ship names, Jolly Roger also served as a Disneyland landmark. This happened after it was inculcated as a major part of the Chicken of the Sea Pirate Ship and Restaurant in their Fantasyland.

Incidentally, the Jolly Roger was not actually a pirate ship. A black flag bearing the iconic skull and crossbones symbol was termed, Jolly Roger. This was the most common symbol that was used by attacking pirates to make their presence known to the enemy. During the 1710s, the Jolly Roger was instinctively adopted by a number of pirates like Edward England, Black Sam Bellamy and Black Beard. A decade later, it went on to become one of the most commonly used flags by pirates. There were also those like Henry Every, who adapted the Jolly Roger to suit their liking. His Jolly Roger with a red background was one of the more popular versions.

Whydah Gally

Whydah Gally has been the subject of numerous historical studies and is one of the most popular pirate ship names. Captain Samuel Bellamy's notorious flagship, the vessel was famed for sailing with abundant fortunes. Originally raised as a slave ship in 1715, the titanic vessel was 100-foot and weighing 300-ton. During its maiden voyage, infamous pirate Samuel Bellamy, better known as Black Sam ransacked the ship and took it under his command. The captain and his fleet then turned the slave vessel into his warship and used it plunder other ships, before setting sail north towards the coast of Wellfleet in Massachusetts. Rumour has it that Bellamy's lady love, Maria Hallet was expecting him there.

But the Whydah Gally could not make it till there. According to maritime legends, the crew was too drunk to navigate and manage the ship which ultimately fell prey to a powerful Nor'easter. It was on the fateful night of April 26, 1717, when the Whydah Gally sunk. Although they could spot the land nearby, the overwhelming wind speed got the better of the pirate crew. The ship crashed stern-first onto a sandbar, which caused it to break apart. Of the 146 men on board the ship, only two survived. It is believed that the Whydah Gally was sailing with the treasure from 53 other ships. All of them were ships they had plundered and looted along the way. The sudden news of wreck attracted a lot of attention with people flocking to the coasts for collecting the lost fortune.

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Mark in history

Barry Clifford, underwater explorer was the one who discovered the wreckage of the Whydah Gally. The archaeologist and his team have recovered several valuable artifacts from the ship including gold coins, handmade weapons, and even canons. Clifford is credited to have recovered 200,000 artifacts from the pirate ship. An interesting find was the ship's bell that was retrieved in 1985. It carried the inscription, THE WHYDAH GALLY 1716 and served as an authentic proof of the ship's existence and identity.

In 2016, the noted explorer opened the ship's exhibition to the public in his museum. It was the Whydah Pirate Museum in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts. The museum houses a life-size replica as a tribute to the Whydah Gally.

Adventure Galley

The Adventure Galley remains one of the better known pirate ship names, to date. The English pirate ship's replica is one of the most popular among children and adult pirate enthusiasts alike. Captained by William Kidd, the pirate ship was famed for its rigged square sails along with strong oars. It could stand against the roughest winds and waves. The Adventure took to the seas in late 1695 when Kidd was cosigned with the vessel to set out in the pirate hunt.

From privateer to pirate

Kidd was never really a pirate, to begin with! He was a privateer under the payroll of investors. These privateers instructed him to steal the treasures of other pirates and then divide them among the investors. To fulfill his duty, Kidd haplessly sailed through the Atlantic and Indian Oceans to find himself a pirate to plunder. However, he could not find a single pirate at this time. Ultimately he decided to ditch the original plan and turn into a pirate. In his desperation, he targetted merchant ships and captured two ships off the coast of the Indian Ocean. By 1698, troubles started surfacing as the ship's hull began to leak. It became too rotten and was eventually sunk off the northern coast of Madagascar.

The remains of the pirate ship are yet to be found. In 2015, Barry Clifford recovered a massive 110-pound silver bar. He believed it was from the Adventure. Clifford told History Channel that while investigating the shipwreck which he believed to be Captain Kidd’s Adventure Galley, he uncovered a giant silver bar. He believes that all the evidence points to it being part of Captain Kidd’s treasure. However, historians believe otherwise stating that Kidd had actually stripped the ship of its treasures. Also, that he loaded it onto another ship after setting the Adventure to fire.

Throughout history, the mysticism surrounding pirates and their ships have continued to capture the fancy of the people in the best possible ways. From inspiring numerous films to classic novels, pirate ship names have had a huge influence on fuelling their passion. Although several of these stories have been unearthed, there still remain a million others waiting patiently on the ocean bed, waiting to be discovered.

Final thoughts

While the fantasy series, Pirates of the Caribbean portrays a glorious picture of fun and adventures revolving around the lives of pirates, the reality has its roots in darker origins and ruthless bloodshed. The ship was the pirate's pride and the treasures, his conquers. Even today, pirate ships continue to fascinate the common audience with their tales of petrifying mystery and unexplored enigma. We hope this post got you all excited and you will await a lot more of these blogs!

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