Nearly 300 years before the first Pirates of the Caribbean film fuelled the imagination of young, modern minds with exciting pirate adventures, a young boy named John King was living the life of a pirate of the Caribbean.
He was no more than 11 years old (conflicting sources say he was 9, 10, or 11 years old) when he joined Samuel Bellamy’s pirate crew, making John King the youngest known pirate in history.
The story begins on November 9, 1716, when John and his mother were on the passenger ship Bonetta. They were on their way to Antigua from Jamaica when the infamous pirate Captain Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy and his crew captured the ship.
While the young boy watched the crew plunder the ship, he seemed to become more and more excited by the prospect of being a pirate himself, and before his mother knew what to do her son was begging to leave her and join Bellamy’s pirate crew. In fact, Bonetta captain Abijah Savage, said John even threatened to kill himself or hurt his mother if he was denied the chance to join this band of pirates. Although the boy was young, Bellamy saw his determination and potential and decided to bring him aboard.
John’s life as a pirate was a short one – he only sailed with Bellamy for about six months – but during that time he witnessed/raided several ships with his crewmates and in February 1717, he joined Bellamy as the Captain took over the famous 100-foot, armed slave galley known as the Whydah.
That was the last pirate ship John would travel upon because his dream and life ended suddenly on April 26, 1717, when a storm sank the Whydah off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA.
The remains of John King – a leg bone clad in a silk stocking, wearing an expensive French shoe. ( The Pirate Empire )
But the story of the youngest pirate doesn’t end there. In 2006, researchers at the Smithsonian Institution and Center for Historical Archaeology were analyzing the human remains discovered on the Whydah shipwreck when they found an 11-inch fibula inside a silk stocking and shoe. They concluded that these belonged a young boy about John’s age, confirming the records about John King, the youngest pirate of the Caribbean.
Top Image: John King was the youngest pirate known to history. Source: Fxquadro / Adobe Stock
By Alicia McDermott