The History of Leith

April 1, 2008

Scottish Pirate

Over the centuries Scotland has contributed a great deal to the fact and fiction surrounding the pirate. The infamous Captain William labeled is believed to have been born in Greenock in 1645 and the father of the US Navy, Scots-born John-Paul Jones, was labelled a pirate in his native country as a result of his daring raids on the British coast.

In the 17th century many Scottish seamen were commissioned as privates to encounter Dutch attacks on Scottish merchants and fishermen along the East coast of Scotland. Scottish writers have also played a major role in the development of pirate mythology. J.M.Barrie, from Kirriemuir, wrote the tale of Peter Pan, taking many of the characteristics of the evil Captain Hook from the notorious real-life pirate Blackbeard. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote the classic Treasure Island and the adventures of Fife-born Alexander Selkirk provided Daniel Defoe with the basis for the tale of Robinson Crusoe.

In the 18th century, Scottish Jacobites, who followed the Stuarts into exile, swelled the ranks of the dispossessed who turned to piracy. It is believed that several Jacobite exiles served with Sam Bellamy, including the Whydah surgeon, a Scots medic named Ferguson. We also know that Bellamy plundered three or four ships. The recovery of a solitary Scottish bawbee (old Scots sixpence) from the wreck of the Whydah highlights the Scottish connections in Quest for a Pirate.


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