Bucaniers of America (1684)

The foundational account of Caribbean piracy.

Alexandre Esquemelin was a Flemish sailor and surgeon who traveled to the West Indies in the 1660s. Indentured on various mercantile and privateering vessels, his descriptions of the activities of British and Jamaican privateers formed the basis for generations of writing about the Golden Age of Atlantic piracy. First published in Dutch in 1678, the account was translated into Spanish in the year following, and the English translation was based upon this version.

Copperplate engraving of Henry Morgan

Most of the work focuses on the activities of Henry Morgan, a Welsh landowner and privateer who raided Spanish possessions in Panama between 1667-72. Esquemelin signed on to Morgan’s crew as a ship’s surgeon. His accounts of Morgans campaigns were not intended to be universally favorable, and were modified by the Even so, by the time the Bucaniers of America was printed in its London edition, Morgan had settled into a respectable position as the lieutenant governor of Jamaica, and sued the publisher over his portrayal in the work.

In addition to the accounts of Caribbean piracy, the observations that Esquemelin made on the customs of the islands settlers and native inhabitants proved a lasting part of the work. This edition supplements that element by including an account of the later voyage of Captain Bartholomew Sharp, who in 1680 led a band of privateers on foot across the isthmus of Darien and returned by sailing eastward around South America.

Composed by Basil Ringrose, this account includes diagrams of shorelines and towns, as well as a large folding map showing the path of the voyage, which included other privateer-explorers such as William Dampier.

Call Information

Call Number: F2161 .E75 1684