Original flag with Skeleton of Bartholomew Roberts.
This is Black Bart’s first flag, and shows the pirate himself and Death holding an hourglass. He was reported to have said, “..a merry life and a short one shall be my motto.” Black Bart was known to have used four flags, but this is the one most associated with him. Another of his is also shown and available on our website.
Bartholomew “Black Bart” Roberts (1682-1722) was the most successful pirate of the “Golden Age of Piracy.” His nickname “Black Bart” is attributed not to his cruelty, but to his dark hair and complexion. Black Bart and his crew captured over 400 ships, more than the pirates Blackbeard, Edward Low, Jack Rackham and Francis Spriggs put together. At the height of his power, he had a pirate fleet manned by hundreds of pirates. He plundered 35 million U.S. dollars in loot, raiding ships and ports from the Caribbean to Canada, and from Europe down to Africa. Black Bart had a reputation with his men for bravery and intelligence, and was viewed by some of his crew as being “pistol proof” in battle.
He named most of his ships by the same name, Royal Fortune. Roberts captured a very large frigate, the Onslow, in 1721, and mounted 40 cannons on her. This new Royal Fortune was nearly invincible, and only a very heavily armed military naval vessel could hope to stand against her.
Roberts’ biggest plunder in a single haul was in a bay in Brazil. He came upon a Portuguese treasure fleet anchored off of Brazil. Pretending to be part of the convoy, he entered the bay and silently took one of the ships. From the captain of that ship, he found out which of the other ships had the most treasure. He then sailed up to that ship, attacked and boarded it before anyone knew what was happening. By the time the two massive Portuguese Men of War caught on to what was happening, Roberts was sailing away with both his own vessel and the treasure ship he had just captured.