As the golden age of pirating drew to a close in the early – mid 1700’s, one particular pirate, the infamous Benjamin Hornigold, committed one of the pirate age’s most infamous and bizarre raids.
Hornigold was a pirate with notoriety akin to some of the biggest pirate names, like Blackbeard, Calico Jack, Black Bart and Black Sam.
It turns out that a bad decision made by the whole crew the night before would lead to a humorous raid that made its way into pirating infamy and legend.
The Notorious Hat Raid
In early 1717, Hornigold and his crew hunted down and captured a merchant ship off the coast of Honduras. As they boarded, the ship’s the merchant crew quickly surrendered, begging for mercy and for their lives to be spared.
Fortunately for the merchant crew, they were in luck.
As Hornigold himself boarded the ship he told the merchant crew the reason for his raid. The night before, him and his crew had been partying aboard Ranger, and gotten rather drunk – as pirates notoriously did quite often.
Deep in their cups, Hornigold and his crew and drunkenly thrown their hats overboard for a laugh. Why? Well, because you have stupid ideas when you’re drunk (Side-note: the German’s call this a “schnapsidee” – an awesome idea conceived when drunk that is stupid when sober).
As Hornigold told the merchants of the reason for the raid, the merchants, happy to have their lives spared, quickly handed over their hats.
Hornigold and his crew took them and, much to the relief of the besieged merchants, left them with bare heads and beating hearts to continue their travels.
(No) Honour Among Thieves
Despite being renowned for his thirst for gold, like many pirates, Hornigold coined himself “the protector of British economics” – never raiding British ships during his term pillaging in the Bahamas.
However, protecting British interests wasn’t exactly at the top of the priorities list for Hornigold’s 350-strong crew. In November 1717, they mutinied and Hornigold barely escaped his 30-gun ship, Ranger, with his life and most loyal crew members. Evidently there is no honor amongst thieves!
However, after being given a pardon by King George and the Governor of Jamaica for his honorable code, Hornigold was hired as a pirate hunter by the crown. He spent the last 18 months of his sailing career hunting down the same men who mutinied against him before his ship was wrecked in a storm and he was mysteriously never seen again – presumed to have died.
So there you have it, the weird story about a pirate who raided a ship for their hats!