Bucaneers: Henry Morgan
Captain Morgan

Early Career

The origins of Henry Morgan are obscure, but most scholars agree that probably one of the members of the British fleet who attacked Jamaica and captured it from the Spanish. He climbed the officer ranks quickly and by the time of the second Anglo-Dutch War, he was second in command against the Dutch colonies.


Eventually, Morgan was selected by the king of England to lead the Buccaneers against the Crown's enemies. Morgan acted quickly. In one of his most daring moves, he attacked the well-fortified city of Portobello on the Isthmus of Panama. It was reported that approximately 250,000 silver, Spanish coins were taken, along with 300 slaves.

When Morgan assumed the position, the diplomatic relations between the British and Spain were influx. As Morgan was preparing his most-famous attack on Panama, Britain signed a peace treaty with Spain. Morgan attacked Panama, one of Spain's main colonial possessions, with a fleet of 36 ships. He was successful but he was arrested and taken back to England and put in prison because his attack was considered illegal at the time.

After a short period of time Anglo-Spanish relations again soured. Morgan was promptly released from prison, knighted, and sent back to Jamaica as its lieutenant governor.

When Morgan got out of prison the economic scene of the Caribbean had changed. England was now the most dominant economic power in the Caribbean. Pirates were now becoming a thorn in England's side. Morgan was sent back to Jamaica to stamp out all forms of piracy, a category under which the Buccaneers now fell.

Old Chum?

As Morgan returned to Jamaica sweeping changes were made. Though at first he tried to persuade his old comrades to stop pirating the Caribbean, he ultimately had many Buccaneers hanged at the gallows. Although he was dedicated, Morgan was never able to fully stamp out piracy.

In 1681, Morgan's health was in steady decline. He died in 1688.

In the great earthquake of 1692, Morgan's body, along with the rest of Port Royal's cemetery, fell into Kingston Harbor. He lived the highest points of his life on the sea, and it came to take him back when he was at his lowest.