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Top 10 Pirates of the Golden Age: # 8 – Henry Morgan ($13 Million)

Sir Henry Morgan (1635-1688)
Image from Wikapedia

 Golden Age of Piracy: Top 10 Countdown Part III 

This is the third installment of a series focusing upon the ten most successful pirates (as determined by the estimated total value of their combined hauls) of the Golden Age of Piracy (generally considered to have ended with the killing of Barthlomew “Black Bart” Roberts in 1722).

 # 8. Captain Henry Morgan ($13 million)

Perhaps no other “pirate” life was as complicated and convoluted as that of Harri (as he was christened) Morgan (1635-1688).  Born in South Wales, he left few records of his early years.  What is known is that he somehow found his way to the West Indies and began a career as a privateer, possibly in conjunction with Sir Christopher Myngs in the early 1660’s.  Receiving a “Letter of Marque” from the governor of Jamaica in 1667, Morgan commenced one of the longest and most lucrative careers as a “buccaneer” raiding both shipping and settlements of the Spanish.    

International politics played a major role in the life and times of Henry Morgan.  Licensed in Jamaica as a legal privateer in 1667, he was later arrested in 1672 when he attacked a Spanish settlement in Panama City AFTER a peace treaty had been agreed upon.  While he may or may not have known the true situation at the time, he was brought back to London to face charges.  However, he was received by the English population as a hero and later knighted in 1674. 

Morgan made the most of his “earnings” from his career on the high seas.  Returning to Jamaica as lieutenant governor, he purchased three sugar plantations and settled into a good life, later rising to the position of governor.  However, his relations with King Charles soon soured as he was slow to satisfactorily reconcile the “pirate problem” that continuously plagued the island.  Morgan was subsequently removed from office in 1681 amid accusations of collaboration with the very pirates, privateers, and buccaneers whose operations he was supposed to be controlling, if not totally eliminating. 


Declining health and alcohol eventually led to Morgan’s death in August of 1688.  At this time a general state of amnesty was declared to allow pirates and privateers to pay their respects to perhaps the greatest buccaneer of all time.   

Morgan can be cited as the eighth-most successful pirate of the Golden Age of Piracy.

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