Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Fall 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Department of History


Alison Sandman

Neal Amin

Kevin Hardwick


This thesis discusses an observed phenomenon of ordinary sailors being forced to serve on board pirate ships in the eighteenth century Atlantic World. The main argument is that when pirates lost their connections to land-based communities in the Caribbean at the end of the seventeenth century they attempted to establish the same connections to communities along the North American coast. Pirates in the early eighteenth century ultimately failed to establish lasting connections with colonies in the north and had to force more ordinary sailors to server on their crews in order to survive. Colonial and British trial records were the main primary sources used in this work along with newspaper articles, advertisements, official letters, captive narratives, and other government documents. The trial records however, stimulated the bulk of the historical questions and arguments made in this work. Fourteen trials were reviewed here and the abundance of witness testimony gave me the opportunity to find patterns in how forced pirates were perceived on the ship, in colonial governments, and in the British government. Historians have focused on the individual pirate, the pirate ship, and pirates’ connections to land-based communities and my work attempts to integrate each approach to obtain a more complete view of piracy by looking at forced pirates. Ultimately, during the Golden Age of Piracy there was also an underlying change to the ways pirate ships operated in the eighteenth century. Pirates had to adapt and survive without the resource of local communities. This created a whole new form of piracy which was more reliant on the community of piracy, more conscious of their identity as pirates, and more independent of any nation.



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