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Edward England

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Edward England

Edward England
An 18th century woodcut of England.
Born c.1685
Died 1721 (aged approx. 36)
St. Augustine's Bay, Madagascar
Piratical career
Nickname Ned
Type Pirate
Allegiance None
Rank Captain
Base of operations West Indies
Commands Several vessels, most famously the Royal James & the Fancy.
Battles/wars Battle with the Cassandra that caused his crew to mutiny and maroon him for sparing some captives.
Wealth Equiv. US $8.8 million today;[1] #12 Forbes top-earning pirates[2]
Edward England's flag.

Edward England, born Edward Seegar (c.1685–1721)[3][4] was a famous African coast and Indian Ocean pirate captain from 1717 to 1720. The ships he sailed on included the Pearl (which he renamed The Royal James) and later the Fancy, for which England exchanged the Pearl in 1720. His flag was the classic Jolly Roger — almost exactly as Black Sam Bellamy before him used — with a skull above two crossed Humerus bones on a black background.


  • Early life 1
  • Captaincy-Coast of Africa 2
  • Indian Ocean 3
  • Marooning 4
  • Legacy 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

Early life

Born in Ireland as Edward Seegar sometime around 1685[5] He was probably raised as a Catholic.[6] He was said to be an educated man.[7] Seegar changed his surname to England when he turned pirate.[8] England made his way to Jamaica and during the War of Spanish Succession he served as a privateer.[9] He was captured by the pirate captain Christopher Winter and forced to join the crew.[10] Winter most likely took England to the pirate base on Nassau, Bahamas. England took part in Henry Jennings assault on the Spanish salvage camp at Palma de Ayz, Florida, stealing £87,000 in gold and silver.[11] England is next reported as Charles Vane's quartermaster, in March 1718. Vane's sloop, the Lark was captured by the Royal Navy, but England and the rest of the crew were released to induce the other pirates of Nassau to accept the King's pardon.[12]

Captaincy-Coast of Africa

Vane granted England command of a captured vessel in mid-1718. England decided not to accept the King's pardon. He sailed to the Coast of Africa, after the arrival of Woodes Rogers in New Providence. During the voyage to the Coast of Africa he took several ships, particularly the Cadogan captained by a man called Skinner. Some of England's crew murdered Skinner who they had previously served under because he had failed to pay their wages. As soon as Skinner came on board, he saw his old Boatswain, who said, ″Ah! Captain Skinner is it you, I am much in your debt, and now I shall pay you in your own coin″. They immediately seized Captain Skinner, bound him to the windlass and pelted him with glass bottles. Afterwards they said, because he had been a good Master he should have an easy death, and so shot him through the head. England also encountered Howell Davis on that ship. Davis was a likeable man and easily gained favour with England, however Davis refused to sign articles with the pirates saying he would rather die. This impressed England who saw a lot of potential in Davis and he gave the command of the Cadogan to him.[13] England eventually exchanged his sloop for a larger ship called, the Pearl renaming it the Royal James and returned to Africa in the spring of 1719. Between the River Gambia and Cape Coast, the pirates took ten ships. After which England took two more ships, one the pirates named her Victory and made John Taylor the captain. England and his crew stayed for some time in an African town, but a conflict arose over the pirates' treatment of the local women. Fighting broke out, the pirates burned the town, and set sail.

Indian Ocean

By 1720, England had reached the Indian Ocean, where he met with fellow pirate Captain Oliver la Buse. England captured a thirty-four gun Dutch ship, which he named Fancy in honour of Henry Every, and he made the Fancy his new flagship. England decided to attack an East Indiaman under the command of James Macrae, the Cassandra, near the island of Comoros. A long and bloody battle ensued, and both ships ran aground. Macrae and his surviving crew escaped and hid on the island for ten days. Finally Macrae, who was injured, tired, and hungry, went aboard England's consort the ‘Victory’, hoping for mercy, and surrendered to the pirates. The cargo of the Cassandra was valued at £75,000. Ninety of the Fancy's crew died in the attack on the Cassandra.[14] England had a good nature and unusual kindness, in that he didn't believe in torturing captives unless they couldn't otherwise be persuaded.[15] England ordered Macrae's life spared, and the pirates kept the Cassandra and gave the heavily damaged Fancy to Macrae. England's quartermaster, John Taylor, who was now captain of the Victory, resented this choice, and only agreed after England got him drunk. England then captured a small English ship near Cochin, the drunk captain reporting a false rumour that Macrae was preparing a fleet to chase the pirates. This enraged the pirates, particularly Taylor, who had wanted to kill Macrae. Around this time, Taylor organised a vote to remove England from command.

An engraving depicting the pirate Edward England with, in the background, the fight of the Fancy (left) and the Cassandra.


England was subsequently marooned on Mauritius with three other crew members without adequate provisions.[16] After about four months they built a small boat and managed to sail across the Indian Ocean and made it to St. Augustine's Bay in Madagascar.[17] One of the men marooned with England who had also defended Macrae was described as "a man with a terrible pair of whiskers and a wooden leg, being stuck round with pistols," and is said to have been the model for Robert Louis Stevenson's character Long John Silver.[18] England survived for a while on the charity of other pirates,[19] possibly some of Henry Every's old crew.[20] He died in 1721,[21] from ″severe Strings of his Conscience″ according to the unreliable account of a sailor named Downing.[22] In all probability he died quickly after contracting a deadly disease.


Edward England is known today as one of the more humane pirate captains of the Golden Age of Piracy.

He had a great deal of good Nature, and did not want for Courage ; he was not avaritious, and always averse to the ill Usage of Prisoners received : He would have been contented with moderate Plunder, and less mischievous Pranks, could his Companions have been brought to the same Temper, but he was generally over-rul'd, and as he was engaged in that abominable Society, he was obliged to be a Partner in all their vile Actions.—Captain Charles Johnson.[23]


  1. ^ Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–2014. Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved February 27, 2014.
  2. ^ Woolsey, Matt (September 19, 2008). "Top-Earning Pirates".  
  3. ^ David Marley (2010), Pirates of the Americas: Volume 1, p. 583.
  4. ^ Angus Konstam and David Cordingly (2002), The History of Pirates, p. 132.
  5. ^ Pirates & Privateers in Mauritius By Denis Piat
  6. ^ Pirates of the Americas, Volume 1 By David F. Marley
  7. ^ Rediker, Marcus. Villains of All Nations: Atlantic Pirates in the Golden Age
  8. ^ Pirates of the Americas, Volume 1 By David F. Marley
  9. ^ Piracy: The Complete History By Angus Konstam
  10. ^ Charles Johnson (1724), A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates, p. 113.
  11. ^ Contemporary Maritime Piracy: International Law, Strategy, and Diplomacy at Sea By James Kraska
  12. ^ Colin Woodard (2008), The Republic of Pirates, ISBN 0-15-603462-X, p. 234-35.
  14. ^ A General History of the Robberies & Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates by Captain Charles Johnson
  15. ^ A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most notorious Pyrates by Captain Charles Johnson
  16. ^ The Pirates Own Book edited by Charles Ellms
  17. ^ Pirates & Privateers in Mauritius By Denis Piat
  18. ^ A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates by Captain Charles Johnson
  19. ^ A General History of the Robberies & Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates by Captain Charles Johnson
  20. ^ The Republic of Pirates by Colin Woodard
  21. ^ The Book of Pirates by Michael MacLeod, Christine Lampe and Jamaica Rose
  22. ^ Treasure Neverland: Real and Imaginary Pirates by Neil Rennie
  23. ^ A General History of the Robberies & Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates by Captain Charles Johnson p80

External links

  • Pirate Flags
  • websitePirate CoveEdward England section on V'lé Onica's
  • Merciful Pirate, Edward England
  • Farewell To Edward England Song
  • Project Gutenberg EBook of The Rose of Paradise by Howard Pyle
  • Edward England Stamp.
  • The Black Fleet.
  • England and Davis
  • Allen & Ginter Card
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