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05-11-2017 - William Rees-Mogg - 0 comments
Angels through the ages - Henry Morgan

Between 1660 and 1675 he was the most famous Pirate sailing in the Caribbean. Some of his more famous exploits included leading 1700 Privateers upriver to Panama, there to burn the city (one of Spain’s most important urban centres in the region) and extracted a ransom of 100,000 pesos (£20m) for Porto Bello. His career as an Angel only started after this, with his retirement to the governorship of Jamaica Henry Morgan procured his seed capital in a manner decidedly more unusual than most.

Morgan was able to turn the capital of the Island, Port Royal from a short term anchorage for military vessels into a commercial hub to rival Barbados, with developed port facilities and substantial urban development. He also ensured harmony between the pirates and the city, by providing safe docking for as long as the pirates paid a regular fee. Alongside this he was personally financially successful, he owned three plantations, 129 slaves and had a fortune of £5,263 by his death in 1688, and the assembly of Jamaica had voted him a life salary of £600 pa, furthermore he earned a commission on every letter of marque issued to privateers in the region, despite the fact that these were given by the French government rather than by England. This was as nothing to the money that he managed to spend during his retirement, with letters to the king frequently complaining of the governor’s lively use of the taverns and gaming tables of the town!



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