The lure of pirate treasure is one that has lasted for centuries. Ever since these swashbuckling thieves roamed the high seas in search of booty, people have wondered if any of this booty remains and, if so, where is it hidden. The most popular of these proposed hidden or buried treasures comes from the most famous or infamous of the pirates like Captain Kidd and Captain Blackbeard. Whether or not these treasures actually exist seems to be of little consequence. They have been remarked upon and searched for ever since the possibility of their existence arose.
Famous Pirate Treasures: Captain William Kidd
As far as we know, Captain Kidd began his career as a privateer. The first mention of his life at sea comes from his time as a crewmember aboard a British ship in the Caribbean. He reportedly managed to commandeer a French ship at this time, winning him favor with the king. He was then appointed Captain of that very same ship, which had been renamed “Blessed William.”
With his new ship, Captain Kidd was charged with protecting the island of Nevis. His compensation for this charge was the booty plundered from the French who approached the island. Kidd reportedly amassed a decent amount of wealth at this time. However, it was stolen along with his ship when his crew mutinied. Kidd was given another ship named the Antigua to continue his work. Nonetheless, he made his way to New York that year and settled down. He was married and stayed in New York for five years.
Kidd returned to the sea, and his treasure-seeking ways in 1695. At that time, he was given a job aboard the “Adventure Galley” plundering ships in the Indian Ocean. He was only to attack ships that belonged to enemies of England. Unfortunately, Kidd’s actions turned more pirate than privateer and his arrest was ordered by the King of England.
Apparently, Kidd’s crew turned a bit mutinous and demanded that they begin taking more ships. Kidd killed one of the men by hitting him in the head with a bucket (he was later charged with murder). Nonetheless, he appears to have relented for fear of mutiny. He allegedly attacked ships that did not belong to enemies. He sold and traded his booty with pirates. This made him appear all the more a pirate. Whatever the case, he would have amassed some treasure, some of which may not be accounted for.
Captain William Kidd was arrested, tried and hanged for murder and piracy. During the years before he was hanged, he spoke of a treasure he had buried somewhere near the Indian Ocean. He was known to have buried treasure elsewhere so it is possible. However, no one knows where this other buried treasure is, if it even exists. Captain Kidd surely did not tell anyone and now he is dead. Unfortunately, dead men tell no tales.
Famous Pirate Treasures: Jean Lafitte
Little, if anything, is known of Lafitte’s birth and childhood years. What is known is that the showed up in the Gulf of Mexico in the late 1700’s or early 1800’s. There, he worked as a privateer, or so he claims. Others labeled him an outright pirate.
Accounts of Jean Lafitte’s character vary greatly. Some describe him as something of a Robin Hood among pirates and a ladies’ man. Others describe him as ruthless and ill tempered. He certainly did amass some treasure plundering the ships in the area and he was certainly something of a hero. During the War of 1812 and the Battle of New Orleans, he is said to have fought bravely on the side of the United States. How much money he made when he was not playing hero and how much of it survived is unknown.
Lafitte settled down for a time, but in the 1820s, the United States government began cracking down on pirates and he was run off. If he had any money left from pirating, its unknown if he brought it with him or buried it somewhere. In fact, where he went after he was run out of the area is unknown. Jean Lafitte was seemingly lost to history with his treasure.
Famous Pirate Treasures: Benito Bonito
Not much is known about Benito Bonito. His treasure is more famous than the man is. We do know he was a pirate in the Caribbean for two years between 1818 and 1820. He took his famous treasure in 1819 and he is known to have buried it on Cocos Island. The theft of the treasure is well established and its worth is estimated to be $300, 000 by today’s standards.
Benito Bonito was never able to retrieve his treasure. Two of his cohorts were caught and gave him up in return for their release. He was found and killed in 1820 and the location of his treasure apparently followed him to the grave.
Famous Pirate Treasures: Blackbeard
Blackbeard is one of the best-remembered pirates in history. He is described as having a stormy appearance, a great black beard and a foul temper. His real name is thought to have been Edward Teach.
Blackbeard amassed his pirate treasure in the Atlantic Ocean from 1716-1718. He ruthlessly plundered passenger and cargo ships and then traded and sold his goods for a reduced price on land. Like many pirates, he started of as privateer, but went on to become a pirate. His choice of career eventually led to his death at the hands of the Royal Navy.
The night before Blackbeard met his doom, one of his crew members allegedly asked where his treasure was. The Captain replied that only he and the devil knew where it was. Whether this story is true or not is a matter of speculation.
These treasures may only exist in our minds, but that does not make them any less appealing to treasure-seekers. Then again, pirate treasures have been unearthed, including one of Captain Kidd’s. Therefore, it stands to reason that more are out there, just waiting to be found.
Benito Bonito, retrieved 8/27/10, treasurestories.com/Pacific/CocosIsland?BenitoBonito.htm
Geringer, Joseph, Jean Lafitte: Gentleman Pirate of New Orleans, retrieved 8/27/10, trutv.com/library/crime/gansters_outlaws/cops_others/lafitte/1.html
Kirkpatrick, Jennifer, Blackbeard, retrieved 8/27/10, nationalgeographic.com/pirates/bbeard.html
History, retrieved 8/27/10, captainkidd.org/EarlyTimes.htm