The Real Captain Jack Sparrow

With Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End having recently come out, I decided to dig into the story a bit. To see if there’s any truth to any of this stuff.   Surprisingly, Jack Sparrow really did exist.   Though his name wasn’t Jack Sparrow, it was Bartholomew Roberts.   According to recent reports, the character of Jack Sparrow was based on a real-life pirate of the late 1600s into the early 1700s.   Here’s some facts about Bartholomew Roberts:

  • He was nicknamed Black Bart. However, this nickname wasn’t given to him until after his death.
  • He is rumored to have taken over 470+ ships, more than any other pirate in history.
  • He started sailing at the age of 13, in 1695.   There is no other record of him, until he resurfaced in 1719.
  • He became a pirate, because the captain of his ship was killed by pirates.   They then elected him to be the new captain.     His first act as pirate then, was to track down the pirates who killed his captain, and kill them. (Man, that’s a mouthful)
  • His crew overtook a ship with 40 cannons on it, and 170 shipmates, similar to the final scene in the new Pirates movie.
  • He, apparently, was a black man.
  • He despised drinking while at sea. A trait that Sparrow obviously doesn’t abide by.
  • The “Dread Pirates Roberts” from The Princess Bride  is named after Roberts

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the new Pirates flick yet, you should. It’s three hours of pure pirate entertainment.


  1. Morakot on said:

    Drank tea, wore red.

  2. Vera on said:

    Nice post, but not entirely correct. Black Bart wasn’t a black man, he came from Wales and had very dark eyes and black hair. Hence the ‘black’. And he was, of course, a rather cruel pirate.
    Furthermore, he became a pirate when the merchant ship on which he was third mate was captured by pirates. He was at first reluctant to join the pirates, but was convinced by the financial merits. After the pirates’ captain was killed by soldiers from the governor of Principe, who had found out that the captain had tried to seduce his wife, Roberts was elected captain because of his seamanship and insight.

    Like Jack Sparrow, Roberts was a kind of a dandy: he often wore -in those days- fashionable clothing and cared about his looks.

  3. Christine on said:

    I always wondered if the Dread Pirate Roberts was based on a real pirate. Nice post. It’s cool to know there’s some kind of history behind the movies.


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