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Deadlier than a Sparrow; Flash back Under the Hammer by Mike Litherland of Outhwaite and Litherland.

Byline: Mike Litherland

WE had a Militaria sale recently and this flintlock pistol realised pounds 920 at auction.

You do wonder who it might have belonged to, so read on ...

You all know the story of Jack Sparrow who Johnny Depp portrayed in Pirates of the Caribbean, but the pirate he was based on would have eaten Sparrow alive.

His name was Bartholomew Roberts, nicknamed Black Bart and in his time he captured 470 vessels. He was so feared, ships surrendered to him with out a fight.

He went to sea aged 13 in 1695 serving on British merchant vessels. He was next heard of in 1719 as third mate on the slave ship Princess. While anchored in Gold Coast of West Africa (now Ghana), they were captured by two pirate ships: the Royal Rover and the Royal James led by Captain Howell Davis.

Bart''s quick mind kept him alive -either join the pirates or be killed. When the Royal James had to be abandoned as unseaworthy, the Royal Rover made for the nearby fort, falsely hoisting the flags of the British man of war.

Dressed as officers, they entered the harbour and were entertained by the governor. Soon Capt Davies invited the governor for lunch on board, intending to hold him hostage for a ransom, but the governor found out Davies had made advances to his wife, so invited him for a glass of wine before lunch, and on his way Davies was ambushed and killed.

Bart was made captain, chosen for his cunning and knowledge, and his first decision was to set fire to the town, slaughter the men and steal everything.

Bart''s rampage went on for years, capturing ships and ransoming them back to their captains. When one captain refused him, he burned the ship to ashes, including 80 slaves in the hold.

With the 50-gun warship The Swallow sent out to find him, Bart shipped out one of his captured gunships. This was hit and by the time they surrendered 10 men had been killed and 20 more wounded.

The Swallow came back for Bart but his crew, befuddled from capturing a ship loaded with liquor the day before, were slow to recognise the gunship. Bart dressed in crimson, a red feather in his hat, gold chains around his neck and four pistols roped over his shoulders. They planned to sail past The Swallow, risking a single broadside before catching the wind to escape, but instead the helmsman panicked and exposed the vessel.

A spray of grapeshot hit Bart in the throat, he slumped dying, while the battle raged his body was weighted down and buried at sea (as was his wish). They finally surrendered and 54 of the pirates were later hanged.

No, the pistol shown here didn''t belong to Bart!

We will shortly be having a Specialist Valuation Day ie: clocks, watches, jewellery, coins, Militaria, toys, etc, just call 01704 538489 for more information.
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Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:Jul 17, 2010
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