Rogers, Woodes

Privateer, turned Governor of the Bahama, Pirate Hunter

Rogers, Woodes (b. 1679?--d. July 16, 1732, Nassau, Bahamas), English privateer and governor of the Bahamas who helped suppress piracy in the Caribbean.

Rogers commanded a privateering expedition (1708-11) around the world, sponsored by Bristol merchants whose ships had been lost to foreign privateers. In 1709 he rescued Alexander Selkirk--a Scottish seaman whose adventures later provided the basis for Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe --from a Pacific island. In 1717 Rogers was appointed royal governor of the Bahamas. The following year he arrived at Nassau, headquarters of more than 2,000 pirates, where he established orderly government and forced many outlaws to surrender. See Charles Vane

Woodes Rogers, succeeded in controlling the pirates but mostly at his own expense. Little monetary and military support came from England. Consequently, the islands remained poor and susceptible to Spanish attack.

Rogers was an exceptional pirate hunter. He offered pardons to pirates in an effort to get them to turn. While most weere skeptical, they sooned found him to be sincere and eventually 2,000 pirates accepted the pardons and made the Bahamas virtually pirate free. Rogers knew the habits of pirates and he was certain that many of the pardoned pirates would go back to their evil ways. But this concerned him little. Rogers recruited men from among those pardoned to hunt down those who returned to their old ways. The move was quite successful and eventually many of the brethren of the coast were "dancing the devil's jig" on the gallows.