Stede Bonnet may not be as well known as Blackbeard, but the Gentleman Pirate still earned himself an interesting and unique reputation. He’s the main focus of the television series Our Flag Means Death, where he’s played by Rhys Darby. The series focuses on Bonnet’s foray into the world of piracy, and the formation of his unlikely bond with Blackbeard.
While Blackbeard has been portrayed in all sorts of movies, shows and games, Bonnet’s appearances haven’t been as frequent. The portrayal of him in Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag succeeds with various bits of his character and origins, but there’s still much about Steve Bonnet many people have yet to discover.
10 Bonnet Was Once A Major In The Barbados Militia
Bonnet’s place in high society was shown at the start of Our Flag Means Death, with him becoming bored of his rich married lifestyle in Barbados. He was born into a wealthy English family and inherited his father’s estate upon his death.
Bonnet gave up a lot to start a life as a pirate; his family was one of the major aspects he left behind. However, it was also believed he held the rank of major in the Barbados militia. Stede was noticibly out of his depth towards the beginning of his pirating days, so it can be assumed his roles in the militia weren’t related to combat.
9 He Quickly Plundered Four Ships & Set Fire To One Of Them
Bonnet’s awkward start to piracy in Our Flag Means Death is easily comparable to his real life antics, mostly in terms of his lack of knowledge and experience. In real life, he manages to plunder four ships early on, an impressive feat for his initial voyage.
Taking place on the Coast of Virginia, The Gentleman Pirate burned one of the ships for fear the Barbadian ship Turbet would return home and tell all of his escapades. It was a quick way of integrating into the pirate life, and it certainly got the ball rolling.
8 He Considered Leaving The Pirate Life Behind When Stripped Of His Captaincy
In Our Flag Means Death, Blackbeard took command of the Revenge when Bonnet was recovering from his wounds and mental trauma. This was believed to have happened in real life. However, the television series showed more of Bonnet and Blackbeard’s actual connection, rather than Blackbeard’s long con of Bonnet.
In real life, Blackbeard later gave the captaincy of the Revenge to Richards, taking Bonnet as a guest aboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge. Bonnet had also been abandoned by most of his crew, leading him to ponder whether he wanted to continue as a pirate.
7 After Their Separation He Pursued Blackbeard But Never Saw Him Again
Both Blackbeard and Bonnet accepted the King’s Pardon of 1718 for themselves and their crews. However, Bonnet delayed his departure. Bonnet would later discover that thanks to his headstart, Blackbeard had stripped the Revenge of everything, and had taken it all to another ship.
Upon the separation of Blackbeard and Bonnet, the Gentleman Pirate and his crew sought to pursue Blackbeard and punish him for his treachery. Bonnet and his crew were fueled by rage and vengeance, but despite their best efforts, they never managed to find Blackbeard.
6 Bonnet Initially Attempted To Keep To The Terms Of His Pardon
When they accepted their royal pardons, pirates knew that any act of plundering would see them immediately return into the crosshairs of the law. Blackbeard quickly returned to life as a pirate, but Stede tried his best to honor the terms of the pardon.
Bonnet’s crew would successfully manage to “trade aggressively” with a small number of ships, but they were treading such a fine line that they naturally returned to piracy in the end. At least they had attempted to act within the law, unlike Blackbeard.
5 He Became Captain Thomas In A Bid To Hide His Identity
When they broke the terms of their pardons to return to pirating, Bonnet and his crew had to take certain precautions in the name of self-preservation. Bonnet changed his name to Captain Thomas and changed the name of his ship to the Royal James, hoping these changes would help to hide them from any repercussions.
This presented an opportunity for Bonnet to reinvent himself, as he was no longer the inexperienced and naive man he was at the start of his pirate journey. This helped him move away being named as one of the worst pirates.
4 He May Have Been One Of The Few Real Pirates To Make Prisoners Walk The Plank
Under the guise of Captain Thomas, Bonnet began to build a positive reputation for himself within the realms of piracy. He may have never been able to reach the lofty heights of Blackbeard, but his name commanded the slightest bit of fear.
There are even historians who claim Captain Thomas is one of the few real pirates to actually make prisoners “walk the plank.” This is a trope that became synonymous with pirate storytelling and became somewhat exaggerated. However, Bonnet manages to make it a part of his legacy.
3 The Battle Of Cape Fear River Ended With Bonnet’s Capture
After some successful months, Bonnet and his crew needed to set up camp somewhere, so their ship could get some much-needed attention and repairs. They found themselves at the estuary of the Cape Fear River, and they intended on waiting out the hurricane season there.
However, the governor of South Carolina Robert Johnson, sent Colonel William Rhett to set out and bring down the pirates. The Battle of Cape Fear River ensued. Bonnet and co were outnumbered, prompting them to surrender and accept the victor’s terms.
2 He Managed To Escape Prison But Only For Four Days
While imprisoned in Charles Town, Bonnet was kept separate from most of his crew, except for a select few. One day, Bonnet and his sailing master David Herriott managed to escape their captors.
They were ultimately unfortunate however, as a lack of supplies and undesirable weather stopped their boat from going any further than Sullivan’s Island. This made them easy pickings and sure enough they were swiftly found. Herriott was shot dead and Bonnet was recaptured, and taken back to Charles Town.
1 Upon His Death Sentence He Moved Many With His Desperate Pleas But They Were Not Enough
Bonnet was found guilty and sentenced to death, but he tried his utmost to plead his case and save his own life. His desperation drove him to send letters for help, and he even tried to pin all the blame on Blackbeard.
Bonnet managed to gain public favor through sympathy for his impending demise and unfortunate situation. This allegedly even stretched to his captor, William Rhett. However, Governor Johnson wasn’t swayed, and Bonnet was hanged. This brought about the end of the Gentleman Pirate and 29 of his men.
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