Nathaniel North (pirate)

Nathaniel North (pirate)
Nathaniel North
c. 1671 – 171?
Type Privateer / Pirate
Place of birth Bermuda
Place of death Madagascar
Years active c. 1689- 1703/4
Rank Quartermaster / Captain
Base of operations Atlantic Ocean, Red Sea, Indian Ocean

Brigantine Defiant

Frigate Charles
Later work Occasional slaver[1]

Nathaniel North (ca. 1671 - ca. 171?) was a pirate during the Golden Age of Piracy who operated in the Indian Ocean. He served under John Bowen and succeeded him as captain of the Defiant following Bowen's retirement in 1704. After losing the Defiant, he was ruler of a pirate colony at Ambonavoula made up of his former crew for a number of years before returning briefly to sea. Following his retirement as a wealthy man in 1709, he settled in Rajapura, married a local girl but was shortly murdered by her family for his poor treatment of her. The year he was killed was never recorded but it is clear that he was killed after 1709. In fact, there is no documentation proving his actual birth date or the year of his birth but it is clear in one document date sometime in 1689 that he could have been born in late 1671 or early 1672.


Early life

In 1689, at the age of seventeen North was a crewman aboard an English privateer attacking French shipping during the War of the Grand Alliance. He was impressed into the Royal Navy but made his way to Jamaica. There he again met British press gangs, but escaped by jumping overboard and swimming to shore. By 1696 North was a crewman in a band of privateers who captured the 18-gun Brigantine called Pelican off Newfoundland. While the privateer obtained a commission to attack French holdings in West Africa, they instead travelled to Madagascar where they searched for Moor ships to take. When they failed to find any ships, the Pelican instead raided villages on the Comoro Islands.

Upon returning to Madagascar, North was elected quartermaster by the crew. The Pelican then joined Dirk Chivers and Robert Culliford and the three ships together captured the Great Mohammed. Chivers and Culliford however refused to share the spoils from the Great Mohammed, claiming that the Pelican had not taken part in the battle. Following this event, the Pelican left the trio and later captured three small ships, keeping one and renaming her Dolphin. Damaged caused to both ships in a hurricane forced a return to Madagascar, where the plunder was divided, with each of the pirates receiving around £700.

Early career

In 1699 served again as quartermaster under captain Samuel Inless, who had been given command of the Dolphin. After taking a large Danish ship they sailed to Île Sainte-Marie and divided the plunder with each man receiving around £400. While at the Île Sainte-Marie however, four British warships arrived, forcing Inless to burn the Dolphin. While a pardon was offered to the pirates - several of whom accepted it - North instead fled, mistrusting the English commodore, in the ship's longboat, escaping to Madagascar des

Later career and death

It was not until 1707 that North joined John Halsey as quartermaster on the brigantine Charles. During this period, two British ships were captured, one of which Halsey took for himself and returned to Madagascar, leaving North in command of the Charles. This proved to be short-lived, as the Charles ran aground shortly after. North then returned to Madagascar and lived with the King of Maratan. In 1709 North returned to Ambonavoula where he traded with Mauritus and occasionally acquired slaves from Johanna. At some period after this he was, during a native conflict, captured and later murdered by the opposing natives.



  1. ^ Seitz, Don Carlos. For the remainder of his life... Under the Black Flag: Exploits of the Most Notorious Pirates Mineola, New York: Courier Dover Publications, 2002. ISBN 0-486-42131-7

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