Arrrr ... how did pirates really die? (2023)

If you've seen the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, you mightthink that most pirates died by having dangerous objects ripthrough their bodies. However, swords, guns and cannonballs werenot what sent most pirates to Davy Jones' locker (meaning, to theirdeath). Instead, a pirate's greatest enemy was disease: foodpoisoning, malnutrition, infection. Here are a few of theconditions that the seafaring scoundrels had to contend with.

• Scurvy. Pirates often spent long periods of time at sea.Because electricity and refrigerators had not been invented, therewas little they could do to preserve food. Therefore, their dietincluded meat, biscuits, rotten vegetables, stale water and ratdroppings! Scurvy is a disease that results from a lack of vitaminC, which is abundant in fruits and vegetables. Symptoms includebleeding gums, fatigue, diarrhea, having your teeth fall out anddeath.

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* Infection. Everyone in the 18th century had to put up withlimited medical care. No one knew that germs cause infection orthat there were simple ways to treat infections. Many pirates diedfrom blood poisoning after injuries that could be easily treatedtoday. On top of that, pirates lived in close quarters, so it waseasy for infection to spread from one person to another. This wouldlead to epidemics of the flu, diarrhea and other contagiousdiseases on a ship. (Keep in mind that there were no toilets onpirate ships, which meant that the crew had to deposit their bodilyproducts directly into the ocean - and I doubt that anyone washedtheir hands after they went to the "bathroom.")

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* Skin conditions. Pirates were a dirty lot. No one took bathsback then, and pirates wore the same clothes day after day. Thislack of cleanliness resulted in rashes, lice and even fleas.

Arrr, matey! Now you know why your parents bug you to takebaths, change your clothes and eat fruits and veggies!

Howard Bennett is a Washington pediatrician and author ofhealth-related books for kids.

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How did the pirates die? ›

However, swords, guns and cannonballs were not what sent most pirates to Davy Jones' locker (meaning, to their death). Instead, a pirate's greatest enemy was disease: food poisoning, malnutrition, infection.

What disease did pirates get? ›

Scurvy is a clinical syndrome that results from vitamin C deficiency. Tales from pirates and British sailors made the disease infamous.

When did pirates go extinct? ›

The era of piracy in the Caribbean began in the 1500s and phased out in the 1830s after the navies of the nations of Western Europe and North America with colonies in the Caribbean began combating pirates.

Where do pirates go when they die? ›

Davy Jones's locker is a metaphor for the oceanic abyss, the final resting place of drowned sailors and travellers. It is a euphemism for drowning or shipwrecks in which the sailors' and ships' remains are consigned to the depths of the ocean (to be sent to Davy Jones' Locker).

Who ended pirates? ›

The Governor

On January 6, 1718, British captain Woodes Rogers was named Captain General and Governor in Chief of Nassau, effectively ending its period as a Pirate Republic.

Who was the last pirate alive? ›

Two of the pirates were hanged but William Swallow escaped the gallows to be transported to Australia – for a third time. He died of consumption in Port Arthur in 1833 and was buried in an unmarked grave on the 'Isle of the Dead'.

When was the last pirate hanged? ›

George Davis and William Watts, convicted for piracy for the Cyprus mutiny, were the final hangings at the dock on 16 December 1830.

What was the lifespan of a pirate? ›

In general, the life of a pirate was often short lived. Many pirates lost their lives during battle, or became ill and passed away. On average, the life expectancy for pirates was no more than two years. Oftentimes, their families never even knew what had happened to them.

How old was the average pirate? ›

According to Gilje and data collected at the time of the American Revolution, the ages of pirates ranged from fourteen to fifty years old. More than half of the population were in their twenties. The average age was 25, with less than 20 percent of seamen under twenty years old.

How do pirates say goodbye? ›

Ahoy. Ahoy is the most versatile pirate word used in movies and books. Sailors use it to call to other ships, greet each other, warn of danger, or say goodbye.

Did pirates sleep on their ships? ›

Pirate captains and higher-ranking members had private sleeping quarters, while common sailors had to sleep in one room. Some of them slept on hammocks. Others slept on the floor. It was easier for them to sleep on hammocks because they swayed and rocked with the ship's movements.

How do you say no in pirate? ›

Avast! – Avast was a command that meant to stop or desist, and is derived from the Italian word “basta” which means stop. Aye (or ay) – Aye was the standard way to say Yes for pirates.

Which pirate was pregnant? ›

All three were sentenced to death, but Bonny and Read had their executions stayed because both of them were pregnant.
Anne Bonny
Spouse(s)James Bonny ​ ​ ( m. 1718; div. 1719)​ Jack Rackham ​ ​ ( m. 1719; died 1720)​
Piratical career
7 more rows

Who was the greatest pirate of all time? ›

Perhaps the most famous pirate of all time, Blackbeard definitely lived up to his fearsome reputation. He was said to enter into every battle with a bevy of weapons including knives, pistols and two swords. At his most powerful, he had four ships in his fleet and 300 loyal pirates to man them.

Who was the most feared pirate? ›

1 – Blackbeard

Easily the most famous buccaneer on the list and possibly the most terrifying pirate of all time, Blackbeard had a reputation of horrific magnitude in his day.

What is a female pirate called? ›

1 Answer. The term pirate, or more appropriately, privateer, is gender neutral.

Was Davy Jones a real pirate? ›

In one of the other stories, Davy Jones refers to David Jones, a pirate captain who sailed his ship across the Indian Ocean in the 1630s. But many historians reject its possibility by arguing that the person mentioned in this story was not popular enough to become a legend, as is Davy Jones.

Was there a real King of the Pirates? ›

Dubbed "The Arch Pirate" and "The King of Pirates" by contemporaries, Every was infamous for being one of very few major pirate captains to escape with his loot without being arrested or killed in battle, and for being the perpetrator of what has been called the most profitable act of piracy in history.

Were pirates executed by drowning? ›

Originally the method of execution was to peg them down at low water below the high water mark on the river bank, so that the rising tide would drown them slowly. By the 16th century the method of execution had changed to being hanged in chains at a tall gallows.

Who was the last pirate in America? ›

Albert Hicks, the United States' last pirate, is hanged on Bedloe's Island in New York Bay. DeWitt Publishing House, The Life-Trial-Confession and Execution of Albert W. Hicks: the Pirate and Murderer .... (New York: DeWitt Publishing, 1860), 15.

Why did pirates stop existing? ›

The Golden Age of Piracy ended because colonial authorities began to use more men and ships to hunt down pirates. Punishments were more severe than previously, and many of the most notorious pirates were hanged.

How did pirates get fresh water? ›

Pirates drank freshwater. It was called freshwater in the sense that it wasn't saltwater, but it still had algae and other unwholesomeness. This was because the water wasn't stored perfectly. It was stored in wooden casks and not filtered or pasteurized.

What did pirates do for 300 years ago? ›

Play Board Games

As a result, pirates made up and modified a wide array of various board games to amuse themselves, playing with all kinds of complex rules and interesting ideas. Many of these games were gambling, played for profit, but many were also just done for fun.

Is there still buried pirate treasure? ›

The only authenticated treasure chest in the United States, once owned by Thomas Tew, is kept at the Pirate Soul Museum in St. Augustine, Florida. Pirate Olivier Levasseur, also known as "The Buzzard" (La Buse), was rumoured to have hidden treasure before his death in 1730.

How did Jack Sparrow die in pirates? ›

Realizing Sparrow is the target, Elizabeth traps him aboard the Black Pearl as the crew abandons the ship, and kisses him while she handcuffs him to the mast. Then, the monster devours Sparrow and drags the ship and his soul to Davy Jones's Locker.

What was the average life expectancy of a pirate? ›

Many pirates lost their lives during battle, or became ill and passed away. On average, the life expectancy for pirates was no more than two years. Oftentimes, their families never even knew what had happened to them. In addition, pirates were sometimes beaten and threatened with death on board.

How long was a pirates life span? ›

Most pirates did not live longer than 5 years after becoming one.

What disease does Jack Sparrow have? ›

This is actually an in-joke between Johhny Depp and the film's makeup department, who theorize that this scab is actually because Jack has syphilis.

What God is Jack Sparrow? ›

Ted Elliott, one of the screenwriters for Jack Sparrow's character, said, “Jack Sparrow's character in Pirates of the Caribbean is one of the most integral parts of the film.” “The characterisation of Sparrow is based on Lord Krishna, who is a major deity in Hinduism.

How did the Kraken die in Pirates? ›

It is unknown how the Kraken was killed, though there is some suggestion that it was killed either by Jones himself under Beckett's orders or that it was hunted down by the East India Trading Company.

How did pirates sleep? ›

Pirate captains and higher-ranking members had private sleeping quarters, while common sailors had to sleep in one room. Some of them slept on hammocks. Others slept on the floor. It was easier for them to sleep on hammocks because they swayed and rocked with the ship's movements.

Did pirates have rotten teeth? ›

Scurvy was a serious problem.

Pirates were often the victims of scurvy because they spent months at a time on the open seas with no access to fresh fruits and vegetables. It wasn't uncommon for pirates to have missing teeth due to poor gums.


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