Have you heard about a pirate named Charles Vane? The exact origins of Vane’s early life are unknown, but it is believed he was born in England around the year 1680. Vane began his career as a privateer working on one of Lord Archibald Hamilton’s ships during the War of Spanish Succession that lasted from 1701-1714. In 1716, Vane served under Henry Jennings during an attack on the Spanish in Florida where he amassed a booty valued at 87,000 pounds of gold and silver. Read below to learn more about the life and death of pirate Charles Vane.
Ruthless and Skilled Pirate
Vane is a noteworthy pirate whose navigation and combat skills were hard to outdo. He was successful in plundering numerous vessels, but had a volatile relationship with his crew which ultimately led to the end of his career. As stated above, Vane’s pirate career began in 1716 when he served under Henry Jennings and raided ships and camps of the sunken Spanish galleons’ salvagers in coastal Florida. A few years later, Vane became a captain in his own right and started capturing vessels and ruthlessly torturing and murdering prisoners. In 1718, the new governor of New Providence, Woodes Rogers, arrived in the region on the flagship known as the “Delicia” and was accompanied by two warships, the “Rose” and the “Milford.” Pirate Vane set ablaze a recently captured French prize vessel and started sailing straight towards Rogers ships. Rogers tried to avoid the burning ship, and Pirate Vane even fired a few shots at his vessel before sailing away laughing. Rogers was angered by this disrespectful act and sent a former pirate, Captain Benjamin Hornigold, to try to hunt Vane down, but Vane escaped capture.
Vane Evades Capture by Pirate Hunters
Pirate captain Charles Vane and his ship “Range” became famous in the West Indies between the years 1716 and 1721. During one adventure en route to the Carolinas, Vane captured a big warship which he used as a second ship. He subsequently promoted his quartermaster Yeates into the role of captain of the 2nd ship. Together, Vane and Yeates seized many ships including a slave ship from Africa that had 90 black slaves aboard. Pirate hunters were hired by the Governor of South Carolina in order to capture the pesky pirates that were a constant threat to the coast. One particularly noteworthy pirate hunter was the famous Colonel William Rhett. Rhett had a strong desire to capture Vane personally. At one point, Rhett encountered a ship that had just been plundered by Vane and pointed Rhett in the direction that Vane had headed. However, once again Vane was able to successfully evade capture. Captain Vane was very rude and treated his pirate companions with such disrespect that his second in command Yeates decided to part ways with Vane. One night, Yeates and his followers snuck off with one Vane’s ships including part of the treasure they had accumulated and the 90 captured slaves and sailed away.
Vane continued attacking and capturing ships in the Windward Passage area located between Cuba and Hispaniola. One day, he and his crew attacked a vessel that turned out to be powerful French Warship, and Vane had to flee for safety. The next day, his quartermaster who was Calico Jack Rackham, accused him of being a coward and took over control of Vane’s ship. Vane was left behind in a small captured sloop with a few of his loyal pirate crew. He quickly captured a couple of small ships and rebuilt his pirate fleet until a hurricane near the Bay of Honduras wrecked his ship and nearly his entire crew drowned. Vane and another survivor ended up stranded on a small fisherman’s island where they were rescued by former Buccaneer, Captain Holford, who knew all about Vane.
Captain Holford promptly imprisoned and extradited Vane to authorities in Port Royal where he was found guilty of piracy and hanged in November of 1720, ending the life of one of the Age of Piracy’s most noteworthy pirates, Charles Vane.