Life as a pirate was as thrilling as you can imagine, but it wasn't all gold coins and drinking. Piracy was a very dangerous calling. Many died from disease, accidents, battle or shipwrecks. Others were caught and paid the ultimate price: to be hanged by the neck 'til dead, dead, dead. In the museum, you'll learn the risks and retributions pirates faced when they were tried for their crimes - including the thrilling story of Blackbeard's final hours.


The original Jolly Roger is one of the prized pieces within the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum collection. Dated 1850, this Jolly Roger is only one of two pirate flags ever recovered. Its condition is amazing and the design is primitive and eerily haunting. Pirates and other sailors were very skilled in sewing and repairing cloth because of the constant upkeep of the ship's sails. When you see the flag in person, be sure to look closely at the perfectly tight stitching. The name Jolly Roger probably came from the French words jolie rouge, meaning 'pretty red', and refers to the days when the first buccaneers flew bright, blood-colored flags to frighten their prey to speedy surrender. It meant 'no quarter will be given' and that any resistance would result in a fight to the death.

Pirate of the Month

Mary Read was a seaman on a ship that was captured by pirates and she turned then to a life of piracy.

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Did you know?

  • The Jolly Roger was a black flag flown to identify the vessel as a pirate ship. While the skull and crossbones is the most common of these flags, many great pirate captains designed custom symbols to identify exactly who is attacking.

  • "Shiver me timbers" is an expression of excitement or awe. Its origin has to do with sailing in heavy seas, when the ship is lifted up and pounded down so hard that the timbers are said to shiver.

  • Although pirates have been around since the Romans and Vikings, most pirating happened during the Golden Age of Piracy between 1680 and 1730.

  • Pirates believed that whistling on a ship would cause the weather to turn stormy. Consider the phrase 'to whistle up a storm.'


What's Your Favorite Pirate Accessory?