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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.

JOLLY ROGER FLAG

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?

  • At the height of its popularity, Port Royal, Jamaica had one drinking house for every ten residents. In July 1661 alone, 41 new licenses were granted to taverns.

  • Pirates wore an earring to ensure they died with at least one piece of treasure to buy their way into 'Fiddler's Green' (sailor's paradise in heaven).

  • The reason you've heard of most well known pirates is that they were captured and killed, or brought to trial where their exploits were recorded. But pirate captain Henry Every was made famous because he evaded capture after his piratical exploits.

  • Many pirates had eye patches, peg legs, or hooks. Ships in the 17th and 18th century were extremely dangerous places to work, so pirates would commonly lose limbs or even eyes during battle. 

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