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The pirate who lived to tell the tale of his execution.

In 1684, Andrew Ranson was found guilty of leading a band of pirates on a planned attack on St. Augustine and sentenced to death by garrote. But when the executioner was applying the final twists to the rope around Ranson's neck to choke him to death, the rope broke and the prisoner fell to the ground. The town's friar rushed to the gallows and discovered the pirate was still alive.

The friars believed that Ranson's near-death experience was a miracle and refused the governor's demand to execute Ranson on grounds of ecclesiastical immunity. Instead, Ranson was transferred from the convent to the Castillo de San Marcos, where he helped in its construction. And when the English from South Carolina captured St. Augustine and laid siege to the Castillo, Ranson helped the Spanish repel the attack and was instrumental as an interpreter during the interrogation of captured English soldiers. When the siege was lifted, so was Ranson's prisoner status.

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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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