Welsh pirate (c. 1682 to 1722). After serving in the War of Spanish Succession, he was a mate aboard a trading sloop and became a master mariner, with expertise in shiphandling, navigation, and naval tactics. In 1719, he was the third mate aboard the Princess, an English slave ship, which was seized by a pirate vessel called the Royal Rover. Roberts was pressed into service and was elected captain of the pirate ship just six weeks later when the previous captain was killed in an ambush.

Roberts and his crew raided several ships and islands on the west coast of Africa before sailing for Brazil--Roberts guided the ship 2,300 miles in only 28 days, which was very impressive for the time. Off Brazil, they sailed into a 42-ship Portuguese convoy, looted the best prize, and escaped before the escorting warships could react.

In only three years, Roberts took over 400 prizes, plagued shipping from Brazil to Newfoundland and from the Caribbean to Africa. Royal Navy and privateer fleets sent to capture him often sailed away rather than face him. He even fought a brief war with tribesmen of the Calabar River which was still remembered in oral histories of the tribe in the 20th century. He inspired absolute loyalty in all the men under his command. He had a reputation for ferocity and viciousness and was known to sailors worldwide as Black Bart or the Great Pirate Roberts; however, he was not a savage, like other pirates of the period--he always dressed like a gentleman, drank tea, never drank liquor, and discouraged his crew from drinking.

Roberts' luck finally ran out after he traveled to Africa again and was surprised by the Royal Navy at Cape Lopez. The Navy's first salvo tore his throat out, and his crew quickly surrendered.

Research from GURPS Who's Who, compiled by Phil Masters, "Bartholomew Roberts" by Peter V. Dell'Orto, pp. 84-85.

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