John Esquemeling

(Alexandre Olivier Exquemelin)


Little is known with certainty about John Esquemeling, the author of De Americaensche Zee-Roovers, (The Buccaneers of America), a first person account of pirating expeditions in the New World. He was certain a Frenchmen, and well educated. He traveled to the West Indies to work for the French West Indies Company, but it closed down its shop, leaving him stranded on Tortuga. He became very ill and a kindly surgeon looked after him. In order to pay his debts to this surgeon, he took service with a pirate ship, but claims to have witnessed, but not participated in any actual crimes-at-sea. During the years Esquemeling sailed with pirates, Henry Morgan, a particularly dastardly Englishman, was the most notorious pirate of the age, and Esquemeling claims to have witnessed the sack of Panama City first hand.

Esquemeling wrote not only of those pirate adventures that he witnessed first hand, but also of those that were related to him, by other pirates. He wrote with admiration for the extraordinary daring and audacity of some of the pirates, but with horror at the misdeeds of others. The most notorious villain that he depicts was Henry Morgan himself, who not only passed himself off as a respectable Englishmen, but stole from, defrauded, and even captured and hung his fellow pirates when it suited his purpose. Morgan, who became exceedingly wealthy by his piratical expeditions, was arrested by the English in 1672 but was never convicted and was eventually knighted as Sir Henry Morgan. He sued the publishers for libel when De Americaensche Zee-Roovers revealed the details of his dispicable career, and managed to collect a few hundred pounds, but his reputation was forever tarnished.

De Americaensche Zee-Roovers proved exceedingly popular, was translated into dozens of languages and spawned hundreds of imitations. To the degree that it is possible to confirm, however, it appears to be reliabel history.

Key events during the life of John Esquemeling:

Born in northern France, or the Netherlands.
Engaged by the French West Indies Company. Traveled to Tortuga.
Enlisted with Henry Morgan, probably as a barber-surgeon.
Present at the Battle of Panama, under the pirate captain Morgan.
Published De Americaensche Zee-Roovers in Dutch.

Book Links
Buccaneers of America  by  J. Esquemeling

Other Resources

Story Links
Book Links
The Author Sets Forth  in  The Buccaneers of America  by  John Esquemeling
Pirate Author  in  Buccaneers and Pirates of Our Coasts  by  Frank R. Stockton

Short Biography
Henry Morgan English privateer who became one of the most notorious pirates of the Spanish Main.
Bartholemy Portuguez Famous South American Pirate of the Caribbean during the mid-17th century.
Francis L'Ollonais Notorious Pirate of the Spanish Main.