Major Stede Bonnet | History of SC Slide Collection

Major Stede Bonnet

The Pirate Stede Bonnet is one of the more colorful characters in South Carolina history. In the early 18th century there was sometimes very little difference between legal piracy--the licensing of "privateers" to seize merchant ships of an enemy during a time of war--and illegal piracy on the high seas. The West Indies and the North Carolina inlets both provided protective harbors for the latter. The Treaty of Utrecht in 1713 both ended employment for privateers by bringing a close to Queen Anne's War, and brought about renewal of trade that was a tempting target for pirates. Stede Bonnet was a man of wealth and education, who had been a major of Barbados before he turned to piracy. Bonnet was captured by Colonel William Rhett in 1718 (see Colonel William Rhett), convicted of piracy, and hanged.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.