Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Buccaneers (Fr. Boucaniers, from boncan, the smoke-dried flesh of the wild ox, a staple food and article of trade among these people) were the sea-rovers of the West Indies during the 17th and early 18th centuries. At one period most of them were French. In 1625 they seized the island of St. Christopher, whence they preyed upon the merchant fleets of Spain. About the year 1630 they also possessed themselves of the northern portion of the then Spanish island of San Domingo, and formed a kind of pirate republic. As they were troublesome in the highest degree to Spanish commerce, they were officially, though not always openly, favoured by France, and afterwards by Great Britain. Their occupation was taken from them by the provisions of the treaty of Ryswick in 1697; and thenceforward, wherever they existed, they were pirates, and equally the enemies of all maritime nations. The most notable of them were Montbars, Peter of Dieppe, Raveneau de Lussan, Francois l'Olonnais, Bartolommeo Portuguez, Mansvelt, Henry Morgan, Richard Sawkins, William Dampier, and Basil Ringrove. Many of them rendered valuable service as explorers and navigators, and some, like Dampier, and Morgan (who became lieutenant-governor of Jamaica, and was knighted) ended their lives in lawful pursuits. The vessels of the buccaneers were, moreover, valuable schools for seamen.