Rebecca Simon

Dr Rebecca Simon is a historian of early modern piracy, Colonial America, the Atlantic World and maritime history. She earned her PhD from King’s College London in 2017. Her dissertation, entitled: “The Crimes of Piracy and its Punishment: The Performance of Maritime Supremacy in the British Atlantic World, 1670–1830,” examines British maritime and legal supremacy in its early American colonies in regards to maritime piracy. Dr Simon has written numerous articles for History Today, BBC History Revealed and other online publications and appeared on numerous podcasts such as You’re Dead To Me, History Hit and History Extra. She was featured in History Channel’s The Curse of Oak Island and Beyond Oak Island, and Netflix’s docu-drama The Lost Pirate Kingdom. She is the author of Why We Love Pirates: The Hunt for Captain Kiddand How He Changed Piracy Forever (Mango Publishing Group, 2020). Her second book, Pirate Queens: The Lives of Anne Bonny and Mary Read was published by Pen & Sword History in 2022. 

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Youngest pirate

The youngest pirate of whom there is documentary proof is John King. On 9 November 1716, the notorious pirate Samuel Bellamy aka “Black Sam” captured a passenger ship, the Bonetta. It was on its way to Jamaica and John King, aged between eight and 11 years old, and his mother were both passengers. According to a sworn statement dated 30 November 1716 by Abijah Savage (the captain of the Bonetta), John King insisted on joining the pirate crew, threatening to kill himself or hurt his mother if his wish were not granted. Eventually “Black Sam” allowed him to do this. In 1984, the wreck of the Whydah was discovered and, among other artefacts, a small shoe, a silk stocking and a small leg bone were recovered. The expedition archaeologist and an expert from the Smithsonian Institution later confirmed the bone as that of a child aged between eight and 11 years old.