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Captain Howell Davis

Welsh Sailor & Pirate

Born: Unknown

Died: June, 1719

Davis was a Welsh pirate who preyed on shipping off the West African coast and in the Caribbean from July 1718 until June 1719. An expert in deception, Davis was killed in a skirmish with Portuguese troops on the West African Coast. Davis was virtually raised on a ship coming to stature as chief mate of a slaver. Around 1718 he was captured by Edward England off the coast of Africa.

Davis was a likeable man and easily gained favor with England. England gave the captured ship to Davis whom in turn proposed to sell it in Brazil. The crew wanted to keep the ship and sailed to Barbados. Once they reached their destination they were arrested. Davis spent three months in jail. Upon his release, Davis had made up his mind to turn pirate. Davis went to the Bahamas in hopes of mustering a crew only to find that Woodes Rogers had preceded him. Davis was put on a ship loaded with cargo and Roger's men. At Martinique, Davis raised a mutiny and was chosen captain. Davis and his crew of 35 men took two larger French ships north of Hispaniola. Davis captured the second ship by making the first captured look like a pirate ship by forcing the prisoners to brandish swords upon the deck.

Believing themselves outnumbered the second ship gave up without a fight. Davis next sailed to the Cape Verde Islands where the Portuguese governor at Saint Nicholas believing Davis' ship the "Buck" was an English privateer, welcomed Davis' crew with open arms. Leaving Saint Nicholas he sailed to Maio Island where he plundered many ships and swelled the ranks of his crew. One prize, the "Saint James" a 26 gun ship they decided to keep. Davis then went to the Royal Africa Company's fort in the Gambia River. Dressed like dandies, Davis and two of his men deceived the governor who invited them to dinner. The governor was made prisoner and relieved of 2,000 in gold.

Davis next had a short stint as admiral over the pirate captains Olivier La Bouche and Thomas Cocklyn. Their venture didn't last long as they couldn't agree on a course of action. Parting company, Davis seized 4 large English and Dutch ships loaded with ivory, gold dust, and slaves. Davis exchanged the "Buck" for a 32-gun ship renamed the "Rover". Next he captured 3 British slave ships. An officer aboard one of the slavers, Bartholomew Roberts decided to join Davis. Davis' next port of call was Principe Island. He took a Dutch prize and 15,000 along the way.

He had to abandon the "Saint James" as she was too badly damaged. At Principe Island, Davis told the Portuguese governor that he was a pirate hunter, even going as far as seizing a French ship that came into the harbor claiming that the French ship had been trading with pirates. Just when Davis' career had been flying high tragedy struck. As Davis was waiting for the Governor to come aboard his vessel (and thus be taken hostage), the Governor's guards lunged from the bushes and killed Davis where he stood.  Although surprised, Davis was able to draw his pistols and kill two of his attackers on the way down. 

Davis' death was avenged by his crew under the command of Bartholomew Roberts.  They burnt the fort and shelled the town in retaliation for their former captain's death.

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