What Were Pirates Really Like?

What Were Pirates Really Like?

Posted in The World of Smiffys Fancy Dress by Smiffys Liverpool on September 05th 2019
In our 21st century society, pirates are often thought of as men and women with eye patches, hooks for hands, and ending every sentence with “yarggh”, “savvy”, or “matey!”. However, if you’re considering dressing up as a pirate in a pirate costume, you might be curious as to how these men and women lived during the age of sail. So what was the truth behind the pirates of this time period, usually dated as 1571–1862?

The Truth About Pirates

Curious about the truth about pirates? Here’s a list of 6 questions about pirates during the golden age of piracy.

  • Were Any Of The Legendary Pirates Real?
    Pirates have become so mixed within pop culture it can sometimes be difficult to separate fact from fiction. After all, who would have guessed that Blackbeard the legendary pirate and his ship the Queen Anne’s Revenge were real?

    The real pirate known as Blackbeard was an English man known as Edward Teach and he operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of the British colonies in North America. Unfortunately little is known about his early life, however it is speculated that he may have been a sailor on a privateer ship during Queen Anne’s War.

  • What About Buried Treasure?
    For the most part, pirates did not bury their treasure. Often a pirate’s treasure was in the form of trade goods such as food, animal hides, or cloth, which means that burying them would ruin them. However, some pirates did bury their treasure, most notably the pirate Captain William Kidd. That being said, Kidd buried his plunder in order to prevent it being seized by the city of New York’s governor.

  • Did They Really Make People Walk The Plank?
    Whilst many would consider the phrase “walk the plank” to be an iconic pirate phrase, the real pirates in golden age of piracy didn’t make their victims walk the plank. Instead they stabbed or shot the individual and threw them overboard, leaving them to the carnivorous fish.

  • Was There A Pirate Code?
    Almost every ship had a pirate code that every new pirate had to follow. This had specific rules for how loot was divided and what jobs people had to do on board. Additionally, many ships had rules regarding fighting on the ship, for example some ships would strictly punish anyone caught fighting on the ship, however they could fight all they wanted whilst on land.

  • Were They All Men?
    Whilst many pirates were men, some were in fact women. Whilst records of them are less than male pirates, there are numerous well known female pirates. For example, Anne Bonny,who disguised herself as a man with only the famous pirate John Rackham originally being aware that she was in fact a woman. Later another female pirate became aware of her secret, Mary Read.

  • What’s The Difference Between A Pirate, A Buccaneer, And A Privateer?
    A pirate was a person who unlawfully robbed people of their property using a seafaring vessel. Pirates during the age of sail were punished with a death sentence, and this penalty applied in most countries dating back as far at Ancient Egyptian times.

    The word buccaneer originates from the 17th century French hunters living on the island of Hispaniola. These hunters ate smoked beef and pork which was prepared on a wooden frame called a boucan. This led to them being called boucaniers, or in English buccaneers. After the Spanish troops repeated attacked them, they turned to privacy against Spain for revenge, being joined by full time English pirates in the mid 17th century, around 1654 approx.

    A privateer is significantly different to a pirate. Whilst a pirate is a criminal, a privateer is a sailor who is licensed to attack his countries enemies on the condition that he provides the government a certain percentage. Whilst England had many privateers it was far from an English speciality, the French used them so much that in the Second World War, the main battleship of France Jean Bart was named after one of the country’s most famous privateers.

Dressing Up As A Pirate For A Fancy Dress Party

There are lots of fancy dress opportunities throughout the year pirate costumes work great for many of them. You could dress up as the fictional Captain Flint from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island for World Book Day, you could create a terrifying Blackbeard costume for Halloween, you could wear a costume for Piratefest, or you could even have a pirate themed fancy dress party for a birthday. Whatever the reason you’re dressing up as a pirate, Smiffys-Liverpool is the place to shop. With thousands of fancy dress products to choose from across two floors, and a diverse range of fancy dress products on our online store; we’re the ideal choice for fancy dress in Merseyside.

Need Help Finding A Costume?

We have been trading for over ten years in addition to our unrivalled 30 years industry experience. So if you’re struggling to find to find a specific costume, get in touch with our team. Thanks to our links within the party industry, there’s a good chance we can source the fancy dress costume you’re looking for.

Get In Touch With Our Team Of Fancy Dress Experts

If you’re interested in purchasing any of the pirate themed fancy dress costumes on our website, or if you need assistance finding your ideal fancy dress costume, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of staff. You can reach us by telephone, by using the internet, or by visiting us in person at our fancy dress shop in Liverpool.

  • You can contact us by telephone by calling, 0151 709 9449.
  • You could send your questions to us by email, please send your email to sales@smiffysfancydressshop.co.uk
  • You could fill out our enquiry form and we will reply as soon as possible.
  • You could visit us in store, our address is, 56 Bold Street, L1 4EA, our opening times are 9.30 - 5.30 Monday to Saturday and 11.00 - 4.30 on Sundays.
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