Blackest Bart

Following on from our piece on Black Bart (one of the pirates featured in Ieuan Morris’s new book, Photographing Pembrokeshire) Ceridwen Cilshafe has been in touch to emphasise just how nasty a piece of work he was.

“Although Barti Ddu has become a popular character who gets romanticised (especially for commercial purposes),” she says, “we should face the fact that he was involved in the slave trade and showed no mercy.”
As an example of his cruelty, she quotes an incident from 1722 when Black Bart’s men sailed into a harbour in West Africa. The 11 ships that were at anchor there immediately surrendered to him, but they were restored to their owners after paying a ransom of 8lb of gold dust per ship. When one ship refused to pay up, Black Bart had his crew climb aboard and set it on fire. The captured vessels were slave ships, and the one set on fire had around 80 enslaved Africans on board. They either died in the fire or drowned or were attacked by sharks.
Ceridwen says: “The reason was that he wouldn’t waste any time or efforts to unshackle the unfortunate people.”

Nigel Summerley

Nigel Summerley retired from The Oldie magazine to return to freelance journalism. He previously held executive staff jobs at the London Evening Standard, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph and the Daily Express before freelancing for 20 years for newspapers including The Times, The Sunday Times, The Independent, The Guardian and the ‘i’ paper, plus a wide range of magazines. He continues to write about music, travel and health, and blogs at

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