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Pirates and Jews

The role Jews played in early American Piracy.


When one thinks of Pirates, one certainly doesn’t think of Jews.

In the days when the Spanish Armada ruled the seas, Pirates were seen as terrorists. 
They attacked ships, stole the wealth which was being brought to Spain.

Pirates, operating with the silent agreement of European nations, which disclaimed
knowledge or control, (sounds familiar?) brought Spain to its literal knees.

Spain was The world power between the 1400s and 1600s. It must be remembered,
outside of Brasil, the entire New World was given to Spain.

Spain alone could colonise, enslave, strip countries of their wealth.  Hence with the
New World as Spain’s treasure chest it is no surprise it would be richer and more
powerful than any other nation, or nations, combined.

The Spanish Inquisition began at the same time of Columbus’ voyages. 
This was state sponsored murder. One either converted to Catholicism
and became a practicing Catholic or was burned to death.

Many Jews fled Spain, some went to the East, some to North Africa, some to
England, which expelled them as well.

Many converted, or seemed to.

These Marranos or Conversos were happy to join voyages of discovery, happy to
make up colonies, in short, happy to get out of Spain alive.

Many went to Portugal, were ‘converted’ and hence claiming to be Portuguese were
accepted as Catholics, and set sail for Brasil.  The first Portuguese to step foot on
Brasil was a Jew.

So here we have the Spanish and Portuguese busy settling their territories.

The Dutch come in with permission, and many of the Dutch were Jews who had
escaped Spain and Portugal.

Here are persons living in various parts of the New World in the 1500s who happen
to be Jews. They are ruled by a hated enemy.

They know what is happening, because being literate and numerate, they fill certain
business positions. They know when a shipment of silver will be leaving what is today
Venezuela. They know what route it will take.

Hence on a wide blue sea, thousands of empty miles in all
directions, a pirate ship suddenly appears right in the path.

Appears at the right place, at the right time, with the knowledge of what that ship holds.


As we move to the 1600s, and the English are now actively involved in Piracy, it is no
wonder that Port Royal in Jamaica, becomes one of the wealthiest places in world, and
that the Governor himself is no less that the famed Pirate Henry Morgan.

Many Jews did not merely pass information, they fitted Pirate ships, and took a portion
of the booty.

And some, like the Cohen Henriques brothers, became Pirates.

Moses Cohen Henriques planned one of history’s largest heists against Spain.
In 1628, sailing with the Dutch West India Co. Admiral Piet Hein, (who having spent four years
as a galley slave aboard a Spanish ship) hated the Spaniards as much as Henriques did.

Aware of what was being shipped and when, Henriques and Hein boarded the Spanish ships
off Cuba and seized shipments of New World gold and silver worth about 1 billion in today’s dollars.

Cohen Henriques went on to lead the Jewish contingent in Brazil, and established his very
own pirate island off the coast of Brasil.

In 1654, Moses Cohen Henriques was in Jamaica, as a special advisor to Henry Morgan,
the leading pirate of the time.

The success of Piracy is truly attributable to the network of Jews.
Jews who sent coded messages to each other. For all Jews read Hebrew.

By the time Spain unraveled the mystery, and murdered many of the Jews, England was
already a power, and soon, Spain lost many of it’s northern colonies.

The English Armada was virtually built and paid for with the booty of Pirates

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