Sharp's career as a pirate captain began when the buccaneers with whom he was sailing round South America needed a new commander. He quickly proved himself a natural leader and a capable seaman; however, these qualities did not prevent him being deposed as captain in January 1681, after storms and setbacks provoked a mutiny. His successor was killed three weeks later, and Sharp resumed command. Under him the buccaneers continued around South America and up to the Caribbean, taking 25 Spanish ships and plundering numerous Spanish towns. Capt Sharp is credited as being the first Englishman ever to travel eastwards around Cape Horn. Sharp had planned to return to England via the Strait of Magellan, but a storm pushed the Trinity too far south, forcing him to navigate the Cape. An eyewitness account of Sharp's adventures was published in The Dangerous Voyage And Bold Assaults of Captain Bartholomew Sharp and Others,by Basil Ringrose London, 1684.
Because England and Spain were not at war, the Spaniards demanded Sharp's prosecution for piracy. Sharp, however, presented the authorities with a book of maps taken from the Spanish ship El Santo Rosario in July 1681; their value to English seafarers was such that Sharp received a full pardon from Charles II.
Prison and death
In 1696, Sharp established himself on the Danish island of St. Thomas (present day U.S. Virgin Islands). By 1700, due to his debt, he tried to flee the island and the Danish colonial authorities. The attempt failed, and Sharp was confined to prison, where he died on 29 October 1702.
- Pickering, David. "Pirates". CollinsGem. HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY. pp-61. 2006.
- Poul Olsen "Sørøvere i Vestindien", Siden Saxo, Nr. 3, 2003, page 6-8.