John Callis (pirate)

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For the 19th-century American politician, see John Benton Callis.
John Callis
Born Wales
Died 1576
Piratical career
Type Pirate
Years active 1570s
Rank Captain
Base of operations South Wales
Commands the Swallow

John Callis (or Calles) (died 1576) was a 16th-century Welsh pirate. He was active in South Wales from Cardiff to Haverfordwest, often selling his prizes and cargo in the villages of Laugharne and Carew in Milford Haven, only a few miles south of Little Newcastle, Wales.[1] His piratical career lasted for decades before pressure from neighbouring countries forced to English government to take action and managed to capture him in 1576.[2]

The elderly pirate attempted to assist authorities in tracking down other pirates in exchange for his release, however the authorities refused his offer and he was hanged in Newport later that year.[3] Following his execution, a commission was appointed to investigate merchants and others in the counties of Cardigan, Pembroke, Carmarthen, Monmouth and Glamorgan associated with locally based pirates. A list of those illegally dealing with pirates was compiled by the commission and the offenders fined.[4]


  1. ^ Sanders, Richard. If a Pirate I Must Be...: The True Story of Black Bart, King of the Caribbean Pirates. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2007. (pg. 19) ISBN 1-60239-019-3
  2. ^ Fuller, Basil and Ronald Leslie-Melville. Pirate Harbours and Their Secrets. London: Stanley Paul, 1935. (pg. 161-162)
  3. ^ Leslie, Edward E. Desperate Journeys, Abandoned Souls: True Stories of Castaways and Other Survivors. New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1998. (pg. 90) ISBN 0-395-91150-8
  4. ^ History of St. Gwynllyw' Church, Newport-on-Usk: Together with Some Historical Notes of the Immediate Neighbourhood. Newport: Robert H. Johns, 1893. (pg. 59)

Further reading[edit]

  • Brooks, Sir Eric St. John. Sir Christopher Hatton: Queen Elizabeth's Favourite. London: Jonathan Cape, 1946.
  • O'Neill, Paul. The Oldest City: The Story of St. John's, Newfoundland. Erin, Ontario: Press Porcepic, 1975.
  • Quinn, David B. The Voyages and Colonising Enterprises of Sir Humphrey Gilbert. London: Hakluyt Society, 1940.
  • Quinn, David B. and Neil M. Cheshire, ed. The New Found Land of Stephen Parmenius: The Life and Writings of a Hungarian Poet, Drowned on a Voyage from Newfoundland, 1573. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1972.