John Morris (pirate)

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John Morris (fl. 1663–1672) was an English buccaneer active in the Caribbean during the 1660s and early-1670s. His son, John Morris the Younger, held a command of his own ship during his father's later expeditions against Portobelo and Maracaibo. John Morris the Younger was one of the commanders killed in an explosion during a party on-board Henry Morgan's flagship in 1670.


Serving with Admiral Christopher Myngs during his campaign against Spain in the West Indies during the early 1660s, he would become associated with many future prominent privateers of the era and later bought four captured prizes from Myngs.

One of the early buccaneers participating in the expeditions against Spanish strongholds in Mexico and Nicaragua in late 1663 and early 1664, Morris sailed with Henry Morgan, David Marteen, Captain Jackman, Captain Kelly and Captain Freeman against Spanish strongholds in the Caribbean under privateering commissions granted by then governor Thomas Modyford. [1]

Arriving off the coast of Mexico, Morris and the others anchored their ships at the mouth of the Grijalva River and proceeded to march 50 miles inland to the capital of the Tabasco Province, Villahermosa, taking the Spanish stronghold completely by surprise. Returning to the coast, the fleet had been captured by a Spanish patrol and, stealing two barques and four Indian canoes, Morris and the other sailed south looting a village before their arrival at present day Trujillo, Honduras. Sailing off with a ship anchored in the town harbor, they eventually hid the captured vessel at the mouth of the San Juan river and travelled nearly 100 miles upriver to Lake Nicaragua where they raided the city of Granada before returning to Port Royal, Jamaica in November 1665.

In 1670, he and Morgan encountered Portuguese pirate Manuel Ribeiro Pardal, who had long been raiding shipping under a letter of marque from Spain, and boarded his ship, San Pedro y La Fama, while sailing off the northern coast of Cuba. Although many of his crew were killed by Morris's crew after jumping overboard in panic, Ribeiro managed to escape during the confusion but was soon killed by Morgan.[2]

Morris would later serve under Morgan in his later raids against Portobelo, Maracaibo and Panama in January 1671, with himself and Lawrence Prince leading the assault. Upon their return to Port Royal following the Panama raid, newly appointed governor Sir Thomas Lynch arrested Morgan whose attack, although commissioned by former governor Thomas Modyford, had taken place following the recently signed peace treaty between England and Spain. Apparently not subject to arrest, Morris was given command of the frigate Lilly and commissioned as a pirate hunter with explicit instructions to arrest privateers who continued acts of piracy against Spain.

In January 1672, he left Port Royal with HMS Assistance under Major William Beeston and sailed towards Havana in search of privateers. During the voyage, as described in Beeston's logbook, Morris was a skilled pilot who greatly assisted Beeston and other British Captain's unfamiliar with Caribbean waters. During the six-week voyage, the expedition successfully captured the sloop Charity under Captain Francis Weatherbourn and the Mary under Captain Du Mangles bringing back a total of forty three prisoners.

In popular culture[edit]


  1. ^ Senauth 2011, p. 89.
  2. ^ "Famous Pirates and Privateers: O-S". Pirate History: Famous Pirates, Privateers, Buccaneers, and Corsairs. Privateer Dragons Island. Retrieved February 25, 2012. 


  • Senauth, Frank (2011). The Making of Jamaica (Kindle ed.). Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse. ISBN 978-1-4634-2622-4. 

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