Pierre le Grand (pirate)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
For the 18th century French opera, see Pierre le Grand.
Pierre Le Grand
Peter The Great - pirate.jpg
Peter The Great - pirate
Born Dieppe, France
Died Canada
Piratical career
Type Pirate
Years active 17th century
Base of operations Caribbean
Pierre Le Grand catches a Spanish captain off guard in his cabin. Engraving by Howard Pyle.

Pierre Le Grand (French: Peter the Great) was a French buccaneer of the 17th century. He is known to history only from one source, Alexandre Exquemelin's Buccaneers of America, and may be imaginary.


Pierre was born in Dieppe, France. Nothing is known of his life before his arrival in Tortuga at some time in the mid-17th century.

Attack on Spanish galleon[edit]

Pierre le Grand is known only for his attack on a Spanish galleon near the coast of Hispaniola in the 17th century. The exact site of the attack is uncertain; Exquemelin at one point says the Caicos Islands were the scene of the crime, and at another point places the attack at Cape Tiburón, off the southwest coast of Hispaniola.

Pierre had recruited a crew of 28 men on a single small boat and sailed in search of Spanish ships to rob. After a long, fruitless cruise, his buccaneer band spotted a ship, a straggler from the Spanish treasure fleet. They voted to pursue it, and shortly after sunset, they drew alongside their prey without being seen.

The legend says that Pierre ordered the crew's surgeon to cut a hole in the side of their own boat and sink it, to inspire the men to fight their hardest for lack of a means of retreat. Then the pirates climbed up the side of the galleon, armed with swords and pistols.

Surprise was complete. The pirates took the galleon's captain unawares while he played cards in his own cabin. Pierre's men also seized the gun room, slaughtering the Spanish guards and preventing the rest of the Spanish crew from obtaining weapons to defend themselves and their ship. The galleon's sailors had little choice but to surrender.

Pierre Le Grand then forced some of the Spanish crew into his service, set the rest ashore (presumably on Hispaniola), and took his captured ship and his men to France. He then disappears from history. However, there is some indication that he may have emigrated to Canada, as his name appears in the immigration records as arriving in Montreal in 1653.


  • Alexandre Exquemelin, The Buccaneers of America, 1684.
  • Massicotte, Edouard Z. "Les Colons de Montreal de 1642 a 1667." p. 224