Creed of Ethics
About the year 1640 the pirates
formed a kind of democratic
confraternity. Their vows formed the Custom of the Brothers of the
Coast, often called the Pirates Creed of Ethics. It was in fact the
social contract of the expedition. It was always signed by the whole
ship's company before any departure when the elected Captain and the
officers prepared a charter-party. Every decision of importance was
discussed, followed by a vote. Courage alone conferred distinction. a
pirate ship was an extremely well-ordered floating community.
- Ye Captain shall have full
command during the time of
engagement, and shall have authority at all other times to conduct the
ship accordingly. He who disobeys him may be punished unless the
majority vote against the punishment.
- If ye Captain's vessel is
shipwrecked, the crew pledges to
remain until he has possessed himself of a vessel. If the vessel is the
common property of the crew, the first vessel captured shall belong to
ye Captain with one share of the spoil.
- Ye ship's surgeon shall have
two hundred crowns for the
maintenance of his medicine chest and he shall receive one part of the
- Ye other officers will
receive each single part, and if ye
distinguish yourself, the crew will determine how much reward to be
given to ye.
- Ye spoil taken from a
captured ship is to be distributed in
- Ye who shall be the first to
signal the appearance of the
vessel that is captured, shall receive 100 hundred crowns.
- If ye lose an eye, or a hand
or leg in ye said service, ye
shall receive up to six slaves or six hundred crowns.
- Ye supplies and rations are
to be shared equally.
- If ye introduce on board a
woman in disguise, ye shall be
punished to death.
- If one Brother steals from
another, his nose or ears are to
be cut off. If he sins again, he is to be given a musket, bullets, lead
and a bottle of water and marooned on an island.
- If there is any doubt in a
dispute between ye Brothers, a
court of honor is to decide the verdict. If a Brother is proved in the
wrong, the first time he shall be pardoned, but should he offend again,
he shall be tied to a gun, and there shall receive from each of the
ship's company one strike of the lash. The same punishment shall be
given to ye among us, including officers, who shall get drunk, while on
the ship, to the point of losing ye senses.
- Whoever shall be placed on
sentry, and upon his post shall
go to sleep, shall in the first case be lashed by all the Brothers, and
should he again offend, his head shall be split.
- All ye who shall plot to
desert, or having deserted shall
be captured, shall have ye heads split open.
Quarrels between several Brothers whilst aboard ye ship shall be
settled ashore with pistol and sword. He that draws first blood shall
be the victor. No striking another whilst aboard ye ship.