bad pirate
All pirates were bad, though some of them were quite cool, especially the ones that lived about three hundred years ago, and had wooden legs and cutlasses and stuff like that. Oh, and parrots, of course.

Today the term 'bad pirates' means those pirates who were simply rubbish at their jobs. In short, all those pirates who didn't know their 'arrrs' from their elbows.

The names of most bad pirates have been lost to history. This is because they were so rubbish at being buccaneers that few navy warships bothered to pursue them. Mostly they were a nuisance and just got in the way of the real pirates and the sailors who wanted to catch them and have a fight.

Of the bad pirates we do know about, these five were easily the worst/most pathetic:

1. Gluebeard
Real name Henry Pritt. Famous for his luxurious red beard into which numerous important piracy items were always getting entangled: maps, telescopes, eyepatches, small items of furniture, mermaids.

His final humiliation was to be caught by the British Navy and shaved. His beard was found to contain over £7000 in gold doubloons that he knew nothing about.

His parrot was called Mister Sticky.

2. Wrong John Silver
Former pig-herder John Silver spent his whole pirate career protesting that he was the 'wrong John Silver'. Sadly 'Wrong John' had the misfortune to look and sound like Long John Silver, who was notoriously good at being a properly nasty pirate. Wrong John Silver even had a wooden leg. Which was odd, because he wasn't actually missing either of his real legs.

WJS was eventually captured and sent to the gallows. Turning to the hangman, his final words were: 'Spare me! You have the Wrong John Silver!'

Ironically, he was speaking to the wrong hangman and he perished the next moment.

His parrot was called Bosun Wagstaff, though it continually squawked that its real name was Marmaduke.

captain rook
3. Captain Rook
Little is known about Captain Rook apart from the fact that
he lost his left hand in a strange stamp-collecting accident and
replaced it with a live rook.
Using its beak, the rook ("Rooky")
was able to operate a brace
of pistols as well as give you
a nasty peck.

Captain Rook didn't have a parrot as he disliked most birds. This quickly came to include rooks and he replaced the rook with a book, simply because it rhymed. After the Captain's death the book was found to be about bird-watching. The rook page had been torn out and presumably tossed overboard.

4. Stringy Jack Rackstraw
stringy jack rackstraw
Stringy Jack Rackstraw was a sea-faring toy salesman who drifted into piracy. His most popular novelty was a wooden reel on a string which could be made to rise and fall and perform tricks.

At the completion of each trick, Stringy Jack would call out his trademark catchphrase, 'Yo-yo, ho! And a bottle of rum!' He would then swig from a bottle of rum.

This lead to Stringy Jack being mistaken for a wicked buccaneer by a hard-of-hearing Royal Navy admiral.

Fleeing arrest, Stringy Jack voyaged all round the Caribbean selling yo-yos to islanders. Up and down he went. And so did his yo-yos.

In this way, Rackstraw amassed a fortune in gold coins which he buried, then dug up. Buried, then dug up. Buried, then...well, you get the idea.

He was captured in mid-dig and hanged at Tyburn where his corpse hung on its rope for many days: rising, falling, spinning from side to side, and looping the loop.

He had a parrot called Gogol. Which he kept on a string.

5. Mad Maddy Maddington
Mad Maddy Maddington was such a rubbish pirate that she couldn't afford her own ship. Instead, she went backwards and forwards on the Isle of Wight ferry, plundering the gift shop.

Being mad, she owned a parrot called 'Shut-up!' Imagine the confusion: 'Say something, Shut-Up! Speak, Shut-up!' etc.

She also owned a walnut called Cecil. (We told you she was mad.)

Bad Pirate Flags
bad pirate flags, skull and crossbones

Bad Pirate Flags: (L to R) Gluebeard, Wrong John Silver, Stringy Jack, CaptainRook, Mad Maddy Maddington