St. John and the Virgin Islands: Islands with Pirate Names


Like other Caribbean Islands, the Virgin Islands, has a considerable pirate history, which has left it’s legacy, at least in terms of the names of some of its islands and cays.

For example, think of the four islands containing the name Thatch, Thatch Cay, Great Thatch and Little Thatch. These islands are thought to be named after the notorious pirate, Edward Teach, or better known as Blackbeard and on St. Thomas we have Blackbeard’s Castle.

Bellamy Cay, he small island in Trellis Bay on the east end of Tortola in The British Virgin Islands is named after the pirate Black Sam Bellamy.

Although Sir Francis Drake was viewed  as a heroic privateer to the English ,he was considered a vicious loathsome pirate by the Spanish. On St. Thomas there is a concrete seat overlooking a beautiful panorama of islands and cays, which is a popular tourist stop called  Drake’s Seat. Here supposedly (but doubtfully) Sir Francis Drake would sit while looking for ships to plunder.

On the south side of the channel between Tortola and several smaller islands, named fter the aforementioned, Sir Francis Drake, lies a small rocky and scrubby  island named Dead Chest. This island was once used by Blackbeard to punish disobedient pirates, who he would leave marooned on this desolate cay with only a bottle of rum in the way of provisions and little chance of survival.

It was Dead Chest Island that Robert Louis Stevenson in his book  “Treasure Island, when he wrote the well known ditty :

“Fifteen Men on the dead man’s Chest,
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum.”

Furthermore, the inspiration for “Treasure Island” itself was the Island just to the west of Dead Chest called Norman Island , which was named after the pirate, Norman, whose pirate lair was on the island of Anegada.

Today modern day pirates still inhabit the the Virgin Islands, but in the words of Bob Dylan, instead of a sword, they “rob you with a fountain pen.”

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