By its very nature, piracy isn't an occupation that tends to attract the kindest of souls. After all, at the very least, theft is an essential part of the gig. However, for many pirates, stealing was hardly the worst atrocity committed. Murder, rape, and other acts of violence were often a part of this extremely dangerous lifestyle.
That being said, even in an occupation filled with unsavory characters, there were some men and women whose dastardly deeds made them stand out. There were sea captains who were so wicked that the public is still in awe of their violent crimes, hundreds of years after their deaths.
While many, if not most, old-time pirates preferred to capture their loot with as little violence as possible, others had no problem murdering their victims at will. In fact, some even seemed to enjoy killing and torturing those who were unfortunate enough to become their captives.
There are ten legendary pirates, in particular, whose reputation for cruelty has helped keep their memory alive to this day. Let's take a look at some of the most ruthless individuals ever to set sail.
10. Charles Gibbs
Charles Gibbs was a pirate out of Newport, Rhode Island who was active in the early-1800s. According to the testimony at his trial, the Newport native was responsible for the deaths of over four hundred people.
Killing hundreds of individuals is terrible in of itself. However, some of the methods he used to execute his victims were particularly cruel.
After capturing a merchant ship and setting it on fire, Gibbs decided that the vessel's crew should suffer the same fate and had all of them burned alive. One of his most famous acts of torture involved having a rival captain's limbs hacked off, while he was still alive.
Gibbs would eventually be captured and, perhaps fittingly, suffer a violent end. At just thirty-two years of age, he was hanged at Ellis Island (New York) back in 1831.
The pirate captain's skull was later put on display at a museum in New York —the General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, oddly enough.
Charles Gibbs is remembered for his harsh treatment of prisoners and as one of the last men to be executed for piracy in the United States.