Woodes Rogers

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English maritime captain and privateer Woodes Rogers served as the Royal Governor of the Bahamas twice. Alexander Selkirk, a Royal Navy sailor who spent more than four years marooned on an uninhabited island in the South Pacific, was saved by his ship, which he served as captain. Daniel Defoe, a writer, later used his plight to inspire the creation of the fictional Robinson Crusoe. In the Bahamas and the majority of the Caribbean, Rogers is still revered as a national hero for driving out the pirates and establishing law and order. Rogers was the commander of the ship Duke and led an expedition in 1707 while the British were at war with Spain. He and his crew captured other ships in the Pacific Ocean over the following three years. On February 1, 1709, they also managed to rescue Selkirk from Juan Fernandez Island. After the voyage, he became a national hero, but he also suffered severe injuries, and his crew members sued him, claiming they hadn’t received a fair portion of the expedition’s earnings. As a result, he became bankrupt. He published a book named “A Cruising Voyage Round the World” that detailed his naval adventures. He was then chosen to serve as the Bahamas’ Royal Governor. He lost all of his money during his first tenure as governor, and upon his return to England, he was put in jail for debt. He passed away in Nassau at the age of 53, halfway through his second tenure as governor.

Early Childhood & Life

The eldest child and merchant captain Woods Rogers’s son Woodes Rogers was born in Dorset, England, in 1679. Woodes Rogers was raised and attended school in Poole, England. His father had stock in numerous ships and was frequently away working in the fishing fleet. Captain Woods Rogers relocated his family to Bristol between 1690 and 1696.
Woodes Rogers began a seven-year apprenticeship with Bristol mariner John Yeamans in 1697 to gain knowledge of the sailor’s trade.

Career of Woodes Rogers

Woodes Rogers lost battles to the French during the War of the Spanish Succession in 1702, and in order to make up for his losses, he turned to privateering. Woodes Rogers took over his father Captain Rogers’ ships and business after the latter passed away at sea in 1706.

William Dampier, a navigator and friend of his father, suggested that Rogers head a privateering mission against the Spanish in 1707. Thus, he was the captain of Duke and the commander of the two ships Duke and Duchess.
Throughout the journey, Woodes Rogers experienced a number of difficulties. He had to spend a month in Ireland hiring new crew members and preparing the ship for the sea because about 40 of the crew members had either left or been fired. Many of the crew members were foreigners, and some of them rebelled when Rogers forbade them from pillaging a Swedish ship that was being employed as a neutral. The mutiny was put down, though.
On February 1, 1709, the two ships of the expedition arrived at Juan Fernandez Island, a little-known island, and noticed a fire ashore. They also found Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish sailor who had been marooned on the island for the previous four years. After being saved, he was granted command of one of the finest ships the expedition had earned.

During the expedition, Rogers captured a number of ships and attacked the Ecuadorian town of Guayaquil. Six crew members perished from an illness, and Rogers lost touch with one of the captured ships. Rogers had mouth surgery when the ships arrived at the Dutch port of Batavia to repair a wound he sustained during the conflict.
Any other party’s business connections with the Dutch were then viewed as a breach of the British East India Company’s monopoly. As a result, he was charged with a crime and the East India Company received a hefty fine. In addition, he lost his brother during the voyage. But the arduous journey and the seizure of the Spanish ships turned him into a national hero. After the journey, he published a book named “A Cruising Voyage Round the World” that contained a description of it.

On his return from the voyage, Rogers was faced with severe financial difficulties. Additionally, he was unable to recover his losses from privateering, which necessitated the sale of his Bristol residence. A portion of his crew also filed a lawsuit against him because they believed they had not earned a fair part of the expedition’s income. He thus went bankrupt.

To resolve his money issues, he chose to embark on a mission against the pirates. With the approval of the British East India Company, he oversaw an expedition in 1713 that sought to acquire slaves in Madagascar and transport them to the Dutch East Indies. Despite the fact that his mission was successful, the British East India Company rejected his proposal to colonize Madagascar.

Rogers was chosen to serve as the Bahamas’ royal governor in 1717. He had a lot of difficulty setting up the administration because there were so many pirates in the area. If the pirates stopped their operations, he wanted to grant them the king’s pardon. A battle, however, broke out when some of the pirates under Charles Vane’s command disagreed with his plan. Soon, practically all of the local pirates were apprehended, hung, or killed in combat.

Rogers strengthened the Bahamas in 1719, when Spain and Britain were at war once more. Spanish forces arrived on Paradise Island wary of Rogers’ defenses, but they were driven off by his troops. Due to the peace treaty between Spain and Britain in 1720, all foreign dangers to his power were eliminated. He spent too much money building New Providence’s defenses, nevertheless, and Britain offered little help.

His health had begun to deteriorate by this point, so he traveled to Charleston, South Carolina, in an effort to regain it. He was wounded, though, in a fight with Captain John Hildesley of the HMS Flamborough after arriving at Charleston.

He went for Britain in March 1721 since London failed to offer assistance or communicate with him. Three months later, he returned to find his company had been liquidated and a new governor had been installed. He was put in jail for debt after being held accountable for the contracts he had signed in Nassau.

Rogers was asked for information regarding piracy in 1722 by a man who was writing about it. Under the alias Captain Charles Johnson, he wrote the book “A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates.” Rogers once again became a national hero as a result of this book’s enormous success. As a result, he was able to obtain financial compensation from King George I in 1726, who also gave him a pension. Later, on October 22, 1728, his son George II reappointed him as Governor of the Bahamas.

He did not encounter many outside dangers in the Bahamas this time. However, the official duties worn him out both physically and mentally. He therefore traveled to Charleston in 1731 in order to become better. He eventually returned to the Bahamas despite never entirely recovering his health. He passed away on July 15, 1732, at Nassau.

Individual Life of Woodes Rogers

He wed Sarah Whetstone in 1705, the daughter of Rear Admiral Sir William Whetstone, a close family friend, and as a result of his marriage into the illustrious Whetstone family, he was made a freeman of Bristol. Woodes and Sarah gave birth to one son and two girls between 1706 and 1708.

Woodes and Sarah split up for good after he was declared bankrupt and their fourth child passed away infancy. After his passing, a street in Nassau along the harbor was given his name. The Bahamas adopted the motto “Piracy expelled, commerce restored,” which stood until the islands’ independence in 1973.

Estimated Net Worth

The estimated net worth of Woodes Rogers is unknown.