Special Report

The Most Infamous Pirates in History

Source: 袁永綸, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Cheung Po Tsai
> Lifespan: 1783-1822

Cheung Po Tsai was kidnapped and forced into piracy at age 15 by the pirate Zheng Yi, quickly rising through the ranks and becoming Zheng Yi’s adoptive son and heir. Stepson to Madame Cheng, Cheung Po Tsai became the Madame’s second in command and lover when Zheng Yi died. Together they commanded tens of thousands of men and hundreds of ships, attacking merchant vessels and coastal cities on the South China Sea.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Pedro Gilbert
> Lifespan: 1800-1835

One of the last pirates active after the Golden Age of Piracy, Pedro Gilbert started as a privateer for Colombia, then began looting ships along the Florida coast. After instructing his crew to burn a captured ship along with its captives, Gilbert fled the area only to be captured in West Africa two years later and extradited to Boston. There he was tried and hanged.