Famous Jewish Pirates.

Information about famous Jewish pirates with reliable chronology of related to piracy events in Jewish history from 1492

This page is not a history of famous Jewish pirates. It contains only a collection of notes and interesting facts on this subject. This information is not complete, not all information is verified and systematised. Some references will be provided in the future This page is under construction and is being completed in stages. Check back frequently for updated information.

  1. List of famous Jewish pirates.
  2. Facts about Jewish Pirates and Jews involved in piracy
  3. Chronology of Jewish pirates and important events related to piracy.
  4. Dictionary.
  5. Resources.

Jewish pirates were first mentioned by Josephus Flavius (37 – c.100 AD)
Let us begin with some popular definition related to the subject.
Pirate, Corsair, Buccaneer, Privateer, Filibuster (and sometimes - freebooter, plunderer)
  • A Pirate - One who robs at sea or plunders the land from the sea without commission from a sovereign nation. (add free picture)
  • A privateer is a private person or ship authorized by a government by letters of marque to attack foreign shipping during wartime.
  • The buccaneers were privateers who attacked Spanish shipping in the Caribbean Sea during the late 17th century. As a rule, the buccaneers called themselves privateers, and many sailed under the protection of a letter of marque granted by British or French authorities.
  • A filibuster. - French authors called Caribbean pirates filibusters from the Dutch word vrijbuiter
  • A corsair - a pirate operated along the Barbary Coast – Mediterranean Sea and North Africa coast. (from Medieval Latin cursarius)

    List of famous Jewish pirates.
  • Sinan, called The Great Jew (Sinao o Judeo) (…. – 1546)

  • Ciphut Sinan from Smyrna
    In 1538, the Jewish corsair Sinan destroyed most of Spain's naval fleet off the port of Pleveza, Greece. (The flag Sinan displayed on his ship featured a six pointed star called the Seal of Solomon) …known to his Spanish prey as "The Great Jew," [Sinan] was born in what is now Turkey and operated out of Algiers. He first served as second in command to the famous pirate Barbarossa. … Their pirate flag carried a six-pointed star called the Seal of Solomon by the Ottomans. Sinan led the force that defeated a Genoan navy hired by Spain to rid the Barbary Coast of corsairs. He then conquered Tripoli in Libya, and was eventually appointed supreme Ottoman naval commander. He is buried in a Jewish cemetery in Albania.

  • Brothers Abraham and Moses Cohen Henriques
    Henriques helped Dutch naval officer and folk hero Admiral Piet Pieterszoon Hein, of the Dutch West India Company, capture the Spanish treasure fleet in the battle of the Bay of Matanzas in Cuba, during the Eighty Years' War, in 1628.

    Moses Cohen Henriques early 17th century 1620s and 30s Netherlands Dutch pirate of Portuguese Sephardic Jewish origin active in the Caribbean against Spain and Portugal. Moses Cohen ( Antonio Vaez Heriques) operated from Brazil during Dutch and captured more than 500 Iberian ships.

  • Yaakov Koriel commanded three pirate ships in the Caribbean. He later repented and ended up in Safed as one of the Kabbalah students of the Ari (Rabbi Isaac Luria) and is buried near the Ari's grave.

    Yaakov Koriel was born to Jewish family that converted to Christianity under pressure from the Inquisition when Yaakov was a child. As a young man, Yaakov Koriel was a captain of the Spanish fleet until he was caught by the Inquisition. He was freed by his sailors, most of whom were marranos themselves. For many years after that his only goal was revenge. He had three pirate ships under his command. Little is known about what happened to him later. Some believe that eventually he made his way to the Holy Land, studied Kabbalah and died peacefully of old age [WIKI]

  • Jean Lafitte (Circa. 1776 – Circa. 1823)
    see photo Jean Laffite
    In 1814, the British sought his aid in their pending attack on New Orleans. However, he passed their plans to the Americans and helped General Andrew Jackson beat them in 1815. A grateful Jackson, not yet President, saw to it that Lafitte and his family became American citizens. And, by the way, did you know that there is a town of Jean Lafitte, as well as a Jean Lafitte National Historical Park in South-western Louisiana?
    But in the 1958 film "The Buccaneer," with Yul Brynner as Lafitte, any mention of the pirate's Jewish heritage was stripped away. Jean Lafitte wrote in his bible: "I owe all my ingenuity to the great intuition of my Jewish – Spanish grand mother, who was a witness at the time of Inquisition."
    see photo Jean Laffite Notes In The Bible

  • A pirate named David Abrabanel, evidently from the same family as the famous Spanish rabbinic dynasty (which included Rabbi Isaac Abrabanel), joined British privateers after his family was butchered off the South American coast. He used the nom de guerre "Captain Davis" and commanded his own pirate vessel named The Jerusalem. According to at least one report, he was the person who discovered what is now called Easter Island.[ Edward Kritzler, 2008 ]

  • Samuel Pallache (Fez, Morocco ca. 1550 - The Hague, February 4, 1616) was a Jewish-Moroccan merchant, diplomat and pirate who was sent as an envoy to the Dutch Republic in 1608. He became a personal friend of Dutch Crown Prince Maurice, who commissioned him as a privateer, and served for years as a pirate under a Netherlands flag and with Dutch letters of marque. Rabbi Pallache recruited Marranos for his crews.
    see photo Samuel Pallache

  • Jewish pirate Motta the Portuguese. And his partner Abraham (a Fleming)

  • CARVAJAL, ANTONIO FERNANDEZ (leader of London's covert Jewish community, first endenizened English Jew; born about 1590, probably at Fundão, Portugal; died in London Nov. 10, 1659. On August 17, 1655 Oliver Cromwell awarded Carvajal English citizenship, make him (and his to sons) the first legal Jews after 365 years of expel.

  • Simon (Jacob) de Caceres (d. 1704) He advised Cromwell during the conquest of Jamaica and conquest of Chile??????

  • Subatol Deul. On a trip up the coast he stumbled across a ship under the command of the pirate Henry Drake, son of Sir Francis Drake. They decided to create an alliance of anti-Spanish pirates, the "Black Flag Fraternity."
    Deul and Drake reportedly buried treasure on an island near Coquimbo in 1645. A chapter in the book Piracy & Plunder: A Murderous Business, by Milton Meltzer, is devoted to Deul's swashbuckling career.

  • Abraham Drago and David Nassy went to Curacao

  • Joseph da Costa the nephew of Uriel da Costa
  • Batholomew (aka Balthasar) in 1666 captured vessel from Cuba

  • Joseph Bueno Henriques.

  • Solomon de Leon

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    Interesting facts about Jewish Pirates and Jews somehow connected to pirates.

    During easter week of 1264 about 1500 Jews were murdered in London, England Jewish pirates of Jamaica named their ships for ancient Jewish heroes and prophets like Prophet Samuel, Queen Esther and Shield of Abraham. One of the most famous Jewish pirates of Jamaica was Moses Cohen Henriques, who lead a 1628 raid, considered the largest ever to be committed against the Spanish fleet. [wiki]

    In ….. Jewish settlers who desired would be issued privateer licenses "To capture Portuguese vessels"

    Inquisition lasted for about 340 years, reaching as far as Peru and Columbia.

    Spanish settlement in Jamaica was for 156 years (1909 – 1655) Between 1655 and 1671 about 2000 pirates from Port Royal, Jamaica captured 250 ships and plundered 18 Spanish cities.

    The Inquisition never visited the Jamaica during Spanish occupation and its Jews were tolerated, because the island was given to the Columbus family as a personal estate in 1540

    In 1894 Meyer Kayserling in his book " Christopher Columbus and the Participation of the Jews in the Spanish and Portuguese Discoveries" (Christoph Columbus und der Anteil der Juden an den spanischen und portugiesischen Entdeckungen can be found in the open library) identifies Jews who helps Columbus. The names are: Juan Cabrero, Luis de Santangel, Gabriel Sanches and Alfonso de la Caballeria. Luis de Santangel introduce Columbus to Queen Isabella. There is a proof On February 15, 1493 Columbus send a personal letter of obligations to Luis de Santangel. (Luis de Santangel was a baptized Jew and died in1498) Captains' logs on the Niña and the Pinta were written in a variant of Ladino.

    Known Jewish members of Columbus crew: interpreter Luis de Torres –settle in Cuba, Alonso de la Calle, Rodrigo Sanchez of Segovia and ship doctor.
    Jewish population on Jamaica: in 1700 – 80; in 1735 – 800; in 1881 - 2535

    According Edmond S. Malka many of old Spanish towns had Hebrew names:
    Maqueda from Masada
    Barselona from Bar –Shelanu (our country site in Hebrew)
    Sevilla from Shevil –Yah (Line of God in Hebrew)

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    Chronology of Jewish pirates and important events related to piracy.
  • 1066 Mass killing of Granada Jews by Almoravid Berbers
  • 1248 Jewish solders took part in the recapturing of Seville and Alfonso X rewarded them with a "village of Jews"
  • 1492 - Columbus sails on the historic 9th of Ab (August 2) with many maranos (convertos) in his crew. All Jews must be out of the Spain by August I, the 8th of Ab.
  • Edict of Expulsion was issued against the Jews of Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella (March 31, 1492). It ordered all Jews of whatever age to leave the kingdom by the last day of July 1492.
    see photo of original decree page, signed by the sovereigns of Castile and Aragon, which led to the expulsion of the Jews in the fifteen centure
  • 1494 - Forced conversion of Portugal's Jews; Jewish children exiled to Sao Tome on the equator near Africa.
  • 1499 decree that forbidding the conversos to leave Portugal for the "New world."
  • 1500 the Portuguese explorer and military commander Pedro Alvares Cabral discovered Brazil with his Jewish navigator Gaspar da Gama.
  • 1502 - Convertos banned from Spain's colonies
  • In late 1502, King Manuel of Portugal issued a charter to converse merchant Fernando de Naronha (Circa 1470 – 1540) to export a red dyewood.
  • 1503 – Fernão Pereira Pestana de Loronha (c. 1470 or before – Lisbon, c. 1540), whose name is often corrupted to Fernando de Noronha or Fernão de Noronha or Fernando della Rogna, was a prominent 16th C. Portuguese merchant of Lisbon, of Jewish descent. He was the first charter-holder (1502-1512), the first donatary captain in Brazil and sponsor of numerous early Portuguese overseas expeditions. The islands of Fernando de Noronha off the coast of Brazil, discovered by one of his expeditions and granted to Loronha and his heirs as a fief in 1504, are named after him. Read online http://www.onread.com/reader/126120/
  • 1508 Bishop of Cuba wrote: "Practically every ship [is] field with Hebrews and New Christians."
  • 1509 – Seville convertos bribe King Ferdinand of Spain to trade in colonies.
  • 1510 – Viceroy Diego Columbus, son of Christopher Columbus sends Jewish loyalists to Jamaica to retrieve gold medallions belonged to his father.
  • 1519 Cortés's army in Mexico includes 100 convertos
  • 1521 - Hernando Alonso was the first Jew to come to Mexico. He arrived in 1521. --Vol.XX, Publicaciones, Archivo General de la Nacion, Mexico, 1932 On 17 October 1528, Alonso became the first person in the New World to be burned alive at the stake
  • 1538 Sinan famous Jewish pirate (corsair) destroyed Spain's naval fleet near port of Preveza, Greece. The flag Sinan displayed on his ship featured a six pointed star called the Seal of Solomon. Sinan, known as "The Great Jew," was the right hand of famous pirate Barbarossa.
  • 1539 the Portuguese had established their own Inquisition. (The first inquisitor of which was John of Mello, celebrated its first public auto da fé Oct. 23, 1541.) Read more: http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=148&letter=I#426#ixzz1J8bQ7Ui5
  • 1577 May 15 edict prohibiting the immigration of converses was issued
  • 1580 Inquisition came to Brazil.
  • 1598 - The first synagogue of Amsterdam opened for prayers, the year of Maria Nunes's wedding on November 28 with Manuel Lopes Homen. (Document exists)
  • In 1618 in Portugal the Inquisition arrested more than 100 conversos and seized their shipment from Brazil to Amsterdam.
  • 1634 – Dutch take Curacao and allowed Jews to settle.
  • 1635 – 39 Lima, Peru Inquisition destroyed Jewish community. On January 23, 1639 in Lima, Peru an auto- da –fe condemned 61 Jews including Manuel Batista Perez who was born in Seville in 1593 and was the richest Jew in the Lima. Manuel Batista Perez was purified by fire. Many Jews were sentenced to serve as oarsmen on Spanish galleys.
  • 1636 - The first Jewish community and the first synagogue in the Americas was founded in the Recife, Brazil. (When Dutch ruled Brazil 1630 -1654) (Dutch ruled part of the northeast region of Brazil from 1630 to 1654)
  • 1642 – 49 Mexico Inquisition destroyed Jewish community 96 families executed 13 escaped.
  • 1644 - Antonio de Montezinos was a Portuguese traveler and a Marrano Sephardic Jew who in 1644 persuaded Menasseh Ben Israel, a rabbi of Amsterdam, that he had found one of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel living in the jungles of the "Quito Province" (that is, the Pichincha Province) of Ecuador
  • In summer 1645 in Brazil Portuguese soldiers hanged a squadron of 13 Jewish soldiers and burned their Jewish captain alive.
  • 1654 - After Portugal recaptures Brazil 23 Jews exiled to New Amsterdam that became New York at 1664.
  • 1654 – Admiral William Penn hired (enlisted) the Jewish pilot Campoe Sabada.?????
  • 1655 Francisco Carvajal and Duarte Acosta – officers and secret Jews on Jamaica.
  • 1655 Dr. Abraham de Mercado was granter citizenship in Barbados.
  • 1657 On Creechurch lane in London, England first synagogue was opened.
  • 1665 New York Jews obtain freedom of worship. (Dutch West India Company authorizes Jewish settlement in New Amsterdam.)
  • In 1672 there were 16 certified Jewish merchants in Port Royal, Jamaica.
  • 1674 – Surinam Jews send petition to come to Jamaica
  • 1677 The first synagogue in Port Royal, Jamaica was opened and destroyed by the earthquake of 1692. There is a document of January 26, 1677 that Moses Yeshurun Cordosa and Abraham de David Gabay bought a house for Synagogue on the corner of Cannon street and New street.
  • On November 18, 1681 Henry Morgan signed citizenship papers of Moses Cohen Henriques, Campoe Sabada, Abraham Lucena, Isaac Israel.

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    Dictionary from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Marrano, Marranos or 'secret Jews' were Sephardic Jews, or Jewish people living in the Iberian peninsula, forced to convert to Catholicism-Christianity or be expelled from the Kingdoms of Castile and Aragon (Spain). This term came into use in 1492.

    Portugals: Name used by secret Jews in Jamaica to escape the scrunity of the Spanish authorities.

    Converso - Conversos (Spanish and Portuguese for "a convert", from Latin conversus, "converted, turned around") and its feminine form conversa referred to Jews or the descendants of Jews who converted to Catholicism in Spain and Portugal, particularly during the 14th and 15th centuries.

    Anusim - Anusim (Hebrew pronounced [anu'sim]; singular male, Anús, Hebrew: ‎ pronounced [a'nus]; singular female, Anusáh, Hebrew: ‎ pronounced [anu'sa]) is a legal category of Jews in halakha (Jewish religious law) who were forced or coerced to abandon Judaism against their will, typically while forcefully converted to another religion. The term "anusim" itself is most properly translated as the "coerced [ones]" or the "forced [ones]".

    Cripto Jew - Crypto-Judaism is the secret adherence to Judaism while publicly professing to be of another faith; practitioners are referred to as "crypto-Jews" (origin from Greek kryptos - 'hidden'). The term crypto-Jew is also used to describe descendants who maintain some Jewish traditions of their ancestors, often secretly, while publicly adhering to other faiths, most commonly Catholicism.

    Sefardi, Sefardim - Jews who use a Sephardic style of liturgy or otherwise define themselves in terms of the Jewish customs and traditions which originated in the Iberian Peninsula. (Spanish Sefardíes; Portuguese Sefarditas,) .

    Ladino- Ladino is the name used primarily in Israel for Judaeo-Spanish, a Sephardic language, primarily spoken among Sephardic Jews

    New Christian: the same as converto - or "cristianos nuevos" in Spanish, and "cristãos novos" in Portuguese.



    Christopher Columbus and the Participation of the Jews in the Spanish and Portuguese Discoveries by Meyer Kayserling, 1894 (Christoph Columbus und der Anteil der Juden an den spanischen und portugiesischen Entdeckungen can be found in the open library)

    Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean: How a Generation of Swashbuckling Jews Carved Out an Empire in the New World in Their Quest for Treasure, Religious Freedom--and Revenge by Edward Kritzler, 2008

    The Jewish Nation of the Caribbean: The Spanish-Portuguese Jewish Settlements in the Caribbean and the Guianas by Mordehay Arbell

    The cross and the pear tree : a Sephardic journey by Perera, Victor, 1996.

    The island of one people : an account of the history of the Jews of Jamaica by Delevante, Marilyn. Contributor -Alberga, Anthony., 2006

    Sephardi Jews: A Pageant of Spanish-Portuguese and Oriental Judaism Between the Cross and the Crescent, Edmond S. Malka, Trenton, NJ, 1979.

    Power, faith, and fantasy : America in the Middle East, 1776 to the present Oren, Michael B., 1955- Book, 2007.

    Jewish encyclopedia

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    Jewish Pirate Project

    Photo from the movie THE PIRATE CAPTAIN TOLEDANO which explores JEWISH PIRATES. 2 ships were used at The Ocean Institute in Dana Point (Orange County) California in December 2016.

    Jewish Pirate Kiddush Cup
    Jewish Pirate Kiddush Cup

    Please send me email with famous Jewish Pirates that are not in this list, and I will add them to this page.

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