23 Famous Pirate Ship Names
History has been rife with pirates, some much more famous than others. Some are also much more fictional than others. But real or imagined, no pirate is complete without a ship and no pirate ship is complete without a name. Your average pirate ship needs a name with a little more power behind it than a standard pontoon boat. Let’s take a look at some of the most notable pirate ship names in history, if you’re looking to grace your own vessel with a bit of swashbuckling history.
Famous Pirate Ships from Fiction
These ships may be known all around the world, but only because they came from popular stories. For better or worse, these ones never sailed the seas for real. That said, there are some creative and cool fictional ships out there that have been pretty memorable.
The Black Pearl
The infamous ship of Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies. The ship was meant to be an East Indiaman Galleon.
In Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, Captain Flint is in command of a ship called the Walrus.
The Wicked Wench
This was actually the name of the Black Pearl before she was burned and sunk by Davy Jones. Jack Sparrow resurrected her as the Pearl.
The Jolly Roger
Not just the name for the skull and crossbones on a pirate flag, Jolly Roger was also the name of the fictional ship captained by the notorious Captain Hook in Peter Pan.
If you’re a fan of the Assassin’s Creed games, you may already know the Jackdaw, the pirate ship of Edward Kenway
The Flying Dutchman
Maybe the most famous pirate ship and ghost ship of all time, legends of the Flying Dutchman go back hundreds of years. In modern fiction you’ll see it in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies as the ship captained by Davy Jones. But the original legend goes all the way back to the 17th century. It was mentioned in print for the first time in 1790 but the legend of the ghost ship that was a portent of doom stretched back much further.
Real Pirate Ships
The ship of the infamous Captain Kidd, the Adventure Galley was supposed to be a privateering vessel hunting pirates. With 34 guns it was certainly up to the task, or so it seemed. But as they had little success, his crew demanded things change and so they became pirates.
Eventually Kidd tried to make right his wrongs and turned himself in. He was hanged for his troubles.
The flagship of legendary captain Henry Morgan, the Satisfaction, was found in the waters off of Panama in 2013, over 300 years after the vessel had sunk. Technically Morgan was not a pirate since he was backed by the English crown and was therefore a privateer.
Despite not being menacing at all, this was a pirate ship captained by Canadian pirate Peter Eason.
Under the command of Captain George Lowther, the Delivery was the result of a mutiny. Lowther took over the Gambia Castle on which he’d been second mate. The vessel was supposed to be transporting soldiers but when they arrived in Africa the conditions were unacceptable so they mutinied and took up a life of piracy.
The Fiery Dragon
Christopher Condent, if that was his real name, had a number of aliases over the years including Billy One-Hand. He had been committing acts of piracy for some times around the Bahamas and Brazil when he captured a Dutch war sloop and renamed it the Fiery Dragon, which became his flagship.
A sloop in service during the Oyster Wars in the 1880s, and was made famous thanks to an embarrassing story regarding then governor of Virginia William E. Cameron. Cameron was on a vessel, personally taking out pirates, when they stumbled on the Dancing Molly. Much of the crew was ashore gathering wood but the captain’s wife and daughter were on board and, as the Governor approached, the women managed to outmaneuver the more powerful ship, which had reporters from several papers on board who recorded the humiliating defeat.
CSS Alabama (Confederate pirate ship)
This Confederate warship wasn’t technically a pirate ship, but it sure acted like one. In service of the Confederate States of America, this ship destroyed numerous ships and stole grain shipments between the United States and Europe.
Captained by Edward Davies, (or Davis, depending on sources), the Bachelor’s Delight was famous for raiding Spanish cities along the coast of South America to steal silver.
The ship of Stede Bonnet, the man at the center of the HBO series Our Flag Means Death, was a real ship called Revenge, not unlike Blackbeard’s. In fact, Blackbeard took command of Bonnet’s ship for a time. It’s also notable for being one of the only pirate ships that the captain legally bought with his own money.
Under the command of Captain Christopher Moody, the Rising Sun had 35 guns and was manned by a crew that had previously served under Black Bart.
Queen Anne’s Revenge
Was William Blackbeard Teach the most famous pirate in history? Possibly. And his ship the Queen Anne’s Revenge is, by association, one of the most famous pirate ships ever as well.
The Queen Anne’s Revenge was commissioned as La Concorde, a French slave transport. Teach stole the vessel in 1717, outfitted it with 40 cannons, and turned it into the fearsome Queen Anne’s Revenge. For a year, Blackbeard sailed the coast of North America down to the Caribbean, developing a terrifying reputation. But it was only a short time later in 1718 that the ship ran aground and was abandoned. It’s believed the wreck was found off the coast of North Carolina in 1996.
The pirate Robert Culliford was more well-traveled than some pirates, having served with William Kidd and many others in various capacities. He became captain of the Mocha when its previous captain died and was hunted by William Kidd. Kidd’s crew, however, mutinied and signed on with Culliford who went on to plunder a number of ships and even escape punishment despite being captured. Rumor is he ended up joining the Navy.
Two ships captained by the pirate Charles Vane, the first Ranger was a 6-gun sloop and later he had a 12-gun brigantine that also went by the same name. Vane was known for being especially cruel, even by pirate terms, and would torture the crews that he captured. After being stranded on an island, he was discovered by an English vessel, taken home, put on trial, and ultimately hanged.
It may not sound intimidating by today’s standards but Henry Avery’s Fancy was still a pirate ship. Originally the ship was called Charles II and it was a British vessel. But Aveery and crew were being treated poorly and finally they could take no more. With Avery leading the charge, the crew mutinied and the Charles II became the Fancy. With Avery at the helm, the ship stole a massive treasure from an Indian vessel and vanished to the Caribbean. Avery, rich as any pirate could ever wish to be, was never seen again.
The Whydah started life as a slave transport before it was captured by Sam Bellamy. Forty guns were mounted on the ship and for a very short time Bellamy was raiding shipping lanes. But his time was cut down quickly during a storm only a couple of months after he took the ship. The wreck was recovered in 1984.
The Golden Hind
The ship of captain Francis Drake was originally called the Pelican until he renamed it in the middle of a voyage. Drake circumnavigated the world in the vessel over the course of just under three years. It was under the guise of a voyage of discovery on behalf of the Queen of England, but there was a lot of raiding going on during that time against Spanish cities in South America.
While Blackbeard may be the most famous pirate, Black Bart also holds a place in history as well. Also known as Bartholomew Roberts, he was actually a remarkably successful pirate who sailed the seas for three years, amassing a terrible reputation on his ship the Royal Fortune.
The ship was actually not a single vessel as every time Roberts switched vessels, he named the new one Royal Fortune. The largest of them had a crew of 157 and was loaded with 40 guns. Still, it wasn’t enough to keep Black Bart from meeting his fate. He died on his ship in a fight with another vessel called the Swallow.
The Bottom Line
Despite their fearsome and bloody reputation, famous pirate ship names, especially from the golden age of piracy, were clearly products of a different time. The convention of naming ships was much different than you’ll find today and many of the names don’t have the menacing sense you’d find if you use a pirate ship name generator. Although something like “Queen Anne’s Revenge” sounds vaguely menacing, many pirate ships had very mundane or even delicate sounding names.
If you’re looking to give your own boats cool pirate ship names or even funny pirate ship names, don’t fall into the trap of choosing a dark and violent name since the real deals rarely sounded anything like that.