Roger Hawkins, or “Jolly Roger”, as he was affectionately known in 17th Century London, was a famous businessman who traded in luxury goods. He was captured by pirates in 1657 while en-route from London to the newly established Port Royal.
Details of what followed are unclear, however, Edward Thatch, who operated under the pirate alias of Blackbeard, was tried for the murder of Roger Hawkins in 1664.
Documentation detailing the trial was lost when the Privateer, the “Sir George Somers”, disappeared in 1671. It is presumed that she was destroyed by pirates still loyal to Blackbeard.
The story behind “Jolly Roger” reappears in Charles Johnson’s “A General History of the Pyrates”, published in 1724. Within that time the “Jolly Roger” had become the popular name for the skull and crossbones pirate standard.
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