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Barton, Andrew (c. 1470–1511), seaman and shipowner, was one of three brothers, Robert Barton, John, and Andrew, sons of the seafaring merchant John Barton (d. in or before 1494). Like his brothers, Andrew was frequently employed as a naval commander by James IV...

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Barton, Robert [called Hob a Barton] (d. 1540), sea captain and administrator, known to the English as the pirate Hob a Barton, was one of three sons of John Barton, sea captain in Leith, the port of Edinburgh. Some time prior to 1476 his father's ship and goods were captured by Portuguese ships. ...

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Crab, John (c. 1280–c. 1352), pirate and merchant, was probably born in Muiden in Flanders. Active as a pirate from at least 1306, he was the most notorious of the Flemish privateers who preyed on English shipping during the Scottish War of Independence. His nephew ...

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Croft, Thomas (c. 1435–1488), customs official, shipowner, and patron of Atlantic exploration, was the son of William Croft (d. 1439) of Croft Castle, Herefordshire, and Isabella, presumably a second wife. He was born during the 1430s, the youngest of four brothers, including ...

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Eilmer (b. c. 985, d. after 1066), pioneer of man-powered flight, was probably born in the 980s, dying not long after 1066. He was a monk of Malmesbury and all that is known of him is told by his fellow-monk William of Malmesbury...

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Eustace the Monk (c. 1170–1217) drawing [far right] Master and Fellows of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge

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Eustace the Monk (c. 1170–1217), Benedictine monk, sea captain, and pirate, was the son of Baudoin Busket, a lord of the county of Boulogne. According to his biography, Eustace studied black magic in Toledo, returned home to become a monk at the abbey of ...

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John Hawley the elder (c. 1350–1408) memorial brass by kind permission of Becky Wright Photos; St Saviour's Church, Dartmouth

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Hawley, John, the elder (c. 1350–1408), pirate, merchant, and administrator, of Dartmouth, Devon, was the younger son of the first John Hawley who settled in Dartmouth some time before 1340. Hawley was elected mayor for the first time in 1374—the beginning of a career which would make him the richest and most important man in ...

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See Hawley, John, the elder

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John O'Groats (supp. fl. 1496/1523), supposed ferryman, who gave his name to what is popularly believed to be the most northerly inhabited place in Scotland, is likely to be either identical with or related to the John Groat who in 1496 received a grant of land in ...

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Knyvet, Sir Thomas (c. 1485–1512), courtier and sea captain, was the eldest son of Edmund Knyvet of Hilborough, Norfolk (d. 1503/4), himself the eldest son of Sir William Knyvet of Buckenham, Norfolk (c.1448–1515). Thomas's mother was Edmund's wife, Eleanor (...

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Pay [Paye], Henry [called Arripay] (fl. 1402–1414), shipmaster, of Poole, Dorset, acquired a considerable reputation in the early fifteenth century because of his exploits in the seas off the south and west coasts of England. His enemies, especially those from Castile, bluntly called him a corsair, but at times he may well have been acting on his understanding of royal policy which only resolutely condemned attacks on the goods and ships of friendly aliens....

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Swein Asleiffson (d. 1171?), pirate, was the son of Olaf Hrolfsson of Gairsay, chieftain on Orkney and steward of Caithness, and of Asleif, described as 'a wise woman, of good family and strongest character' (Orkneyinga Saga, trans. Taylor, 218). His exploits are known almost exclusively from ...

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Wesenham, John (fl. 1333–1382), merchant, shipowner, and financier, was named after the Norfolk village of Weasenham, 6 miles east of Bishop's Lynn. In the early stages of his career his economic interest clearly centred on shipping and the grain trade, which in East Anglia...

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Wood, Sir Andrew (d. 1515), sea captain and merchant, served James III and James IV and, remarkably, was trusted by both kings. Wood first appears in royal records on 28 July 1477, already described as 'our lovet familiare serviture' Andrew Wood of Leith...