William Greaves

  • Piracy
  • 2 mins

By Crusader1307

William ''Red Legged'' Greaves was born in Scotland around 1649. His parents were said to have been supporters (Royalists) in The War of The Three Kingdoms. Their faction having lost, they (the family), were sold into slavery. Relocated to The Barbados Islands (Caribbean), they served a kind Master. After his death, Greaves was sold to a much harsher Master with a Son (who regularly beat him). Escaping, he joined what he thought was a Merchant Ship (but it was actually a Pirate vessel). The ship's Captain (Hawkins), had a reputation as being a “cruel sort” - known for torturing his captives (especially women). Feared by his crew, Hawkins was also known for being “fair and equal” in giving shares of captured goods and monies. Under Captain Hawkins, Greaves became a skilled Pilot and Sailor.


Said to have “disagreed” with Captain Hawkins over his treatment of women, Greaves challenged him to a duel (which he won). The crew elected him as Captain. He rewrote the Ships Charter (removing the clause of ill treatment of prisoners). Greaves earned a “reputation” in The Caribbean for this. He attacked a Spanish vessel (taking their cannon and refitting his own ship). Greaves successfully attacked the Coastal Harbor Town of Margarita (off Venezuela) – making off with much “pearls and jewels as the Town had”. His nickname “Red Legs” is thought to be related to his fair skin and the effects that the Caribbean Sun had on them. He quit his Pirate life and settled on Nevis (West Indies) as a “Gentleman”.


This did not last long – as a former “victim” recognized him and reported him to the local Authorities. Sentenced to be hanged in chains at Port Royal, the famous 1692 earthquake which decimated The Caribbean, also aided in his escape. Greaves was rescued from Port Royal by a Whaling vessel (of whom he joined). Later, he became a “Pirate Hunter” (which earned him a Royal Pardon). Retiring again, he brought a Plantation and resumed his life as a “Gentleman Farmer”. He was said to have given most of his fortunes to charities. He died of natural causes around 1701.