From Harry to Sir Henry : social mobility in the 17th century Caribbean

WCU Author/Contributor (non-WCU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
John Robert Davis (Creator)
Western Carolina University (WCU )
Web Site:
Charlotte Cosner

Abstract: During the 17th Century, the Caribbean saw an explosion in seaborne raiding. The mostcommon targets of these raids were Spanish ships and coastal towns. Some of the men who wenton these raids experienced degrees of social and economic mobility that would not have beenpossible in continental Europe. This was because the 17th Century Caribbean created anenvironment where such mobility was possible. Among these was a Welshman was known to hiscompatriots as Harry Morgan. By the end of his life, Morgan would become one of the mostfamous buccaneers in history, a wealthy sugar planter, the Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica, anda knight.No one is exactly sure of Morgan’s social status before he entered the Caribbean.Historians largely agree that he was born to a freeholding family in Wales, although somedissenters contend that Morgan entered the Caribbean as an indentured servant. From eitherposition, he experienced a high degree of social and economic mobility through his raids againstthe Spanish Empire and the conventional businesses that those raids funded. His life does not represent the way that social or economic mobility worked for a typical buccaneer. What it doesrepresent is the best case scenario for an individual who came to the Caribbean and engaged inbuccaneering. Morgan utilized his raiding as a means to fund more conventional businessinterests such as sugar planting. This paper argues that the Caribbean provided a unique political,economic, and military atmosphere for an individual to climb the social and economic ladderfrom Harry Morgan, a common buccaneer, to Sir Henry Morgan, Lieutenant Governor ofJamaica and Admiral of Buccaneers.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2015
Anational, Buccaneer, Henry Morgan, Jamaica, Pirate, Privateer
Morgan, Henry, -- 1635?-1688
Buccaneers -- Biography
Social mobility -- Caribbean Area -- History -- 17th century

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