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Woodes Rogers (May 24, 1679-1731) was the British Governor of the Bahamas from 6 January 1718 to June 1721, preceding George Phenney, and from 22 October 1728 to 15 July 1732, succeeding Phenney and preceding Richard Thompson. A former privateer, he was known for pirate hunts off Madagascar in 1713-1714 and Nassau in 1718.


Biography

Born in Poole in the Kingdom of England, Rogers became a privateer when he lost a large sum of money to the French. He traveled to the New World to become a privateer in the service of Great Britain, fighting the Spanish Navy during the War of the Spanish Succession. In one battle, he was scarred in the face but fought for days until a splinter hit his left foot. 

From 1713 to 1714 Rogers was dispatched to hunt Pirates off Madagascar, a major base due to its proximity to India; merchant ships passing through the Straits of Madagascar made easy and rich targets. Roger promised them either a pardon, in which they would lose all of their money and return to England, or be hung by the neck until dead. The strategy worked, and after the pirates were dealt with, he headed for the Caribbean.

In July 1715, Rogers was invited to Havana, Cuba, by Spanish governor Laureano Torres y Ayala, who proposed that Rogers, Duncan Walpole, and Julien du Casse aid him in his search for "The Observatory", a shrine that contained a skull who, touched by the blood of one person, could see that person's life through their eyes; Torres said that it could be used in blackmail, bringing the great empires to their knees. He was inducted into the Templar Order along with du Casse and "Walpole" (Duncan Walpole was killed by pirate Edward Kenway, who assumed his disguise to gain money). 

Governor of the Bahamas

Rogers reading out the King's pardon to the people of Nassau, 1718

Rogers was appointed Governor of the Bahamas in 1718, and was dispatched with Commodore Peter Chamberlaine to put down the Nassau Republic, a self-proclaimed pirate republic in the Bahamian port city of Nassau. Rogers used the same strategy that he used in Madagascar, but captains Kenway and Charles Vane escaped the blockade and killed Chamberlaine; the other captains were still bottled in and were forced to accept the pardons.

In 1720, Rogers captured Captain Kenway with aid from Captain Bartholomew Roberts, who delivered him to Jamaica for the large ransom that King George I of Great Britain promised his captor. Rogers promised Kenway that if he told him where the Observatory was, he would get him out of the Jamaican prison in a flash. But Kenway refused, and Rogers left him in the prison. In 1721, Rogers ordered the executions of prisoners Jack Rackham, Charles Vane, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read; the first two were hanged, Bonny escaped, and Read died of illness while attempting to escape. 

Retirement

However, Rogers was recalled to London later that year, a decision which Rogers was displeased about. Mad at King George for taking away his post, he cursed him at his retirement party in Kingston, and as he was leaving his speech, he was stabbed by Edward Kenway, who entered the party wearing the clothes of the Florentine diplomat Ruggiero Ferraro. Kenway found out that Captain Roberts was at Principe before Rogers passed out, Kenway thinking him to be dead.

Rogers was expelled from the Templar Order in 1723 for allowing the slavery of Africans through the Royal African Company, as well as for his hot temper. Rogers returned to England, humiliated, but in 1731 he was elected for another term as governor. He died that year at the age of 53.

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