This month is going to be a pirate extravaganza in Devon! Don’t worry though, you won’t find anyone attempting to overthrow your boat and walk the plank, though it is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about Devon’s pirate history.

Did you know that many of the famous pirates of yesteryear are from Devon? It’s why the accent of the films sounds so much like the west country accent! Not only did some of the best-known pirates in history come from the region, but Devon was even at one time the home of a pirate king!

Here are some of Devon’s best-known pirates.

Sir Walter Raleigh

Ok, so technically he was a privateer rather than a pirate, but the only difference is that his actions were condoned by the crown! He was a favourite of Elizabeth I and originally came from Budleigh Salterton in East Devon. Over the course of his career, he gained hero status for his work during the Spanish Armada and was one of the explorers who ventured to the New World to set up colonies there.

He fell out of favour with Queen Elizabeth after marrying one of her maids in secret and was sent to the Tower of London. Somewhere he would end up again a few years later after being accused of treason. He was eventually executed by James I.

Sir Francis Drake

Another privateer for our list, Sir Francis Drake was another celeb of the Elizabethan era. He was born in Tavistock and moved to Plymouth as a boy, where he worked for the Hawkins family, who were part of the first slave trading venture in British history. He was knighted for his achievements against the Spanish and ended up buying Buckland abbey, which he supposedly haunts, even though he died at sea.

John Hawley

It wasn’t just Drake and Raleigh who became famous for their exploits. John Hawley became well known for piracy in the middle ages and was so popular he was voted MP of Dartmouth twice and served as their mayor 14 times. He lived at Dartmouth Castle, which is now managed by the English Heritage.

Captain John Philips

Cod fisherman turned pirate, Cpt Philips is one of the most successful pirates on this list, even if his career did only last year. In that year, he captured over 30 ships, but sadly was subject to a mutiny from his men and had his head displayed on the bowsprit of the ship.

Henry Avery

Also known as John Avery and Long Ben and dubbed the king of pirates, he was best known for being one of the few pirates to be able to escape with his loot and retire rich. He was born near Plymouth and his most famous raid saw him get away with around £600,000 – a sum worth around £9 million in today’s money. He eluded capture and vanished from all records, though some say that he made his way to Africa where he lived as a king.

Upcoming pirate events

Brixham Pirate Festival, 4th – 6th May

Featuring a shanty market, live music, street entertainment and of course, lots of pirates, the Brixham Pirate Festival is a free event taking place in the heart of the English Riviera.

Look out for more information here.

Where to stay in Brixham

Plymouth Pirates Weekend, 18th – 19th May

Taking place across the Barbican, Royal William Yard, the Waterfront and Sutton Harbour in Britain’s Ocean City, you’ll find a host of free activities and entertainment celebrating the region’s maritime history.

Find out more here.

Where to stay in Plymouth

Will you be heading to Brixham or Plymouth to join in with the swashbuckling pirate events this month?