The Pirate Code

Was there a real Pirate Code? The code is more what you’ld call “guidelines” than actual rules. The pirate code was developed from ship’s articles found on some pirate ships. There was no written Pirate Codex as portrayed in Pirates of the Caribbean, at World’s End.

The Code refers to the Ship’s Articles and some of the methods used by pirates to scare their enemies.

“Articles of Agreement”

From the New England Pirate Museium, Articles of Agreement between: Robert Livingston, William Kidd, and Richard Blackham


– Every man had a voice in all affairs

– Every man had equal title to all fresh provisions and strong liquors seized.

– Captain and Quartermaster received two shares in a prize. Sailing Master, Boatswain, and Gunner receive one-and-one-half shares. Other officers one-and-one-quarter shares. Sailors, one share. If one lost a limb or became a cripple in the common service, one received more of a share.

 – No gaming for money at cards or dice at sea.

– Lights and candles out before 8 o’clock. Any drinking done after 8 o’clock must be done on open decks

– Every man must keep his gun, pistol, and cutlass clean and ready for service. If he did not, he would be cut from his share and suffer such punishment as the captain saw fit.

– To desert the ship or abandon quarters in time of battle was punished by death or marooning. The marooned was usually given a bottle of water and some powder, shot and a pistol.

– If someone cheated the company of an article of value, he would be punished by marooning.

– If robbery took place between two crewmen, the guilty one had his nose and ears split and would be marooned.

– No women were allowed on board. If any man carried a woman on board disguised, he would be put to death.

 – No striking another on board ship. every man’s quarrel would be settled on shore with sword and pistol. Quartermaster would accompany both to shore. The disputants were set back to back at 20 paces. At the command, they turn and fire immediately. If both miss, they take up their cutlasses.

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