Captain Jack Sparrow, a legendary pirate from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series, is a fan favorite, but where did the idea for him come from?
Johnny Depp has stated numerous times that Keith Richards (via NME) and, interestingly enough, Pepé Le Pew were major influences on his portrayal of Captain Jack.
His captivating and offbeat act won over audiences quickly, keeping them coming back to his box office hits year after year. After the movie’s debut, piracy skyrocketed, that much is undeniable.
The popularity of Disney’s family-friendly pirate show “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” helped inspire many kids to dress like pirates and inspired the company to produce even more pirate-related shows and items.
After everything that has happened, Captain Jack still stands out as one of the most recognizable pirates in history. Who, then, was the inspiration for Captain Jack Sparrow?
Slavery and pillaging
He fished the tidal waters of his native Kent as a child, having been born into poverty in about 1553. Genuine drinker who wasted away his days “sitting sad, speaking doggedly… [and] repining at other men’s fortunate circumstances,” as one writer put it.
The triumph over the Spanish Armada was the first indication of his future brilliance. Privateering was a semi-legalized form of piracy in which Elizabeth I provided licenses to anyone wishing to plunder ships belonging to the despised Spanish.
Ward was one of many seafarers who converted to privateering. The agreement was straightforward: 10% would go to the Lord Admiral’s agents, and 5% would go to the Crown.
The remaining funds were split between the ship’s owner and the crew. Unfortunately, the early stages of Ward’s career—including his time as a privateer—are lost to history, so we will never know if he was successful or not. Still, it was unquestionably at this time that he honed his piratical skills.
When the Anglo-Spanish conflict ended in the summer of 1604, Ward’s life as a sailor took a turn for the worst. After Elizabeth I’s death, her successor, James VI and I, prohibited privateering operations, leaving Ward unemployed. Someone named Andrew Barker claims he lamented his bad luck to others.
Where are the good old days when we could slaughter guys with the same abandon that your cake bakers kill flies? A time not so long ago, “when the whole sea was our realm, and we rob at will,” was something Ward yearned for.
Jack Rackham, AKA “Calico Jack”
Calico was the nickname given to Jack Rackham, who was known as the most colorful pirate to ever plunder the Caribbean. The Pirate King claims he used to work as a quartermaster aboard a British navy vessel.
He wasn’t terrible at the job, but when his crew mutinied, Rackham was named captain. Rackham’s new crew welcomed his suggestion that they turn to piracy in light of the fact that they were mutineers and thus likely to be hanged as an example to others.
Those that followed the pirate code (yes, there really was such a thing) were generally treated much better than their counterparts in the regular navy. Even more so if they had just won a battle and could now take their spoils home.
Many people’s mental image of a pirate captain is based on Rackham, who is famous for his eccentric manner, his skill with women (he sailed with Anne Bonny and Mary Read, two of the most notorious female pirates of the 18th century), and his insane bravery.
His jolly roger, a skull with crossed cutlasses below it, is just as infamous as the rest of him.
Why is Jack Sparrow such a skilled pirate?
His notoriety and infamous reputation precede him wherever he goes, and other powerful figures like Sao Feng and even Barbossa recognize him as one of the Pirate Lords.
Exactly who was Jack Sparrow?
Ward, John Born in Faversham, Kent, John Ward lived a prosperous career as a privateer during the Anglo-Spanish battle in the late 16th century, and later became a commander of the Royal Navy — before making the move to piracy aged 50.