Long ago on the high seas during the 17th century Buccaneering Age of piracy, a man was born who terrorized the town of Santa Maria on the Spanish Main and carried off the governor and bishop to Jamaica. Due to this feat, this man went down in history as the most famous of the “Brethren of the Coast”, a group of pirates and privateers, and his name is none other than Captain John Coxon.
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As is the case of many infamous pirates in history, little is known about Coxon’s childhood and youth. It was the 1677 surprise attack of the Spanish Main that was Coxon’s claim to fame and put him on the map in the public eye. Coxon’s Spanish Main conquest was only the beginning of his raiding escapades and was followed by a plunder on the towns in the Gulf of Honduras in 1679. From this pillage, a great deal of good was taken, making this attack quite successful and elevated Coxon as a great leader.
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In January 1680, Coxon, along with other known buccaneer chiefs, voyaged for Porto Bello and arrived twenty leagues from the town. From there, a four day march to the town transpired, which was brutal with little to no food, making many men very weak. They finally reached Porto Bello in February and plundered the town, rushing away before strong Spanish reinforcements came to the defense. This venture put Coxon on the “Most Wanted” list and Lord Carlisle, governor of Jamaica, issued a warrant for Coxon’s arrest. Another warrant was issued soon after, but somehow Coxon managed to escape these attempts for capture.
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After the Porto Bello attack, Coxon led an entourage north and in April 1680, he and his crew sailed to the Isthmus of Darien, hitting up Santa Maria again on the way. During this journey, a power struggle broke out between Coxon and the other pirate leaders. Coxon, being a hot-tempered and jealous man, fought hard to maintain prime control. He eventually got his way and led a crew in canoes to the Pacific, where they seized two vessels and made their way to Panama. There, Coxon did something remarkable and took the Spanish fleet of men-of-war. This was one of the most daring deeds in buccaneer history.
Coxon was sent on several other expeditions and sometimes traveled in disguise. He was captured and put on trial a fair number of times, but always seemed to outsmart the confines of the gallows. Coxon and his crew, sailing on a vessel of eighty tons and carrying eight guns, mysteriously disappeared and to date, no one knows what happened and where he and his men went. All that remains is a legacy of a fierce buccaneer pirate.
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