1. The French commoner was forbidden to wear silk, velvet, brocade, taffeta, damask, lace, any fabric containing gold or silver thread, mink, sable, and fox. The colors of gold, silver, scarlet, and purple were also banned, as were pearls and other gemstones. Nor were they permitted to wear imported wool. Henry VIII of England forbade anyone below the rank of knight from wearing various garments of velvet or embroidered with silk. He even went so far as to forbid the second sons of knights from wearing certain fabrics or clothes. Penalties for violating these laws included the loss of one’s title or property, or if one of the lower class, one’s life.
2. A jerkin was made of cloth or leather, usually had short sleeves and a close fit. They varied in styles, but often had a long skirt that covered a man’s hips and thighs. The jerkin was worn over the shirt.
3. Breeches sometimes had a codpiece and were tied with laces.
4. Some of the threads that have survived retain the original colors of the dyes used – woad (blue), weld (yellow), and madder (red).
5. The name means “Black Oak” in Gaelic. His anglicized name was Owen.
6. Elizabeth’s Sea Dogs were both pirate and privateer, but since the word “privateer” didn’t come into use until the eighteenth century, they were called pirates.
7. Rugge was a coarse cloth made from wool.
8. After his father died, Verney lost his inheritance through his stepmother’s trickery, forsook England, and eventually landed in Algiers and, as a Barbary corsair, took English prizes. Once captured by a Sicilian ship, he spent two years as a galley slave before a Jesuit priest ransomed him around 1611. Impoverished, Verney died in Messina, Italy at the age of thirty-one.
9. A Christian who converted to Islam, either to plunder Mediterranean ships or to gain his freedom from slavery.
10. These trousers had a variety of names, including slivers, slops, and petticoat trousers. Slops came into use by the 1580s and remained popular into the 1800s.
11. Fearnought jackets, made from wool, came into use during Captain Cook’s voyages between 1772 and 1784, so they would not have been worn by earlier pirates.
12. Canvas clothes were made from old sails and were usually greased and tarred prior to wearing them to make them waterproof.
13. Monmouth caps were so named because they originated in Monmouth, England.
14. During the reign of Elizabeth I, she instituted a rule that made it mandatory that those of the middle class who were older than seven years must wear hats on special and holy days. Those below the rank of knight were prohibited from wearing ones made of velvet.
15. Thrums were made from the discarded ends of the weaver’s warp. The fabric was good for wearing in wet conditions.
16. Beards remained the fashion for men until 1628. That year, Louis XIII of France shaved all his courtiers.
17. Satin was considered a type of silk in this time period.
18. Wigs were another mark of the gentry, for peasants didn’t wear them. By the eighteenth century wigs were commonplace.
19. Most of us refer to the cocked hat with three points as a tricorne, but this was a term that didn’t come into use until the 19th century.
20. Clinton’s real name was Clinton Atkinson. Sometimes he went by the name of Smith.
21. Breeches worn in the second-half of the sixteenth century that were wide at the top and tapered to the knee.
22. Purser’s real name was Thomas Walton.
23. Indigenous to Borneo, the Sea Dyaks were river pirates who terrorized trading vessels and fought other tribes. They collected the heads of dead enemies.
24. William Dampier stayed with the Ilanun when he circumnavigated the world and found them peaceful, but during the 1800s, they were the most feared pirates of Southeast Asian waters.
25. In this case, bald meant they shaved the front of their heads and tied what remained of their hair in pigtails that hung down their backs.
26. John King was the youngest member of Bellamy’s crew. He joined the pirates in November 1716 after they captured the ship he and his mother sailed on. Commander Savage of the Bonetta said, “[John] declared he would kill himself if he was restrained, and even threatened his mother.” (Clifford, 133) The Whydah sank in April 1717 off the coast of Cape Cod during a nor’easter. About 146 pirates, including King, died.
Some of the pictures used in this article come from the DK.com CD that accompanies the 2007 edition of Richard Platt’s Pirate. Others come from Pirates and Braun & Schneider’s Historic Costume, Dover Electronic Clip Art publications. The picture of John King's stocking and shoe are used with permission of Expedition Whydah.