Governor of the Bahamas

The seven-ship expedition carried 100 soldiers, 130 colonists, and took three and a half months to cross the Atlantic. When Rogers anchored off Nassau harbour on 25 July 1718 with four heavily-armed warships, the word from the shore was that most of the pirates except Edward Teach (Blackbeard) and Charles Vane would accept royal clemency and change their lifestyle. 

Vane and ninety of his crew escaped that evening, setting a French prize alight and making their way out of the harbour in the subsequent confusion. 

Rogers landed in Nassau the following morning with the reformed pirates forming a guard of honour and set to work immediately. 

As soon as he was sworn in as governor, he set about establishing a council and making necessary civil appointments. Nassau's fort, which lay in ruins, was repaired and garrisoned, overgrown streets were cleared and tidied, and the garrison reinforced by three companies of militia. 

Rogers proposed to development a whaling industry and to increase the production of salt, which had a ready market in Newfoundland's cod fishing industry. However, there were problems, particularly with disease, and his workforce was disinclined to work an honest living. 

Some reverted to piracy, which remained an on-going problem in the islands. Rogers had constant complaints about the lack of protection against the swarms of pirates and the threat of attack from Spain, and by 1720, ill, discouraged and deeply in debt, he decided to plead its cause in England. 

When he left Nassau at the end of March 1721, he carried a 'Memorial' from the council endorsing his policies and suggesting administrative reforms (an end to the proprietors' power, the formation of a colonial assembly, and increased allowance to defend the colony) but his appeal  to the lords of the Treasury fell on deaf ears.

Debt and a Second Term

© Ian Hughes 2017