Black Jack is Australia’s only known resident pirate. There was nothing romantic about this murderous thug. Anderson was a violent African American who came to Australia in 1826.
He and his crew of pirates were based on Middle Island in the Recherche Archipelago just off the coast of Esperance, where they attacked and looted passing boats and ships. They also murdered local Aboriginal men and enslaved their women. The Perth Gazette of October 1835 reported that Anderson and others shot and clubbed Aboriginal men to death and took the women in their boats.
Statements made in Albany courthouse say that Middle Island was “in the possession of John Anderson, a master of a sealing boat”. The court was also told that Anderson forced seamen to give him their money or they were killed. Like the English Highway man said, while pointing his pistol: “Stand & deliver, Your money or your liver!”
Black Jack was originally a whaler from Massachusetts, in 1826 Black Jack’s crippled vessel ‘The Vigilant’ limped into the trading post of King George Sound (now called Albany) in Western Australia. That night while drinking at the store they got into a fight with another ship’s crew. There was no proof, but Black Jack was blamed for the death of one of these men. So he & several crewmen ran out, stole a small vessel & sailed to the Recherche Archipelago off Esperance, with its uncharted 105 small islands.
At first the Pirates drifted through the islands, living off seals, before making their base on the biggest island in the archipelago – Middle Island. The soil was good, the vegetation healthy and it had fresh water. For the next ten years they ruled the islands, they hunted for seals with their valuable skins, which sold for six shillings each and they raided passing supply ships heading either to Hobart or Sydney.
The large limestone cave on Middle Island, has chambers and deep tunnels, which according to local legend was the perfect place, for Black Jack the pirate, to hide his treasure.
Western Australian Museum archaeologists have been to the remote area and surveyed what is believed to have been Anderson’s cave.
“Black Jack’s Bay” and his cave can only be accessed in rare good weather. People have searched for the pirate’s loot and obvious items in the cave would have been illegally removed by now. Perhaps Black Jack’s treasure was not buried on the island, but again, according to local legend his body was!
It is said that Anderson was murdered by some of his crew & is buried on Middle Island.
I hope they didn’t leave & take the treasure away with them!