Many of the pirates used to have strict rules of conduct. Usually such rules were written down in articles and signed by every member of the crew. These rules usually included a description of how the spoils from a succesful attack were to be divided. In the articles the punishment for breaking one or more of these rules was also laid down. These were usually very harsh punishments.
This is an example of some of the pirate's articles that were used by the pirate Bartholomew Roberts and his crew (Source: A general history of the robberies and murders of the most notorious pyrates and also their policies, discipline and government, from their first rise and settlement in the island of Providence, in 1717, to the present year 1724. With the remarkable actions and adventures of the two female pyrates, Mary Read and Anne Bonny. To which is prefix'd an account of the famous Captain Avery and his companions ; with the manner of his death in England. The whole digested into the following chapters ..., to which is added, a short abstract of the statute and civil law in relation to pyracy. / by Captain Charles Johnson, 1724):
- Every Man has a Vote in Affairs of Moment; has equal title to the fresh Provifions, or ftrong Liquors, at any Time feized, and ufe of them at Pleafure, unlefs a Scarcity make it neceffary, for the good of all, to Vote a Retrenchment.
- Every Man to be called fairly in turn, by Lift, on Board of Prizes, becaufe, they were on thefe Occafions allowed a Shift of Cloaths: But if they defrauded the Company to the Value of a Dollar, in Plate, Jewels, or Money, Marooning was their Punishment.
- No Perfon to Game at Cards or Dice, for Money.
- The Lights and Candles to be put out at eight o'Clock at Night: If any of the Crew, after that Hour, ftill remained inclin'd for Drinking, they were to do it on the open Deck
- To keep their Piece, Piftols, and Cutlafh clean, and fit for Service
- No Boy or Woman to be allowed amongft them. If any Man were found feducing any of the latter Sex, and carried her to Sea, difguifed, he was to fuffer Death.
- To Defert the Ship, or their Quarters in Battle, was punifhed with Death, or Marooning.
- No ftriking one another on Board, but every Man's Quarrels to be ended on Shore, at Sword and Piftol.
- No Man to talk of breaking up their Way of Living, till each had fhared a 1000! If in order to this, any Man fhould lofe a Limb, or become a Cripple in their Service, he was to have 800 Dollars, out of the publick Stock, and for leffer Hurts, proportionably.
- The Captain and Quarter-Mafter to receive two Shares of a Prize; the Mafter, Boatfwain, and Gunner, one Share and a half, and other Officers, one and a Quarter.
This is an example of some of the pirate's articles that were used by the pirate John Philips and his crew (Source: The Pirates' who's who: giving particuars of the lives & deaths of the pirates & buccaneers / by Philip Gosse, 1924):
- Every Man shall obey civil Command; the Captain shall have one full Share and a half in all Prizes; the Master, Carpenter, Boatswain and Gunner shall have one Share and a quarter.
- If any Man shall offer to run away, or keep any Secret from the Company, he shall be marroon'd with one Bottle of Powder, one Bottle of Water, one small Arm, and Shot.
- If any Man shall steal any Thing in the Company, or game, to the Value of a Piece of Eight, he shall be Marroon'd or Shot.
- If at any Time we should meet another Marrooner (that is, Pyrate,) that Man shall sign his Articles without the consent of our Company, shall suffer such Punishment as the Captain and Company shall think fit.
- That Man that shall strike another while these Articles are in force, shall receive Moses's Law (that is 40 Stripes lacking one) on the bare Back.
- That Man that shall snap his Arms, or smoak Tobacco in the Hold, without a cap to his Pipe, or carry a Candle lighted without a Lanthorn, shall suffer the same Punishment as in the former Article.
- That Man that shall not keep his Arms clean, fit for an Engagement, or neglect his Business, shall be cut off from his Share, and suffer such other Punishment as the Captain and the Company shall think fit.
- If any Man shall lose a Joint in time of an Engagement, shall have
400 Pieces of Eight; if a limb, 800.
- If at any time you meet with a prudent Woman, that Man that offers to meddle with her, without her Consent, shall suffer present Death.
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