Copyright 2001, David Stapleton
Acknowledged by many as the mentor of Henry Morgan, the material available on this knighted privateer/pirate is nevertheless somewhat scarce.
Christopher Myngs was born in Norfolk, England in 1625. He went to sea as a young boy in the Royal Navy before the English Civil War. Choosing is political affiliations well, he rose to captain in the commonwealth navy. He first arrived in Port Royal, Jamaica in January 1656 as captain of the frigate Marston Moor, to help defend the newly occupied colony. Enlisting the help of the resident buccaneers, he carried the defense of the colony a step farther by attacking the Spanish. The first referenced attack was Santa Marta, Venezuela in May of the same year.
Apparently he showed some skill in his activities as he was given command of the Jamaica naval squadron by January 1657. In October 1658 Myngs and his fleet missed taking one of the Spanish treasure fleets due to a lack of supplies but later burned Tolu in Columbia and again ravaged Santa Marta. After limited success, Myngs in the Marston Moor and two other ships attacked Cumana, Puerto Caballos and Coro in Venezuela. The attack on Coro yielded a large silver shipment of about 5,000 pounds, which Myngs split with his men, failing to reserve a share for the Jamaican governor and English crown.
This failure resulted in Myngs' arrest upon his return to Port Royal. He was sent back to England to stand trial for stealing the government's share of the treasure. The political confusion of the period resulted in the abandonment of the charges and by 1662 Myngs had returned to Jamaica as captain of the Royal Navy's HMS Centurion.
At this time Spain and England were no longer at war, but this did not stop the English and buccaneers in Jamaica from attacking the Spanish colonies. Myngs and his fleet attacked Santiago, Cuba in October 1662; destroying the port and capturing six ships. He followed this with an attack on San Francisco in the Bay of Campeche (not the one in California) in the company of buccaneers such as Edward Mansfield, Abraham Blauvelt, Henry Morgan and John Morris, leading a force of 1,500 buccaneers, captured 14 Spanish ships and 150,000 pesos in treasure. The Spanish outcry at this raid, forced Charles II to forbid further attacks, and Myngs returned to England in 1665 to be promoted to vice-admiral.
Turning to legitimate naval officer, he fought in the Second Dutch War and was knighted after the Four Days' Battle in June 1666. He was killed by a Dutch cannonball during a battle fought August 4-5, 1666.
A product of his times Myngs carried on the heritage if Drake and other English privateers and pirates. He continued the practice of attacking the Spanish settlements as a means to loot the wealth being collected for the Spanish crown. While operating with the blessings of the local governor in Jamaica (at least while providing a cut of the plunder) he nevertheless toed a thin line between privateering and outright piracy, and like so many others before him achieved legitimacy through bravery on the seas in service to the English Crown. His influence on Henry Morgan set the stage for the peak of buccaneering.
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