Captain Roche Braziliano

    Roche Braziliano or Brasiliano was a Dutch pirate born in the town of Groningen. His pirate career lasted from 1654 until his disappearance around 1671. He was first made famous in Alexandre Exquemelin's 1678 book The Buccaneers of America; Exquemelin did not know Braziliano's real name, but historians have found he was probably born as Gerrit Gerritszoon and that he and his parents moved to Dutch-controlled Brazil. Roche Braziliano was a notoriously cruel buccaneer who operated out of Port Royal, Jamaica. He was a privateer in Bahia, Brazil, before moving to Port Royal in 1654. He led a mutiny and adopted the life of a buccaneer.

   On his first adventure he captured a ship of immense value and brought it back safely to Jamaica. Eventually he was captured by the Spanish and imprisoned in Campeche, Mexico. Attempting to trick his captors with fear, he wrote a letter, supposedly from other buccaneers, stating that if anything happened to him, his pirate comrades would attack the town, looting and killing every Spaniard. The ploy may have worked, for Roche was not hanged in Campeche, but he was shipped off to Spain for trial and probable execution. Somehow he managed to escape while in Spain and made his way back to Port Royal.

    Roche soon resumed to his pirate career, purchasing a new ship from fellow pirate Francois l'Olonnais and later sailing in company with Sir Henry Morgan and Joseph Bradley among others. Renown for his cruelty, it was said a drunken and debauched Braziliano would threaten to shoot anyone who did not drink with him. He was rumored to have roasted alive two Spanish farmers on wooden spits after they refused to hand over their pigs. He treated his Spanish prisoners barbarously, typically cutting off their limbs or roasting them alive over a fire. However tales of his wicked exploits may have been exaggerated a bit to help sell Exquemelin's book. After 1671, Braziliano was never seen or heard from again. Even to this date, nobody knows what became of the Dutch pirate. Whether he and his crew were lost at sea in a storm, was killed, captured, or possibly retired and lived the rest of his life in anonymity is still a matter of debate.