Howell Davis was a Welsh pirate whose career lasted less than a year in total but was highly intriguing. In 1718, Davis was serving as chief mate on the
Davis was known for his ability to trick his way through more than a few dicey situations. On one occasion he captured a ship that was larger than his own, which was rare for a pirate, who usually preferred vessels more easily apprehended. Shortly thereafter, he came across an even larger French ship that he wanted, so he forced the prisoners on the first captured ship to pretend to be pirates, and the French, believing they were about to be attacked by two ships full of pirates, surrendered without a fight. A short time later, Davis even tricked a Portuguese governor into giving him supplies by convincing him that he was an English privateer.
Unfortunately for Davis, his luck sadly ran out in 1719, when he was unable to repeat the privateer ruse on a different local governor in Principe, an island off the coast of Guinea. During his ploy, he was killed by Portuguese soldiers, who determined that his real plan was to hold the governor for ransom.
After his death, Davis' crew elected a man by the name of Bartholomew Roberts as their new captain, and his first act as their leader was an attack on Principe to avenge his former captain's murder. This act set the stage for one of the most prolific and brutal pirates on record.