a buccaneer who served under Henry Morgan in the first piratical attack on Panama in 1671 and was a leader in the second in 1679. Having marched with his followers across the Isthmus of Panama, he seized a Spanish ship to cruise to the southward off the coasts of Peru and Chile. Later, while still in the Pacific, his buccaneering band broke up, some like William Dampier returning to the Atlantic across the Panama Isthmus, the rest remaining with Sharp. In 1681 one of the Spanish treasure ships he was chasing ran onto a reef off the coast of Ecuador and the captain burnt her to prevent Sharp plundering her. In retaliation Sharp killed all the survivors. He had better luck when he captured the Spanish ship Rosario, finding on board ‘a Spanish manuscript of a prodigious value’. This was a derroterro of the South Seas, an outstanding example with the coastline painted in its natural colours, which is now in the British Library.
‘Also I took in this prize another jewell, viz., a young lady about 18 years of age, a very comely creature.’ History does not relate the fate of this second ‘jewell’, but the derroterro undoubtedly saved Sharp's life. After a remarkable voyage to the West Indies round Cape Horn—he was the first Englishman to round it—Sharp made his way back to London where the derroterro was redrawn and coloured by William Hack (fl. 1680–1700), who also had it translated. Called Waggoner of the Great South Sea, it was a superb piece of chartmaking and in 1682 Sharp presented it to King Charles II. Charles made him a captain in the navy and he was appointed to command the sloop Bonetta. But the call of a buccaneering life was too strong for him to resist. He deserted his ship, captured a small Dutch vessel off Ramsgate, and sailed back to the West Indies. He was last heard of as commander of a nest of pirates in the island of Anguilla. See also piracy.
Subjects: Maritime History.