Born 1635 in Llanrhymney, Glamorgan (now Cardiff), Wales,Sir Henry MorganHe was a Welsh buccaneer, the most famous of the adventurers who plundered the Caribbean colonies of Spain in the late 17th century. Operating with the unofficial support of the English government, it undermined Spanish authority in the West Indies.
The origins and early career ofMorganthey are dark. He was probably a member of the expedition that in 1655 took Jamaica from the Spanish and turned it into an English colony. He could have participated in an expedition against Cuba in 1662; and, during the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665–67), he was the second in command of the buccaneers who operated against the Dutch colonies in the Caribbean.
Selected commander of the buccaneers in 1668,Morganhe quickly captured Port-au-Prince (now Camagüey), Cuba and, in an extraordinarily bold move, stormed and plundered the well-fortified city of Portobelo on the Isthmus of Panama. In 1669 he made a successful foray into the rich Spanish settlements around Lake Maracaibo on the coast of Venezuela. Finally, in August 1670, with 36 ships and almost 2,000 buccaneers,Morganhe set out to capture Panama, one of the main cities of the American empire of Spain. Crossing the Isthmus of Panama, he defeated a large Spanish force (January 18, 1671) and entered the city, which caught fire as his men sacked it. On the return journey, he abandoned his followers and eloped with most of the loot.
Because the raid ofMorganin Panama it took place after the conclusion of the peace between England and Spain, he was arrested and transported to London (April 1672). However, relations with Spain rapidly deteriorated and in 1674 King Charles II knighted him and sent him again as Lieutenant Governor of Jamaica, where he lived as a wealthy and respected landowner until his death.
An exaggerated account of the exploits ofMorgan, written by one of his crew, created his popular reputation as a bloodthirsty pirate.