Tales from the Pirate Jamboree

Crystal Canterbury
Michelle Murillo, a.k.a., Mary Read, shows her Port Royal artifacts to Jamboree attendee Will Canterbury.
Michelle Murillo, a.k.a., Mary Read, shows her Port Royal artifacts to Jamboree attendee Will Canterbury.

Piratical artifacts inspire a lyrical tribute.

There was music and jollity and grog and battle!

There were cannon and muskets and maps and shackles!

There were battle ships and flags and captains and their crew!

And turkey legs and peg legs and eye patches too!

There were stories of sailing across the high seas, and one of these stories struck me, you see…

One of the exhibits at the Pirate Encampment at Blackbeard's Pirate Jamboree was especially interesting to me. Michelle Murillo displayed her private collection of artifacts from the late 1600's, believed to be buried during the great earthquake of 1692 in Port Royal, Jamaica. An Ocracoke favorite, Michelle returned again this year to Blackbeard's Pirate Jamboree as part of Blackbeard's Crew. When she's not camping out on the shores of Silver Lake, Michelle's a TV newscaster and runs her own living history educational service, Presenting the Past.

Her favorite story to share is the "Sinking of Port Royal." Over the years she has amassed the largest collection of artifacts from the sunken city owned by an individual, that she uses to create a hands-on history experience. I was inspired to write something a little different for this Current article. 

Tales from the Pirate Jamboree


Port Royal, Jamaica, a once bustling town, had pirates galore there from places all around.

The tropical city jutted out in the sea, and became a trade stop and place of debauchery!

The town was a port (only second to Boston), a world of pirates, easy to get lost in. 

There was wealth and wine and women and beer!

It was a most perfect place for any Buccaneer.

The British established, in this flourishing city, a place for their Navy to operate safely.

They fought off the Spanish and established some forts, then invited the pirates to help them do work.


The pirates who came to Port Royal soon found the Royal Navy, in fact, wanted them around.

So they helped protect the town from invaders, and had all their needs met, obliged, and catered.

A haven for pirates Port Royal became, the “wickedest city” was soon its nickname.

Wealth was coming in, being spent, and earned, but on one fateful day, everything turned.

Tales from the Pirate Jamboree


The earth below shook three different times, creating chaos and destruction of what once was sublime.

The ground opened up and the surface liquefied, as three earthquakes rumbled, the town’s people were terrified.


A tsunami struck Port Royal right after, creating an even greater disaster.

HMS Swan, docked that day, was swept to high ground, hundreds of feet away.

The water was said to be forty feet deep, the buildings destroyed, with rubble in heaps.

Tales from the Pirate Jamboree


Two-thousand people died just that one day, plus two-thousand more in the following melee.

Injuries, sickness, and terrible conditions left the survivors in a horrible position.

The city of six-thousand, on that fateful day, was reduced by two-thirds, the village washed away.


As word of the disaster spread ‘round the world, tales of caution soon could be heard.

For clearly the disaster was divine retribution, for lewd acts of drinking, theft, and prostitution.

But Port Royal recovered, miraculously, and continued to operate as a port in the sea.

It lasted for years, hundreds, in fact, until finally Mother Nature gave one last attack.

Tales from the Pirate Jamboree


Through earthquakes, a tsunami, fires, and storms, Port Royal pushed on until it could go on no more.

Now mostly what’s left are artifacts and stories from when it was bustling with wealth and glory.

Two-thousand people live there, but it’s nothing like before, when pirates made the economy soar.

In Port Royal’s place a new city was done, it’s one we all know of, the city of Kingston.

Tales from the Pirate Jamboree


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