Pirate or patriot? Sir Henry Morgan’s (1635? - 1688) competing identities and the 1685 libel case of Morgan vs Malthus

Palmer, Leon (2014) Pirate or patriot? Sir Henry Morgan’s (1635? - 1688) competing identities and the 1685 libel case of Morgan vs Malthus. BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    This dissertation is about Sir Henry Morgan’s historiographical identity. It shows that, over the course of three centuries, two competing identities have been constructed for this remarkable buccaneer, one of which now dominates the historiography on his life. An examination of three centuries of biographies about Morgan demonstrates the importance of a single text to the construction of his identity as a ruthless pirate, but also shows how the discovery of a libel suit, issued by Morgan in 1685, initiated a twentieth-century transformation which resulted in the construction of Morgan’s modern identity as an honourable soldier and patriot. It is shown that Morgan’s metamorphosis was concomitant with a major revision of his origins and early career in the Caribbean, prompted by the gross misinterpretation of the 1685 libel case. The case is contextualised using material drawn from the Calendar of State Papers, which reveals compelling reasons for Morgan to have lied about his past. Specific libels are examined using Colonial Office and Admiralty papers held at The National Archives in Kew, London, alongside other pertinent documentary sources. It is argued herein that Henry lied about at least some of the points he disputed in the libel case of 1685, and that this discovery demonstrates an urgent need for a fresh examination both of Morgan’s early career in the Caribbean and his historiographical identity.

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social, Historical and Literary Studies
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2015 14:50
    Last Modified: 07 Jul 2015 14:50
    URI: http://eprints.port.ac.uk/id/eprint/16329

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