Captain Coxon

Pirates in Panama History

Coxon was an English buccaneer sailing out of Port Royal in Jamaica with a force of 5 ships and over 300 men. The masters of the other ships were, Captains Essex, Allison, Rose and Sharp. In 1679, while sailing off the coast of the San Blas Islands, he met a French man-or-war, commanded by Captain La Sound. They joined forces, and continued searching off the coast of Panama for any Spanish ship they could capture. Not finding any, they decided to go to Porto Bello, to try their luck there.

Hiding there fleet among some of the islands and mangroves, they proceeded with about 200 men in 17 native dugouts. They landed some 17 leagues from Porto Bello, near Post Scrivan. From there, they marched on to Porto Bello, hiding during the day and traveling at night, to avoid being spotted by the Spanish. It took them 3 day to reach Porto Bello, but were detected by about an hour out of town, by a Negro, who ran into town to sounded the alarm.

The pirates chased the man, but were not able to capture him before he reached the town. They proceeded to rush into the town, and capturing it, before the Spaniards could muster their troops to fight the pirates. There was very little blood lost during the capture of the town. The pirates did not try to attack the garrisons, and the solders, did not venture out to attack the pirates. The pirates stayed in the town, looting all of the houses and buildings and Royal Warehouses. Fearful of a counter attack by the Spaniards in the fortress and additional troop arriving from Panama, and their retreat cut off, they divided the booty and left town at the end of the second day. They faded back into the jungle to their caycas, and to their ships. Every pirate made at least 40 for their trouble, including those that stayed behind to watch the ships, those killed or losing a limb were paid a larger portion as well the officers, which made more.

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Bruce C. Ruiz
August 22, 2002