Last Updated on 16 September 2023

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“The Jolly Roger” refers to the flags that pirates would fly before they attacked. Different pirates with different flags referred to them as the “Jolly Roger,” showing that even back in the 1700s it was really a generic term for the black flags that pirates would use.

Pirate: Emanuel Wynn
Date: c. 1700
Symbols: Skull, crossbones, hourglass
Notes: Often credited as the first Jolly Roger

Pirates: Richard Worley & Edward England
Date: 1718
Symbols: Skull, crossbones
Notes: One of the most famous Jolly Rogers

Pirate: Calico Jack Rackham
Date: 1718
Symbols: Skull, swords
Notes: One of the most famous Jolly Rogers

Pirate: Blackbeard
Date: 1716
Symbols: Horned skeleton, spear, heart dripping blood, cup toasting to death
Notes: One of the more complicated and dramatic Jolly Rogers

Pirate: Bartholomew Roberts
Date: 1719
Symbols: Hourglass held by pirate and skeleton
Notes: One of four flags associated with Bart Roberts

Pirate: Stede Bonnet
Date: 1717
Symbols: Skull, dagger, heart, bone
Notes: Symbolizes a scale, weighing life and death (heart and dagger)

Pirate: Thomas Tew
Date: 1692
Symbols: Arm with a sword
Notes: Made the threat of violence clear

Pirate: Henry Every
Date: 1694
Symbols: Skull, crossed bones
Notes: The skull has a bandana and earring

Pirate: Edward Low
Date: 1723
Symbols: Red skeleton
Notes: He first used Blackbeard’s flag since he had served under Blackbeard, but then came up with this as his own

Pirate: Christopher Moody
Date: 1718
Symbols: Red flag: white arm holding a dagger between gold winged hourglass and skull & crossbones
Notes: He was never a captain in his own right, but served under Bartholomew Roberts. This flag is attributed to him.