Question: Which fictional pirate was based on a real life Faversham pirate?
Answer: Captain Jack Sparrow!
Some of you may have seen our quick quizzes on Instagram stories, lots of our followers send messages on how much they enjoy them or ask further questions but the above question really got everyone interested and it seems to be a tale that not many Faversham folk have heard. So grab a coffee, settle down and we will tell you the tale of the man who was the original Jack Sparrow.
Jack Ward was born in 1553 in Faversham, and grew up working in the local fisheries. In 1588 ward found work as a privateer, plundering the Spanish Fleet under licence of Queen Elizabeth I following the Spanish Armada’s failure to invade England. These licences were revoked after James I came to the throne and ended the war with Spain. However, Jack and his fellow privateers refused to give up their lively hood and continued to plunder Spanish ships and as such they were considered pirates.
Around 1604, Jack Ward was believed to have been pressed into service and aboard a ship named the Lyon’s Whelp. He wasn’t there long however, as Ward and his colleagues quickly deserted and stole a small 25-ton ship from Portsmouth. Ward’s comrades elected him Captain and they sailed to the Isle of Wight and captured another ship named the Violet.
Over the next few years Ward and his crew captured a great many ships, and fitted them out as war ships. He arranged with the local authorities to use Tunis as his base. From here he built a fearsome reputation and capture many vessels from various European States. In the spring of 1607 Ward took a fleet of four ships and spotted a large Venetian ship named Reniera e Soderina and after a three hour fire fight the ship was surrendered to Ward and his men with an alleged haul of £2m. This lead to rumours in London that the Venetian authorities were close to declaring war on England if Ward was not stopped. The English Ambassador in Venice assured the council Ward would “meet with a warm reception if he comes into these waters”
Eventually, Jack Ward asked to be pardoned by James I of England, this was rejected and he reluctantly had to be given a safe haven in Tunis. Jack and his entire crew then converted to Islam and Ward was renamed Yusuf Reis, yet was more commonly known as Captain Yusuf Asfur (Captain Jack Sparrow) due to Jack’s fascination with the small birds in Tunis.
So there you have it, a Faversham lad was the inspiration behind one of the most well known pirates to appear on film almost 500 years since he was born in the town.