However, his most celebrated exploit was the hunting down and killing of the notorious Welsh pirate Bartholomew Roberts (1682-1722) in a sharp action off the coast of Gabon.
‘Black Bart’ was the most feared pirate of the age. In a spectacular raiding career, he had taken some 400 prizes, developed his own pirate code and flew the skull and crossbones from his ship Royal Fortune.
In 1721, having wrought havoc in the Caribbean, he headed for west Africa, first to Sierra Leone and then to the slave-trading port of Ouidah (Benin). When a Royal African Company sloop the Whydah refused to surrender, Roberts’ pirates set it alight, killing 80 slaves chained in the hold.
Having witnessed the aftermath of the tragedy, Ogle, in command of the 40-gun Swallow, tracked Roberts and his pirate crew to Cape Lopez.
On February 5, flying the colours of a French merchant ship, he was attacked by Royal Fortune with Roberts on deck ‘dressed in a rich crimson damask waistcoat and breeches, a red feather in his hat, a gold chain round his neck, with a diamond cross hanging to it, a sword in his hand, and two pairs of pistols slung over his shoulders’.
Hauling down his false colours and raising his ensign, Ogle brought a broadside to bear which mortally wounded Roberts. Of the 272 pirates captured, 52 were hanged, 65 were sold back into slavery, 20 were taken into the service of the Royal African Company and the remainder sent to prison in London.
The death of ‘Black Bart’ was a sensation. On his return to England, Ogle was knighted and, by special permission of the king, given Roberts’ ships and treasure, estimated at £10,000. It was this windfall that oiled Ogle’s path to the heights of the navy.
A 6in (15cm) coconut cup, offered in London by marine antiques specialist Charles Miller on April 25, may have been part of the booty.
Finely carved with the coat of arms of Admiral Sir Chaloner Ogle alongside panels depicting a fouled anchor and a man-o-war, the cataloguer speculated it may have been worked by a member of Ogle’s crew, with the silver strapwork formed from bullion discovered in Black Bart’s treasure chests.
As a fine early 18th century cup with a great story, it was guided at £4000-6000 but sold at £14,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium) to the UK trade.