"In an honest Service, there is thin Commons, low Wages, and hard Labour; in this, Plenty and Satiety, Pleasure and Ease, Liberty and Power; and who would not balance Creditor on this Side, when all the Hazard that is run for it, at worst, is only a sower Look or two at choaking. No, a merry Life and a short one shall be my Motto.
—Pirate Captain Bartholomew Robert
There was a great deal of money to be made in this way. The record breaker was the capture of the Spanish frigate Hermione, which was carrying treasure in 1762. The value of this was so great that each individual seaman netted £485 ($1.4 million in 2008 dollars). The two captains responsible, Evans and Pownall, received £65,000 each ($188.4 million). In January 1807 the frigate Caroline took the Spanish San Rafael which brought in £52,000 for her captain, Peter Rainier (who had been only a Midshipman some thirteen months before).
Even though pirates raided many ships, few, if any, buried their treasure. Often, the “treasure” that was stolen was food, water, alcohol, weapons, or clothing. Other things they stole were household items like bits of soap and gear like rope and anchors, or sometimes they would keep the ship they captured (either to sell off or keep because it was better than their ship). Such items were likely to be needed immediately, rather than saved for future trade. For this reason, there was no need for the pirates to bury these goods. Pirates tended to kill few people aboard the ships they captured; usually they would kill no one if the ship surrendered, because if it became known that pirates took no prisoners, their victims would fight to the last breath and make victory both very difficult and costly in lives. In contrast, ships would quickly surrender if they knew they would be spared. In one well-documented case 300 heavily armed soldiers on a ship attacked by Thomas Tew surrendered after a brief battle with none of Tew’s 40-man crew being injured.
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