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Much of Benjamin Hornigold's early life is unverified, but he is believed to have been born in Norfolk, England, around 1680.
He first appears in history between as one of the earliest pirates to emerge after the end of the War of the Spanish Succession, which suggests that he was one of many privateers who could not make a living in the ensuing peace.
Hornigold was a mentor to Edward Thatch and settled in Nassau, where he launched a career as a full-fledged pirate. However, although he was a skilled sailor and strategist, he lacked the ruthlessness required to be truly successful. He refused to attack English ships out of a sense of loyalty to his home country, and soon began to question the long-term viability of the Pirate Republic he had helped to create in Nassau.