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In the seventeenth century, Port Royal, a harbor town on the southern coast of Jamaica, was a refuge for slave traders. It also became a place where semi-legal piratical activities took place. In the 1660s, British buccaneers and privateers were tacitly encouraged by the British authorities to attack Spanish ships in order to prevent Spain from retaking the island. The buccaneer Henry Morgan established his headquarters in Port Royal. When the British authorities sought to properly administer the island, the buccaneers' rule was eradicated, but Morgan was nonetheless appointed governor of Jamaica and commanded to bring order to the town.
On June 7, 1692, an earthquake hit Port Royal. Around 2,000 people were killed and several thousand others died of subsequent disease and fever. A considerable area of land sank.
Despite this, privateering continued in the region. After the War of the Spanish Succession, the streets and taverns of Port Royal were filled with bitter, unemployed sailors, among them Benjamin Hornigold and Edward Thatch. These broke seamen began to attack and plunder Spanish ships.
During the Golden Age of Piracy, Port Royal became notorious as the location where pirates were hanged after being captured by British authorities. Charles Vane and Jack Rackham were two pirates who were found guilty of piracy and were then hanged at Gallows Point.