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When the Royal James had to be abandoned as unseaworthy off the Gold Coast, the Royal Rover made for the nearby fort of Principe, falsely hoisting the flags of a British man-of-war.
A contemporary quotes Roberts as saying: "In an honest service, there is thin victuals, low wages and hard labour.
Roberts escaped with £40,000 in gold coins and jewellery.
But while Roberts was chasing prey off the coast of Guyana, his deputy, left in charge of the Royal Rover, sailed away in an act of treachery, leaving Roberts with one small, poorly armed sloop.
Black Bart’s resources were badly depleted: he had a crew of tough and experienced mercenaries, but his supplies were low and his chances of capturing a prize with this second-best sloop were slim.
Roberts’ response was to ensure the loyalty of his men by making them sign a code of conduct. Each man would have an equal vote in the big decisions and an equal right to food, liquor and prizemoney.