Captain Morgan - Workers' Compensation Pioneer?

Captain Henry Morgan was an English privateer who lived from 1635 - 1688. During his   lifetime, Captain Morgan (of the rum fame) captained warships and led raids against several Spanish ships and settlements in the Caribbean, working under a commission from the Kingdom of England.

One member of Captain Morgan’s crew, Alexandre Equemelin, published a memoir of his time serving under Captain Morgan. From this memoir we know that Captain Morgan and his buccaneers had a constitution of sorts, or a set of laws, which governed the crew’s conduct during their escapades. These articles promoted order within the crew and outlined their rate of pay based on their position in the crew and the division of booty.

In addition, because pirateering was a hazardous job, the articles even provided a standard rate of compensation for serious injury to the crew. For example:

  • loss of a right arm = six hundred pieces of eight

  • or the loss of a left arm = five hundred pieces of eight

  • for a right leg = five hundred pieces of eight

  • for the left leg = four hundred pieces of eight, or four slaves

  • for an eye = one hundred pieces of eight

  • for a finger of the hand the same reward as for the eye

Stephen Talty in Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan’s Great Pirate Army, Crown Publishing, (2007)

Workers Compensation laws have certainly evolved over the years. Unfortunately, the workers’ compensation system in Nevada is complex, and full of pitfalls. If you have been hurt on the job, you should speak with a workers’ compensation attorney as soon as possible. Askeroth Law Group is here to help. Call us at 725-867-8495 to speak with an attorney today.


Thomas Askeroth