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Christopher Myngs
Christopher Myngs, by Sir Peter Lely, 1666, part of the Flagmen of Lowestoft series
Norfolk, England
Died1666 (aged 40–41)
London, England
Allegiance Kingdom of England
Service/branch Royal Navy
RankVice Admiral
Commands heldElisabeth
Marston Moor
Jamaica Station
Battles/warsFirst Anglo-Dutch War
Anglo-Spanish War
Second Anglo-Dutch War

Vice Admiral Sir Christopher Myngs (sometimes spelled Mings, 1625–1666) was an English naval officer and privateer, most notably in the Colony of Jamaica. He came from a Norfolk family and was a relative of Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovell. Samuel Pepys' story of Myngs' humble birth, in explanation of his popularity, has now been evaluated by historians as being mostly fictitious in nature.


The date of Myngs's birth is uncertain, but is probably somewhere between 1620 and 1625. It is probable that he saw a good deal of sea-service before 1648. He first appears prominently as the captain of the Elisabeth, which after it had undergone action during the First Anglo-Dutch War brought in a Dutch convoy with two men-of-war as prizes. From 1653 to 1655 he continued to command the Elisabeth, when he was high in favour with the council of state and recommended for promotion by the flag officers under whom he served.[1]

In 1655, he was appointed to the frigate Marston Moor, the crew of which was on the verge of mutiny. His firm measures quelled their insubordinate spirits, and he took the vessel out to the West Indies, arriving in January 1656 in Jamaica where he became the subcommander of the naval flotilla on the Jamaica Station, until the summer of 1657.[1][2]

In February 1658, he returned to Jamaica as naval commander, acting as a commerce raider during the Anglo-Spanish War (1654–1660). During this period Myngs acquired a reputation for unnecessary cruelty, sacking several Spanish colonial towns while in command of whole fleets of buccaneers. In 1658, after beating off a Spanish naval attack, he raided Spanish colonies around the coast of South America; failing to capture a treasure fleet, he destroyed the colonial settlements in Tolú and Santa Maria in New Grenada instead; in 1659 he plundered Cumaná, Puerto Cabello and Coro (all in present-day Venezuela) where a large haul of silver in twenty chests were seized.[3]

The Spanish government, upon hearing of Myngs' actions, protested to no avail to the English government of Oliver Cromwell on his conduct. Because he had shared half of the bounty of his 1659 raid, about a quarter of a million pounds, with the buccaneers against the explicit orders of Edward D'Oyley, the English Commander of Jamaica, he was arrested for embezzlement and sent back to England in the Marston Moor in 1660.[3]

The Restoration government retained him in his command however, and in August 1662 he was sent to Jamaica commanding the Centurion in order to resume his activities as commander of the Jamaica Station, despite the fact that the war with Spain had ended. This was part of a covert English policy to undermine the Spanish dominion of the area. In 1662 Myngs decided that the best way to accomplish this was to employ the full potential of the buccaneers by promising them the opportunity for unbridled plunder. He had the complete support of the new governor, Lord Windsor, who fired a large contingent of soldiers to fill Myngs's ranks with disgruntled men. That year he attacked Santiago de Cuba in Spanish Cuba and took and sacked the town despite its strong defences. In 1663 buccaneers from all over the Caribbean joined him for the announced next expedition. Myngs directed the largest buccaneer fleet as yet assembled, 14 ships strong and with 1,400 buccaneers aboard, among them the privateers Henry Morgan and Abraham Blauvelt, where they went on to sack Campeche in February.[3]

During the attack on Campeche Bay, Myngs himself had been severely wounded leaving Edward Mansvelt in charge of his pirate army. In 1664 he returned to England to recover. Later the next year he was made Vice-Admiral in Prince Rupert's squadron. As Vice-Admiral of the White under the Lord High Admiral James Stuart, Duke of York and Albany, he flew his flag during the Second Anglo-Dutch War at the Battle of Lowestoft in 1665, and for his reward, he received the honour of knighthood.[3]

In the same year he then served under Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich, as Vice-Admiral of the Blue and after the disgrace of Montagu, he served under the next supreme fleet commander, George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle. He was on detachment with Prince Rupert's Green squadron, when on 11 June 1666 the great Four Days' Battle began, but returned to the main fleet in time to take part on the final day, and in this action when his flotilla was surrounded by that of Vice-Admiral Johan de Liefde he received wounds – being hit first through the cheek and then in the left shoulder by musket balls fired by a sharpshooter when his Victory was challenged by De Liefde's flagship, the Ridderschap van Holland – of which he died shortly after returning to London.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Chisholm 1911.
  2. ^ Cundall, p. xx
  3. ^ a b c d "Christopher Myngs". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. 2004. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/19708. Retrieved 18 October 2015. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)



5 Annotations

First Reading

Pedro  •  Link


The Wikipedia article says…

“The Spanish government considered him a common pirate and mass murderer,”

How strange from a country that influenced the Pope to divide the world between Spain and Portugal, and was itself guilty kicking out all the natives in the area in question!

Michael Robinson  •  Link

Per L&M Companion:

Myngs, Sir Christopher (1625-66). A 'tarpaulin', born of poor parents in London: no friend of Sandwich, but admired by Pepys for his ready speech and remarkable powers of command. He had fought in the parliamentary and republican navies, earning a special renown in the W. Indies (1655-7).

At the Restoration he held seven commissions 1662-6, attaining flag rank 1664-6. He was knighted after the Battle of Lowestoft and fell in action in the Four Days Fight. The scene at his funeral when his men offered to avenge his death is on of the most moving passages of the diary. (June 13th. 1666,… )


Engraved portraits only:……

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

MYNGS Sir Christopher, - The first information we have been able to acquire of this truly gallant gentleman is, that he was made commander of the Centurion in the year 1662. In 1664 he was, in rapid succession, captain of the Gloucester, the Portland, and the Royal Oak, and appointed vice admiral of a fleet destined for the channel service, under the chief command of prince Rupert. In the following year, 1665, he hoisted his flag on board the Triumph, as vice admiral of the white squadron. He served in this capacity during the engagement between the duke of York and the Dutch admiral Opdam; and, on the subsequent retirement of the duke of York, he was appointed to serve as vice admiral of the blue. When the fleet returned into port he shifted his flag into the Fairfax; and a strong squadron, of twenty-five sail, formed of the ships in best condition for service, was put under his command, during the winter, for the protection of our commerce, to which end his activity did not a little contribute. The latter end of January he sailed for the Downs, and by that means entirely broke the measures concerted by the Dutch for the protection of their own trade, and the injury of ours. In the middle of February he went to the Elbe for the purpose of convoying home the Hamburgh fleet, a service he completely effected. When the fleet was assembled under the command of the joint admirals, prince Rupert and the duke of Albemarle, he removed into the Victory, being appointed, as it is said by some, to serve as vice-admiral of the red. But we have a good deal of reason to doubt this information, and to suppose that, acting as vice-admiral of the white, he led the van of prince Rupert's division, which Was detached, in consequence of false information, to meet the French fleet. He consequently was not present during the three first days of the long battle; but on the fourth, as though he thought it incumbent upon him to make amends for the time he had lost, he fell, exerting himself almost beyond what strict duty and gallantry demanded. We cannot do a greater justice to his memory than by giving an account of the manner of his death, extracted from La Vie de Michael de Ruyter, and inserted by Lediard, "Admiral Myngs having received a musket ball in his throat, would not be persuaded to be bound, or to leave the quarter deck, but held his fingers in the wound to stop the flowing blood, for about half an hour, till another musket ball taking him in the neck, he died after having given the most signal proofs of his courage to the very last gasp."
---Biographia navalis. J. Charnock, 1794.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Campeche is known for its colorful colonial buildings, delicious food, and — pirates! Campeche was the site of the biggest pirate attack in history: The 1663 Sack of Campeche involved over 1,400 pirates on 14 ships.

by English pirate Christopher Myngs (he was later promoted for his role in the attack), the 2-hour battle produced several casualties. In the end, the Spanish surrendered and the pirates took all the gold and ships they could find.…

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Another later tar Admiral started off his career in 1664 as a Naval cabin boy:

"Clowdesley Shovell was a notably successful ‘tarpaulin’ naval officer, who entered the Restoration navy, aged 14, as a captain’s servant and then progressed through the ranks ‘to almost the highest station in the navy of Great Britain’.

"Clowdesley Shovell’s first patrons were the Norfolk admirals Sir Christopher Myngs and Sir John Narborough ..." (both distant relatives).

(Clowdesley ended up marrying Narborough's widow, and Queen Anne was his promoter -- and he spent lots of time chasing pirates. He must have listened to and learned from his uncle, Christopher Myngs about their ways.)


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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.