Turn to piracyHornigold was born in Norfolk, England, and worked as a sailor on merchant ships at nearby Great Yarmouth or possibly King's Lynn. In the winter of 1713 he began a career as a pirate, sailing thirty-gun sloop "Ranger" off Nassau and the Bahamas and preying on Spanish merchant ships during the War of the Spanish Succession. By 1717, his sloop was the heaviest-armed in the Caribbean, and he plundered merchant shipping with impunity to become one of the greatest sailors of the Golden Age of Piracy.
Benjamin Hornigold was famous not only as a feared pirate, but also as the mentor of Edward Thatch, his second-in-command who would rise to become the captain of "Queen Anne's Revenge" and be the most feared pirate of all time. Thatch and Hornigold were just as much friends as they were enemies; when the pirate base at Nassau (which Hornigold led in part) was blockaded in 1718, it was Hornigold who wanted to make peace with the British and accept their pardon. Thatch was away in North Carolina, hoping to retire from pirating, and Hornigold was one of the few captains who accepted the pardon; Edward Kenway's "Jackdaw" and Charles Vane and Jack Rackham's "Ranger" escaped the port by using a fire ship attack.
In the aftermath of accepting the pardon, by the terms of it Hornigold returned to England penniless but a free man. He decided to go into a career of a pirate hunter alongside captains Josiah Burgess and John Cockram, and he was inducted into the Templar Order under Governor Laureano Torres y Ayala of Cuba and Governor Woodes Rogers of the Bahamas. Hornigold attempted to hunt down Captain Kenway and his partner, the feared "Black Bart" Bartholomew Roberts. In September 1719, he engaged the "Jackdaw" in a final battle.