Before his appointment as Royal Governor of The Bahamas in 1717, Woodes Rogers was an English sea captain and privateer. In 1707, his support was sought to lead a privateering voyage against the Spanish, with whom the British were at war. Captain Rogers led an expedition, and in the ensuing years, circumnavigated the world, captured a number of ships and even rescued the marooned Alexander Selkirk in the South Pacific, whose plight is believed to be the inspiration behind the novel, Robinson Crusoe.
Although Rogers’ returned to England a hero, his own fortunes ebbed and flowed until he was able to use his personal connections with King George I to forge an agreement to manage the pirate-infested Bahamas in exchange for a share of the British colony’s profits. Not only did Rogers now have British monetary and military resources at his disposal, but he also had ability to give the King’s pardon to pirates.
Pirates in The Bahamas would be fully pardoned if they would agree to cease pirate activity immediately. In the end, those who chose amnesty would later join Rogers in confronting pirates who were not quick to surrender. (Those who didn’t were sentenced and hanged.) Eventually, Rogers was able to establish a well-organized government and expel all pirates from Nassau.
The British Colonial Hilton was built on the site of Old Fort Nassau (1695)—and now Woodes Rogers’ life-like figure with sword drawn and cloak swirling around him stands at the front of the hotel as a vivid reminder of Nassau’s historic past. And although it no longer caters to swashbuckling pirates, the British Colonial Hilton still offers a taste of the Island’s rich Bahamian history, only with a contemporary flair. The hotel features more than 291 rooms and suites that still showcase a deep colonial past. (Speaking of the past, did we mention the British Colonial Hilton also made history as a location for two James Bond movies? Thunderball and Never Say Never Again were both filmed on location here.)