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Cornelius Jol
Born 1597
Scheveningen, Netherlands
Died 1641
São Tomé

Cornelis Corneliszoon Jol (1597 – October 31, 1641), nicknamed Houtebeen ("pegleg"), was a 17th-Century Dutch corsair and admiral in the Dutch West India Company during the Eighty Years' War between Spain and the fledgling Dutch Republic. He was one of several early buccaneers to attack Campeche, looting the settlement in 1633, and was active against the Spanish in the Spanish Main and throughout the Caribbean during the 1630s and 40s.

Jol was really more of a pirate (or rather privateer) than an admiral, raiding Spanish and Portuguese fleets and gathering large amounts of loot. He was nicknamed Houtebeen (Pé de Pau in Portuguese and Pata de Palo in Spanish), because he lost a leg during battle and became one of the earliest documented pirates to use a wooden peg leg. The Spanish also nicknamed him El Pirata.

His son, also called Cornelis Corneliszoon Jol (or Hola), pursued a career at sea as well and served as an officer in the Dutch navy. He was captain of the Leiden under admiral Maarten Tromp during the First Anglo-Dutch War (1652–1654).

A street in Scheveningen is named for Jol. One of his descendants named a company after him ( Erstwhile AFC Ajax trainer Martin Jol is also a direct descendant.[1]


"Before the Battle of the Downs" by Reinier Nooms, ca. 1639. Cornelis Jol commanded a squadron of seven ships in this naval battle.

Cornelis Jol came from a simple family in the fishing village of Scheveningen, now part of The Hague. He joined the Dutch West India Company in 1626 and quickly climbed the ranks to become admiral. He was a popular commander among the Dutch, with contemporary chroniclers commending his "courage and prudence, his integrity, resoluteness and tenacity of purpose."[2] Jol crossed the Atlantic Ocean nine times to attack the Spanish and Portuguese along the coast of Brazil and in the Caribbean. During one of his earliest voyages, he captured the island of Fernando de Noronha off the coast of Brazil. However, he was soon expelled by Portuguese forces.[3]

In 1633, he and another corsair attacked Campeche in the Yucatán Peninsula, then held by Spain, with a fleet of ten ships. In 1635 he was captured near Dunkirk by Dunkirk privateers but released. He defeated the Spanish at a battle near Cabañas, Cuba in 1638, capturing all five enemy vessels. With victory came fame, and demonisation by the Spanish upon whom he preyed. One Spanish song of the time opened with the words "Patapalo es un pirate malo que come pulpo crudo u bebe agua del mar (Peg-leg is a bad pirate who eats raw octopus and drinks sea-water."[2]

While attempting to capture the Spanish treasure fleet, he and Jan Lichthart engaged in a naval battle with Spanish admiral Don Carlos Ibarra off the coast of Cuba. In Spain, he was falsely reported to have been killed in the confrontation.[4] He also commanded a squadron of seven ships at the Battle of the Downs, a decisive defeat of the Spanish, in 1639. In 1640, while awaiting the Spanish treasure fleet off Havana, Cuba, his fleet was caught in a hurricane and four of the ships were wrecked on the shore.[5] In 1640, Jol set out from Brazil for the coast of Africa, where he took the city of Luanda (in Angola) and the island of São Tomé from the Portuguese. While on São Tomé, he was struck by malaria and died on October 31, 1641.


  1. Noordervliet-Jol, N. De geschiedenis van de geslachten Jol, 1648-1996.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Lane, Kris (2003). . "Punishing the Sea Wolf: Corsairs and Cannibals in the Early Modern Caribbean". Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies. p. 202. .. Retrieved September 13, 2013. 
  3. Southey, Roberto. Historia do Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: Livraria De B.L. Garnier, 1862. (pg. 184)
  4. Rault, Didier (2005-06-24). "Encuesta sobre dos relatos de batallas navales entre españoles y holandeses (1638)" (in Spanish) (PDF). La información y su manipulación en las relaciones de sucesos. Universidad Paul-Valéry. 
  5. Swanson, Gail; Jerry Wilkinson (1999). "Florida Keys Hurricanes of the Last Millennium: Hurricanes of the 1600s". 

Further reading

  • J.B. van Overeem, 1942. De reizen naar de West van Cornelis Cornelisz. Jol, alias Kapitein Houtebeen 1626-1640.
  • K. Ratelband, 1943. De expeditie van Jol naar Angola en en Sao Thomé. 30 Mei 1641-31 Oct. 1641.

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