The Captain Morgan rum brand is named after a real person: the legendary Welsh privateer and buccaneer Captain Henry Morgan, who terrorized Spanish ships in the 17th century. Morgan was born in Wales around 1635, but his famous swashbuckling adventures took place in the Caribbean, where he was sent to fight the Spanish. Privateers were kind of legal pirates: They worked as representatives of a government, raiding rival nations on their sponsoring nation’s behalf, while keeping some of the fortune for themselves. Morgan was part of a group known as the “Brethren of the Coast” — real-life pirates of the Caribbean — and his exploits gained him both wealth and lasting fame.
Captain Morgan led many raids against Spanish colonies, most famously in 1671, when he took 1,000 men and captured Panama City. While his previous raids had been during wartime, the Panama City attack came after a peace treaty was signed between England and Spain, meaning Morgan was acting illegally as a pirate. He was returned to England to stand trial, but the English people, who had heard of his exploits, treated him more like a hero than a criminal, and he was even knighted by King Charles II. When he returned to Jamaica, he left the pirate world behind and became lieutenant-governor of the colony; upon his death at age 53, he was given a state funeral in Port Royal with ships firing guns in salute. Centuries later, in 1944, when the Seagram company set up a rum distillery in Jamaica, they named it after the larger-than-life local buccaneer.