Daniel Johnson is an English buccaneer who, serving under buccaneers Moyse Van Vin and Pierre le Picard, sailed against the Spanish becoming known among the Spanish as “Johnson the Terror”.
Born in Bristol, England, Johnson served as a merchant sailor for several years until his ship was captured by a Spanish warship and was taken to Santo Domingo where he would be held as a slave for more than three years until escaping to the French-held island of Tortuga. He swore to revenge himself for the cruel treatment he had received at the hands of the Spaniards, and he kept his word so well that he was named by the Spanish “Johnson the Terror”. Embittered by his experience, he readily enlisted as a crew member under Dutch buccaneer Captain Moyse Van Vin.
Johnson soon rose through the ranks and was soon promoted to a lieutenant. However, they soon began to quarrel over the distribution of spoils, and eventually fought a duel in which Van Vin was seriously wounded.
Leaving Van Vin soon after, he signed with Pierre le Picard and later participated in Sir Henry Morgan’s expedition against Maracaibo and Panama. Two years later, he began attacking Spanish shipping and coastal settlements in the Bay of Honduras, burning the city of Puerto Cabello after looting an estimated $1,500,000 GPs.
During the following year, commanding a 24-gun brig, he attacked a 56-gun Spanish galleon which had been carrying a shipment of gold from Guatemala to Spain and, despite being outmanned and outgunned, the 900 ton vessel surrendered to Johnson after an hour of fighting. Gaining a considerable amount of notoriety following the incident, Spanish authorities offered a reward of $25,000 for his capture (one of the largest bounties ever offered).
After joining other buccaneers in pillaging the coast of Venezuela, his ship sank near the western coast of Cuba on his return voyage to Tortuga and escaped with several others in an open boat.
After being informed of his presence in the area, the Spanish governor of Havana sent out a 15-gun brig to capture him. However, upon encountering the vessel, Johnson instead captured the Spanish brig after a fierce battle. With his crew far too small to guard the 200 captured prisoners, he supposedly had them murdered with their heads sent to the Havana governor.