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Glyndŵr Pub





Glyndŵr Publishing 290 pages paperback illustrated Autumn 2004 (published abridged in USA by Pelican Publishing 2004 as THE PIRATE DICTIONARY [192 Pages]

‘this wonderful sourcebook is an absolute must’; ‘a vitally important addition to the canon of naval literature’

Books Council of Wales Book of the Month:

The Pelican Review - USA

‘I appreciate any book that offers us a tool to use terms to that we can improve on any one persona or another. For the book on hand Breverton, who lives in Wales and has a number of books on Welsh subjects, sought terms and phrases which were in use from the 15th to 18th centuries. But he also adds such proper names of notable and grisly pirates, such as Rock the Brazilian and Montbars the Exterminator. I had a lot of fun in throwing the description of these two characters into one of my favourite discussion groups, a living history group dealing with people, like me, who try to recreate the living history, seafaring past. This generated a number of responses from my comrades, their replies centring on if they had adopted a pro or anti Spanish persona. We all realize that the excesses of these two characters in torturing captured Spaniards were in retaliation for the excesses committed by the Spanish when they found some luckless souls on the shores either by design or accident. Those could expect the Inquisition and the resulting auto-da-fe. But life for the period under discussion was also not placid for society in general.

Current readers with 21st century attitudes might not come to that same conclusion. So Breverton has succeeded in providing the general reader some idea of what it was like to have lived at that time, in addition to providing them terms and phrases that were in use. I commend anyone’s efforts to assemble the magnitude of words and their origins as the author has done. I come away from a book like this with an increased understanding of what seafaring life was like prior to the 19th century. Those who want to write a seafaring novel about any part of the period should consider this an important source.’

Western Mail 25th August 2004

‘The book which lists thousands of nautical terms and expressions explains the origins of such phrases as Pot Calling the Kettle Black, Cock Up, Bite the Bullet as well as Flash in the Pan.  It also asks why good honest men became pirates, where did they hide and did they, as adventure stories such as Treasure Island would have us believe, really bury their treasure…’

A review from, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council.


This is the fourth book written by Terry Breverton in a series on pirates and piracy. Since piracy has existed ever since men first set sail on the high seas, this practical, dictionary-styled handbook is teeming with every kind of piratical and nautical fact associated with this period in history.
 Some of the many interesting facts included describe the types of sailing vessels used by pirates, the seas they sailed on, which flags were flown, what type of food they ate, which jokes they told and where the pirate havens were. There are even descriptions of some of the most famous pirates themselves, such as Black Bart Roberts and Edward Teach, more famously known as Blackbeard.
  The origins of familiar expressions used in everyday language today are also explained in clear detail. Who would have thought that pirates were the source of such sayings as ‘the bitter end’, ‘no great shakes’, ‘armed to the teeth’ and ‘take down a peg or two’? Or ‘take the wind out of his sails’, ‘hoisted with his own petard’, ‘clean bill of health’ or ‘chock-a-block’, which is a good way to describe this book.
  The author's detailed research shows very clearly. The writing is friendly and makes this a good handbook to dip in and out of, whether for the serious student or anyone with an interest in pirates. The compilation of information ensures that there is no better starting point for those wishing to research this subject for their own writing and will delight others who read purely for pleasure.’ Patricia Anne Craig

TRUE REVIEW (USA) Vol 18 No 4 November 2008

‘It is truly amazing how much lingo in America is derived from our seafaring days. Just look up the phrase ‘the whole nine yards.’ You think it has something to do with football? No, according to the book, on page 186, ‘Yards are the timber spars at right angles to the masts, supporting square sails. (Either side of the mast is called a yard-arm). A fully rigged three-masted ship had three major sails on each mast. If all nine sails were being used, the “whole nine yards” were working.’ You’d be surprised at the number of words we use that are derived from the days of yore. Check it out!’

WESTERN MAIL MAGAZINE 11 June 2005 2-page spread


‘Terry Breverton’s eventful life has taken him from the Iranian Revolution to writing The Pirate Handbook, he tells Sally Williams, as we continue our series profiling some of the best Welsh authors writing in English.

When Welsh author Terry Breverton got caught up in the Iranian Revolution of the late 1970s, he had to flee to the desert for months, just to save his life. The Americans had been flown out of the war zone but the Brits, including Terry, were stuck in the country where they became living targets. He had been in the country helping to manage what was the largest construction project in the world at the time: ‘I returned home from work one day and my villa had been burned down. They were trying to kill us and I hid out in the desert for three months.

There was no way out of the country, all the ports, airports and borders were closed and there were no communications apart from the BBC World Service. There was no drinking water and no electricity, so I survived on lager. I hid with the Koreans and got used to their food, eating lots of kimchi – a dish of fermented cabbage and chilli.’ The father of two teenagers now works as a lecturer at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff Business School. It gives him time to write about his experiences.

When Terry and three friends left Barry to go to university in Manchester in the Swinging Sixties they lived like there was no tomorrow. They felt they had ‘escaped’ from Barry Grammar Technical School for Boys, and made the most of their new-found freedom. ‘My days at Barry Grammar School were unpleasant. It was run more like a public school. It was the worst time of my life. When the four of us, who had been quite restricted, got to Manchester, we went mad. I lost my first term’s grant on the horses. The Sixties were a funny time. Manchester was great because we saw all the big groups play there – the Who, Small Faces, Yardbirds, Cream, Hollies and Jimi Hendrix.

But Breverton managed to burn the midnight oil as well as partying and gained a BA in Economics and Social Studies at Manchester University. He later completed a MA in Marketing Education at Lancaster University and went on to become a successful management consultant. He now writes two books a year and owns and Glyndŵr Publishing/Wales Books.

He has written fifteen books and most are about Wales, notably 100 Great Welshmen (the 2005 edition has just been released) followed by 100 Great Welsh Women. He has also written An A to Z of Wales and the Welsh, The Book of Welsh Saints, The Welsh Almanac and Welsh Pirates and Buccaneers.

His latest book, The Pirate Handbook, is a compendium of pirate terms, shady characters and far-flung places, for anyone who likes word-play, history and legends. It is ideal for dipping into among friends in the pub, especially on quiz night, or for light reading to lift your mood when you are waiting for a train. It will appeal to people who like good old pirate terms such as ‘God made the victuals but the Devil made the cook’, ‘knock the gilt off the gingerbread’, and ‘give a dog a bad name and hang him’.

Wales had some good pirates who knew no bounds. The most successful and most feared was John ‘Black Bart’ Roberts (who died in 1722), who took 400 ships in two years, from the African coast to South America. The handbook contains sayings that are still popular, some of which have Welsh origins. Some ships were ‘gammy’ if they were difficult to steer, from the Welsh mutation of cam, meaning crooked.

While some Welsh seafarers contributed to the language, others contributed to history. Robert Jenkins (1700-1745) was a Welsh merchant captain. The Spanish boarded his brig Rebecca, cut off his ear and sacked his cargo. Jenkins later produced his ear to a House of Commons committee. There was a public outcry which led to the ‘War of Jenkins’ Ear.’

Mr. Breverton said, ‘Wales is such a strong seafaring nation and most people living in Barry have relations who went to sea and they made good sailors. There’s something about the nature of the Channel here. It has the second largest difference between high and low tide in the world, at 46 feet. Barry lost 632 men in the Second World War, so I’m working with Phil Carradice on a book about Welsh merchant seamen in the War. He is also working on William Williams and the First American Novel.
[There follows a page of extracts from the book]

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