A Hot Tip on Cue from the Swabbie Hobby Lobby

An update about the True Authorship of the Pirate Resignation Letter– now with 100% more Angus scrotum:

Back in April, in the comment thread of a post about our recondite plans for global dominion, a Popehat visitor using the nick "Will Nobilis" seemed to claim authorship of the well-known Pirate Resignation Letter. In one comment, Will Nobilis wrote,

"…a random web search led me to find out Ken and Patrick (and someone named Mike) wrote about my pirate resignation letter…."

This claim surprised me, so I poked around for other posts by Will Nobilis, and, behold!, appended to Ken's variant of "The Nymph's Reply" there was the following humblebrag from 2011:

"I am glad to see it has made it to a site I frequently enjoy reading and I hope it brought you as much amusement as it did for me to write it and send it to my bosses back then."

In Will's claim I detected a whiff of Alvarez. So I asked him to clarify. I haven't bothered to grep the logs for a visit from him to that page since then, but we haven't noticed his nick or IP since. Whatevs….

This little episode is what prompted my recent post on The Origin of the Pirate Resignation Letter. A few years ago, by the usual means, I had traced the PRL back as far as the early aughties–specifically, to the third of May 18082001–and had come up with a tentative attribution: "As far as I've been able to tell through clever googling in my favorite search engine, the renowned and much beloved Pirate Resignation Letter was written by Chris Castle…." This Castle chap had posted in a forum, now defunct, under the nick "The Bartender" and had stated that

"In the interest of disclosure I should note …[that t]he entirety of the letter was not drafted by solely myself[.] I prefer to think of myself as the 'Producer' of the document".

As if summoned by low-tier conjuration, a Popehat commenter named "The Bartender" bearing email and IP affinity to Castle turned up to comment on the thread (without disclaiming credit): "Thank you for finding this!…" In neither case did the drinkslinger cited a source.

Anyhow, I don't mean to get exercised, but the pilates thickens: there's new evidence that may set the record straight. For comes now a future reader of Popehat, the humble, scoundrel-hatin' Rob G——-, who intimates that all the preceding claimants, real or imagined, are right bastards, and who adduces credible evidence to support his own authorship. He confirms that he was not posting as "Will Nobilis" and that he ain't "The Bartender". By email, RG explains:

A friend of mine sent me a link to a recent post you guys made about the supposed "original" author of the pirate resignation letter.  (To wit: http://www.popehat.com/2013/04/24/origin-of-the-pirate-resignation-letter/)  She suggested I send you a note and square the issue – because I indeed wrote the pirate resignation letter in the winter of 2000.

I've been gratified for over a decade that it's been re-posted and reused more than a few times, but I don't believe I've ever before seen someone attempt to claim authorship, until now.  As such, I direct your attention to the following link on the Internet Wayback Machine:

As a bit of background, I was a miserable IT guy at Merrill Lynch back in the 1990's, and during the waning moments of my career I took to writing resignation letters as a bit of a hobby.  Two of the ones I wrote I later forwarded on to i-resign.com, and the pirate letter was the one I actually did use as my resignation letter from Merrill in December of 2000.  The "Chris" mentioned in the letter was my boss at the time, a guy named Chris O——-, and the word "porcine" was actually "bovine" in the original letter.  (When you work for a company with a large, scrotum-displaying bull as its logo, it's obvious to see the reasons for my use of the term.)  The eventual recipient of my actual resignation letter was a gentleman named John F——-, who had, at time of receipt, long been convinced of my eccentric incompatibility with Merrill.

Someone sent me a link years ago to a reply I suppose you guys did – it was droll and appreciated.  I don't really want any notoriety or "credit," but I wanted to set the record straight – I don't like liars.


Rob G——-
(I have truncated names to protect the privateeracy of the parties embroiled.)
Thanks to Mr. G——- for providing this info and a link to what seems to be the earliest extant occurrence of the PRL. If anyone can show just cause why this resignation letter and this author cannot lawfully be joined together, let him parley now or forever walk the plank.

Last 5 posts by David Byron


  1. says

    Gee, now I wish I saved my WorldCom resignation letter. Actually, in itself it was no big deal, but by the end of the day every employee quit, leaving the manager all by himself wondering WTF just happened.

  2. says

    I've got an idea.

    We'll hold a Kickstarter Campaign. With the funds raised, we'll buy:

    1) A Shark Tank
    2) Three Diving Boards
    3) Pool Ladders
    4) A ton of piranha

    Setup the Shark Tank, install diving boards at 120 degrees from each other. Install ladders 180 degrees from diving boards. Paint boards and ladders in three different colors which are clearly different underwater as well as above. Add piranha.

    Invite all three possible writers of the Pirate Resignation Letter to the tank, escort them to the diving boards at gun point, and explain that they only way out alive is to swim like made across the tank and exit using the correctly colored ladder.

    The first person to exist using the correctly colored ladder, wins the prize of being declared the official writer of the PRL. Since no one else will be allowed to leave the shark tank, he won't have to worry about competition.

    Simple, and effective.


  3. Jack (the one with the cat avatar) says

    @ Wayne Borean
    IANAL, but I'm fairly sure trial-by-ordeal is no longer a part of the judicial system in English-speaking countries nowadays.

    (Also, piranha have an undeserved reputation. They look scary, but they're not dangerous so long as they aren't starving. Sharks are another matter. But crocodilians are scarier to encounter in the water than either sharks or piranha, if you ask me. Or, for maximum entertainment value: stock the tank not with marine life that would eat the competitors, but with horny male bottlenose dolphins…)

  4. Mark says

    Should one be complaining that your letter has been pirated when you wanted to take up the same profession? Surely that's just competition in action in the piracy marketplace.

  5. Nate says

    "Anyhow, I don't mean to get exercised, but the pilates thickens"

    I just wanted to tell you that this is an awesome phrase.

  6. naught_for_naught says

    @Wayne Borean

    Wouldn't a shark tank filled fill with even one piranha (let alone a ton) make it a piranha tank?

  7. mcinsand says

    The horny dolphins might just work. I had a friend that worked at Sea World, and one of her duties was to collect … um… bodily fluids from the male killer whales. She said that they got to really look forward to it. That has always made me wonder how she would describe her past work experience on a resume.

  8. Joe Pullen says

    If I download and use an non attributed copy of the letter in Jamaica, does that make me a pirate of the Caribbean?

    Also I understand Pilates helps you build a really good chest. It might kill me and I might be dead but I'll have the best dead man's chest ever.

    OK – sorry for all the lame pirate jokes. Carry on you swabbies.

  9. Peter Walkley says

    Please note that 'parley' is a french abomination and thus not recognised in law. Keep to the code. Yarrr !

  10. Dan says

    @Peter Walkley – They're more like guidelines anyway.

    In order to keep the test more to the liking of a pirate, we should have a kraken in the tank. Obviously the pirate will be the one most afraid of said sea beast.

  11. z! says

    Sorry Dan, Kraken belongs in a glass, accompanied by CocaCola ™, ice, and a small wedge of lime.

  12. Rick C says

    @cat-avatar Jack: Since we're talking about pirates, the legitimacy of trial by ordeal wouldn't be ruled by common law, but by whether or not pirates have stopped doing it.

  13. Felix says

    So I must tell my pirate story. I am an honest-to-Ho Chi Minh high seas pirate, according to Radio Hanoi, and I have sailed under the Jolly Roger.

    I was on the USS Midway for the evacuation of Saigon, April 1975, and we had a mighty beat up collection of helicopters and planes which desperadoes had flown out. We were taking them to Guam, where scuttlebutt had it they would be taken back to the States and refurbished. A repo-sailor, I was, if you will, when along came Radio Hanoi, telling the world they had won the war, those planes were legitimate war booty, they wanted them back, and we were nothing but a bunch of pirates.

    And Lo! our skipper flew the Jolly Roger.

    And Lo later! I actually got a job interview from this tasty tidbit from the non-technology from which was on my resume.

  14. Tangurena says


    Trial by Ordeal was restricted by the 4th Lateran Council in 1215 (the 18th canon to be precise), meaning that the Church was not permitted to participate in them anymore. Because the whole point was to have God's blessing/curse upon the innocent/guilty, without a priest or bishop involved it could no longer function as such. So it fell out of favor.

    Trials by Combat, Compurgation or Ordeal were outlawed in England (and thus all of the dominions, colonies and possessions of the realm) in 1819 due to Ashford v Thornton. Because one of the first statutes in every US state's laws is one expressly disclaiming common law, neither of these 3 were legal in the US.