These are men, they say, but I count them among the beasts. Some of them rose from common thieves, others deserted, ship and all, to start a more profitable venture than soldiering. All of them are cruel and rapacious, issuing forth from their lairs in the mountains and deep forests to prey upon common people.
As their numbers swell, they think themselves little kings of their own domain and begin to make war in earnest, plundering towns and cities, burning to the ground what they cannot carry off.
Pirates have their own crude tradition of flags and symbols. Here the assumed arms of the "Pirate King" John Winter. The hourglass is a symbol of death.
This imitation of real heraldry is meant to imbue these rogues with a semblance of legitimacy where there is none. Some young ladies with their heads stuck in novels may sigh at the idea of a dashing pirate captain, but any good sailor will tell you the reality is quite different.