Sir William Blackstone declared in his Commentaries on the Laws of England of 1893 that ‘the pirate has declared war against all mankind; all mankind must declare war against him’. 1 Despite its somewhat sensationalist overtones, such heightened awareness of criminality at sea was not unique to the nineteenth century. Maritime piracy has experienced regular periods of substantial growth and decline since the earliest days of transoceanic trading motivated frequently by political, economic and socio-cultural changes ashore. Indeed, as Blackstone suggested, piracy emerged as a significant impediment to the consolidation of European colonial and mercantile ambition during the nineteenth century predominantly in the waterways of Southeast Asia and the southern Mediterranean Sea. By the late nineteenth century, attacks on European merchant trade had been suppressed in these regions and in some areas, eliminated entirely.