This article is about Jack Sparrow's hanging. You may be looking for the musical cue of the same name.
"Gillette, Mr. Sparrow has a dawn appointment with the gallows. I would hate for him to miss it."
James Norrington to Gillette[src]

The Ambush at the Gallows was a skirmish that took place during the hanging of the notorious pirate Jack Sparrow at Fort Charles. Keeping his appointment with the gallows, Jack was about to be killed in front of the town people, presided by Commodore James Norrington and Governor Weatherby Swann. Elizabeth pleaded for his life, but Governor Swann said they were all bound by the law. After the hangman's noose was put on Jack, Will Turner came to his rescue. Will drew his sword and hurled it at the very moment that the lever was pulled to execute Jack, saving his life, and ran up to fight the executioner. Untying himself, Jack fought with Will against Norrington's men, until they were surrounded by soldiers. When Commodore Norrington confronted the two, Elizabeth joined Will in standing in front of Jack. Just then, as he bade his friends farewell, Jack fell into the harbor, where the Black Pearl was waiting for him. Noticing Elizabeth loved Will, Norrington wished them a happy life, and allowed Jack to have a one day head start before pursuing him.


First captureEdit


Jack Sparrow in prison.

"You can keep doing that forever. The dog is never going to move."
"Oh, excuse us if we haven't resigned ourself to the gallows just yet.
Jack Sparrow and seedy prisoner[src]

While "in the market" for a ship in Port Royal, Captain Jack Sparrow barely evaded arrest by Commodore James Norrington. The infamous pirate was later found after a duel with Will Turner at the blacksmith's shop. After his capture, Jack Sparrow was given a room in Fort Charles looking out across Port Royal bay, though the prison bars somewhat spoil the view. It wasn't the first time Jack had been locked up, but he's worried, nonetheless. Imprisonment is the beginning of a story that soon ends, with "a short drop and a sudden stop," for the punishment for piracy is the hangman's noose. Inside Port Royal's prison, Jack thought about this hazard, but doesn't give up hope, as he had cheated the hangman before. Jack took one look at the Prison Dog and decided that his doggy jailer was no more likely to hand over the keys than a human guard. "You can keep doing that forever, the dog is never going to move." he told his fellow prisoners as they try and lure the hound within reach with a bone.[2]

In the middle of his night in jail, the sound of gunfire made Jack Sparrow spring from his hard stone seat to gaze at the bay. Although his prison cell was directly in the firing line, the blasts were music to his ears, for he quickly recognized the sound of the guns as those of his beloved Black Pearl. Jack watched the attack raged on, while his criminal companions were still desperate to avoid the hangman. A cannonball shot from the Pearl would set the prisoners free. But the part of Jack's cell that is gone was too small for one man to slip through. As the prisoners escape through a hole in their cell wall they sympathize with Jack, still locked inside. "You've no manner of luck at all," they say before leaving Jack alone.[2] As the moonlight shines in through the gaping hole and prison bars, Jack tried coaxing the Prison Dog to him until the dog's attention went to the door into the cell block and dashed away. The door bursts open as the two pirates, Koehler and Twigg, step in and briefly spoke with Jack, as two members of Jack's old mutinous crew. It was here that Jack realized the stories he knew about curse were real and not only myth. Jack stared as Koehler and Twigg left him, alone in his cell, to ponder of what he had just learned.

Rescue MissionsEdit

Saving Elizabeth SwannEdit

"If you spring me from this cell, I swear on pain of death I shall take you to the Black Pearl and your bonny lass. Do we have an accord?"
"Agreed. Get me out.
Jack Sparrow and Will Turner[src]

At dawn of the following day, Jack Sparrow was still locked in Fort Charles prison, where he tried to budge one of the bars. Will Turner soon approached Jack's cell for answers about the Black Pearl so he could save Elizabeth, who was kidnapped by Barbossa's crew. Despite their differences, with Jack being the pirate who threatened Elizabeth a day ago, Will and Jack agreed to join forces. Will then helped free Jack from his cell. Stranded with no apparent way to pursue Barbossa, Jack Sparrow and Will Turner have no choice but to "borrow" a vessel. So they jump aboard the Interceptor, the Royal Navy's fastest ship, much to the dismay of Commodore Norrington and his men. With Jack at the wheel, the Interceptor cuts across the waves, as Jack and Will sailed for the island of Tortuga. There they met with Joshamee Gibbs, who agreed to help Jack in recruiting a crew. Now with an assembled crew, Jack and Will sailed the Interceptor for the Isla de Muerta to rescue Elizabeth.

Saving Will TurnerEdit

"Mr. Sparrow, you will accompany these fine men to the helm and provide us with a bearing to Isla de Muerta. You will then spend the rest of the voyage contemplating all possible meanings of the phrase 'silent as the grave'. Do I make myself clear?"
"Inescapably clear.
James Norrington and Jack Sparrow[src]

Jack realizing his crew left him behind.

On the HMS Dauntless, Commodore James Norrington wants to put Jack Sparrow in chains, but Elizabeth Swann persuaded him that Jack could help them rescue Will Turner from Hector Barbossa. Because she promised to marry Norrington, he agreed. After a battle with Barbossa's cursed pirate crew, Will was rescued and Jack killed Barbossa, believing he regained the Black Pearl but found out from Elizabeth that his crew left him behind. Knowing his crew followed the Pirate's Code, Jack simply said, "They done what's right by them. Can't expect more than that." And so Jack was forced to return aboard the Dauntless and face the gallows.

The skirmishEdit

The Hanging of Jack SparrowEdit

"This is wrong."
"Commodore Norrington is bound by the law. As are we all.
Elizabeth Swann and Weatherby Swann[src]
Norrington and his officer

The town clerk reading Jack's sentence.

From high atop the cliff that overlooked Port Royal, the sound of drums filled the air. Glorious day or not, there was to be a hanging. Standing in front of a noose, keeping his appointment with the hangman, stood Jack Sparrow, his hands tied in front of him. As he listened, the Town Clerk listed Jack's crimes. Hearing himself being referred to as simply "Jack Sparrow," Jack sighed and muttered, "Captain. Captain Jack Sparrow." Among the crowd of townspeople who had come to witness his hanging was Will Turner, who was granted clemency even after engaging in piracy. Decked out in their finest, Commodore Norrington, Governor Swann and Elizabeth Swann stood on a platform a few steps above the crowd. Since their return to Port Royal, Elizabeth had gone through the motions of being the commodore's fiancée. But that did not mean she agreed with his actions. For better or worse, Jack Sparrow had helped her and the man she truly loved. To see him die at the end of a noose seemed an affront. "This is wrong," she said, speaking aloud. But her father pointed out that, like Norrington, they were all bound by the law.


Will Turner making his way through the crowd.

Moments away from death, Jack couldn't help but smile as he remembers some of the crimes the town clerk reads out: "...impersonating a cleric of the Church of England..." His smile fades as the list ends " are sentenced to be hung by the neck until dead..."[2] Meanwhile, in the crowd, Will Turner sees Cotton's Parrot land on a flagpole, cawing as Mullroy and Murtogg stand guard. After the town clerk finished reading Jack's penalty, Will Turner approached Elizabeth, boldly confessing his love for her, ignoring the glares of Norrington and the governor. Elizabeth stood, shocked. She felt her heart begin to race. But before she could respond, Will disappeared into the crowd just as the noose was placed around Jack's neck. Elizabeth then glanced over and saw a familiar parrot fly away from a flagpole. With a knowing look, she waited for what was to come.

Rescuing a pirateEdit

"I thought we might have to endure some manner of ill-conceived escape attempt. But not from you."
"On our return to Port Royal, I granted you clemency. And this is how you thank me? By throwing in your lot with him? He's a pirate!"
"And a good man.
James Norrington, Weatherby Swann, and Will Turner[src]

Just as Jack Sparrow began to think that his luck has finally run out, Will Turner dashed to the rescue. As he made his way through the crowd, Will pushed back his cape and revealed two swords that hung on either side of his belt. Seeing this, Commodore Norrington prepared to call the marines, while behind him Elizabeth pretended to faint, distracting both her father and the commodore momentarily. The executioner pulled a lever, sending Jack falling through a hole in the wooden floor. The rope tightened around his neck, but then, his flailing feet found something to rest on. Just as Jack had fallen, Will had managed to throw one of his two swords, imbedding it deep into the wood below the gallow's hole, buying Jack precious moments. By standing on Will's blade, Jack stops the noose from tightening around his neck. Elizabeth sat up to witness this moment, but having revealed her ruse as her father sighed in disbelief.


Will and Jack fighting through Fort Charles.

Leaping onto the gallows himself, Will pulled out his other sword and began to fight the executioner while Commodore Norrington and his men charged. Back and forth, Will and the executioner fought—Will armed with a sword and the executioner a mighty ax. Suddenly, Will's sword was knocked from his hand and, ducking, he narrowly avoided being beheaded by the metal ax. However, the ax did not fail to hit the rope from which Jack hung, and with a creak it was severed, cutting Jack free. Will then sent the executioner flying into the crowd, Norrington's men in particular. Beneath the gallows, Jack quickly ran his ropes over the sword still stuck in the wood and took off. As Will jumped off the gallows, Jack took the other end of the rope that he had only moments ago been hanging from and threw it to Will. Together, the pair headed for the parapet side of Fort Charles, using the rope as a weapon as they went. Marines fell as the odd pair ducked and weaved, pulling the rope taut and knocking the men unconscious against the stone pillars that lined the fort. But as the duo somersaulted out onto the ledge that lined the cliff, they suddenly realized that there was nowhere left to go. A moment later, they were surrounded by more than a dozen marines, cutlasses drawn. Spinning around, they looked for a way out, but it was too late.


Jack and Will surrounded by Commodore Norrington's marines.

As Jack blew Will's hat feather out of his face, Commodore Norrington approached, sword drawn. He anticipated that they'd "endure some manner of ill-conceived escape attempt," but glared at Will when saying he didn't expect it from the young blacksmith. Joining Norrington, Governor Swann looked at Will with disappointment. Though he was granted clemency, as the governor pointed out, Will threw his lot with Jack, a pirate. "And a good man," Will said simply as behind him Jack nodded and pointed a finger at himself, as if to emphasize the point. Norrington responded, "You forget your place, Turner." But Will had not forgotten anything, and knew his place was beside the man who had helped rescue Elizabeth and who had told him the truth about his father. And Elizabeth's place was beside Will. Pushing her way through the marines, she came to stand beside him, her hand resting on his arm. At the governor's order, the marines lowered their weapons. Watching Elizabeth gaze up at Will lovingly, Norrington asked Elizabeth if this was where her heart truly lied. Elizabeth replied that it was.

Escaping the FortEdit

"Commodore! What about Sparrow?"
"Oh, I think we can afford to give him one day's head start.
Gillette and James Norrington[src]

Jack Sparrow bidding his farewell.

Just then, a flash of color drew Jack's attention away from the unfolding drama. Looking up, he noticed Cotton's parrot flying away from the fort. Sensing time was of the essence, Jack tiptoed around Will and Elizabeth, saying he was "feeling rather good about this," and made his way over toward Governor Swann and Commodore Norrington. Bringing his face right up to the governor's, Jack said they're all "in a very special place—spiritually, ecumenically...grammatically." Sliding over to Norrington, Jack added that he was "rooting" for the commodore. Jack then walked past a shocked and confused Elizabeth and Will, revealing to Elizabeth that "it would never work" between them and telling Will that he had a nice hat. Moving past Elizabeth and Will, Jack jumped up onto the rim right below the fort's wall. Behind him, the cliff dropped steeply down into the crashing blue waves, while in front of him Norrington and his marines stood at the ready, guns and swords drawn. Holding up a hand, Jack turned to the crowd and dramatically said, "this is the day you will always remember as the day that..." But the rest of Jack's speech went unfinished as he tripped and fell back, plummeting head over feet into the water below. After watching the pirate land with a splash, Gillette said that Jack had no where to go but back to the noose. In the harbor, Jack sputtered to the surface as one of Norrington's men noticed something. Everyone turned their gaze toward the horizon and saw the Black Pearl, with her black sails no longer tattered and her sides gleamed in the bright sun. With a smile, Jack's eyes landed on a familiar sight as he began to swim.


Norrington telling Gillette he would give Jack a day's head start.

Back atop the cliff, while looking out at the water, Gillette urgently asked Norrington for his plan of action. But the commodore didn't reply. Seeing this, Governor Swann suggested that this could be one of the rare occasion where the right course is committing an act of piracy. After listening to the governor's words, Norrington then called for Will Turner. Elizabeth and Will then looked at each other; because he had helped a pirate escape, Will most likely now faced the hangman's noose. Despite this, Will insisted that he'd accept the consequences of his actions. With a sigh, Will dragged his attention away from Elizabeth and looked over at Norrington. Drawing his sword, the commodore approached Will, saying "This is a beautiful sword," he said, holding up the same blade that had been given to him at his coronation ceremony several days prior. Norrington also expected that he'd "show the same care and devotion to every aspect of his life." Turning, he and the other officers moved off, but not before Norrington made it clear to Gillette that Jack Sparrow was not off the hook entirely—they would give him a day's head start. Elizabeth and Will stood on the fort's parapet and gazed into each other's eyes. Governor Swann, seeing how happy his daughter was, sighed. It was not the life he had wanted for her, but she was headstrong and beyond his control. Just to be sure, he asked if this was the path she's chosen, even for a blacksmith. "No," Elizabeth said proudly to her father with a smile. Gently easing the hat off Will's head, she said, "He's a pirate." Leaning forward, Will pulled Elizabeth closer and there, high above the crystal blue waters, they melted into a long and lingering kiss.


Jack Sparrow, captain the Black Pearl once again.

Out at sea, Jack swam close enough to the Black Pearl where he got heaved on board, where he was greeted by Joshamee Gibbs and other members of his crew. Jack asked Gibbs about not keeping to the Code. Gibbs said they figured the Code were more "guidelines" before helping Jack to his feet. Cotton, the mute pirate, gave Jack his tricornered hat before Anamaria stepped aside from the helm and gave "Captain Sparrow" command of the Black Pearl. Jack then ran a hand lovingly along the ship's wheel, feeling good and right in his hands, and smiled. He enjoyed it, until noticing his crew watching him, and then shifted to 'Captain' mode. Giving orders to his crew, Captain Jack Sparrow stood at the wheel of the Black Pearl. As he looked out to sea and felt the Pearl's wood beneath his fingers, Jack said, "Now...Bring me that horizon." Jack then began to hum the pirate song Elizabeth taught him before, and in his hand he held his compass. He realized what he's doing and smiles. Setting a new course, Captain Jack Sparrow sailed his ship across the turquoise waves of the Caribbean.



"You'd best be coming up with a new plan, Jack, and it better not be relying on that Compass. The whole crew knows it ain't worked since you was saved from the gallows."
Jack Sparrow and Joshamee Gibbs[src]

For the next year, the crew of the Black Pearl had been on many different adventures, whether it was searching for treasures, evading the Royal Navy, or captured merchant ships. At some point, the crew managed to narrowly escaped Commodore Norrington's pursuit off of Tripoli, despite running afoul of a hurricane that destroyed the pursuing HMS Dauntless. The crew would also try to find Isla de Muerta, where they would retrieve its treasure, but they would soon discover that the entire island was taken by the sea along with its treasure. Only Barbossa's monkey Jack would survive this ordeal, having been cursed once more, and found his way aboard the Pearl. About a year after being saved from the gallows, Jack Sparrow had problems with his unique compass, to a point where the whole crew knew it hadn't worked properly since he was saved from the gallows.[3]

Arrest of Will and ElizabethEdit

"The conspiring to set free a man convicted of crimes against the Crown and Empire, and condemned to death. For which the..."
"For which the punishment, regrettably, is also death.
Weatherby Swann and Cutler Beckett[src]
Will and Elizabeth arrested

Elizabeth and Will arrested.

About a year after their first kiss, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann were on the brink of marriage, and on their wedding day, the East India Trading Company had arrived to Port Royal. They arrested Will Turner from the blacksmith shop, and was brought to the Port Royal chapel in manacles and chains. Running into the chapel, Elizabeth embraced Will as Governor Weatherby Swann pushed his way through the crowd to confront the man in change: Lord Cutler Beckett. During this meeting, Beckett ceremoniously read off his newly appointed powers by the Royal Commission for Antilles Trade and Protection, then produced the warrant. Elizabeth Swann was arrested and put in chains when Beckett searched for Turner's warrant, happening to come across a warrant for Elizabeth. Beckett also had a warrant for James Norrington, though Governor Swann told Beckett Norrington resigned his commission months ago.

After Elizabeth and Will demanded to know the charges, Governor Swann and Beckett said the charge was conspiring to secure the unlawful release of a convict, charged and tried for crimes against the Crown and Empire, and condemned to death. For aiding in the escape of Jack Sparrow a year prior, Beckett told the two their punishment was also death. This would lead to the search for the fabled Dead Man's Chest, an item even Beckett sets his sights on in his plan to destroy every last pirate once and for all.

Behind the scenesEdit

"...tried, found guilty and ready to hang...but then he fought off a hundred soldiers at Port Royal, and escaped, God's honest truth, by grabbing two parrots and flying off a cliff. My cousin was there!"
―An officer[src] (screenplay draft)


Notes and referencesEdit

  1. The timeline established in On Stranger Tides (which takes place in 1750) and Dead Men Tell No Tales (which takes place in 1751) sets the events of The Curse of the Black Pearl around 1728. However, the exact placement still has to be officially confirmed by The Walt Disney Company.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Complete Visual Guide, p.26-27: "Pirates Beware!"
  3. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (junior novelization), p.84
  4. Wordplay: Pirates of the Caribbean first draft screenplay
  5. Dead Man's Chest 2006 production draft
  6. Dead Man's Chest - Audio Commentary with Screenwriters Ted Elliott & Terry Rossio
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