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  • Writer's pictureTopsail Times

The Story Of Blackbeard

(As told by A J Hewett, Pirate Reenactor)

In 1680 a Man named Edward Thatch, (Teach), was born. Young Thatch’s, (Teach), father was a privateer for the British.

One morning young Thatch’s, (Teach), Mother got word that Edward Thatch’s, (Teach’s), Father was lost at sea. Thatch’s Mother remarried a drunken sailor who began to beat young Thatch (Teach). As Thatch, (Teach), began to get older, he began to figure out a way to get even with his drunk stepfather. One day Edward Thatch, (Teach), had enough and used the very same stick that the drunken stepfather used to beat him and retaliated. Thatch was afraid to get caught and go to jail.

So, Edward Thatch, (Teach), joined a privateer ship in 1701- thru 1713 which was considered legal piracy under a letter of mark given by the Governor. At the end of 1713, the letter of mark was removed, and the privateers were left with no means to survive. They had a love for raiding ships and getting rich off the booty they plundered. So, Edward Thatch, (Teach), sailed to Nassau. Where he met Benjamin Hornigold in 1716. Captain Benjamin began teaching Thatch, (Teach), how to become captain placing him on a sloop. Where he sailed the sloop to about 1717. One early morning a French slave ship was sailing the waters and Thatch saw the ship and they began taking steps to capture this mighty ship, the La Concorde. Upon capture of this ship and freeing the slaves to join the crew or sail off on their own.

He re-names the ship the Queen Annes Revenge. Thatch, (Teach), now takes the name of Blackbeard, and took full advantage of its size and placed 40 cannons and 300 scallywags on the ship. He began to sail up and down the East Coast plundering ships. When he runs into Steve Bonnet, they combine forces. Blackbeard’s crew began to show signs of illness so, he rounded up allies and his fleet blockaded Charleston South Carolina’s port in demand for meds. Blackbeard sent a messenger if you send me meds, I will return your cabinet members to you. If not, I will kill them and keep all import and exports from coming in or out of your port. Upon hearing this request, the Governor sent a chest of meds to Blackbeard. Blackbeard released the captives and left the port. Blackbeard heard of a pardon and, went to Bath, NC, and built him a home and received a pardon from the Governor of Bath. But Blackbeard wasn’t finished yet, and he kept pirating and the Governor of Virginia Alexander Spotswood, sent Lieutenant Robert Maynard to end Blackbeard’s life in Ocracoke North Carolina, where Blackbeard lost his life in November 22, 1718 around the age of 35-40. Many historians all have different outlooks on Blackbeard’s story. Due to very few documents and diaries and living witnesses somethings said are true so may be fictional but after all we are pirates!

Blackbeard The Pirate

Traditional Pirate literature began with Alexander Exquemelin’s 1679 classic, “Buccaneers of America.” Then came Captain Charles Johnson’s often more widely read, often-referenced two volumes, “A General History of the Robberies & murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates”, and “The History of the Pyrates”, published in 1724 and 1726 respectively. Since then, the popularity of the Pirate lore has never waned. By 1950, according to English author Patrick Pringle, hundreds of books had been written about Pirates, and most were based on Exquemelin’s and Johnson’s time-worn standards.

Also igniting a renewed interest in the Pirate Blackbeard, Florida-based treasure hunters, discovered in 1996 what is believed to be the submerged remains of his famous 40-gun flagship, “Queen Anne’s Revenge”. The Former French slave ship, grounded and wrecked on the outer bar of Beaufort Inlet, (formerly Old Topsail Inlet), in June 1718. Ironically, it was not the silver laden Spanish ship the salvors and their investors were looking for, but the discovery changed lives nonetheless. It tantalized history and Pirate fans both young and old, and put a fresh breeze in the sails of the becalmed careers of novelists and Pirate re-enactors. (When Blackbeard’s crew first spied the ship off the Winward Islands in the fall of 1717, they looked upon her with lust & envy). Two-hundred eighty years later, people were seeing the ship with the same sense of desire—as it could be said that their ship has come in.

Like an enormous mosaic with tens of thousands of pieces, the recovery and conservation of artifacts from the wreck most experts believe IS the “Queen Anne’s Revenge” has begun to tell a story of life on board a Pirate ship. Since 1996, according to the official state reports, over 2000 artifacts have been recovered and conserved and thousands more await removal from concretion and treatment in the laboratory. The artifacts reflect many aspects of early eighteenth-century maritime culture. If proven to be the “Queen Anne’s Revenge”, the state of North Carolina could claim one of only a few 18th century Pirate wrecks in the world.

Life and Death

The 1710’s had been called “The Golden Age of Piracy”. Pirate ships roamed the Atlantic Ocean, preying upon busy commercial ports in the West Indies and along the Coast of North America. One of the most notorious of the Pirates, Edward Teach, better known as “Blackbeard”, was a frequent visitor to North Carolina and it was here in November of 1718 he was captured and killed.

Edward Teach was born in Bristol England, a Town on the Avon River in Southwest England, which produced many Pirates. Teach served as a Privateer during Queen Anne’s war, (1701-1714). Privateering was, in a sense, legalized piracy, the British Government authorized private ships to attack and capture enemy merchant vessels, with the proceeds divided between the Queen and the crew of the privateer. When the war ended, Teach, was forced with the prospect of losing his livelihood and the great potential for adventure and profit that it promised. Along with many others, in the same potion, he turned to piracy. Teach served for several years on a pirate ship under another captain, but in 1717, he stole a ship for himself and formed a crew of his own. Teach and his crew, aboard the “Queen Anne’s Revenge”, captured a number of valuable cargoes off the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas’. In what would become one of his most famous acts, Teach sailed boldly into Charleston, South Carolina, captured several prominent citizens, and held them hostage until the city agreed to exchange them for costly medical supplies.

While he was terrorizing commercial ports along the coast of North America, Teach became known as “Blackbeard” and his reputation spread quickly and he was widely feared for his violence and cruelty and he cultivated a fierce appearance to intimidate his victims.

Charles Johnson’s A General History of the Pyrates, published in London in 1726. His beard was black, which he suffered to grow to an extravagant length; as to breath it, it came up to his eyes. He was accustomed to twist it with ribbons in small tails, after the manner of Ramilies Wig’s, (ramillie-wig), and turn them about his ears. In time of action, he wore a sling over his shoulders, with a three brace of pistols, hanging in holsters like Bandaliers. He stuck lighted matches under his hat, which appeared on each side of his face, his eyes looking fierce and wild, made him altogether the figure of a fury from h-ll.

Between adventures at sea, Blackbeard often returned to North Carolina. The shallow waters and complicated inlets of the Outer Banks proved a popular hiding place for Pirates while they rested their crews and repaired their ships. Blackbeard favored Ocracoke Inlet and was rumored to have had a house in the Village in Ocracoke. There is an inlet there today still known as “Teach’s Hole”. North Carolina was also a popular refuge for pirates because of its Governor, Charles Eden, who was widely rumored to ignored the illegal activities of the pirates in exchange for a share of the “spoils”. In the Summer of 1718, Blackbeard lived in the coastal town of Bath, North Carolina, where he was known to socialize with Governor Eden. The people of North Carolina, tired of seeing their ships attacked and goods stolen, and frustrated at their own government’s failure to act, turned to the governor of Virginia for help.

Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virginia gathered a crew of British Naval officers, led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard, and sent them to Ocracoke, where Blackbeard was known to be hiding. In a fierce fight beginning at dawn on November 22, 1718, the British sailors attacked and defeated Blackbeard and his crew. After suffering at least 25 wounds, including 5 from gunshots, Blackbeard finally died. Lieutenant Maynard, needing proof of Blackbeard’s death in order to claim the bounty offered by Governor Spotswood, beheaded the Pirate and hung his severed head from the front of the ship, (bow).


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