Was Blackbeard born in Jamaica, London, Bristol or Philadelphia? Was his name Drummond, Teach, Thatch or Tach? Although these are still unsolved mysteries, we do have some interesting descriptions about his “polished” appearance. Blackbeard may have been the first self-made worldwide brand!
Here is an excerpt from the “A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates” book by Captain Charles Johnson:
“…This Beard was black, which he suffered to grow of an extravagant Length; as to Breadth, it came up to his Eyes; he was accustomed to twist it with Ribbons, in small Tails, after the Manner or our Remellies Wigs, and turn them about in his Ears;
In time of Action, he wore a Sling over his Shoulders, with three brace of Pistols, hanging in Holsters like Bandaliers;
He wore a Fur-Cap, and stuck a lighted Match on each Side, under it, which appearing on each side of his Face, his Eyes naturally looking Fierce and Wild, made him altogether such a Figure, that Imagination cannot form an Idea of a Fury, from Hell, to look more frightful.”
Henry Bostock, master of the sloop Margaret, provided another description of Blackbeard, after being aboard Queen Anne’s Revenge for 8 hours: “Captain Tach…was a tall Square Man with a very black beard which he wore very long”
Blackbeard met Stede Bonnet, the Gentleman Pirate, in March 1718. He invited him on board Queen Anne’s Revenge and then persuaded Stede Bonnet to sail together, and later to seek pardon from the SC Governor. Upon his return from Charleston, Bonnet discovered Blackbeard had fled with all the ships and the booty! Both will end up dead that year…
Soon after his infamous blockade of Charleston, Blackbeard’s fleet attempted to enter Old Topsail Inlet in North Carolina, now known as Beaufort Inlet. During that attempt, Queen Anne’s Revenge and the sloop Adventure grounded on the ocean bar and were abandoned.
Captain Ellis Brand of the HMS Lyme writes in a letter to the Lords of Admiralty that “On the 10th of June or thereabouts a large pyrate Ship of forty Guns with three Sloops in her company came upon the coast of North Carolina ware they endeavour’d To goe in to a harbour, call’d Topsail Inlet, the Ship Stuck upon the bar at the entrance of the harbour and is lost; as is one of the sloops”.
Some believe Blackbeard intentionally grounded the two ships in order to break up the company, which by this time had grown to over 300 pirates. Blackbeard marooned some pirates and left Beaufort with a hand picked crew and most of the valuable plunder.
Few months later, on November 22, 1718, everything came to an end at Ocracoke Inlet on the North Carolina coast. Blackbeard faced off with an armed contingent sent by Virginia Governor Alexander Spotswood and led by Royal Navy Lieutenant Robert Maynard.
In a desperate battle aboard Maynard’s sloop, Blackbeard and a number of his fellow pirates were killed.
It took 20 swords wounds and 5 gun shots to finish him.
Maynard returned to Virginia parading Blackbeard’s severed head hanging from the sloop’s bowsprit.
Legend has it that Ocracoke got its name when Blackbeard shouted “O Crow Cock, O Crow Cock! “ to entice the rooster on board to announce the light of day, so the battle could begin!
The area where the battle took place is still called Teach’s Hole.
About Queen Anne’s Revenge
In November 1717, Blackbeard and his crew captured the slave ship La Concorde about 120 miles east of Martinique. La Concorde was carrying a cargo of about 500 African slaves.
The slaves owner was Rene Montaudouin, head of the largest slave trading company in Nantes, France’s leading slave trading port at the time.
La Concorde had successfully completed two slaving voyages between 1713 and 1716 and served as a privateer ship during Queen Ann’s War from 1702 to 1713.
When captured, La Concorde only carried 14 cannons even although it was equipped with 26 gun-ports. The ship had a 70 men crew and a carrying capacity of up to 300 tons, equating to an 80 foot long keel.
Blackbeard renamed the ship Queen’s Anne Revenge and reportedly installed 40 guns during the 6 months he had command over it.
After running aground, Queen Anne’s Revenge probably sat intact for some time, allowing the pirates to remove personal possessions, tools, weaponry and the bulk of the plunder. Once the pirates abandoned the ship, locals would have salvaged anything of value that was easily removed.
The larger, 21 lbs and 8 inch in diameter bell is dated 1705 and features the Roman Catholic invocation JHS MARIA (Jesus Hominum Salvator). The smaller, 13 lbs bell came from the stern of the vessel and exhibits no markings.
Artifacts to date include a hull fragments, rigging hooks, iron bars, buckle, glass beads, a nesting weight, coins, and about 5,000 tiny pieces of gold, totaling 15 grams.
This is a far cry from the 20 pounds (9,000 grams) of African gold dust Blackbeard had reportedly seized, when he captured the French slave ship La Concorde.
Get your own booty at the SC State Museum, featuring the Pirates, Privateers and Buccaneers exhibit, a family fun weekend adventure!
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