As one of the most notorious pirates who ever lived, little is known about the early life of Edward Thatch, better known as Blackbeard. His known piracies only span a couple of years, but he was sailing as a pirate for much longer. His known prices numbered around 60, but he captured more. He met his end at Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina, in a battle with the British Royal Navy in November 1718. His head was removed and and taken to Virginia as proof that the infamous pirate had been defeated. His exploits have survived for almost three centuries in numerous historical records, legends, myth, and folklore.
|The Great Cabin|
On November 28, 1717, the French slave ship Concorde was captured by two small sloops with 250 men under the command of "Englishman Edoward Titche" about 45 leagues east of their destination of Martinique. The three vessels then sailed to Becoya just south of St. Vincent in the Grenadines where the pirates exchanged the smallest of their sloops with the French crew for Concorde, creating a new flagship and renaming her Queen Anne's Revenge.
The origin of Blackbeard remains in question. There are a few authors who have written about the infamous pirate, and each one places his origin in a different place. With all the genealogies surrounding the pirate, his origin has never been verified. Blackbeard and his pirates operated in the Windward Islands of the eastern Caribbean, around the Bay of Honduras in the western Caribbean, among the islands of the Bahamas, and along the North American coast between South Carolina and New York, and specifically North Carolina.
Documents relating to Blackbeard's activities reveal almost 70 vessels taken by Blackbeard. Plunder included weaponry, ship's cannon and small arms, clothing, alcoholic beverages, food and money.
Who were Blackbeard's pirates? Where did they come from? Some may have come from the slave ship Concorde, which they captured. Others:
Pirate crews were in a constant state of flux. Queen Anne's Revenge's most valuable crew were experienced former privateersmen from Queen Anne's War (1702-1713). Pirates often forced men from captured ships to join their ranks, particularly if they possessed a useful skill. Ships' doctors treated wounded and sick sailors with primitive instruments and techniques.
Queen Anne's Revenge was "... Stuck upon the bar at the entrance of the harbour ..." and lost along with the sloop Adventure. Afterwards, Blackbeard sent Stede Bonnet and a number of his crew to Bath to claim the recently issued King's Pardon. With Bonnet gone, everything of value was seized and he sailed away on the small Spanish sloop, renaming her Adventure in order to fool government officials into believing the vessel was his.
Following the loss of Queen Anne's Revenge and the break up of his crew at the Beaufort Inlet, Blackbeard proceeded to move his base of operations to Ocracoke Inlet from where he would operate for the next six months. On November 22, 1718 two sloops sent down from Virginia under the command of a Royal Navy Lieutenant approached Blackbeard's new sloop Adventure and proceeded to engage the pirates in a bloody battle, defeating Blackbeard and his crew. The pirate captain was beheaded and his head taken back to Virginia as proof that Blackbeard had been defeated.
|Captain's Liquor Chest|
|Mortar and Pestle|
|Clyster Syringe & Urethral Syringe|
Movies have romanticized the pirates of old to draw in audiences since the 1930s. Blackbeard has been a popular star of this genre, starting with the dramatic Blackbeard, the Pirate in 1952; the comedy Blackbeard's Ghost in 1968; and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides in 2011.