How, one might wonder, is it that almost three hundred years later, his very name brings to mind images of a rogue so evil, so without regard for humankind that were Edward Teach alive today, he would be linked with the Charles Mansons of the 20th century. What part of the legend of Blackbeard is true? What part was merely contrived in the memory of those so fortunate to survive his murderous attacks and what part was embellished by those seeking to elude capture by the fiercest pirate of all? One fact remains, the sight of the skull and crossbones flying on the masthead was enough to bring fear into the eyes and hearts of the toughest seaman afloat during the 1700s.

From the West Indies to New England, Blackbeard's mere twenty-seven month career earned him immortality as the most diabolic villain in the New World. Thought to be part of the 2000-odd pirates who had gathered at New Providence (Nassau) in the Bahama Islands, he made his way up the eastern shores of North American beginning in 1716. Two of his favorite retreats were Bath Town and Ocacock Island (Ocracoke Island) North Carolina. Ocacock Inlet as it was known at the time served the port of Bath Town which was a principal port of entry. Numerous bays, coves and secluded spots in the Pamticoe Sound (Pamlico) and the Pamticoe and Neuse Rivers provided hide outs.

Blackbeard appeared to many as the Devil personified. Long, black hair covered his head and face, curling into small loops which, in time of battle, he stuck lighted matches into so as to light up his face and dark eyes. With a bandolier holding six pistols slung over his equally hairy chest, it seemed as though he might have stepped directly from the pits of hell.

Source: BLACKBEARD, THE FIERCEST PIRATE OF ALL

written by Norman C. Pendered:

Published by: Times Printing Co., Inc., Manteo, NC, 1975

Just off Charleston's harbor, Blackbeard's fleet was preying on the many merchant ships leaving the bustling port. In addition to the plundering of the cargo and passengers' belongings, Blackbeard added a new tactic: hostages. His ships soon held a number (counts vary from 5 to 25) of influential South Carolinians as captives.

Sailing closer to the mouth of Charleston Harbor, he sent a dingy ashore with his ransom demands. What Blackbeard demanded was not silver or gold -- but medicine to treat his men. He had laid seige to a wealthy port city and was in position to demand a huge sum, yet he was demanding medical stores from Charleston. This causes many to speculate that Blackbeard himself was ill. No one knows how many of his crew were ill, but the numbers must have been great to risk such a confrontation.

Blackbeard pressured Charleston by advancing his fleet of heavily-armed ships into the harbor. The Queen Anne's Revenge, his flagship, carried 40 guns of her own. If he chose to sack the city, his crew now numbered well over 300 men.

The city wisely chose to meet Blackbeard's ransom, delivering a chest of medicines. Without pressing his advantage --or firing a shot-- the pirate released his hostages and withdrew.

In the late 1600s, the profession of piracy was endorsed by the ruler of one country against another. Privateers were rewarded by their government for capturing the goods of another country. One such pirate named Edward Teach sailed the waters in and around the Pamlico Sound and made his sailing name, Blackbeard, one to be feared. Blackbeard made his home in Bath from 1716 to 1718. Just as renowned for his sailing ability as for his deadly raids, Blackbeard was at ease in coastal North Carolina's sometime treacherous waters.

Source: Greater Hyde County Chamber of Commerce

In the late 1600s, the profession of piracy was endorsed by the ruler of one country against another. Privateers were rewarded by their government for capturing the goods of another country. One such pirate named Edward Teach sailed the waters in and around the Pamlico Sound and made his sailing name, Blackbeard, one to be feared. Blackbeard made his home in Bath from 1716 to 1718. Just as renowned for his sailing ability as for his deadly raids, Blackbeard was at ease in coastal North Carolina's sometime treacherous waters.

Source: Greater Hyde County Chamber of Commerce

By 1729, Georgetown (SC) was a busy seaport, with cargo ever flowing down-river on barges and flats. Imports and exports created wealth beyond imagination. The citizens of the Georgetown District petitioned the King of England to have a port, which was officially granted in 1732 with the arrival of the King's "Collector of Customs". The slow and heavily ladened merchant ships were easy pickings for pirates, who darted out from the labyrinth of hidden bays in the barrier islands to plunder without respect for life. Some of the most famous pirates in history lurked offshore.... "Blackbeard", "Caaesar", and "Red Anny", to name a few. At one point, over 2,000 pirates were flying the "Jolly Roger" up and down the coast. Blood-thirsty and ruthless, most died as they had lived...violently. But what about the booty they buried and covered with human skulls and crossed bones? Some say it's still around the area, waiting to be found.

Source: Georgetown County History

On one occasion, having a mite too much to drink, Blackbeard said to his crew, "Come, let us make a Hell of our own, and try how long we can bear it." Going below into the ship's hold, they closed the hatches, filled several pots with brimstone and other combustible matter and set them on fire. Soon the men were coughing and gasping for air as the hold filled with sulfurous fumes. All of the men, with the exception of Blackbeard quickly scrambled for fresh air. When Blackbeard finally emerged he snarled, "Damn ye, ye yellow ___ ___ ___! I'm a better man than all ye milksops put together!"

Source: BLACKBEARD, THE FIERCEST PIRATE OF ALL

written by Norman C. Pendered:

Published by: Times Printing Co., Inc., Manteo, NC, 1975

Blackbeard is said to have fallen in love with a beautiful girl who spurned his love for that of a handsome seaman. To indicate her love of the seaman, she gave him her ring to wear on his left hand. Some time later, the sailor's ship was taken by Blackbeard, who immediately recognized his rival and promptly cut off his hand. Placing it in an ornate silver box, he sent it off to the young lady. She fainted away when she opened the box, and shortly afterwards died of a broken heart.

Source: BLACKBEARD, THE FIERCEST PIRATE OF ALL

written by Norman C. Pendered:

Published by: Times Printing Co., Inc.,

Early in 1718, Blackbeard and his crew surrendered at Bath Town to Governor Eden of North Carolina. The exact arrangement between Blackbeard and Eden is unknown, though at the time it was rumored that Eden and Tobias Knight, the Secretary of North Carolina were hospitable to pirates and granted certain favors to in return for pirate loot. Promising to live an honest, upright life, Blackbeard lived in Bath Town until the gold ran out, and before springtime went back to his old trade. This same scene was repeated later that same year. In addition to amnesty from Governor Eden, this time Blackbeard received an official pardon from King George I. However, the pardon was never to reach Blackbeard, arriving at Bath Town about a month after he was killed.

Source: BLACKBEARD, THE FIERCEST PIRATE OF ALL

written by Norman C. Pendered:

Published by: Times Printing Co., Inc., Manteo, NC, 1975

Blackbeard is said to have at least 12 wives scattered from the Lesser Antilles to New England. It was also rumored that he had a wife and son living in England, though the truth of his early life was never known. During the time of the second amnesty period, he married Mary Ormond, the 16 year old daughter of a nearby plantation owner in Bath Town. He built a home on Plum Point facing Old Town Creek (now Bath Creek), right across the creek from Tobias Knight, Secretary of North Carolina and Governor Eden's right-hand man.

Source: Blackbeard, THE FIERCEST PIRATE OF ALL

written by Norman C. Pendered:

Published by: Times Printing Co., Inc., Manteo, NC, 1975

In the 1700's, a young man from a fine English family began his nefarious career along the coast of Carolina and Virginia. Edward Teach (with variations in spelling) was said to have been the most dreaded of all pirates. Known as the infamous "Blackbeard", he was said to have a residence on the island (Ocracoke). Lt. Robert Maynard of the British Navy was sent to capture Blackbeard in an effort to end his evil activities. Legend has it that during the long night preceding his capture, Blackbeard, impatient for the dawn cried out "O Crow Cock, O Crow Cock" and that from that came the name Ocracoke. In the ensuing battle he was beheaded and his head attached to Maynard's vessel as a trophy. It is rumored that the headless body swam 'round and 'round the ship seven times.

Source: Greater Hyde County Chamber of Commerce

Like Hatteras, Ocracoke has spawned many colorful legends. One of the most intriguing is the story of the pirate Blackbeard's last battle. The bloody fight was supposedly waged in Teach's Hole channel near Ocracoke Village. Some historians have cast doubt on this traditional tale, but it certainly makes for an interesting yarn.

The story goes that Blackbeard, near the end of his infamous career, hatched the idea of fortifying Ocracoke as a pirate haven. Hearing of this devilish plan and despairing of any help from Charles Eden, the colony's do-nothing Royal governor, the responsible citizens of coastal North Carolina appealed to Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virginia for aid.

The call was answered with the dispatch of two small sloops under the command of Lieutenant Robert Maynard of the Royal Navy. The two craft sailed to Ocracoke, where they found Blackbeard's ship, the Adventure, at anchor in the channel. Maynard sent out two small boats seeking a clear passage to his quarry. These were fired upon. Maynard displayed his colors, and the battle was joined in earnest.

One sloop soon ran aground, but Blackbeard bore down on the larger vessel, the Ranger, which was under Maynard's personal command. The Ranger was swept with cannon fire, for the British had only small arms with which to press the attack. Cleverly, Maynard ordered all his men below to escape the murderous fire. Seeing an apparently helpless vessel, Blackbeard brought the Adventure alongside and personally led the charge onto the deck of the British sloop. He soon met Maynard face to face, but as Blackbeard charged, the commander grazed his skull with a pistol. Charging up from his hiding place below, a Royal marine dealt the pirate a terrible neck wound with his saber. On and on Blackbeard fought with Maynard, until he finally fell dead at his enemy's feet. A later examination revealed that the pirate had suffered over thirty major wounds. In a grisly gesture, Maynard severed Blackbeard's head from his body and hung the disfigured visage upon the bowsprit. The body was flung overboard and is said to have swum three times around the Ranger before it sank.

In November 1718, as the hands of time slowly ticked away, the waters of Ocacock Inlet that Blackbeard had returned to time after time were soon to reddened by his blood. Governor Spotswood of Virginia, having decided that the governor of North Carolina could not, or would not put a stop to Blackbeard's marauding ways, made his own preparations to apprehend the pirate.

Two sloops, under the direction of Lt. Robert Maynard and a Mr. Hyde, were dispatched to the waters of the Pamticoe Sound and Teach's Hole, a small, navigable channel off the west side of Ocacock Island. Teach's Hole had provided sanctuary for Blackbeard in times past but he was nowhere to be found when the sloops arrived. As darkness fast approached, the sloops scouted the shallow waters of the Sound, many times grounding on the sand bars and shoals of the shallow water. Suddenly the outline of two vessels, one of which was Blackbeard's ship the Adventure, appeared.

Throughout the night Blackbeard waited for Lt. Maynard to make his move. Blackbeard, drinking all night in his cabin was asked by one of his crew, "If ye die on the morrow, does your wife, Mary, know where ye buried the treasure?" Blackbeard laughed and replied, "Damn ye, my friend, nobody but me and the Devil knows where it's hid - and the longest liver will get it all."

In the morning light, Lt. Maynard moved towards Blackbeard's ship. What followed was a great battle that left twenty-six of the 54 men on the sloops killed or wounded. Thirteen pirates, including Blackbeard were killed and nine wounded were taken prisoners. As the lieutenant and Blackbeard attacked each other, first by firing pistols, then fiercely with their swords, other pirates jumped overboard, begging for mercy as they were fished out of the waters.

As the bloody fight drew to an end, Blackbeard, suffering 25 wounds including five pistols balls in his body, somehow managed to stay on his feet, roaring at the top of his lungs. As he cocked his pistol one final time, he fell down dead on the bloody deck.

Knowing he would need proof of Blackbeard's death to collect the rewards that had been posted by the King and the Governor of Virginia, Lt. Maynard ordered Blackbeard's head to be severed from his body and hung on the bowsprit of the sloop. Survivors on both sides watched as the blood slowly dripped from the head, coloring the very waters that had protected Blackbeard for so long.

Source: BLACKBEARD, THE FIERCEST PIRATE OF ALL

written by Norman C. Pendered:

Published by: Times Printing Co., Inc., Manteo, NC, 1975

Who was Blackbeard before he began his infamous career? Actually, the question is a tough one. One source ("Blackbeard The Fiercest Pirate of All" by Norman C. Pendered) indicates there is no known record of Edward Teach's early childhood or parentage.

It seems to be accepted that he was born in Bristol, England and started his career sailing from Jamaica during Queen Anne's War.

"Blackbeard and Other Pirates of the Atlantic Coast" by Nancy Roberts assumes that since few common people of that time possessed the skills of reading and writing, Teach came from an educated family because he was able to do both.

And, that seems to be about the sum total of what is known. Others have said that he was the illegitimate child of a barmaid and a nobleman. Even his true name has it doubts. It has been referenced as Thach, Tach, Tache, Tatch, Teatch and Thatch. "Teach" seems to be the accepted spelling since it was used by Lt. Maynard, who eventually slew him.

Source: The Greater Hyde County Chamber of Commerce

 

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