The real-life pirates of Black Sails: Edward ‘Blackbeard’ Teach

blackbeard

And the history lesson is almost over. The final part of New Providence’s dark history we see two major players in it, both of which make their Black Sails debut. They also play opposite sides in Nassau’s fate. We’ll take a look first into the life of the most feared pirate ever lived: Edward Teach, known as Blackbeard. Teach’s legacy surpasses many pirates to date, with his likeness appearing in many films, books, and even video games. Despite his legacy, Teach’s life as a pirate was rather short, which lasted only 2 years, and less than a year as Captain of his ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge. Teach was thought to have been a sailor in Jamaica operating on a privateer ship during Queen Anne’s War. And like many privateers after the war turned to piracy, it was around this time that Teach did as well. Teach moved to Jamaica and eventually joined Benjamin Hornigold’s crew in 1716.

Teach grew up in ranks and eventually commanded a ship provided by Hornigold in early 1717. The two sailed together capturing many prizes, at one point obtaining 100 barrels of wine. Teach’s crew developed a taste for Madeira wine, to the point where they sank the Betty of Virginia only keeping the cargo of Madeira on September 29, 1717. While on Nassau, Hornigold and Teach had met Stede Bonnet, a military man turned pirate. Unable to control his crew due to wounds, Teach commanded Bonnet’s crew with his permission and his ship, the Revenge. By then Hornigold commanded a small fleet, which another ship was added, making it 4 ships by October 1717. Under Hornigold’s command and former British privateer, Hornigold only went after his formal enemies, which angered the crew of the many British ships untouched. By November 1717, Hornigold was demoted and he retired from piracy. Hornigold would later sail to Jamaica and accept the pardon from Woodes Rogers and become a pirate hunter for the governor.

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On November 28, 1717 while commanding the Revenge and another ship from Hornigold, Teach attacked the French ship La Concorde, forcing the captain to surrender. Teach and his crew sailed La Concorde to Bequia, leaving the former crew and cargo behind while converting the ship for themselves. Teach provided the crew of La Concorde the smaller of the two ships he commanded, and renamed La Concorde to Queen Anne’s Revenge, fully equipped with 40 guns. The first ship to fall under Teach while commanding the Queen Anne’s Revenge was the Great Allen near Saint Vincent. The Great Allen was a large well armed merchant shipped, but surrendered after a lengthy battle. He removed the crew and cargo and sank the ship. This was later reported in the Boston News-Letter, further increasing Teach’s reputation. On December 5, 1717, Teach has stopped a merchant sloop Margaret off the coast of Crab Island. Captain Henry Bostock and his crew were held prisoner on the Queen Anne’s Revenge while Teach and his crew ransacked their ship. Bostock and his crew were then returned to the Margaret unharmed and allowed to leave. Bostock would then report the incident to Governor Walter Hamilton on Saint Christopher Island. The details provided would put a figure to the name, which described Teach as a tall man with a very black beard worn very long, hence the name Blackbeard.

Despite reports of Bostock of future activity for Blackbeard, Teach mainly remained quiet until around March 1718 when he captured a ship near Jamaica, the Adventure, and invited the captain and crew to join him. While heading to Honduras Teach added another ship and 4 sloops, enlarging his fleet. By  May 1718, Teach had awarded himself the rank of Commodore and successfully blockaded the port of Charles Town. Every vessel entering and exiting Charles Town was stopped and Teach eventually held a ship heading to London for ransom, demanding medicine for his crew with the threat of execution of the citizens aboard the Crowley. Samuel Wragg was also aboard the ship and agreed to Teach’s demands and sent Mr Marks along with two pirates to gather the medicine. 3 days letter Marks sent a message claiming his ship had capsized, and though Teach provided an additional 2 days, Marks still hasn’t returned pushing Teach to move 8 ships into the harbor which panicked the citizens of Charles Town. Marks eventually arrived with the medicine and stated the two pirates sent to escort him weren’t to be found, eventually found drunk with friends. Teach honored his side of the deal, released the citizens and left Charles Town.

Teach eventually learned of the pardon provided by Woodes Rogers, but feared he would be hanged given the recent incident in Charles Town. Bonnet left immediately and accepted the pardon. He returned to claim his ship Revenge and his crew, but Teach had removed everything from the ship and marooned its crew. Bonnet sought revenge against Teach, while unable to find him, eventually returning to piracy. Bonnet and his crew were then captured and hanged in Charleston in September 1718. Teach met with Vane, whom fled Nassau when Rogers arrived with Hornigold hunting him. The two remained on Ocracoke Island with other famed pirates such as Israel Hands, Robert Deal and Calico Jack. News spread of Teach and Vane working together, to the point of Teach’s quartermaster being arrested by Alexander Spotwood, which his lawyer had worked to get free and sue Spotwood for wrongful arrest. Spotwood, on the otherhand, gained knowledge of Teach’s whereabouts and financed a voyage after him led by Captains Gordon and Brand of HMS Pearl and HMS Lyme, with  Lieutenant Robert Maynard given command of both ships. Teach would meet his end when Maynard arrived in Ocracoke Island and found his crew on November 21, 1718 that night. The following day the the two crews engaged in fire, which killed many of Maynards officers and eventually Teach and his crew boarded Maynards ship with Maynards crew rushing from below. After a long battle with Teach appearing to gain the upperhand, he was slashed across the neck and eventually stabbed to death by many of Maynards crew on November 22, 1718 to which Maynard noted Teach had been shot no less than 5 times and stabbed at least 20 times. Teach’s crew surrendered, and later hanged, which Teach’s head was suspended from the bowsprit of Maynards sloop.

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Joe Gonzalez
Joe Gonzalez 286 posts

Gamer since '86, well knowledgeable in movies and games, and semi tech savvy. Graphic artist and t-shirt printer for over 10 years.