Captain Teach alias “Black Beard”

Edward Teach was a native of Bristol, and sailed from that port
On board a privateer, in search of sport,
As one of the crew, during the French War in that station,
And for personal courage he soon gained his Captain’s approbation.

’Twas in the spring of 1717, Captain Harnigold and Teach sailed from Providence
For the continent of America, and no further hence;
And in their way captured a vessel laden with flour,
Which they put on board their own vessels in the space of an hour.

They also seized two other vessels and took some gallons of wine,
Besides plunder to a considerable value, and most of it most costly design;
And after that they made a prize of a large French Guinea-man,
Then to act an independent part Teach now began.

But the news spread throughout America, far and near,
And filled many of the inhabitants’ hearts with fear;
But Lieutenant Maynard with his sloops of war directly steered,
And left James River on the 17th November in quest of Black Beard,
And on the evening of the 21st came in sight of the pirate;
And when Black Beard spied his sloops he felt elate.

When he saw the sloops sent to apprehend him,
He didn’t lose his courage, but fiendishly did grin;
And told his men to cease from drinking and their tittle-tattle,
Although he had only twenty men on board, and prepare for battle.

In case anything should happen to him during the engagement,
One of his men asked him, who felt rather discontent,
Whether his wife knew where he had buried his pelf,
When he impiously replied that nobody knew but the devil and himself.

In the Morning Maynard weighed and sent his boat to sound,
Which, coming near the pirate, unfortunately ran aground;
But Maynard lightened his vessel of the ballast and water,
Whilst from the pirates’ ship small shot loudly did clatter.

But the pirates’ small shot or slugs didn’t Maynard appal,
He told his men to take their cutlasses and be ready upon his call;
And to conceal themselves every man below,
While he would remain at the helm and face the foe.

Then Black Beard cried, “They’re all knocked on the head,”
When he saw no hand upon deck he thought they were dead;
Then Black Beard boarded Maynard’a sloop without dismay,
But Maynard’s men rushed upon deck, then began the deadly fray.

Then Black Beard and Maynard engaged sword in hand,
And the pirate fought manfully and made a bold stand;
And Maynard with twelve men, and Black Beard with fourteen,
Made the most desperate and bloody conflict that ever was seen.

At last with shots and wounds the pirate fell down dead,
Then from his body Maynard severed the pirate’s head,
And suspended it upon his bowsprit-end,
And thanked God who so mercifully did him defend.

Black Beard derived his name from his long black beard,
Which terrified America more than any comet that had ever appeared;
But, thanks be to God, in this age we need not be afeared,
Of any such pirates as the inhuman Black Beard.

Admiralty-Office April 20,
Extracts of Accounts received from Captain Gordon Commander of His Majesty’s Ship the Pearl, and Captain Brand of His Majesty’s Ship the Lyme, dated at Virginia in February 1718-19.

There being Advice that one Thach, alias Black-Beard, had, since his pretended Acceptance of His Majesty’s Gracious Pardon, committed several Pyracies, and some in the adjacent Colony of North Carolina, where the Ships of War could not come to attack him with his Crew, Captain Gordon and Captain Brand consulted with Collonel Spotswood, Governour of Virginia, and Manned out Two Sloops from the Ships under their Command, which were sent in Quest of the aforesaid Pirates, one of them under Lieutenant Maynard of the Pearl,and the other under a Midshipman belonging to the Lyme. On the 22d of November they had Sight of the Pyrates Sloops on the Coast of North-Carolina, and row’d up to them, when Thach himself hailed them, and asked from whence they came, and who they were; to which he was answered, that he might see to whom they belonged by their Colours: Whereupon he drank Damnation to them, and said, that he would neither take nor give Quarter; to which they answered, that they did not expect, nor would give any; upon which he fired upon them with Four three Pounders, and Four Swivel Guns, loaded with small Shot, which he brought to bear on them on one Side, the Sloops which were fitted out against him having no other than small Arms. The Fire continued beeween them for the Space of an Hour, in which Time he killed or wounded great Part of the Sloops Companies; but at length they clapp’d him on board with both Sloops, and behaving themselves gallantly, killed Thach himself, and Nine of his Men, and took Nine others Prisoners, who were most of them wounded. – After the Action was over, Lieutenant Maynard ordered Thach’s Head to be cut off, which he hung under the Boltsprit of his Sloop, and carried it in that manner to Virginia, where those pyrates who had been taken were hanged.

London Gazette, 23rd April 1719


Edward Teach appears to have been born in the Bristol area some time around 1680. His early life is shrouded in mystery, but by 1713 he was a crewman aboard Benjamin Hornigold’s privateer vessel. Privateers were commerce raiders operating on behalf of their home nations – the eighteenth century version of state-sponsored terrorism.

Hornigold soon became a full pirate, with Teach as one of his most trusted lieutenants. In 1716, Teach was given a vessel of his own to command, and the two pirates sailed together to terrorise the Caribbean. The following year Hornigold took advantage of a general pardon to retire from piracy. Teach sailed on, naming a recently captured prize the Queen Anne’s Revenge as his flagship.

Teach was a huge man, who enhanced his imposing appearance by tying lighted fuses into his beard when preparing for battle. He carefully maintained his evil reputation, with the result that many captured ships capitulated without a fight, rather than inspiring his anger. Life aboard Blackbeard’s pirate fleet is vividly illustrated by this extract from his log:

Such a day, rum all out: — Our company somewhat sober: — A damned confusion amongst us! — Rogues a-plotting: — Great talk of separation — so I looked sharp for a prize:

Such a day found one with a great deal of liquor on board, so kept the company hot, damned hot; then all things went well again.

At the height of his power, in May 1718, Blackbeard blockaded Charleston, South Carolina for a week. Shortly afterwards the Queen Anne’s Revenge ran aground and was wrecked. Blackbeard sailed on to Bath, North Carolina which was then the state capital. The Governor, Charles Eden (with whom, it was rumoured, Blackbeard was in league) granted him a pardon and even officiated at his wedding – to what was reputed to be his 14th bride!

Though he purchased a fine home in Bath, the quiet life didn’t suit him and he was soon out again raiding shipping on the American east coast, making his base in Ocracoke Inlet. It was too much for Governor Spotswood of Virginia, and he sent a naval party under Lieutenant Robert Maynard to clear out this nest of pirates once and for all.

The final fight went much as McGonagall describes it. Maynard’s vessel the Ranger was outgunned by Blackbeard, so he sailed in close and hid most of his crew to lure the enemy into boarding. With Blackbeard aboard the trap was sprung and a fierce fight began. Blackbeard was shot 5 times and received 20 sword wounds before he fell. Maynard cut his head off and threw the body over the side (where, according to legend, it swam a lap around the ship!). The skull hung for many years at the confluence of the Hampton and James rivers, known to this day as “Blackbeard’s Point”.

Further Reading

Wikipedia Article

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  1. In the year 2016, on the 24th day of June at 1:39 pm


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