Blackbeard the Pirate

Blackbeard the Pirate and his flagshipBlackbeard the Pirate… the most notorious pirate in the history of seafaring. According to legend, he struck terror into the hearts of his victims by weaving wicks laced with gunpowder into his hair, and lighting the wicks during battle. Blackbeard was a big man, and he added to his menacing appearance by wearing a crimson coat, two swords at his waist, and bandoliers stuffed with pistols and knives across his chest.

The very sight of the formidable Blackbeard was enough to make his victims surrender without a fight. If they willingly gave up their valuables, navigational instruments, weapons, and rum, Blackbeard allowed them to sail away unharmed. Anyone who resisted found themselves marooned on the nearest shore, watching their ship burn to a cinder in the distance. Blackbeard worked hard at establishing his devilish image, but there is no archival evidence to indicate that he ever killed anyone who was not trying to kill him.


Thought to have been a native of England, Blackbeard was using the name Edward Teach (or Thatch) when he began his pirating career sometime after 1713. He was a lowly crewman aboard a Jamaican sloop, commanded by the pirate Benjamin Hornigold, when he began his lawless career as a pirate. In 1716, Hornigold appointed Blackbeard the command of a captured vessel. By mid-1717, the two pirates sailed side by side, and they were among the most feared pirates on the open seas.

In November 1717, in the eastern Caribbean, Hornigold and Blackbeard the Pirate took a 26-gun, richly laden French “guineyman” called the Concorde. Soon after, Hornigold accepted the British Crown’s offer of a general amnesty and retired as a pirate. Blackbeard rejected the pardon, made the Concorde his flagship, increased her armament to 40 guns, and renamed her Queen Anne’s Revenge (QAR).

Not long after, Blackbeard the Pirate hooked up with Stede Bonnet, also known as “The Gentleman’s Pirate,” sailing a 10-gun sloop named Revenge. Realizing that Bonnet was not cut out to be a pirate, Blackbeard put another pirate in charge of the Revenge, and Bonnet became a “guest” aboard the QAR until she wrecked six months later.

By the time Blackbeard sailed into the port of Charleston, South Carolina, in 1718, he was in charge of four pirate ships and over 300 pirates.

Blackbeard’s reign of terror climaxed in a week-long blockade at the port of Charleston, South Carolina, in late May 1718. Blackbeard commandeered 8 or 9 ships as they sailed into and out of the Charleston port. One week later, the QAR was run aground at Beaufort Inlet. One of the smaller vessels in Blackbeard’s flotilla, the ten-gun sloop Adventure, was lost the same day while trying to assist the stranded flagship.

Before leaving Beaufort Inlet, Blackbeard marooned about 25 disgruntled pirates on a deserted sandbar, stripped the Revenge of her provisions, and ran off with much of the accumulated booty aboard another smaller vessel. Bonnet rescued the marooned men and with them, resumed his lawless ways aboard the Revenge, which he re-named the Royal James.

In October 1718, Bonnet and his crew were captured near present-day Wilmington, North Carolina, and taken to Charleston, where they were tried for piracy. All but four were found guilty and hung that November. The record of that trial, published in London in 1719, provided researchers with important clues to the location of the QAR site.


Meanwhile, Blackbeard and his buccaneers had sailed to Bath, then the capital of North Carolina, where they received pardons from Governor Charles Eden. In November 1718, Governor Alexander Spottswood of Virginia, knowing that Blackbeard and his men had continued taking ships long after the period of amnesty had expired, sent a Royal Navy contingent to North Carolina where Blackbeard was killed in a bloody battle at Ocracoke Inlet in the Outer Banks of North Carolina on November 22, 1718.

In his final battle, Blackbeard received five musketball wounds and more than 20 sword lacerations before he died. Blackbeard had captured over 40 ships during his career as a pirate, and his death represented the end of an era in the history of piracy in the New World.

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Pirates sailed the seas all over the world, and some of the most notorious pirates terrorized Ireland, Scotland, England, and the surrounding islands. The Star Borne series is science fiction, but it was inspired by the legends of the Fomorian pirates of Irish history, who came down from the stars according to ancient astronaut theorists. They did battle on Earth with a race of Nordic aliens known as the Tuatha dé Danann, who also came down from the stars, and who are called Tirnogians in the Star Borne series.

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