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Edward Teach


Edward Teach

Alias: Edward Thatch, Edward Drummond, Black Beard

 

Title: English Pirate Captain
Born: 1680?
Died: November 22, 1718
Known Ships: Adventure, Revenge, Queen Anne's Revenge

   

Very little is known about the early life of Edward Teach. Although he was not the most successful pirate (that title goes to Bartholomew Roberts) Edward Teach is far and away the most notorious pirate of the Golden Age. Teach, better known as Blackbeard, terrorized the seas durring his reign as a Captain. Blackbeard had such an impact on history that he remained a legend for nearly 300 years.

 

The Story of Captain Edward Teach:
Adapted from the writings of Captain Charles Johnson


Edward Teach was born in Bristol England , but was known early on for sailing with Privateers out of Jamaica . It was at this time that he first distinguished himself for his uncommon boldness and personal courage. Despite these traits and his obvious aptitude for it, Teach was not raised to a command until the end of 1716, when Captain Benjamin Hornigold put him in command of a captured Sloop. Teach continued serve Hornigold as captain of the captured sloop for some time, and while making their way to the Main of America, Teach and Hornigold met great luck and fortune, plundering many a ship, and finding much success along the Virginia coast. On their return to the West-Indies, the pair made prize of a large French Guiney Man. In which, by Hornigold’s consent, Teach was appointed captain. Upon this Teach and Hornigold parted ways. Hornigold returned with his Sloop to settle in Providence, and Teach continued on. Outfitting his new Guiney Man Teach renamed her The Queen Ann’s Revenge. While cruising near the Island of St. Vincent he took a large ship called the Great Allen. (commanded by Christopher Taylor) Teach and his crew plundered out of her what they thought fit, put her men ashore, and then set fire to the ship.

After this Teach and his crew sailed toward the Spanish America. In his way he met with a pirate sloop of ten guns named Revenge. (Commanded by one Major Stede Bonnet) Who, before choosing to go a pirating was a gentleman of good reputation and estate on the island of Barbados . Bonnet and Teach chose to sail together in fleet, but after a few days Teach found that Bonnet knew very little of maritime life. Upon Teach’s recommendation Bonnet put in another captain, one Richards, in command of his Sloop, and went aboard Teach’s ship. Finding himself now in command of a fleet, Teach sailed for the Bay of Honduras . While there, the pirates took in fresh water, and foraged for what food supplies could be found. While at anchor a sloop was spotted entering the bay. Upon this Richardson (the newly appointed commander of the Sloop Revenge) slipped his anchor and when in pursuit of the mysterious sloop, who upon seeing the black flag hoisted, struck her sails and came to. This sloop was called Adventure, and was commanded by David Harriot. The commander and men of the Adventure were taken as prisoners aboard Teach’s ship, and Teach’s Master Israel Hands, along with a number of his other men were put aboard the Adventure, so that their fleet now included The Queen Ann’s Revenge (commanded by Teach) The Revenge (owned by Bonnet, & commanded by Richardson) and the newly captured Adventure. (now commanded by Master Israel Hands)

And Teach’s fleet went on in this way for some time. And were quit successful. Some time later the fleet came upon a bay where they found a Ship and four sloops. It was found that the Ship was from Boston and called the Protestant Casar (Commanded by one Captain Wyar) three of the sloops belonged to Jonathan Bernard of Jamaica, and the fourth to one Captain James. Teach approached the convoy head on, raised his Black Colors, and as a warning fired a single cannon. Upon which Captain Wyar and all of his men left their ship and fled for shore in their longboats. Seeing this, Teach sent his Quarter Master, Thomas Miller, and eight of his crew to take possession of Wayar’s Ship. And Richards was sent to secure the four sloops. Wayar’s Ship and one of the four sloops were set afire, (after being plundered of course) as they were from Boston , where some men had recently been hanged for Piracy, and the three remaining sloops belonging to Bernard were released.

From there Teach’s fleet went a cruising, looking for appropriate prey. They first sailed for the Grand Caimanes, and from there to Jamaica , then to Havana , and from Havana to the Bahama Wrecks. Having found only marginal success on their voyage, the fleet made for Carolina. Where rumor was told that only a small opposition was held to protect the Province. While on their way to Carolina , Teach’s fleet took a Brigantine and two Sloops lying at anchor off the Bar of Charles-Town. Later that day they took a passenger ship (Commanded by one Robert Clark) leaving the port bound for London. The following day they took another ship coming out of Charles-Town, as well as two Pinks attempting to enter the port, and then a Brigantine Slaver carrying 14 Negros, trying to do the same. The spirit of the Townspeople was already low as they had but recently endured a visit by Charles Vane (another notorious and equally as brutal pirate) and these acts being boldly committed in direct view of the town, struck such a great terror through the whole Province of Carolina that the townspeople abandoned themselves to despair, finding that they were in no condition to resist the force of Teach’s fleet. There were eight ships in the port fitted and armed, but none dared to venture out, and those attempting to enter the port found themselves helplessly trapped and were quickly captured by the pirates. Thus, Teach and his Fleet had effectively blockaded the port of Charles-Town, and the trade of this place was completely interrupted. Teach and his crew detained all these ships, and kept the men as prisoners. Being in dire need of medicines, it was agreed that they would all be held for the ransom. Therefore, Richards (the acting captain of the Revenge Sloop) and two other pirates were set ashore to negotiate a mutual exchange. They took with them one Mr. Marks (a prisoner taken from Clark ’s ship) as both a sign of good grace and as a strategic method, as Marks was an important dignitary and a friend of the Governor.

The Brigands marched straight for the Government building, all the way in plain sight of the townspeople. The public viewed these pirates with the utmost indignation, looking upon them as robbers and murderers, but not a one dared so much as think of exacting their revenge, in fear of bringing but more calamities upon their already broken town. Upon arriving, Richards delivered the pirates’ demands, threatening that if the Government did not produce a Medicine Chest and let him and his Pirate-Ambassadors return with it safely to their fleet, the captured ships would all be burned to the water, and the prisoners beheaded delivered to the Governor’s door.It did not take the Government long to deliberate, having so many lives at stake they quickly assembled the necessary supplies and the pirates returned happily to their ship.

Pirates Marching
Pirates March through Town

After receiving the Medicine Chest, Teach held honorably to his word. He released all the prisoners and their ships, and sailed away.

From Charles-Town the fleet made for North-Carolina. Their fleet had now grown quite large; Four ships in total: Teach in the Queen Anne's Revenge, Richards and Hands in the Sloops and another sloop serving as tender. Their growing number was a truth that did not escpape Captain Teach, with a larger crew meant more squabbles, more mouths to feed, and most importantly, more shares to devide. So while in-route Teach devised a plan to breakup the company, securing the majority of money and effect for himself and some of his closest companions.

Upon arriving at Topsail Inlet, Teach saw his opportunity. He ran his ship aground on the sand bar, and pretending to have done so accidentally, ordered the Sloops to come and help him off. While endeavoring to do so Teach forced the Sloops upon the shore. He then sent a large dispatch of men ashore to help recover the Sloops, and while they were gone he and his closest companions moved all of the effects into the remaining Sloop that served as a tender. With this they sailed away, leaving the majority of his men marooned.

From Topsail Inlet Teach and his reduced crew sailed to Bath Town, North Carolina. It was here that he and twenty of his men surrendered to the Governor, Charles Eden of North Carolina, and in accordance with the King’s Proclamation received a full pardon from their wrongful deeds at sea. It must be noted that this was in no way a sign of any reform for these brigands, but simply a way for them to safely wait for a more favorable opportunity to play the same game. As part of his pardon Teach was granted legal right to his ship. Although it was taken illegally from an English merchant, Teach argued that he took it as a prize from the Spanish, and was thus given fair right to it.

Teach At Home
Teach at his Plantation Home
Teach stayed ashore in Bath Town for some time. During this time he became quite acquainted with the governor. After some time he acquired a plantation, and even married a young girl. (Although it is said she was his fourteenth wife) It is unclear whether Teach grew tired of his lubber’s life, or if he truly had an insatiable calling to the sea, but on June 1718 he abandoned his life ashore and went again to the sea. Teach Sailed from Bath-Town for the Bermudas. On his way he met three English vessels, but robbed them only of the provisions and stores in which were immediately necessary. When Teach and his crew arrived at the Bermudas he found two French ships; a cargo ship loaden with sugar and cocoa, and her escort loaded with only necessary provisions. Teach forced the men of the loaden ship aboard the escort and let them go. Keeping the cargo ship and her stores, the pirates sailed home for Bath-Town.
When the pirates returned to Bath Town with their prize, questions were raised as to the legitimacy of its acquisition. Teach claimed that he and his crew found the ship abandoned at sea; not a soul aboard her. Given his past, the Governor was not quick to believe Teach’s story. Knowing that keeping the Governor in his favor was highly advantageous, Teach offered the Governor and his Secretary a percentage of the goods aboard the ship. This apparently was ample evidence, as the issue was quickly resolved and the Governor found Teach’s account to be truthful and accurate. This did not fully resolve the issue at hand, as Teach was nervous that while the ship lay at anchor someone might come along who was acquainted with her and discover their roguery. Again Teach went to the governor to solve his problem. He contrived a story that the cargo ship was sagging planks and was becoming leaky, Teach explained to the Governor that if something was not done she would sink in the harbor creating an obstruction that would prevent other ships from passing. So with the governor’s permission, the ship was brought up the river and set afire. There she was burned down to the water line and her bottom sunk, with it sunk the fears of her ever rising in judgment against the pirates. Teach and his crew stayed in Bath Town for four more months, sometimes lying at anchor in the cove, and at others he sailed from one inlet to another, trading his stolen plunders with the other ships as he met. Most of this was honorable trade but from time to time Teach made bold with the traders and took from them what he pleased, knowing full well that they dared not send him a Bill for the payment. During this time Teach often diverted himself by going ashore among the planters. Whether out of love or fear he was most often well received. He was usually courteous enough ashore, but just as at sea, there were time when he took as he pleased knowing there would be no repercussions. The sloops trading in the region who were finding themselves so frequently pillaged by Teach began to consult one another as to what course of action to take. They knew it would be in vain to take their complaints to the Governor, who would have just as soon sold them to the pirates for a percentage of their goods. But without some action Teach and his brutes were likely to reign unendingly. So with as much secrecy as possible they sent their complaints to Virginia pleading the Governor there for aid. The Governor of Virginia happened to have two men of war in his employ at the time. The Pearl and The Lime. The men of War had been at harbor for nearly ten months without venture, so they looked upon this proposition with good favor. It was agreed that the Governor of Virginia would hire a couple of small Sloops and they would be manned by the crews of the men of war. (This was done because the Men of War were designed for battle at sea, and would not be well suited for combat within the inlets and coves where Teach and his crew hid) The sloops offered the advantage of speed and maneuverability, while being able to navigate the shallow coasts along North Carolina. Command of this expedition was given to Mr. Robert Maynard, first Lieutenant of The Pearl. The sloops were well manned and outfitted with ammunition and small arms, but had no guns mounted.

In conjunction with the Sloops deploying on their expedition, the Governor of Virginia published a proclamation, offering rewards to any person who should take or destroy any Pirate. The original Proclamation read as follows:

A PROCLAMATION,
Publishing the Rewards given for apprehending,
Or killing Pyrates.

Whereas, by an Act of Assembly, made as a Session of Assembly, begun at the Capital in Willamsburgh, the eleventh Day of November, in the fifth Year of his Majesty’s Reign, entituled, An Act to encourage the apprehending and destroying of Pyrates: It is, amongst other Things enacted, that all and every Person, or Persons, who, from and after fourteenth Day of, November, in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighteen, and before the fourteenth Day of November, which shall be in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and nineteen, shall take any Pyrate, or Pyrates, on the Sea or Land, or in Case of Resistance, shall kill any such Pyrate, or Pyrates, between the Degrees of thirty four, and thirty nine, of North Latitude, and within one hundred Leagues of the Continent of Virginia, or within the Provinces of Virginia, or North-Carolina, upon the Conviction, or making due Proof of the killing of all, and every such Pyrate, and Pyrates, before the Governor and Council, shall be entitled to have, and receive out of the publick Money, in the hands of the Treasurer of this Colony, the several Rewards following; that is to say, for Edward Teach, commonly call’d Captain Teach, or Black-Beard, one hundred Pounds, for every other Commander of a Pyrate Ship, Sloop, or Vessel, forty Pounds; for every Lieutenant, Master, or Quartermaster, Boatswain, or Carpenter, twenty Pounds; for every other inferior Officer, fifteen Pounds, and for every private Man taken on Board such Ship, Sloop, or Vessel, ten Pounds; and, that for every Pyrate, which shall be taken by any Ship, Sloop, or Vessel, belonging to this Colony, or North-Carolina, within the Time aforesaid, in any Place whatsoever, the like Rewards shall be paid according to the Quality and Condition of such Pyrates. Wherefore, for the Encouragement of all such Persons as shall be willing to serve his Majesty; and their Country, in so just and honorable an Undertaking, as the suppressing a Sort of People, who may be truly called Enemies to Mankind: I have thought fit, with the Advice and Consent of his Majesty’s Council, to issue this Proclamation, hereby declaring, the said Rewards shall be punctually and justly paid, incurrent Money o Virginia, according to the Directions of the said Act. And, I do order and appoint this Proclamation, to be published by the Sheriff, at their respective County-Houses, and by al Ministers and Readers, in he several Churches and Chappels, throughout this Colony.

Given at our Council-Chambers at Williams-
burgh, this 24th Day of November, 1718,
in the fifth Year of his Majesty’s Reign.
GOD SAVE THE KING.
A.SPOTSWOOD.


On the 17th of November, 1718, Lieutenant Maynard and his crew left from the James River in Virginia. On the 21st they arrived at the Okerecock Inlet where Teach and his crew were reported to be hiding.

teach
Teach's ship spotted at Anchor

Maynard and the Sloops anchored just outside the inlet, because it was narrow and intricate there was no way for them to reach where Teach and his ship lay until the tides were more favorable. While at anchor, Maynard and his crew did everything they could to keep their plans from reaching Teach. They stopped all boat entering the inlet and thus prevented them from notifying the pirates of their arrival. With this secrecy, Maynard kept his presents unknown to the Pirates. It was not until the following day that Teach spotted the Sloops anchored at mouth of the inlet. Teach at the time had but 25 men aboard his ship, and was not fully prepared for a fight. Teach slipped his anchor and endeavored to make a running fight.

Seeing this Maynard did the same and ran ahead of the other sloops. Being within gun-shot of the pirates Maynard began taking fire as the pirates kept a constant barrage with their cannons. While Maynard had no cannons to return, he hoisted the King’s Colors, and ordered his crew kept a constant fire with their small arms. Very soon the two ships ran aground; being not more than 20 yards from one another, the two ships kept constant fire. Maynard ordered all ballast to be thrown overboard, and the same with the water and provisions. Seeing now that Maynard’s ship was breaking free Teach hailed him: "Damn you for Villains, who are you? And, from whence came you?" The Lieutenant responded: "You may see by our Colours we are no Pyrates!" Teach bid him: "Come, send your boat aboard, that we might see who you truly are" But Maynard replied: "I cannot spare my Boat, but I will come aboard you as soon as I can, with my Sloop! Upon this Teach took a glass of liquor, and drank to him with these words: "Damnation seize my Soul if I give you Quarters, or take any from you" In answer Maynard told him: "I expect no Quarters from you, nor shall any be given"

And with that, the Pirates kept their constant barage of cannon fire; Having already killed nearly twenty of Maynard's men the Rogues were preparing to board. Fearing that the continues cannon fire would thin out the rest of his crew, Maynard ordered all of men to take cover down below and prepare for a surprise attack. Only the helmsman and Maynard himself were left on deck. Bringing his ship up to broadside Teach and his crew threw several fashioned gernadoes aboard. (these were bottles filled with powder, small shot, slugs, and pieces of iron and lead, with a fuse coming out the top) These devices did a wonderful job of wounding and confusing the enemy crew, but they did not do their job here, as by Maynard’s foresight the crew was all hiding safely below. Seeing but a few men standing on deck Teach assumed the gernadoes had done their deed and ordered his men: "Let’s jump aboard her and cut them to pieces!" Whereupon, under the smoke of the gernadoes Teach and fourteen of his men boarded the Sloop.


Teach and Maynard engaged in Battle

Once the pirates were aboard Maynard gave the order and his men sprung from hiding. Teach and the Lieutenant fired the first shots, both aimed at the other, by which Teach received a wound, and the two engaged with swords. They were closely engaged, Maynard and twelve of his men against Teach and fourteen of his. The fight continued for some time and the sea around the Sloop became tinged with blood.

Teach received another shot from a pistol yet stood his ground, fighting with great fury. It was not until he was stabbed twenty times and shot five more that he ceased fighting and fell to the deck, dead. At that time eight of the fourteen pirates had already dropped, and seeing their captain defeated the remaining six jumped overboard and pleaded for Quarters, which was granted. (though it only served to prolong their lives but for a few days) In the end the Lieutenant severed Teach’s head and had it hung from the end of the yard arm, then sailed for Bath-Town to get relief for his wounded men. Upon arriving at Bath-Town Maynard marched straight to the Governor and seized from him all the goods he received as shares from the slain Pirates. The governor did not long survive the shame of these events, as the apprehension that he might be called upon to account for the legitimacy of the goods caused him such a fright that he fell-sick and died a few days later. Maynard and his crew recoverd nine more Pirates hiding on the beach.

And after his men were well healed, they sailed from Bath-Town back to Virginia, Teach’s head still hanging from the yardarm, and fifteen pirates held prisoner below. Upon their arrival and trial in Virginia , only two of the fifteen pirates were spared hanging. The first, one Samuel Odell, was found to have been taken from a trading sloop the day before, and as it appears, was but an unlucky prisoner of the pirates. The second, was Israel Hands, the Master of Teach’s sloop, The Queen Ann’s Revenge.

1
Teach's head hanging from the Yard


While Master Hands did not take part in the final battle, he was found afterwards in Bath-Town, seeking aid for a pistol shot he said to have received from Teach himself. Hands was pardoned of his crimes after he surrendered and accepted the King’s pardon.

 

Thus is the Story of The Great Captain Edward Teach

 

 

 

 

 



Edward Teach has one of the few pirate flag in which we have an accurate textual description. The following is a widly accepted artitistic interpretation of those descriptions

  Black Beard's Flag

 

 


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Bibliography

Johnson, Captain Charles. A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates. New York: Lyons Press, 2010. Print.

 

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