Blackbeard was not the big bad pirate that he is thought to be. Most people think that he was the most fearsome and dangerous pirate that has ever lived, which in most ways he was. However, he made up stories and stretched the truth to make him self look much tougher than he really was. In the early 1700’s Edward Teach earned his place in pirating history, acquiring the name Blackbeard because of his large black beard that almost covered his entire face. Blackbeard terrorized the coastal settlements of Virginia and the Carolinas around 1717 mostly taking valuables, rum, and weapons from his victims.
Blackbeard was born Edward Teach is believed to be born around 1680 in Bristol England. Before he had become a pirate Edward began his career with the sea as a youthful merchant seaman. The first taste of adventure for him came during Queen Anne’s War (1702-1713). At this time he served on a privateer sailing out of Kingston, Jamaica, to strike on French ships. Soon after the war had ended, Edward had become dissatisfied with the peace that came along with it. This eventually led him to sign on as a crewmember of the pirate Captain Benjamin Hornigold (1714). This was where Edward Teach’s career as a pirate had begun. Edward quickly distinguished himself by his strength, courage, and devilish attitude from all the other crewmembers on board. In 1716 following the capture of a French merchant ship called the Concorde, Hornigold appointed Edward as captain of the prize because of the energy and leadership that he showed. The Concorde had already been equipped with 20 guns, so Edward converted it into a 40-gun warship. After the upgrade he also decided to rename the ship to The Queen Anne’s Revenge. The name of the ship was a reminder of the dark glamour of the earlier Queen Anne’s War. This is when Edward Teach was considered not a seaman but a pirate. (When Blackbeard Scourged the Seas)
It was during this era that Edward Teach brought about the fearsome reputation of Blackbeard. He got the name “Blackbeard” because of his large black beard that almost covered his entire face. Before a battle he plaited his beard into small pigtails tied with colored ribbons. In these pigtails he placed and lighted long, slow burning matches that were usually used to set off a cannon. Since Blackbeard had such a tall and mighty physique, the smoke that curled out and around his face gave him a devilish appearance. In addition with his smoking face, he carried pistols, daggers, and a cutlass in his belt. Across his chest he also carried six cocked, ready to fire pistols. With all the weapons and crewmembers, Blackbeard petrified the people along Carolina and Virginia coasts in his ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge taking mostly valuables, rum, and weapons from other ships that crossed his path. He also captured ships in the harbor and seized citizens for ransom. “It is said that Blackbeard in battle array was an awesome sight and, to sailors of the day, as feared as the devil himself, to which many believed him akin.” (Pirates and Privateers) To prove his ruthlessness, Blackbeard stirred things up by lighting pots of sulfur in his own ship, or even shooting off pistols beneath the table while entertaining friends in his cabin. He mostly did these kinds of things when action was slow, and he was restless. Many of his crewmembers were quite scared of him, fearing that he might go crazy and kill everyone. (Encarta) Killing Blackbeard was quite a task, and only one man seemed able to do so, Robert Maynard. Robert was in the British naval force. In 1718, Alexander Spotswood, the lieutenant governor of Virginia, sent him to find and kill Blackbeard. When the ships met, there was a big battle. Soon Maynard and Blackbeard came face to face. The pirate got shot while swinging his cutlass. While Blackbeard was about to deliver the deathblow to Maynard, when a member on Maynard’s crew slashed his throat. Showing his...
Cited: Pascall, Jermy Pirates and Privateers, Silver Burdett Company, Morristown, NJ 1981
Stockton, Frank R. Buccaneers and Pirates of Our Coasts, The Macmillan Company, New York, 1963
“Blackbeard” Microsoft Encarta 98 Electronic Encyclopedia, 1998 ed.
Colonial Williamsburg Journal, Vo.15, No.1 (Autumn 1992),
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