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Edward Teach Commonly Call'd Black Beard (bw).jpg
Blackbeard (c. 1736 engraving used to illustrate Johnson's General History)
Edward Teach

c. 1680
Died (aged 35–40)
Cause of death Killed in action (stab wounds and gunshot wounds)
Piratical career
Nickname Blackbeard
Years active 1716–1718
Rank Captain
Base of operations Atlantic
West Indies
Commands Queen Anne's Revenge, Adventure
Capture of the Pirate, Blackbeard, 1718, Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, painted in 1920

Edward Teach (c. 1680 – 22 November 1718) was a pirate, often called "Blackbeard the Pirate". (It is not clear what his real name actually was; some historians think that his last name may really have been Thatch.) He attacked ships in the Caribbean and the American colonies. His flagship ship was the captured French slave ship La Concorde which Blackbeard renamed Queen Anne's Revenge. About 1718 it ran aground near Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina and was abandoned.

Blackbeard often fought wearing a big feathered tricorn hat, and with lots of swords, knives, and pistols. Some pictures show him with lighted rope matches woven into his enormous black beard during battle. The matches burned slowly and gave of lots of smoke. They were designed to make him look frightening. He probably got the idea from seeing the burning rope was used to light the gunpowder in cannons and guns. (These old fashioned guns were called matchlocks, later a flint was used to make a spark, these were called flintlock guns). No one knows how many wives Blackbeard had. The book A General History of the Pyrates says that he had as many as fourteen wives, but he was not legally married to most of them.

Early life

Blackbeard is thought to have been born in Bristol. Teach went to sea when he was very young. He served on an English ship in the War of the Spanish Succession, privateering in the Spanish West Indies and along the Spanish Main. At the war's end in 1713, Teach, like many other privateers, turned to piracy.

Blackbeard the Pirate

Teach began as a pirate under Benjamin Hornigold. In 1716, Hornigold retired, taking advantage of an amnesty offered to former privateers by the British government. Teach then took command of his own ship.

During the next two years Blackbeard attacked merchant ships, forcing them to allow his crew to board their ship. The pirates would seize all of the valuables, food, liquor, and weapons. Ironically, despite his ferocious reputation, there are no verified accounts of him actually killing anyone.

Capture and death

The Lieutenant-Governor of Virginia, Alexander Spotswood sent two ships after Blackbeard. On 18 November 1718, Lt. Robert Maynard sailed from Hampton, Virginia to Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina. On 22 November 1718, Maynard and his men defeated Blackbeard and the pirates.

Teach died fighting and was decapitated. Legends about his death immediately sprang up. His headless body, was thrown overboard, but swam three times around the ship before sinking. Teach's head was placed as a trophy on the bowsprit of the ship. Captain Maynard had to keep the head to claim his prize when he returned home. Later, Teach's head hung from a pike in Bath, Somerset.


Teach's loot—sugar, cocoa, indigo and cotton—found "in pirate sloops and ashore in a tent where the sloops lay", was sold at auction along with sugar and cotton for £2,238. Governor Spotswood used a portion of this to pay for the entire operation. The prize money for capturing Teach was to have been about £400 (£56,000 in 2024) , but it was split between the crews of HMS Lyme and HMS Pearl. As Captain Brand and his troops had not been the ones fighting for their lives, Maynard thought this extremely unfair. He lost much of any support he may have had though when it was discovered that he and his crew had helped themselves to about £90 of Teach's booty. The two companies did not receive their prize money for another four years, and despite his bravery Maynard was not promoted, and faded into obscurity.

The remainder of Teach's crew and former associates were transported to Williamsburg, Virginia, where they were jailed on charges of piracy. No records of the day's proceedings remain, but 14 of the 16 accused were found guilty. The pirates were hanged along Williamsburg's Capitol Landing Road (known for some time after as "Gallows Road").

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