Blackbeard was a renowned English pirate in the early 1700s, and he worked around the eastern coast of the British North American colonies and the West Indies. Even though there is scanty information on the early life of Blackbeard, it is speculated that he might have been a sailor during the Queen Anne’s War on privateer ships before he settled on New Providence’s Bahamian Island. The region was Captain Benjamin Hornigold’s base, and Blackbeard had joined his crew sometime around 1716.
Very little is known of Blackbeard, who was born Edward Thatch or Edward Teach sometime around 1680; his birth year is speculated since he is believed to have died aged between 35 or 40 years old. Despite his surname having various spellings, an early source claims that Teach’s surname was Drummond. However, this is considered highly unlikely, mainly due to lack of any documents supporting the claim. Most pirates had the habit of using fictitious surnames while they engage in piracy since they did not want to tarnish their family name. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that Blackbeard’s real name will ever be known. Teach is believed to have been raised in Bristol which was England’s second largest city at the time, and there are high chances that he could read and write. Blackbeard conversed with merchants, and when he was killed, a letter which was addressed to him from Tobias Knight the Chief Justice and Secretary of the Province of Carolina was found in his possession. According to Robert Lee, an author, Edward Teach was most likely born into a wealthy and respectable family. Besides, he may have arrived on a merchant vessel thought to be a slave ship in the Caribbean at the end of the 17th century. Charles Johnson another author claimed that Teach operated as a sailor on privateer ships from Jamaica for some time during the War of the Spanish Succession.
Blackbeard’s piracy career is believed to have started in 1716 when he joined Captain Hornigold’s crew where he was placed in charge of a sloop he had acquired as a trophy. In the year that followed, both men set out for the mainland each captaining a sloop. Despite both Blackbeard and Hornigold engaging in numerous acts of piracy together, the captain retired from piracy sometime towards the end of 1717, where he took two vessels with him.
As a pirate and a captain for several sloops, Blackbeard was responsible for attacking several merchant vessels and stealing the cargo inside. As Blackbeard, Teach was feared, deadly, and more intelligent than the average pirate. He used intimidation and fear to make his targets surrender without going down with a fight. For instance, on November 17, 1717, Blackbeard seized a large French slaving ship named La Concorde. He kept it and later mounted 40 guns naming it ‘Queen Anne’s Revenge’ which became his flagship. It was not long when he acquired a fleet of three ships and about 150 pirates thus making his name feared throughout the Caribbean and on both sides of the Atlantic.
Blackbeard faced many challenges as a pirate in those days like any other pirate at the time. Before his death, local merchants had started getting furious over a pirate operating nearby. However, they were powerless and could not stop the piracy. After numerous complaints, Alexander Spotswood the Governor of Virginia hired men under the command of Lieutenant Robert Maynard to hunt down Blackbeard.
Death and Legacy
Blackbeard died on November 22, 1718, following a battle between his crew and Lieutenant Maynard and his men, his head was severed by one of the soldier’s just as he was about to kill the lieutenant. Teach’s body was disposed of while his head was displayed on the bowsprit of Maynard’s sloop. Even after his death, Blackbeard’s fame still lingered, and some of his crew members found positions of authority and honor on any other pirate vessel they joined. Even though there were greater pirates during his time, Blackbeard’s personality and image is still remembered as he has been the protagonist in several books, movies, and plays.