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Saturday, 25 August 2012

74) Famous Pirates of the Caribbean: 2) Edward Teach or Blackbeard the Pirate:(1680 – 22.11.1718):

74) Famous Pirates of the Caribbean:
2) Edward Teach or Blackbeard the Pirate:
(1680 – 22.11.1718):
i) A two dollar coin issued by New Zealand Mint on behalf of Niue Islands
ii) A one dollar coin issued by Perth Mint Australia on behalf of Tuvalu Islands:

Edward Teach (nicknamed Blackbeard and also mentioned as “Edward Thatch” or “Thack” or “Theach” or “Thatche”) was presumed to be born in Bristol, England. His name has also been mentioned as Edward Drummond, but he always introduced himself as Edward Teach. 

He was a notorious English pirate who started his career as a sea-farer during Queen Anne’s War on a Privateer (defined as an armed vessel owned and officered by private persons and holding a commission from the Government called a “letter of marque" authorising the owners to use it against a hostile nation, especially in the capture of merchant shipping). 

Commencement of career as a pirate:

Later, he settled in the Caribbean island of New Providence which was a known pirate haven/destination (Some of the best-known pirate bases were New Providence, in the Bahamas from 1715 to 1725, Tortuga established in the 1640s and Port Royal after 1655).

The period during which the pirates were most successful was from 1700 till about 1730s. Caribbean piracy had arisen out of the race for trade and colonisation among the European Empires of Britain, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal and France. 
In New Providence, Teach joined the crew of Captain Benjamin Hornigold in 1716, a pirate in his own right, operating out of New Providence. 

Hornigold gave him the command of a “sloop” which had been captured on the High Seas and fitted with six cannon and having a crew of 70 men (A sloop is a small one-masted, fore and aft rigged ship/vessel, carrying guns/cannon only on its upper deck).  

 Both Hornigold and Teach was involved in several acts of piracy sailing in their two-ship fleet which was later expanded, with more acquisitions on the High Seas. They were joined by Stede Bonnet on board a ship called “Revenge” making it a fleet of three ships at their disposal. Later, they captured another vessel making it a total of 4 vessels in their “pirate fleet”. 

Hornigold retired from his career in piracy taking two ships with him and was granted the King’s Pardon, while Teach and Bonnet continued with their acts of piracy on the remaining two ships. 

Changing his Flagship to “Queen Anne’s Revenge”:

Subsequently, on one of his voyages Teach captured a French Merchant ship “La Concorde” (a powerful 300-ton , 26 cannon vessel and carrying a cargo of slaves) after a fierce cannonade and forced its Captain to surrender. He rechristened the ship “Queen Anne’s Revenge”, re-fitting it with 40 guns, making it his flagship. 
Teach, ever generous to his adversaries, gave the crew of “La Concorde” one of his smaller sloops , which they rechristened “Mauvaise Rencontre” (Bad Meeting) to sail back  to Martinique.

Teach’s fleet grew to more than 300 men spread over the three ships at his command. The other two ships, apart from “Queen Anne’s Revenge” were a Briganteen (two masted ship , square rigged on the forward mast, fore and aft rigged on the mainmast,having ten cannon) and a Sloop (having 12 cannon on its upper deck). Some later accounts put his fleet at two ships for some time.
In December 1717, Teach boarded and ransacked a merchant sloop “Margaret”, whereafter, the merchant ship was allowed to continue to its destination on Saint Christopher Island, where the Captain lodged a formal complaint with the Governor. His most memorable battle was against a powerful warship the “HMS Scarborough” which enhanced his reputation.

Awe-inspiring and Fearsome appearance:

Teach gained notoriety as a fearsome pirate, mainly on account of his thick black beard and his fearsome demeanour. His forte during acts of piracy was that he used to tie smouldering hemp in his beard and keep lit fuses under his hat to frighten the crew of ships which his pirate crew boarded. 
He used to go into sea-battles with merchant ships/Royal Navy ships wearing a sling over his shoulders, with three braces (pairs) of pistols, strung across his breast, hanging in holsters, like bandoliers ( a belt of this kind was worn by soldiers to support a musket and carry cases containing charges for it), in addition to a cutlass ( a short sword with a flat wide slightly curved blade) and a few knives in his belt.  He had such a fearsome appearance that crews of ships which were his prey often surrendered to him without a fight.
It is said that he had formed an alliance of pirates (much like the “Pirates Council” in the present day movie series “Pirates of the Caribbean”). 

“Courteous” Pirate:

Despite his fierce reputation, he used force only as a last resort, and relied mainly on his fearsome reputation to frighten his targets. He was not authoritarian as is generally believed, but consulted his crew before every voyage undertaken or for sharing of the captured booty. 

No evidence exists to indicate that he ever murdered captured crews/officers of ships he pirated, but is known to have sent them to their destinations, mostly in their own ships, after looting their cargo and valuables or making arrangements for their transport in case he confiscated their ships. 

He is said to have been particularly nice to the crew/officers of those ships who cooperated with them. He even invited them for dining with him on board his flagship while their cargo and valuables were looted by his pirate crew.

Blockade of Charleston (then Charles-Town) Port, South Carolina :

In March 1718, he expanded his fleet by taking over a few more ships/sloops. At the head of this “flotilla” and by May 1718, Teach awarded himself the rank of “Commodore” and blockaded the port of Charleston in South Carolina, ransacking all ships approaching or leaving the port.
 He held the passengers of a ship “Crowley” hostage and demanded from its Captain to requisition for medical supplies for his pirate crew, failing which the hostages would be executed and their severed heads sent to the Governor in South Carolina. Subsequently, a delegation of one of the ship’s crew and two pirates were sent to collect the medical supplies. 
It seems that once on land, the two pirates in the delegation got dead drunk which resulted in the Crowley’s representative arriving back with the medical supplies after considerable delay, causing Teach some anxious moments. The pirates were retrieved some time later from shore. 

Teach, released all the captured ships and prisoners, but kept the valuables and fine clothing worn by some of the passengers/officers. A “hunting party” of two ships failed to track him down, the Pirates being very skilful in concealing their movements. 

Accepting a Royal Pardon under General Amnesty to all pirates:

At this juncture, he along with Bonnet decided to take a break from their pirating careers and settle down in Bath Town, where he obtained a Royal Pardon (as a general amnesty had been offered by the British Crown to all pirates who withdrew from active pirating careers and surrendered before 5th September 1718 and the amnesty covered all crimes committed before 5th January 1718). 

Although technically Teach and Bonnet could have been tried for crimes committed after that date, Teach was granted an official pardon nonetheless by the Governor through his special powers to waive cognizance of Teach’s later crimes. 
 Before accepting the Royal Pardon, Teach marooned about 30 pirate members of his group on an island, stole all the Treasure and valuables and fled with the Adventure”. Later, Bonnet rescued the marooned pirates and having been cheated by Blackbeard, he continued with his life of piracy and after some adventure was captured and hanged along with several of his crew by the Authorities. 
Meanwhile, Teach sold the entire booty, purchased a house in Bath Town and started life as a citizen.

Return to a second stint as a Pirate:

The sedate life did not agree with him and the lure of the sea got the better of Teach, first as a “Privateer” and later as a pirate in which he was joined by Charles Vane, another pirate who had rejected the King’s Pardon. 
However, this time the Governor of Virginia sent a hunting party of soldiers and sailors to track him down after Teach and Vane refused to cooperate with the authorities in any way. By this time it was believed that Teach had looted fabulous treasures which he had secretly hidden away. There was a reward offered both from the State of Virginia over and above that offered by the Crown. 

“Hunting” Down Teach:

The “hunting party” consisted of two commandeered sloops under the charge of Lieutenant Robert Maynard in the lead ship “HMS Pearl”, the other ship being “HMS Lyme” with about two dozen men apiece, apart from the sloop’s original crew. They changed the names of their ships to “Jane” and “Ranger” respectively to keep the pirates unawares that the sloops were both “men-of-war”. 
Later they were joined by some more men under the command of Captain Brand on board the “HMS Lyme”. After several false alarms/leads, the pirates were found by Maynard anchored at Ocracoke Island on 21st November1718. 
Teach was busy entertaining guests and about two dozen of his latest Flagship “Adventure’s” crew had gone ashore, leaving him with only about 25 men on board. 

The fight that killed Teach:

On a high tide, the next morning, Maynard sent a lookout boat which was spotted by the pirates and fired upon by Adventure’s guns. It quickly retreated to “Jane” and Teach immediately cut Adventure’s anchor cable and manoeuvred “Adventure” to get into position to fight the approaching sloops under Maynard. 

It appears that in the melee all three ships ran aground. “Adventure” fired on the two ships with tremendous effect, killing or wounding about a third of Maynard’s force (20 men on “Jane” either killed or wounded and 9 on “Ranger”).
“Ranger” was completely crippled and could not take any further part in the battle.
Meanwhile, the pirates having got the upper hand through their superior fire-power, boarded “Jane” after pelting its deck with several grenades and home-made explosives and thinking that their cannonade and later action had killed or maimed all of her crew. 
Maynard had kept the bulk of his forces below decks and the pirates were caught by surprise when several men emerged from the hold shouting and firing at the pirates. Teach rallied his men and fought man-to-man with Maynard, who both fired their flintlocks at each other, then fought with cutlasses. Maynard’s cutlass broke with Teach’s assault, but the battle had gone against the pirates. Maynard’s men completely surrounded the duo and fell upon Teach who was killed instantly. 
The remaining pirates gave up the battle and surrendered. About ten men were reportedly killed on each side. 
It was found on examining Teach’s body that he had about 20 cuts and had been shot 5 times. His head was cut and suspended from the “bowsprit” of Maynard’s sloop as evidence for collecting the reward. 

Several of Teach’s pirate crew were later rounded up from the shore and barring a few who successfully defended themselves in the ensuing trials were either hanged or imprisoned.

 Teach’s flag showing a sleleton spearing a heart, while toasting with the devil. This flag is a stylized representation that his presence will strike fear in the hearts of sailors whose vessels he was looting.

Teach’s lore and legacy:

He was, perhaps, the most hated and feared sea-pirate of the “Golden Age of Piracy” in the Caribbean. Later, over the centuries he has been "romanticised" both in folklore , literature and movies.

Teach’s exploits have over the centuries inspired several books/stories/literature (most prominently, Charles Johnson’s:” A General Historie of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates”, published in 1724, Matilda Douglas’s “Blackbeard : A page from the colonial history of Philadelphia”, Gregory Keynes “The Age Of Unreason”, Tim Powers “On Stranger Tides”) and  movies/films (for ex: “Blackbeard the Pirate” (1952), “Blackbeard’s Ghost”(1968), “Blackbeard : Terror at Sea” (2005), Hallmark Channel’s miniseries “Blackbeard” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: The curse of the Black Pearl” (2003) – “Black Pearl” being the name of the ship which hunted down Blackbeard under Captain Maynard) etc.

Buried Treasure?

Despite his awe-inspiring demeanour and a short colourful career as a pirate till he was hunted down by the “Black Pearl”, it was rumoured that he had a buried a vast treasure of gold and silver which led to several treasure hunting expeditions along the East Coast of the USA.

 However, nothing was known to have been found, particularly as there were no Treasure Maps and most of his Pirate crew had been hanged. 

Supernatural Phenomena attributed to Blackbeard:

Many ghost stories have sprouted suggesting that “mysterious lights” suddenly are noticed at sea where there is no known movement of any ships which are known as “Teach’s Lights” and many seafarers have recounted tales of encountering the notorious pirate himself, his headless body looking for its “lost head” as his friends in “Hell” and the Devil himself will not recognise him without it.  

 Charleston has a Blackbeard’ Cove”.

An impression of Edward Teach (BlackBeard) with the smouldering hemp.

New Zealand Mint Coin:

New Zealand Mint has issued a set of four two-dollar denomination silver coins under its “The Real Pirates of the Caribbean” series. Edward Teach features on one of them having made it to the “Hall of Fame” of all time Pirating history in his short career as a pirate.

The obverse of this coin features an image of Queen Elizabeth II, Sovereign of the Commonwealth of Niue.

The reverse of this coin features a coloured image of Edward Teach or Blackbeard. These coins are legal tender of Niue Island. This coin has a diameter of 40.70 mm and is made of 0.999 Silver. The denomination of the coin is $2 and the year of issue is 2011.

Perth Mint coin:

The obverse of the one-dollar coin depicts an effigy of Queen Elizabeth II.

This 2010 $1 dollar coin shows Blackbeard who used to tie smouldering hemp chord in his long black hair to heighten his image as an emissary of the Devil himself. The coin also includes a treasure chest containing pirated treasure, because every pirate tale has to have a Treasure chest to enhance its mystique. The Perth Mint “P” mint mark is also seen on this coin. The coin is made of aluminium-bronze.
The coin is issued under the authority of the Government of Tuvalu and is legal tender in Tuvalu. 


The Perth Mint also brought out this coin in 99.9% silver as part of a five coin set on notorious pirates (the Golden Age of Piracy from 1650 to 1725).

Please click on the undernoted Links to other articles on Famous Pirates: 

1)Famous Pirates of the Caribbean:Capt.William Kidd 

3)Famous Pirates of the Caribbean :Bartholomew Roberts or Black Bart Roberts 

4)Famous Pirates of the Caribbean: Jack Rackham 

5) Famous-Pirates-of- the Caribbean : Henry Avery 

6) Famous Pirates of the Caribbean : Sir Henry Morgan 

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