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The History of Pirates
by Angus Konstam

The History of Pirates is a well organized primer on pirates from ancient times to the present day.

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“S.R. Staley transports you back to a time when the flapping of canvas, the roar of ships' cannons, and the flash of cutlasses are seen through the smell of gunpowder and smoke. The Pirate of Panther Bay, the young Isabella, prowls the seas. She is dogged by a Spanish man-o-war commanded by a dashing young Spaniard who also commands her heart. A great adventure romance!”
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Edward "Blackbeard" Teach



The Down and Dirty on Edward "Blackbeard" Teach

Primary Haunt Atlantic Coast of North and Central America, from Honduras to Virginia
Pirate Period 1713-1718
Ship(s)/Type(s) Queen Anne’s Revenge/ Ship (1716); Adventure/sloop (1718)
Date of Birth/Location Unknown/probably Bristol, England
Death/Location November 22, 1718 in Pamlico Sound, North Carolina
Claim to Fame Likely the most notorious pirate in Western pirate history
Useful References



Despite being one of the most infamous pirates in history, surprisingly little is known about Blackbeard’s background. This includes his real name. Many experts believe it was Edward Drummond and he was born in Bristol, England, but no one can confirm it. Later, he used the name Edward Teach, and that’s the name that stuck in the history books.

Teach became a pirate at the end of the war of Spanish Succession about 1713. He was a seaman and likely first set sail from Bristol a little earlier.

Teach was no wannebe—he was aggressive, ruthless, and successful. He became captain of the Queen Anne’s Revenge in 1716 (just a few years after the end of the war). The Queen Anne’s Revenge was a real ship and mounted 40 guns.

Blackbeard appeared to revel in the persona of being a pirate. He was known for his ”wild” look, especially his long shaggy black beard (hence the nickname) and pistols tucked into his belt. He used ribbons to tie his beard into small tails. Before he would go into battle, Teach would light slow burning matches made from hemp in his beard. This created smoke and fire, terrifying his prey as he and his pirate band boarded their hapless victims.

Needless to say, Blackbeard’s “technique” helped create one of the most notorious reputations among pirates of the day. Teach also drank heavily and was a womanizer. By one account, he was married to 14 women, mostly at the same time.

Blackbeard claimed many “accomplishments” during his time as a pirate captain. For example, he:

  • successfully blockaded Charleston Harbor in 1718;
  • captured 20 ships in an 18-month period from the Honduras in Central America all the way to Virginia,
  • commanded four ships and some 400 men (1718) at one point;
  • worked out a deal with the Governor of North Carolina to let him plunder ship’s off the coast as long as the Governor received a share of the loot.


Blackbeard finally met his match when Virginia’s governor dispatched two English warships to track him down. By this time, Blackbeard’s commanded the sloop Adventure, crewed by 19 men (including six blacks) and armed with nine mounted guns.

The Adventure was anchored in Pamlico Sound near Ocracoke Island, just south of Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. The water was too shallow for the large British ships, so they attacked him from two smaller sloops, neither armed with cannon. Against Blackbeard’s crew of 19 were 60 British sailors and soldiers—35 men in one sloop and 25 men in the other.

By the end of the battle, 10 of the British men would be dead and another 24 would be wounded. All of Blackbeard’s crew were either killed or seriously wounded. After fierce hand-to-hand fighting, Blackbeard was also killed. His body had 25 wounds, five of them pistol shots, but he only fell after he was decapitated with a sword.

Blackbeard’s death and the trial of his surviving crew members were widely reported and celebrated throughout the American colonies. Blackbeard’s death signaled the end of pirating as a major activity in American waters.