Wednesday, 21 November 2018 21:43

300th Anniversary of the Demise of Blackbeard: Part VI

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Bath, NC, Last Home of Blackbeard Bath, NC, Last Home of Blackbeard Image courtesy of Queen Anne's Revenge Project

300th Anniversary of the Demise of Blackbeard

Thanksgiving Day will just happen to mark the 300th anniversary of one of the most historical “battles” to have ever occurred in North Carolina.  While certainly not of the same magnitude of Guilford Courthouse or Bentonville, the ultimate demise of Blackbeard the Pirate came to pass in Ocracoke Inlet on November 22nd of 1718.

Given the perpetual interest regarding pirates in general (and Blackbeard in particular), the Richmond Observer offers a series of articles chronicling the life and times of arguably the most recognized (if not indeed the most nefarious) pirate of all time.  This is Part VI of the saga.

Blackbeard Part VI: After You Beat 'Em, Join 'Em

Blackbeard was effectively using Bonnet as a pawn.  Having allowed the “Gentleman Pirate” to sally forth and try for the king’s pardon was simply Teach’s way of ensuring that such was a legitimate option.  If Bonnet was successful, then it would be presumed that Blackbeard himself might also be similarly treated.  But that was not all of the equation for the calculating buccaneer.

With Bonnet out “testing the waters” of the prospect of being pardoned, Blackbeard was able to complete his own plan of action.  With his ships once again seaworthy, he himself followed Bonnet to Bath to see what might have happened.

Of course, Teach had effectively stolen all of the loot that rightfully - at least in accordance with the "Pirates' Code" of operations - belonged to Bonnet and other members of the crew that were marooned on an island miles from the mainland.  These men would later be rescued by Bonnet and, understandably desirous of revenge against Blackbeard, hastily set sail in pursuit, but they would not be very lucky in their endeavors.  Not only would they ultimately fail to find Blackbeard, but it was this set of pirates under the command of Bonnet who were captured at the mouth of the Cape Fear River in North Carolina on 27 September and taken to Charles Town for hanging.    

So it was that Bonnet had already come and gone before Teach arrived and anchored off shore near the town of Bath, the provincial capital of North Carolina.  More important, of course, was that Bath was also the home to Governor Charles Eden, the wielder of the power of pardon as granted by the king.  The fact that Eden was a friend - perhaps only indirectly but nonetheless perceived to be an ally - of the most notorious pirate of the moment was a welcomed condition for Teach.

Blackbeard followed the steps of Bonnet and, boldly marching directly to the doors of Governor Eden, offered himself and twenty of his men for the king’s pardon of all pirates who turned themselves in and promised to cease and desist in all such pirating activities.  All were successful in their endeavor, and it was reported that, congruent with the rumors that Eden and Knight had for some time been receiving “protection payments” from Teach, “the pirate seems to have been no stranger to the governor.”  Indeed, Blackbeard had been heard to boast that he “ … could now be invited into any home in North Carolina.”

But there was no need for seeking accommodations elsewhere; Blackbeard could now settle down into his own home without fear of persecution.  As a “law abiding citizen,” he seems to have actually adhered to the terms of the agreement, albeit for a very short time.  He attracted the attention of sixteen-year-old Mary Ormond, the daughter of one of his newfound plantation owner friends, and was soon married, reportedly by Governor Eden himself.  Life was good, at least for the time being.

Last modified on Wednesday, 21 November 2018 22:17