was born in Bristol
. The details are sketchy at best, and the historian
s are not even certain that Teach is his real name, as he has been referred to as Thatch
and even Drummond
(Although the first three can be attributed to the fact that no spelling standards were about at that time, the last is an alias
). Some historian
s believe that even the name we know him under is an alias
as well, one that he used to protect his relative
s. For a man of his time, Teach was well-educated
, as he could both read
, and even had a small library
There are many rumors surrounding Teach's person. For example, it is said that Teach was even considered forgiving and generous to ones who cooperated with him - though he did not waste time with those who did not. There is a particular story of a man who refused to surrender his jewelry, when Teach simply cut off his hand and took it. Mostly, he wasn't unnecessarily barbaric (well, again, by the standards of the time), though, and just went straight for the loot. Teach is also said to have had some 14 wives - most of these were not Christian marriages, but merely conducted on board his ship. Only his last marriage is said to have been legitimate, the marriage to a 16-year old girl supposedly called Mary Osmond.
It was in 1716 that Teach began his pirating career, after being a privateer in the War of the Spanish Succesion, after meeting the infamous pirate Benjamin Hornigold in New Providence. He was taken as an apprentice, and learned quickly, as he got his own sloop to command in early 1717. Later that same year, Teach and Hornigold captured the Dutch-built French guineaman Concord, which was given to Teach by Hornigold, as he was retiring - the King of England had offered a pardon for all British pirates. Teach re-christened the ship Queen Anne's Revenge and installed 40 cannons.
Soon after embarking on his career of pirating, Teach sighted the merchantman Great Allen off the cost of Sct. Vincet. The ship was plundered and set ablaze after the crew was left on the coast.
The news of the new pirate spread quickly, and soon Teach met the 30-cannon man-o-war HMS Scarborough. Despite being able to outsail the slower man-o-war, Teach engaged battle with his smaller guineaman - he would never run from a battle. Several hours of cannon-fire ensued, but the experienced pirates had more cannons than the British war ship, and soon the Brits were forced to withdraw. Teach saw no point in following them, as they had no cargo worth taking. He became famous for this. It is no small feat to outbattle a British man-o-war.
Teach, being no half-wit, decided to improve this reputation, and created his Blackbeard persona. Letting his hair and beard grow over his face, and twisting it into pigtails, he tied ribbons on the ends. He also placed a hemp cord in his hat, that he would light before battle, so as to enclose him in a cloud. Wearing 6 pistols, his cutlass and several knives, he looked the devil incarnate.
Blackbeard now met the pirate sloop Revenge, which was commandeered by Major Stede Bonnet. Upon seeing this water-combed gentleman, Blackbeard cracked up a thundering laugh. Despite the apparent insult, they decided to sail together as partners in crime. Blackbeard decided to let Bonnet be a guest on his ship, and sent one of his lieutenant over to steer the small Revenge - the crew cooperated, because they were aware that Bonnet was a lousy pirate.
Blackbeard soon got another ship in his wake, the Adventure, which was assigned to Israel Hands (note that this is also a companion of Long John Silver in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island).
In May, 1718, Blackbeard set anchor outside Charleston, South Carolina, where he plundered the ships perusing the harbor. After 9-10 ships ransacked and several important citizens captured, Charleston had enough and stopped using the harbor. Blackbeard was able to use his hostages to get medical supplies and food from Charleston - he did release the hostages undamaged as well.
Blackbeard had decided to retire and use the pardon that his former master, Hornigold, had, but first, he would devise a plan to let him and his trusted crew keep most of the loot. At Topsail Inlet (now Beaufort Inlet), North Carolina, Blackbeard let Queen Anne's Revenge run aground on a sandbar. He called Israel Hands, who let the Revenge run aground 'accidentally' too. Blackbeard then told Bonnet to go get the pardon papers at nearby Bath. Bonnet agreed, especially after being promised that he would be returned command of his sloop.
Blackbeard had the crew load the loot onto Adventure, under the guise of lightening Queen Anne's Revenge. A group of around 25 were suspicious, though, and attempted a mutiny. They were all marooned as Blackbeard set sail with the now fully loaded Adventure.
Upon his return with the pardon, Bonnet found the empty sloop waiting. Enraged from the betrayal, he swore revenge, but never managed to capture Teach. Blackbeard & crew went to receive pardons from Governor Charles Eden of North Carolina, and Teach soon settled in Bath. It is believed that Eden was allowed to dip into the loot, as they became friends. It was then, that Blackbeard met Mary Osmond, and Eden married the two.
But Blackbeard was restless. In the summer of 1718, he went back to pirating, on an on-and-off basis, while attempting to cover it up. In September, 1718, after meeting another pirate, Charles Vane (one of whose crewmen was the infamous John Rackham/Calico Jack), Blackbeard hosted a pirate-party on Ocracoke Island.
Governor Alexander Spotswood of Virginia became nervous that they were planning a pirate haven, and organized HMS Pearl and HMS Lyme to get rid of Blackbeard once and for all. Being too big for the job, the ships were soon exchanged for the two sloops Ranger and Jane. First Lieutenant Robert Maynard from HMS Pearl commandeered the ships, while Captain Brand commandeered the ground troops.
Late on November 21, 1718, the sloops arrived at Ocracoke Island, and early next morning, the fight began. The sloops were unarmed, and as such easy marks for the 9-cannon Adventure. Soon, Ranger was sunk, and Maynard went on in Jane, where he ordered the crew below decks to bluff Blackbeard into thinking they were dead.
Blackbeard and crew boarded, but were surprised by Maynard's ready men, and a bloody fight ensued. As if it had been planned, soon Maynard and Blackbeard were fighting each other. Blackbeard made a fierce swing with his cutlass and wounded Maynard's hand. Maynard took a step back and fired his gun at Blackbeard, yet did not do much damage to the mad pirate. Fighting on with others of Maynard's crew, Blackbeard was overcome, but only after having received at least 5 gun-wounds and 20 sword-wounds, according to Maynard self.
Blackbeard was decapitated after the battle, and his head was put on Jane's bowsprit as a trophy and proof that the legend was dead.