Edward Teach, or ‘Blackbeard’, was born around 1678. Very little is documented of his early years and it’s not certain that his real name was even ‘Teach’ considering many pirates would generate their own surnames to refrain from damaging their family name. It has been suggested that he assumed the role of privateer in the West Indies in his youth as many young men did in this era. It was during this time that he began to produce a reputation of being bold and courageous, a reputation that would grow more colourful as years went on.
Hornigold and the Queen Anne’s Revenge
In 1716, and as the understudy to Captain Benjamin Hornigold, Blackbeard was given his first ship, the conquered French vessel, ‘Concord’. It was renamed ‘Queen Anne’s Revenge’ and Blackbeard fitted it with 40 guns and assembled his own crew before setting out on the open waters with Hornigold. In this time, they would plunder their way through other ships and small ports, taking anything of value such as flour and wine.
Bonnet and Blackbeard
During Blackbeard’s ‘reign’, he acquired more crew and vessels. One of these vessels came from Stede Bonnet, who had made the transition to piracy in recent times as well and the two became allies. Hornigold eventually retired from piracy, accepted a royal pardon for his crimes, and Blackbeard was promoted. Whilst his time with Bonnet is not well-documented either, he was said to have ran Queen Anne’s Revenge aground whilst in Charleston, South Carolina, stealing medical supplies. Unsatisfied with the share that he was losing during his plunders, he left his crew and Bonnet (some say he marooned them) and sailed to Carolina where he too received a royal pardon.
Return To Piracy
Though Edward tried to remain away from his old life, the temptation was too much for him. Months after receiving his pardon, Blackbeard returned to piracy and struck a deal with the crooked Governor Charles Eden, who told Blackbeard he would allow him to continue his piracy if he shared the takings. Around this time, a warrant was issued for his arrest but Blackbeard, accompanied by other pirates such as Charles Vane, was moving around the Caribbean and it wasn’t until Robert Maynard discovered Blackbeard anchored at Ocracoke Island that he was finally stopped.
The battle between the pirates and Maynard was said to have been devastating and Blackbeard, with a reduced crew, fought bravely before being brought down in hand-to-hand combat. When he was discovered, they found five bullet wounds and 20 sword cuts on his body. His body was discarded into the Caribbean and many declare this moment as the end of piracy.
Blackbeard learnt to sail as a young man. Sailing beginners can find rya first aid sailing courses which will give you a step on the ladder to becoming a fully fledged privateer.