“The Golden Age of Piracy” in North Carolina by Bev Filer

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Dolly Pirates VoyagePirates Voyage,  a breathtaking dinner show in Myrtle Beach is a popular destination for family fun minutes away from Brunswick Plantation and Golf Resort. Created by the Dolly Parton Company, how could it not be fun?! The fascination with Piracy in North Carolina and their adventures or misadventures is always interesting.

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However, the pirates who plagued the shipping lanes of North America during the late 17th and early 18th centuries were not considered to be so amusing! One of the most well known cases of piracy in the North Carolina was the famous pirate, Blackbeard. He got this name due to his fearsome image with a large quantity of black hair covering his whole face. He used his frightful appearance to elicit the response he desired from those he robbed. There actually is no record of him harming or murdering those he captured. He supposedly commanded his vessels with permission of the crews he had captured.

Born in Bristol, England…Edward Teach, later known as Blackbeard, may have been a sailor or privateer during Queen Anne’s War.  At one time, privateers who became pirates were generally considered by the English government to be reserve naval forces, and were sometimes given active encouragement….As far back as 1545 when Sir Francis Drake was knighted by Queen Elizabeth. Royal pardons were regularly issued, usually when England was on the verge of war.

 The Bahamian Island of New Providence was a base for Captain Benjamin Hornigold, whose crew Teach joined around 1716. Hornigold put Teach in command of a sloop he captured, and the two engaged in numerous acts of piracy. Toward the end of 1717, Hornigold accepted the King’s pardon and retired from piracy, taking two vessels with him.

In September of 1717, Teach and Hornigold had met up with Steve Bonnet, a landowner and military officer from a wealthy family who had turned to piracy. Bonnet was born in Barbados in 1688 and was known as the “Gentleman Pirate”. Bonnet began looting ships off the coast of South Carolina until he lost half of his crew during a run-in with a Spanish ship. He escaped to Nassau where he met Blackbeard who took control of the ship. Blackbeard left Bonnet stranded in Beaufort, North Carolina. Stede Bonnet traveled to Bath and received a pardon from the governor of North Carolina, though he eventually returned to piracy in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was captured and hung in Charleston, South Carolina in December of 1718.

Edward Teach and Stede Bonnet had raided merchant ships along the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  They would raid shipments and sell the goods back at a much cheaper price. It would ruin businesses. Colonies were forced to pass very harsh laws and post bounties in an effort to prevent piracy.

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Blackbeard was a shrewd and calculating leader who spurned the use of force. However, he has since been romanticized and become an inspiration for a various pirate-themed works. Blackbeard’s ship Queen Anne’s Revenge is the best known to Carolinians, as many of the treasures from this flagship have been recovered from the waters near Beaufort Inlet where it was grounded on the ocean bar and abandoned, along with the sloop Adventure.   The North Carolina Maritime Museum “Treasures” recovered from the ship numbers tens of thousands and are in the Queen Anne’s Revenge laboratory (QAR). There are 18th century arms, medical instruments, & maritime heritage information.  More recently the 3,000 lb. anchor was found by Capt. Bueth and research students on the CFCC Research Vessel Dan Moore. “To see it break through the surface was just a thrill for everyone”, states Capt. Beuth. 300 years after the shipwreck this historic treasure is being restored at Queen Anne’s Revenge Conservation Lab at East Carolina University.

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As the story goes, possibly the most brazen of Blackbeard’s career was when he blockaded the port of Charleston for nearly a week. The pirates seized several ships attempting to enter or leave the port and detained the crew and passengers of “The Crowley” as prisoners. Blackbeard demanded a chest of medicine as ransom. After it was delivered, the captives were released and the pirates continued their journey.

Soon after leaving Charleston is when they attempted to enter Old Topsail Inlet…now Beaufort Inlet in North Carolina. That is when the vessels Queen Anne’s Revenge and Adventure were run aground. Herriot, the former captain of the Adventure claimed that Blackbeard intentionally grounded the sloops to break up the company. Either way, Blackbeard marooned some pirates and left Beaufort with a hand -picked crew and most of the valuable plunder.

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Six months later, Blackbeard’s piratical career ended at Ocracoke Inlet on the North Carolina coast. A contingent sent by Virginia governor Alexander Spotswood was led by Royal Navy Lieutenant Robert Maynard. After a desperate and bloody battle aboard Maynard’s sloop, Blackbeard and a number of his pirates were killed. Maynard returned to Virginia  with surviving pirates and Blackbeard’s severed head hanging as a grim trophy from the sloop’s bowsprit.

You may want to learn more about Blackbeard by researching the “The Hammock House” c.1700…Blackbeard’s headquarters shown on ancient maps as the “white house” located on what is now Taylor’s Creek. hammock-house-400x300http://www.blackbeardthepirate.com/history.htm

Or go to: www.garonline.org

For more on Dolly Pardon’s Pirates Voyage … Go to www.piratesvoyage.com or call 800-433-4401

Pirate party ideas may be found at www.party –ideas-by-a-pro.com

Brunswick Plantation and Golf Resort folks enjoy learning about the history of the Carolinas and hope the allure of the pirates intrigues you! Have a fun summer, mates! May a Pirates Voyage…Of Fun, Feast & Adventure or your own Pirate party be in your future! Ship Ahoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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