Friday, April 25, 2014

Bristol or Bath

"Edward Teach was a Bristol man born, but had sailed some time out of Jamaica in privateers, in the late French war; yet though he had often distinguished himself for his uncommon boldness and personal courage, he was never raised to any command, till he went a-pirating, which I think was at the latter end of the year 1716, when Captain Benjamin Hornigold put him into a sloop that he had made prize of, and with whom he continued in consortship till a little while before Hornigold surrendered."

So begins Capt. Charles Johnson's chapter, "The Life of Captain Teach," in his 1724 book, A General History of the Robberies & Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates.

Blackbeard the Pirate, 1725 image

Kevin Duffus, author of the 2008 book, The Last Days of Black Beard the Pirate, disputes Capt. Johnson with these words: "Imagine -- not anywhere among the voluminous records, including a 1698 Bristol census, nor millions of words written about the infamous bearded pirate, is there a single, conclusive, definitive shred of evidence that Edward Thatch or Teach came from Bristol."

Later in his book, Duffus writes that "we have a preponderance of circumstantial evidence which strongly suggests that Black Beard was James Beard's son -- Edward Beard, who likely was born around 1690 in South Carolina...." According to Duffus, Capt. James Beard soon settled in Bath Town, North Carolina, and owned a plantation adjacent to Tobias Knight, secretary of the government of North Carolina under Governor Charles Eden. If "Black Beard" grew up in Bath that would explain many otherwise puzzling details of his last days, including the pirate's close connection with Tobias Knight and Governor Eden.

So...was Blackbeard's hometown Bristol, England or Bath, North Carolina?  We may never know for sure, but Kevin Duffus may convince you to choose Bath. Read his excellent book to learn more.

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is the story of traveling to the island on Frazier Peele's ferry in 1951. You can read it here:

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:50 PM

    Duffus has done his research and so have I. He is right there is not one record stating that 'Blackbeard' was born in Bristol- no records of ANY kind! The link that 'Blackbeard' had with Bath is pretty solid. Look at all the land records. Knight, Eden and Beard were neighbors. Investigate for yourself. I believe that Duffus has hit the nail on the head on this one.