Blackbeard

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Edward Teach (c. 1680 – 22 November 1718), better known as Blackbeard, was a notorious English pirate who operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of the American colonies during the early 18th century.

Teach was most likely born in Bristol. Little is known about his early life, but in 1716 he joined the crew of Benjamin Hornigold, a pirate who operated from the Caribbean island of New Providence. He quickly acquired his own ship, Queen Anne's Revenge, and from 1717 to 1718 became a feared pirate. His cognomen was derived from his thick black beard and fearsome appearance; he was reported to have tied lit fuses under his hat to frighten his enemies.

After parting company with Hornigold, Teach formed an alliance of pirates, and with his cohorts blockaded the port of Charleston, South Carolina. He successfully ransomed its inhabitants and then ran his ship aground. Teach accepted a royal pardon but was soon back at sea, where he attracted the attention of the Governor of Virginia, Alexander Spotswood. Spotswood arranged for a party of soldiers and sailors to find and capture the pirate, which they did on 22 November 1718. During a ferocious battle, Teach was killed by a small force of sailors led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard.

A shrewd and calculating leader, Teach used his fearsome image instead of force to elicit the response he desired from those he robbed. Contrary to the modern-day image of the traditional tyrannical pirate, he commanded his vessels with the permission of their crews, and there are no known accounts of his ever having harmed or murdered those he held captive. He was romanticised after his death, and became the inspiration for a number of pirate-themed works of fiction across a range of genres.

Contents

Early life

Little is known about Blackbeard's early life. It is commonly believed that at the time of his death he was between 35 and 40, and thus born in about 1680.[1][2] In contemporary records his name is most often given as Blackbeard, Edward Thatch, or Edward Teach, and it is the latter which today is most often used, but several spellings of his surname exist—Thatch, Thach, Thache, Thack, Tack, Thatche, and Theach. One early claim was that his surname was Drummond, but the lack of any supporting documentation makes this unlikely. It was the custom of pirates to use fictitious surnames while engaging in the business of piracy, so as not to tarnish the family name, and Teach's real name will likely never be known.[3][4]

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