(1648—1718) pirate

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(d. 1718), English pirate, widely known as ‘Blackbeard’ from his odd habit of tying up the ends of his long black beard with ribbons and curling them back over his ears. He was born in Bristol and is said to have served as a privateer in the West Indies during the War of the Spanish Succession (1702–13) and to have turned to piracy on the declaration of peace. In 1717 he captured a large French merchant vessel, renamed her the Queen Anne's Revenge, fitted her out as a warship of 40 guns, and manned her with local riff-raff. His captures and robberies with this ship were, it is said, shared by him with the governor of North Carolina who certainly provided him with many facilities for refitting and victualling his ship. In 1718, however, Teach's activities so enraged the neighbouring governor of Virginia that he fitted out two sloops, manned by men of the Royal Navy, and sent them to hunt Teach down. On 22 November 1718 Lieutenant Robert Maynard, commanding one of the sloops, found and boarded Teach's ship in Beaufort Inlet, NC. A fierce fight ensued which caused high casualties on both sides before Teach was killed by one of Maynard's crew with a sword. Teach's head was cut off and suspended from the end of the bowsprit of Maynard's ship and the surviving pirates were taken to Virginia where all but two were hanged. The remains of what is almost certainly the Queen Anne's Revenge were found in 1996 and exploration of the site was still ongoing in 2004.

From The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Maritime History.

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