Edward Teach

Engraving of Teach from c.1736, most likely heavily stylized. Original in the public domain.

Born: 1680

Born c.1680, Edward Teach (possibly Thatch) was probably an English sailor during Queen Anne's War (1702-13), before he settled in the Caribbean. Everything about his history before c.1713 is speculative, but as he knew how to read and write, he may have been born to a wealthy family. He moved to New Providence and c.1716 joined the crew of pirate Benjamin Hornigold. Later that year, Teach was placed in command of a sloop that Hornigold had taken, and they operated in tandem into the next year. 1717 had the first definite reports of Teach, encountered by a North Carolina anti-piracy patrol, which failed to take him. That year, Teach took over the Revenge, formerly of Stede Bonnet's command, giving him and Hornigold a three-ship flotilla. Hornigold retired after a mutiny, leaving Teach with command of the flotilla. On 28 November, Teach captured the French slave ship La Concorde. After depositing the human cargo, La Concorde was equipped with 40 guns, and renamed Queen Anne's Revenge. Teach became known as Blackbeard about this time, and reportedly tied lit slow-burning fuses under his hat and in his beard to intimidate enemies. However, no verified accounts exist of him ever executing prisoners, or indeed killing anyone before his final battle. By May, 1718, Blackbeard's fleet had grown further to eight ships, and he enacted a blockade of Charleston, South Carolina, demanding medical supplies in exchange for nine vessels and some prominent individuals. Shortly after, Queen Anne's Revenge was lost when she grounded on a sandbar, and one of the sloops was lost trying to free her. There is some speculation this was done intentionally, to reduce the number of the crews. Shortly after, Blackbeard accepted a pardon from Governor Eden of North Carolina, and settled in Bath. This lasted less than two months, before he was given permission to form a privateering crew, but instead returned to piracy with his remaining ship, named Adventure. Eden seems to have been happy to leave Teach alone, receiving a cut on at least one occasion. The Virginians were less inclined to lenience, and they actively tried to hunt down Teach's whereabouts. In November, 1718, Lieutenant Robert Maynard was given two sloops, besides his own HMS Pearl, to track down Teach. Maynard found Blackbeard's Adventure with a reduced crew, and engaged him on the morning of the 22nd. After a confused action, in which Adventure delivered a devastating broadside, Maynard managed to board Adventure. In the ensuing fight, Teach was killed, along with eight to ten more pirates, and another ten Royal Navy sailors. Teach's head was cut off and hung from the bowsprit of Maynard's sloop, while his body was thrown overboard.