Nautilus Productions is the exclusive owner and licensor of footage from Blackbeard the Pirate’s flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge (QAR). Since the 1996 discovery of the wreck by Intersal Inc. The Nautilus Productions staff has been the official video crew for the study and recovery of the infamous pirate Blackbeard’s ship the Queen Anne’s Revenge (Concorde) since the projects inception. Project videographer, Rick Allen, and our staff works with the North Carolina Underwater Archaeology Branch documenting this incredible underwater find. Nautilus Productions’ duties include the video documentation of site activities above and below the water as well as documenting the archaeological survey, provenience and recovery of artifacts from the shipwreck. This archive is the digital record of the project. Our Queen Anne’s Revenge stock footage and images have been licensed worldwide in books, magazines, news broadcasts and in over a dozen documentaries airing on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, the History Channel, Discovery, National Geographic, NBC, PBS, the Smithsonian Channel, the Travel Channel, ZDF and more. Nautilus Productions’ owner and project videographer, Rick Allen, has also been featured on WUNC Radio & NPR’s “The Story” – Blackbeard’s Shipwreck And The Hook and in numerous news stories and magazine articles.
Nautilus Productions owns and maintains the video library containing nearly two decades and over 80 hours of stock footage from the wreck site and the project. For timecode burns, screeners, licensing info and/or rates contact Nautilus Productions. Footage is registered under multiple US copyrights.
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The Queen Anne’s Revenge was a frigate, most famously used as a flagship by the infamous pirate Blackbeard, aka Edward Thache. She was launched by the Royal Navy in 1710, and captured by France in 1711. She was used as a slave ship by the French, and was later captured by Blackbeard and his pirate crew in 1717. Blackbeard captained the Queen Anne’s Revenge for less than a year while capturing numerous prizes along the way. The wreck site of the Queen Anne’s Revenge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 and her reference number is 04000148.
The 200-ton vessel, originally named La Concorde de Nantes, was a frigate most likely built in Nantes, France in 1710 by Montaudouin. Nantes was the center of the French slave trade during the early eighteenth century. In the spring, ships loaded with dry goods would leave Nantes and sail to the west coast of Africa. There, the captain and crew would take on a cargo of African slaves to be transported to the New World. The two month long transatlantic voyage was known as the Middle Passage in which 2-4 million captive Africans are believed to have died. The slaves were then sold as laborers in the sugar cane fields of Guadeloupe, Martinique, or Saint Domingue. After debarking their human cargo the ships would take on new freight, usually sugar, and return to France. It was during this journey that the Concorde, sailing as a slave ship, was captured by the pirate Blackbeard, on November 28, 1717, near the island of Martinique.
Blackbeard made the Concorde his flagship, fitting her with up to 40 cannon, crewing her with as many as 300 pirates and renaming her the Queen Anne’s Revenge. The name may come from the War of the Spanish Succession, known in the Americas as Queen Anne’s War, in which Blackbeard had served as a seaman in the Royal Navy, or possibly out of sympathy for Queen Anne, the last Stuart monarch. Blackbeard sailed his new prize throughout the Caribbean, attacking British, Dutch, and Portuguese merchant ships along the way.
He formed an alliance of pirates and blockaded the port of Charleston, South Carolina in May 1718. After successfully ransoming its inhabitants for a chest of medical supplies and gold he sailed for North Carolina. Along the way he refused to accept the Governor’s offer of a pardon and ran the Queen Anne’s Revenge aground on a sand bar at the entrance to Beaufort Inlet, NC. He disbanded his flotilla, marooned half his crew and escaped by transferring supplies onto his sloop, Adventure. The marooned crew members were later rescued by Captain Stede Bonnet. Some suggest Blackbeard deliberately grounded the ship as an excuse to disperse the crew – the first case of corporate down-sizing in the New World. Shortly afterward, Blackbeard later accepted a royal pardon for himself and his remaining crew from Governor Charles Eden at Bath, North Carolina. However, he soon returned to piracy and was killed near Ocracoke Island, NC on November 22, 1718 during a fierce battle with troops from Virgina.
Blackbeard aka Edward Thache
Edward Thache (also Teach/Titch/Thatch, c.1680 – November 22, 1718) was a notorious English pirate who operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of the American colonies. Although little is known about his early life, he was probably born in Bristol, England. Recent genealogical research indicates his family moved to Jamaica where Edward Thache, Jr. is listed as being a mariner in the Royal Navy aboard the HMS Windsor in 1706. The Windsor is stationed at Port Royal. After the Queen Anne’s War, he may have become a sailor on privateers before settling on the Bahamian island of New Providence, a base for Captain Benjamin Hornigold, whose crew Thache joined sometime around 1716. Hornigold placed him in command of a sloop he had captured, and the two engaged in numerous acts of piracy. Their numbers were boosted by the addition to their fleet of two more ships, one of which was commanded by Stede Bonnet, but toward the end of 1717 Hornigold retired from piracy, taking two vessels with him. After capturing the Queen Anne’s Revenge he became a renowned pirate. His moniker derived from his thick black beard and fearsome appearance; he was reported to have tied lit fuses under his hat to frighten his enemies. A shrewd and calculating leader, Thache spurned the use of force, relying instead on his fearsome image to elicit the response he desired from those he robbed. Contrary to the modern-day picture of the traditional tyrannical pirate, he commanded his vessels with the permission of their crews and there is no known account of his ever having harmed or murdered those he held captive. His exploits and his story have become legend.
⚓ Discovery & Archaeological Excavation of the Queen Anne’s Revenge
Intersal Inc., a private research firm, discovered the wreck believed to be Queen Anne’s Revenge on November 21, 1996. It was located by using historical research provided by Intersal’s president, Phil Masters and nautical archaeologist David Moore. In 1998 Intersal signed a memorandum of agreement with the state of North Carolina and handed over the wreck to the state in exchange for media and replica rights and and touring rights. The shipwreck sits in just 24′ of water in the Atlantic Ocean just offshore of Fort Macon State Park, Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. Strong tidal and storm currents wash over the wreck and underwater visibility averages a mere 3-5 feet.
In 2000 and again in 2001, live surface and underwater video of the project was streamed via the internet as a part of the QAR DiveLive educational programs that reached thousands of school children around the world. The DiveLive program was created by Bill Lovin of Marine Grafics & Rick Allen of Nautilus Productions. The live, internet broadcasts allowed students to talk to the scientists, watch live video from the shipwreck site, virtually visit the Queen Anne’s Revenge conservation lab and learn about methods and technologies utilized by underwater archaeologists in real time.
The artifact assemblage supports the claim that the wreck is that of Queen Anne’s Revenge. Current evidence to support this theory is that many of the cannon found were loaded (pirates kept their guns loaded while naval vessels generally did not), there are more cannon than would be expected for a ship of this size (overwhelming fire power), the cannon are of different origins, makes and sizes (prizes from different vessels) and depth markings on the stern post point to the ship have been made according to French foot measurements (not English). To date thirty one guns have been identified and more than 250,000 artifacts have been recovered. Several of those guns have been loaded with langrage, a mixture of miscellaneous metal scrap, used as antipersonnel fire and to disable a ships rigging.
In October 2013 the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, Intersal, Inc., and Nautilus Productions LLC signed a Settlement Agreement connected to QAR commercial, replica, and promotional opportunities for the benefit of the Queen Anne’s Revenge Shipwreck Project and the people of North Carolina.
By the end of the seven week October 2015 project, which concentrated on recovering a single cannon, approximately 60% of the wreck has been fully excavated. Artifacts recovered from the wreck are sent to the QAR Lab at East Carolina University for storage, study and conservation. After conservation selected items are transferred to the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, NC. for public display.
⚓ Timeline for Blackbeard & the Queen Anne’s Revenge
Come all you jolly sailors
You all so stout and brave;
Come hearken and I’ll tell you
What happen’d on the wave.
Oh! ’tis of that bloody Blackbeard
I’m going now for to tell;
And as how by gallant Maynard
He soon was sent to hell.
– Benjamin Franklin (attributed)
About 1680: Edward Thache (Teach/Titch/Thatch/Tich, c. 1680 – 22 November 1718) is born, possibly near Bristol, England. Recent genealogical research indicates his family moved to Jamaica in the early 1700’s. Edward Thache, Jr. (Blackbeard) is also believed to be the son of wealthy plantation owner Capt. Edward Thache of St. Jago de la Vega or Spanish Town, Jamaica.
1706-08: Thache possibly served as a privateer during Queen Anne’s War, a struggle between France and Britain for control of North America. Edward Thatch (Thache) is listed as being a skilled merchant, meaning he had owned his own vessel and was trained in navigation and mathematics, aboard the Royal Navy‘s HMS Windsor in 1706. Pay records indicate he joined the vessel on April 12, 1706 and remained onboard until at least August 25, 1707 when he was promoted. The Windsor is stationed at Port Royal, Jamaica.
August 25, 1707: Edward Thache receives a promotion on HMS Windsor and may have remained a crew member through June 30, 1708.
December 13, 1716: Henry Timberlake, the master of the 40 ton brigantine Lamb loaded with a cargo of barrel staves and shingles, reports he was overtaken by two pirate vessels off western Hispaniola. At 8 in the evening the pirate sloop Delight, commanded by Benjamin Hornigold, fired several warning shots and commanded the Lamb to drop sail. Timberlake reports that the pirates absconded with “Three Barrils of Porke, one of Beef, two of peese, three of Markrill five Barrils of onions Several Dozen Caggs of oysters most of his Cloaths and all his Ships Stores Except about Fforty Biskets and a very Small quantity of meat just to bring them in and threw Some of their Staves over board.” He also stated that an hour later “Edward Thach Comander of another Sloop, the name whereof this Deponent knows not mounted with Eight Guns & manned with about ninety men came along Side the Said Brigantine and lent their Canoa with Several hands on board her and plundered her.” This is Blackbeard’s first documented act of piracy.
February 1717: Records of the time indicate the HMS Scarborough, a 32 gun fifth-rate British warship, was in the vicinity of Blackbeard and his pirate crew near Nevis. The deposition of Henry Bostock recounts that the pirates “had met the Man of Warr on this station, but said they had no business with her, but if she had chased them they would have kept their Way.” No battle occurred.
March 13, 1717*: La Concorde de Nantes begins her final run as a French slave trader. Departing from the Loire River port of Nantes, which was the center of the French slave trade in the 1700’s, she is armed with 16 cannons and carries a crew of 75. In 1710 she was owned by the well-known businessman Rene Montaudoin when she sailed as a French privateer during Queen Anne’s War. As a privateer she was heavily armed and carried 26 guns. During that voyage the crew captured several slave vessels along the triangle route to the west coast of Africa and Martinique before lingering in the Caribbean during the spring and summer of 1711. At the end of Queen Anne’s War, Montaudoin added La Concorde to his fleet of slave vessels, where she completed two voyages, returning to France in 1714 and 1716.
March 19, 1717*: La Concorde is forced to return to the port of Mindin at the mouth of Loire river. Previously on March 17, stormy weather drove the ship north along the French coast and the crew was forced to shelter in the lee of the island of Groix. The next morning, the howling winds force the crew to cut loose their anchor cable and abandon their 1500-pound anchor. The ship, pushed by strong winds, manages to avoid running hard aground despite hitting sand banks as many as three times. From Groix, La Concorde then sails to the island of Hoëdic, in the Bay of Biscay west of Nantes, to wait out the storm. When the winds finally calm, the ship enters Mindin at the mouth of the Loire to replace their lost anchor and resupply for their journey to the African coast. La Concorde remains in port for nearly two weeks before once again setting sail for Africa.
April 1, 1717: Benjamin Hornigold and a pirate named Napping capture a large armed sloop, the Bennet out of Jamaica. The Bennet’s captain, Hickinbottem, surrenders without a fight and hands over a chest of gold coins. Before sailing for Jamaica, Hornigold exchanges his Adventure for the Bennet. Also on this day, La Concorde, Blackbeard’s future flagship, leaves France headed for the coast of Guinea after waiting out a storm. La Concorde‘s destination is the port of Judas in Guinea, present-day Ouidah, Benin.*
April 4, 1717: At Bluefield’s Bay in Jamaica, Hornigold and Napping capture the sloop Revenge carrying a load of Spanish gold from a Captain James. In just a week the two pirates had captured two vessels and staggering 400,000 pesos worth £100,000.
May 11, 1717: Blackbeard sets up camp on the island of New Providence and is operating as a pirate in the Caribbean during the spring of 1717. In a report to the British Council of Trade and Plantations, Captain Mathew Musson describes how the Bahamas has become overrun by pirates. He writes, “At Habakoe one of the Bahamas he found Capt. Thomas Walker and others who had left Providence by reason of the rudeness of the pirates and settled there. They advis’d him that five pirates made ye harbor of Providence their place of rendezvous vizt. Horngold, a sloop with 10 guns and about 80 men; Jennings, a sloop with 10 guns and 100 men; Burgiss, a sloop with 8 guns and about 80 men; White, in a small vessell with 30 men and small armes; Thatch, a sloop 6 gunns and about 70 men. All took and destroyd ships of all nations…” This is the first official account referencing the pirate Edward Thache.
June 5, 1717: Captain Matthew Musson writes in the above document that while cast away in the Bahamas in March five pirate crews were using New Providence as a base of operations. This included Edward Thache with a six gun sloop and a crew of about seventy men and Benjamin Hornigold’s ten gun sloop and crew of about ninety men. Thache’s moniker, “Blackbeard,” enters the official record in this report.
June 7, 1717: The crew of La Concorde set sail from Mesurade, in present-day Monrovia, Liberia. They had stopped two weeks prior to take on fresh stores of food and water. From there they were heading to their final African destination of Judah, the French name for Ouidah in present-day Benin.*
June 27, 1717: La Concorde arrives at the trading port of Juida (or Whydah), present-day Ouidah, Benin. During the next several weeks, the crew trades the goods they brought with them from Europe for 516 slaves and 14 ounces of gold dust. This gold dust would later be found on wreck site of the Queen Anne’s Revenge. It is estimated that more than half of the entire slave trade took place during the 18th century, with the British, Portuguese and French being the main carriers of nine out of ten slaves abducted in Africa. Around 2.2 million Africans died during the Middle Passage where they were packed into tight, unsanitary spaces on ships for months at a time. Measures were taken to stem the onboard mortality rate, such as enforced “dancing” (as exercise) above deck and the practice of force-feeding enslaved persons who tried to starve themselves. The conditions on board also resulted in the spread of fatal diseases and the suicides of the slaves who escaped by jumping overboard. Slave traders would try to fit anywhere from 350 to 600 slaves on one ship. Before the African slave trade was completely banned by participating nations in 1853, 15.3 million enslaved people had been transported to the Americas.*
July 1717: Pirates Benjamin Hornigold on board his 30 gun sloop Bonnett, and his second in command Edward Thache on another sloop are sailing in the waters East of Cuba. They seize two merchant ships in quick succession. One sailing for New York from Havana is carrying 120 barrels of flour, a commodity much in demand in the Bahamas. About a week later they capture another sloop from Jamaica headed for New York with a cargo of rum which the pirates liberate from their prey. The pirate crews then sail for Nassau in early August and offload their booty.
September 5, 1717: Having had enough of the scourge of piracy King George I issues a royal decree, the Act of Grace;“Whereas We have received Information, That several Persons, Subjects of Great Britain, have, since the Twenty fourth Day of June, in the Year of our Lord One thousand seven hundred and fifteen, committed divers Piracies and Robberies upon the High Seas in the West-Indies, or adjoyning to Our Plantations, which hath, and may Occasion great Damage to the Merchants of Great Britain, and others, Trading into those Parts; And though We have appointed such a Force as We Judge sufficient for Suppressing the said Piracies: Yet the more effectually to put an End to the same, We have thought fit, by and with the Advice of our Privy-Council, to Issue this Our Royal Proclamation; And We do hereby Promise and Declare, That in case any of the said Pirates shall, on or before the Fifth Day of September, in the Year of our Lord One thousand seven hundred and eighteen, Surrender him or themselves to One of Our Principal Secretaries of State in Great Britain or Ireland, or to any Governor or Deputy-Governor of any of Our Plantations or Dominions beyond the Seas, every such Pirate and Pirates, so Surrendring him or themselves, as aforesaid, shall have Our Gracious Pardon of and for such his or their Piracy or Piracies, by him or them.”
September 29, 1717: “Gentleman Pirate” Stede Bonnet, who has traded plantation life for a pirate ship, transfers command of his sloop, the Revenge, to Blackbeard. The Revenge is crewed by about 150 men and armed with 12 guns. Bonnet, recovering from serious wounds he and 30-40 of his crew received during an encounter with a Spanish man of war, sees the move as temporary. Reports of the time cite raids along the North American coast, including the capture of the 40 ton sloop Betty after a short fight near the Capes of Virginia. Bonnet and Blackbeard seize “Certain Pipes of Medera Wine and other Goods and Merchandizes” and then sink the Betty in retaliation for resisting the pirates. It is during this encounter that Blackbeard first adopts the lit fuses in his hair and a “three brace of pistols, hanging in holsters like bandoliers.”
October 12, 1717: Blackbeard, onboard the Revenge with a crew of 150 men and twelve guns, captures a Captain Codd and his vessel off the Delaware capes. The Revenge later captured and looted the Spofford and Sea Nymph, which were leaving Philadelphia.
October 22, 1717: Blackbeard and his pirate crew on the Revenge stop and plunder the Robert and Good Intent of their cargo.
November 28, 1717: The French slaver La Concorde encounters Blackbeard off the coast of Saint Vincent. During the voyage sixty-one slaves and sixteen crewmen expire. Blackbeard and his pirates, aboard two sloops, one with 120 men and twelve cannon, and the other with thirty men and eight cannon, capture the frigate after firing “two volleys of cannons and musketry.” They leave the Frenchmen the smaller of Thache’s two sloops. Thache forces the three surgeons on board, carpenters and a cook to remain with his pirate crew. The displaced Frenchmen rename the sloop the Mauvaise Rencontre (Bad Meeting), and make sail for Martinique. Blackbeard offloads La Concorde‘s slaves, crew and cargo in Bequia where the slaves are later recaptured by the returning crew of the Mauvaise Rencontre. Thache then renames La Concorde the Queen Anne’s Revenge and equips her with 40 guns.
December 5, 1717: Thache overtakes the merchant sloop Margaret off the coast of Anguilla near Crab Island. Her captain, Henry Bostock, and his crew, remain Thache’s prisoners for about eight hours, and are forced to watch as their sloop is ransacked. Bostock, who had been held aboard the Queen Anne’s Revenge, is returned unharmed to the Margaret and is allowed to leave with his crew. In a deposition Bostock describes “Capt Tach … [as] a tall Spare Man with a very black beard which he wore very long.”
Late 1717-early 1718: Reports cite Blackbeard, and his pirate crew on the Queen Anne’s Revenge, plundering vessels near St. Vincent, St. Lucia, Nevis, Antigua, Puerto Rica and Hispaniola. The captures include the Great Allen, a large merchantman laden with valuable cargo including silver coins, plate and other cargo, taken near the Island of St. Vincent. Documents also indicate Thatch spent the winter of 1717-1718 harassing shipping sailing to and from the port of Vera Cruz, Mexico and traversing the Bay of Honduras.
March 28, 1718: One of Blackbeard’s lieutenants, captain Richard and his sloop Revenge, attacks the Protestant Caesar out of Boston captained by William Wyer. The Protestant Caesar is collecting logwood, a 30-40 foot tall, irregular-trunked tree used as a source of a dark bluish-red dye. At 9 pm the 400 ton, 26 gun Protestant Caesar fights a three hour battle with the Revenge off the island of Roatan, Honduras. Around midnight Richard and his pirates break off the fight and sail North to seek reinforcements.
April 5, 1718: At Turneffe Atoll, in the Bay of Honduras, Blackbeard captures the logwood cutting sloop Land of Promise captained by Thomas Newton. Newton and his crew put up no resistance. With Blackbeard is the ten gun, Adventure out of Jamaica and its captain, David Herriot. Also on board is Edward Robinson, the ship’s gunner, who would later be involved in the Battle of Cape Fear River. At this time Blackbeard makes Israel Hands captain of the 80 ton Adventure.
April 9, 1718: Thache’s flotilla, including the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Adventure and Revenge, returns to Roatan to settle a score. Blackbeard loots and burns the Protestant Caesar out of Boston. The now outgunned Captain William Wyer and his crew flee in their longboats into the mangrove jungle and watch as Blackbeard picks their vessel clean before setting it ablaze and sailing for Charleston, South Carolina.
May 22, 1718: With a flotilla made up of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Adventure, Revenge and a small Spanish sloop captured off Florida, Blackbeard blockades Charles Town (Charleston), a wealthy South Carolina port. The pirates plunder merchant ships and seize the passengers and crew of the Crowley, a 178 ton ship bound for London carrying barrels of pitch, tar and rice. Some of Charleston’s most prominent citizens are on board the Crowley. After Royal Gov. Robert Johnson meets Thache’s demand for a chest of medicine and some 4000 pieces of eight valued at £1000, Blackbeard releases some 80 nearly naked hostages and sails up the coast for North Carolina. Medical artifacts from that medicine chest recovered from the wreck site of the Queen Anne Revenge include; a urethral syringe used to treat syphilis, pump clysters to pump fluid into the rectum, a porringer which may have been used in bloodletting treatments, and a cast brass mortar and pestle used in preparing medicine.
June 10, 1718: On or about this day, Blackbeard runs his flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge aground at Old Topsail Inlet, now Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina. He attempts to kedge the Queen Anne’s Revenge off the bar using his sloop Adventure but runs her hard aground also. His cohort, Stede Bonnet, leaves for Bath, NC to seek a pardon from Gov. Charles Eden. When Bonnet returns he finds Blackbeard gone, the Queen Anne’s Revenge stripped and former Adventure captain David Herriott marooned on Bogue Banks with Blackbeard’s remaining pirate crew. A contemporary account by Ellis Brand of the Virginian guardship Lyme relates; “On the 10 June or thereabouts a large pyrate Ship of forty Guns with three Sloops in her company came upon the coast of North Carolina ware they endeavour’d to goe in to a harbour call’d Topsail Inlett; the Ship stuck upon the bar att the entrance of the harbour and is lost; as is one of the sloops the other two Sloops being slill in there posession with two hundred and 30 of the pyrats they continue togeather given out they design for Cureico and others of the Islands; when they first came on this coast there number consisted of three hundred and twentie, whites and Negroes, the rest haveing been to surrender, some to the Governor of No Carolina and severall are come into Virginia I am told by a Man that left them, about seventeen days since that the two Sloops crews are fallen out and it was expected they would engage each other if there disputes are not soon reconcil’d Amongst them; I have enquir’d of severall people that are Acquainted with the place they are in att, and they all agree they are not to be come at with a Ship. I shall use my utmost endeavors to informe my self of them and that part of the coast they most cruise upon and if it is possible for me to distroy them notwithstanding they are not soe much superior to me, in number as One hundred and thirtie men. I shall not fail of doing my endeavour.“
June 1718: Blackbeard takes his pick of booty and crew, travels to Bath, NC and receives the “gracious pardon” of the Royal Proclamation from Governor Charles Eden and then gives the Governor a share of his plunder. Finding unaccustomed hospitality from a town in need of an economic boost, he decides to take a wife and settle at Plum Point, on the eastern side of Bath Creek. He anchors his sloop at Ocracoke Island, NC.
Late July 1718: Edward Thache sails for St. Thomas on his Spanish sloop, Adventure, to seek a commission as a privateer. But the lure of piracy is too great for Blackbeard and he returns to his old ways after stopping first in Philadelphia to sell some of his loot. Soon Thache and his crew sail into the Atlantic after hearing of the warrant for his arrest.
August 11, 1718: Governor William Keith of Pennsylvania issues a warrant for Blackbeard’s arrest based on the belief Thache is trading with merchants in Philadelphia. “Upon an Informacon that one Teach a Noted Pirate, who has Done the Greatest Mischeif of any to this Place, has been Lurking for some Days in & about this Town I have Granted a Provincial warrant for his being apprehended, if possible to be found, & Several other petty Informacons of Late gives me Cause to Suspect that many of the Pirates that have Lately Surrendered themselves & Obtained Certificates from this & the neighbouring Governments, do still keep a Correspondence with their Old Companions abroad. To Prevent the Evil Consequences, whereof I am of Opinion it will be Convenient on the Sixth Day of the Next Month When his Majesties Act of Grace to the Pirates doth Expire, to publish a Proclamation here, Certifying a fresh the Encouragements which his Majesty has been pleased, by his Royal Proclamation, to Offer to Such as Shall Seize & apprehend any of the Pirates So as that they may be brought to Justice, & also the Rewards promised to Such of themselves as Shall bring in Any of their Captains or Leaders with a Clause Certifying also the penalties which the Law does Inflict upon Such persons as Shall pre- sume to Lodge, harbour and Conceall any of these Robbers, whereby they will become Accessory to their Crimes.”
August 12, 1718: On this day in 1718, “Gentleman Pirate” Stede Bonnet’s sloop-of-war flagship the Royal James and two other armed sloops, the Francis and the Fortune, captured a shallot as they sailed from Delaware Bay into the Cape Fear River. The Royal James was a former flagship of Blackbeard which was armed with eight cannon. The other two sloops were similarly armed. All together, 46 pirates crewed them. The Royal James was badly in need of careening with hurricane season quickly approaching and Bonnet had chosen the Cape Fear estuary as a reliable shelter against storms. For the next few weeks, Bonnet’s crew made repairs to the Royal James with materials salvaged from the captured shallop. In the coming month, reports of Bonnet’s presence in the region would make their way to South Carolina Governor Robert Johnson, prompting him to issue an order for Militia Colonel William Rhett to command an operation “to destroy the pirate threat”.
August 23, 1718: The crew of the Adventure spy two French merchant ships, one fully laden and the other in ballast, sailing Northward from the Caribbean. The Rose Emelye, loaded with bags of cocoa and barrels of refined sugar, is in the company of the unarmed La Toison d’Or. Both are returning to France via the Gulf Stream. After a brief and futile fight, and some damage to Blackbeard’s Adventure and his crew, the pirates take both prizes and set course for North Carolina with one of the fully laden ships. The French crewmen are sent on their way in the other merchant vessel. At Bath, NC Blackbeard and his crew spend much of September removing the cargo from the Rose Emelye for storage in a Bath Town warehouse rented by Tobias Knight, North Carolina’s chief justice and His Majesty’s collector of customs.
September 12, 1718: Blackbeard returns to North Carolina with a French ship, known as the “Sugar Ship” for it’s cargo of sugar and cocoa, captured in Martinique. Thache claims to have found the ship abandoned at sea and claims the ship as salvage. At a hearing, Tobias Knight, North Carolina’s chief justice and His Majesty’s collector of customs, declares the vessel derelict, thus clearing Thache. After taking a share of the cargo governor Eden of North Carolina also agrees. Cargo taken from the “Sugar Ship” is then stored by Thache in Knight’s barn. Soon after, Thache claims the ship is leaking and is in danger of sinking and blocking the channel. He then took the vessel upriver and burned her to the waterline where she lies lost to this day. The people of Bath soon decide that the pirate has worn out his welcome and appeal to Alexander Spotswood, Virginia’s royal governor, for help in dispatching Blackbeard.
September 26-27, 1718: Stede Bonnet, 46 pirates, his sloop the Royal James, and two others were attacked by two eight-gun sloops, the Henry captained by John Masters and the Neptune, and a force of 130 militia men sent by governor Robert Johnson of South Carolina. The Battle of Cape Fear River, which occurred just South of Wilmington, NC at the mouth of the Cape Fear River, lasted nearly six hours and ended when the rising tide allowed the government troops to refloat their vessels while Bonnet was still hard aground. Bonnet and his pirates surrendered and were later taken to Charleston, SC on October 3, 1718.
October 1718: Blackbeard parties at Ocracoke Island, NC with a sizable cohort that includes Charles Vane and “Calico Jack” Rackham. Rackham is most remembered for two things: the design of his Jolly Roger flag, a skull with crossed swords, which contributed to the popularization of the design, and for having two female crew members aboard, Mary Read and his lover Anne Bonny.
October 25, 1718: After the Battle of Cape Fear River and the capture of Blackbeard’s former compatriot, David Herriott, by Col. Rhet, of the sloop Royal James, Herriott and boatswain, Ignatius Pell, turn King’s evidence at their trial in Charleston, SC. Both escape from prison on this day and Herriott is shot and killed on Sullivan Island a few days later.
November 10, 1718 – Blackbeard’s accomplice and pirate, Stede Bonnet, is brought to trial before Sir Nicholas Trott, sitting in his capacity as Vice-Admiralty judge in Charleston, SC. Trott had already sat in judgment of Bonnet’s crew and sentenced most of them to hang. Bonnet was formally charged with only two acts of piracy, against the Francis and the Fortune, whose commanders were on hand to testify against Bonnet in person. Ignatius Pell had turned King’s evidence in the trial of Bonnet’s crew and now testified, somewhat reluctantly, against Bonnet himself. Bonnet pleaded not guilty and conducted his own defense without assistance of counsel, cross-examining the witnesses to little avail, and calling a character witness in his favor. Trott rendered a damning summation of the evidence, and the jury delivered a guilty verdict. Two days later, after treating the convicted man to a stern lecture on his violation of Christian duties, Trott sentenced Bonnet to death.
November 17, 1718: Governor Spotswood provides funds for the hire of two light, fast sloops, which then sail out of the Chesapeake Bay into the Atlantic, setting a course for Ocracoke Inlet, NC and a confrontation with Blackbeard.
November 21, 1718: Lt. Robert Maynard and fifty seven of his troops from the HMS Pearl, dispatched by Virginia Gov. Alexander Spotswood, arrive at Ocracoke, NC with a pair of sloops, the Jane and the Ranger, and spies Blackbeard’s Adventure at anchor.
November 22, 1718: Maynard’s troops on board the Jane and the Ranger, approach Blackbeard’s Adventure and the pirates open fire. The troops take cover below deck. Believing they’ve won the battle, the pirates board the Jane and are overpowered by crewmen bursting from the hold where they were hiding. Thache is killed in the fierce battle, his head is suspended from the Jane’s bowsprit and the remaining pirates taken prisoner. Maynard later examined Thatch’s body, noting that it had been shot no fewer than five times and cut about twenty. He also found several items of correspondence, including a letter to Thache from Tobias Knight, the Royal Secretary for North Carolina seeking a meeting between Blackbeard and Governor Charles Eden. The existence of the letter written by Knight to Thache and the fact that cargo taken from the “Sugar Ship” was stored by Thache in Knight’s warehouse lead to accusations that Knight and Eden were colluding with the pirates. Nothing came of the accusations against either Knight or Governor Eden.
November 24, 1718: Governor Alexander Spotswood, not knowing that Thache had already been killed, harangued the burgesses at Williamsburg, requests a “speedy and Effectual Measures for breaking up that Knott of Robbers.” What followed was the “Act to Encourage the Apprehending and Destroying of Pyrates” which offered a £100 reward for the death or capture of Blackbeard.
A PROCLAMATION, Publishing the Rewards given for apprehending, or killing, Pyrates.
WHereas, by an Act of Assembly, made at a Session of Assembly, begun at the Capital in Williamsburgh, the eleventh Day of November, in the fifth Year of his Majesty’s Reign, entituled, An Act to encourage the apprehending and destroying of Pyrates: It is, amongst other Things enacted, that all and every Person, or Persons, who, from and after the fourteenth Day of November, in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and eighteen, and before the fourteenth Day of November, which shall be in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and nineteen, shall take any Pyrate, or Pyrates, on the Sea or Land, or in Case of Resistance, shall kill any such Pyrate, or Pyrates, between the Degrees of thirty four, and thirty nine, of Northern Latitude, and within one hundred Leagues of the Continent of Virginia, or within the Provinces of Virginia, or North-Carolina, upon the Conviction, or making due Proof of the killing of all, and every such Pyrate, and Pyrates, before the Governor and Council, shall be entitled to have, and receive out of the publick Money, in the Hands of the Treasurer of this Colony, the several Rewards following; that is to say, for Edward Teach, commonly call’d Captain Teach, or Black-Beard, one hundred Pounds, for every other Commander of a Pyrate Ship, Sloop, or Vessel, forty Pounds; for every Lieutenant, Master, or Quarter-Master, Boatswain, or Carpenter, twenty Pounds; for every other inferior Officer, sixteen Pounds, and for every private Man taken on Board such Ship, Sloop, or Vessel, ten Pounds; and, that for every Pyrate, which shall be taken by any Ship, Sloop or Vessel, belonging to this Colony, or North-Carolina, within the Time aforesaid, in any Place whatsoever, the like Rewards shall be paid according to the Quality and Condition of such Pyrates. Wherefore, for the Encouragement of all such Persons as shall be willing to serve his Majesty, and their Country, in so just and honourable an Undertaking, as the suppressing a Sort of People, who may be truly called Enemies to Mankind: I have thought fit, with the Advice and Consent of his Majesty’s Council, to issue this Proclamation, hereby declaring, the said Rewards shall be punctually and justly paid, in current Money of Virginia, according to the Directions of the said Act. And, I do order and appoint this Proclamation, to be published by the Sheriffs, at their respective County-Houses, and by all Ministers and Readers, in the several Churches and Chappels, throughout this Colony. Given at our Council-Chamber at Williamsburgh, this 24th Day of November, 1718, in the fifth Year of his Majesty’s Reign.
December 10, 1718 – While awaiting his execution, pirate Stede Bonnet writes to Governor Johnson, begging abjectly for clemency and promising to have his own arms and legs cut off as assurance that he would never again commit piracy. Charles Johnson wrote that Bonnet’s visibly disintegrating mind moved many Carolinians to pity, particularly the female population, and London papers later reported that the governor delayed his execution seven times. Bonnet was eventually hanged at White Point Garden, in Charleston SC, on this date.
January 3, 1719: Lt. Robert Maynard returns to Hampton with Blackbeard’s head hanging from his bowsprit. The notorious pirate had been killed during a spirited battle near Ocracoke, North Carolina. Cannons roared and townspeople cheered when they saw the horrific trophy sailing up the river toward the King Street docks. According to tradition, the head is placed on a pike in the water, at the site now known as Blackbeard’s Point at the entrance to Hampton Creek (now Hampton River, Virginia).
January 28, 1719: According to the log of HMS Pearl, whose sailors played a critical role in the November sea battle that killed Edward Thache near Ocracoke, N.C., two of the condemned pirates were taken from the ship and hanged on the Hampton waterfront.
March 12, 1719: Blackbeard’s pirate associates are tried in Williamsburg, VA. Records indicate that one is acquitted, one is pardoned and the other 14 pirates are hanged. Of the two who escaped the gallows, one proved that he had participated in the bloody fight with Virginia troops out of necessity and was only a guest at a drinking party on Thache’s ship and not a pirate. The other, Israel Hands, was not present at the fight. He claimed that during a drinking session Thache had shot him in the knee, and that he was still covered by the royal pardon. Hands then testified against corrupt North Carolina officials with whom Thache had consorted. The bodies of the remaining pirates were left to rot in gibbets along Williamsburg’s Capitol Landing Road.
November 21, 1996: Intersal Inc., a private research firm working under permit from the state of North Carolina, discovers the wreck believed to be the Queen Anne’s Revenge (QAR). The shipwreck was discovered by Intersal staff using historical research provided by Intersal’s president, Phil Masters and maritime archaeologist David Moore. The initial recovery included a bronze bell inscribed with the date of 1705, the brass barrel of a blunderbuss (circa 1690-1710), a lead cannon apron, a lead sounding weight, and two iron cannonballs. Subsequent excavations have resulted in the recovery of thousands of artifacts, all supporting the conclusion that the wreck is the Queen Anne’s Revenge. The shipwreck lies in 28 feet (8.5m) of water about one mile (1.6 km) offshore of Fort Macon State Park.
September 1, 1998: Intersal, Inc. signs a memorandum of agreement with the state of North Carolina and hands over the wreck to the state in exchange for media and replica rights and touring rights.
June 10, 2018: Blackbeard’s 300th tricentennial anniversary of the Queen Anne’s Revenge and Adventure grounding near Beaufort Inlet, NC.
November 22, 2018: Blackbeard’s 300th tricentennial anniversary of his demise during a fierce battle at Ocracoke, NC.
*The French calendar in the 18th century differed from the English calendar by 11 days, and the date used here corresponds to the 18th century English calendar for consistency.
Intersal, Inc. – Discoverer of Queen Anne’s Revenge.
Visit the Queen Anne’s Revenge shipwreck project of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NC DNCR) to learn more.
Modern Day Piracy on the Queen Anne’s Revenge
On December 1, 2015, Nautilus Productions, which has spent almost two decades documenting the retrieval of Blackbeard’s pirate flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, filed a Federal lawsuit against Gov. Pat McCrory, the State of North Carolina, the Friends of Queen Anne’s Revenge nonprofit, and others, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina over Blackbeard’s Law and copyright infringement. Another lawsuit against North Carolina, filed by Intersal, Inc. which found the Queen Anne’s Revenge, is pending in state business court.
Learn More – National Geographic
David D. Moore, A General History of Blackbeard the Pirate, the Queen Anne’s Revenge and the Adventure, 1997
Baylus Brooks, Blackbeard Reconsidered – Mist’s Piracy, Thache’s Genealogy, 2015
Baylus Brooks, Quest for Blackbeard – The True Story of Edward Thache and His World, 2016
David Fictum, The Firsts of Blackbeard: Exploring Edward Thatch’s Early Days as a Pirate, 2015
Colin Woodard, The Republic of Pirates, 2007
Colonial Records: Minutes of the Provincial Council of Pennsylvania, 1735-6
Daniel Defoe, A General History of the Pyrates, 1724
Charles Johnson, A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates, 1724
Colin Woodard, The Last Days of Blackbeard, 2014
Henry Timberlake Deposition, 1716
Capt. Ellis Brand to Admiralty, 1718
Wikipedia & NCDNCR
friendsofqar.org friendsofqar Friends of Queen Anne’s Revenge friends of qar qarfound NCDNCR
qaronline.org Blackbeard’s Queen Anne’s Revenge Shipwreck Project