Blackbeard - otherwise known as not very nice at all
The protégé of fellow pirate captain Benjamin Hornigold, Edward Teach (more famously known as Blackbeard) went on to be more infamous than even his mentor could have possibly imagined (well maybe not, but it sounds good and I snuck in a Star Wars reference – boohyah!). Known for his dense as almighty black beard, he was fond of hiding fuses in his hair, which he would light in order to appear all the more threatening and scary in battle. Not that he needed it - just look at that face!
While he was still sailing with Hornigold, he and Blackbeard took up with a fellow pirate named Stede Bonnet, whose own crew of 70 men were apparently a bit disappointed in their captain as he was not the experienced and shrewd pirate he claimed to be, and so with his permission Blackbeard took command of his ship, Revenge, and his crew. Together they ran a small pirate flotilla of three ships. In 1717 Hornigold retried from privacy and was not heard from again, whereas Blackbeard went on to have a brief but successful pirate career.
Later that year, Blackbeard’s two remaining ships attached and captured a French merchant ship, which he renamed the Queen Anne’s Revenge. He then armed her with 40 cannons and went on to sail her into notoriety. A master showman, Blackbeard would also hide fuses in his hair and beard, which he lit up to instil fear in his enemies slash victims, and his reputation as a fierce and scary adversary was soon well established.
Early 1718 saw Blackbeard at the height of his power, he gave himself the rank of Commodore. After a successful blockade at Charleston in South Carolina where he ransacked nine ships over 5-6 days Blackbeard and his crew sailed on to Beaufort Inlet, where the Queen Anne’s Revenge sustained some damage when it hit a sandbar. While the ship was repaired Blackbeard learnt of a pardon that was being issued to all pirates who surrendered before the 5 September 1718. Taking Bonnet’s ship he went to collect his pardon, but on the way back he ransacked the ship and marooned the crew. On hearing of this treachery Bonnet rescued his men and went looking for Blackbeard, however he was captured, tried and hanged as a pirate before he got the opportunity.
Blackbeard had by this time docked at his favourite port, Ocracoke Inlet. Word soon got out about his presence there and the authorities were not happy. They saw his being there as a threat, and acted accordingly, sending Lieutenant Robert Maynard in command of two commandeered sloops to track him down and bring him in. Blackbeard was entertaining guests, and had failed to set a lookout, so Maynard was able to surprise his quarry. Fierce fighting ensued, with Blackbeard finally falling, his throat slit. His head was then hung from the bow of Maynard’s ship on his return as a warning to other pirates. Blackbeard’s terrifying but short lived life of piracy being over in just 2 years.
It is claimed that Blackbeard’s headless ghost can still be seen at sea, searching for his head so he can descend to the underworld and be recognised by the Devil, and strange unknown lights on the water are even referred to as ‘Teach’s lights’.