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Blackbeard’s Death: Off With His Head

On November 22, 1718, the infamous pirate Blackbeard was killed. Reported to have been a privateer during Queen Anne’s War, Blackbeard is said to have turned to piracy afterward. He is one of the most famous figures associated with the “Golden Age of Piracy,” which flourished briefly along the North Carolina coast in the early 1700s.

In 1717, Blackbeard and his fellow pirates captured the French slaveship La Concorde in the eastern Caribbean. With his new ship, which he renamed Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard cruised the Caribbean taking ships along the way. Arriving off the cost of Charleston, S.C. in May 1718, Blackbeard blockaded the port for nearly a week in what was perhaps the most brazen act of his piratical career.

Blackbeard lived in the town of Bath briefly during the summer of 1718, and soon after, attempted to enter what is now Beaufort Inlet with his fleet. The vessels grounded on the ocean floor and were abandoned.

Six months later, at Ocracoke Inlet, Blackbeard encountered ships sent by the governor of Virginia, led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard. In a desperate battle, Blackbeard and several of his crew were killed. Maynard returned to Virginia with the surviving pirates and the grim trophy of Blackbeard’s severed head.

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For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Blackbeard Was Killed

An image of Blackbeard from the N.C. Highway Markers Program

On November 22, 1718, the infamous pirate Blackbeard was killed. The “Golden Age of Piracy” flourished briefly along the North Carolina coast in the early 18th century. Foremost among the pirates was Edward Teach, aka “Blackbeard.” He lived briefly in the town of Bath during the summer of 1718.

Teach is reported to have been a privateer during Queen Anne’s War (1701 – 1714) and turned to piracy afterward. In 1717, Blackbeard and his fellow pirates captured the French slaveship La Concorde in the eastern Caribbean. With his new ship, renamed Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard cruised the Caribbean taking prizes. In May 1718, the pirates arrived off Charleston, South Carolina. In perhaps the most brazen act of his piratical career, Blackbeard blockaded the port for nearly a week.

Soon after, Blackbeard’s fleet attempted to enter Old Topsail Inlet (now Beaufort Inlet). The vessels grounded on the ocean floor and were abandoned.

Six months later, at Ocracoke Inlet, Blackbeard encountered ships sent by the governor of Virginia, led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard. In a desperate battle, Blackbeard and several of his crew were killed. Maynard returned to Virginia with the surviving pirates and the grim trophy of Blackbeard’s severed head.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Death in 1719 Spared Tobias Knight of Investigation

A sketch of Blackbeard being killed in a fight with Lt. Robert Maynard. Image from the State Archives

On June 11, 1719, colonial official, attorney and judge Tobias Knight died.

While he appears in North Carolina records as early as 1710, it wasn’t until two years later that he figured prominently as the secretary and collector of the colony. He soon was beset by a series of scandals. The first came when Knight was accused of stealing from the Church after refusing to repay a debt, which Governor William Glover had accrued and which many felt was Knight’s responsibility on behalf of his wife, Catherine Glover Knight. Catherine was Gov. Glover’s widow.

A more significant scandal came later, and involved the notorious pirate, Blackbeard. After Blackbeard’s death, some of his slaves were tried in Virginia. They testified that Knight had worked with the pirate.  Charged as an accessory to piracy, Knight was tried in 1719. As an attorney, he spoke on his own behalf and convinced Governor Charles Eden and the council of his innocence.

In spite of that, Knight resigned as the colony’s chief justice and was accused again, this time along with Governor Eden and others, of collusion with pirates.

Before he could be investigated further, Knight died after a long illness.

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For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

The Top 10 Posts of 2013

An image of Blackbeard from
the State Archives

During the past year it’s been our pleasure to tell you some fascinating stories from our state’s history. As we head toward the New Year, we thought we’d recap those posts that you liked the most. Here are the top 10, with the most popular at the top:

  1. The death of the infamous pirate Blackbeard on Nov. 22
  2. The discovery of Laura Foster’s body in Wilkes County on June 18
  3. Isaac Avery’s dying words at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3
  4. Tom Dula’s conviction of Laura Forster’s murder on Oct. 21
  5. The hanging of Frankie Silver for the murder of her husband on July 21
  6. Oct. 30’s entry, which covered the 1629 land grant to which North Carolina can trace its roots and name
  7. The Stanley-Spaight duel on Sept.  5
  8. Sept. 10’s entry, which covered the burning of the Cherokee town of Nikawasi
  9. Otto Wood’s final escape from prison on July 10
  10. The completion of the Linn Cove Viaduct (that famous part of the Blue Ridge Parkway) on Sept 11

Otto Wood

If you’re one of our long-term readers, you may know that January will mark 15 months since we first began the This Day in N.C. History Project. Though we’ve had to repeat some stories from our first year in our second, we’d like to bring you as many fresh stories as possible for as long as we can.

To that end, we’re asking for your help. Have we missed a story that you think we should cover? Is there a story from your community that you’d like us to tell? Share your idea with us on our website at http://www.ncdcr.gov/TellUsYourHistory. We’ll take a look at what you submit and consider as we plan out our calendar for the coming year.

One last thing–if you’re a big social media fan–check out our This Day in N.C. History Pinterest board. There you can discover all our posts through the fantastic images from our collections and beyond that we’ve used on this blog.

Thanks for continuing to follow us! We hope you enjoy reading these stories as much we enjoy writing them.

Until He Be Dead: The End of Stede Bonnet

The hanging of Stede Bonnet

On December 10, 1718, Stede Bonnet, the “Gentleman Pirate,” was hanged in South Carolina. An unlikely buccaneer, Bonnet was born in 1688 in Barbados, orphaned at a young age and inherited a sizable plantation. By 1715, Bonnet was married and held the rank of major in the militia. In 1717, he gave up his life among the Barbadian planter elite, deserting his family to become a pirate.

Instead of capturing a vessel, Bonnet launched his pirating career in the way in which he was accustomed to doing business—he purchased and armed a ship and hired a crew. Bonnet was known to have been in league with Blackbeard on occasion—including during the siege of Charleston’s harbor. Despite his pardon by Gov. Charles Eden, Bonnet returned to piracy, establishing a base near modern-day Southport.

The state of South Carolina, responding to the piratical threat to the colony, sent a ship north in search of pirates. A fierce battle took place in September 1718—the largest and bloodiest of the pirate conflicts in the colony’s waters. Members of the captured crew were executed in Charleston, effectively ending the “Golden Age of Piracy” in North Carolina.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Stede Bonnet, the “Gentleman Pirate,” Was Hanged in South Carolina

Stede BonnetOn December 10, 1718, Stede Bonnet, the “Gentleman Pirate,” was hanged in South Carolina. An unlikely buccaneer, Bonnet was born in 1688 in Barbados, orphaned at a young age and inherited a sizable plantation. By 1715, Bonnet was married and held the rank of major in the militia. In 1717, he gave up his life among the Barbadian planter elite, deserting his family to become a pirate.

Instead of capturing a vessel, Bonnet launched his pirating career in the way in which he was accustomed to doing business—he purchased and armed a ship and hired a crew. Bonnet was known to have been in league with Blackbeard on occasion—including during the siege of Charleston’s harbor. Despite his pardon by Gov. Charles Eden, Bonnet returned to piracy, establishing a base near modern-day Southport.

The state of South Carolina, responding to the piratical threat to the colony, sent a ship north in search of pirates. A fierce battle took place on Sept. 27, 1718—the largest and bloodiest of pirate conflicts in the colony’s waters. Members of the captured crew were executed in Charleston, effectively ending the “Golden Age of Piracy” in North Carolina.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

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