Edward Teach: The Pirate Blackbeard

On the Water - Exhibition Theme: Dangerous Waters

Edward Teach (about 1680–1718) wore his thick, black beard long, adorned with ribbons. It gave him his nickname, and before battles he hung smoldering fuses from his beard to terrify his enemies.

In the early 1700s, Blackbeard captured dozens of merchant vessels in the Caribbean and along the Atlantic Coast. In 1718, he raided Charleston, South Carolina, seized many ships, and demanded a ransom for “several of the best inhabitants of this place.” Later that year, he was killed in a battle with the British Navy. The British fleet commander, Lt. Robert Maynard, brought Blackbeard’s head back to shore to claim a £100 reward.

From Captain Charles Johnson, A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates . . . (London, 1724)

Courtesy of the Rare Books Division, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations


Blackbeard’s Jolly Roger

Pirates hoisted the skull-and-bones flag to show what their prey could expect if they resisted capture. The flags could also be plain black or plain red without any pictures—everyone knew what they meant.

Courtesy of North Carolina Maritime Museum


Photograph by Julep Gillman-Bryan

Courtesy of the North Carolina Dept. of Cultural Resources

Blackbeard’s Flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge

Blackbeard captured a French slaver named Concorde in the Caribbean in November 1717. He renamed it Queen Anne’s Revenge and used it as his flagship for the next seven months. In June 1718, Blackbeard deliberately ran the ship aground in Beaufort Inlet, North Carolina. He abandoned much of his crew and fled with a smaller group, probably so he could keep more of his loot.

Divers discovered the wreck in 1996. Since then, thousands of artifacts from the early 1700s have been recovered, providing a remarkable window on life aboard a pirate ship.


From Jean Boudriot, Le Mercure, 1730 (Paris, J. Boudriot: 1991)

Courtesy of Jean Boudriot

French Merchant Ship, 1730

There are no contemporary images of Queen Anne’s Revenge, formerly the French slave ship Concorde. Archaeologists believe that the 1730 French merchant ship Mercure, shown here, was close in size and rig to the pirate ship.


Courtesy Chris Southerly, Underwater Archaeology Branch, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

Site Plan Drawing of the Wreck Site, 2008

This illustration details all the known features of the wreck, as the sand covering it is gradually removed. Site plans constantly evolve, as new objects are revealed during ongoing excavations. They are the most accurate and permanent rendition of the site itself, as it is carefully recorded, photographed, and dismantled.