The small barrier island community of the Outer Banks has big character. A lot of exciting events take place year-round. And our upcoming Pirate Festival inspired us to dive into the history of our home. The Netflix series “Outer Banks” stirred up a lot of conversation about treasure hunting. So what better topic to dive into than Blackbeard, the infamous Outer Banks pirate.
The History of Blackbeard
Blackbeard was born Edward Teach. He became one of Ocracoke Island’s most frequent and most notorious visitors in the early 1700s. He gained his moniker from his long black beard, He would braid his beard and set it on fire to intimidate ships he was about to attack.
Historians believe these were the actual flags flown by Blackbeard on the Queen Anne’s Revenge.
Blackbeard began his career as a sailor during Queen Anne’s War in 1716. But he quickly shifted to the pirate’s life in 1717 under the pirate captain Hornigold. Blackbeard then commandeered his own vessel when Hornigold retired. He renamed the captured ship “Queen Anne’s Revenge”. Then in late 1717, Blackbeard headed north and stumbled upon our shores.
Blackbeard’s Home on Ocracoke
North Carolina, specifically Ocracoke, became his home. Blackbeard set up camp on the island. He held pirate parties near what is known today as Springer’s Point. Additionally, he had a permanent home in the small inland town of Bath where he was the neighbor of the North Carolina Governor, Charles Eden. At the time, rumor had it that the two were friends and Governor Eden often turned the other way when it came to plundering on and around the island. There was also a rumor that the governor would attend Blackbeard’s infamous parties!
Ocracoke Inlet and the beaches on the North Carolina coast were popular among pirates because many ships came to look for land to claim. Governor Eden became known as a friend of pirate, which encouraged them to inhabit the islands of the Outer Banks. The Diamond Shoals caused many ships to wreck, earning the Outer Banks the name “Graveyard of the Atlantic”.
The End of Blackbeard’s Reign
When North Carolina residents and merchants had enough of Blackbeard terrorizing their colony, they went to the Virginia Governor and begged for help. Virginia agreed to help them and sent ships to Ocracoke. Royal Navy Lieutenant, Robert Maynard approached the Queen Anne’s Revenge just off the coast of Ocracoke on November 22nd, 1718. Blackbeard was captured and executed, but his legend lives on in Ocracoke to this day.
After the execution in 1718, many tourists and locals have reported seeing the headless body swimming around Teach’s Hole. There have also been reports of a headless Blackbeard wandering the beaches of Ocracoke Island, searching for his lost head while holding a lantern. Learn more about this and other Outer Banks hauntings in our previous blog post.
A Pirate’s Life for Me
Many other pirates besides Blackbeard made their home on Ocracoke Island, including:
Print engraving of Stede Bonnet in Charles Johnson's A General History of the Pyrates
Charles Johnson - http://beej.us/pirates/pirate_view.php?file=bonnet.gif
Known as “The Gentleman Pirate,” Bonnet was a wealthy plantation owner who left his family to become a pirate. Ultimately, Bonnet lost his whole crew and treasure to Blackbeard.
was known as one of the cruelest pirates. A passing hurricane destroyed his fleet. Then he was captured on an isolated island and hanged in 1721.
Nicknamed “Calico Jack” for his colorful wardrobe. He was famous for his two female crew members — Anne Bonney and Mary Read.
Follow Us Online and Share the Fun!