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305 years: Anniversary of Blackbeard's death

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Authored by Alice Broome
Published on 22nd November, 2023 3 min read

305 years: Anniversary of Blackbeard's death

The Capture of the Pirate Blackbeard 1718 by Jean Leon Gerome Ferris  

Today (22/11/2023) marks 305 years since the infamous pirate Blackbeard was killed.[1]

Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard, was a widely feared pirate during the so-called “Golden Age of Piracy” during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It is estimated that around 5000 pirates were active throughout this era. Blackbeard is considered one of the most successful pirates in history. He has been the inspiration for countless depictions of pirates in literature and pop culture.

It is thought that Blackbeard began his sea-faring career as a British privateer during the War of Spanish Succession (1701–1713). Privateers were authorised by the British government to attack foreign ships and as a privateer Blackbeard would have attacked Spanish ships in the West Indies. After the war, Blackbeard turned to piracy under the leadership of Captain Benjamin Hornigold. Blackbeard rose through the ranks due to his naval knowledge and became captain of his own ship around 1716. He renamed the boat Queen Anne’s Revenge and accumulated 40 guns and 300 crewmembers within a year. In 1718 Blackbeard moved his crew onto a smaller boat called the Adventure.

In November 1718 Blackbeard had become increasingly brazen and had angered the governor of Virginia, Alexander Spotswood. Spotswood recruited British naval Lieutenant Robert Maynar to track Blackbeard. Maynard received a tip that Blackbeard and his crew were moored off North Carolina’s Ocracoke Island. Maynard and his crewmembers departed Williamsburg on 17 November 1718 on board the Ranger and the Jane. Two smaller boats were favoured over one larger boat in order to navigate the shallow waters around Ocracoke. This, however, meant that the boats did not have cannons. Consequently, the crew had to rely upon their personal weapons to fight Blackbeard and his crew.

On the morning of the 22 November 1718 the Ranger and the Jane made their way towards Blackbeard’s boats. Shortly after, both boats became grounded and the crew threw heavy objects overboard. Soon, both ships were afloat once again, but they had ruined the element of surprise and Blackbeard was ready for their attack. Blackbeard ordered his crew to cut the Adventure’s cable and they began to attack Maynard’s ships by shooting at them. Maynard ordered his men onboard the Jane to retreat below deck, both for their safety and to set a trap.

Blackbeard, seeing the deck of the Jane empty, believed that the cannons had done their job and brought the Adventure alongside so that himself and his crew could board the Jane. When they entered the ship Maynard and his crew, who were hiding below deck, ambushed the pirates. A six-minute combat ensued.

When the battle subsided, Blackbeard was found dead. It is estimated that ten of Maynard’s crew were killed, ten pirates were killed, twenty of Maynard’s crew were injured, and Maynard took nine pirates as prisoners.

[1] I have drawn on the following sources for this article:

Eric Jay Dolin, “The Most Iconic Episode From the Life of Blackbeard Is How It Ended. Here's How the Pirate Really Died”, Time, 21 November, 2018, accessed 23 October, 2023,

“The Golden Age of Piracy”, Royal Museums Greenwich, n.d., accessed 23 October, 2023,

“Who was Blackbeard?”, Royal Museums Greenwich, n.d., accessed 23 October, 2023,

Authored by Alice Broome

Alice Broome

Alice Broome is an Editorial Assistant at British Online Archives. She is a Philosophy, Politics, and Economics graduate from the University of York.

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