Cindy Vallar, Editor & Reviewer
P. O. Box 425, Keller, TX 76244-0425
By Laura Nelson
In the Golden Age of Piracy, generally accepted by scholars as being from about 1690 to 1730, large numbers of sailors left the ships they were employed on to join pirate crews. Some left voluntarily. Some were forced to go. For a large number of them, the experience would end in death. Even if they survived, their careers as pirates, with a few exceptions, generally failed to last more than about two years or so.
From about mid-1715 to early 1717, one pirate, Samuel Bellamy, rose from being penniless to number one on Forbes’ ten top earning pirates. (Woolsey) It would be almost 300 years before a man named Barry Clifford would come along and begin the journey to locate and excavate Bellamy's treasure. After several years of recovering artifacts and research, a museum was established in Provincetown on Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Then a traveling exhibit called Real Pirates was created. Now, a permanent facility in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts houses the entire collection.
Coins and artifacts recovered from the wreck site of the Whydah.
(Source: Photo by Bill Curtsinger © National Geographic, used with permission of National Geographic)
In the spring of 1715, a young man, probably handsome, suddenly appeared in Provincetown, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. Most pirate historians agree that Bellamy was a single man. Research by Kenneth Kinkor of Expedition Whydah found records of what he believed to be Bellamy's birth as the sixth child of Stephen Bellamy and Elizabeth Pain on 18 March 1689. (Whydah, 355) They lived in the villages of Hittisleigh and Drewsteignton near Plymouth, England, according to Hittisleigh Parish records. There are many speculations, but no one knows exactly what Bellamy did before traveling to the colonies, or the precise reason he traveled to Cape Cod in 1715. There is also nothing that documents who Bellamy met first: Maria Hallet or Paulsgrave Williams. A widely accepted story is that he met Maria while she was sitting under a tree in a meadow.
Her father was a farmer, who disapproved of her getting involved with someone of Bellamy's low social stature. But the reportedly naive girl fell head over heels in love with the young sailor, probably taken in by his worldly stories of foreign ports and exotic locales. Predictably, she eventually allowed Bellamy to have his way with her.
Extensive research has revealed that there was more than one woman named Mary Hallet living in the city of Eastham on Cape Cod in 1715. The most likely candidate was a woman about twenty-two years old and the daughter of wealthy settler John Hallet. She was a sixth child also, and was probably helping at the Great Island Tavern in Billingsgate, which was owned by her brother. She died childless in her sixties in April 1751.
While Bellamy was romancing Maria, he met a man named Paulsgrave Williams. Williams was a thirty-nine-year-old silversmith with a wife and family. His father, who died in 1687, had been the Attorney General of Rhode Island. His mother later married a man named Robert Guthrie, a Scottish exile. The Guthries were part of a large group of Scots who had originally been sent as prisoners to Lynn and Braintree, Massachusetts, to work as slaves in the ironworks. Many eventually made their way to Block Island.
At some point in the friendship, Williams convinced Bellamy to go treasure hunting in Florida. One of the great Spanish plate fleets had been wrecked in a storm off the coast in 1715, and many men headed down there to dive on the wrecks to try and recover some of the treasure reported to have sunk in the storm. Historians agree that it was probably Williams who had the money to finance the trip.
The two men depart for Florida, leaving Maria alone and pregnant. Cape Cod folklore has her kicked out of her home. She holes up in a barn, where she eventually has her baby. During the day, she leaves the baby in the barn while she goes to find work or food. One day she returns to find the baby has choked to death on a piece of straw. Maria loses her mind, and retreats to an isolated cabin. It is said she stands on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic every day, watching for her Sam to come back to her.
Estimated to have arrived at the wrecks around January 1716, the two friends’ time at the site didn't last very long. For one, they weren’t successful in finding much treasure. There was a lot of competition, and Spain had by then recovered at least some of their gold. Bellamy and Williams likely had to settle for “scattered cargo and coins.” (Woodard, 124) Between the wrecks and arriving at the Bay of Honduras a few weeks later, they came up with the idea of turning pirate.
Nothing is really known about how they got started. What is known is that by March, they owned two canoes known locally as periaguas.1 Such vessels could hold a few dozen men and were defended by swivel guns. The first prize they’re known to have captured was a “Dutch vessel commanded by a John Cornelison.” (Woodard, 125) With this capture, they also began to force men, such as Peter Cornelius Hoof, a Swedish sailor, to join their crew against their will.
In their first few months of operation, they added not only Hoof but likely also a Mosquito Indian named John Julian, who would have been a huge asset with his knowledge of the local waters.
During a conquest in the Yucatan Channel, they encountered a Captain Young. They forced him to tow their canoes to the western end of Cuba, so they could take advantage of the greater volume of shipping. At some point while crossing the channel, they encountered Henry Jennings, who would become their first mentor. Jennings commanded a flotilla of five pirate ships, and he had just returned from fencing some of his cargo in Jamaica.
The flotilla arrived at Baya Hondo, off Cuba, on 3 April 1716. A canoe was sent to a ship anchored there with a cover story that they had come into the harbor to replenish their stores of wood and water.
The ship was the St. Marie, a French ship commanded by a Captain D’Escoubet. The pirates also learned that the French ship was selling goods to the Spanish locals, which was in violation of Spanish law and classified them as smugglers. This was good news for Jennings, because capturing smugglers was not considered an act of piracy under Spanish law.
The St. Marie had sixteen cannons and a crew of forty-five men. Having had experience capturing ships on the Spanish Main, Jennings knew that an encounter with such a well-armed and manned ship could result in injury or death for some of his crew members. He held a council with all his men. While he counseled caution, many scoffed at what they perceived as a lack of courage on Jennings’s part, saying such things as, “What are you come out for? To look upon one another and return with your fingers in your mouth?” (Whydah, 59) They left him no other choice than to attack the French ship.
Bellamy's canoes led the ships into the harbor. They waited until the two canoes and two of Jennings’s ships were in pistol range. Here, Bellamy's men – perhaps to increase the fear factor – stripped off their clothes, leaving on only their cartouches (cartridge boxes) and unsheathed cutlasses and pistols. With a loud cheer they began to row towards the St. Marie.
When the St. Marie's lookout shouted a challenge at them, they hollered back, “Aboard, where do you think?”
A man who tried to scale down the side of the Ste. Marie and escape in one of her canoes was captured. Then a cannon was fired, and an angry shout came from the men of the second of Bellamy's canoes, who were now boarding the ship.
The mistaken cannon shot had come from one of Jennings’s ships. Someone from the St. Marie shouted back a request to not fire, as all was well.
A member of Jennings’s crew who was later captured by the British said that Bellamy's crew “would give no quarter” to the French had they fired their guns. (Giving no quarter meant showing no mercy, and no prisoners would be taken.)
Upon finding that the St. Marie was mainly loaded with fine linen, the pirates were disappointed. Then someone found the ship’s manifest, which indicated that there should be thirty thousand pieces of eight aboard.2 When confronted, Captain D’Escoubet said that while there had once been such a sum on board, he had taken the coins ashore and hidden them for safety. His crew backed up his story, but the pirates refused to believe them.
Although no specifics were given, the French informed the Jamaican governor that the pirates “Tormented the Crew to that Inhumane degree that they extorted after the Vilest manner from them a discovery where they said the mony lay.” (Whydah, 47-48) When located, the treasure only amounted to 28,500 pieces of eight.
While the pirates relaxed on the St. Marie, a lone canoe was captured while coming into the bay. Its crew revealed that another French smuggling vessel, the Marianne, was trading at Porto Mariel (Cuba), just east of Baya Hondo.
One of the pirates in Jennings’ flotilla, Captain Carnegie, set sail in his sloop accompanied by a periagua to effect the Marianne’s capture. By the time he and his crew arrived, they found that it had been taken by yet another pirate, Benjamin Hornigold. Having no desire to take on one of the most famous, to date, of the pirates operating in the West Indies, Carnegie went back to Baya Hondo and told Jennings what had happened.
Perhaps puffed up by his success with the St. Marie, Jennings set sail with two sloops to go after Hornigold. He left Bellamy and his men to guard the St. Marie.
Almost the moment Jennings left the Bay, Bellamy and his men loaded the treasure onto one of their periaguas and took off. When Jennings returned, he found the other of Bellamy's periaguas and Captain Young, another commander of one of Jennings’s flotilla, who had been unable to stop Bellamy from leaving. Enraged, Jennings sank Bellamy's discarded canoe. All he could do after that was leave Baya Hondo.
Sometime after departing Baya Hondo, Bellamy and his crew met up with Benjamin Hornigold, who operated out of New Providence in the Bahamas. They also met a man named Edward Thache.3 Bellamy joined Hornigold’s crew.
Eventually, Hornigold appointed him as commander of one of their prize ships. Together, the three pirate crews crossed paths with French pirate Olivier Levasseur, known as “La Buse” or “The Buzzard.”
There were two versions of when this occurred. Former captive Jeremiah Higgins stated that Levasseur didn’t appear until after Bellamy had a falling out with Hornigold over whether or not to attack English ships, and that Bellamy was in command of a boat called the Mary Anne at the time.
Higgins’s tale, given in his deposition before his trial for piracy in the colony of New York in 1717, described how he was forced to join the pirates, how Hornigold was voted out of the company; and how they met up with Levasseur.
That about Two & Twenty Months ago he sailed out of Jamaica a foremastman on Board a certain Sloop called the Blackett, Abraham Lamb Master, bound for the wrecks on the coast of Florida. That before they came to the wrecks, one Capt. Hornigold Commander of a Pyrate Sloop called the Benjamin came on board their sloop and after some time Desired the Examinate and some other of the Men belonging to the said Sloop Blackett to row him on board the said sloop Benjamin which they did and after they were aboard the said Sloop [He] refused to let the Examinant and one John Fletcher his companion Returne to their Sloop Blackett againe but detained them and Altho their Master Abraham Lamb came on board and prayed the said Hornigold to Release his said Men Yet he utterly refused to do so but detained them and Carryed them away by force against their Wills. That the said Sloop Benjamin afterwards sailed to the coast of the Havana haveing upwards of Eighty Men on Board, and off the Coast of the Havanna at a place called Porta Maria they took the Sloop Mary Anne then belonging to the French & Spaniards Loaded with Dry Goods and Liquors, and then the Pyrates Divided their Company and putt some of the company on Board the Mary Anne and chose one Samuel Bellamy to be Commander of both sloops and Turned out Hornigold and for some time after consorted together with the said Sloops until a quarrell happened among the Company and then they gave the said Sloop Benjamin to the said Hornigold and some Company and parted from him Detaining the Examinant on board the said Sloop Mary Anne. That afterwards the said Sloop Mary Anne Cruizing about from place to place met with another Pyrate sloop called the Postillion off Cape Mayos, one Capt. La Boos Commander with whom they consorted and cruised about . . . . (Whydah, 153-154)Another version of the story has Levasseur already sailing with Hornigold before the falling out over the attacking of English ships happened.
In his interrogation before his trial for piracy in Boston, Massachusetts, on Monday, 6 May1717, John Brown, who became a member of Bellamy's crew and would ultimately be hanged for piracy in November of that year, told of his time as Levasseur’s captive and how Bellamy and Hornigold quarreled and went their separate ways.
About a Year ago he belonged to a Ship Commanded by Capt. Kingston, which in her Voyage with Logwood to Holland was taken to the Leeward of the Havana by two Piratical Sloops, one Commanded by Hornygold and the other by a Frenchman called Labous, each having 70 Men on Board. The Pirates kept the Ship about 8 or 10 days and then having taken out of her what they thought proper delivered her back to some of the Men, who belonged to her. Labous kept the Examinate on board his Sloop about 4 Months, the English Sloop under Hornygolds command keeping company with them all that time. . . .
From thence they Sailed on to Hispaniola in the latter end of May, where they tarryed about 3 Months. The Examinate then left Labous and went on board the Sloop Commanded formerly by Hornygold, at that time by one Bellamy, who upon a difference arising amongst the English Pirates because Hornygold refused to take and plunder English Vessels, was chosen by a great Majority their Captain & Hornygold departed with 26 hands in a prize Sloop, Bellamy having then on Board about 90 Men, most of them English. (“Trials,” 2:317)What is known is that after teaming up, Bellamy and Levasseur sailed east in consort.4 After pausing to careen their ship bottoms off the western tip of Cuba, they took Levasseur’s advice that he knew of some good hiding places along the coast of Hispaniola and turned that way.
During September 1716, while sailing off the coast of Puerto Rico, the pirates attempted to attack “a 44-gun French ship. After an hour-long fight, [they were] driven off with little loss.” (Clifford and Kinkor, 55) October found them plundering ships along the north coast of Hispaniola. In November and December, Bellamy and Levasseur took up residence on the island of St. Croix for a few weeks, using it as a base to take “at least a dozen ships in the Virgin and Leeward Islands.” (Clifford and Kinkor, 58)
Part of the reason for their ease in capturing vessels was the reputation established by previous pirates who had tortured sailors, particularly captains, who did not immediately surrender upon being approached by a ship bearing a Jolly Roger and firing a shot across their bow. The early 1700s was a time of low pay for sailors, with generally no chance of advancement. Most did not feel any loyalty toward their captain or the company that owned whatever ship they served on, and thus saw no reason to sacrifice themselves defending the ship. Most hoped that by giving up and staying out of the way they would survive the pirate encounter unscathed. That being said, “There is no record that Captain Bellamy and his crew ever used force or violence to capture any of the scores of vessels they plundered.” (Vanderbilt, 23)
One of the newly formed alliance’s most famous conquests was a ship called the Bonetta. In Master Abijah Savage's deposition about the capture of the ship – given before Walter Hamilton, Esq., Captain General and Governor in Chief of all His Majesty's Leeward Caribbean Islands – Savage said that on the 9th of November of 1716 while traveling from Jamaica to Antigua, he met with two large sloops which chased him for about six and a half hours. When the ships caught up with him, they fired a cannon and Levasseur’s ship hoisted a black flag at the mast, at which point Savage struck his sails and lowered his boat to go meet with them. Bellamy detained Savage’s crew and passengers on the island of St. Croix until 24 November. Before letting them go, however, the pirates took some of their clothes, various items, a black man, and an Indian boy.
During the time he and his crew were held on St. Croix, Savage said that Bellamy and Levasseur took “a French ship, and Six Sail of Small vessels, all of which (after taking from them what they thought convenient) they discharged at the same time that they permitted him to come away. . . .” (Dethlefsen, 127)
In his deposition, Savage gave a description of the two ships.
One of the said Sloops called the Marianne was Commanded as he was told by one Samuel Bellamy who declared himself to be an Englishman born in London, and that the other, called the Postillion was Commanded by one Louis de Boure who was a French Man, and has his Sloop chiefly Navigated with men of that Nation. That each of the said Sloops was mounted with Eight Guns and had betwixt Eighty or Ninety Men apiece on Board . . . . (Dethlefsen, 127)Savage then goes on to tell the story of “one John King who was coming as a Passenger with him from the Said Island of Jamaica to the Island of Antigua deserted his Sloop, and went with the Pirates, and was so far from being forced or compelled by them as the Deponent could perceive or learn, that he declared he would kill himself if he was restrained, and even threatened his Mother who was then on board as a passenger with the Deponent.” (Dethlefsen, 129)
Excavations of the wreck of the Whydah Galley found a leg bone, or fibula, along with a silk stocking and a leather shoe.5 When these items were first discovered, most thought the items belonged to a small man. Barry Clifford, head of the expedition, “showed the short fibula to expedition archaeologist John de Bry, and Smithsonian Institution expert David Hunt. Both agreed that the fibula belonged to a child age 8 to 11.” (Maugh) Kenneth J. Kinkor, Whydah researcher and maritime historian, said, “The stocking is made of woven French silk, and the shoe – which is only 2 inches in width at its widest point – is of upper-class design and craftsmanship, consistent with it belonging to John King.” (Maugh)
After they released the Bonetta, Bellamy’s flotilla came to the Caribbean island of Saba, and took a ship called Sultana, commanded by Capt. Richards. They kept the Sultana, putting Bellamy in command, and appointed Williams to be captain of the sloop Marianne. Now three ships strong, the growing band of pirates continued to capture and plunder any ship they came across.
The next day after taking command of Sultana, the pirates spotted a potential prize “about sixty miles from Saba.” (Clifford, 224) The ship was called the St. Michael. Bellamy plundered her cargo of “prime Irish beef” and also forced her carpenter, Thomas Davis, to join his crew. (Clifford, 224)
Davis protested, crying out that “he was undone by being detained among them.” (“Trials,” 314) Hearing his pleas to not be forced to go with them, one of Bellamy's crew responded, “Damn him, He was a Presbyterian Dog, and should fight for King James.” (“Trials,” 314) Bellamy promised to let him go as soon as they acquired another carpenter.
Upon reaching the island of Blanco, Levasseur’s crew made the decision to depart, leaving Bellamy and Williams to themselves.6 The two friends turned for the Windward Passage, a strait connecting the Caribbean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean between Cuba and Hispaniola. Around late January 1717, early signs of a storm caused them to seek shelter in one of the ports where they had spent the previous November.7
Arriving at St. Croix, they discovered the charred remains of a vessel stuck on a reef at the entrance to the harbor they’d chosen to enter. Another sloop badly damaged by cannon fire was also there. There was even a small set of ramparts on the shore.
Slowly, men crept from the jungle. They had been part of the crew of a French pirate called Jean Martel, and had been cleaning their vessels on 16 January 1717, when they were attacked by HMS Scarborough.8
Bellamy couldn’t pass up the chance to add these experienced men to his crew. He accepted their oaths and welcomed them as crew members. Concerned the Scarborough would return, he set sail to the northwest on a sixty-mile journey to “the main British outpost on the Virgin Islands: Spanish Town,” located on the southwestern part of Virgin Gorda. (Woodard, 155) Along the way, they stopped at an island, where a more formal swearing-in ceremony of the new men was held. Each man swore “to be true and not to cheat the company of the value of a piece of eight.” (“Trials,” 306)
The Virgin Islands were popular with pirates because they consisted of numerous tiny islands with shallow waters and hidden coves, ideal for watching for and attacking passing ships. Part of the attraction of putting in at Spanish Town was the opportunity to trade with one of its inhabitants, a man named John Hamann, “a former pirate who fenced stolen merchandise to the Dutch on St. Thomas.” (Clifford, 224) At the time of their arrival, Spanish Town consisted of a population of 326 “dutiable inhabitants . . . 42 men, 40 women, 139 children, and 105 Negroes.” (Calendar of State Papers Colonial Series, 29:231) The town’s only defense was one unmounted, unfortified cannon.
Accounts of Bellamy’s command of the town said it lasted from a few days to a couple of weeks. Production on the mountainous island was limited to corn, yams, potatoes, and a bit of sugar cane, so there was not a lot for the pirates to plunder. The greatest fear of the white slave owners was that their slaves would run off to join the pirates.
While Bellamy and his men weren’t looking, some of the forced men snuck away and begged Deputy Governor Hornbe to shelter them. Hornbe initially agreed and gave the men a place to hide, but backpedaled when, according to Thomas Baker, Bellamy threatened to “burn & destroy the Town, if . . . Baker, and those that concealed themselves with him, were not delivered up.” (“Trials,” 306)9 The men were returned.
As Bellamy departed Spanish Town, with new men and erstwhile escapees on board, the pirates decided to turn back toward the Windward Passage. In February, they encountered the Whydah making her way home to England from the Caribbean. Bellamy would capture the three-hundred-ton galley without incident after chasing it for three days.
The Whydah was commanded by Captain Lawrence Prince and was bound from Jamaica to London. She was completing what was known as the “Middle Passage,” a voyage that would begin by buying slaves in Africa, selling them in the West Indies, and then sailing home with their profits. The Whydah had “Eighteen Gunns, which they took and shared the money they found therein amongst them.” (Whydah, 155) Some of her cargo included sugar, indigo, and money, which Higgins believed was “shared amongst the said company.” (Whydah, 155) Despite being so well armed, Captain Prince had good reason to give in to the pirates so easily: as mentioned earlier, some pirate crews were known to treat captives better if they didn’t resist them. Prince was lucky; Bellamy was not known for torturing his captives. Ultimately, he allowed Captain Prince and a few of his crewmen to sail away in the Sultana.
The pirates continued to sail north towards New York and New England. We know this through a letter written by Lieutenant-Governor Alexander Spotswood to the Governor’s Council of Virginia, which caused the Council to lament “that Considering the Inability of this Country to Arm out Vessels for the Guard of the Coast, it is not possible that the Trade can be protected or the pyrats suppressed unless some of his Matys. Ships of War be sent hither for that purpose.” (Whydah, 97) They also noted that since the pirates appeared to be headed northward, it might be prudent to notify the governors of New York and New England, who might wish to order their guard ships to intercept them.
Continuing to capture vessels as they traveled north, the Whydah’s crew of 150 men was crammed into a ship that measured about “thirty feet wide and one hundred feet long.” She carried 180 fifty-pound sacks of treasure, along with such items as “[e]lephant tusks, sugar, molasses, rum, cloth, quinine bark, indigo, and dry goods.” (Clifford, 260) What this meant was that the Whydah rode very low in the water, a dangerous condition for a ship in a storm.
Twenty-six April 1717, started out like any other for the pirates. They had expectations of reaching a port where they might trade some of their goods for coin and perhaps even grab a few drinks in a local tavern. As the day progressed, they captured two ships and sent some of their men over to them to serve as prize crews while a few members of each captured crew were imprisoned below decks on the Whydah.
Around 3:00 p.m. fog began rolling in, which should have been an early storm warning for the pirates. They asked one of the newly-captured ships to help them navigate. As night came on, there came lightning and thunder. Instead of steering out to sea, Bellamy stayed close to land, a move which leads many to believe that he did indeed wish to make port somewhere on Cape Cod.
Sometime after 5:00 p.m., Bellamy ordered all three ships to light lanterns on their sterns, a common navigational aid. Conditions continued to worsen. “According to eyewitness accounts, gusts topped 70 miles [113 kilometers] an hour and the seas rose to 30 feet [9 meters].” (Donovan) With each swell, the ship was pushed west by the winds, no matter how hard the pirates tried to keep heading north. Then one of them might have heard the sound of the waves hitting the shore. But it was simply too late.
The accident was succinctly described by Thomas Davis in his deposition before his trial for piracy in Boston, Massachusetts, in October of 1717:
The Ship being at an Anchor, they cut their Cables and ran a shoar, in a quarter of an hour after the Ship struck, the Main-mast was carried by the board, and in the Morning She was beat to pieces. About Sixteen Prisoners drown’d, Crumpstey Master of the Pink being one, and One hundred and forty-four in all. (“Trials,” 2:318)Those men on the Whydah who could attempted to save themselves, but “the bitter ocean temperatures were cold enough to kill the strongest swimmer within minutes. Other crew members were crushed by the weight of falling rigging, cannon, and cargo as the ship, her treasure, and the remaining men on board plunged to the ocean floor, swallowed up by the shifting sands of the cape.” (“Trials,” 2:318)
Local residents arrived on the shore the next morning to find that “more than a hundred mutilated corpses lay at the wrack line with the ship’s timbers.” (Clifford & Kinkor, 131)
If indeed Maria Hallet was watching for a sign of Bellamy returning to her even in such a horrendous storm, she may have seen the ship break open and sink. An intriguing fact about the legend of Bellamy and Maria is a tale told by Barry Clifford about some information Kenneth Kinkor found about a woman named Maria Hallet, a spinster who was about forty years old when she passed away. She died with a “string of precious gold beads.” (Donovan) There is no explanation of where she obtained the gold beads.
Bellamy’s treasure is generally counted as being the largest ever collected by a pirate of the Golden Age. His estimated worth in April 1717, is said to have been about $120 million. Cape Cod legends are full of stories of him surviving the wreck and living out his life in anonymity. Other legends say Maria recovered his body and buried it.
Whydah gold, photo by Bill Curtsing (source: National Geographic Society, used with permission)
In the end, like so many of his peers, his career never made it past that magical two-year barrier, and he never got to enjoy his treasure.
1. According to Colin Woodard, this is the same type of vessel Benjamin Hornigold started out in.
2. An article in the Boston News-Letter relayed information from the New York Dispatch of 21 May 1716, which says that the St. Marie had 60,000 or 70,000 pieces of eight on board.
3. Many historians believe that Thache was a protégé of Hornigold’s, but new information brought forth by Baylus Brooks indicates that he was a captain in his own right and operating his own ship in consort with, rather than as a protégé of, Hornigold’s. For additional information see page 260 in Quest for Blackbeard.
4. Clifford and Kinkor remark that since Thache’s name is never recorded as being among Bellamy’s crew, it is generally assumed that he sailed away with Hornigold.
5. These items were on display as part of the National Geographic’s Real Pirates traveling exhibition, and are now a part of the permanent exhibit in Yarmouth, Massachusetts.
6. Levasseur returned to Nassau for a time, and then departed about the same time pirate hunter Woodes Rogers arrived. He continued his career in the Indian Ocean for a few more years, before disappearing from the historical record until he was captured and tried for piracy on Réunion Island. He was executed on 7 July 1730.
7. Part of the attraction of St. Croix was its many settlements and ports. Jean-Baptiste Labat (1663-1738), in Nouveau Voyage aux isles de l’Amerique, describes stopping at several ports on the island during his visit. The inhabitants apparently welcomed the chance to trade for goods the visiting ships could provide.
8. Martel was probably born or closely related to the Martels in Hispaniola. For further information see Brooks’s blog post “French Pirate Jean Martel: Deception in ‘A General History'.”
9. Baker also testified that he tried to escape on Crab Island, but was hindered by four of Bellamy’s company. Baker, along with five other members of Bellamy’s crew, was hanged for piracy in Boston, Massachusetts, in November 1717.
For additional information, Laura recommends the following resources:
Brooks, Baylus C. Quest for Blackbeard: The True Story of Edward Thache and His World. Lulu Press, 2016.
Brooks, Baylus C. “French Pirate Jean Martel: Deception in ‘A General History,’” B. C. Brooks’ Writer’s Hiding Place (2 October 2016).
Calendar of New York Colonial Commissions 1680-1770 edited by Edmund B. O’Callaghan. New York Historical Society, 1929.
Calendar of State Papers Colonial Series, Vol. 29, 1716-1717.
Carpenter, John Reeve. Pirates: Scourge of the Seas. Barnes & Noble, 2006.
Clifford, Barry. Expedition Whydah: The Story of the World’s First Excavation of a Pirate Treasure Ship and the Man Who Found Her. Cliff Street Books, 1999.
Clifford, Barry, and Kenneth J. Kinkor. Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship. National Geographic, 2007.
Defoe, Daniel. A General History of the Pyrates edited by Manuel Schonhorn. Dover, 1999.
“Deposition of Ralph Merry and Samuel Roberts, May 11, 16, 1717,” in Privateering and Piracy in the Colonial Period: Illustrative Documents edited by John Franklin Jameson. Macmillan, 1923, 301-302.
Dethlefsen, Edwin, Whidaw: Cape Cod’s Mystery Treasure Ship. Seafarer Heritage Library, 1984.
Donovan, Webster. “Pirates of the Whydah,” National Geographic Magazine (May 1999).
Labat, Jean-Baptiste. Nouveau Voyage aux Isle de l’Amerique, vol. 7. Guilliame Cavalier Père, 1742.
Levenson, Michael. “Remains Are Identified as a Boy Pirate,” Boston Globe (2 June 2006).
Maugh, Thomas H. “A Pirate’s Life for Him – at Age 9,” Los Angeles Times (1 June 2006).
Snelgrave, William. A New Account of Some Parts of Guinea. Printed for James, John, and Paul Knapton, 1734.
“The Trials of Eight Persons Indited [sic] for Piracy,” British Piracy in the Golden Age edited by Joel H. Baer. Pickering and Chatto, 2007, 2:289-319.
Vanderbilt, Arthur T. Treasure Wreck: The Fortunes and Fate of the Pirate Ship Whydah. Schiffler, 2007.
The Whydah Sourcebook compiled and edited by Kenneth J. Kinkor. Unpublished manuscript, 2003.
Woodard, Colin. The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down. Harcourt, 2007.
Woolsey, Matt. “Top-Earning Pirates,” Forbes (19 September 2008).
About the author
When not reading, researching, or writing about pirates, you can find me doing Tai Chi or walking my cats. I also read true crime and adventure. I am hoping to soon put together volume 2 of The Whydah Pirates Speak. I realized that while I’ve been writing about some of the lesser-known pirates of the Whydah, I was neglecting to write its most famous passenger, Sam Bellamy. I hope you enjoy this latest installment in my series of articles these pirates!
Copyrighted © 2018 Laura Nelson
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