Thursday, July 30, 2015

Henry Timberlake's Deposition: Edward Thache and Benjamin Hornigold, Brief Partners in Crime!

Edward Thache, "Blackbeard"
Within the following is enclosed a deposition from a merchant mariner named Henry Timberlake, commander of the Brigantine Lamb. The incident involved in this deposition occurred while traveling on this fateful day in late fall 1716 from Boston to Jamaica. He was probably a resident in Virginia, the likely son of Thomas and Elizabeth Timberlake, born in 1688 in Saint Giles Cripplegate, London, the same place and only a few years later than that infamous North Carolina land pirate, Edward Moseley. He may also have been an ancestor to the famous Cherokee emissary to London in 1762, Lt. Henry Timberlake whose father died young in Virginia. You can read his memoirs: The Memoirs of Lt. Henry Timberlake: The Story of a Soldier, Adventurer, and Emissary to the Cherokees, 1756-1765. 

This deposition is quite a bit earlier. It tells of the first encounter that history has yet had with the pirates Benjamin Hornigold of Eleuthera, the Bahamas and Edward Thache of Jamaica, a.k.a. "Blackbeard the Pirate." 

This deposition may also be one of the sources used to effect an alteration between the May 1724 edition of a famous pirate book and its December 1724 second edition - yes, just seven months later, with numerous changes in the storyline for Thache, Hornigold, and Stede Bonnet. Capt. Charles Johnson's (a.k.a. Jacobite polemicist newspaper owner Nathaniel Mist) A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates and that book's second-edition reference to Blackbeard serving as an underling on Hornigold's ship - until they captured La Concorde, renamed her the Queen Anne's Revenge, and Hornigold surrendered while Thache went off on his own - is a major change from the first edition when Blackbeard was shown serving as Stede Bonnet's underling as a foremastman on his ship. Odd, isn't it? Thache could never cut a break with this writer, you know? The literary effect of rising from lowly depths to greatness as a "notorious" pirate probably sold more copies - Mist certainly needed the money after his legal fees had accrued of late. He had to leave England in 1728 because of all the trouble he was in.

As pirate historian Arne Bialuschewski relates, "A first-hand account reveals that, early in 1716, Thatch was in Kingston, where he joined an expedition led by Benjamin Hornigold to loot silver-laden Spanish wrecks that had sunk off the east coast of Florida." The deposition here described follows that account in late 1716, as the pair returned from the wrecks.

Truth be told, Thache and Hornigold only sailed in consort briefly and, truly, no primary sources yet point to Thache living in Kingston, although his half-brother Cox probably did, possibly apprenticed to an artillery man at Fort Nugent. The deposition of John Vickers described Hornigold pirating since November of 1715 and his battles with another pirate, Henry Jennings who stole a prize ship from him. Vickers never mentions Thache who may still have been on the Florida coast in his ship. Hornigold wasn't even present for La Concorde's capture (accomplished by Thache all by himself with Stede Bonnet reading books below deck). 

Thache served "under" neither Hornigold nor Bonnet and was actually the most experienced maritime adventurer of the three men, having served on the HMS Windsor during Queen Anne's War. But, Johnson - I mean, Mist - got that all wrong. Still, this deposition most likely gave him the material for altering his story. He even suppressed a few records to make the Hornigold-Thache dynamic duo an historical icon of demonic piratica that would send his books flying from the shelves - at least until I screwed all that up for him with actual records. Oops! 

Ok... Johnson took literary license which was not unusual by any means. Still... ;)

I go into Johnson-Mist's fabrications in more detail in my article " ‘Born in Jamaica of Very Creditable Parents’ or ‘A Bristol Man Born’? Excavating the Real Edward Thache, ‘Blackbeard the Pirate’ " in the July issue of North Carolina Historical Review coming out in late August.  That article also includes the newly-discovered true family of Edward Thache living in Spanish Town, Jamaica. No, he wasn't a Drummond. No, he wasn't named Beard. He was actually a Thache, from the only Thache family living in the old Spanish capital of 18th-century Jamaica and he probably was actually born in Bristol, son of Capt. Edward and Elizabeth Thache, with a grandfather Rev. Thomas Thache who studied at Oxford. At least Johnson-Mist probably got "Bristol" correct... some redemption for that loosely-creative literary craftsman. 

This deposition shows Hornigold and Thache sailing almost identical sloops of eight guns each, each with crews consisting of ninety men. It also involves a capture of the Lamb at a location that was well known to Thache from his days on the HMS Windsor - Cape Doña Maria on the west end of Hispaniola or Haiti today. The Windsor frequently patrolled that area of the Gulf of Gonȃve along Longane Bay and Petit Goȃve, a French base for their ships that served as convoys for Spanish treasure galleons sailing from Cartagena and Porto Bello to Spain. 

In short, this deposition fits perfectly with the information that we now have for the "new" narrative introducing Blackbeard to the world as a real human being - with flaws, to be sure - but, also a man that may have made the Board of Trade nervous because of his prior service as a likely officer aboard the Windsor, not the usual pirate, to be sure!

Henry Timberlake deposition, 17 December 1716, 1B/5/3/8, 212–3 [426-7], Jamaican Archives.

henry Timberlakes       Jamaica Ss.
deposition                          henry Timberlake master of the Brigantine
                                            called the Lamb burthen about Fforty Tons being
                                            duley Sworn deposeth & saith as follows

That about the Sixteenth day of november last he Set Sail
on board the said Brigantine from the Port of Boston
in New England bound for this Island [Jamaica] That about the thirteenth
of December instant about Eight Leagues off of Cape Donna
Maria on the west end of Hispaniola about Eight a Clock
at night a Sloop mounted with Eight Guns and manned
with about ninety men as they told him called the Delight
Benjamine Hornigole Comander came up with this Depont.
fired Several Shot at him, obliged him to bring too and then
Comanded him with his Boat on board and this Deponent
and two of his men coming on board him, hornigole
told this Deponent he had taken a Spaniard with Fforty
Guns the Thursday before and a Bristol man that
Sailed from this Island the week before, but gave this
Deponent no further account of either of those Vessels
and acquainted this Deponent the week before fifteen
of his men had run away with their own Canoa and
carried forty Thousand peices of eight with them. That
hornigole Said to this Deponent, give my Service to the
Captn of the man of warr and tell him I design to have
his Ship from him if I meet him. That hornigole hoisted
out of his Boat with about a dozen hands and Boarded
this Deponents Said Brigantine, this Deponent remaining

[next page] Council minutes

on board the Sloop till about two or three of the Clock in
the morning. That hornigole's Boat returning twice or thrice
loaden with provisions from the Brigantine this Deponent
asked them why they used him so they answered they wanted
provisions and this Deponent further Saith That in about
an hour after hornigole Boarded him Edward Thach
Comander of another Sloop, the name whereof this
Deponent knows not mounted with Eight Guns & manned
with about ninety men came alongside the said Brigantine
and Sent their Canoa with Several hands on Board her and
plundered her That the said hornigole and the said other
Sloop took from this Deponent Three Barrils of Porke,
one of Beef, two of peese, three of Markrill [fish?] five
Barrils of onions Several Dozen Caggs of oysters most
of his Cloaths and all his Ships Stores Except about
Fforty Biskets and a very Small quantity of meat just
to bring them in and threw Some of their Staves over
That this Deponent was cheifly loaden with Staves
and Shingles and that he was beleived the loss and his orendrs
histained by the Said Pirates might be about Sixty pounds
Jamaica mony That hornigole about three in the morning
Sent this Deponent in his own Boat on board That this Depont.
Soon after arrived in Port Royal harbour and further this
Deponent Saith that the said hornigole told him that he
understood by the Bristol Ship afore mentioned that Captn
[Robert?] Quarry was in Goal for being concerned in a Pyracy
with him but Said he was wrongfully accused therein
for that Quarry did not act or concerned himself and
was by him forced to be in their Company & declared
that it was him and his Crew alone that had robbed
that Spaniard. Hornigole further declared that if he
thought that him this Deponent would no So Soon
as he got into Jamaica declare and make known
that Quarry was not concerned in that Pyracy he
would not Suffer him to go from them and further
Saith not.

        Henry Timberlake

Sworn this 17th of December 1716
before his Excellency Peter Heywood         Jamaica


Many thanks to Dianne T. Golding Frankson for retrieving this document for me!
Author site:

Blackbeard's Genealogy Poster:

Blackbeard Reconsidered:

Blackbeard in French records:

Other publications of Baylus C. Brooks:

Dianne's Genealogical Research Site:

On Facebook:

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Guilty or Innocent?: Depositions of Pirates David Herriot and Ignatius Pell - October 1718

Partially excerpted from Quest for Blackbeard: The True Story of Edward Thache and His World 

Also told briefly in the video, Did Blackbeard the Pirate Wreck His Own Ship (QAR) on Purpose?... 

Capt. Charles Johnson (alias for Nathaniel Mist) took his information about the capture of Stede Bonnet directly from the official court transcript and his detail accurately reflected that document. In fact, he quoted this transcript almost word for word. He states:
  • In a few Days two Sloops were equipped and manned: The Henry with 8 Guns and 70 Men, commanded by Captain John Masters, and the Sea Nymph, with 8 Guns and 60 Men, commanded by Captain Fayrer Hall, both under the entire Direction and Command of the aforesaid Colonel Rhet, who, on the 14th of September, went on Board the Henry, and, with the other Sloop, sailed from Charles-Town to Swillivants Island, to put themselves in order for the Cruize… On the 26th following, in the Evening, the Colonel with his small Squadron, entered the River, and saw, over a Point of Land, three Sloops at an Anchor, which were Major Bonnet and his Prizes; but it happened that in going up the River, the Pilot run the Colonel’s Sloops aground, and it was dark before they were on Float, which hindered their getting up that Night. The Pyrates soon discovered the Sloops, but not knowing who they were, or upon what Design they came into that River, they manned three Canoes, and sent them down to take them, but they quickly found their Mistake, and returned to the Sloop, with the unwelcome News. Major Bonnet made Preparations that Night for engaging, and took all the Men out of the Prizes. He shewed Captain Manwaring, one of his Prisoners, a Letter, he had just wrote, which he declared he would send to the Governor of Carolina; the Letter was to this Effect, viz. That if the Sloops, which then appeared, were sent out against him, by the said Governor, and he should get clear off, that he would burn and destroy all Ships or Vessels going in or coming out of South-Carolina. The next Morning they got under Sail, and came down the River, designing only a running Fight. Colonel Rhet’s Sloops got likewise under Sail, and stood for him, getting upon each Quarter of the Pyrate, with Intent to board him; which he perceiving, edged in towards the Shore, and being warmly engaged, their Sloop ran a-ground: The Carolina Sloops being in the same shoal Water, were in the same Circumstances; the Henry, in which Colonel Rhet was, grounded within Pistol shot of the Pyrate, and on his Bow; the other Sloop [Sea Nymph under Fayrer Hall] grounded right a-head of him, and almost out of Gun-Shot, which made her of little Service to the Colonel….
Bonnet’s ship listed away from Rhett’s which provided cover for him and his men while Rhett’s was exposed. Hall’s Sea Nymph, remarkably also grounded, remained quite clear of the main scene of battle. In slapstick comedic fashion, three grounded vessels and their crews exchanged shots with one another while the captive Francis and Fortune and Dalton’s cannibalized shallop watched. When the vessels were refloated by the rising tide, Rhett’s Henry, fortunately for him, came loose first and he made for the Royal James, intending to board, but Bonnet quickly surrendered. 

Gov. Robert Johnson reported that “Wee had killed on board Collo. Rhett eight men and fourteen wounded, of which four are since dead, and on board Capt. [Fayrer] Hall, two killed and six wounded.”  The governor, however, failed to report that only one pirate was killed. “The said pirates are now prisoners here,” he added triumphantly, “and wee are prepairing for their tryall.”  Of course, the governor also did not fail to mention the great expense he sustained for the good of the king’s dominion. Still, his was perhaps a minority opinion.

Edward Crisp map of Charles Town, South Carolina - 1711
A trial ensued in late October under Vice-Admiralty judge Nicholas Trott, nephew and son of the infamous pirate Trotts of Bermuda and the Bahamas.  Trott, during Stede Bonnet’s trial in Charles Town, called Jamaica “a Place that is almost ruin’d by the Pirates.”  Trott carefully avoided the English origins and previous support of piracy as he introduced the trial, although he often mentioned Thache’s recent blockade of Charles Town Harbor, an event at which many of the prisoners were present. The most recent Charlestonian wound sustained at the hands of Charles Vane served only to initiate Bonnet’s capture, it seems.  Thache's recent insult, however, was foremost on Judge Trott's mind.

Trott also blamed the Spanish for breaking up the buccaneers at the Bay of Campeche, which caused them to infest Jamaica. Moreover, he blamed the deprived behavior of the Bahamas residents, of English, Spanish, and French origin, he said. Still, he did not mention the English governor of Jamaica inviting the outcasts of the Bay of Campeche to serve as a military force to protect his island. He did not mention his uncle, Bahama governor Nicholas Trott the elder, dealing in £3,000-£7,000 of pirated goods with Henry Avery. He did not blame the Lords Proprietors of Carolina for creating the neglected atmosphere that ruined the Bahamas. He neither blamed them for creating a similar atmosphere conducive to piracy and corruption in the Carolinas, nor for private colonies ruining the whole continent and its ability to trade. 

Trott never talked about how necessary the English believed that these pirates were to their protection just decades earlier. Still, he certainly understood that the English were truly responsible for creating these pirates, even above the Spanish or the French. He tried very few pirates of other than English origin. Indeed, the English started much of the problem when they came to the West Indies to steal from other nations. Trott knew this history; he was aware of the irony of the show trial that he conducted. Only then, by the time of the trial in the early eighteenth century, when much of the possessions of the West Indies had been stolen and now used by the English, did they want these wild piracies to stop. Only then did the English-made “common enemies of mankind” threaten them as well. Only when his new home of Charles Town was personally threatened did Trott complain at all. Trott, unlike Edward Randolph, was born in the West Indies and raised there. Piracy was in his blood, as it was with all natural-born Americans.

The trial against Bonnet, of course, was a sham. No defense was provided for the pirates, or even offered. The twenty-three members of the jury consisted entirely of wealthy merchants of Charles Town, all of whom had probably lost a great deal to these pirates and particularly hated Blackbeard. “The standards and procedures of these courts would seem appalling to today’s judicial process,” remarked Bonnet’s biographer, Christopher Byrd Downey.  They were lax even by standards of the day. Downey also relates that “many considered [Judge] Trott to be a self-righteous bully, and complaints had been made… that Trott had abused his position and authority.”  

David Herriot's deposition is routinely used as the evidence that Edward Thache aka "Blackbeard the Pirate" purposefully ran his flagship, the Queen Anne's Revenge aground in Beaufort Inlet (then called Topsail). The depositions of both Herriot and Ignatius Pell were given in trade for their immunity. Ignatius Pell only agrees with Herriot in the deposition, but later in the trial affirms his statement that Thache was guilty of grounding his ship on purpose. Herriot and Pell were not tried with the other pirates captured in the Cape Fear River on September 27, 1718. In fact, their names do not even appear on the title page of the printed trial transcripts published in 1721 in Charles Town. Their immunity stands as a significant factor in light of their testimonies being the only ones to actually accuse Edward Thache of such vile treachery.

Title page of Stede Bonnet Trial - 1721

Deposition of David Herriot of Jamaica:

Note that all standard "s" characters have been changed and all italicization has been removed, except where ship names require it. Capitalization remains the same.

The Information of David Herriot md Ignatius Pell Mariners, given to Richard Allen and Thomas Hepworth Esquires, Two of His Majesties Justices of the Peace for Berkly County, in the Province of South Carolina, against Major Stede Bonnet, Commander of the Sloop Revenge, alias Royal James, and against Robert Tucker Quarter-Master, Edward Robinson Gunner, Thomas Carman, John-William Smith, Neal Paterson, John Lopez, William Hewet, John Levit, Job Beely alias Bayley, William Scot, Thomas Nichols, John Ridge, Thomas Garrat a Molatto, John alias Bayley, Zachariah Long, Matthew King, James Robbins, Rowland Sharp, Samuel Booth, William Livers alias Evis, John Brierly, William Wallis, Daniel Perry, Henry Virgin, George Ross, George Dunkin, Alexander Annand, William Eddy alias Nedy, William Morrison, John Thomas, James Mullet alias Millet, Thomas Price, Robert Boyd, Jonathan Clarke, and James Wilson, all Mariners, belonging to the said Sloop Revenge, alias the Royal James, under the Command of the said Major Stede Bonnet, the Twenty fourth Day of October, in the Fifth Year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lord George, by the Grace of God of Great Britain, France and Ireland, King, Defender of the Faith, &c. Annoq; Domini 1718.

The said David Herriot and Ignatius Pell being duly sworn on the Holy Evangelists of Almighty God, depose and say as follow: And First, this Deponent, the said David Herriot, says, That about the Twenty second Day of March last he sailed out from Jamaica as Master in a Sloop called the Adventure, of the Burden of Eighty Tons, or thereabouts, whereof Matthew Taylor, of the County of Devon, Mariner; John Devine of Leyden, in the Province of Holland, Merchant; and James Robberts of Bristol Mariner, are Owners; and was bound for the Bay of Honduras, chartered by one Major Daniel Axdell to one William Stewart, of Honduras aforesaid. 

Says, That about the 4th or 5th of April last this Deponent came into the Bay of Turneff, about ten Leagues from the Bay of Honduras, and there saw a Ship and two Sloops, which this Deponent first apprehended to be Capt. Wyar, who came out of Jamaica with four other Sloops about a Week before this Deponent, and designed to come to an Anchor there. But soon after he perceiving the said Ship did not belong to the said Wyar, this Deponent took them for Spaniards, and then tacked about, and then the Ship fired a Gun at this Deponent's Sloop; and the said Sloop Revenge, then commanded by one Richards, a Pirate, slipped her Cable, and came up to this Deponent with a Black Flag hoisted, and ordered this Deponent to hoist out his Boat, and come on board them, which he did; and then the said Sloop Revenge sent five of their Hands in this Deponent's Boat back again to this Deponent's Sloop, and brought this Deponent's Sloop to an Anchor under the Ship's Stern.

Says, That the Ship which this Deponent imagined to belong to Mr. Wyar, was a Ship of forty Guns mounted, named the Queen Anne's Revenge, commanded by one Edward Thatch, a Pirate. And says, He then was inform'd by the Pirate Crew, that the said Major Stede Bonnet was on board the said Thatch, but out of Command, being some time before turn'd out of his Command by the said Thatch and the Pirate Crew, as he was inform'd.

And this Deponent further says, That at the time he was taken, as aforesaid there was another Sloop in their Company, which the said Pirates called their Prize; but know not her Name, nor the Master's. And deposes, That at the time he was taken there were on board the Sloop the Royal James, then called the Revenge, or the said Ship the Queen Anne's Revenge, the following Persons, viz. Edward Robinson Gunner, Neal Paterson, John Lopez, Job Beely alias Bayly, Willam Scot, Thomas Nichols, Zachariah Long, Matthew King, William Livers alias Evis, Daniel Perry, Henry Virgin, William Eddy alias Nedy, James Mullet alias Millet, Thomas Price, and James Wilson ; but by reason of their frequent shifting from the said Ship the Oueen Anne's Revenge to the said Sloop Revenge, now the Royal James, cannot say properly to which of them they belonged.

That about the Eighth or Ninth Day of April aforesaid, the said Thatch and Richards weighed Anchor from the Key of Turneff, and came to Anchor in the Evening of the same Day at Water-Key, about a League or two from the Bay of Honduras; and the next Morning weighed Anchor, and went into Honduras-Bay, where there lay four Sloops, and a Ship named the Protestant Caesar, Capt. Wyar Commander, from Jamaica last, but belonging to Boston, as'twas then reported. Says, That he knows not the Sloops Names; but three of them were commanded by Jonathan Bernard of Jamaica, Master of one of them, and Owner of three of the said four Sloops. 

Charles Leslie's Map of the West Indies - Bay of Honduras focus - 1740

Says, That one of the said Sloops came to descry what they were, and took said Thatch and Richards for Spaniards; but said Thatch fired a Gun, and hoisted his Black Flag. Whereupon Capt. Wyar and all his Men took to their Boat, and Went afhore ; and then Thatch sent one [William] Howard, his Quarter-Matter, and eight of his Crew, onboard of Wyar's Ship; but knows not what they took out of her. And says, That said Richards was employed in securing the other four Sloops.

And this Deponent further deposes, That two or three Days after the said Thatch and Richards set fire to Capt. Wyar's Ship, because she belonged to Boston, alledging the People of Boston had hanged some of the Pirates, and so burnt her. 

Says, The said Thatch burnt one of the four Sloops, because she belonged to Capt. James of Jamaica; which James, as 'twas alledged, had said he would not employ those Sailors in his Service that had accepted of the King's Proclamation ; and the other three Sloops, belonging to Bernard, they let go. From thence the said Richards and Thatch with this Deponent's Sloop, mann'd by some of the said Pirates, went to Turckcill, and from thence to the Grand Camania, being an Island belonging to the Spaniards, lying about sixty Leagues to the Westward of Jamaica, where they took a small Turtler. From thence they sailed towards the Havana, and from thence towards the Bahama Wrecks. From the Bahama Wrecks they came and lay off the Bar of Charles-Town in South Carolina, to wit, about the Month of May last, for the space of five or six Days; where the said Thatch and Richards took a Ship commanded by one Robert Clark, bound from Charles-Town aforesaid to London. 

Says, He has heard by the Pirates there were both Goods and Money taken out of the said Clark's Ship, but knows not the Particulars, this Deponent being then on board his own Sloop.

Says, That said Thatch and Richards, whilst they lay off the Bar of Charles-Town, took another Vessel coming out from Charles-Town, whose Name or Master cannot remember; and that they, the said Thatch and Richards, took two Pinks coming into Charles-Town from England; and heard them say they likewise took a Brigantine with Negroes, but knows not the Names of the two Pinks or Brigantine, or the Names of the Commanders, and knows not what they took out of them; and after detaining them some few Days, they let them go again. 

That said Thatch and Richards set sail from the Bar of Charles-Town with this Deponent's Sloop for North Carolina; and this Deponent asked why they detained this Deponent's Sloop? They answer'd, They hoped to meet with the Laver de Cruse Fleet some time or other; and that they kept her for a Fireship.

Says, That about six Days after they left the Bar of Charles-Town, they arrived at Topsail-Inlet in North Carolina, having then under their Command the said Ship Queen Anne's Revenge, the Sloop commanded by Richards, this Deponent's Sloop, commanded by one Capt. Hands, one of the said Pirate Crew, and a small empty Sloop which they found near the Havana. 

And this Deponent in the Voyage from South Carolina to North lost Company, but heard they took one Mason; and heard Thatch afterwards blame Richards for not burning said Mason's Vessel, because she belonged to Boston. That the next Morning after they had all got safe into Topsail-Inlet, except Thatch, the said Thatch's Ship Queen Anne's Revenge run a-ground off of the Bar of Topsail-Inlet, and the said Thatch sent his Quarter-Master to command this Deponent's Sloop to come to his Assistance; but she run a-ground likewise about Gun-shot from the said Thatch, before his said Sloop could come to their Assistance, and both the said Thatch's Ship and this Deponent's Sloop were wreck'd; and the said Thatch and all the other Sloop's Companies went on board the Revenge, afterwards called the Royal James, and on board the other [Spanish] Sloop they found empty off the Havana.

Says, 'Twas generally believed the said Thatch run his Vessel a-ground on purpose to break up the Companies, and to secure what Moneys and Effects he had got for himself and such other of them as he had most Value for. That after the said Ship and this Deponent's Sloop were so cast away, this Deponent requested the said Thatch to let him have a Boat, and a few Hands, to go to some inhabited Place in North Carolina, or to Virginia, there being very few and poor Inhabitants in Topsail-Inlet, where they were; and desired the said Thatch to make this Deponent some Satisfaction for his said Sloop: Both which said Thatch promised to do. But instead thereof, ordered this Deponent, with about sixteen more, to be put on shore on a small Sandy Hill or Bank, a League distant from the Main; on which Place there was no Inhabitant, nor Provisions. Where this Deponent and the rest remained two Nights and one Day, and expected to perish; for that said Thatch took away their Boat.

That said Thatch having taken what number of Men he thought fit along with him, he set sail from Topsail-Inlet in the small Spanish Sloop, about eight Guns mounted, forty White Men, and Sixty Negroes, and left the Revenge belonging to Bonnet there, who sent for this Deponent and Company from the said Sandy Bank. And then said Major Stede Bonnet reassumed the Command of his Vessel. And said Bonnet informed this Deponent, that his Intentions was to go to St. Thomas's, and there take a Commission against the Spaniards, hearing there was a War between the Emperor and Spain; and that he would give this Deponent his Passage thither, but could not pay him any Wages: Which this Deponent gladly accepted of.

That the said Major Bonnet being inform'd by a Bomb-Boat that brought Apples and Cyder, that Thatch lay at Ocricock-Inlet with only eighteen or twenty Hands, he resolved to pursue him, and cruised after him for four Days: But missing him, made to Virginia; and standing in with the Land, they met a Pink about ten Leagues to the Southward of Cape Henry about July last, whose Name or Master he knows not. And said Bonnet ordered the Pink to send their Boat, and come on board them. And the said Bonnet took out of her about ten or twelve Barrels of Pork, and about four hundred Weight of Bread.

Says, That feveral of the said Bonnet's Crew went aboard the said Pink: Knows not their particular Names who went on board the Pink ; but says, That at the time when they took the said Pink, there belonged to the said Bonnet the Mariners following, viz., Robert Tucker, Edward Robinson, Job Beely alias Bayly, William Scot, Neal Paterson, John Lopez, William Livers alias Evis, James Mullet alias Millet, James Wilson, John-William Smith, Thomas Nichols, John Ridge, William Eddy alias Nedy, William Hewet, Daniel Perry, Alexander Annand, John Thomas, Matthew King, Zachariah Long, Henry Virgin, Samuel Booth, Thomas Price, and John Robinfon, and eight others, who afterwards run away: All which bore Arms, and all assisted to take the said Pink. But they gave instead of what they took eight or ten Cask of Rice, and one old Cable.

That about the Month of July aforesaid, the said Bonnet, and Crew last abovesaid, gave Chace to a Sloop, about two Leagues off of Cape Henry aforesaid, of about sixty Tons, Master unknown, and Sloop's Name unknown to this Deponent; and fitted out a Dory after her with five Men, who took her, and brought her to the said Bonnet. And the said five Men took out of her two Hogsheads of Rum, one or more Hogsheads of Molosses, and two Negroes, and brought them on board said Bonnet.

Says, That said Bonnet, and all the Mariners last abovesaid, to wit, Robert Tucker, Edward Robinson, Job Beely alias Bayley, William Scot, Neal Paterfon, John Lopez, William Livers alias Evis, James Mullet alias Millet, James Wilson, John-William Smith, Thomas Nichols, John Ridge, William Eddy alias Nedy, William Hewet, Daniel Perry, Alexander Annand, John Thomas, Matthew King, Zachariah Long, Henry Virgin, Samuel Booth, Thomas Price, and John Robinfon, were all helping and assisting to take the Sloop last abovesaid; and that eight Men of the said Crew were put on board her, and afterwards run away with her.

Says, That one William Morrison was taken out of the Sloop last abovesaid, and continued a Prisoner about four or five Days, and then took on with Bonnet, and began to take Arms with the rest at the taking of the two Snows hereafter mentioned, and not before, for that he assisted at the taking the two Snows. Says, That about the same Month of July, as they lay off of Cape Henry, the said Bonnet and Crew took two Ships bound from Virginia for Glascow, whose Names or Masters can't remember, and took about one hundred Weight of Tobacco out of each, and then discharged them.

That about the same Month of July, the said Bonnet and Crew took a Sloop bound from Virginia to Bermudas, about fifty Tons, Master's Name, Sloop's, or Owners, can't remember. And the said Bonnet and Crew took out of her twenty Barrels of Pork, some small Quantity of loose Bacon, and gave him again two Barrels of Rice, and a Hogshead of Molosses, and sent her away.

That Robert Tucker, Edward Robinson, Job Bayley alias Beely, William Scot, Neal Paterfon, John Lopez, William Livers alias Evis, James Mullet alias Millet, James Wilson, John-William Smith, Thomas Nichols, John Ridge, William Eddy alias Nedy, William Hewet, Daniel Perry, Alexander Annand, John Thomas, Matthew King, Zachariah Long, Henry Virgin, Samuel Booth, Thomas Price, and John Robinson, were then on board the said Bonnet, and bore Arms, and helped and assisted to take the said Last mentioned Sloop; and that two Mariners, named Thomas Carman and George Ross, came out of the said last mentioned Bermudas Sloop voluntarily, and that they took on with Bonnet, and bore Arms afterwards amongst the rest.

That sometime in the Month of July the said Bonnet and Crew took another Ship, bound from Virginia to Glascow, can't remember her Name, or the Masters, and took nothing of Value, save only a few Combs, Pins, and Needles; and gave her instead thereof a Barrel of Pork, and two Barrels of Bread.

That about the same Month of July, the said Bonnet and Crew, that is to say, Robert Tucker, Edward Robinson, Job Beely alias Bayley, William Scot, Neal Paterson, John Lopez, William Livers alias Evis, James Mullet alias Millet, James Wilson, John-William Smith, Thomas Nichols, John Ridge, William Eddy alias Nedy, William Hewet, Daniel Perry, Alexander Annand, John Thomas, Matthew King, Zachariah Long, Henry Virgin, Samuel Booth, Thomas Price, John Robinfon, Thomas Carman, and George Ross, took a Scooner as they sailed from Virginia to Philadelphia, in the Latitude of Thirty eight North, coming from North Carolina, bound to Boston, about thirty or forty Tons, Name of the Vessel or Master unknown to this Deponent, and took out of her about two dozen Calf-Skins to make Covers for Guns, and kept her about three Days; and that the said William Wallis and John Levit came but of the said Scooner voluntarily, and took on with said Bonnet and Crew, and bore Arms with the rest.

That during the said three Days the said Bonnet and Crew, that is to say, Robert Tucker, Edward Robinson, Job Beely alias Bayley, William Scot, Neal Paterson, John Lopez., William Livers alias Evis, James Mullet alias Millet, James Wilson, John-William Smith, Thomas Nichols, John Ridge, William Eddy alias Nedy, William Hewet, Daniel Perry, Alexander Annand, John Thomas, Matthew King, Zachariah Long, Henry Virgin, Samuel Booth, Thomas Price, John Robinson, Thomas Carman, George Ross, William Wallis, and Joseph Levit, took two Snows off Dellaware Bay, thirty nine Degrees North-Latitude, near Philadelphia, of the Burden of about ninety Tons, each bound from Philadelphia to Bristol, Snows Names and Masters knows not. Believes there was Money and Goods taken out of the said Snows, but knows nothing of the Particulars. Detain'd them about a Day, and dismissed them. That at the same time the said Bonnet and Crew took a Sloop of the Burden of sixty Tons, bound from Philadelphia to Barbadoes, Names of Vessel or Master unknown. Knows not whether they took Goods out of her, or not; dismiss'd her with the Snows. 

But says, That George Dunkin, came out of said last mentioned Sloop voluntarily, at the same time when [Capt. Thomas] Read was taken, as hereafter mentioned, and took on with said Bonnet, and bore Arms amongst the rest at the taking of Manwareing and Dalton, hereafter mention'd. That during those three Days in the Month of July aforefaid, to wit, about the 28th, 29th, or 30th of the same Month, the said Bonnet and Crew took a Sloop [Fortune], Burden of fifty or sixty Tons, commanded by Capt. Thomas Read, as they lay off of Delaware-Bay, about six or seven Leagues, bound from Philadelphia to Barbadoes, loaden with Provisions, and put four or five Hands of the said Bonnet's Crew on board her.

That about the last Day of July, the said Bonnet and Crew, as they lay at the Hore-Kills in Delaware-Bay aforesaid, off Cape Inlopen, took a Sloop [Francis] about the Burden of sixty Tons, commanded by Peter Manwareing, bound from Antegoa to Philadelphia, loaden chiefly with Rum, Molosses, and Sugar: The said Bonnet and Crew took Molosses out of her, and put it on board the said Scooner ; but knows not the Particulars, because he lay at a distance.

That the next Day the said Bonnet and Crew sailed out of Delaware-Bay, and carried said Read's and Manwareing's Sloops along with them ; and about the 12th Day of August they came into Cape Fear River, in order to repair their Sloop the Revenge alias Royal James, which was' very leaky, and stayed there till about the 29th of September following, waiting till the Time of Hurrican Weather was over, being bound for St. Thomas's next.

That at the time of taking the said Sloops belonging to Read and Manwareing, there were on board the Sloop Revenge alias Royal James, or on board the said Scooner, the said Major Stede Bonnet, Robert Tucker Quarter-Master, Edward Robinson Gunner, Thomas Carman, John-William Smith, Neal Paterfon, John Lopez, William Hewet, John Levit, Job Beely alias Bayley, William Scot, Thomas Nichols, John Ridge, Zachariah Long, Matthew King, James Robbins, Samuel Booth, William Livers alias Evis, William Wallis, Daniel Perry, Henry Virgin, George Ross, Alexander Annand, William Eddy alias Nedy, William Morrison, John Thomas, James Mullet alias Millet, Thomas Price, James Wilson; but that George Dunkin was only at the taking of Manwareing and Dalton.

That all the said Crew bore Arms freely and voluntarily, and were all consenting and assisting in taking the said two sloops belonging to the said Read and Manwareing, except the said George Dunkin, who was only at the taking of Manwareing and Dalton, and then bore Arms likewise amongst the rest. And as the said last mentioned Sloops lay in Cape Fear, said Bonnet and all or the greatest part of his Crew, were on board said Read and Manwareing's Sloops; and said Read and Manwareing Were detain'd by the said Bonnet and his Crew in Cape Fear River aforesaid, for the space of six or eight Weeks.

That there were several Parcels of Goods taken by the said Bonnet and his Crew both out of Read and Manwareing's Sloops, but cannot tell the Particulars. That whilst the said Bonnet and Crew lay in Cape Fear River, the said Bonnet and Crew took a little Shallop of about six Tons, belonging to one Dalton and ripped her up to mend the Revenge alias the Royal James.

That about the 27th Day of September last, the said Bonnet and Crew, as they lay in Cape Fear River, were attacked by two Sloops, under the Command of Colonel William Rhett, who were fitted out by the Government of South Carolina to take Pirates, as he has heard ; and after a Fight of six Hours, the said Bonnet and Crew surrendered themselves under certain Terms, which are now in the Pirate Prisoners Custody, to which he refers himself.

Says, That at the time of the Engagement with the Sloops under the Command of Colonel Wiliiam Rhett, there were belonging to the said Sloop the Royal James, the said Major Stede Bonnet Commander, Robert Tucker, Edward Robinson, Thomas Carman, John-William Smith, Neal Paterson, John Lopez, William Hewet, John Levit, Job Beely alias Bayley, William Scot, John Ridge, Zachariah Long, Matthew King, James Robbins, Samuel Booth, William Livers alias Evis, William Wallis, Daniel Perry, Henry Virgin, George Ross, George Dunkin, Alexander Annand, William Eddy aVias Nedy, William Morrison, John Thomas, James Mullet alias Millet, Thomas Price, and James Wilson; but says, That Thomas Nichols would not bear Arms at the time of the said Engagement, but went down in the Hole all the time, and was very uneasy about two Months before, and wanted to quit the Revenge.

And this Deponent further says, That at the time of the Engagement there were likewise on board the said Revenge alias Royal James, those five several other Persons which were not concerned in the taking any of the Vessels before mentioned, via. Thomas Gerrat a Molatto, which was one of the said Manwareing's Mariners; Rowland Sharp, which came from North Carolina in a Perriager; John Brierly, which came in a Boat from North Carolina, Robert Boyd, who came with Brierly from North Carolina, and Jonathan Clarke, which came out of Mr. Dalton's Sloop; which said five Persons, via. Garrat, Sharp, Brierly, Boyd, and Clarke, all bore Arms voluntarily at the time of the said Engagement. 

Says, The last five mentioned Persons were taken at first, but bore Arms freely afterwards in the said Engagement. And says, That John Dalton never bore Arms at the time of the Engagement, nor no other time; nor was the said Dalton concerned in any Act of Piracy whatsoever, to this Deponent's knowledge.

Ignatius Pell deposition:

And this Deponent Ignatius Pell deposes, That all and singular the Matters and Things herein before deposed by the said David Herriot are true, in such manner and sort as the same are above declared to be done and transacted from the 4th or 5th of April last ; with these additional Circumstances, That the said Bonnet and Crew took out of the Pink they met as they came from Topsail-Inlet an Anchor and Cable; and that said Thatch took out of the Brigantine he took off the Bar of Charles-Town fourteen Negroes; and that he heard Thatch tell the Commander of the said Brigantine, That he had got a Baker's Dozen.

That there were a Cable and about twenty one Hogsheads of Molosses taken by said Bonnet and Crew out of said Manwareing's Sloop while they in Delaware-Bay, and some Rum and other Provisions, as the said Bonnet and Crew wanted them. Says, The said Bonnet and Crew took out of the said Read's Sloop, while she lay in Cape Fear River, several Barrels of Pork and Flower, and other Provisions, but knows not the Particulars ; as also said Read's Square-Sail, and Topsail, and his Chain-Plates.

Says, The said Bonnet's Crew, about three Days before they came to Cape Fear, shared about ten or eleven Pounds Sterling each Man, which is all the Money they shared. Says, He heard by the Pirate Crew aboard Thatch, that Thatch took out of the Vessels that were taken off of the Bar of South Carolina, in Gold and Silver, to the Value of one thousand Pounds Sterling Money; and by others of them, to the Value of fifteen hundred Pounds Sterling Money : But that when Thatch broke up the Company, and before they came to any Share of what was taken by Thatch, Thatch took all away with him.

Sworn before us,


David Herriot never confessed guilt in the entire affair. As far as he was concerned, he was completely innocent of all piracies. Still, during the trial, a local Goose Creek citizen and later pirate, Richard Tookerman helped Stede Bonnet and David Herriot break jail. They escaped to Sullivan's Island where they put up a fight with slaves and weapons provided by Tookerman. Herriot was shot and killed in the battle and one slave was injured. The question is: How innocent could Herriot have been?  Can we believe his testimony? Furthermore, the "Major Daniel Axdell" that he referred to as initially sending his ship to the Bay of Honduras where he was "captured" by Thache may have been an in-law of Edward Thache, named "Daniel Axtell of Port Royal, Jamaica." Furthermore, three other "bloody-flag-flying" ships (see article below) were also there under Jonathan Bernard of St. Catherine's Parish, Jamaica that may have accompanied Herriot's Adventure from Jamaica and may have been pirates as well. Herriot may not have been with Thache by accident.

Portion of article showing that the three sloops of Jonathan Bernard were probably pirates as well, as Capt. Wyar believed, or at least there to assist Thache, perhaps re-provision his ship that may have been low on necessaries: from Boston News-Letter, Monday June 9, to Monday June 16, 1718.
Out of the thirty-five men examined during the trial only Herriot and Pell mentioned that the QAR was grounded on purpose. Only three others even mentioned the grounding at all, but in neutral terms. Herriot claimed that "'Twas generally believed the said Thatch run his Vessel a-ground on purpose to break up the Companies, and to secure what Moneys and Effects he had got for himself and such other of them as he had most Value for." Still, no one else appeared to harbor these feelings toward Edward Thache, not even the other twenty-four men that Thache marooned probably on Harbor Island in Core Sound, North Carolina. It wasn't "generally believed" by their ship mates, so who?

Furthermore, Tookerman owned the Sea Nymph, a ship captained by Fayrer Hall and one of the sloops that captured Stede Bonnet and his men in the Cape Fear River. Why was it that Hall's sloop grounded further from the battle and received less damage in the three-hour battle between Col. William Rhett's two sloops and Stede Bonnet's? 

South Carolina Misc. Records, 4 December 1718, p. 56.
Tookerman boldly demanded damages for the Sea Nymph from the South Carolina government in December 1718, after helping Bonnet and Herriot escape! Capt. Fayrer Hall of the Sea Nymph barely got scratched in Bonnet’s capture. Interestingly, he sued Richard Tookerman in early 1719 and demanded the kingly sum of £581. The two may have had a previous arrangement wherein Tookerman failed to uphold his end of the bargain. Hall, therefore, covertly sought recompense. The court, presided over again by Admiralty Judge Nicholas Trott, granted Hall the much more reasonable sum of £83 for his services as captain of the Sea Nymph, leaving Hall quite short of his hopes. 

Rhett probably heard about the coercion between Hall and Tookerman later, but before he could confront Hall over the affair, his son, 26-year-old merchant William Rhett Jr., was burglarized. His house was robbed by – Richard Tookerman. A wooden box containing eighty spread eagle pieces of silver and a package of coral and amber were stolen. Rhett suspected Tookerman, whose house was searched, and a portion of the coral and about forty or fifty spread eagle pieces were found on him, his wife Katherine, and some of his slaves. Tookerman was arrested once again, and was brought to trial for the robbery. He was convicted and jailed. Tookerman and several others broke out of jail, stole a number of horses and slaves, and fled to Virginia. From Virginia he made his way to Barbados and then to Jamaica, leaving his wife and children behind. 

Not to be outdone, Hall also sued Col. William Rhett for slander the next year. Apparently, Rhett accused Hall openly of being a pirate. Hall claimed that this imputation of piracy had destroyed his "hitherto untainted" reputation. Still, Hall had been recently convicted of assault and battery when he invaded a neighbor's home, assaulting him only months before "sort of" battling Bonnet in the Cape Fear River.  

A decidedly Jacobite Richard Tookerman later paired with Daniel and Thomas Porter, two pirates that formerly served under Benjamin Hornigold and they joined Bartholomew Roberts' crew. Tookerman also successfully sued Capt. Edward Vernon for false arrest after evading those charges that Vernon leveled against him for saluting the Pretender's (James III) birthday in Port Royal Harbor. Tookerman publicly took out an ad against Vernon before winning his case:

Daily Journal (London, England), Tuesday, November 21, 1721; Issue CCLIX.
Obviously, there's a great deal more to this quite convoluted story than simply a mere trial. The simple idea of justice never seemed so simple in practice, especially when the general population of America seemed perfectly content with violating the rules - without doubt, America liked piracy. It thrived on it for decades. Edward Thache may have been the victim of the British government's (specifically the Board of Trade) efforts to rhetorisize him into a nasty, notorious villain.... because Americans fully supported the economic system of piracy and probably saw Thache as their hero. He may possibly have led a rebellion against Britain, with Jacobite grievances running as high as they did after the failed rebellion in 1715. His service in the Royal Navy was probably as an officer on HMS Windsor and he may have had the experience and training to pull off a coup.

It might also be that Charles Town merchants had simply grown weary of Edward Thache who annoyed them on numerous occasions. They really wanted him out of their hair! After all, Blackbeard dared to blockade their port, captured their ships that tried to enter or leave port, and held their trade still for an entire week! Herriot and Pell were promised immunity if they would swear to the deposition - to the treachery of the "notorious" Blackbeard the Pirate!

Sounds rather like corrupt police practice, wouldn't you say? Personally, I like "Black Sails" the TV series because it portrays pirates in a more accurate light, no doubt due to the consulting author Benerson Little who really knows his naval history. But the last episode's portrayal of Charleston and its Col. William Rhett was far from the mark in my opinion. Everyone there at the time were opportunists - it was not the civilized place that "Black Sails" made it out to be. The activities of these pirates/local citizenry give a better portrayal in actual records, when examined in full. Richard Tookerman was not that unusual, nor were his friends Stede Bonnet and David Herriot.


Warning!! This could change your most basic perceptions...

See how the Bahamas and its sister colony Carolina became pirate strongholds through neglect of its wealthy private owners years before Hornigold and Thache and their “Flying Gang” - how pirates came to the American South, killed 600,000 people to maintain their "peculiar" institution of slavery, and developed a unique conservative ideology that survives today.

See where America began – from New Providence and Charleston to the Lower Cape Fear - enmeshed in the violent wilderness “beyond the lines of amity” – competition and sport, stealing treasure and burning ships - with Caribbean Buccaneers and Pirates of the Golden Age!


Look for the article:
“ ‘Born in Jamaica of Very Creditable Parents’ or ‘A Bristol Man Born’? Excavating the Real Edward Thache, ‘Blackbeard the

Pirate’ “ in the July issue of North Carolina Historical Review!

Blackbeard Reconsidered: Mist's Piracy, Thache's Genealogy

Author site:

Blackbeard's Genealogy Poster:

Blackbeard in French records:

Other publications of Baylus C. Brooks:

Dianne's Genealogical Research Site:

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Blackbeard's Capture of La Concorde or the Queen Anne's Revenge: the French Documents

Title page from A General History of the Pyrates by Capt. Charles Johnson [Nathaniel Mist], 2nd ed., published in December 1724.
Author of A General History of the Pyrates, Capt. Charles Johnson (who we know today was Jacobite newspaper publisher Nathaniel Mist) wrote that: "In the Spring of the Year 1717, [Edward "Blackbeard"] Teach and Benjamin] Hornigold sailed from Providence, for the Main of America, and took in their Way a Billop from the Havana, with 120 Barrels of Flower, as also a Sloop from Bermuda, Thurbar Master, from whom they took only some Gallons of Wine, and then let him go; and a Ship from Madera to South-Carolina, out of which they got Plunder to a considerable Value" and following these events, that "After cleaning on the Coast of Virginia, they returned to the West-Indies, and in the Latitude of 24, made Prize of a large French Guiney Man [La Concorde, later Queen Anne's Revenge or QAR], bound to Martinico, which by Hornigold’s Consent, Teach went aboard of as Captain, and took a Cruize in her; Hornigold returned with his Sloop to Providence, where, at the Arrival of Captain Rogers, the Governor, he surrendered to Mercy, pursuant to the King’s Proclamation."

Woodcut images from the first two editions of A General History by Capt. Charles Johnson. The first edition claimed "Thatch" was from Jamaica, but the second edition claimed him to be a "Bristol man born" named "Teach". The editions differed most in that Thache was paired with Stede Bonnet in the first edition, but with Benjamin Hornigold in the second. Why the variation?

Johnson/Mist wrote this passage in his second edition (December 1724), published a few months after the first (May 1724). These two editions are quite different. The first edition claimed "Thatch" was from Jamaica, but the second edition claimed him to be a "Bristol man born" named "Teach". The editions differed most in that Thache was paired with Stede Bonnet in the first edition, but with Benjamin Hornigold in the second. Most primary sources [generally, the Boston News-Letter] tell of Thache paired with Stede Bonnet. Only one report tells that Hornigold joined them in mid-October 1717 off the Virginia capes. Did something happen in those intervening months to change Mist's impression of Thache?Why did he suddenly make Hornigold Thache's mentor or master?

Historian Arne Bialuschewski, researching in Jamaica, found the deposition of Henry Timberlake in which he testified as to Hornigold and Thache sailing together (presumably in separate privateer vessels as Henry Jennings, James Wills, and Samuel Liddel had done the year before) to fish Spanish wrecks on the coast of Florida. This record from Jamaica was previously unknown to us today. The eleven wrecks were part of a flotilla of Spanish treasure ships caught in a hurricane and wrecked on July 30, 1715 near Cape Canaveral. Thache, who then lived in Kingston, joined Hornigold around the latter part of 1716 - perhaps part of early 1717. This happens to be when Johnson/Mist asserts that Thache met Hornigold in his second edition. It is not known if Thache had fished the wrecks before or if he and Hornigold received privateer commissions like Jennings, et al had. 

"X" Marks the Wreck Site from July 30, 1715

Johnson/Mist probably learned of this deposition after penning his first edition and and wrote his second edition which detailed Hornigold as Blackbeard's master with Blackbeard starring as the eager pirate pupil. He changed significant sections of text on both Thache's and Stede Bonnet's chapters. 

Mist, the polemicist, wrote from the standpoint of a financially-deprived criminal biographer and may have wanted his greatest and most "notorious" pirate to be shown receiving the wisdom and training of the "great pirate master," Benjamin Hornigold. The literary effect alluded to Eve plucking the apple from the Tree of Knowledge, unleashing evil upon the world. The bestowing of the QAR made the perfect "apple." Johnson/Mist may have waxed more rhetorical as he revised his first edition - and as he was frequently required to post bail and pay heavy fines.

Johnson's fantastic creation doesn't quite meet with reality. To be mentioned in the deposition implied that Thache was a significant player (not just now, after building a "notorious" reputation, but even in December 1716, when he essentially had no reputation), an independent mariner, not merely a crewman aboard Hornigold's ship. Furthermore, there is clear documentary evidence that Hornigold was not in command of the pirates that took La Concorde [QAR], as Johnson/Mist asserted in the second edition. The original pairing of Thache with Barbadian aristocratic pirate Stede Bonnet from the first edition seems more likely. 

Johnson/Mist must have assumed that Thache and Hornigold stayed together after December 1716, but they were probably never really "together" anyway. They can be found on the island of New Providence in the Bahamas as equals in July 1717, but there is no reason to assume that they were anything more or less before or then.

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.

The critical moment from which to judge the accuracy of Johnson/Mist's narrative was the capture of La Concorde, which Johnson/Mist attributes to Hornigold and Thache as his subordinate. This occurred November 28, 1717. Recently discovered French documents, detailed by Jacques Ducoin for the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Division of Archives and History expose Johnson/Mist for a fraud. 

[Documents held in Archives départementales de Loire-Atlantiquea Nantes, les Archives nationales Paris et la section outre-mer des Archives nationales a Aix-en-Provence.] These French documents have been published as Jacques Ducoin, "Research Report in French Archives Nantes on the ship La Concorde captured by pirates in 1717," North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources Division of Archives and History (July 2001).
The details, independent of Johnson/Mist, were recorded by depositions given to French authorities by Capt. Pierre Dosset and his crew following the incident and even some months after the incident. These depositions neither mention Hornigold by name nor do they mention a ship as large as thirty-six guns, which Hornigold allegedly captained at the time, the Ranger.

The first document to appear after the capture came from Capt. Pierre Dossett when he made his report December 10, 1717 to Mesnier, steward of the Martinique:

"... on 28 November, being 60 leagues by 14 degrees by 27 minutes of latitude north, was attacked by two English ships pirates, one 12 and the other of 8 guns armed 250 men commanded by Edouard Titche Englishman."

Thache came directly from the Delaware Capes where, on 12 Oct 1717, he took Capt. Lindsey and then proceeded to the Virginia Capes where, on 18 Oct 1717, he and Benjamin Hornigold (in his 36-gun Ranger) worked together to take Capt. Prichard from St. Lucia. Perhaps this gave Thache the idea to head east of Martinique to capture La Concorde, or some other rich slave ships coming from the coast of Africa. Thache parted from Hornigold and sailed south from the coast of Virginia, probably traveling through the Florida Channel, north of Santo Domingo, where another pair of pirates, one with a 12-gun ship like Thache's, captained by one "Nicholas" took a French vessel on 20 Oct 1717. It would be impossible for this to have been Thache because he could not have gone that far in only two days, so the first report of it being him was wrong. He could easily have made Martinique by 28 Nov 1717, however, to take La Concorde. NOTE: It is interesting to conjecture that Thache may have received some intelligence about the French Nantais slave ship that induced him to travel south at the same time. The documents mention how friendly the inhabitants of Santo Domingo,  St. Vincent, and the Grenadines were to the pirates. Presumably, this was a general American attitude as opposed to British. Perhaps Capt. Prichard from St. Lucia, an island in that chain, or someone on his ship told Thache about expecting a large slave shipment to Martinique. Thache then rushed to that area to take advantage of the opportunity.


Edward Thache's Flag? Or Edward Low's?
Pirate flag usually attributed to Edward Thache. Confirmed to be the flag of the pirate "Nicholas" (without heart and blood drops) by a description given by the captain of a French ship taken in October 1717 before La Concorde was taken the next month by Thache. This ship was the St. Michel. The entire flag, including the heart and blood drops, actually appears in newspaper records in 1723 as that of Edward Low's.
These French documents also provide a surprisingly detailed description of the flag of a "large pirate ship" which confirms most of the flag details accepted by Blackbeard scholars today: "a black flag with a skeleton in the middle of a hand holding a dart and the other a clock." In fact, Jean Dubois, the captain of St. Michel, taken by pirates the previous October 20th, claimed that both pirate ships flew this flag. The pirate ships he described as a "British ship of 12 guns and 135 crewmen and the second pirate boat armed with 4 guns and 35 crew," which at first sounds like Thache and company. Captain of La Gracieuse, however, stated this pirate to be named "Nicholas." The only detail of the "accepted" Blackbeard flag not mentioned was the heart and blood drops. Dubois also mentioned a second flag of the "same color with a figure of a man who takes another under the feet that crosses his throat" on the secondary mast.

Note that Clifford Beal in Quelch's Gold: Piracy, Greed, and Betrayal in Colonial New England tells how the flag now attributed to Edward Thache, including the "three drops of blood" was once attributed to New England pirate John Quelch.  Beal states that no documentary evidence supports this and that it "appears to be an embellishment from an Edwardian-era [1901-1910] historian." This historian's name is not given. Interesting indeed that this flag is described accurately in the French depositions, though without the blood detail.

Edward Low's flag, however, is described in Mark G. Hanna's Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire, 1570-1740, including all the details usually attributed to Edward Thache, on page 370 and 370n10:

When members of Edward Low's were executed in Newport in July 1723, newspapers reported that they were hanged upon the gallows, under "their black flag, with the Pourtrature of Death having an Hour-Glass in one Hand, and a Dart in the other, at the end of which was the Form of a Heart with three Drops of Blood falling from it... this flag they called Old Roger [reference to the devil], and often us'd to say they would live and die under it."
Reference: New England Courant (Boston), July 15-22, 1723; and...

... the crew hanged "under their own deep Blew Flagg which was hoisted up on their gallows, and had pourtraid on the middle of it, an Anatomy with an Hour-glass in one hand and a Dart in the Heart with 3 drops of Blood proceeding from it, in the other."
Reference: Boston News-Letter (Boston, Massachusetts), Thursday July 18, to Thursday July 25, 1723,  Page [2] (shown in pic below)

Boston News-Letter of July 18-25, 1723
This description is the exact one later used to describe the flag of Edward "Blackbeard" Thache, including the heart and blood drops, but no known primary source attributes this flag design to Blackbeard.


The two ships: Stede Bonnet's 12-gun Revenge that he had built specifically to go "a-pirating" and the smaller vessel originally owned by Edward Thache or the "6-gun [with various size references]" smaller vessel described by Capt. Matthew Musson in New Providence earlier in July were apparently not the ones who plundered the St. Michael or flew the traditional "Blackbeard" flag. This record is important, for the traditional "Blackbeard" flag has never been recorded on Edward Thache's ship... but it has on another pirates'!

Thache met Bonnet and taken command of his 12-gun Revenge the previous month of September when Bonnet may have shown up at New Providence wounded from his Spanish encounter, as researcher Colin Woodard believes. Thache had the smaller vessel prior to their partnership of then six guns, perhaps his original ship from fishing wrecks with Hornigold and taking Henry Timberlake's Lamb, then of eight guns - maybe the one he used as a merchant-mariner living in Kingston. Either way, if the pirates who took the St. Michael had been Thache and Bonnet, the smaller ship would had to have been losing cannon quite a lot! Still, there were many pirates in the Atlantic waters at this time. The pirate using the traditionally-accepted "Blackbeard" flag did not have to be Blackbeard. It might have been "Nicholas" or even John Quelch... or even Blackbeard, assuming that the pirates were prone to excessive plagiarism.

The captain of the La Gracieuse, stated "Nicholas" to have taken him on October 20th: "the largest armed boat of 12 pieces of cannon and 140 men the small boat was armed with four guns and equipped with 30 or 35 men." This almost is the same description as Thache and company. The French vessels mentioned captured by Thache or "Nicholas" were "namely the ship St. Jacques de Bordeaux, Captain Bergeron, a ship of [La] Rochelle called Caille, captain Haudeberd, Gracieuse de Nantes, Captain Francois Barbier."

Two conclusions stand out from studying these documents. The first is that Benjamin Hornigold was definitely not with Edward Thache after mid-October 1717 and not present for the capture of La Concorde, or the QAR. My research has shown that he was working alone, except for Stede Bonnet riding along "studying books in his cabin" for most of the summer after mid-July when they cruised to New England. Bonnet had ill-advisedly attacked a Spanish Man-of-War near South Carolina in August and was recovering from injuries sustained that day, which gave Thache the opportunity to use his bigger and newer Barbadian-built ship. Thache apparently was happy to have the bigger ship and didn't care what Bonnet did in the meantime. Thache briefly met with Hornigold just off the Virginia Capes in early October 1717, right before Thache began his run against the French in the Caribbean. 

Comparison Chart showing the incidence of partnership between Edward Thache and both Benjamin Hornigold and Stede Bonnet in the first two editions of A General History, by Capt. Charles Johnson. These are then compared to other primary records. It appears that Johnson/Mist may have suppressed certain newspaper reports to accommodate the information found in his second, generally most accepted edition. Johnson/Mist intentionally altered his use of primary sources for the December 1724 edition as opposed to the May 1724 one. Chart created by Baylus C. Brooks.
The second point is that the French documents reveal a number of French vessels of which most American pirate scholars have not previously been aware. The general belief by most American scholars (and by Johnson/Mist as well) might be that he preyed almost exclusively upon English ships, for those were the incidents most reported by the Boston News-Letter and recorded in English Admiralty documents.  Thache, however, may have preyed more upon his former enemies in Queen Anne's War: the French and Spanish. Media bias kept Englishmen and, thus, Americans, from knowing full well the total of ships that these pirates may have captured. Thache may have exemplified Hornigold's sentiments that the pirate "Flying Gang" at the Bahamas only took foreign ships unless otherwise threatened. Thache certainly preyed on quite a few English ships, but there were many French ships listed here and we still most likely have not heard about all the Spanish and Dutch ships that were taken. How many more nations other than English? That's the question.

This ideology/method would easily reflect my recent discovery of Thache as an old Royal Navy man, not likely to become a pirate easily. As a possible privateer from Jamaica with a "legal" commission from its governor, he merely fished castaway Spanish silver and gold on the coast of Florida after the hurricane of July 30, 1715. The arrest of Gov. Hamilton may have disrupted his income sufficiently to begin the pirate trade and reside with others at New Providence.

La Concorde was a massive fifth-rate ship carrying as many as forty guns. Few of these vessels existed in American waters at that time. The ex-Royal Navy man Thache became a serious threat when he captured that French slaver. It was famously wrecked in June 1718 in Beaufort Inlet and has been giving up its secrets for more than fifteen years now to the QAR conservation lab at East Carolina University. Artifacts are on display at Beaufort Maritime Museum in Beaufort, North Carolina

Edward Thache's eventual demise at Ocracoke Inlet in North Carolina may have been politically-motivated. A Royal Navy pirate may have been quite rare and more than a little embarrassing. Furthermore, he operated in American waters where the residents generally liked their pirates. Only politically changing Whiggish (liberalizing) Britain did not. The Board of Trade sought to eradicate piracy in the Americas. It could not have been an easy task. They had to politically battle pirates of the "Golden Age" and, thus, it's "Pirate King" Blackbeard to rid him from the British Empire's seas... in other words, keep him out of their pockets!

Thanks to A General History, most think of Golden Age pirates as "thieves" or "murderous rogues," without money or political power. Do we think this way because of later 18th-century politics? Apparently, they were not all like this. Golden Age pirates may have been the first American revolutionaries and Blackbeard the first Gen. George Washington! Their "revolution," however, failed. America finally gained its independence a half century later...

I've been told that the only difference between a "revolution" and a "rebellion" is who wins. Obviously, Britain won this first round and they reserved the right to control its history. They may also have erased any trace that we could find of Thache's service aboard the HMS Windsor during Queen Anne's War, circa 1706. Still, it would be nearly impossible to catch them all, especially on Thache's home island of Jamaica! Wouldn't it be cool to think that they tried?


The July 2015 issue of North Carolina Historical Review has featured an article by Baylus C. Brooks titled "“Born in Jamaica, of Very Creditable Parents” or “A Bristol Man Born”? Excavating the Real Edward Thache, “Blackbeard the Pirate”"

This publication will feature a genealogical chart of the Thache family, from Gloucestershire to Jamaica. Finally, after almost 300 years of misinterpretation, this genealogy is the documented and definitive family history of "Blackbeard the Pirate." This heavily researched and verified chart has been enhanced and reproduced in multiple poster sizes available on

Genealogical Chart of Edward Thache, aka "Blackbeard the Pirate" - Copyright 2015 Baylus C. Brooks

Keep a weather eye out for the booklet below which explains the sources of these genealogical relationships. Also sight your spyglass on the book below that which expands upon this genealogy into his family and friends. It also explains the implications for this knowledge in relation to Blackbeard's birth, life, and death. Edward Thache and his world can finally be accurately realized!

Blackbeard Reconsidered: Mist's Piracy, Thache's Genealogy:

Today's popular image of the pirate Blackbeard as a bloodthirsty criminal, "a Devil incarnate," has its origins in Nathaniel Mist's A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates (1724). Mist's narrative only accounts for the last two years of Blackbeard's life, yet subsequent historians and scholars accepted and promoted this colorful but unsubstantiated image for three centuries. In Blackbeard Reconsidered, historian Baylus Brooks examines the myth of Blackbeard in the light of official government records in Jamaica and Church of England records. This new evidence allows Brooks to present the immediate lineage of Edward Thache, a respected resident of Spanish Town, Jamaica, and to place the gentleman's actions within an accurate historical context that successfully challenges the violent image of Blackbeard.