The Last Days of Black Beard the Pirate:
– Within Every Legend Lies a Grain of Truth
by Kevin P. Duffus
History remembers the infamous Blackbeard (also Black Beard) as one of the greatest, most successful pirates who ever lived—a paragon of pirates. When Black Beard arrived in North Carolina in 1718, he commanded one of the most powerful pirate fleets in history—400 men aboard four ships, including his prized, cannon-studded flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge. But in a stunning reversal of fortunes, everything suddenly went wrong. Six months later, when Black Beard was cornered and killed at Ocracoke Inlet, North Carolina, he was in the company of just 20 men and the only treasure found in his possession was some sugar, cocoa, cotton and a mysterious letter.
What happened during Black Beard’s last days that precipitated his demise? Who, truly, was Edward Teach, aka Black Beard, and from whence did he come? What was his true name? And what happened to his treasure?
For more than 35 years, researcher, author and filmmaker, Kevin Duffus has followed the wake of the pirate captain’s journey through history. Along the way, Duffus observed that many historical accounts describing the pirate’s last days—the six months following the wreck of the Queen Anne’s Revenge at Beaufort Inlet—were inaccurate, insufficiently researched, and, as it turned out, not nearly as interesting as the truth.
Duffus posed the question: “Is it possible to go back to the trodden ground of original sources—trial depositions, minutes of colonial councils, governors’ records, deed books, wills and inventories, and log books and letters of the British Admiralty—and learn something new about a popular historical figure? After so long, is it possible to learn somethingnew about the pirate known as Black Beard?”
After conducting research at the archives of Great Britain, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina, and exploring the pirate’s favorite haunts at Bath, Ocracoke, and Philadelphia, and his supposed birthplace of Bristol, England, Duffus discovered the answer was, yes, it is possible to learn something new. And the true facts about Black Beard’s last days promise to substantially change his story—and history.
In the new book, The Last Days of Black Beard the Pirate, author Kevin Duffus discloses new information about how Black Beard was cornered and attacked at Ocracoke in 1718, why he tried to escape rather than fight back, and how his life might have been spared had he lived for three more weeks. New research reveals the true meaning of a mysterious letter found in Black Beard’s possessions, and that many of the 25 pirates who remained with Black Beard after the wreck of the Queen Anne’s Revenge were sons of North Carolina families. Duffus also proves that most of Black Beard’s captured crew members were not hanged in Virginia and that one of them—10 years after purportedly being executed—became a respected and wealthy landowner and was the grandfather of heroes of the American Revolution and a governor of Tennessee.
Also for the first time, Duffus exposes the truth behind many of the enduring Black Beard myths—his Bristol, England, birthplace; his 14 wives, including Mary Ormond; the burning of fuses in his hair to frighten his victims; and the countless tall tales of buried treasure, secret tunnels, and the shocking origins of the legend of his silver-plated skull used as a drinking cup by a secret society.
In addition to dozens of new discoveries one revelation promises to stand-out as the most amazing. With the help of ground-breaking research by three courageous genealogists, Kevin Duffus shares long-forgotten clues to the potential identity of Black Beard, beginning with a age-old myth about his sister, Susannah. The conclusions are staggering and certain to be controversial.
Hardcover: 239 pages
Publisher: Looking Glass Productions, Incorporated
Publication date: 4/15/2011
In his new book, Kevin Duffus has managed to take a lot of old puzzle pieces, and put them in their correct spots. He has also uncovered many new jigsaw pieces. Looking at the partially solved puzzle, it is a lot easier now to make out the image of Blackbeard. While I am not convinced about all of Kevin Duffus’ conclusions, I do highly recommend this book to everyone interested in the “Devil of the Sea”.
— No Quarter Given Magazine
Searching out the facts in libraries and archives here and abroad, Kevin Duffus pieces together a page-turning story of North Carolina’s most famous pirate, methodically sorting myth and fact and discarding many long-held assumptions as blatant inaccuracies. The book is extremely readable, and is full of maps and beautiful photographs. Almost every other page contains new information on Black Beard. Duffus unravels one mystery after another to find the “grain of truth” behind the legend!
— Our State Magazine
Mary Ellen Riddle
From Blackbeard’s name, beard and temperament, to his education, parentage and childhood pals, the author examines, theorizes, and discovers enough to fill a fat, exciting new book on a figure that today is an insignificant miscreant to some Ocracokers and a moneymaking commodity to others. But to the kid in all of us, Blackbeard continues to be a fascinating character in history that — despite his worldwide popularity for centuries — Duffus has made even more interesting.
— The Virginian-Pilot