Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by WonderTeam. WonderTeam Wonders, “Did Blackbeard really exist?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, WonderTeam!

Countless tales of lore are set on the seven seas. But perhaps the most thrilling stories are those of pirates. Who doesn’t love hearing about Anne Bonny, Long Ben, or Black Bart? And there’s one pirate that seems to rise above the rest. Who are we talking about? Perhaps the most famous pirate of them all—Blackbeard!

There are many stories about Blackbeard. But did he really exist? After all, tales about the pirate often feel more like legend than truth. However, history tells us that Blackbeard the pirate was indeed a real, living person.

Still, much about Blackbeard’s early life is unknown. Many are even uncertain about his real name! He went by Edward Teach. Sometimes, his last name is spelled “Thatch” or “Thack.” He was born around the year 1660. 

Where Blackbeard was from has long been debated. For a long time, people thought he was born in either England or America. Today, many believe he was from Jamaica.

Blackbeard’s career as a pirate is better documented. He served on a British ship in Queen Anne’s War. When the war ended in 1713, he teamed up with a pirate named Benjamin Hornigold. 

In 1717, Blackbeard captured a French ship called La Concorde. It was carrying people who had been kidnapped in Africa for enslavement in the United States. Blackbeard left the enslaved people and most of the ship’s crew on the island of Bequia. He then renamed the ship Queen Anne’s Revenge.

Aboard Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard and his crew terrorized other ships. They traveled the east coast of North America, including the Caribbean Sea. Blackbeard flew a flag that featured a bleeding heart on a black background. Next to the heart stood a skeleton holding an hourglass and a spear. 

Blackbeard led many attacks on merchant ships. He and his pirate crew would steal cargo and often harm those they found on board. Blackbeard himself was said to be remarkably strong and a skilled fighter.

Blackbeard carried out many of his most notorious crimes off the coast of North Carolina. Starting in the spring of 1718, he targeted the state’s ports, including the port of Charleston. He sometimes charged ships tolls for safe passage. Other times, he took crews and cargos hostage. This continued for quite a long time. Most believe Blackbeard paid the governor of North Carolina to ignore his crimes.

Finally, the governor of Virginia took action. He sent Lieutenant Robert Maynard to track down Blackbeard. Maynard and his crew found the pirate in November 1718. 

Having wrecked Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard was on a craft called Adventure. When he spotted Maynard, a fight began. At one point, most of Maynard’s crew hid beneath their deck. Thinking he’d won, Blackbeard and his crew boarded Maynard’s ship. They were then surprised by Maynard and his men. At the end of the fighting, many people had died, including Blackbeard.

Today, much interest in Blackbeard stems from his supposed lost treasure. As the pirate traveled much of America’s Atlantic Coast, the location of his buried riches could forever be a mystery. In fact, many don’t believe Blackbeard’s treasure exists.

What do you think? Arrr you interested in looking for Blackbeard’s treasure? If so, where would you start? The search for buried riches leads many on exciting and dangerous adventures!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2, CCRA.W.3, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.L.2

Wonder What's Next?

Do your future self a favor--read tomorrow's Wonder of the Day!