Early YearsPossibly born Edward Teach (variations of his surname abound) sometime around 1680, a young future Black Beard grew up in the port town of Bristol. It didn’t take long for the future buccaneer to answer the siren call of the sea. Teach enlisted in the navy as a teenager and saw maritime action during Queen Anne's War, the North American theatre of a war between England and France that simmered between 1702 and 1713. Records suggest Teach distinguished himself during several skirmishes without receiving any significant command.
Soon bored of legitimate seafaring endeavours, Teach started his days of piracy under the tutelage of legendary picaroon Benjamin Hornigold, who saw promise in the youngster and rapidly promoted him to captain of his own ship. The two raiders shared many a successful heist until Hornigold hung up his pistols by accepting a royal pardon, a retirement option for old pirates when the years finally caught up with them. Setting out on his own,Teach quickly set about establishing the legend of Blackbeard, the literate, well-spoken, polite but fearsome master of the seas.
Blackbeard soon learnt the importance of looking the part. Before possible battle he would clad himself in black, strap numerous pistols to his barrel chest and don a sweeping black captain’s hat.
Then came the real effect. The villainous showman would affix slow burning fuses to his hair and flowing beard, become wreathed in smoke and resemble some hellish incarnation of pure terror. The creation of this fearsome image proved a tactical masterstroke and Blackbeard took many a ship without firing a single shot, meaning greater loot and fewer casualties. Generally, if a ship surrendered peacefully, Blackbeard would simply lighten their load of cargo, take aboard any volunteers and send them peacefully on their way, although English merchant ships were often treated with greater malice, as were ships from Boston, a despised city where pirates were often sent to the gallows.
In late 1717 Blackbeard captured La Concorde, a huge French slaving vessel. He renamed the plundered vessel ‘Queen Anne’s Revenge’ and began modifying it for a new level of unseen piracy. He affixed 40 cannons to his new prize, rendering it one of the most impressive pirate ships ever sailed. Aboard this juggernaut he set about pirating the Atlantic and Caribbean with virtual impunity. Unfortunately this terror of the high seas saw only a year’s worth of action before being sunk, possibly at Blackbeard’s own command. The wreck of the Queen Anne’s Revenge was discovered in 1996 off the coast of North Carolina, yielding over 250,000 artifacts, including canons of Swedish, English and French origin of all shapes and sizes.
In 1718, sensing a change in the air, Blackbeard accepted a pardon from the governor of North Carolina, Charles Eden. He may have intended to leave his days of larceny behind, but his retirement was short lived. Before long Blackbeard was back to his former ways as part of a bargain struck with the less than scrupulous Eden. The deal demanded pirated loot for ongoing sanctuary from law enforcement. This arrangement was mutual beneficial until the time of Blackbeard’s demise.
Blackbeard was never one to retreat from a fight. On 22 November 1718, when Teach was aged around forty, tragedy struck as two Royal Navy vessels sworn to his capture finally tracked him down. The timing was inopportune for our hero as most of his men were ashore and he was left exposed and undermanned, but he decided to fight nonetheless. He almost slipped the noose, but was finally brought down in fierce hand-to-hand combat on the deck of a boarded ship. When Blackbeard’s fire was finally extinguished, five bullet holes and over twenty sword wounds were found on his person. His head was cut off so as to collect the bounty that rested upon it, his body thrown into the water where, according to reliable witnesses, it swam three laps of the ship before surrendering to the waves, a fitting end to the wild life of history’s most fearsome pirate.
Not known for his superior grooming, if Blackbeard were to grace a Men's Biz store these are the three items we would insist upon...
Dovo Solingen Beard & Moustache Grooming Kit
Made from rugged stainless steel and housed in a leather travel case, this kit is designed to take whatever is thrown at it, up to and including a rough life on the high sea.
Beardsley Ultra Beard Conditioner
A great product to render even the most ragged of beards soft, smooth and stroke-friendly.
Captain Fawcett's Booze & Baccy Beard Oil
Containing notes of honeyed fresh tobacco leaves, frankincense, warm exotic vanilla bean, fresh hops and spice from the bay rum tree, a quick splash would have helped Black Beard melt more than the occasional heart during his buccaneering days.