Swashbuckler 1700

Blackbeard Reconsidered -a new book with new theories(?)

75 posts in this topic

A new book dealing with Blackbeard the pirate has apparently been published.

http://nc-historical-publications.stores.yahoo.net/4793.html

Here is an article, while rather superficial, that it seems based on the writer's central arguments.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3373461/Was-Blackbeard-GENTLEMAN-Historical-records-feared-pirate-actually-aristocratic-family-man-gave-wealth-help-brother-sister.html

Interesting. I wonder if its ideas will be accepted. I have not read the book or anything so I don't know too much about that. Still I found a link to the article and there to the book.

Based on the short article it I am a little wary of some of the arguments. To me it even sees like the author is claiming "Blackbeard was not vicious pirate because he had a family, he served in the navy, and he treated his crew with medicine". But in general I have no reason to disagree with the general point, he was not a notably violent pirate and has a reputation totally undeserved. Based on the claims it seems to be based on pretty valid research. I will not judge anything further without knowing better.

How come the birthday suggested now is 1683, meaning that the more or less made up idea of his birthday somewhere around 1680 is pretty accurate by accident.

Edited by Swashbuckler 1700

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have recently written an analysis of the peer-reviewed article published in The North Carolina Historical Review titled, “‘Born in Jamaica, of Very Creditable Parents’ or ‘A Bristol Man Born’? Excavating the Real Edward Thache, ‘Blackbeard the Pirate.’” Following its publication in The North Carolina Historical Review, the article was retitled, "Blackbeard Reconsidered: Mist's Piracy, Thache's Genealogy," and reprinted in a 46-page booklet by the Office of Historical Publications within the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

You can read my paper, "Rush to Judgement—An Analysis of a New Interpretation of the Pirate Blackbeard’s Origins," here:

https://www.dropbox.com/home?preview=Rush+to+Judgement--An+Analysis+of+a+New+Interpretation+of+the+Pirate+Blackbeard’s+Origins.pdf

Kevin P. Duffus

author, The Last Days of Blackbeard the Pirate

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks. I knew this wasn't that "new". :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey Swashbuckler and other fellow pyrates!

The date of circa 1683 is used in my article because, if Capt. Edward Thache of Spanish Town, Jamaica is the same man who was born in Gloucestershire, England (home county of Bristol), then Edward Jr. or Blackbeard's father was born on June 14, 1659. This would make him 21 years of age in 1680 and the optimum age for beginning a family. Blackbeard was probably born after 1680 and 1683 is a good guess. We still have no records from Bristol because they were mostly destroyed. May 1695 is a fairly complete census there - however, the Thache's probably left by then. We know from church records that he had two children born before he arrived on Jamaica, Edward and Elizabeth. Afterward, Blackbeard's father's wife Elizabeth died, he remarried to Lucretia and had three more before he died in 1706. The records that I've used are Anglican Church records from Jamaica, similar to records used by any professional genealogist, deed, and will records from the Register General's Department in Spanish Town.

There are two Edward Thaches (of various spellings - often used in the same document) living on Jamaica and the Thache family found on the island is the only Thache family to ever live there. The spelling was not a matter of standardization until Noah Webster in the mid-19th century, so you'll see many used before then. Sir Walter Raleigh famously used 5 diff. spellings of his own surname. This blog entry goes into a better explanation: http://bcbrooks.blogspot.com/2015/08/getting-blackbeards-name-right.html

This Thache family was somewhat substantial, as Charles Leslie regarded him in 1739 in A New and Exact Account of Jamaica. They owned at least 4 slaves: Lucretia, Mary, Jim, and Cezar, if Blackbeard did raise him as Johnson said. They likely had more. Dr. Henry Barham's marriage to Elizabeth Thache in 1720 indicates that he probably viewed the Thache family of Spanish Town as a means to further his wealth and land holdings, as he did with his other three wives: http://bcbrooks.blogspot.com/2016/01/blackbeards-daughter-elizabeth-thache.html

The records that I've found are quite explicit. The argument made by the actual records themselves is almost perfect that Blackbeard was from this family... regardless of other peripheral arguments and claims I make in the article - arguments that have been vehemently disputed for many reasons. In essence, this is not my argument at all. I simply supply a genealogical analysis of those records and they tell us what they tell us.

I suggest that everyone reads my original article before speculating any further. If anyone wishes to talk over any aspect of the details in this article, I can be reached here or at baylusbrooks@yahoo.com

Ahoy, my friends!

Baylus C. Brooks
Candidate in Maritime Studies Program
East Carolina University

Professional Research Historian at Brooks Historical - website: baylusbrooks.com

Edited by Baylus_Brooks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to the Piracy Pub Mr. Brooks

You wrote: "This Thache family was somewhat substantial, as Charles Leslie regarded him in 1739 in A New and Exact Account of Jamaica.”

The exact words of Charles Leslie were these:

"At this time, the famous Edward Teach, commonly known by the Name of Blackbeard, infested the American Seas. He was one of a most bloody Disposition, and cruel to Brutality. His Name became a Terror, and some Governors being remiss in pursuing him, he almost put a stop to the Trade of several of the Northern Colonies. He was born in Jamaica, of very creditable Parents; his Mother is alive in Spanish-Town to this Day, and his Brother is at present Captain of the Train of Artillery. He was attacked by a Lieutenant of a Man of War, and was killed, after a very obstinate and bloody Fight. He took a Glass, and drank Damnation to them that gave or asked Quarter. His Head was carried to Virginia, and there fixed to a Pole.”

Leslie wrote that Teach, or Blackbeard, was born in Jamaica. You write that Capt. Edward Thache of Spanish Town, Jamaica, whom you purport to be Blackbeard, was born in Gloucestershire, England. Which birthplace is correct, and why? And what source do you use to prove that Edward Thache of Spanish Town was a captain?

Leslie [published in 1739] wrote that Teach’s mother was alive “to this day,” yet your research shows that Thache’s mother died in 1699. Which statement is correct?

Leslie described Teach as "a man of a most bloody Disposition, and cruel to Brutality," yet you have written that he was a caring family man and “an upstanding community member.” Which description is more accurate?

Why does Leslie’s account of Teach, or Blackbeard, nearly match the phrases used by Nathaniel Mist in General History of Pyrates? If Leslie knew the Jamaican Thache family so well, why did he spell Blackbeard’s surname as Teach? Can you argue persuasively that Leslie’s information about Teach was not derived from General History of Pyrates?

You write: "The argument made by the actual records themselves is almost perfect that Blackbeard was from this family.” Please cite the record or source that proves "almost perfectly" that Blackbeard was from the Thache family of Jamaica? Not Leslie, I hope.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hello, Mr. Duffus,

To answer these many questions, let me take them one at a time. I will reprint what you wrote (in red), then provide an answer (in black):

"At this time, the famous Edward Teach, commonly known by the Name of Blackbeard, infested the American Seas. He was one of a most bloody Disposition, and cruel to Brutality. His Name became a Terror, and some Governors being remiss in pursuing him, he almost put a stop to the Trade of several of the Northern Colonies. He was born in Jamaica, of very creditable Parents; his Mother is alive in Spanish-Town to this Day, and his Brother is at present Captain of the Train of Artillery. He was attacked by a Lieutenant of a Man of War, and was killed, after a very obstinate and bloody Fight. He took a Glass, and drank Damnation to them that gave or asked Quarter. His Head was carried to Virginia, and there fixed to a Pole.”

Leslie wrote that Teach, or Blackbeard, was born in Jamaica. You write that Capt. Edward Thache of Spanish Town, Jamaica, whom you purport to be Blackbeard, was born in Gloucestershire, England. Which birthplace is correct, and why? And what source do you use to prove that Edward Thache of Spanish Town was a captain?

First of all, you hopelessly confuse father and son, which is not unusual for those unused to discussing genealogy. "Capt. Edward Thache" is not Blackbeard. This is his father. He was the one most likely born in Gloucestershire, England. His birth is easily found on Ancestry.com as the one I gave, in 1659. Edward Thache Jr, or Blackbeard, was probably born there as well, perhaps in Bristol, since no Thaches are found on Jamaica in the records before 1699. Leslie believed erroneously that the two Edwards were born in Jamaica, undoubtedly because they were so well established there by the time he met the family. The source that shows the father as a "Capt." is the 29 Mar 1706 deed of Dr. Thomas Stuart to Rachel "Theach" for the slave Sabina... he is also listed as a resident of "St. Jago de la Vega" or Spanish Town, Jamaica.

Leslie [published in 1739] wrote that Teach’s mother was alive “to this day,” yet your research shows that Thache’s mother died in 1699. Which statement is correct?

This time, you are confusing mothers. Blackbeard's actual mother is Elizabeth who died in 1699. The woman to whom Leslie referred was Lucretia (nee Poquet) Thache, who did not die until 1743 and whom everyone recognized as the Thache family matriarch in Spanish Town; also, he saw her as Blackbeard's "mother." I have two half-sisters myself. I've always referred to them as my "sisters"... the "half-sister" reference might actually hurt their feelings. :)

Leslie described Teach as "a man of a most bloody Disposition, and cruel to Brutality," yet you have written that he was a caring family man and “an upstanding community member.” Which description is more accurate?

I think A General History provided that description. I'm sure that Leslie probably had a copy. I'm also sure that the family that he met on Jamaica surprised him as they were so different from what he read in that book.

Why does Leslie’s account of Teach, or Blackbeard, nearly match the phrases used by Nathaniel Mist in General History of Pyrates? If Leslie knew the Jamaican Thache family so well, why did he spell Blackbeard’s surname as Teach? Can you argue persuasively that Leslie’s information about Teach was not derived from General History of Pyrates?

Obviously, he read the book. Also, he probably just met the family casually, not necessarily invited to birthday parties and such. Leslie's part of "He was born in Jamaica, of very creditable Parents; his Mother is alive in Spanish-Town to this Day, and his Brother is at present Captain of the Train of Artillery." is certainly not in A General History. The other parts are undoubtedly embellishments picked up from his reading of A General History and the newspapers for the past 15 years. Again, the spellings were not standardized until the mid-19th century. Please refer to http://bcbrooks.blogspot.com/2015/08/getting-blackbeards-name-right.html

You write: "The argument made by the actual records themselves is almost perfect that Blackbeard was from this family.” Please cite the record or source that proves "almost perfectly" that Blackbeard was from the Thache family of Jamaica? Not Leslie, I hope.

Leslie was just icing on the cake. I can do better than cite them. I will show them to you. The Anglican Church, deed, and will records are available here for everyone to peruse and provide nearly (as nearly as most historians will get) definitive proof: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/286417743_Blackbeard_Reconsidered_The_Family_Records

Please also note the multiple spellings of the family name in the "Stuart to Theach" deed of 1706, including "Thach." In Cox's will, he spelled it "Thache," like the rest of the family did in Gloucestershire.

I hope these answer all your questions. If you have any more, feel free to ask. My deck hatch is always open! Enjoy the nearly summer day!

Baylus C. Brooks
Candidate in Maritime Studies Program
East Carolina University

Professional Research Historian at Brooks Historical - website: baylusbrooks.com

Edited by Baylus_Brooks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So who wrote the article for Smithsonian last year? I have the issue at home but cannot recall the author. There seems to be some familiar territory covered here in this thread.

Bo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Colin Woodard wrote it and rather uncreatively pirated the title of my 2008 book, The Last Days of Blackbeard, for his article.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In that article, Colin Woodard noticed that a Thomas Thatch had moved to Bristol... I forget when, sometime in the mid-18th I think. There do seem to be quite a few Thomases running around. Edward's father was the second in that line and his first son was also Thomas, rector of the church in Gloucester. One even moved to Barbados at about the same time that Edward and Elizabeth Thache and family headed for Jamaica ca 1685 - 1695. The West Indies was just opening up and getting a little safer for families about then. Buccaneers calmed down - Morgan became a governor. Lynch decided to clean up the island in 1682. Even ex-privateers ran out of work... one became a postmaster on Jamaica. lol

Actually, I may have combined info from his book and the Smithsonian article, which only says "Thatch appears in early 18th-century [bristol] census rolls."

Yep.. the book Republic says "That said, it is possible that he was related to one of the Thatches of nearby Gloucester, one of whom, Thomas Thatch, moved to Bristol in 1712 and leased a house a mere block from the city docks." page 38-9.



Edited by Baylus_Brooks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do have more questions, thank you for asking.

"First of all, you hopelessly confuse father and son, which is not unusual for those unused to discussing genealogy."

I am not confused nor unable to discuss genealogy; I was confused by your writing:

"The date of circa 1683 is used in my article because, if Capt. Edward Thache of Spanish Town, Jamaica is the same man who was born in Gloucestershire, England (home county of Bristol), then Edward Jr. or Blackbeard's father was born on June 14, 1659. This would make him 21 years of age in 1680 and the optimum age for beginning a family."

In the preceding paragraph, you identify “Edward Jr.” as “Blackbeard’s father.” But in your article, and in the accompanying genealogical chart within the article (available here on Zazzle.com for those of you who would like to purchase a copy), you indicate that Blackbeard was “Edward Jr.,” and that his father was the son of Rev. Thomas Thache of Gloucester. I’m not confused by genealogy generally, but the genealogy you present I find to be confusing and inconsistent.

"Blackbeard was probably born after 1680 and 1683 is a good guess.”

If 1683 for Blackbeard’s birth date is a good guess, would 1690 be less of a good guess? Also, I could be wrong, but I doubt he was called Blackbeard when he was born.

"I think A General History provided that description. I'm sure that Leslie probably had a copy. I'm also sure that the family that he met on Jamaica surprised him as they were so different from what he read in that book.”

Where is the positive evidence that Leslie met the family on Jamaica? When did Leslie meet the family—was it before or after Blackbeard’s death? And, how was the family described in GHoP?

"Leslie was just icing on the cake. I can do better than cite them. I will show them to you. The Anglican Church, deed, and will records are available here for everyone to peruse and provide nearly (as nearly as most historians will get) definitive proof: https://www.research..._Family_Records"

Unfortunately, the link that you provided doesn’t show us the records that offer “nearly definitive proof” that Blackbeard was from this family or from Jamaica.

You have stated as fact in your article that Edward Thache, Jr., aka Blackbeard, departed Kingston, Jamaica in 1716 with Benjamin Hornigold to salvage the Spanish wrecks. What evidence do you have to support this? Can you state where Jamaica’s Thache was between 1706 and 1716? If Blackbeard was a caring family man as you have described him, why do the records fail to document any visits he made to Jamaica during his two years as a pirate?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mr Duffus,

I appreciate the opportunity to talk about my article; however, you seem to have taken a personal interest in damaging my work and even my personal reputation, if the content of your "review" has been accurately interpreted. Furthermore, a "review" of 27 pages is somewhat extreme when the standard review consists of 500-2,000 words.

My "writing" as you put it (in an informal setting such as this forum), need not be perfection, especially when the genealogical chart is there to help you understand who "Blackbeard's father" is... really, I need say nothing further on this, do I?

Nor do I need to explain the birth/age date of circa 1680, "around 1683," or anything else of that nature. The date isn't essential, anyway. Also, I can't tell you what specific date or time that Leslie landed on Jamaica... or when whomever the author of those letters is... landed on Jamaica. I have successfully shown that whomever it was did NOT get the data from A General History, in answer to your earlier question. That data came from somewhere else (perhaps the personal experiences of the author of those letters) and it appears not to have been created out of the "ether."

The records show exactly what the records show, as I have said. They only show what any set of vital records, any those as complete as the Anglican Church records from Jamaica, will ever show. Only a person unfamiliar with this technique would misconstrue their meaning. Again, the chart is there to help you understand.

Where was he between 1706 and 1716? Really? Why is it necessary to supply an explanation for every moment in Thache's life... especially when nothing of his life was ever know before? The Anglican Church, deed, and will records did not deposit a "Blackbeard Bible" or the "Entire Life of Edward Thache" into my hands... just the same infrequent clues and hints that all historians struggle with in their work... but, good ones!! I don't have his trip schedules and itineraries, just his family's vital records. The data conclude that Edward Thache Jr. is almost certainly Blackbeard the Pirate. (Please don't argue about my "hedge" words of "almost certainly." When I don't use those words, you accuse me of being overly definitive. Please be consistent in your argumentative attacks.)

On that note, I have a question for you... do you have evidence to support your earlier contention that Blackbeard was the son of James Beard? Owing to your demand for absolute evidence and as a recent candidate for president once said, "I need to see the birth certificate." :) Isn't your obsession with my work about this incongruity between our theses, anyway? Why don't we just leave these silly questions alone and let everyone make their own decisions based upon our work and not our emotional reactions to each others?

As always, I wish you the best. I only wish that you returned the sentiment.

P.S. The preceding informal forum response may contain grammatical errors as I was typing quickly... such as leaving the " 's" off of "Edward Jr."

Edited by Baylus_Brooks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This friendly debate is by no means personal. My analysis of your article was intended to fairly evaluate the sources you used to justify your overall thesis and statements you have made such as, "“The only male old enough to have been this Elizabeth’s legitimate father was Edward Thache Jr., then serving aboard the HMS Windsor, and later known as ‘Blackbeard the Pirate.’”

You have apparently benefited from my analysis—or review as you prefer—which pointed out the erroneous conclusion that Capt. Edward Vernon was Nathaniel Mist’s source for his reference to Blackbeard’s Jamaican origins, as well as the pitfalls of relying on Bialuschewski’s misleading and unsupported statements regarding Thatch joining Hornigold at Kingston in early 1716. Your acknowledgement of, and retraction of these points have been noted, so my effort has been worth it.

Indeed, “the records show exactly what the records show," but the records fail to show that Edward Thache, Jr., of Jamaica, was the pirate Blackbeard. Neither do the records prove that Blackbeard was the son of Capt. James Beard, and I was quite forthright about that fact in my book, as I always am wherever I speak. In chapter nineteen, I wrote: "Despite all of the circumstantial evidence that has been collected, there is still no conclusive proof of Edward Beard’s existence.” While I freely admit that I cannot prove Blackbeard’s identity, I am confident in my argument that the pirate’s actions in 1718 infer a familiar and longstanding relationship with the town of Bath, NC: his strategy to wreck the Queen Anne’s Revenge in Beaufort Inlet and the disbandment of his company while retaining 40 trusted white cohorts and 60 slaves, and the delivery of those slaves to the hard-to-reach, economically-depressed, and labor-deficient Pamlico region, and his receipt of a Royal Pardon for which he and his fellow participants of the blockade of Charleston were ineligible.

We each have our own theories as to Blackbeard’s origins, identity, and motivations. I doubt that either of us will ever be proven right or wrong with the available sources. This debate is about which of the two arguments provides the best explanation as to Blackbeard’s origins, identity, and motivations, even though neither one can be proven to be absolutely true and accurate. Your argument based on genealogical sources provides a thoroughly researched case as to why the family of Edward Thache of Jamaica is likely related to the Rev. Thomas Thache of Gloucestershire, but Blackbeard’s possible Jamaican origins provides no coherence with what we know about his last days in North Carolina, his delivery of slaves to Bath, or his relationships with Gov. Eden and Tobias Knight.

I do wish you all the best, and I look forward to an ongoing discussion of the merits of our historical interpretations.

Edited by LookingGlass

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Colin Woodard wrote it and rather uncreatively pirated the title of my 2008 book, The Last Days of Blackbeard, for his article.

Aha! That's why I thought it was from someone I had known before! I remember now. I will have to dig that out of my stacks and revisit the article.

If memory serves me I conversed with you here on the subject of "Academians" who encourage you to think outside the box and question that which is thought to be absolute, then lambast you for doing so.

Be well sir.

Bo

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To everyone else...

I certainly welcome questions from you about my article, or just Blackbeard in general. Please take this opportunity to express any concerns or doubts. These sessions can only help me in the final work, titled Quest for Blackbeard: The True Story of Edward Thache and His World, planned for release soon.

When used honestly, I've found forums such as these can be significant aids for me in working through the facts. Since joining Pyracy Pub just days ago, I have already learned of E. T. Fox's scholarly work on Jacobitism. If you haven't seen it, you should read it. I assure you that it will be invaluable in the writing and research process for my book and I thank him and you all in advance.

Anyone else care to contribute? Please do!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'll take that invitation. I have no axe to grind in this discussion, I frankly don’t give a rope’s end where or when Blackbeard was born, but having read the article there are a number of issues that trouble me. I’ll leave most of the details to others, but I’d agree that there are issues with assuming Vernon was a source for Mist or Leslie, and intrinsic issues with Leslie’s work. However, those have already been brought up so I’ll address only my own original thoughts. In general I like to be as balanced as possible, but the nature of peer-reviewing doesn’t always work like that.


I don’t think that the General History can really be blamed for the demonisation of Blackbeard. Blackbeard was a thoroughly notorious character in his own lifetime. Maynard’s report of Blackbeard’s last fight, for example, described him as ‘notorious’ when it was published in The Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer, 25/4/1719, and included details of the many wounds Blackbeard endured before he could be overcome, describing the battle as ‘Bloody and Desperate.’ To the reading public, then, Blackbeard was already a furious figure years before Mist (if indeed it was he) put pen to paper. Blackbeard himself contributed to the image too, of course, with his long beard and extravagant black ribbons. Beyond question, here was a man who stood out as something different from other pirates. I certainly don’t agree that Mist ‘can be blamed for the choice to make Blackbeard his star notorious pirate,’ Blackbeard was already notorious in the Atlantic seafaring community and the reading population of Britain and the colonies, well before Mist’s book. For example, of all of the pirates active between 1700 and 1725, Blackbeard was the only one to have had a ballad published about him during that time. Mist didn’t make Blackbeard a star, Blackbeard did. You note yourself that in 1717 Blackbeard and his men were characterized as ‘Barbarous’ and ‘inhumane’ by the Boston News Letter.


I’m also somewhat confused by your dismissal of Wilkie for the embellishments he added to the Blackbeard tale, which you follow with some fairly whopping embellishments of your own in regard to the General History. You claim that Mist


‘created visions of hundreds of filthy syphilitic pirates lining up outside at Thache’s plantation a little more than a mile from, yet in sight of, Bath Town to have a turn at the vile pirate’s sixteen-year old childlike bride. The shooting of guns, the “clinking” sound of swordplay that traveled across the water to Bath, all invigorated by rum and sexual abandon,’


Whereas what Mist actually wrote (and which you later quote yourself) was that while Blackbeard lived with his wife near Bath ‘it was his custom to invite five or six [my emphasis] of his his brutal Companions to come ashore, and he would force her to prostitute herself to them all, one after another.’ Hardly the vision you accuse Mist of creating. You do the same thing later when describing the wreck of the QAR: ‘Mist did not say so, but he intimated that Thache killed hundreds of people that day.’ Mist intimates no such thing, and in fact in the very passage which you quote yourself categorically states that the crew of the QAR did not perish.


I am troubled by your portrayal of privateers as distinct from pirates by being ‘wealthy,’ and ‘learned aristocrats.’ I doubt that many of the privateer captains could truthfully be described as ‘learned aristocrats’ in the true meaning of the word, and I’m positive that the men under their command could not. The vast majority of the men who served on privateers were lower class mariners who preferred to take a risk in the hopes of a large reward rather than labour more safely for a smaller reward. They were not only very like the crews of pirate vessels they were frequently, in practice, the very same people.


In regard to the genealogy (which I did manage to follow, just) you state, quite definitively that ‘These deeds indicate that the only Thache family on Jamaica was Blackbeard’s family.’ That is a very misleading statement, they do no such thing. They indicate that there was a Thache family living on Jamaica, in no way do they link that family with Blackbeard, and yet you repeatedly inform the reader that Edward Thache Jr. of Jamaica and Blackbeard were one and the same person, as if it was an established fact. They might well have been the same person, I have no specific evidence to refute it, but it's a supposition and should be treated as such.


Your assertion that the Rev. Thomas Thache, whom you describe as a ‘moderate Presbyterian’ may have been a Jacobite supporter had he lived past 1688 is somewhat confusing. Of all of the various Christian sects practising in English society in the seventeenth and eighteenth century the Presbyterians were probably the most despised by Jacobites, who indeed used ‘Presbyterian’ as an insult, regardless of their target’s actual faith. For a nice piratical example, Thomas Davis, when he was forced into Bellamy’s company, was castigated, ‘You Presbyterian dog, you should fight for King James.’ If the Rev. Thache was a Presbyterian then he was very unlikely to have been a Jacobite. Given the large part Jacobitism seems to play in your work, may I recommend Paul Kleber Monod's excellent Jacobitism and the English People, 1688-1788.


In trying to justify Blackbeard’s wrecking of the QAR you present an argument that there was probably no treachery involved because none of the pirates present mention it. ‘No records have surfaced that provide evidence that Blackbeard committed these atrocities except the [stede Bonnet] trial transcript,’ you write, implying that a lack of other evidence suggests that those pirates on trial may have fabricated their being double-crossed by Blackbeard. It’s certainly a possibility, but I must question how many other first-hand accounts of the loss of the QAR you’ve read that don’t accuse Blackbeard of treachery? To my knowledge, the source which accuses Blackbeard of deliberately wrecking the QAR to cheat his men is the only first-hand account of the incident. It’s true that there are no other sources which reliably describe Blackbeard’s treachery at Topsail Inlet, but it is equally true that 100% of the witness-accounts of the event do accuse him. In short, it’s a false argument.


In a general sense there are a couple of threads running through the article which bother me. Firstly, you use one single document, describing one single incident (the ceding of property by Edward Thache Jr.), completely devoid of any context or background, and which crucially may not relate to Blackbeard himself at all, to paint a picture of Blackbeard as a kind and generous man, and then fit the rest of the evidence around that picture. It is certainly possible, perhaps even probable, that Blackbeard was not the monster that popular history books portray him as (though academic historians will not consider this ‘news’), but that’s a long way from the congenial and familial character you seem to be trying to create. Secondly you mention a few times that pirates in general were not the vicious men than history has depicted them as, and use a couple of examples (such as Vane and Low) as the exceptions that prove the rule. However, accounts of atrocities committed by pirates are certainly not limited to those two men: Cocklyn is described as a brute, Anstis’ men supposedly gang-raped a captive then broke her back and threw her overboard, in Taylor’s crew it was written into the articles that women on captured ships were to be ‘given up to the hazards of the sea’, accounts of tortures and murders abound, ships full of men were set alight and then adrift, the list goes on...


One final point. Earlier today you wrote here, 'Nor do I need to explain the birth/age date of circa 1680, "around 1683," or anything else of that nature.' I'd argue most strongly that any 'Professional Research Historian' should be ready to explain everything they write.


Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'll take that invitation. I have no axe to grind in this discussion, I frankly don’t give a rope’s end where or when Blackbeard was born, but having read the article there are a number of issues that trouble me. I’ll leave most of the details to others, but I’d agree that there are issues with assuming Vernon was a source for Mist or Leslie, and intrinsic issues with Leslie’s work. However, those have already been brought up so I’ll address only my own original thoughts. In general I like to be as balanced as possible, but the nature of peer-reviewing doesn’t always work like that.
Why, thank you, Ed!! First of all, I just want to say that Blackbeard was not a perfectly wonderful guy. He was a pirate, a good one, too... and I would not invite him to my home for dinner. Having said that, he can be a pirate while still caring about his family. Also, the issue with Leslie's book is correct. My friend brought this to my attention months ago, but well after the deadline for publication. I published a blog article to this effect recently.
I don’t think that the General History can really be blamed for the demonisation of Blackbeard. Blackbeard was a thoroughly notorious character in his own lifetime. Maynard’s report of Blackbeard’s last fight, for example, described him as ‘notorious’ when it was published in The Weekly Journal or British Gazetteer, 25/4/1719, and included details of the many wounds Blackbeard endured before he could be overcome, describing the battle as ‘Bloody and Desperate.’ To the reading public, then, Blackbeard was already a furious figure years before Mist (if indeed it was he) put pen to paper. Blackbeard himself contributed to the image too, of course, with his long beard and extravagant black ribbons. Beyond question, here was a man who stood out as something different from other pirates. I certainly don’t agree that Mist ‘can be blamed for the choice to make Blackbeard his star notorious pirate,’ Blackbeard was already notorious in the Atlantic seafaring community and the reading population of Britain and the colonies, well before Mist’s book. For example, of all of the pirates active between 1700 and 1725, Blackbeard was the only one to have had a ballad published about him during that time. Mist didn’t make Blackbeard a star, Blackbeard did. You note yourself that in 1717 Blackbeard and his men were characterized as ‘Barbarous’ and ‘inhumane’ by the Boston News Letter.
The demonization of Blackbeard is a circumstantial case at best. Still, I have to say that more have written on it since I wrote. Bialuschewski, of course, started the idea, but Mark Hanna and Douglas Burgess both lean in that direction, too. Bialuschewski also says that he believes that colonial newspapers were part of the media campaign against pirates. Bialuschewski basically asserts bias in these sources to which I say, well of course, but how much? He argues some on the relationship that Mist had with the authorities, that they had him over a barrel, etc. None of it is close to definitive yet, but the case is growing. I agree that Thache contributed heavily to his own image, yes. Also, did Mist do this to Thache specifically on purpose? I think so. Was it because of his wealth and position? Could be. You said, "Blackbeard was already notorious in the Atlantic seafaring community and the reading population of Britain and the colonies, well before Mist’s book." Yes, because I think the Admiralty had made the decision to go after Thache in 1717. If the campaign against him began then, Mist's writings merely reflected that... or supported it.
I’m also somewhat confused by your dismissal of Wilkie for the embellishments he added to the Blackbeard tale, which you follow with some fairly whopping embellishments of your own in regard to the General History. You claim that Mist
‘created visions of hundreds of filthy syphilitic pirates lining up outside at Thache’s plantation a little more than a mile from, yet in sight of, Bath Town to have a turn at the vile pirate’s sixteen-year old childlike bride. The shooting of guns, the “clinking” sound of swordplay that traveled across the water to Bath, all invigorated by rum and sexual abandon,’
Whereas what Mist actually wrote (and which you later quote yourself) was that while Blackbeard lived with his wife near Bath ‘it was his custom to invite five or six [my emphasis] of his his brutal Companions to come ashore, and he would force her to prostitute herself to them all, one after another.’ Hardly the vision you accuse Mist of creating. I referred to the image created in a reader's mind... and expressing it colorfully for that effect. You do the same thing later when describing the wreck of the QAR: ‘Mist did not say so, but he intimated that Thache killed hundreds of people that day.’ Mist intimates no such thing, and in fact in the very passage which you quote yourself categorically states that the crew of the QAR did not perish. Agreed, the inference was weak, but the general picture of Mist's character fits, I think.
I am troubled by your portrayal of privateers as distinct from pirates by being ‘wealthy,’ and ‘learned aristocrats.’ I doubt that many of the privateer captains could truthfully be described as ‘learned aristocrats’ in the true meaning of the word, and I’m positive that the men under their command could not. The vast majority of the men who served on privateers were lower class mariners who preferred to take a risk in the hopes of a large reward rather than labour more safely for a smaller reward. They were not only very like the crews of pirate vessels they were frequently, in practice, the very same people. For starters, I have had discussions with another British researcher who cautioned me on my used of the term "aristocrat." He suggest the term "gentleman" is more appropriate. I'm finishing my thesis right now, which deals directly with this idea. According to what I'm seeing so far, many of the early privateers in the beginning of the GAoP were quite distinct from the proletarian pirates of whom Rediker speaks. This is the difference that I am implying. And, yes, I agree that the men who served on the privateers were probably more akin to common pirates, but I was referring to their captains from 1715-1717. I'm not a big buyer of the democratic situation that Rediker sells.
In regard to the genealogy (which I did manage to follow, just) you state, quite definitively that ‘These deeds indicate that the only Thache family on Jamaica was Blackbeard’s family.’ That is a very misleading statement, they do no such thing. They indicate that there was a Thache family living on Jamaica, in no way do they link that family with Blackbeard, and yet you repeatedly inform the reader that Edward Thache Jr. of Jamaica and Blackbeard were one and the same person, as if it was an established fact. They might well have been the same person, I have no specific evidence to refute it, but it's a supposition and should be treated as such. Yes, the quote you mentioned from page 22 should have been qualified. In my defense, however, I also say things like "This important detail implies that if Blackbeard had come from Jamaica when he became a pirate, then any Thache records found there were probably for his family." And, I often speak of "Edward Thache" in these references without necessarily implying "Blackbeard" because the records are for a man by that name, whether or not he is Blackbeard. It's subtle, but a difficult problem to navigate around when faced with these names. I worked a long time to avoid as much confusion as possible. My editor did too. She almost pulled her hair out over it. lol
Your assertion that the Rev. Thomas Thache, whom you describe as a ‘moderate Presbyterian’ may have been a Jacobite supporter had he lived past 1688 is somewhat confusing. Of all of the various Christian sects practising in English society in the seventeenth and eighteenth century the Presbyterians were probably the most despised by Jacobites, who indeed used ‘Presbyterian’ as an insult, regardless of their target’s actual faith. For a nice piratical example, Thomas Davis, when he was forced into Bellamy’s company, was castigated, ‘You Presbyterian dog, you should fight for King James.’ If the Rev. Thache was a Presbyterian then he was very unlikely to have been a Jacobite. Given the large part Jacobitism seems to play in your work, may I recommend Paul Kleber Monod's excellent Jacobitism and the English People, 1688-1788. As the resident expert here on Jacobitism, I bow to you on that.
In trying to justify Blackbeard’s wrecking of the QAR you present an argument that there was probably no treachery involved because none of the pirates present mention it. ‘No records have surfaced that provide evidence that Blackbeard committed these atrocities except the [stede Bonnet] trial transcript,’ you write, implying that a lack of other evidence suggests that those pirates on trial may have fabricated their being double-crossed by Blackbeard. It’s certainly a possibility, but I must question how many other first-hand accounts of the loss of the QAR you’ve read that don’t accuse Blackbeard of treachery? To my knowledge, the source which accuses Blackbeard of deliberately wrecking the QAR to cheat his men is the only first-hand account of the incident. It’s true that there are no other sources which reliably describe Blackbeard’s treachery at Topsail Inlet, but it is equally true that 100% of the witness-accounts of the event do accuse him. In short, it’s a false argument.
The only eye-witness record that I am aware of that directly accuses Blackbeard is David Herriot's deposition before the trial in Charleston. He gave 5 pages of deposition in which he was totally innocent of everything, of course. Ignatious Pell had a single paragraph at the end of this that basically amounts to "Yeah. What he said." lol Both of these men received immunity for their testimony and neither are even listed on the indcitments. All other records, including Capt. Ellis' letters to Burchett, say only things like "Teach wrecked his ship" or "Teach lost his ship." But, they would say that if he had done it accidentally, too. No records definitively say that it was on purpose - except for Herriot. And he was not prosecuted, but tried to escape with Bonnet and killed in the attempt. He just doesn't seem like a credible witness to me.
In a general sense there are a couple of threads running through the article which bother me. Firstly, you use one single document, describing one single incident (the ceding of property by Edward Thache Jr.), completely devoid of any context or background, and which crucially may not relate to Blackbeard himself at all, to paint a picture of Blackbeard as a kind and generous man, and then fit the rest of the evidence around that picture. It is certainly possible, perhaps even probable, that Blackbeard was not the monster that popular history books portray him as (though academic historians will not consider this ‘news’), but that’s a long way from the congenial and familial character you seem to be trying to create. Secondly you mention a few times that pirates in general were not the vicious men than history has depicted them as, and use a couple of examples (such as Vane and Low) as the exceptions that prove the rule. However, accounts of atrocities committed by pirates are certainly not limited to those two men: Cocklyn is described as a brute, Anstis’ men supposedly gang-raped a captive then broke her back and threw her overboard, in Taylor’s crew it was written into the articles that women on captured ships were to be ‘given up to the hazards of the sea’, accounts of tortures and murders abound, ships full of men were set alight and then adrift, the list goes on... I argued this in a relative sense... how do these "pirates" per se compare with other merchants and mariners? I really don't think that we can single them out as the notorious criminals found in GHoP. Some mariners went on the account briefly and then went back to their normal routines, like it was merely a diversion. Douglas and Hanna both make a great case for this. I do believe that the future scholarship of piracy will focus in this direction. We also have to study the sources for all the vicious guys in detail. As Duffus himself says, many of the sources we have go back to GHoP and I'm just not comfortable with using that source.
One final point. Earlier today you wrote here, 'Nor do I need to explain the birth/age date of circa 1680, "around 1683," or anything else of that nature.' I'd argue most strongly that any 'Professional Research Historian' should be ready to explain everything they write. Truth! I should have been more definitive there.
Lots to consider...Thank you very much for the civility, Ed!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
First of all, I just want to say that Blackbeard was not a perfectly wonderful guy. He was a pirate, a good one, too... and I would not invite him to my home for dinner. Having said that, he can be a pirate while still caring about his family

Yes, he could have been that. My point was that there is no evidence that it was so. We don't know that the Jamaica Thache was Blackbeard, and even if we did we don't know why he ceded property to his relative, and even if you could show that he definitely did it out of generosity it's only one act. There's really not enough there to start speculating on his character.

If the campaign against him began then, Mist's writings merely reflected that... or supported it.

Exactly. I'm not at all convinced that the government did single out Blackbeard for special treatment, there was really no need for them to do so as with his powerful ship, unusual beard, and audacious actions before Charleston he pretty much single himself out. If we compare the treatment of Blackbeard with the treatment of Henry Every, for example, whom we know beyond doubt that the government singled out for vilification, the circumstances are quite dissimilar.

But whatever the root cause of it, Mist merely reflected what was already going on, yet in your article you make him the architect of the piece which, fairly clearly, he was not.

I referred to the image created in a reader's mind... and expressing it colorfully for that effect.

and

Agreed, the inference was weak, but the general picture of Mist's character fits, I think.

But both of those things are very subjective. You may have got the impressions you describe from reading the GHP, but others may not have. You can't claim that Mist was deliberately creating a particular image in his readers' minds when the text actually contradicts both of those images.

I was referring to their captains from 1715-1717.

That's really not clear from your article, which appears to conflate privateer captains with everyone who served on privateers

I'm not a big buyer of the democratic situation that Rediker sells.

Neither am I. In fact I dedicated my PhD thesis to refuting that very argument of Rediker's and providing an alternative model. My thesis is available online for free here: 'Piratical Schemes and Contracts': Pirate Articles and Their Society, 1660-1730

It's not terribly relevant here, but I'll happily provide a summary if you (or anyone else) would like.

As the resident expert here on Jacobitism, I bow to you on that.

When it comes to pirates and Jacobitism, I think I'm the resident expert everywhere B)

No records definitively say that it was on purpose - except for Herriot. And he was not prosecuted, but tried to escape with Bonnet and killed in the attempt. He just doesn't seem like a credible witness to me.

Herriot is easily one of the most enigmatic figures of the 'golden age', and we'll probably never figure him out.

When I started my Master's thesis my supervisor gave me one of the best pieces of advice I have ever had: 'The question is not is this witness lying to me? It's how is this witness lying to me?' There's no such thing as a 'credible witness', everyone is subjective and nobody ever tells the full story from every angle, the important thing is to work out in what way a witness might be credible or not. And just because a witness is not credible in some respects does not mean that nothing they say can be believed.

The operative question here is whether or not Herriot had anything to gain by fabricating the claim that Blackbeard wrecked the QAR on purpose, or anything to lose by admitting that it was an honest accident. It's not enough to say that there are no other witnesses, if you want to show that Blackbeard was innocent of the charges of treachery then you need to provide a solid argument for why Herriot would have lied about it. Personally, I can't see any reason, but I'll leave you to form your own case

I argued this in a relative sense... how do these "pirates" per se compare with other merchants and mariners?

How many examples of other merchants and mariners committing gang rape and murder can you find?

Actually I think in a general sense there's a very strong case to be made that pirates were much more willing to employ violence than the wider maritime community. For example, in the Royal Navy the maximum number of lashes a Captain was allowed to inflict on his own authority was 12, and records of East India Company voyages show that 12 was a typical number, yet in more than one set of pirate articles we find that the standard is set at 39, and there are numerous testimonies of pirate receiving hundreds of blows.

We also have to study the sources for all the vicious guys in detail. As Duffus himself says, many of the sources we have go back to GHoP and I'm just not comfortable with using that source.

Agreed, all of the examples I gave came from sources other than the GHP.

Thank you very much for the civility, Ed!

Civility costs nothing. Thank you in turn for not taking offence at my rather critical analysis of your article.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

'The question is not is this witness lying to me? It's how is this witness lying to me?' There's no such thing as a 'credible witness', everyone is subjective and nobody ever tells the full story from every angle, the important thing is to work out in what way a witness might be credible or not. And just because a witness is not credible in some respects does not mean that nothing they say can be believed.

Substitute 'historian' for 'witness' and it still works. :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Substitute 'person' for either and the nail is well and truly struck on the head.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
First of all, I just want to say that Blackbeard was not a perfectly wonderful guy. He was a pirate, a good one, too... and I would not invite him to my home for dinner.

I would! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Substitute 'person' for either and the nail is well and truly struck on the head.

Just so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We don't know that the Jamaica Thache was Blackbeard,

But, we also do not know that he wasn't.. what are the chances that he were?

These tangible records are the first of any kind to even hint at the man's identity after almost 300 years. There are now 21 separate records regarding a single family of Thaches on Jamaica... and Patrick Pringle asked Clinton Black for such records in the 1950s as at least partial proof of his existence. Black fumbled on finding them. This practically is the birth certificate...

My main argument in the paper was that the Anglican Church records, combined with the wills and deeds, plus the Leslie book, all make a very good case for Edward Thache Jr. being Blackbeard.

Does anyone besides Duffus dispute this and why?

Also, thanks for that thesis, Ed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I certainly dispute that it's enough to base anything on, and that it's 'practically... the birth certificate'. Statements like that are waaaaaaay over the limit of what's supported by the evidence.

If we knew for certain that Blackbeard was from Jamaica then I'd agree that the Thache family there likely produced Blackbeard, but we don't know it for certain, not even close.

I'm not saying you're wrong, and I don't have an alternative theory, but frankly, from an academic standard, you're stretching the evidence well past credibility. You've made a case for a theory, it's not a bad case and it's not a bad theory, but it's no more than that.

But, we also do not know that he wasn't.. what are the chances that he were?

Honestly and objectively? Based on the evidence presented, no better than even.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, what would show us within reason that Blackbeard was from Jamaica?

Personally, I believe the Leslie book establishes way too many points to be mere coincidence: that he was from Spanish Town (why not Port Royal or Kingston where you would expect a pirate to be from) and that Lucretia, or his "mother" was still alive in 1739 (she died in 1743). Johnson never wrote this. No one ever wrote this before.

Would proving Cox Thache is an artillleryman help the case?

Edited by Baylus_Brooks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now