Swashbuckler 1700

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

75 posts in this topic

More and better sources. He might have been from Jamaica, it's certainly a possibility, but I doubt we'll ever be sure beyond reasonable doubt. Even if we could be sure that he was from the island, the Thache family would only be the most likely possibility, not a certainty.

Or, a source which definitively links Blackbeard to the Thache family.

Honestly, I wish you luck, but I really doubt you'll ever be able to take this past the 'here's an interesting possibility' stage.

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So, I'd need the actual birth certificate? lol

Jamaica has barely been tapped as far as their massive record collection goes. Dianne Frankson, a researcher in Spanish Town assures me that there are a lot of unseen records there... especially by off-island researchers who feel that Jamaica has nothing to offer. Still, take a look at the records from the Anglican Church... they shocked me as to how thorough/well kept they actually were. I never even expected to find anything like this in Jamaica and was forced to accept my own bias against that island. I think we all have that bias.

Cox Thache, for instance moved to Kingston and left a lot of records of his fun times while living there... the children he begat on William Tindale's slave Jane. A distinctly social exploration is strongly needed on Jamaica... especially if we are to prove a genealogical connection to the Thache family there... and if we are to prove definitively that Blackbeard is from that Thache family.

I wholly disagree that there is no more to find. I believe we have only scratched the surface... only the obvious records relating to those Thaches from my single request for records from the Register General's Department in Spanish Town. This was just one search. There must be a lot more, if my instincts and experiences over 35 years of doing genealogical research tell me anything at all. There are related families, like the Poquets, Maverlys, Barhams, Axtells, Smith's, Tindales, etc... all of which have been unexplored so far.

Historians have typically had a bias against genealogy. They see it as the realm of amateurs, biased beyond help. But, the "bias" that they see is the actual work of untrained amateurs... not the records themselves... vital records contain the least bias of all... compared with Admiralty and other court records, typically those studied by classical historians... records that are inherently biased due to their adversarial nature. You said it yourself, you gotta know who's lying, not whether they are. My adviser told me to "follow the dollar." Christening, marriage, and burial records merely record an event... they make no claim to profit or justice. They make no argument. Deed records transfer property. Will records transfer property as well as make certain wishes known. Few of these are arguments with anyone.

Imagine the possibilities for the study of pirates and their families. I'm planning a trip to join Dianne in Jamaica and study those records. Of course, I need money. Anyone got some spare change?

Edited by Baylus_Brooks

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I think the real reason that some historians are biased against genealogy (I'm not one of them by the way) is that on the whole genealogy doesn't tell us very much about the bigger picture. For example, I myself have found a real-life Mary Read whose story fits almost perfectly into the version printed in Johnson's account, but despite having written and presented on women in piracy I haven't included her: partly because I cannot link her directly to the pirate Mary Read any more than you can link Edward Thache of Jamaica to Blackbeard, and partly because knowing when Mary Read was baptised and what her mother's name was tells us precisely nothing about her career as a pirate or about women at sea in the early-modern period or anything else. It's not that the story's not interesting, it is, it's just limited in its usefulness.

The reason I doubt that you'll be able to get this past the theory stage is less to do with the limitations of the documents, and more to do with the inherent unreliability of Leslie's account.

None of this is to say that I necessarily think you're wrong, and what you do is entirely up to you, none of my business at all, but I'll go back to my original point which was that this is a theory and should be treated as such.

For what it's worth, I didn't say you have to know who was lying, I said you have to know how they're lying - assume that everyone is. I'd add that although genealogical records tend not to be adversarial, that doesn't necessarily make them more reliable, they have their faults too depending on how they are used.

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Oh, I haven't stopped looking for more clues to solidify the theory. Gravity is still a theory, too. I will probably keep searching no matter how much I find. Genealogical records, taken individually, don't provide a great deal, but when you synthesize a large group of them (yes, a very long and tedious task), they support and often verify each other, and can indeed build a much more substantial case, plus lead you to explore certain avenues that you'd never considered. Don't discount them.

I still can't help but wonder at an "unreliable" account that hits two things on the nose. What about Leslie don't you like? Did he meet the Thache family that I also found in the church records? Sounds like he probably did. Also, what's keeping your historical Mary Read out of your discussions? Look for peripheral connections to verify her... cousins, uncles, etc. One of those may have written some obscure account of her not making an appointment because she was standing trial for piracy... or something along those lines.

So, I guess the money is out of the question? Grant writing is not my favorite way to get it, lol.

Edited by Baylus_Brooks

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I didn't say I didn't like Leslie, I said that his book couldn't be relied on.

  • Very little is known about Leslie. There is absolutely no way of verifying his bona fides.
  • His book was published 21 years, a full generation, after Blackbeard's death.
  • There is no way of telling whether he was always reporting things of which he was personally aware or whether he was sometimes repeating hearsay and gossip.
  • If he was reporting hearsay and gossip, it's impossible to tell which parts of his book those were.
  • We have no evidence at all that Leslie knew or even met the Thaches of Jamaica. Concluding that he did from the meagre lines in his book is stretching the evidence much further than it warrants.
  • There is no way of telling where his personal bias lay
  • There is no way of telling how good his memory was of decades-old events
  • There is no way of telling whether and how much he made stuff up.
  • His book was written for public consumption and should thus be taken with a grain of salt regardless.

One possibility is that Leslie was reliable and referring to Lucretia Thache, and consequently your theory is correct. As I've said, I'm not saying your theory is wrong. Another possibility is that he simply made it up to make his book salacious and by coincidence there happened to be a woman named Thache alive in Jamaica at that time, I'll leave it up to you to judge the likelihood of that, but in the interests of 'reasonable doubt' I offer it as an alternative. A third possibility is that he knew of the existence of the Thache family and having read the first edition of the GHP added 2 and 2 in his head. A fourth possibility is that he knew of the Thache family and for reasons unknown of his own 'gave' them Blackbeard. A fifth possibility is that he got his information from someone else who, in turn, could have been guilty of my second or third options. A sixth possibility is that there was another Thatch family on Jamaica who either escaped the records (and we both know there are gaps in the records - you acknowledge it yourself in your article) or whose records have hitherto been overlooked or lost. Give me a little longer and I'll probably come up with more. The point is that without trying too hard I have come up with six different scenarios, all of which fit the limited available evidence, and only one of which means that Edward Thache was Blackbeard. Edward Thache may have been Blackbeard, I acknowledge that possibility: but equally he may not have been. Like I said, you have a theory.

As for the money, I'm a historian, you're welcome to every penny of my spare cash if you think it will help, both of them.

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Still, you have to admit that Edward Thache was in the right place at the right time, especially if Johnson had the correct intel on the guy. That increases the chances, yes? ;)

Here's what I've found on Leslie so far:

St%2BJohns%2Bchurch.jpg

St. Johns Parish Church, Barbados

Rev. William and Ann Leslie left Scotland to serve as the First Rector (1653 - 1676) of St John’s Parish Church, ministering to the Parish for 23 years. This church still stands today and is still in use. The Leslies are buried in the cemetery beside it.

William died 13 November 1674, many years before Ann in 1692. According to his memorial, he was the "Grandson of Fifth Laird of Kincraigie and Great Great Grandson by his Grandmother of JOHN LESLIE Eighth Baron of Balquhain." William and Ann had children: Margery, Rebecca, Isabella, Col. John and Charles Leslie.

The author Charles Leslie is the son of one of these two men. On 20 July 1710, he married Rebecca Innes (Ince).

Edited by Baylus_Brooks

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I believe I have agreed that Edward Thache was in the right place at the right time, on more than one occasion. Honestly, the only point I'm trying to make here is that you have a theory, a possibility, but not by any stretch a certainty.

And that info on Leslie tells you exactly how much about his reliability on this matter?

One other point I forgot to mention before about Leslie but which your reference to Johnson just reminded me of. You spend half your article arguing that Blackbeard was not bloody and cruel and murderous, but Leslie says exactly those things about him. So in one paragraph of Leslie's writing you want to believe that he's totally wrong in some respects and yet reliable in others? Same with Johnson?

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"Still, you have to admit that Edward Thache was in the right place at the right time..."

And what was the right time? 1706? From what I can tell, that is the only date where Edward Thache, Jr., appears in a document that Brooks has provided.

Edited by LookingGlass

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No, the info on Leslie was just a bit of info that I dug up one afternoon for kicks.

Obviously, Leslie was offering what he had read on the guy. In no way was that his own opinion. I think that whoever this guy was, he had read about Johnson's viscious Blackbeard, met a Thache family on Jamaica who claimed relation to the guy and found it extraordinary that he would come from such a nice family. I would too.

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To Looking Glass: By his association with the Thaches of Spanish Town in that 1706 deed, we know beyond a doubt that Edward Thache Jr. was from there. The "right time" is the first couple of decades of the 18th century. Now, we just need to clearly establish that he is Blackbeard. In my opinion, the chances are far better than 50/50. And, as I said, future research will bear this out, I have little doubt.

Edited by Baylus_Brooks

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BTW, is my calling Edward Thache Jr. "Blackbeard" in my book any different than your calling Blackbeard "Edward Beard" in yours? I understood that once you established the extent of the possible relation, you didn't have to qualify EVERY SINGLE reference that you made from then on... I just accepted that you didn't claim those refs definitively. Please afford me the same courtesy.

Edited by Baylus_Brooks

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Obviously, Leslie was offering what he had read on the guy. In no way was that his own opinion. I think that whoever this guy was, he had read about Johnson's viscious Blackbeard, met a Thache family on Jamaica who claimed relation to the guy and found it extraordinary that he would come from such a nice family. I would too.

So you think that Leslie knew the Thache family but had to rely on what he'd read in a book to form an opinion of one of their scions? Doesn't add up.

And on what evidence do you pronounce the Thaches a 'nice family'?

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No, I think he either knew them or had a report from someone who did. He then compiled his research together and wrote a paragraph in his book that reflected all sources... just the way any of us write now. He doesn't actually have to be lying in his book. I'm just saying that he maybe got conflicting information from different sources. Hasn't that ever happened to you?

That's the scenario that I'm following to explain his reference. That's all.

What was it to be a "nice family" in the early 18th century? Whatever it means, Leslie compared it relative to what he read about the notorious pirate Blackbeard. I think he was just surprised by possibly conflicting data.

Edited by Baylus_Brooks

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This is the paragraph in question. I have colored different sections according to what I believe comes from different sources that Leslie compiled into this single paragraph. The first one I think is Johnson, but it's very general. The second one is the mystery shopper on Jamaica. The third one may be Johnson again. And the last section I believe comes from the Weekly Packet of 11 April 1719. It could be also Weekly Journal of the same date or other sources in BNL as well, March 2, 1719. They all say pretty much the same thing.

At this time, the famous Edward Teach,

commonly known by the Name of Black—

beard, 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

on a Pole.

The last two sections may have both come from the BNL ref.

Edited by Baylus_Brooks

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Note that I don't believe Leslie used direct quotations, but paraphrased from the sources.

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But the point that I'm trying to make is that you asked me why I don't think Leslie can be relied on, and there it is. In one short paragraph you're asking us to believe that he's totally wrong on one thing but totally reliable on another - you can't have it both ways. Yes, I've found conflicting sources, of course I have, every historian has, we treat them with scepticism and don't build whole theses on them. It's quite possible that Leslie is right about Blackbeard's parents, but it can't be relied on.

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I'm not asking you to believe anything except that Leslie could be an honest writer, using all of the sources that he has. The only section that he used that does NOT appear in any previous article is the section about Spanish Town and the parents. Where did that come from? It could have been personal experience, from an informant, maybe invented. But, there is certainly no reason to accuse Leslie of lying, simply because he does what any good journalist has ever done... and give all the information that he has available to him.

"It's quite possible that Leslie is right about Blackbeard's parents, but it can't be relied on." Yes, but it need not be completely dismissed, either. That's MY point. Combined with other evidence, it begins to build a circumstantial case that increases the chances of success. In light of other evidence, maybe Leslie DID NOT LIE. As I said, gravity is still a theory, too. But, drop a ball and it usually falls down. All of these independent, circumstantial pieces eventually add up to some kind of evidence and cannot be dismissed when viewed together. You give my theory a 50/50 chance? Really? With all the evidence in the past leading to pirates in general focusing on Jamaica? Jennings, Barrow, Thache, Ashworth, Barnet, Parr, and so many of the 18th century's wealthy pirates have families on Jamaica. Buccaneers of the 17th century originally focused on Jamaica, almost since the day it was captured from the Spanish. Port Royal has become the quintessential home port of pirates and all the writers of the time knew this... including Leslie, but he chose the landlocked (not a port) capital of "Spanish Town." And, now, we have proof that an Edward Thache is from Jamaica, specifically Spanish Town (at least since boyhood)? And you still say it's 50/50? Come on... really? I still trust that gravity works, even though there is no grand unified theory yet to explain it. The chances are far better than 50% and you know it. They are certainly better than North Carolina.

One thing I have noticed is a strong desire NOT to notice these things... to maintain the status quo and, in Blackbeard's case, to maintain the mystery. Isn't that what's happening here? We may be in danger of losing the mystery of our most iconic pirate.

Edited by Baylus_Brooks

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The chances of Blackbeard being from Jamaica are certainly better than North Carolina?

Since some readers here may not have been able to access my analysis of your article, I will repeat the following:

The Cambridge-educated philosopher of history, C. Behan McCullagh, PhD., wrote in The Truth of History: “For a new historical interpretation to be acceptable, it must synthesize more facts about the subject than those which preceded it, make more facts about the subject intelligible, as well as be so supported by available evidence as to be rationally accepted as true. An interpretation is objectively good if it satisfies these conditions.” How well does your new theory of the notorious pirate’s origins, his Anglican, aristocratic upbringing, his wealthy, privileged life on Jamaica, his service in the Royal Navy, synthesize the large number of well-documented facts of Blackbeard’s last days in North Carolina?

Why would your Jamaican Blackbeard, Edward Thache, Jr., whose family you purport to have owned a large sugar plantation with slaves (even though you have provided no evidence of this “plantation”), then go to great trouble to capture slaves east of the Windward Islands in November 1717 from the French slave ship Concorde? And then why, at great risk, and by avoiding numerous opportunities to safely surrender to various colonial governors—including South Carolina’s Governor Johnson—did Edward Thache, Jr., of Jamaica, deliver those slaves to diminutive Bath, North Carolina, which is quite a far distance from the sea requiring navigation around dangerous shoals and serpentine sand reefs. And why did your Jamaican Blackbeard take those slaves to what was then a colonial backwater community well-documented to be economically depressed and with residents possessing little or no hard currency to purchase those slaves, especially when the pirates passed up other ports where those slaves would have fetched much higher prices?

Why did your Jamaican Blackbeard not deliver these slaves to his home port if the chances of his Jamaican connections "are certainly better than North Carolina?"

How do you explain the absolute lack of coherence of your theory with the documented facts of the pirate Blackbeard’s travels and actions during his 2-year piratical career?

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Why would your Jamaican Blackbeard, Edward Thache, Jr., whose family you purport to have owned a large sugar plantation with slaves (even though you have provided no evidence of this “plantation”), then go to great trouble to capture slaves east of the Windward Islands in November 1717 from the French slave ship Concorde? And then why, at great risk, and by avoiding numerous opportunities to safely surrender to various colonial governors—including South Carolina’s Governor Johnson—did Edward Thache, Jr., of Jamaica, deliver those slaves to diminutive Bath, North Carolina, which is quite a far distance from the sea requiring navigation around dangerous shoals and serpentine sand reefs. And why did your Jamaican Blackbeard take those slaves to what was then a colonial backwater community well-documented to be economically depressed and with residents possessing little or no hard currency to purchase those slaves, especially when the pirates passed up other ports where those slaves would have fetched much higher prices?

You assume that Thache meant to wreck his ship (QAR) in Beaufort Inlet and remain in NC. Your entire theory rests upon the supposition that Thache did not intend to continue pirating and that he did not stop in NC merely to careen his vessel... that this successful pirate intended to stay in this economically-depressed backwater. The evidence from my analysis of the Bonnet trial and from the archaeology, however, dispute this. http://bcbrooks.blogspot.com/2015/07/guilty-or-innocent-depositions-of.html

BTW, the Thache deeds, wills and their slaves, Jim, Mary, Lucretia, Sabina, and more... provide substantial proof that the Thaches owned a plantation in Spanish Town.

Are you saying that Thache cared for his supposed NC Beard family more than his own wealth? Careful, you may get flogged (pun intended) for this... ;)

Edited by Baylus_Brooks

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And you still say it's 50/50? Come on... really? I still trust that gravity works, even though there is no grand unified theory yet to explain it. The chances are far better than 50% and you know it.

No, no I don't know it.

I have never written specifically on Blackbeard, I said in my first post on this thread that I don't give a flying wotsit where Blackbeard was from, I have absolutely no vested interest in his birthplace. That gives me the luxury of being able to look at this completely objectively, something which neither Kevin Duffus nor you is able to do. You've staked a lot on his being from Jamaica, you need this to be right. I don't. Your whole theory hinges on Leslie being accurate, but we can't say whether he is or isn't accurate, and you yourself do a fair job of proving that in many respects he isn't.

Looking at the evidence that you've presented in your article and on here, and considering it in the context of other evidence, I'd say the chances are about 50/50. I'll give you 55/45 if it will make you feel better.

Sorry if that's not the answer you're looking for, but there it is.

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I don't "assume" Blackbeard meant to wreck the QAR. This has already been addressed in this thread. "100% of the witness-accounts of the event" indicate that the scuttling of the ship was intentional. You have failed to explain how Herriot would have incriminated himself had he instead testified that the wreck had been an accident, and no counter-evidence is known to exist to contradict Herriot. As Fox wrote, yours is a false argument. Actually, it is just another theory. And, by the way, what has the archaeology shown that proves that the wreck was an accident? Because some of the guns were loaded is evidence that the wreck was an accident? Really?

BTW, the Thache deeds, wills and their slaves, Jim, Mary, Lucretia, Sabina, and more... provide substantial proof that the Thaches owned a plantation in Spanish Town.

No, I believe the Thache deeds, wills, and their slaves provide proof that they owned slaves.

Are you saying that Thache cared for his supposed NC Beard family more than his own wealth?

I haven't intimated that in this discussion at all. Please don't attempt to deflect this discussion away from the topic of the evidence you have accumulated to support your theory that Edward Thache, Jr., of Jamaica was Blackbeard.

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Ed, "Your whole theory hinges on Leslie being accurate." Does it, really? The actual records of Edward Thache are not suggestive, in the very least?

My objective is to show these records. That is it. I have done that and I knew the consequences would be severe. I wrote an article attempting to interpret them. I do not have money riding on this theory. Writers and historians do not make fortunes. Others do... and have invested a great deal in it. I did not write a 27-page rebuttal. But, this thread is obviously no longer helpful.

Somewhere, there's a beer with my name on it... thy name is Yeung-Ling! ;)

Edited by Baylus_Brooks

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Ed, "Your whole theory hinges on Leslie being accurate." Does it, really? The actual records of Edward Thache are not suggestive, in the very least?

If Blackbeard wasn't from Jamaica, then the records are suggestive that in 1706 there was a man called Edward Thache.

Neither Edward nor Thatch/Teach/Titch are particularly uncommon names. Blackbeard is known by at least three names in period documents (Thatch, Drummond, Kentish); we assume that Thatch was his real name, but there are other possibilities.

Without Leslie, what you have is a man who may have had the same name as a pirate, a decade earlier than that pirate was active, in the same hemisphere. So yes, your theory does rest on Leslie being accurate when looked at objectively.

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Don't forget that this man was a mariner and from the island best known for pirates.

BTW, next time you hop the pond, come join me for a beer!

Edited by Baylus_Brooks

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At Springer's Point, Ocracoke, within 100 feet of one another on 22 November 1718 there were at least two men named Joseph Brooks, both mariners. The chances of either of them being the one that got killed that day are 50/50.

On 25 March, 1723, within 100 feet of each other off the American coast, there were two men called John Phillips, both ship's captains. The chances of either of them being a pirate are 50/50

Two men who may have shared a name, who cannot be placed closer than ten years and a few hundred miles, you think the chances of them being the same person are much better than 50/50, even if they were both mariners?

As I've said all along, you've got a reasonable theory and you've made a good argument. You might well be right, but in all seriousness, I've looked at your evidence, I've read your article, I've read your arguments here, and your case is good, but nothing like as good as you think it is.

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