Famous Pirates of North Carolina Facts, Information, History, Timeline

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Pirates hid out and roamed the North Carolina Outer Banks and Coast looking for easy prey. The many coves along the coast made good hiding spots to either pounce on a victim or flee from an enemy. Few ships would dare venture into these treacherous waters with their rip currents and shifting sand bars to chase anything least of all pirates. However, the shipping lanes around North Carolina contained many rich cargo ships going to and fro from the rich Virginia and South Carolina colonies. North Carolina was a good recruiting ground for pirates because most residents were poor or outlaws. Piracy gave the opportunity for poor folks and outlaws to get rich. Indentured servants and runaway slaves joined the ranks as well. Pirates brought trade, money and luxuries such as sugar and cotton to the coastal towns.

Facts about Blackbeard Pirate

Blackbeard was perhaps the most infamous pirate who roamed the North Carolina coast. The real name of Blackbeard is thought to be Edward Teach. He married a rich planter’s daughter in Bath NC and made his home there. It was thought that Blackbeard had two or more wives. Another wife supposedly lived in England.


At first, the people welcomed Blackbeard for the money and commodities he brought into town but he soon wore out his welcome. Blackbeard and his crew harassed most everyone whom they came in contact. Soon, the citizens petitioned the governor of The Virginia Colony asking for assistance. They choose not to go to the governor of North Carolina History because they thought he had been corrupted. At the time, North Carolina had no army and was outgunned by the pirates. Virginia’s governor, Spotswood was eager to put an end to Blackbeard’s attacks on Virginia’s shipping. The governor of Virginia sent Lieutenant Robert Maynard to take care of Blackbeard and his crew.

As the story goes, Blackbeard was killed by Lieutenant Maynard at Ocracoke Inlet who cut off Blackbeard's head and hung it from the bow of the ship. He, then flung Blackbeard's body into the sea. Legend says the body swam three times around the boat before sinking into the depths of the ocean. Ghost stories tell tales of mysterious lights appearing on the shores around Pamlico sound. These lights are suppose to be a lantern held by Blackbeard's ghost looking for his lost head.

Blackbeard had a fierce reputation. He put lighted matches in his black beard which smoked and gave the impression that he was a demon or the devil himself. Image was important for it instilled fear in victims and the crew of the pirate's ship preventing mutinies. Victims would be more willing to comply with a pirate's terms than resist.

Blackbeard's flag ship was named Queen Anne's Revenge.


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Typical Pirate Ships Flying the Jolly Roger Flag
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The Pirate Flags Known as the Jolly Roger or Skull and Crossbones

list of famous pirates that roamed the NC Coast


  • Ann Bonney
  • Mary Read
  • Jack Rackham  nicknamed Calico Jack
  • Stede Bonnet

Anne Bonny and Mary Read were two famous women pirates who were apart of Calico Jack's crew. Mary Read dressed like a man, bounding her breasts and fought like a man. Both Anne Bonny and Mary Read were pregnant when captured. They were tried and sentenced to hang for piracy. However, both were pregnant so their sentences were held off until they gave birth. Neither were executed. Mary Read died in childbirth. Ann Bonny mysteriously disappeared. She was a daughter of a wealthy planter so it is thought that her father used his influence to free her from prison, smuggle her out of Jamaica and she assumed another identity. There is no record of her hanging or anything about her after her stay in prison. It is very unlikely her records were lost cause they kept excellent records of prisoners held in Jamaica and executions at this time in history.