Pirates of the Carolinas, Part 7 - Golden Age Ends


DISCLAIMER: This one has a lot of visual images of hangings and decapitation.

Stede Bonnet had sought and received a pardon from Governor Eden at Bathtown, North Carolina, and a privateering letter of mark from the Danish governor at St. Thomas in the West Indies. This should have ended his buccaneering days, but he decided to return back to the life of piracy. 

In late November of 1718, Bonnet, now going by the name of Captain Thomas, and his newly named ship, the "Royal James," lay hidden near the mouth of the Cape Fear River. An expeditionary force, led by Colonel William Rhett, was dispatched from Charleston by a fed-up and angry South Carolina governor, Robert Johnson. A battle broke out, but the pirates were forced to surrender, and they were brought back to Charleston.

Stede Bonnet's men were taken to Charleston and held in the public watch house there.  As a gentleman by birth, Bonnet himself was afforded the privilege of being placed in the custody of Charleston's town marshal, who allowed the pirate captain quarters in his own home. But three days before the trial was supposed to begin, Bonnet disappeared. When he was retrieved, he was treated no longer with any special sort of courtesy and was jailed.

Virginia's governor, Alexander Spotswood, at his own expense, sent out a secret expedition under Captain Ellis Brand on November 17, 1718.  Brand commanded a British warship called "Lyme." Royal Navy Lieutenant Robert Maynard was given command of the "Pearl," the larger of the two well-armed sloops. Their mission was to sail to the North Carolina coast and to capture or kill Blackbeard. When found, a fierce hand-to-hand battle took place.  In the end, Lieutenant Maynard and his men were able to bring down Blackbeard and his crew.