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Thursday, March 29, 2018

Mass grave of WHYDAH pirate crew uncovered

"Black" Samuel Bellamy was reputed to be the richest pirate in booty terms. And now, perhaps, they have found his body.

In 1716, he was first recorded as sailing under Captain Hernigold, who quit his post because he didn't like seizing and looting British craft.  In true pirate fashion, once he had gone, the crew held an election, in which Bellamy was voted captain, presumably because he didn't have the same scruples.

He thought his piratical existence was justified.  According to the legend, he declared that the British aristocracy was no better.

They vilify us, the Scoundrels do, when there is only this Difference, they rob the Poor under the Cover of Law, forsooth, and we plunder the Rich under the Protection of our own Courage. 

In March 1717, Bellamy and his cruise captured the Whydah, a slave ship returning to London from the Caribbean with the profit made from carting Black captives to the slave market -- gold ivory, sugar, and the immensely valuable dye, indigo.  A few more prizes were taken, but then the little fleet was overtaken by a tempest, and on the night of May 17, the Whydah ran aground on a sandbar, near Wellfleet, Massachusetts.  Naturally, since then there have been strenuous efforts to bring up the cargo.

Well, according to a report in the New Zealand Herald, the last resting place of a number of the crew of the Whydah has been discovered.

America's largest pirate mass grave has been discovered after 300 years, with more than 100 sets of remains offering clues to the crew's exploits.
Archaeologists believe the site is the last resting place of Captain "Black Sam" Bellamy's crew, who drowned when the Whydah Gally, their ship, was wrecked at sea in 1717.
The body of Bellamy, thought to be the richest pirate ever, has not yet been accounted for but around 100 of his crew were recovered and given a land burial in Massachusetts.
Casey Sherman, leading the investigation into the Whydah, said: "We believe that we have found the largest mass burial ground in the US.
"Over 100 pirates washed ashore on Cape Cod [after the wreck], and our team believe that we have located it [the grave site].
"It's very hallowed ground. Almost every day we're learning more about what happened 300 years ago."
The archaeologists have also uncovered the homesteads of the Cape Codders who first responded to the wreck, Sherman told the Daily Telegraph.
He explained that the pirates, who counted Indians and runaway slaves among their number, were in fact "very progressive" in the democratic way they ran their ship.
Bellamy, born in Devon, the UK, in 1689, was himself an unusual captain, attempting to avoid violence wherever possible.  Despite this most unpiratical codicil, in just a year, Bellamy used the Whydah to raid 54 ships along the US east coast and the Caribbean, collecting treasure equal to around US$120 million today, said Forbes Magazine.

It is believed that Bellamy's corpse is among those found.  Read more about it in the Telegraph.


Helen Hollick said...

I'm so interested in 'Black Sam' - he's a little early in period for my Jesamiah and the Sea Witch Voyages (set from about 1715 - 1725) BUT .... he's not too early for Jesamiah's pirate pa, Charles St Croix!

Watch this space for a novel.... (only it's a big space at the moment, the 'to do list is a bit full!)

Thanks for sharing, most interesting!

Joan Druett said...

It will be a rousing novel!!!