Blackbeard the infamous pirate was known to purposefully elevate his level of notoriety and strike fear into those who came in contact with him. He capitalized off of his already large, tall stature and imposing braided black beard, which he tied with ribbons. To enhance his appearance, he lit cannon fuses dipped in lime water or salt peter, and tucked them away under the edge of his hat (or beard). The sight was quite intimidating, as smoke would surround his head.
Despite his reputation, there is no record showing that Blackbeard killed in all of his days of plundering. While he worked on orchestrating a persona to be feared, most accounts actually depict the pirate who was generally compassionate towards those who cooperating with him and did not tolerate the resistance of others. Blackbeard certainly led a colorful life. He was believed to have taken 13 to 14 women as his wives and marriages were a common practice aboard his ships. A daredevil at heart, he is said to have once locked himself and crewmembers in the hold with burning pots of brimstone to see who could stick out the fumes for the longest period of time and of course, Blackbeard won the challenge.
When it comes to the true identity of Blackbeard, sifting through official records, personal accounts, and fictionalized history will produce plenty of discrepancies. It is believed he most likely came into the world around 1680 in Bristol, England, but other accounts place his birth as taking place in Jamaica, London, or even Philadelphia. Mainly, his ‘government’ name is cited as Edward Teach, but other sources call him Edward Thatch or Edward Drummond.
As a youthful man, Edward is thought to have joined the masses of other men who sought a career serving aboard a British privateer in the West Indies during the War of the Spanish Succession (also known as Queen Anne’s War). Just like many others who found themselves without employment, a life of piracy didn’t look all that bad when the war ended.
Edward appeared in New Providence, Bahamas in 1716 and became an understudy of Benjamin Hornigold. Following a year of apprenticeship, he gained his own ship , the French slaver called ‘Concorde.’ After outfitting the vessel with about 40 guns, the ship was renamed the ‘Queen Anne’s Revenge.’ In his adventures and battles, Blackbeard was well equipped in weaponry, including an ample supply of daggers, pistols, and cutlasses.
For pirates, the election of a new governor (Woodes Rogers) in 1717 placed a damper on their activities, as he wished to fight against piracy. Blackbeard traveled north to North Carolina, while his mentor, Hornigold took a pardon and position as commander of an anti-piracy fleet. Blackbeard settled in the village of Bath Town in January of 1718, providing a decent location for him to sell plunder and make a niche for himself. It was during this time that he requested pardon and protection from Governor Eden, who actually enjoyed the boost to the economy that came with the presence of pirates.