Blackbeard the Pirate and His Severe Burns

Blackbeard (1680-1718), whose birth name was Edward Teach, ruled the seas during the Golden Age of Piracy. Known for weaving hemp into his beard and lighting it, Blackbeard intimidated those who opposed him and severely burned his neck in the process.

Wearing a big feathered tricorn and decorated with assorted swords, knives, and pistols, Blackbeard is regarded as the image of the piracy during the 17th and 18th centuries. A General Historie of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates is regarded as the most accurate source of information concerning Blackbeard. What the collection does not tell us is about Blackbeard’s self-inflicted and accidental burns.

Smelling of burnt hair, Blackbeard would board ships, kill the crew and take the cargo the ship was carrying. His most notable feat was blockading Charleston, SC in May 1718 for several days until he received a chest of medicines that he negotiated for.

After the death of Edward Teach, his crew sat down with reporters in Bath, North Carolina, and the following story was told as the crew happily remembered their fond memories with Edward Teach.

We was closin in on a ship off of the coast of South Carolina when Edward Teach saw that it was a merchant ship. As ye know, Blackbeard would light hemp that was woven into his beard to frighten the crew of the other ship. For lunch we had eaten some greasy meat, and Blackbeard had not cleaned his beard. When he lit the hemp on his beard, his entire head became a ball of fire. First-matey, Will Lawlor threw a bucketful of water at Teach, but the fire only roared back since it had turned into an all-out grease fire. The ship’s cook quickly ran down to the hull and brought back a sack of flour, ripped open the sack and threw it over top of Blackbeard. By that time we had pulled next to the merchant ship, Blackbeard threw off the flour sack, leapt aboard looking like a pirate ghost. The merchant ship surrendered immediately.

Blackbeard died on November 11, 1718 at the hands of Lieutenant Maynard, the commander of the HMS Pearl. Edward Teach had been shot five times and stabbed more than twenty times before he died and was decapitated.

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2 Responses to “Blackbeard the Pirate and His Severe Burns”


  1. 1 B. Martinez May 21, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    this guy just keeps getting better and better! Reading this article made me want to read it outloud -I actually did and I broke out in a pirate accent!!
    I love the way this guy takes historical events, keeps a lot of the facts accurate, and then twists just enough facts to make it really funny.
    I just can’t get enough of this website, I will be coming back every day for more!!

  2. 2 Susan Hickey May 21, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    I also thought this article was really funny! And the cool thing was that I didn’t know very much about Blackbeard when I first read the article. A lot of it seemed outlandish to me -but he really did set his beard on fire!! The part about the pirate ghost made me laugh out loud!


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