6 April 2018: A number of years ago (1984), on Cape Cod, MA, the bones of a ship appeared in the shallows off Welfleet. Upon examination and research, the wreck turned out to be the the ship Wydah, flag ship of the notorious pirate Black Sam Bellamy. Now it appears that the bones of the actual man, Black Sam, may have been found nearby. Tom Hale writing for the British IFL Science, offers the following: (images from other sources)
Captain “Black Sam” Bellamy was one of the most notorious pirates of
"the seven seas." During the 18th century, the "Golden Age"
of piracy, his seafaring robberies led him to become the richest pirate ever
known, accumulating a wealth equivalent of $120
million in today's money.
Despite the riches of this revolutionary rogue, archaeologists and forensic
scientists have discovered what they believe are his bones unceremoniously
washed up along with 100 other pirates in a mass burial.
On the shores of Cape Cod in Massachusetts, archaeologists recently came
across America’s largest mass pirate burial ground, hosting over 102 lost souls
who washed up after their ship, the Whydah, sank in April of 1717.
“We believe that we have found the largest mass burial ground in the US,”
expedition leader Casey Sherman told The
Telegraph. “Over 100 pirates washed ashore on Cape Cod, and our team
believe we have located it.”
"It's very hallowed ground... Almost every day we're learning more
about what happened 300 years ago."
Researchers are fairly confident that they have found the remains of
Bellamy's body at the site, namely because some of the skeletal remains were
found immediately next to a unique decorated pistol that matches historical
records of Bellamy's gun. To confirm it truly is the infamous pirate,
scientists are now carrying out DNA tests on the femur bone which they will
compare with the DNA of a male descendant of Bellamy living in the UK.
“Black Sam” Bellamy was a particularly notorious pirate of the 1700s, not
because of his brutality, but rather his benevolence and charisma. The wreckage
of his flagship – the Whydah – was
first discovered by archaeologists in 1984. It was commissioned in 1715 to
carry slaves from Africa to the New World. On the way back from its maiden
voyage to Jamaica, it ran across the path of Black Sam and his merry men. They
eventually managed to take the ship, along with hundreds of bags of gold and
obscene amounts of booty, after a three-day chase around the western Atlantic
The crew of 146 sailors was made up of sailors of European, African, and
Native American descent – there was no place for prejudice on the high
seas. Black Sam was an especially fair and democratic captain, distributing
much of the ship’s wealth and allowing the crew to voice their opinions on the
voyage’s next turn.
The ship met its fate on April 26, 1717, after encountering a vicious
storm off the coast of Massachusetts. Bellamy died aged 28, along with over 140
crew members and his ship. However, two men survived: one John Julian, a
half-Native American who disappeared into obscurity, and Thomas Davis, a
Welshman who was captured and put on trial in Boston.
Much of what we know about the Whydah’s exploits is known by the
evidence Davis gave at his trial. Now, with some hard physical evidence on the
table, researchers are hoping to uncover even more of its adventures on the
I guess we'll have to wait for the DNA tests, but if we hear anything further, we'll be sure to post it. By the way, I hope some of you have been watching the AMC mini-series on the Franklin Expedition called "The Terror" - not sure at this point whether the title refers to the ship or some weird supernatural being terrorizing the stranded sailors on the ice. Guess we'll have to wait to find that out also - Just as a note to this, the series takes the history and seems to fictionalize aspects of it - which given that there were no survivors, seems to make some sense.
Until next time,