18 February 2021: Northeast, Midwest getting hammered - again - what a misery. My heart goes out to the poor souls caught in the worst of winter. And especially you folks suffering in Texas; we hope you get your utilities restored quickly! It almost make me feel guilty being here in the tropical south...almost! Hang in there you snowed in folks - Spring will come ... maybe even in another month!
A long time back, we posted a story about the pirate ship Whydah which wrecked off Wellfleet on Cape Cod in Massachusetts back in the early 1700's. The wreck and a treasure trove of artifacts have been found and place in an eponymous museum on the Cape. There were only two survivors in the disaster and so, when the occasional human remains (skeletons) turn up, an effort is made to determine who it might have been, the hope, of course, is that at some point, Black Sam himself will appear (okay, his bones). And so the saga continues with another six more skeletons found. See the story concocted from a variety of sources below:
Six skeletons have been discovered off the coast of Massachusetts, with one thought to be the captain of a pirate shipwreck that occurred in 1717.
Samuel "Black Sam" Bellamy was the captain of the Whydah, the world's only verified pirate ship, which sank off Cape Cod and was discovered in 1984.
model of the Whydah
The new remains were found in multiple large concretions (hard, compact masses of matter) by underwater explorer Barry Clifford and are set to be examined by a team of archaeologists, the Whydah Pirate Museum announced in a statement seen by CNN.
Investigators hope to identify the skeletons and potentially link them to descendants living today.
"We hope that modern, cutting-edge technology will help us identify these pirates and reunite them with any descendants who could be out there," Clifford told 7 News Boston.
He continued: "This shipwreck is very sacred ground. We know a third of the crew was of African origin and the fact they had robbed [stolen] the Whydah, which was a slave ship, presents them in a whole new light. Their benevolent captain, the legendary Samuel 'Black Sam' Bellamy and crew were experimenting in democracy long before the so-called civilized societies had considered such a thing."
In 2018, author and member of the investigative team Casey Sherman found Bellamy's DNA in a descendant in New England, and it's now being tested against the skeletons.
"That bone was identified as a human male with general ties to the Eastern Mediterranean area," said Sherman in a statement sent to 7 News Boston. "These newly found skeletal remains may finally lead us to Bellamy as we now have his DNA."
According to the Whydah Museum website, the shipwreck was one of the worst ever seen on the eastern seaboard, with only two of 146 men on board making it to shore.
According to Marie Szaniszlo of the Boston Herald, the team unearthed one complete skeleton and portions of five other sets of remains. Some of the bones had been broken, likely when the ship capsized, crushing its passengers.
This isn’t the first time that archaeologists have recovered human remains from the wreck. In 2018, researchers from the museum compared DNA from one of Whydah Captain Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy’s descendants to a leg bone found in the wreck. As Jason Savio reported for the Cape Cod Times that May, the analysis suggested that the femur’s owner was a man with Eastern Mediterranean ties, not the fearsome captain in question.
The only authenticated pirate wreck in the world, the Whydah boasts a storied history. As Kristen Young wrote for the Cape Cod Times in 2018, the ship sank off the coast of Wellfleet during an April 26, 1717, nor’easter, killing all but two of the 146 people on board. The bodies of 101 crew members eventually washed up on the beach, but another 43—including Bellamy—seemingly went down with the ship.
Born in western England around 1689, Bellamy was one of the wealthiest pirates of all time, stealing an estimated $145 million (when adjusted for inflation) before his death at age 28, according to data compiled by Forbes’ Matt Woolsey.
Per the Field Museum, Bellamy’s crew was made up of enslaved Africans, Native Americans, and sailors from across Europe and North America. Originally a British slave ship, the vessel was captured by Bellamy in early 1717.
The New England Historical Society notes that the captain treated all crew members equally, allowing them to vote on significant decisions. Bellamy, who nicknamed himself “Robin Hood of the Sea,” viewed his piracy as a form of vigilante justice against wealthy merchants who “rob[ed] the poor under the cover of law.” To retaliate, he once declared in a speech, “[W]e plunder the rich under the protection of our own courage.”
According to the museum’s website, “At the time of the wreck, [the ship] was carrying … valuables from over 50 other ships captured by Bellamy’s pirates. The Whydah collection, therefore, represents an unprecedented cultural cross-section of material from the 18th century.”
Interesting tale. We will let you know should the bones turn out to be Captain Bellamy. Stay tuned!
As a matter of interest to some of you - okay, mostly to me - Maritime Maunder has now exceeded 118,000 readers! Amazing!
Until next time,