Arrrgh matey, It’s Talk like a Pirate day! What better way to celebrate than by learning about Cape Cod’s most famous pirate, Samuel Bellamy.
Though his life was short, “Black” Sam Bellamy definitely left his mark on pirate history before his untimely death at the age of 28. Born in 1689 in England, he learned to sail as a member of the unstoppable Royal British Navy. In 1715 he set sail for Cape Cod to seek out family, and a year later he left for Florida in search of the rumored treasure left by the wreckage of the Spanish Treasure Fleet. Even though his expedition was funded by the wealthy son of Rhode Island’s Attorney General John Williams, the venture saw little to no success. Bellamy and his crew then turned to piracy under the leadership of Captain Benjamin Hornigold. A few months after joining the ranks of Hornigold’s ship, Bellamy led a revolt against the captain, deposed him, and by majority vote replaced him as Captain of the ship called “the Marianne.”
“Black” Sam Bellamy was known for being a well-mannered and tidy captain, and was well-liked by all of his crew. His leadership style was practically democratic, and after capturing a ship he always held a vote to decide what the fate of the ship would be. A master naval technician, Bellamy usually had no less than 2 ships under his control. Using coordinated attacks, he was able to easily capture a ship without damaging it. “Black” Sam often referred to himself as the Robin Hood of pirates, because of his compassion and generosity towards those he captured on his raids. This reputation earned him the nickname “The Prince of Pirates.”
Although his pirating career only lasted for a single year before his untimely death in 1716 in a shipwreck, Bellamy captured 54 ships, including his flagship “the Whydah” whose wreckage was discovered in 1984 off the coast of Cape Code. This ship was the first authentic pirate shipwreck to be found in North America. At the time of its sinking, it was the largest pirate prize ever captured, with 4.5/5 tons of treasure on board. Forbes magazine listed Bellamy as the wealthiest pirate who ever lived, even though he was only a pirate for just over a year!
If you want to learn more about Samuel Bellamy, or his ship “the Whydah,” make sure you check out The Whydah Pirate Museum in Provincetown during your next trip to Cape Cod!