Discover Historic Bath, NC Where Blackbeard Roamed 300 Years Ago

Jerry Blackwelder

Blackbeard will be the subject of major historical focus this year as the State observes Blackbeard 300: Commemorating North Carolina’s Rich Maritime History.

Attitudes about piracy in Blackbeard’s day were vastly different than the way we view them today. Piracy was considered a “fashionable vice” and all the English colonies encouraged those who robbed sea vessels.

That was the attitude in Bath, North Carolina’s oldest town, when Blackbeard arrived in 1718. He was, in effect, searching for a retirement home. Colonial Governor Charles Eden greeted the King of Pirates with a “gracious pardon” by Royal Proclamation. He entertained and attended lavish parties and it was in Bath that he married his 14th wife, the daughter of a local planter.

Bath was first populated by European settlers in 1705 when it was created. The town grew as a grist mill and shipyard were built. The first public library in the colony was built, along with a free school.

But Bath endured a series of calamities in its first few years. An armed struggle over religion and politics erupted in 1711 along with a yellow fever epidemic and a severe drought. Shortly thereafter the Tuscarora War began.

Blackbeard’s time in Bath turned out to be short. Within a few months, he reassembled his crew and once again took to the high seas. In November, 1718, he was killed in a battle against the British Royal Navy in Ocracoke Inlet.

Many field trip destinations in the area will be offering special emphasis on Blackbeard throughout the year including the Historic Bath State Historic Site and the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, home to the recovered artifacts from Blackbeard’s flagship Queen Anne’s Revenge.

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