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Capt. Ellis Brand to Admiralty—6 Feb 1718/9

Letters – Brand to Admiralty—6 Feb 1719

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Details of the “Invasion of North Carolina”


ADM 1/1472


There are many contributing factors that are seldom considered when analyzing this incident. When reading this, please keep in mind that Capt. Brand’s reconnaissance information about Blackbeard came almost entirely from three “Family” (local business syndicate) men of North Carolina who were angry at Thache: Edward Moseley, Maurice Moore, and Jeremiah Vail. Also, the government of North Carolina had no idea that Spotswood and his allies planned the attack on Edward Thache, making the venture assuredly illegal (see Thomas Pollock to Charles Eden). Also note that a pardon extension to August 18, 1718 might have forgiven all acts of Thache’s piracy as far as Gov. Alexander Spotwood and Capts. Brand and Gordon knew… they planned to take or kill him nevertheless—usually this meant “kill.” This is certainly biased information and why I generally refer to this apparent setup as the “murder” of Edward Thache, gentleman privateer of Spanish Town, Jamaica.

Tobias Knight probably referred to these Family men in the letter he allegedly sent to Thache as “I really think these three men are heartily sorry at their difference with you and will be very willing to ask your pardon if I may advise be ffriends again, its better than falling out among your selves.” These three apparently important gentlemen were allegedly once friends with Blackbeard and recently had a disagreement. They played a suspicious and significant role in Thache’s demise. Why did they turn on their former business associate? Competition?




                                             Virginia Lyme February 6th 1718/19


This Serves to Acquaint you for their Lordships information of my proceeding here the notorious Pyrate Thach alias Blackbeard that I advis'd you of being lost in No. Carolina in June last has Continued in that place with one Sloop and about Twenty men and did their [there] Condemn two at a Court of Admiralty and gave out he designed to be an Inhabitant be leave of his Piraticall Life and the more to put a Glass to his design he marryed there[.] So soon as I received this advice I Employed a man that was going into No Carolina to Inform him of how the fellow lived and if after the manner he gave out, I rece'd Severall accounts from People that came from thence that he did Continue in that Place insulting and abusing the masters of all trading Sloops and taking from them whatever goods or Liquors he pleased and that he might not be called a Pyrate, paid such Prices to those for their Effects as he pleased; in the middle of July I recev'd advice from the Person Employed that Thache was in the Place and gave out he was fitting to go to St. Thomas; in August I Employed a Second person going into No Carolina to make particular Enquiry after the Pyrate. I being then bound out at Sea and was come into that place again and had brought in with him a Ship [French Rose Emelye] carried in to Ocracock inlet in Pamplico Sound, and no persons suffered to go on Board her or the Sloop Except a Surgeon that went to dress two wounded men, which they said was done by hoisting of a Pinece. So soon as I had informed my Self of the Several proceedings of this Pyrat I went to Williamsburgh to attend the Tryal of Howard Thach's Quarter Master that Capt. Gordon and my Self wrote to you about in Octo last which I hope came to your hands.

When I was to wait on this Governour [Spotswood] he lett me know he had read Some Letters of Complaint and affidavits from Some of the Inhabitants of No Carolina [Moseley, Moore, and Vail?] Setting forth the great Difficultys and hardship they Labour under from the insults of this notorious Pyrate upon which the Governour and my Self began to project Some ways for the taking this fellow and his Crew. In the meantime it was thought proper that an Express Should be sent into No Carolina to one of the insulted Gentlemen, to Send us a full account of this fellows Condition as to The faver of his Sloop and number of men and where his usual place of Rendevous was, and likewise to Send us two able Pilots in five or Six days. The messenger returned and the Letters of advice that his usual Rendevous at Bath Town and refer'd us to one of the Pilots for other Particulars. the Pilot being Come we Learned the Condition of the Pyrate and what Else might be of use for our Carrying on this Service. The Governour hired two Sloops [Ranger and Jane] Capt. Gordon and I undertook to fit each of us one, his to be Commanded by his Lieut and 35 men [Ranger] and mine Commmanded by a Midshipman and twenty five men [Jane]; at the Coming away of the Pilot from No Carolina Thach had been gone down to Occocock Inlet Ten days, for a Second Tripp of Goods the first then being in Bath Town and it was his opinion we should find him there by the time we were ready [expected Thache in Bath Town, but he was delayed on shoals], and to Carry on this Service that we might not be disappointed in the taking of this Pyrate. Either at Sea or on Shore we did agree So Soon as the Sloops were ready to Proceed, one to Enter at the Barr of Roanoke and the other at Ocracock Inlett where their prize Lay [plans may have changed and both entered at Roanock Inlet], and I undertook to go into No Carolina by Land in order for the Securing him if I found him in Town. The Commander of the Sloops [Lt. Maynard] had directions to advise with the Pilots and if they Could Learn any other Intelligence to Govern themselves accordingly.

All things being ready on the 17th November about 3 a Clock the Sloops Sail'd and that [at] night I set out for No Carolina on the 21st. I reached within 50 miles of Bath Town, on the 22d. I got my Self and horses over the Sound with the assistance of Colo. Moseley and Colo. Moore two Gent. that have been much abused by Thach on the 23d. I Sett forward again Colo. Moore and Some of their friends [“Col Moore and Captn Veall (Vail)” according to Thomas Pollock, NCCSR, 8 Dec 1718] went in with me as did Severall of the Inhabitants when they heard I was Come in to take Thach. about Ten a Clock att night I gott within Three mile of Town and desired Colo. Moore to go in and Learn if Thach was there, he soon returned to let me know he was not yet Come up but Expected Every minute. I parted from Colo. Moore and went to the Governr and applyed my Self to him and let him know I was come in Quest of Thach.

On the 24th, I Sent two Canoes with Letters to look for the Sloops down the Sound the weather being very uncertain it was two days [26th] before they returned to give me account of them and their Success. On the 20th November Our two Sloops were Entring the narrows of Roanock they spoke with a Vessel that acquainted them they had Seen Thache's Sloop the Monday before [17th] on Brant Island Shoals [location shown below] aground and a Sloop with him helping him of[f]. On the 21st about three or four a Clock they being the Length of those Shoals and not Seeing him there they look'd into Ocracock where they Saw two Sail at anchor, then they haul'd in for the, and Night coming on[,] both our Sloops anchor'd.

The Next Morning Weigh'd about nine there being little Wind Lieut. Maynard order'd the Lyme's Sloop to make the best of their way for Thach's Sloop and Board him, and he Should Endeavour to keep ??? him the Small Sloop made the best of their way for the Pirate. The Pearl's Sloop in following them run aground and was forced to heave part their Ballast over Board to got of[f] again before the Lyme's Sloop got near the Pyrate She ran aground and was obliged to Stave her water to get of[f]. The Pyrate Saw they designed for him, cut his Cable and got under Sail. The Pearl's Sloop was off and rowing up after the other Sloop, the Pyrate had fired Severall Shot at the Small Sloop as She was Standing for him. The Pyrate Endeavoring to get out of the Same Channel sd our Sloop came in put for it the Lymes Sloop put her helm a Lee to Board Thach they then being within half Pistol Shot. The Pyrate at the Same time fired his Broad Side Kill'd the Commander of my Sloop, wounded Mr. Baker Brother of Capt. Florentes [Hercules?] Baker whom I had appointed Lieutenant for this Service and Kill'd my Cox'n. whom had the third Command and wounded Several of my fellows. They had their Gibb and foresheets Shot away So the Pyrate Shot by them. Lieut. Maynard was then pulling with his Oars for the two Sloops and Thach fore Halliards and Gibb being Shott by the fire they receiv'd from the Lymes Sloop he flew to, which gave Mr. Maynard an opportunity to board Thach. The little Sloop not being above her length from them Shott in between the Pyrate and Mr. Maynard Enter'd the action our good Service and Suffered much. The Pyrate had nineteen Men, Thirteen white and Six Negroes, ten white men Kill'd and the rest of the Prisoners were all wounded. They found a tent on Shoar about one hundred and forty Baggs of Cocoa and Ten Cask of Sugar which were belonging to Thach.

I sent to Lieut. Maynard to Come up to me at Bath Town, with the Sloops I having Information that a parcell of Sugars, which I found and were delivered to me Sixty hhs, Twenty Barrells, Six Negroes all wch were the Effects of Thache; I ordered them on Board our Sloop [Jane?], and they are now in Virginia. I likewise had information of Several Pyrates lurking there. I took Six of them from the Shoar [of Bath].

The Pearl Sloop had two kill'd[;] in both Sloops there was upwards of twentie wounded, one man belonging to me is dangerously Ill. The rest are recover'd, the Ship that brings this being ready to sail will not allow of my given you the particulars of my proceedings since I left North Carolina, but shall lett you know by the first Opportunitie


                                          I am

                               Sr. Yr humble Sert to Command

                                             Ellis Brand 


Rrd: the 12th of April/                

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