News, Culture & Society

Archaeologists find America’s largest pirate mass grave

 The final resting place of infamous pirate Samuel ‘Black Sam’ Bellamy (depicted in a drawing, above) has remained a mystery

America’s largest pirate mass burial site has been discovered after 300 years – and is thought to contain the crew of infamous pirate Samuel ‘Black Sam’ Bellamy.

More than 100 bodies have been found by archaeologists who are trying to piece together the story of the notorious sailor and those who traveled with him as he marauded at sea.

Black Sam is considered the most successful pirate of all time. During his short career he captured more than 53 ships and plundered loot that would have been valued at $130million in today’s money.

The ship Bellamy went down in, the Whydah Gally, held more than four and a half tonnes of gold and silver when he captured it in 1717 – the same year it sank.

Now a mass grave has been uncovered in the outer cape of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, which is thought to contain the bodies of Bellamy’s crew.

Burial hills and vaults, 17th century pottery and cutlery, and the homesteads of locals who first responded to the wreck have been discovered by investigators so far.

They hope the mass grave can become a public memorial site once their excavations are complete. 

The site in the outer cape of Cape Cod in Massachusetts where investigators have found more than 100 bodies they believe to be Bellamy's fallen crew members

The site in the outer cape of Cape Cod in Massachusetts where investigators have found more than 100 bodies they believe to be Bellamy’s fallen crew members

Remains found in the mass grave uncovered by archaeologists, which which are encased in a hardened mass of sand and stone

Remains found in the mass grave uncovered by archaeologists, which which are encased in a hardened mass of sand and stone

In February investigators believed they had found the remains of Bellamy himself during an excavation of the Whydah’s wreck.

DNA from a living male descendant of the pirate is currently being tested against that of the remains.

Casey Sherman, who is leading an investigation into the Whydah, told The Telegraph: ‘We believe that we have found the largest mass burial ground in the US.’

‘It’s very hallowed ground… Almost every day we’re learning more about what happened 300 years ago.’ 

Remains of the Whydah wreckage were found in the Cape Cod peninsula in Massachusetts, USA, in 1984.

The treasure on board had sunk to the ocean floor. Most of the crew had died and been given a land burial.

After the wreck was discovered, trinkets and human remains encased in a hardened mass of sand and stone were recovered.

The Whydah (pictured) was a state of the art ship built in 1715 in England. It weighed 300 tonnes, was 102 feet long and loaded with 18 cannons

The Whydah (pictured) was a state of the art ship built in 1715 in England. It weighed 300 tonnes, was 102 feet long and loaded with 18 cannons

Treasure chests filled with silver pieces - replicas of the trinkets found by Whydah investigators - have been displayed at the National Geographic Society in Washington

Treasure chests filled with silver pieces – replicas of the trinkets found by Whydah investigators – have been displayed at the National Geographic Society in Washington

Buckles, cufflinks, and buttons found on the ocean floor after the Whydah sunk have been displayed by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Buckles, cufflinks, and buttons found on the ocean floor after the Whydah sunk have been displayed by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

The Whydah's bell was also recovered from the wreckage

The Whydah’s bell was also recovered from the wreckage

The Whydah was a state of the art ship built in 1715 in England. It weighed 300 tonnes, was 102 feet long and loaded with 18 cannons. 

But at midnight on April 26, 1717 Bellamy and his crew were caught in a violent Nor’easter storm off the coast of Cape Cod. 

Their beloved Whydah capsized and sunk.

More than 100 crew members were washed ashore in the days that followed and given a land burial in Massachusetts.

Crewman Thomas Davis was among the few crew members who survived and much of what is known about Bellamy came from the Welsh carpenter’s stories about him. 

Battered gold coins were among the trinkets found after the wreck was discovered in 1984

Battered gold coins were among the trinkets found after the wreck was discovered in 1984

Different types of grenades found on the ocean floor have been displayed by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Different types of grenades found on the ocean floor have been displayed by the Denver Museum of Nature and Science

Black Sam was born in Devonshire, England, and joined the British navy in his late teens before pirating in the West Indies and elsewhere for little more than a year.

The top 10 richest pirates to set sail

1. Samuel ‘Black Sam’ Bellamy: $130 million

2. Sir Francis Drake: $115 million

3. Thomas Tew: $103 million

4. John Bowen: $40 million

5. Bartholomew ‘Black Bart’ Roberts: $32 million

6. Jean Fleury: $31.5 million

7. Thomas White: $16 million

8. John Halsey: $13 million

9. Harry Morgan: $13 million

10. Edward ‘Blackbeard’ Teach: $12.5 million 

Source: Forbes

He is famous for being one of the original members of the Flying Gang pirates from the Post Spanish Succession Period and launched the careers of some of the most infamous pirates of all time.

Hugely successful at sea, his strategy was to use two ships: a larger one would be heavily armed and a smaller one would be used to block and capture targets.

And his personal tastes were expensive. 

He liked flashy clothes – especially black coats – and usually carried four dueling pistols in his sash while marauding at sea. 

His nickname Black Sam came from the fact he wore his black locks tied back in a ponytail rather than a powdered white wig.

Also known as the Prince of Pirates, he was popular among women.

Tall, strong and with long dark hair, he was said to be well-mannered and tidy.

He left his wife and child in England to begin his new life at sea, sailing to the coast of Florida to look for sunken Spanish treasure.

Marie Kesten Zahn, an archaeologist and education coordinator at the Whydah Pirate Museum in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, probes the concretion surrounding a leg bone that was salvaged from the Whydah shipwreck off the coast of Wellfleet on Cape Cod (picture taken August 2017)

Marie Kesten Zahn, an archaeologist and education coordinator at the Whydah Pirate Museum in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, probes the concretion surrounding a leg bone that was salvaged from the Whydah shipwreck off the coast of Wellfleet on Cape Cod (picture taken August 2017)

On the way he stopped off in Eastham Harbor, Massachusetts, where he met local beauty Maria Hallett.

Though her parents liked Black Sam, they thought he was far too poor to go out with their daughter, who was just 15 at the time.

When he left Massachusetts with his friend Paulsgrave William, he promised to return as the respected captain of the greatest ship the world had ever seen.

Black Sam: The most infamous and successful pirate ever to sail the sea

Born: February 23, 1689  |  Died: April 26, 1717 

  • Black Sam was born in Devonshire, England, and joined the British navy in his late teens before pirating in the West Indies and elsewhere for little more than a year
  • He is famous for being one of the original members of the Flying Gang pirates from the Post Spanish Succession Period
  • Bellamy launched the careers of some of the most infamous pirates of all time, including Benjamin Hornigold and Edward ‘Blackbeard’ Teach
  • He is regarded as the most successful pirate in recorded history. He and his crew captured more than 53 ships and plundered a loot of $130 million.
  • The pirate liked expensive and flashy clothes, and usually carried four dueling pistols in his sash.
  • His strategy was to use two ships during warfare at sea. A larger one would be heavily armed and a smaller one would be used to block and capture targets.
  • The Whydah was a state of the art ship built in 1715 in England. It weighed 300 tonnes, was 102 feet long and loaded with 18 cannons.
  • At midnight on April 26, 1717 Bellamy and his crew were caught in a violent Nor’easter storm off the coast of Cape Cod. The Whydah capsized and sunk.
  • More than 100 bodies were washed ashore in the days that followed. The only survivors were former slave John Julian and crewman Thomas Davis.  

Sources: Golden Age of Piracy and The Way Of The Pirates



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


Comments are closed.