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Six skeletons are found on wreck of pirate ship which sank off Cape Cod in 1717 killing 142 on board

Six skeletons have been recovered from the wreck of the Whydah, a pirate ship that sank more than 300 years ago, in waters off New England in 1717.

The remains were identified in several large concretions which were examined back on land.

A concretion is a hard, compact mass of stone and sand which forms on the seabed over the years. 

The bones were found packed inside, and can be seen on x-rays of the blocks.

At least six pirate skeletons were found in a shipwreck off the coast of Cape Cod, the investigative team from the Whydah Pirate Museum announced Wednesday

The remains were discovered when experts x-rayed several large concretions - solid lumps of rock formed on the seabed over time. Investigators say the remains were discovered at the wreck site of The Whydah, which went down off Wellfleet in 1717

The remains were discovered when experts x-rayed several large concretions – solid lumps of rock formed on the seabed over time. Investigators say the remains were discovered at the wreck site of The Whydah, which went down off Wellfleet in 1717

X-rays reveal part of what is buried in the concrete which is currently being examined

X-rays reveal part of what is buried in the concrete which is currently being examined

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)

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

The Whydah's bell was also recovered from the wreckage

The Whydah’s bell was also recovered from the wreckage

The Whydah Galley ship was discovered in 1984 and is the world’s only authenticated pirate wreck.   

‘We hope that modern, cutting-edge technology will help us identify these pirates and reunite them with any descendants who could be out there,’ said underwater explorer Barry Clifford, in the statement.  

Casey Sherman, another member of the Whydah research team managed to trace Whydah Captain Sam Bellamy’s DNA through a bloodline descendent in England in 2018. 

The sample was tested against one of the human bones found in the wreck during an earlier find of remains.

‘That bone was identified as a human male with general ties to the Eastern Mediterranean area,’ Sherman said. 

‘These newly found skeletal remains may finally lead us to Bellamy as we now have his DNA.’ 

Bones appear on x-rays that have been used to examine what was inside the concretion

Bones appear on x-rays that have been used to examine what was inside the concretion

Pictures is part of the newly found skeletal remains found onboard the Whydah

Pictures is part of the newly found skeletal remains found onboard the Whydah

Archaeologists uncovered these hardened masses of stone and sand - inside are human remains believed to be those of some of Black Sam's crew, who were given a land burial after being washed ashore when their ship the Whydah Gally went down in April 1717

Archaeologists uncovered these hardened masses of stone and sand – inside are human remains believed to be those of some of Black Sam’s crew, who were given a land burial after being washed ashore when their ship the Whydah Gally went down in April 1717

Archaeologist Marie Kesten Zahn works to remove silver coins from a concretion recovered from the wreckage of the pirate ship

Archaeologist Marie Kesten Zahn works to remove silver coins from a concretion recovered from the wreckage of the pirate ship

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 former slave ship, commanded by the English pirate Samuel 'Black Sam' Bellamy, went down in stormy seas off Wellfleet, Massachusetts, in 1717, killing all but a handful of the nearly 150-person crew

The former slave ship, commanded by the English pirate Samuel ‘Black Sam’ Bellamy, went down in stormy seas off Wellfleet, Massachusetts, in 1717, killing all but a handful of the nearly 150-person crew

Pirate Samuel 'Black Sam' Bellamy (depicted above) is said to have been the most successful pirate of all time.  Human bones were found in the Cape Cod peninsula in Massachusetts where the Whydah Gally ship went down in stormy seas in 1717

Pirate Samuel ‘Black Sam’ Bellamy (depicted above) is said to have been the most successful pirate of all time.  Human bones were found in the Cape Cod peninsula in Massachusetts where the Whydah Gally ship went down in stormy seas in 1717

The concretion in which the remains of the Whydah pirate was found is now on display at the museum and at discoverpirates.com. 

The Whydah sank in 1717 with 144 crew on board. Bellamy’s body is among 40 never found or identified.

Most of the treasure from the wreck is still thought to remain on the ocean floor.

Archaeologists have since recovered 200,000 artefacts, including gold coins. 

Forbes listed Bellamy as the highest-earning pirate ever, plundering about $120 million worth of treasure.

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. 

Even though they were in sight of land, the storm claimed their beloved Whydah when it hit a sandbar, capsized and sank as the wind and swells of up to 30ft raged around them.

Only two of the 146 men on board survived and the bodies of more than 100 crew members were washed ashore in the days that followed and given a land burial in Massachusetts.

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

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.  

Barry Clifford stands next to a display case containing silver coins recovered from the wreckage of the Whydah Gally at the Whydah Pirate Museum

Barry Clifford stands next to a display case containing silver coins recovered from the wreckage of the Whydah Gally at the Whydah Pirate Museum

Treasure chests filled with silver pieces - replicas of the trinkets found by Whydah investigators - were displayed at the National Geographic Society in Washington D.C.

Treasure chests filled with silver pieces – replicas of the trinkets found by Whydah investigators – were displayed at the National Geographic Society in Washington D.C.

The 10 richest pirates to sail the seas

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.

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 for their daughter, who was just 15 at the time.

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

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: 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