British Empire > Robert Maynard

Robert Maynard

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Background

Robert Maynard (c. 1684 – 4 January 1751) was a lieutenant and later captain in the Royal Navy. Not much is known about his early years but on 14 January, 1707 Maynard was made first lieutenant of the HMS Pearl. By 1709 he was the third lieutenant on the HMS Bedford. He would eventually go back to his original ship and become first lieutenant of the HMS Pearl in 1716.

However, his most famous exploit is being the pirate hunter that was responsible for killing the infamous Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach during the Battle of Ocracoke Inlet in November of 1718 in the Province of North Carolina. He was commissioned as a pirate hunter by the Governor of the Colony and Dominion of Virginia named Alexander Spotswood who wanted to eliminate the piracy threat in British North America. For this task he was given two sloops named the Ranger and the Jane. They departed from the port of Hampton in Virginia on 19 November of 1718.

Battle of Ocracoke Inlet

Within three days on 22 November Maynard had found Blackbeard hanging out off the coast of his pirate haven on Ocracoke Island in the Province of North Carolina. At this point Blackbeard had abandoned much of his crew and many men were ashore as well. Despite lacking many cannons and ship weapons the British pirate hunters outnumbered the pirates three to one. Blackbeard had up to eight cannons at his command so Maynard came up with a plan. He hid most of the soldiers below decks to give the appearance of a small crew.

As Blackbeard moved his ship through the shallow channel Maynard who did not know the area as well ended up getting his ship the Jane stuck on a sandbar. He ordered all non essential equipment to be thrown off to make the ship lighter and eventually it began to float once again. At this point Blackbeard launched two devastating broadside attacks at Maynard which killed several soldiers below deck. Following the second broadside it appeared to Blackbeard that only Maynard and one other crew member were alive so they began to board the ship.

Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach - Blackbeard vs. Maynard

Blackbeard vs. Maynard - Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1920)

As soon as Blackbeard and his crew began to board the soldiers poured out from all over the ship and began to overwhelm the pirates. During the battle Maynard and Blackbeard engaged in a one on one duel when both men drew their pistols. Blackbeard missed his shot at Maynard but was struck point blank by the lieutenants shot. This did little to deter the famous brigand and the next phase of combat saw Maynard's sword break. At this point another sailor jumped on the back of Blackbeard and dealt him a deep wound whereupon Maynard and others dealt the killing blows.

Altogether when Maynard later examined the body it was determined he was shot no less than five times and cut about twenty. During the investigation of the body they uncovered a letter of correspondence with the local government official named Tobias Knight which would eventually implicate both him and the Governor of North Carolina named Charles Eden. This would later be presented as evidence against them for charges of corruption related to piracy. After this Blackbeard was beheaded and his newly severed head tied to the bowsprit of the ship.

When the pirate hunters returned back to Virginia the head was placed on a stake near the mouth of the Hampton River as a warning to all other pirates. No one knows where Blackbeard's skull ever ended up and many local legends still say his headless ghost still haunts the area around Ocracoke Inlet and that part of North Carolina. Overall the reaction to the slaying of Blackbeard was mixed and neither Maynard or Spotswood received the political victory and glory that they had anticipated.

Later Life & Legacy

Following the defeat of Blackbeard decades later he would be promoted to commander in 1739 and eventually to captain one year later in 1940. After his death on 4 January 1751 he was buried in the churchyard of Great Mongeham in Kent located in southeast England near the cinque port of Deal. Upon his death he left an estate worth about £2000. His success over the infamous pirate Edward 'Blackbeard' Teach is still celebrated by the crew of the HMS Ranger who are his successors in the Royal Navy.

This event is celebrated at the annual Sussex University Royal Naval Unit Blackbeard Night mess dinner which is located on a date as close as possible to the 22 of November. Also presently the city of Hampton, in the state of modern day Virginia in the USA also celebrates its historic ties with Robert Maynard and the Battle of Ocracoke Inlet by having a historical reenactment of the battle during the annual Blackbeard Festival in June in Hampton Harbor.

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