Wellfeeet Beach, Massacusetts: The site of the wreck of the Whydah,
where Sam Bellamy met his end. (c) 2006 Colin Woodard.
Samuel Bellamy, the self-styled Robin Hood of the
Seas, is believed to have been born in the late winter of
1689 in the English hamlet of Hittisleigh, Devon. A
sailor, he showed up in New England after the end of the
War of Spanish Succession (1702-1712) and,
according to legend, made his way to Eastham,
Massachusetts on Cape Cod. There he is said to have
romanced a young woman, Maria or Mary Hallet, a
folktale given new credence by Ken Kinkor’s discovery
that a young woman of that name was in fact living in
Eastham at the time. Perhaps in an effort to earn her
hand, Bellamy formed a partnership with Paulsgrave
Williams of Rhode Island to attempt to recover riches
from the sunken Spanish treasure fleet in Florida.
Like many would-be salvers, Bellamy and Williams discovered that much of the treasure had already been
recovered by the Spaniards, Henry Jennings, and others. The two resolved to attack Spanish vessels
instead, and by March 1716 were in the Bay of Honduras, at the head of a gang operating out of two large
sailing canoes. In early April they forced an English merchant to tow them to eastern Cuba, where they
encountered the privateer Henry Jennings and Benjamin Hornigold, the founder of the Bahamian pirate
republic. In a particularly bold move, Bellamy and Williams stole a large cache of treasure from Jennings and
joined Hornigold’s pirate flotilla. These forgotten events are told in detail in The Republic of Pirates.
While serving with Hornigold, Bellamy made served with several leading members of the Flying Gang,
including Blackbeard and Olivier La Buse. Hornigold became increasingly unpopular due to his refusal to
attack English vessels and, after several months cruising the waters around Cuba and Hispanolia, Bellamy,
Williams, and La Buse set out on their own. In the summer and fall of 1716, their gang cruised the length of
the Antilles chain, steadily building their strength, numbers, and wealth, until, in late February or early March
1717, they captured a well-armed slave ship, the 300-ton Whydah.
After overhauling their new flagship in the southern Bahamas, Bellamy and Williams sailed up the Eastern
seaboard, just in time for the spring shipping season. The plan appears to have been to separate – Bellamy
going to Cape Cod, Williams to Block Island – and regroup at Damariscove Island in Maine. Instead,
Bellamy was caught in a powerful storm and driven ashore near Eastham, Cape Cod on the night of April 26,
1717. Only two men survived the wreck of the Whydah; Bellamy was not among them. They and the seven
survivors of another wrecked pirate vessel were quickly apprehended and sent to Boston where all but one
of them were tried and, ultimately, executed.
|The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man who Brought
them Down by Colin Woodard. The Official Homepage. (c) 2008 Colin Woodard.