The Flying Gang pirates regularly targeted Virginia’s shipping,
which had to pass through the relatively narrow entrance of
Chesapeake Bay, but they didn’t linger because the estuaries
of Hampton Roads, then as now, were a naval anchorage. From
nearby Williamsburg, the colony’s genteel capital, Governor
Alexander Spotswood colluded with Royal Navy captains to
track and capture the pirates.
These efforts bore fruit in 1718, when a naval expedition staged
in Southern Virginia and led by Lt. Robert Maynard found and
defeated Blackbeard’s pirate gange in North Carolina.
Surviving members of Blackbeard’s crew were brought to
Williamsburg, where they were held in the Public Gaol (1704),
which still stands today. They were tried at the Captiol building
on March 19, 1719 and thirteen were ultimately executed, their
bodies hung in cages along the Hampton-Williamsburg road.
Blackbeard’s severed head, which Lt. Maynard had brought back from North Carolina, was suspended from
a pole on the west side of the Hampton River at a place now known as Blackbeard’s Point.
The Public Gaol in Williamsburg (1704), where members of Blackbeard's
crew were held in 1718. The building still stands today, in modified form.
|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.
The Capitol in Williamsburg, a 1934 replica of the 1705
edifice where members of Blackbard's gang were tried in 1718.
A During the Golden Age of Piracy, Virginia was the
second most important British colony on the
American mainland, with a population of almost
100,000. It was largely devoid of cities, however, its
landed gentry having modelled their colony after the
manorial system of the English countryside. Virginia
had a tense relationship with its rag-tag, undeveloped
neighbor, North Carolina, with the pirates there
serving as a regular irritant .