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Old 28th June 2019, 07:26 PM   #4
Jim McDougall
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Default The Blackbeard Image and Queen Anne pistols

Just thinking more on the depictions of Blackbeard, and the appearance of usually six pistols worn in some sort of bandolier(s) somewhat consistently. It would seem that these pistols may represent 'Queen Anne's ' by the butt shape and plates. In my previous post I wondered if perhaps the pistol of the OP may be of the period including Blackbeard (d. 1718) or if perhaps artistic license is at hand.

The beginning source for 'Blackbeard' would best be construed as by the mysterious Capt. Charles Johnson's "General History of the Pyrates" (1724).
Apparently he took accounts from various persons, including Israel Hands, the mate in Blackbeards crew.
According to an account by Henry Bostock (Capt. of the ship 'Margaret' captured by Blackbeard) given Dec. 19, 1717:
"...he was dressed in a long sea captain coat, crossed by two belts-a sword belt and a bandlolier-while three brace of pistols hung from improvised holsters over his chest. He wore a small brown fur cap* with two small lengths of match poked out behind each ear"

*this was probably what was known as a 'thrummed cap', worn by sailors in cold weather...but as he was in Caribbean, odd. In first version of Johnson's book the cap is shown, but later changed to a tricorn hat.

The tricorn hat seems more in line with the fashions of c.1720s, and I am thinking perhaps that the following illustrations of Blackbeard, following the style context with the hat. might follow the pistols as well.

It is known that other pirates wore pistols in similar fashion, but it seems they often used ribbon tied around the handles as with the case of 'Black Sam Bellamy' (note the 'Black' appellation, cf. 'Blackbeard') . He and Blackbeard were both in the crew of Benjamin Hornigold c. 1716.
In Feb. 1717 he became captain of the captured English slaver "Whydah".
In an account on Bellamy, it was said he always wore black coats (hence 'Black' Sam) and had four 'dueling pistols' in his sash.

The Whydah wrecked in April 1717 off Cape Cod, and in 2004 wreck was found. One of the relics was a 'Sun King' pistol, which still had silk ribbon tied around it, as it was known some pirates did, and draped them around their necks. It would seem unlikely that four full size pistols (of the probable French cavalry size c. 1710 =sun king?) would carry well in his sash, so perhaps two on a ribbon?

Regarding the ribbon on guns:

From "X Marks the Spot" Skowronek & Ewen, 2006, "...one of the most intriguing finds is a French made pistol with a silk ribbon wrapped around its handle. According to a first hand account from the compiled "The Pirates Own Book" (Charles Ellms, 1837), Bartholomew Roberts once appeared in battle wearing two pair of pistols hanging at the end of a silk flung over his shoulders, according to the custom of the pirates" .

Apparently Roberts was actually John Roberts, who took the name Bartholomew when he 'went on account' (entered piracy in 1719)...then became known as 'Black Bart'...………...hmmmm….another dark moniker.

The reason for this 'voyage' is I am wondering why the 'Queen Anne' pistols seem so consistently aligned with Blackbeard. It does appear that various pirates, also acquainted with him in degree, also carried braces of pistols, but of more regular size (if I dare make such an assumption).
Even more boldly, might I consider the occasional proposal that Blackbeard, Teach, or whatever his name was, was a Jacobite...………..hence perhaps the name of his flagship...….'Queen Anne's Revenge' ??

Perhaps the 'artistic license' evident in altering the cap, to a tricorn hat, in later illustrations of Johnson's book, may have included such a subtle nuanced symbolism?

Fully expecting a 'broadside' here at this most tenuous notion, it is still intriguing given the mystery and romance of the history of pirates, even authors of their accounts, and very much of these wonderful pistols.


The pictures :
Johnson's "General History of the Pyrates" (1724)
2) the first ed. (left) showing the thrummed cap
the 2nd with tricorn
3) The Dutch edition of 1725 showing thrummed cap
4) the French pistol from Whydah and silk ribbon
5) the silk ribbon-Whydah artifact (1717)
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