Has last resting place of Black Sam, Britain’s richest pirate been found?
HE was the charming British pirate known as the ‘Robin Hood of the seas’ – and is considered the wealthiest buccaneer in history having plundered booty worth more than £85million in today’s money.
But while Captain Samuel ‘Black Sam’ Bellamy is said to have gone down with his ship when it sank in a storm off New England on the east coast of America in 1717, this has never been confirmed.
Now scientists are hoping to do so with the help of a DNA sample from the pirate’s only known living descendant in the UK.
Bellamy was born in Hittisleigh, Devon, and joined the Navy in his late teens. He later travelled to America to hunt for treasure from a sunken Spanish fleet.
It was a fruitless quest, and instead he took to piracy, earning the nickname Black Sam for keeping his long hair its natural black rather than powdering it as was fashionable. His buccaneering lasted only a year but by the time he died aged 28, he had captured 53 vessels and stolen millions, while becoming known for his negotiating skills rather than violence.
The wreckage of his vessel the Whydah Gally was found in 1984 and archaeologists have since recovered 200,000 artefacts including gold coins, sword handles, canons and the ship’s bell.
But the prospect of Black Sam’s remains having finally been located came with the recovery last month of a human femur surrounded by gold and silver deep in the wreckage, with ornate pistols matching descriptions of his handguns.
In an attempt to confirm it, researchers have come to Britain to carry out a DNA test on Bellamy’s only known living descendant, who has not been named.
The mission was spearheaded by US author and journalist Casey Sherman, who met the descendant at his home in Devon yesterday. Mr
Sherman told the BBc World Service: ‘Black Sam Bellamy was a benevolent pirate.
‘they called him the prince of pirates because he was able to persuade people – violence was the last thing Black Sam was worried about. He would do everything he could in his persuasive powers to make his enemies his friends, and that’s exactly what he did.’
In addition to the leg bone thought to be Black Sam’s, researchers earlier this week also discovered a mass grave containing the remains of 100 pirates at cape cod in Massachusetts. they are believed to have been crew buried there after being washed ashore when the Whydah sank.
Mr Sherman said: ‘the next phase in this investigation is meeting with the direct bloodline descendent of Black Sam Bellamy. We will be … extracting his DnA and using that as comparative analysis in the uS to ultimately determine if [the femur is from] Black Sam.’
Prince of pirates: An artist’s impression of Samuel ‘Black Sam’ Bellamy
Treasure: Gold coins from Black Sam’s ship
The big guns: Cannons recovered from the Whydah Gally