Has last rest­ing place of Black Sam, Bri­tain’s rich­est pi­rate been found?

Daily Mail - - Confidential - By Tom Payne

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

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.