Little is known about the early life of privateer-turned-pirate Edward “Blackbeard” Teach, whose massive, knotted beard struck fear in the hearts of seamen throughout the Caribbean and Eastern U.S. for a brief spell in the early 18th century. However, his legend has only grown stronger with time, keeping the hunt for his supposed hidden treasure alive.
Most historians suspect that Teach (like most pirates) didn’t get around to making desert-island deposits of gold and jewels during his reign, but there are still several places where, given what we’ve learned about him in the past three centuries, the treasure could have ended up.
1. OFF THE COAST OF NORTH CAROLINA, ON THE QUEEN ANNE’S REVENGE
After the French slave ship La Concorde was stolen by Blackbeard and renamed the Queen Anne’s Revenge in 1717, it served a short but profitable stint as absolute hell-on-a-hull until the pirate ran it aground in North Carolina’s Beaufort Inlet later that same year. Since its discovery in 1996, the QAR has delivered hundreds of thousands of artifacts to probing researchers, including many of the ship’s 40 cannon, assorted weaponry and tools, and even a small amount of gold dust—but no treasure heaps as yet. Divers aren’t done exploring the wreck, though, and only the ship herself knows what they’ll find.
2. IN A BLAST PATTERN OFF THE COAST OF OCRACOKE ISLAND
If the treasure was on board the Adventure—the ship that North Carolina governor Charles Eden handed off to Teach (along with a pardon) after he’d ditched the QAR—when Lieutenant Robert Maynard’s posse of four ships finally took the pirate down, then it came very close to meeting a violent end of its own. According to an account kept by Captain Charles Johnson (probably a pseudonym for either Daniel Defoe, of Robinson Crusoe fame, or Nathaniel Mist), before the ship was overrun, Blackbeard stationed his faithful servant down below with orders to set the powder room alight should defeat seem inevitable.
However, the attack had already damaged the ship’s defenses enough that Teach’s intended blaze of final glory never came to pass. It’s also possible that the plan was foiled thanks to two prisoners who persuaded Blackbeard’s servant not to strike the match.
3. PLUM POINT
When Blackbeard was trying to make it as a normal, non-pirate person after his pardon, he set up shop near Governor Eden’s homestead in Bath, North Carolina. His bayside home on Plum (or “Teach’s”) Point has since drawn treasure-hunters and their shovels to the town. Today, only the building’s supposed foundation remains.
4. TEACH’S KETTLE
According to residents and researchers, a field near Plum Point used to house an oven-like brick structure that Blackbeard may have used to render wood tar for sealing the hulls of his ships. Though the farmer who owned the field supposedly became fed up with all the visitors and demolished the “kettle,” the location has been the site of much hopeful digging throughout the years.
5. ARCHBELL POINT
It’s long been speculated that Governor Eden (who pardoned Teach after deliberately grounding the QAE, gave the pirate one of his confiscated ships back, and even helped Teach get established in Bath) was on the take when it came to Teach’s profitable piracy. Legend has is that Blackbeard was able to slip easily in and out of Eden’s estate (presumably to deliver the governor’s cut of the loot) by using a special rock path or, in some versions, an underground passage between Bath Creek and Eden’s Archbell Point home.
6. BASICALLY, ANYWHERE IN THE CARIBBEAN
In his rather short time as the scourge of the local seas in 1717 and 1718, Blackbeard kept very busy out to sea, reportedly ransacking or capturing something like 30 ships in total. He likely worked his way through much of the Caribbean, attacking ships near Antigua, Martinique, the Grenadines, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent, among others. When the QAR and Adventure did put into port, it was likely to gather new supplies and have a few rowdy times before heading back out to sea.
7. IN HELL
A General History of the Pyrates, a 1724 book written by Captain Charles Johnson (the same one mentioned earlier), provides much of the material for the legends of Blackbeard and other famous scallywags, including one of Teach’s most famous utterances.
The night before Maynard and his soldiers descended upon the Adventure, Blackbeard’s crew asked their captain if his wife would know where the loot was hidden should he fall in battle. Teach replied “that no-body but himself and the Devil, knew where it was, and the longest liver should take all.”
The next day, November 22, 1718, Blackbeard and many of his 14-man crew breathed their last. However, several surviving crewmembers later recounted "a Story which may appear a little incredible,” Johnson writes. “[Once] upon a Cruize, [the pirates] found out that they had a Man on Board more than their Crew; such a one was seen several Days amongst them, sometimes below, and sometimes upon Deck, yet no Man in the Ship could give an Account who he was, or from whence he came; but that he disappeared a little before they were cast away in their great Ship, but, it seems, they verily believed it was the Devil."
Just maybe, then, Blackbeard’s gold is still being safely kept down below—somewhere a lot deeper than even the very bottom shelf of Davy Jones’ Locker.