Home / NEWS / Possible remains of world’s ‘richest pirate’ Captain Black Sam Bellamy to be compared to English descendant’s DNA

Possible remains of world’s ‘richest pirate’ Captain Black Sam Bellamy to be compared to English descendant’s DNA

He is thought to be the richest pirate that ever lived – amassing a hoard of treasure worth millions in today’s money – before he was lost to sea along with his ship. 

Captain ‘Black Sam’ Bellamy and his crew were aboard the Whydah Gally when it became caught in stormy seas in 1717, killing most on board and leaving its wealth on the ocean floor. 

The wreck, along with the legendary treasure, was discovered off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts in 1984.

In the years since, archaeologists have continued to search the site and now they believe they may have found the infamous captain himself.

The human remains were displayed for the first time at a press conference in Massachusetts on Monday and will now be compared with the DNA of Bellamy’s English descendant.

Chris Wright, project manager for Arts and Exhibitions International, unwraps items next to the bell with “Whydah Gally 1716” inscribed on it, which was used to authenticate the shipwreck site

Kathryn Scott Osler

The male descendant is still believed to live in Devon, where Bellamy, known as the ‘Prince of Pirates’, was born in 1689. 

The unnamed relative came to the Whydah Pirate Museum in Yarmouth, Massachusetts two years ago with records proving his lineage, researchers told The Telegraph. 

The museum has enlisted forensic scientists from the University of New Haven to carry out the DNA testing and hope to have confirmation in the next few months.

Chris Macort, an archaeologist and director of the museum’s ship exhibit, said: “Bellamy moved from Devon, England to Massachusetts in 1715. 

Whydah Pirate Museum officials discuss efforts to see if bone found on shipwreck belongs to pirate Captain Black Sam Bellamy

“We know we have a connection with the direct descendants from Sam Bellamy and I believe they’re still living in the area. 

“They came to the museum two years ago and showed the paper work, including Bellamy’s mother baptising Sam at their parish. 

“We removed a human femur from a very large concretion – which is a conglomerate of iron, stone, silver and gold. 

“His remains are surrounded by a giant web of tools and weapons, it’s a real time capsule, which is exciting stuff.  

 Captain Black Sam Bellamy

“Whatever is inside of this concretion is in very good condition, including soft tissue, leather and a lot of textile pieces.”

Mr Macort added: “From some of the other skeletal remains we’ve found there are traces of a crushed helmet so it’s clear that it was a violent death.”

While the remains could be one of around 40 unaccounted sailors that were on board the ship at the time, the archaeologists believe the objects surrounding the femur make it highly likely they belong to Bellamy.

“There’s a very ornate pistol that was wrapped in a ribbon. It’s expensive so that might have belonged to the captain, so that’s another indicator for us that it’s more probable for us that it is Bellamy,” said Mr Macort.

Silver recovered from the wreck of the Whydah

Bellamy captured the Whyday in 1717, when it was carrying four and a half tonnes of gold and silver, but the ship was caught in stormy seas, killing most of its crew and leaving its treasure on the ocean floor. 

The wreck was discovered in 1984 but the human remains and the pistol, encased in a hardened mass of sand and stone, were only uncovered by conservationists in November.

In just a year, Bellamy used the Whydah Gally to raid 54 ships along the US east coast and the Caribbean, collecting a hoard of treasure which would equate to  around  $120 million (£85.6 million) today, according to Forbes Magazine.

Recovered from the wreck of the Whydah


When the ship went down, it had a 142-strong crew on board and around four tonnes of silver and gold loot.

Just two crew members survived, 102 were buried in a mass grave and the remainder, including Bellamy, were never accounted for.

What remains of the wreck is under around 20 feet of water and a further 20 feet of sand, in an area frequented by great white sharks. 

Archaeologists visit every summer to carry out further excavations but Mr Macort believes they have another 40 years’ worth of work ahead of them.

“We call it an exploded site – it’s kind of like throwing a jigsaw puzzle in a washing machine,” he said. “This is a multi-generational project.”

Article Source : http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/02/19/possible-remains-worlds-richest-pirate-captain-black-sam-bellamy/

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