Blackbeard was the nickname of Edward Teach, a notorious English pirate of the early 1700s. He was a large, strong, fierce-looking man. According to reports, his beard stretched from his eyes to his waist and was worn in braids tied with ribbons. To make himself yet more fearsome at times of action, Blackbeard would burn fuses on his hat so that his head was surrounded by a cloud of black smoke.
The pirate and his crew operated in the Caribbean and along the coast of Virginia and the Carolinas. They captured dozens of ships, demanding money and valuables from those on board. Blackbeard was courteous to those who surrendered willingly but cruel to those who resisted. As for his crew, he once remarked, "If I did not now and then kill one of them, they would forget who I am."
In 1718 the governor of Virginia sent a British naval force to capture Blackbeard. After a bloody battle, they succeeded in killing the pirate and beheading him. They hung his head from the front of the ship and threw his body overboard. According to legend, the headless corpse swam around the ship three times before sinking. Since that time, fishermen in the area have reported seeing a headless body searching for its head. Blackbeard's treasure chest is said to lie on the ocean floor off the coast of Maryland, protected by a curse that prevents anyone from bringing it to the surface.