Has Black Sam Bellamy risen from his watery grave?
Archaeologists believe DNA tests will confirm they have found the remains of the world’s richest pirate
He is thought to be the richest pirate that ever lived, amassing a hoard of treasure worth hundreds of millions in today’s money, before he was lost at sea along with his ship.
Captain “Black Sam” Bellamy and his crew were aboard the Whydah Gally when it encountered one of the most violent storms recorded off New England in 1717 and sank, killing most on board and leaving its treasure on the ocean floor.
The wreck, along with the legendary treasure, was discovered off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts in 1984. Archaeologists have since continued to search the site and now believe they may have found the captain himself.
The remains were displayed for the first time in Massachusetts on Monday and DNA extracted from the corpse will be compared with that of an English descendant.
Bellamy, who was 28 when he died, was reputedly a striking figure, who was always clean and fashionably dressed. His moniker related to his long black hair, which he wore tied back with a ribbon.
He was known as a fair captain, who favoured democratic leadership, and was known as “the Robin Hood of the sea” by his crew.
DNA from Davy Jones's Locker
A 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 said.
The museum has enlisted forensic scientists from the University of New Haven to carry out the DNA testing.
Chris Macort, an archaeologist and director of the museum’s ship exhibit, said: “Bellamy moved from Devon, England to Massachusetts in 1715. We know we have a connection with the direct descendants from Sam Bellamy and I believe they’re still living in the area.”
Researchers removed a human femur from a concretion — 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,” Macort said.
“Whatever is inside this concretion is in very good condition, including soft tissue, leather and a lot of textile pieces.
“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 about 40 unaccounted sailors that were on board the ship at the time, the archaeologists believe the objects surrounding the femur make it highly likely it belongs 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 that it’s more probable that it is Bellamy,” said Macort.
In just a few months, Bellamy used the Whydah Gally as the flagship of his pirate fleet and to raid 54 ships along the US east coast and the Caribbean, collecting a hoard of treasure which would equate to hundreds of millions of pounds today, according to Forbes Magazine.
– © The Daily Telegraph