It was in the early 1700’s, during the Golden Age of Piracy, when Captain Samuel Bellamy and his crew captured 53 ships plundering $130 million (in today’s currency). This reign lasted just a little over a year and Samuel became the wealthiest pirate in recorded history. He got his nickname “Black Sam Bellamy” because he had long black hair which he tied with a black band.
But it’s his love affair with the blond, blue-eyed beauty from Eastham, Massachusetts that has captivated the locals on Cape Cod for over three hundred years. According to the stories, Goody Maria Hallett was just a teenager when they met, and Samuel was a poor but ambitious sailor.
Samuel Bellamy was born in Plymouth, England, in 1689 as the youngest of six children. His mother died not long after. He was destined to become a sailor when he joined the British Royal Navy as a teenager and fought in several battles. By the time he arrived in Cape Cod in 1715 to live with his uncle, he wanted to make a better life for himself in America.
Samuel and Maria’s first meeting in an apple orchard has become legendary. Kathleen Brunelle described the encounter in her book Bellamy’s Bride: The Search for Maria Hallett: “Under the apple tree was the most enchanting girl he had ever encountered. A streak of moonlight danced on her yellow hair and outlined her graceful silhouette. She raised her deep blue eyes, deep as the freshwater surrounding them, and continued to bewitch Bellamy with her song.”
Unfortunately, Maria’s father was a prosperous farmer who took offense to his daughter’s relationship with a poor sailor. Despite her father’s objections, Maria and Samuel’s love affair continued until he left Cape Cod in 1716. A fleet of Spanish ships loaded with gold, silver and jewels had wrecked off the coast of Florida which proved to be a temptation Bellamy couldn’t resist. A wealthy merchant purchased a sloop and asked Samuel to join him and gather a crew which he gladly obliged, but he didn’t know Maria was pregnant when his ship sailed.
By the time they arrived on the coast of Florida, the treasure was picked clean. That’s when Bellamy and his men turned to piracy. They joined pirate captain Benjamin Hornigold’s crew, with his first mate, Edward Teach, who would soon gain fame as the pirate “Blackbeard.” Not long after Hornigold and his loyal followers, including Teach, were forced to leave the ship because of Hornigold’s refusal to attack English ships, which angered the crew. They elected Samuel Bellamy as their captain, and this began their short but successful reign of capturing and plundering ships for goods and treasure.
Unlike many of his peers, Sam Bellamy was known to be a fair pirate captain who treated all his men equally, including slaves and those who were “pressed” or forced into service. He considered himself to be the Robin Hood of the sea, which is how he garnered his nickname, the Prince of Pirates.
I’d hate to give any spoilers, so you’ll have to read my book to find what happened to Samuel and Maria. I enjoyed this research when I was writing Sea Magic. It was fun to step back in time and imagine what Sam’s adventurous life had been like in the new world.