“Black Sam” Bellamy was a young pirate captain during the golden age of piracy in the first two decades of the 18th century. During his short career as pirate captain between the years of 1716 and 1717, he managed to capture at least 53 ships and amass a fortune equal, in modern terms, to more than $130 million, making him the richest pirate in history. He was also known for the kind treatment and generosity towards captured sailors during his raids, which earned him another nickname, “The Prince Of Pirates”
As a young man, Samuel Bellamy joined the Royal Navy and even fought in several battles. After leaving military service, he traveled to Cape Cod with the hopes of salvaging the treasure of a sunken Spanish fleet. His ship soon combined with that of the pirate captain Benjamin Hornigold and his first mate Edward Teach, who would go on to become the infamous Blackbeard. In 1716, the crew no longer supported Hornigold’s refusal to attack English ships and a mutiny ensued. This left Bellamy as captain of a 90-man crew that he quickly expanded.
After several successful raids, Bellamy chanced across the brand new Whydah Gally, a huge and modern ship of the time that he then captured and used as his flagship. Having the beginnings of a proper fleet, he continued piracy up and down the coast of North America between New England and the Carolinas, where he quickly amassed a very large force and a magnificent fortune. At this time he earned his name, “Black Sam”, for refusing to wear the fashionable powdered wigs of the era and, instead, tying his long black hair back with a bow.
Only two months after capturing the Whydah, Bellamy sailed to visit his family in Rhode Island. This voyage would turn out to be an unfortunate one; he would never arrive at his intended destination. Off the coast of Cape Cod, his voyage led to his demise at the hands of a massive midnight storm that drowned him and 142 other men of his 145-man crew. Many of these bodies, including that of Sam Bellamy, were never accounted for, and most of the survivors were executed upon rescue. In 1984, this wreckage was found and a museum dedicated to Bellamy was erected in Provincetown, Massachusetts.