Pirate Hunters

Robert Maynard

Robert Maynard was a lieutenant
in the British Royal Navy, captain
of HMS Pearl, and is most famous
for defeating the infamous pirate
Blackbeard in battle.

Governor Alexander Spotswood of
the colony of Virginia gave
Maynard the command of two
sloops, HMS Ranger and HMS
Jane.

They departed the docks of Hampton, Virginia on November 19, 1718. Maynard caught up to Blackbeard at Ocracoke Inlet off the coast of North Carolina on November 22, 1718. Maynard had to get close to Blackbeard because the ships he was sailing had no cannonry. Blackbeard struck first, firing a cannon and killing several of Maynard's sailors. However, Maynard struck back by hiding many of the surviving crew belowdecks, making Blackbeard think he had wrought more damage than he actually had.

When Blackbeard boarded Maynard's ship, he was ambushed. During the battle, Maynard and Blackbeard ended up in a duel. Blackbeard fought extremely hard, taking 20 cutlass wounds and five pistol shots before he finally fell. Maynard beheaded Blackbeard, tied the head to the bowsprit of his ship, and set sail for Virginia. Upon returning to his home port of Hampton, the head was placed on a stake near the mouth of the Hampton River as a warning to other pirates.

This event is still celebrated by Lt. Maynard's successors - the crew of the current HMS Ranger - who commemorate Blackbeard's defeat at the annual Sussex University Royal Naval Unit Blackbeard Night mess dinner every year, at a date as close as possible to 22 November.

The City of Hampton, Virginia also celebrates its historic ties to Maynard by recreating the final sea battle on Tall Ships in the Hampton Harbor during the City's annual Blackbeard Festival in June.

Chaloner Ogle

Sir Chalonor Ogle (1681-1750) was an Admiral of the Fleet in the British navy.

He was of the Kirkley Hall branch of the prominent Northumbrian Ogle family of Northumberland.

In 1721 he commanded HMS Swallow leading the fleet in action off the West African coast. In 1722 he defeated the pirate fleet of Bartholomew Roberts, for which success he was awarded a knighthood.

Captain Chalonor Ogle was rewarded with a knighthood; the only British naval officer to be honoured specifically for his actions against pirates. He also profited financially, taking gold dust from two of Roberts' ships, the Royal Fortune and Ranger. Of the loot Ogle did accept having taken possession of, the crew did not receive their share until Ogle was reluctantly forced to give it to them by the legal system, three years later.

Captain Chalonor Ogle claimed to have missed out on the treasure which the pirates had left on their third ship, the Little Ranger, when they sailed to their last engagement with the Swallow. By the time Ogle and his men arrived to take the treasure in the Little Ranger it had gone, with Captain Hill of the merchant ship Neptune, who had been trading with the pirates. Several weeks after the defeat of Bartholemew Roberts, however, Captain Ogle and Captain Hill had both sailed across the atlantic and were in Port Royal at the same time. Even if this is assumed to be a coincidence, it seems nearly inconceivable that Captain Ogle, who was already swindling his own crew, would not have then confronted Captain Hill, who in theory Ogle could easily have had hanged for trading with pirates. It therefore seems likely that the larger part of Bartholemew Robert's treasure ended up in the hands of Captain Ogle, and some part in the hands of Captain Hill.

In 1741 as Rear Admiral of the Blue he led the British attack on three forts at Cartagena, Colombia during a disastrous campaign in the War of Jenkins' Ear.

In 1742 he was accused of an alleged assault upon Edward Trelawny, Governor of Jamaica but his career survived and he was appointed Admiral of the White and in 1747 Admiral of the Fleet.

He married twice, firstly in 1726 and secondly in 1737 to his cousin Isabella Ogle, daughter of Nathaniel Ogle of Kirkley Hall. Thus he was the great uncle of his brother-in-law and namesake, Admiral Sir Chaloner Ogle.

His home was latterley at Gifford Lodge, Twickenham, Middlesex where he died in 1750 without issue

William Rhett

Colonel William Rhett moved to South Carolina in 1698. He soon became successful and gained a high rank and social status as a colonial leader. In 1706 it was Rhett who commanded a flotilla that fought off a Franco-Spanish attack on Charleston. He is perhaps best known for his capture of the infamous Major Stede Bonnet, the so-called 'gentleman pirate', but he missed out on capturing the more notorious Blackbeard. He soon acquired a sugar plantation and in 1716 had finished work on his new house, which still stands proud in its original location. It has been restored and is now privately owned.

A descendant was Robert Rhett.


Blackbeard's severed head hanging from Maynard's bow - Click To Enlarge