Archeologists have found six skeletons in the 1717 wreck of a British pirate ship off Wellfleet on Cape Cod. The 110-foot ship, the Whydah Gally, sank in a storm, killing all but two of the 146 men on board, including its captain, Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy, and burying tons of silver and gold treasure.
The archeologists found one complete skeleton and portions of five more. Some had broken bones, probably from when the ship capsized. One of the pirates died with a pistol in his hand and metal, probably gold, in his pocket. Experts at the Whydah Pirate Museum in West Yarmouth, Massachusetts, now plan to examine the skeletons.
The wreck was discovered in 1984, covered by 10 to 50 feet of sand, spread out over four miles in water from 16 to 30 feet deep. It is the only fully authenticated Golden Age pirate ship ever discovered.
The Whydah Gally was commissioned in London in 1715. A square-rigged, three-masted ship, it had a displacement of 300 tons and a top speed of 13 knots. It was placed in the slave trade until Bellamy and his pirates captured it in the Caribbean. They then sailed to the Carolinas and were heading up the coast, probably to Maine, when they ran into a storm off Cape Cod on April 26, 1717. The ship capsized, and 101 bodies washed up on shore.
For his part, Bellamy was one of the most successful pirates of all time, capturing $145 million worth of gold and silver in today’s dollars before his death at the age of 28. He was known to treat his crew well, and he called himself the Robin Hood of the Sea, believing that he was taking justice against wealthy merchants who “rob the poor under the cover of the law.” Read more: