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Hampton Roads' most notorious pirates and intrepid pirate killers

By Mark St. John Erickson

2:03 PM EDT, May 29, 2014

HAMPTON

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Blackbeard may be the most notorious buccaneer linked to Hampton Roads. But he was far from the only pirate or pirate killer connected to the region.

Here are some of the other figures who helped build the tradition that Hampton's Blackbeard Pirate Festival will celebrate this weekend:

Christopher Newport. This English privateer lost an arm attacking a Spanish vessel off Cuba, then seized the richest treasure ship taken in the 1500s. That made both Spain and Portugal fearful of a new base for pirate attacks when he helped found Jamestown in 1607.

Samuel Argall. Like such Jamestown investors as the Earl of Warwick and Lord De La Warr, the deputy governor had substantial interests in privateering, including the ship that brought the first Africans to Virginia in 1619.

Abraham Crijnssen. This daring Dutch privateer from the seafaring province of Zeeland led four heavily armed warships into Hampton Roads in June 1667, killing royal councilor Col. Miles Cary of Warwick County at Old Point Comfort before seizing or burning most of Virginia's lucrative tobacco fleet.

Cornelis "Kees the Devil" Evertsen. Financed by the Dutch West India Company,  this aptly nick-named Zeeland mariner torched or took most of the combined Virginia and Maryland tobacco fleet in July 1673 before heading north to capture New York City.

William Dampier. Recruited in Hampton by the pirate crew of the Bachelor’s Delight, Dampier helped terrorize the west coast of South America in the 1680s, then went on to pen a ’round-the-world memoir that inspired “Gulliver’s Travels” and “Robinson Crusoe.”

Lionel Wafer, John Hinson and Edward Davis. Rich with plunder, Dampier’s former shipmates were arrested on the James River and imprisoned at Jamestown before buying their freedom with a “donation” that helped found the College of William and Mary.

Francis Nicholson. This intrepid governor sailed from Hampton aboard HMS Shoreham in 1700 and, fighting alongside Capt. William Passenger, went toe-to-toe with marauding pirates in a seven-hour battle off Lynnhaven.

Peter Heyman. Killed while fighting alongside Nicholson, this Hampton customs officer is buried in the yard of the third St. John’s Church, where his headstone honors his “pursuit of a pyrate.”

Blackbeard. The notorious brigand is not known to have visited Hampton Roads. But his severed head was reportedly mounted on a pike at the head of the Hampton River after his death at the hands of Hampton-based Royal Navy sailors. New research suggests he may have been the son of North Carolina landowner James Beard.

Alexander Spottswood. Virginia’s lieutenant governor organized the Royal Navy expedition that killed Blackbeard off Ocracoke Island in 1718, then hanged six members of Black Bart’s crew at Hampton in 1720. But so wary was he of pirate revenge that he refused to sail to England in anything less than a man of war.

Lt. Robert Maynard. The first lieutenant of the Royal Navy guard ship HMS Pearl led the Hampton-based sloops Ranger and Jane in their historic expedition against Blackbeard on the Outer Banks.

Bartholomew Roberts. Black Bart paralyzed Hampton Roads by pledging vengeance for the hangings of his former crewmen. But the daring winner of nearly 500 prizes died in battle before he could make good on his threat with a fleet of 112 guns.

Owen Lloyd. This Hampton merchant sailor left his Queen Street home in 1750 to pull off a fantastic Spanish silver heist on the Outer Banks, planting the seeds of a story that later inspired “Treasure Island.”

-- Mark St. John Erickson

Want to go?

What’s Wrong with Black Beard?” a multi-media talk by author Kevin P. Duffus

Where: Hampton History Museum, 100 Old Hampton Lane, Hampton

When: 7 p.m. Thursday

Cost: Free

Info: 757-727-1610; www.hamptonhistorymuseum.org