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Has Pirate Treasure of Notorious Black Bellamy Finally Been Discovered?

Has Pirate Treasure of Notorious Black Bellamy Finally Been Discovered?


One of the most fascinating pirate stories is the legend of Samuel Bellamy and his ship the ‘Whydah’. While the wreck of this legendary galley was discovered in 1984, much of its treasure has remained missing.  Barry Clifford, the renowned treasure hunter who made the initial discovery of the Whydah wreck, has announced that he has now found a large metallic mass that he believes is a huge treasure hoard that was once aboard the Whydah.

The Whydah Galley was the first authenticated pirate shipwreck discovered in North America. Barry Clifford, who discovered the wreck, has spent the last decades extensively researching historic records relating to the Whydah and investigating the site of the wreck. Has his relentless search finally paid off?

According to, Barry Clifford revealed the news that his expedition located a large metallic mass that must be the lost treasure of Samuel Bellamy at the recent opening of the Whydah Pirate Museum on Cape Cod. The museum is a culmination of discoveries by Clifford and many other researchers. Clifford believes the mass is a conglomerate of at least 400,000 coins and other riches.

Maritime archeologists and historians are intrigued but remain skeptical. According to Paul Johnston, the curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington DC, the announcement by Clifford is just talk and now he needs to present the scientific proof. Some historians even question whether the legendary treasure of the Whydah ever existed at all, as some survivors from the Whydah never made reference to it.

Clifford refuted the claims of Paul Johnsons and other skeptical researchers: "Why would they be bragging to the judge about how much treasure they stole? They were hanged. For me, it'd be great to get it all finished, but it isn't going to get done in my lifetime. Archaeology doesn't happen quickly, if you're doing it correctly.'' [via]

The bell of the Whydah recovered from the wreck, inscribed, "THE WHYDAH GALLY 1716".

The bell of the Whydah recovered from the wreck, inscribed, "THE WHYDAH GALLY 1716". (public domain)

Clifford’s reputation for making false claims started in 2014 when UNESCO dismissed his ''discovery'' of the famous ship of Christopher Columbus, the Santa Maria.  His claim to have discovered a 50kg silver bar belonging to pirate Captain Kidd in 2015 was also refuted. However, Clifford’s career has also been full of numerous successful discoveries. Until now he has recovered some 200,000 artifacts, including thousands of silver Spanish coins, dozens of cannons, hundreds of pieces and fragments of rare African gold jewelry, various colonial-era objects and numerous other relics. The researcher, who is 71 years old now, hopes to start analyzing the metallic mass this month, as he believes it is the real thing.

The story of the ‘Black Bellamy’ and his ship is one of the most fascinating sea legends of the 18 th century. Samuel Bellamy was born in 1689 in Devonshire in England. During his short life of only 28 years he lived more adventures than generations of sailors before him. In an article dedicated to the life of Bellamy, the author of this article wrote:

''As a Captain, Samuel became known as the Black Bellamy. History remembers him as a tall, strong, well-mannered and very tidy man. His flagship was the Sultana, famous for its many powerful cannons. Bellamy had one more ship – the Mary Anne – which was very fast and had good balance. Due to his talents as a good strategist, he also managed to capture a number of ships without damaging them.

Pirate Bellamy sailing in search of treasure

Pirate Bellamy sailing in search of treasure (The Richest)

Apart from being known as ‘the scary wolf of the Atlantic,’ Bellamy was also famous for his attention to expensive clothes, especially black coats. He always carried his favorite weapons in his sash - four dueling pistols. As a Captain, he was almost democratic and the crew liked to call him “Pirate Robin Hood.”

In February 1717, Bellamy's crew managed to capture the English slave ship Whydah Galley (commonly known as Whydah). The ship was on the way to Jamaica, packed with gold, silver, ivory and indigo. It was the greatest treasure Bellamy could imagine, so he decided to keep the Whydah for himself, and gave the Sultana to the crew of Whydah.

Model of the Whydah Galley

Model of the Whydah Galley (CC BY 2.0)

The Whydah was commissioned in 1715 in London. It belonged to Sir Humphrey Morice, a member of the British Parliament. It was a square-rigged three-masted galley ship. It measured 34 m (111.5 feet) in length, with a tonnage rating of 300 tons, and could travel at speeds up to 13 knots (24 km/h).''

When Whydah sank, it was carrying a treasure stolen from about 50 ships. Most of the crew, about 150 people, died in the cold waters as the ship went down. A few who survived continued the legend and legacy of their captain and his ship.

Top image:  Silver recovered from the wreck of the Whydah (public domain)

By Natalia Klimzcak



Natalia Klimczak is an historian, journalist and writer and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate at the Faculty of Languages, University of Gdansk. Natalia does research in Narratology, Historiography, History of Galicia (Spain) and Ancient History of Egypt, Rome and Celts. She... Read More

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