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Capture of the Pirate, Blackbeard, 1718, Jean Leon Gerome Ferris

Captain Robert Maynard RN (c. 1684 – 4 January 1751) was a lieutenant and later captain [1] in the Royal Navy, First Lieutenant of HMS Pearl, most famous for defeating the infamous English pirate Blackbeard in battle.

Naval commands and battles[]

Blackbeard's severed head hanging from Maynard's bow

Very little is known about Maynard, except for when he killed Blackbeard in a fight. Governor Alexander Spotswood of the colony of Virginia gave Maynard the command of two sloops, Ranger and Jane. They departed the docks of Hampton, Virginia on 19 November 1718. Maynard caught up with Blackbeard at Ocracoke Inlet off the coast of North Carolina on 22 November 1718. Most of Blackbeard's men were ashore and Maynard outgunned and outnumbered the pirates 3 to 1. However Maynard's ship had no cannons and only small arms, while Blackbeard's had up to 8 cannons. Maynard, however, hid most of his men below deck. Initially Blackbeard had his ship go to shallower water. Maynard's heavier ship hit a sandbar and was stuck. Blackbeard then maneuvered his ship for a broadside barrage. Meanwhile Maynard ordered everything not essential to combat to be thrown overboard to make the ship lighter, and eventually freed the ship. Blackbeard's ship launched at least 2 broadside attacks on Maynard's. After the last attack, it appeared to the attackers that only Maynard and another crew member were left alive and Blackbeard boarded Maynard's ship. He was then ambushed by a force much larger than he had expected. During the battle, Maynard and Blackbeard ended up in hand-to-hand combat. Both pointed pistols at each other. Maynard shot his adversary at point-blank range, while Blackbeard missed. However the shot failed to stop his opponent. Blackbeard pressed on, breaking Maynard's sword. Finally, another sailor jumped on Blackbeard's back and inflicted a deep wound. Maynard was then able to kill Blackbeard.[citation needed] Blackbeard was beheaded and his head was tied to the bowsprit of his ship for the trip back to 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.


Maynard's final resting place is in the churchyard of Great Mongeham in Kent, southeast England, near the cinque port of Deal[2] He left an estate in excess of £2000.[3]

Maynard's success is still celebrated by his 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.[4]

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.


  1. Burial monument
  2. Burial monument: 'On a Monument on The N.E. Buttrice of the Tower. [Arg. a chevn. az. betw. 3 hands apaumé gu]. To the Memory of Capt. Robert MAYNARD a faithfull & experience’d Commander of the Royal Navy; who, after he had distinguish’d himself by many brave and gallant Actions in the Service of his King and Country retired to this Place where he died 1 January 1750-51 aged 67.'
  3. His will, available online at, was made 12 October 1750 and proved on 28 March 1751 (PROB 11/786). It lists bequests to his mother, Mrs Ann Maynard; his sister Margaret Mitchell (formerly wife of John Peck of Boston, New England, deceased) and her children Thomas, John and Ann Peck; his sister-in-law Mrs Ann Maynard, widow of his brother Captain Thomas Maynard; his friend Mr Thomas Gee of Holborn, London, and his "daughter-in-law" (possibly stepdaughter) Elizabeth Judson of Great Mongeham, whom he appoints executrix.
  4. Sussex

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