Whydah ship

Local pirate tops Forbes earning list

By Mary Ann Bragg

Off the coast of Wellfleet are the spoils of the richest colonial-era pirate in the world, according to Forbes magazine.

Englishman Samuel "Black Sam" Bellamy, whose sunken Whydah ship is immortalized in a private museum in Provincetown, emerged as the wealthiest pirate in Forbes "20 Highest Earning Pirates" list published Friday.

Forbes described high-seas piracy as "the colonial era's version of investment banking."

Bellamy made about $120 million over his lifetime, valued in current dollars, Forbes said.

Second to him is Sir Francis Drake, another Englishman, who made $115 million.

The former slave ship, the Whydah, sank in a gale off Marconi Beach in Wellfleet in April 1717 after Bellamy seized it earlier that year with at least four tons of treasure on board, said Ken Kinkor of the Provincetown museum, the Expedition Whydah Sea Lab & Learning Center.

When the Whydah sank, Bellamy was using it as his primary ship, and it contained the loot of at least 50 other ships as well, Kinkor said.