A Mystery

Growing up, my Grandmother, Linnie Ross Sanders Wallace, told me several times (in no uncertain terms) that the Sanders were SCOTS-Irish, with the emphasis on “Scots”.  I heard her and remembered it, but like all youth, I didn’t realize the importance of it later.

Digging through the Sanders’ family’s genealogy, I’ve come across a mystery of sorts.  The mystery being was William and/or Lewis Sanders involved in the capture and slaying of Edward Teach, better known as, Black Beard the Pirate.  Lewis Sanders was my 6G Grandfather and William was my 6G Uncle.

The plot started when I read an old letter, written in 1895 by Thomas Bailey Saunders and sent to one of his nephews.  The letter was posted on Gary B. Sanders website, “Sanders, of Randolph and Montgomery Counties, North Carolina, and Jackson County, Alabama, and other counties in Georgia, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Texas”, and I quote,

“There were two Saunders brothers who came from England long before the Revolutionary war. At that time the pirates were very bad on the North Carolina coast. The governor of Virginia outfitted a vessel to catch them, and in making up the crew he took one of these brothers, and they caught old Black Beard, the pirate, and hung him to the mast arm. The crew got a good deal of money, and when that brother came back he left the U out of his name. This is the reason so many spell their names Sanders”.

Spending a good deal of time researching the events, I was surprised that, actually, the Governor of North Carolina was in league with Black Beard.  In fact his Secretary was captured and convicted of accepting funds from the pirate.  In reality, the Governor of Virginia gave two unarmed sloops, Ranger and Jane, to Lt. Maynard of the Royal Navy.

On November 22, 1718, Black Beard engaged the two, unarmed sloops in Oracoke Inlet off the coast of North Carolina and opening fire on them with his cannons, he almost destroyed both ships. Teach closed in on Maynard’s ship, Ranger, boarded it and engaged Maynard personally in combat.  Maynard shot him and both men swung their cutlasses, Teach’s shattering Maynard’s and as Teach was going to deliver the death blow, according to an Autumn, 1992 article in the “Colonial Williamsburg”, magazine, now online, his throat was slashed by a stout Scot among Maynard’s crew.

To claim the reward Maynard cut off Teach’s head.  Returning to his home port of Hampton, as a warning to other pirates, Teach’s head was placed on a stake near the mouth of the Hampton River.

Another quote from Gary B. Sanders website, further whetted my appetite for intrigue, “… I think it’s likely that William Sanders of Anson County, North Carolina may be the brother of Lewis Sanders of Fairfax County, Virginia.  William and Lewis appear to be of the same generation.  DNA tests show William was related to Lewis.  These two may well be the two emigrant brothers described in a somewhat jokingly fashion in the 1890’s letter of Thomas Bailey Saunders.”

Being left with questions that, in all probability, will never be answered, I can only make some assumptions and ask a few more questions.  Both brothers were of Scots-Irish ancestry. Both brothers also took the “U” out of Saunders.  Was one of the Saunders boy’s a part of Maynard’s crew?  Was one of them the “stout, Scot”?

What if the old story is really true?