Almost everything we know about the origins of the famous pirate Blackbeard comes from a seven-word phrase in an 18th-century book:
"Edward Teach was a Bristol man born."
Kevin Duffus, a North Carolina historian, writer and filmmaker, didn't think that made sense. Why, he wondered, would a man from Bristol name his ship -- the Queen Anne's Revenge -- for a Stuart monarch? Why was his crew largely from the colonies?
And why was he so solicitous of Stede Bonnet, a Barbadian pirate he allegedly had just met?
"For 280 years, people have adhered to that story. But there is no source listed for his information," Duffus said, talking about Capt. Charles Johnson's 1724 "General History of the Pyrates." "Historians don't even know who Charles Johnson is."
As Duffus researched his book, "The Last Days of Black Beard," he found a lot of historical inaccuracies that have been repeated over the centuries. And that led him to wonder if that most basic fact -- Blackbeard's English heritage -- could be wrong.
The investigation led him from North Carolina to London to the Caribbean and, finally, to the Lowcountry.