The History of Louis Bellgrave
Louis Bellgrave was born, Richard Louis Bellgrave, in Alsace, France on October 15th, 1678. Of German and Scottish decent, he spent his childhood sailing on the Rhine River, dreaming of the open ocean and adventure.
As a young teen, Louis met a boy named Olivier Levasseur (1680–1730). They quickly became friends and shared their love of the ocean. Both seamen at heart, Olivier and Louis planned to join the Navy when they were old enough. Despite the horror stories of abuse, disease, and general poor quality of life aboard these ships under the command of ruthless naval captains, both the boys wanted to serve their country.
As time passed, their paths separated. Louis had stowed away aboard a slave ship looking for adventure, that unbeknownst to him, was bound for England. Passing himself off as an orphaned young man from the English countryside, he was recruited into the Royal Navy. Olivier had enlisted in the French Navy, fighting in the War of the Spanish Succession. When the war ended, instead of returning home, Olivier took his ship and joined forces with Captain Benjamin Hornigold (1680-1719) and his pirate company. Hornigold introduced Olivier to another famed pirate and partner in piracy, Edward Teach, also known as "Blackbeard" (1680-1718).
Olivier eventually earned the nickname "La Buse" or "The Buzzard". La Buse was known for his swift and violent attacks on ships on the open ocean, taking their women, gold and supplies, he was a terror from 1716-1730, a long career for a pirate.
A natural to ships and the ocean, Louis Bellgrave quickly rose to the rank of Captain in the Royal English Navy. Captain Bellgrave was soon put in command of a secret prototype warship developed by the Navy. At over 500 feet in length with a compliment of 250 guns dispersed over 5 decks, the HMS Ocean Lord was commissioned on March 22nd, 1715 and set sail. It’s mission, under the command of Captain Bellgrave, was to protect other Navy ships, cargo and passenger ships traveling through the Atlantic and Caribbean where pirates were terrorizing ships from England, the Americas, France and Spain. He was also given other orders from the King of England. His title also included "Privateer for the King". Basically, Captain Bellgrave was ordered by the crown to not only protect other naval and English merchant ships, he was free to capture any ships belonging to the enemies of England. He could seize their cargo and any treasure they might have and disperse it between the crown, himself and his men. Basically, he was a pirate with legal authority from the King of England. His arrangement with the crown was 75% of the plunder went to England with 25% dispersed between himself and the crew.
While Bellgrave enjoyed his command and was loyal to the crown, he also kept contact, secretly, with his childhood friend, Olivier. Olivier, now known as "The Buzzard" told him stories of the pirates he worked with, Blackbeard, Hornigold, Charles Vane and the riches they had acquired. One story that was of particular interest to Bellgrave was about a hoard of gold and silver that Olivier had hidden from the other pirates and valued at over $1 billion dollars. This amount of money in the 1700s was enough to make any man a king. Captain Bellgrave soon went from Royal Navy Captain and special Privateer for the King, to Pirate. His quest for the treasure and adventure that Olivier had told him about changed him. While in the deep ocean, he informed his crew of his intentions to abandon the Royal Navy to pursue a life of piracy. Those on board that opposed him were executed, weighted down with anchor chain and stone ballast and thrown into the ocean, those remaining were promised great rewards and an equal share of the treasure in return for their loyalty. In the winter of 1716, Louis Bellgrave and his crew, with the warship HMS Ocean Lord, joined forces with Olivier "The Buzzard" Levasseur, Ben Hornigold and Edward Teach "Blackbeard" in Nassau, Bahamas. Over a period of about two years, they wrecked havoc on numerous ships, building their wealth.
Louis Bellgrave was gone. Now known only as "King Louie", he became a ruthless pirate. His ship, Ocean Lord, far outgunned any other on the water. Insubordination among the crew was dealt with swiftly and King Louie commanded respect. While King Louie enjoyed the company of like minded people like Blackbeard and Hornigold, he really only trusted Olivier, his childhood friend. One night, while they were alone drinking rum, Olivier passed on to Louis an encrypted message that would lead Louis to the billion dollar treasure that Olivier had buried. Their agreement was that Louis would only pursue the treasure if something happened to Olivier. Louis agreed.
King Louie’s loyalty to his friend was unwavering, but unfortunately, one of the crew had overheard their drunken conversation about the treasure and the encrypted message. This crew member, in an attempt to gain favor with Blackbeard, went to him and told him of the conversation he had overheard. Blackbeard invited King Louie onto his ship, the Queen Anne's Revenge, under the guise of discussing an attack they had planned on the cargo ship, Great Allen, a British ship they had spotted near Cape Saint Vincent. Once on board, Blackbeard demanded the message that was given to Louis by Olivier. Loyal to the end, King Louie engaged Blackbeard in a grueling struggle, Blackbeard prevailed when he was able to grab one of his numerous pistols from his vest and shot King Louie through the brain. Blackbeard may have won the fight, but what he did not realize was that Louis had destroyed the encrypted message and retained to memory the whereabouts of the treasure, which was now all over the deck and walls of Blackbeard’s quarters. In an ironic twist, Blackbeard had his men wrap King Louie's body in anchor chain and throw him into the ocean, serving him with the same fate that King Louie had dealt to so many of his enemies. The date was November 25th, 1717. King Louie's two year reign as a pirate ended in an instant, but his pursuit of Levasseur's treasure was not over.
Enraged, Blackbeard went on the hunt for Olivier "The Buzzard" to try and retrieve the information, but Olivier had already set sail with his ship to intercept another target hundreds of miles away. Blackbeard suspected that the treasure may have been buried on an island in North Carolina, he ran his ship aground during his search and abandoned most of his crew. He never found the treasure, and before he could find Olivier, he and his remaining crew were killed in North Carolina during a battle with British Naval Officer, Robert Maynard and his forces on November 22, 1718.
Olivier "The Buzzard" Levasseur continued his long and prosperous career as a pirate, until he was captured and hanged in 1730. He never revealed the location of his billion dollar treasure and it remains a mystery to this day.
King Louie Bellgrave never abandoned his search for the treasure that his friend had entrusted to him, and from the grave, his ghost can be seen by sailors on ships when they are in the area of the southeastern United States down through the Caribbean and South America. His shattered skull and anchor chain body can be heard rattling along the decks of ships late at night, his appearance strikes fear into the hearts of those that see him, with his tentacle like chain arms and darkened empty eye sockets that seem to follow your every move, he means no harm, he is just looking for that one ship, that will take him to his destination and his treasure, which will be his final resting place.