Friday, November 8, 2013
Cape Cod – Maria Hallett
Many stories have been written and told about 18th century Maria Hallett.
In my historical novel, The Old Cape House, I tell a story that has never been heard before.
According to legend and folklore, Maria was a poor, misunderstood girl who happened to fall in love with a handsome soon–to–be pirate. His name was Sam Bellamy, aka - Black Sam Bellamy or The Pirate Prince. He came to Cape Cod in the spring of 1715 on his way to salvage treasure in the West Indies.
A fleet of Spanish galleons wrecked in a hurricane off the coast of Florida in 1715 and all of its cargo sunk to the bottom of the Atlantic. Bellamy was determined to go there and find his fortune. He left Maria behind on Cape Cod and never knew she was with child. When he arrived where the treasure was, it was almost all gone. Not wanting to return empty handed, he went 'on account' and turned pirate.
The following winter, Maria was found in a barn with a dead child and no explanation came from her lips as to how she got into this predicament.
Given the century and its Puritan beliefs, townsfolk accused her of witchery and murder. She was eventually punished, shunned, and made an outcast. As time passed, the people of Eastham blamed Maria Hallett, aka - The Witch of Billingsgate or Goody Hallett for every sailor or ship lost at sea and any other problems they had in their lives. Her legend only grew bigger and more frightening to anyone who knew of it.
One day, many years ago, I visited the Whydah Pirate Museum in Provincetown and discovered the Bellamy/Hallett legend. I found it fascinating. But all the way home to Brewster, I couldn't keep my mind off of Maria's story. She was so young. How could this have happened to her?
Then I thought of the Salem witch trials and how the religious leaders of that period kept their congregants in line. They taught that one must follow the church's law no matter what the circumstances. Any unexplained or bad occurrences are the work of the devil. They preached, "...you must be fearful of the Lord and be solemn. No dancing! No singing!" They screamed, "if you indulge in these pleasures, you might become distracted, and a prime target for the devil to control you." If you were slightly different from the others, harbored strange thoughts, had a child with a birth defect, or anything they couldn't explain...it was the work of the devil.
From that day, I kept thinking...what if the legend never happened the way the old salts of Cape Cod have told it?
Fact #1 Sam Bellamy has been proven to exist in history and was a real pirate and he did visit Cape Cod in the spring of 1715.
Fact #2 Sam Bellamy's body was never found after the wreck of his ship the Whydah off the coast of Cape Cod.
Fact #3 Maria Hallett has never been proven to exist.
With these few thoughts I created a new story about Maria. One that will take you on an adventure back through time and forward to the present.
You'll find history, romance, and mystery.
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