Near as anyone can tell, Isiah Hewitt was born in Cardiff around 1690. But given his later use of pseudonyms and the loose recordkeeping standards of the day, even that morsel of information has been repeatedly called into question. Even the spelling of his name has engendered controversy, with contemporary records listing the man’s Christian name as everything from Isaac Hughes to Asa Everett.

The earliest firm mention comes from a latter of marque issued to Captain Henry Roberts making him a privateer in the service of Her Majesty Queen Anne. Dated 1704, it includes a list of the ship’s crew on departure from Cardiff with an “Isaya Hewwit,” age 12 or 13, as a “cabine boye & asst. cooke.” Roberts’ ship participated in Queen Anne’s War against France and Spain, capturing or destroying 17 enemy vessels, one of the better careers among the vast number of privateers engaged in that conflict.

Correspondence dismissing Roberts and crew from Her Majesty’s service in 1713 again contains a mention of Hewitt as “Lt. Asa Hewit” age 25 with the job of “asst. q’termaster.” While Roberts himself retired on his earnings, many of his men turned to piracy after war’s end, plundering not only French and Spanish ships, but British as well. Letters taken off the body of pirate Captain John Foreman after his death in battle in 1717 list “Isiah Hewitt” as his quartermaster. Further letters kept by a Charleston correspondent, most likely Hewitt’s wife or lover, indicate that after Foreman’s death his former quartermaster seized a ship to make a name for himself.

In emulation of his idol, Edward “Blackbeard” Teach, Isaac Hewitt adopted the nom-de-guerre “Blackhart” as well as a similar flag (a full skeleton on a black background). His ships were active as early as 1719 and last took a prize in 1725. Occasionally collaborating with other pirates, and demonstrating a mastery of misdirection and disguise, Blackhart plundered as many as 150-200 ships. That his historical infamy is somewhat less than his contemporaries is due to the fact that he did not cultivate any particular image and often employed surrogates to perform acts in his name.

After the sack of a French ship in late 1725, “Blackhart” Hewitt disappears from the historical record. Authorities on the Golden Age of Piracy have never been able to conclusively establish his fate. The gibbeting of a high-ranking but unnamed pirate at Port Royal in 1727 and the sinking of a ship reportedly flying a “blacke skeletonne flag” by the Royal Navy in 1729 are the two most likely candidates, though a minority of historians believe that a wealthy “Mr. Hartblacke” who died in Charleston ca. 1755 may have been Hewitt.

In any case, despite his successful career, “Blackhart” Hewitt remained a historical footnote of a footnote until the “Carolina Chest” was uncovered in 2010. The metal casket, recovered from an antebellum house, was found to contain a quantity of doubloons as well as the following riposte:

Capt. Davies,

Enclosed ye will find a quantitie of Spanish dobloons ye’ll no doubt recognise as ye own. I took them from yr. man Cobb abord the ‘Wealthy Indiaman’ as recompense for Mathilde. I’ve set out the rest for ye to find if ye’ve the stones to at the usual place. Come and taste the brimstone I’ve prepar’d for ye.

-Blackhart Hewit, Capt.

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