The Legend of Goody Hallett
Mary (or Maria, or Mariah) Hallet lived in Eastham in the late 1600’s and early 1700’s. She went by the given name “Goody”. Records from 17th century America are sparse, so little is known about Goody Hallett from a historical perspective. The legend is emphatic on one point, though: young Mary was a very attractive blond.
She was just 15 or 16 when she met the pirate “Black Sam” Bellamy, who plundered the ships plying Cape Cod waters. Mary fell in love with Sam. For a time, it seemed like a classic story of forbidden love, the village beauty and the dashing privateer.
But Sam, the blackguard, sailed away, promising the maiden he would return to wed once his fortune had been made. Years passed. Bellamy, a brilliant naval tactician and charismatic leader of men, became the most successful of the Caribbean buccaners, but Black Sam never returned alive to Goody, or Cape Cod.
Sam had left Mary with child. She hid her pregnancy, and when the baby came, she smothered it.. When the villagers of Eastham learned of her foul deed, they shunned her. She was exiled to neighboring Wellfleet.
Mary Hallet became a recluse. She lived alone in a small shack in Wellfleet, hidden among the dunes in an area which is still known as Goody Hallet Meadow. Some say it was there that she sold her soul to the Devil.
The villagers believed she was a witch. God-fearing Puritans were forbidden to speak to her. She grew wan and haggard. Some say she was pining away for Sam Bellamy, while some say she was just biding her time, scheming her revenge.
In April 1717 Black Sam Bellamy returned to Eastham with his newly stolen ship, the Whydah, a swift and heavily armored galley designed as a slaver. When he arrived at the Cape a great nor’easter arose without warning. The Whidah foundered off the coast of Wellfleet. The entire crew was lost, including Black Sam.
The night of the storm the villagers saw Mary Hallet standing on the bluffs, waving her hands, casting curses into the angry sky. Apparently she had summoned the storm to kill Sam.
Sam’s body was never recovered from the wreck. Some say he and Goody escaped the tempest, and lived together in anonymity, rich and happy, passing Black Sam’s mantle to his protogé, Edward “Blackbeard” Teach. Others say that Mary recovered Sam’s treasure from the wreck of the Whydah, and buried it somewhere in Wellfleet, where it remains undiscovered to this day.
The villagers were so horrified by what they had seen Mary doing in the storm that they chased her into White Cedar Swamp, where i they presumed she died. Perhaps she did.
Mary Hallet’s ghost is said still to wander the dunes overlooking Nantucket Sound, in areas known today by many dark names, like Lucifer’s Land and Devil’s Pasture.
When a nor’easter blows in today, listeners on the bluff can hear the plaintive and angry wails of Goody Hallett as the wind grows cold before the storm.
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The wreck of the Whidah was discovered in 1984 by adventurer Barry Clifford, and artifacts from her, as well as from other pirates and the Caribbean slave trade, can be seen at the Whidah Pirate Museum in South Yarmouth, MA.
Nearby Clifford believes he has found the Whidah’s fabled treasure trove, concealed for centuries beneath shifting underwater sands.
Most extraordinary of all, from a concretion within the sunken galley Clifford’s team has extracted a human femur which may be the remains of Black Sam Bellamy himself. Descendants of Black Sam have been located in the UK, and DNA tests are pending. Stay tuned.
Of Goody Hallett naught remains but the haunting legend, and the eerie, cold wail of the freshening northeasterly breeze that heralds stormy weather on Cape Cod.