Great Nonfiction: Bellamy’s Bride, by Kathleen Brunelle

Bellamy's Bride: The Search for Maria Hallett of Cape Cod
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There are many folk tales told on and about Cape Cod, many of which revolve, naturally, around the sea. Witches, pirates, sailors and captains, ghosts, lost ships, and buried treasure are common features, and Bellamy’s Bride incorporates each of them. Common sailor Sam Bellamy seduces Eastham town beauty Maria Hallett under an apple tree. Since her prominent family would never sanction their marriage, Sam returns to sea to make his fortune and return in triumph to claim her hand. Maria gives birth to their child and is ostracized by the townfolk. The child dies, and she becomes a recluse. In time, Sam returns as a pirate in his flagship, the Whydah, but perishes with his ship in the worst nor’easter ever to hit the Cape.

Kathleen Brunelle presents this legend in some detail, illustrating it with photographs and art. It is easy enough to document the life of Black Sam Bellamy, but of Maria Hallett the traces are faint at best. Brunelle delves into vital records, previous version of the story, history, genealogy, and mythology, attempting to determine what is truth and what is embellishment. Read this fascinating study and decide for yourself.


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