Featured Video              



In the Field

 Available Now...


The Haunted Jail of Colonial Williamsburg

Strolling along the cobblestone streets of Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, visitors will likely pass by a foreboding brick building. The structure easily blends in with the surrounding preserved colonial city. However, this particular building has seen many questionable guests including bloodthirsty pirates, traitors, thieves, slaves, corrupt officials, and the mentally ill.

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg’s 300 year old Public Goal imprisoned bloodthirsty pirates, traitors, thieves, slaves, corrupt officials, and the mentally ill.

Located on the east side of Colonial Williamsburg, the city’s infamous 300-year-old Public Goal incarcerated some of the city’s most notorious criminals. Perhaps the most infamous prisoners sent to the Public Goal included Blackbeard’s crew of pirates.

During the early 1700s, Edward Thatch, better known as Blackbeard, made a name for himself as one of the most feared pirates by terrorizing ships along the colonial coastlines.

By the time Blackbeard became captain of the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Virginia Governor Alexander Spotswood ordered authorities to capture the criminal. Lieutenant Robert Maynard set out to arrest Blackbeard alive. Instead, the pirate met his untimely demise during the bloody hand-to-hand combat that ensued. According to legend, Governor Spotswood put Blackbeard’s head on a pike to warn other pirates from going down the same path.

Blackbeard’s surviving crew of pirates were sent to Colonial Williamsburg’s Public Goal. They sat in the jail cells awaiting their trials. Then on March 12th, 1719, “one was acquitted, one pardoned and the rest sentenced to hang.”

The Haunted Jail Cells


Much time has passed since the Public Goal has seen any prisoners. However, it seems the jail’s former “tenants” continue to live out a life sentence from beyond the grave. According to an account from the Williamsburg Colonial Ghosts tour:

“I went in there and I felt really, really, like there was something wrong, like something’s in there. I walked in further and further until I got to the very end where I could barely see light coming out from the door I walked in. I noticed the chains moving and the ball, because it’s the ball and chain that hangs on a wall, and I noticed it was moving and I was like that’s kinda cool.”

Indeed, the Public Goal remains one of the most haunted locations in Colonial Williamsburg. It comes as no surprise considering the building’s history housing the colony’s most wanted criminals. Those who decide to visit the jail may catch a glimpse of the jail’s former prisoners who continue to haunt its cells.



Contributed By Allison Dienstman

« The Ultimate Haunted Castle Road Trip through New York | Main | Exploring The Former Empire Hotel Of The Lost Village Of Delta »

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>