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Legend of Captain Mallett: Vermont’s Forgotten Pirate and His Buried Treasure

The Legend of Captain Mallett: Vermont’s Forgotten Pirate

Unearthing Captain Mallett's Pirate Legend on Lake Champlain

Have you ever driven through Colchester, Vermont along the beautiful shoreline of Lake Champlain and wondered about the origin of “Mallett's Bay” and how it got it's name? Was there really a pirate named Captain Mallett seeking his hidden gold?

Vermont's Forgotten Pirate Whose Name is Everywhere

The legendary Captain Mallett is Vermont's forgotten pirate who seems to have slipped through the cracks of history. His name marks landmarks across the northwestern Vermont landscape – Mallett's Bay, Mallett Elementary, Mallett Ave – yet his true tale remains untold.

Forgotten Tales of Vermont
  • Alexander, William M. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 160 Pages – 06/27/2008 (Publication Date) – The History Press (Publisher)

As legend goes, sometime in the late 1700s this swashbuckling French pirate sailed up Lake Champlain for a cozy retirement in the Green Mountains. He dropped anchor in the large natural harbor of present-day Colchester, VT, now known as Mallett's Bay.


Tales of Spies, Smugglers and Scalawags at Colchester, Vermont

On the wooded shores Captain Mallett built himself a log cabin and a rough-and-tumble tavern, perfect for rubbing elbows with shifty locals and hosting spies, smugglers, and scalawags. The Captain seemed to hold no allegiance to either the British crown or the American colonists, making his tavern a safe haven for Revolutionary rabble-rousers.

As with any good pirate, tales of Captain Mallett's buried treasure persist today. According to local lore, he stashed loot somewhere on Coates Island in Mallett's Bay. Over the years, artifacts like antique wooden legs and brass buttons have been unearthed on the island and nearby Malletts Head, though no treasure map or chest of gold dubloons has been discovered.

In a fantastic article about Captain Mallet, Chad Abramovich of Obscure Vermont writes:

Nearby on Malletts Head, a hilly peninsula that divides Malletts Bay from the broad lake, a gentleman named Jed Sharrow and some of his friends discovered a wooden leg while digging for artifacts. The leg was scientifically dated to be from the 1700s. Though it’s tempting to assume these two artifacts may have been conclusive evidence of a pirate, especially considering the knowledge of Ira Allen’s record, the prosthesis and brass buttons were unable to be officially connected to the Captain.  

Chad Abramovich – Obscure Vermont

Who Was the Real Captain Mallett? Inside Vermont's Enduring Pirate Folklore

Captain Mallett’s Pirate Legend on Lake Champlain

The details of Mallett's identity remain hazy at best. He went by many names – Stephen, Pierre, Jean-Pierre Mallett/Maillet/Malet – with no clear record of his former swashbuckling or French heritage.

In the 1960s a group called the “World Union of Mallett Heirs” claimed descendance from Mallett. They spun a yarn about him fighting in the Revolution, receiving a huge Vermont land grant from Congress, striking oil and gold, and amassing wealth in Chicago slaughterhouses. Until President Andrew Jackson seized everything illegally, robbing poor Mallett's heirs of their $512 million fortune.

But the U.S. Treasury denied their outrageous claims. So did Mallett retire quietly in Vermont after a life of piracy? Or live large until swindled by Old Hickory? His true fate remains a mystery lost to time.

Key Takeaways

  • The mysterious Captain Mallett is Vermont's forgotten pirate whose legend persists through landmarks like Mallett's Bay.
  • This swashbuckling French pirate allegedly retired to a log cabin and tavern on Lake Champlain sometime in the late 1700s.
  • Local lore tells of Captain Mallett's buried treasure hidden somewhere on Coates Island, with artifacts like antique wooden legs unearthed nearby. But details remain hazy, with the Captain known by many names like Stephen, Pierre, and Jean-Pierre Mallett/Maillet/Malet.
  • In the 1960s a “World Union of Mallett Heirs” claimed he was owed a $512 million fortune seized illegally by President Andrew Jackson. Did Mallett live humbly in Vermont, or lose a vast estate?

From coves of buried gold to Revolutionary War intrigue, Captain Mallett's story has never been fully told. To this very day there are some people who explore Mallett's Bay and islands for signs of the infamous buccaneer and proof of his enduring mystery.

The story of Captain Mallett is ripe for the embellishing, an unsung folk tale waiting to be told over pints of grog. Whether swashbuckler, war hero, or homesteader, Mallett carved his little slice of legend in the Green Mountains. And for that, Vermonters dust off his story and toast his memory when the moon is full over Mallett's Bay!

Bestseller No. 1
Haunted Vermont: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Green Mountain State (Haunted Series)
  • Amazon Kindle Edition
  • Stansfield Jr., Charles A. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 131 Pages – 06/11/2007 (Publication Date) – Stackpole Books (Publisher)

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