Israel Hands was an 18th-century pirate, also known as Basilica Hands. Hands is best known for being second in command to Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard. Hands's first historical mention was in 1718, when Blackbeard gave him command of David Herriot's ship Adventure after Herriot was captured by Teach in March 1718.
Role in the Film
When Jim Hawkins comes back from meeting Ben Gunn, he finds Israel Hands, a treacherous pirate and crew member, has decided to usurp the Hispianola and make off with the ship for himself. Israel Hands is injured as his leg has been smitten by a cannonball from the earlier battle, but Israel fights Jim and crawls up the mast despite his leg being injured. He aims to slit Jim's throat and make off with the ship but he manipulates Jim into steering the ship around to a deserted cove. Israel battles with Jim on the mast but eventually calls a truce, saying they both have the same articles and should be working together. Israel tricks Jim into letting him climb up but Jim knows Israel wants to kill him so he knocks him off the mast into the deep water below where Israel drowns, unable to swim. Captain Charles Johnson wrote that Hands was shot in the knee by Teach after Teach fired at another of his crew, missing him but striking Hands. Hands supposedly asked Teach for his reasons, whereupon Teach remarked "that if he did not now and then kill one of them, they would forget who he was." Another theory is that Teach shot him so he would not die in the battle against Robert Maynard. When Teach was killed by Maynard, Hands was captured and taken to Virginia for trial. In exchange for a pardon, Hands testified against corrupt North Carolina officials with whom Teach had consorted. What happened to Hands after this is not known for certain; however, in Captain Charles Johnson's A General History of the Pyrates, Hands is said to have died a beggar in London.