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"Black Sam" Bellamy was a notorious pirate in the 18th Century. iStock

Marine archaeologists have found a skeleton near a shipwreck off the north-eastern US coast which may be the remains of Samuel "Black Sam" Bellamy – an infamous English pirate who died at sea more than three centuries ago.

Forensic scientists from the University of New Haven will take DNA samples from the bones and compare them to a living descendant of Bellamy's to verify the find.

Bellamy was born to a poor family in 1689 and joined the Royal Navy when he was just 13.

After taking part in the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714), in which Britain was involved, Bellamy moved to Massachusetts in the the American colony of New England.

However, the sailor promptly left with a friend in pursuit of a sunken Spanish fleet near the Florida Keys which was said to be filled with treasure.

But when Bellamy and his friend were unable to retrieve any of the treasure, they decided to become pirates. After putting a crew together, and procuring two sailing canoes, they headed out into the open seas.

Bellamy quickly found that he was well-suited to the pirate lifestyle, seizing control of more than 50 ships between 1716 and 1717. In fact, he was so successful that Forbes magazine has estimated his maximum net worth at $120 million in today's money.

Despite his riches, he often talked about his disdain for wealthy elites, dubbing himself 'The Robin Hood of the Sea'.

However, in 1717 his luck ran out when his flagship, the Whydah – a former British slave vessel – was sunk during a powerful storm off the New England coast, killing Bellamy and most of the crew.

In the mid-80s explorers found the ship's wreckage, from which more than 200,000 artefacts have been recovered since.

In November last year, researchers found part of human skeleton inside a hard block of sediment which had been removed from an area near to where the Whydah had sunk. Intriguingly, the sediment also contained a belt, cufflinks and a pistol, which is thought to have belonged to Bellamy, according to the Associated Press.