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Jack Avery or John Avery, was an English pirate who operated in the Atlantic and Indian oceans in the mid-1690s. Dubbed “The Arch Pirate” and “The King of Pirates” by contemporaries, Every was notorious. He earned his infamy by becoming one of few major pirate captains to retire with his loot without being arrested or killed in battle, and for being the perpetrator of what has been called the most profitable pirate heist in history. Every was born in Newton Ferrers in the south west of England and likely a member of the local Every family. He served in the Royal Navy from 1689 to 1690.
Charles II was renamed the Fancy and Every elected as the new captain, the Fancy sailed south to the Indian Ocean, soon plundering five ships off the West African coast. In early 1695 the Fancy had reached the Comoros Islands, where Every’s crew raided a French vessel and narrowly escaped capture by three East Indiamen. The plunder of Ganj-i-sawai caused considerable damage to England’s fragile relations with the Mughals. Modern scholarship suggests Every was born on 20 August 1659 in the village of Newton Ferrers, about 9. The earliest biographical account of the man, The Life and Adventures of Capt. Though this location and date are now known to be incorrect, they have been frequently cited in earlier literature. Another suggested year for Every’s birth is 1665, though this too is in error.
Henry Every” was in fact an alias, modern scholarship has debunked it. Every was probably a sailor from youth, serving on various Royal Navy ships. In mid-1689, HMS Rupert helped capture a large enemy French convoy off Brest, France. This victory gave Every an opportunity to better his fortunes and by the end of July he was promoted to Master’s mate, although he was probably the most junior of HMS Rupert’s three Master’s mates. After discharge from the navy, Every entered the Atlantic slave trade.
According to the memoirs of Peter Henry Bruce, a West Indian merchant who wrote several decades after Every’s disappearance, from 1690 to 1692 Every was illicitly slave trading under the protection of then-governor of the Bahamas, Cadwallader Jones. In the spring of 1693, several London-based investors led by Sir James Houblon, a wealthy merchant hoping to reinvigorate the stagnating English economy, assembled an ambitious venture known as the Spanish Expedition Shipping. French vessels in the West Indies. As a result of his previous experience in the navy, Every was promoted to first mate after joining the Spanish Expedition. The convoy’s four ships were commanded by Admiral Sir Don Arturo O’Byrne, an Irish nobleman who had previously served in the Spanish Navy Marines. By early August 1693, the four warships were sailing down the River Thames en route to Spain’s northern city of Corunna.
The journey to Corunna should have taken two weeks, but for some reason the ships did not arrive in Spain until five months later. After a few months in port, the men petitioned their captain for the pay they should have received since their employment began. If this request had been granted, the men would no longer have been tied to the ship and could easily have left, so predictably their petition was denied. After a similar petition to James Houblon by the men’s wives had also failed, many of the sailors became desperate, believing that they had been sold into slavery to the Spanish.
On 1 May, as the fleet was finally preparing to leave Corunna, the men demanded their six months of pay or threatened to strike. Houblon refused to acquiesce to these demands, but Admiral O’Byrne, seeing the seriousness of the situation, wrote to England asking for the money owed to his men. However, on 6 May some of the sailors were involved in an argument with Admiral O’Byrne, and it was probably around this time that they conceived of a plan to mutiny and began recruiting others. On Monday, 7 May 1694, Admiral O’Byrne was scheduled to sleep ashore, which gave the men the opportunity they were looking for. Every and about twenty-five other men rushed aboard the Charles II and surprised the crew on board.
Captain Gibson was bedridden at the time, so the mutiny ended bloodlessly. To all English Commanders lett this Satisfye that I was Riding here att this Instant in ye Ship fancy man of Warr formerly the Charles of ye Spanish Expedition who departed from Croniae ye 7th of May. Seek our fortunes I have Never as Yett Wronged any English or Dutch nor never Intend while I am Commander. Here is 160 od french Armed men now att Mohilla who waits for Opportunity of getting aney ship, take Care of your Selves.
After sailing far enough for safety, Every gave the non-conspirators a chance to go ashore, even deferentially offering to let Captain Gibson command the ship if he would join their cause. Every was easily able to convince the men to sail to the Indian Ocean as pirates, since their original mission had greatly resembled piracy and Every was renowned for his powers of persuasion. He may have mentioned Thomas Tew’s success capturing an enormous prize in the Red Sea only a year earlier. At Maio, the easternmost of the Cape Verde’s Sotavento islands, Every committed his first piracy, robbing three English merchantmen from Barbados of provisions and supplies. In early 1695, the Fancy finally rounded the Cape of Good Hope, stopping in Madagascar where the crew restocked supplies, likely in the area of St. The Fancy next stopped at the island of Johanna in the Comoros Islands.
At Johanna, Every wrote a letter addressed to the English ship commanders in the Indian Ocean, falsely stating that he had not attacked any English ships. His letter describes a signal English skippers could use to identify themselves so he could avoid them, and warns them that he might not be able to restrain his crew from plundering their ships if they failed to use the signal. In 1695, Every set sail for the volcanic island of Perim to wait for the Indian fleet that would be passing soon. The fleet made annual pilgrimages to Mecca, so the knowledge of the approximate time the pilgrims would be returning home may have been readily available. The Dolphin proved to be far too slow, lagging behind the rest of the pirate ships, so it was burned and the crew joined Every on the Fancy. The Ganj-i-sawai, captained by one Muhammad Ibrahim, was a fearsome opponent, mounting eighty guns and a musket-armed guard of four hundred, as well as six hundred other passengers. But the opening volley evened the odds, as Every’s lucky broadside shot his enemy’s mainmast by the board.
With the Ganj-i-sawai unable to escape, the Fancy drew alongside. Muhammad Hashim Khafi Khan, a contemporary Indian historian who was in Surat at the time, wrote that, as Every’s men boarded the ship, the Ganj-i-sawai’s captain ran below decks where he armed the slave girls and sent them up to fight the pirates. According to Khafi Khan, the victorious pirates subjected their captives to an orgy of horror that lasted several days, raping and killing their terrified prisoners deck by deck. The pirates reportedly utilized torture to extract information from their prisoners, who had hidden the treasure in the ship’s holds. Although stories of brutality by the pirates have been dismissed by sympathizers as sensationalism, they are corroborated by the depositions Every’s men provided following their capture. King, returning from her Pilgrimage to Mecha, in her old age. Later accounts would tell of how Every himself had found “something more pleasing than jewels” aboard, usually reported to be Emperor Aurangzeb’s daughter or granddaughter.