Henry Every was a pirate's pirate. He became a legend in his time, earning the nickname The Arch-Pirate because of the vast wealth he accumulated plundering the ships of the Great Mogul of India in the Red Sea. His legend grew because he was never caught.

A former midshipman with the British Royal Navy, Every was a middle-aged mate aboard the privateer Charles II in 1694, when he led a mutiny against a drunken captain and took over. He renamed the 46-gun ship Fancy, hoisted a new flag, and sailed for the Indian Ocean, where he boarded and plundered every vessel in sight for the next two years, spreading his villainous reputation across the seas.

When the Fancy and its 130-man crew finally arrived at the mouth of the Red Sea, Every joined up with five other pirate ships, one of which belonged to Thomas Tew. He took command of this six-ship pirate fleet and led an attack on two treasure ships that lagged far behind a 25-ship convoy heading toward India. One of the ships was the Great Moguls flagship, Gang-i-Sawai, and the other was its escort, the Fateh Mohamed. Every gave chase and then battled, boarded, and looted the smaller prize of more than 50,000 pounds worth of gold and silver. He then set sail after the fleeing Gang-i-Sawai, which carried 62 guns, 500 turban-clad Indian soldiers, 600 passengers, a cargo of 500,000 gold and silver pieces, a rare saddle set with rubies intended as a present for the Great Mogul, and high-ranking officials of the Moguls court.

Following a brutal two-hour battle, Every's pirate crew ravaged the ship and savaged the passengers, absconding with a plunder that amounted to 1,000 pounds each crewman, plus a large quantity of gems and jewels.

The Fancy sailed for the Bahamas with a hold filled with exotic treasures. On the island of New Providence, Governor Nicholas Trott welcomed the pirate crew with open arms and the pirate captain responded with armfuls of gifts including elephant tusks and the pirate ship itself. Every's crew disbanded for parts unknown. Several were eventually caught after exotic spending sprees and executed for their piracy crimes. But the Arch-Pirate disappeared without a trace.

The capture of the Gang-i-Sawai caused such a furor in the Great Moguls court that officers of the British East India Company were thrown into prison in India and tortured until London officials took drastic action against the barbarian cutthroats.

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Did you know?

  • The Jolly Roger was a black flag flown to identify the vessel as a pirate ship. While the skull and crossbones is the most common of these flags, many great pirate captains designed custom symbols to identify exactly who is attacking.

  • "Shiver me timbers" is an expression of excitement or awe. Its origin has to do with sailing in heavy seas, when the ship is lifted up and pounded down so hard that the timbers are said to shiver.

  • Although pirates have been around since the Romans and Vikings, most pirating happened during the Golden Age of Piracy between 1680 and 1730.

  • Pirates believed that whistling on a ship would cause the weather to turn stormy. Consider the phrase 'to whistle up a storm.'


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