Lucky Pirate


Known as “Long Ben” to his men and “The Arch Pirate” or  “The King of Pyrates” to his fellow captains, Henry Every was a lucky pirate for two reasons.

  1. He captured one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, treasures in all the history of piracy.
  2. He got away with it.

A West-Country Englishman he served in the Royal Navy during the Nine Years’ War (1688–1697). After some time in the African slave trade he secured a berth as first mate aboard the warship Charles II to fight for the Spanish against the French. In La Corunna the Spanish failed to deliver a contract and the ships owners refused to pay wages to the crew. A Mutiny ensued, the Charles II was renamed the Fancy and Every emerged as the captain.

The Fancy plundered five ships off the West African coast on the sail south.  In the Indian ocean they raided a French vessel and escaped capture by three East Indiamen.  Continuing North, the Fancy arrived in the Arabian Sea during the Hajj season.  They joined forces with other pirate vessels to attack  a convoy of Grand Mughal vessels on pilgrimage to Mecca.

The flagship Ganj-i-sawai and its escort, the Fateh Muhammed turned out to be filled to the brim with treasure.

The battle was hard fought and the pirate fleet suffered heavy losses.  The Fancy captured the Fateh Muhammed and later disabled the Ganj-i-sawai by shooting out its mainmast.  After ferocious hand-to-hand fighting the pirates took the prize.  And the prize was huge, equivalent to almost $100 million in todays terms.

What followed was a terrible tale of torture, rape and killing.  It was said that female passengers stabbed themselves to death or threw themselves overboard to escape the horror.

The incident was a diplomatic catastrophe for England’s fragile relations with the Mughals. In response a reward of £1,000—an immense sum at the time—was offered for the capture of Henry Every.  This led to the first worldwide manhunt in recorded history.

Every and his crew fled to the pirate town of New Providence in the Bahamas where they divided the spoils.  Most of the sailors drifted home to England. Subsequently twenty-four of the pirates were captured, and six were tried, convicted, and hanged in London in 1696.

Every disappeared off the face of the earth, along with his treasure, and was never heard from again.

As a result of his success many other sailors were encouraged to try their hand at the pirate life.

Leave her, Johnny; A Sea Shanty

Oh the times was hard and the wages low

1. Leave her, Johnny, leave her

And the grub was bad and the gales did blow

2. And it’s time for us to leave her


Leave her, Johnny, leave her

Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her

For the voyage is done and the winds do blow

And it’s time for us to leave her

I thought I heard the Old Man say


You can go ashore and take your pay



Oh her stern was foul and the voyage was long


The winds was bad and the gales was strong



And we’ll leave her tight and we’ll leave her trim


And heave the hungry packet in



Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her with a grin


For there’s many a worser we’ve sailed in



And now it’s time to say goodbye


For the old pierhead’s a-drawing nigh





Pirate King Barbarossa (Redbeard)

Pirate King Barbarossa (Redbeard)

Arrr, this be my favourite day of the year.  International talk like a pirate day!

All hands on deck, man the main brace, aloft me boys and loose the sheets, set courses, topsails, topgallants, royals, moonrakers and skyscrapers. Weigh anchor and cast off.  That be a sail on the horizon and she bears the look of a fat merchantman ripe for plucking.

Charge your pistols with fresh powder and give your cutlass a keen edge, it’s time to do what pirates do.

Here is a poem about real pirates.  There was a famous raid on Baltimore in West Cork in 1631 by Barbary pirates from Algeria.  The pirates captured 108, mostly English settlers who worked in the fishing industry in the town.  Only 3 were ever ransomed.  The poem is in a style I find overblown and turgid, in the Victorian tradition.  Arr, but it be what it be.

The Sack of Baltimore ; by Thomas Osborne Davis

The Summer sun is falling soft on Carbery’s hundred isles,
The summer sun is gleaming still through Gabriel’s rough defiles;
Old Innisherkin’s crumbled fane looks like a moulting bird,
And in a calm and sleepy swell the ocean tide is heard:
The hookers lie upon the beach; the children cease their play;
The gossips leave the little inn; the households kneel to pray;
And full of love, and peace, and rest, its daily labor o’er,
Upon that cosy creek there lay the town of Baltimore.

A deeper rest, a starry trance, has come with midnight there;
No sound, except that throbbing wave, in earth, or sea, or air!
The massive capes and ruin’d towers seem conscious of the calm;
The fibrous sod and stunted trees are breathing heavy balm.
So still the night, these two long barques round Dunashad that glide
Must trust their oars, methinks not few, against the ebbing tide.
Oh, some sweet mission of true love must urge them to the shore!
They bring some lover to his bride who sighs in Baltimore.

All, all asleep within each roof along that rocky street,
And these must be the lover’s friends, with gently gliding feet—
A stifled gasp, a dreamy noise! “The roof is in a flame!”
From out their beds and to their doors rush maid and sire and dame,
And meet upon the threshold stone the gleaming sabre’s fall,
And o’er each black and bearded face the white or crimson shawl.
The yell of “Allah!” breaks above the prayer, and shriek, and roar:
O blessed God! the Algerine is lord of Baltimore!

Then flung the youth his naked hand against the shearing sword;
Then sprung the mother on the brand with which her son was gor’d;
Then sunk the grandsire on the floor, his grand-babes clutching wild;
Then fled the maiden moaning faint, and nestled with the child:
But see! yon pirate strangled lies, and crush’d with splashing heel,
While o’er him in an Irish hand there sweeps his Syrian steel:
Though virtue sink, and courage fail, and misers yield their store,
There ’s one hearth well avenged in the sack of Baltimore.

Midsummer morn in woodland nigh the birds begin to sing,
They see not now the milking maids,—deserted is the spring;
Midsummer day this gallant rides from distant Bandon’s town,
These hookers cross’d from stormy Skull, that skiff from Affadown;
They only found the smoking walls with neighbors’ blood besprent,
And on the strewed and trampled beach awhile they wildly went,
Then dash’d to sea, and pass’d Cape Clear, and saw, five leagues before,
The pirate-galley vanishing that ravaged Baltimore.

Oh, some must tug the galley’s oar, and some must tend the steed;
This boy will bear a Scheik’s chibouk, and that a Bey’s jerreed.
Oh, some are for the arsenals by beauteous Dardanelles;
And some are in the caravan to Mecca’s sandy dells.
The maid that Bandon gallant sought is chosen for the Dey:
She ’s safe—she’s dead—she stabb’d him in the midst of his Serai!
And when to die a death of fire that noble maid they bore,
She only smiled, O’Driscoll’s child; she thought of Baltimore.

’T is two long years since sunk the town beneath that bloody band,
And all around its trampled hearths a larger concourse stand,
Where high upon a gallows-tree a yelling wretch is seen:
’T is Hackett of Dungarvan—he who steer’d the Algerine!
He fell amid a sullen shout with scarce a passing prayer,
For he had slain the kith and kin of many a hundred there.
Some mutter’d of MacMurchadh, who brought the Norman o’er;
Some curs’d him with Iscariot, that day in Baltimore.