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.
- He captured one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, treasures in all the history of piracy.
- 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