June 26, 2006

Henry Every ‘An Arch Pirate’ and Mughal Emperor Connection

Henry was a pirate who had looted the ships Ganj-i-Sawai and Fateh Mohamed which belonged to Emperor Aurangzeb of Mughal Empire in India. He was the most renowned pirate of his time.

Other names of Henry Every were John Avery, Long Ben, Henry Avery and Benjamin Bridgeman. It is believed that during the last stage of his life, he adopted the name Benjamin Bridgeman and died with that name. 1

He was native of Devonshire (near Plymouth, England). He started his pirate career in 1691 under Captain ‘Red Hand’ Nicholls. He undertook his first individual pirate activity on the ship Charles II (also called Duke in some different source). The ship was under Captain Gibson. He went on Pirate strolls in 1695 on the ship of Captain Gibson by naming it as The Fancy. In the same year he attacked the ship Gang-i-Sawai and Fateh Mohamed somewhere near Red Sea. Those two ships belonged to Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb (1657-1707). It is believed that the ship Gang-i-Sawai had 62 guns, 500 (approximate) musketeres and 600 aboard the ship. Both the ships were not able to any fight to Henry Every because an accident took place on Gang-i-Sawai when a gun busted at the time of firing. Both the ships surrendered. It is believed that Every looted nearly five lakhs pieces of silver and gold. In addition to that he laid hands on a large numbers of rubies, jewels and women. 2

The looting of the ship of the Mughal Emperor is termed as the "Richest Single Crime in the World". The total cost of the booty was rated at 5.2 millions rupees or in other words 52 lakh rupees. The event took place in 1695. 3

The raid on Mughal Ships proved his wrong doing. Emperor Aurangzeb did not take it lightly. The ships were part of the trading activity of the women of the Mughal Royal family. The Mughal Emperor stopped all the trades of East India Company in India. It was the period, when the East India could not dare to earn the wrath of the Mughal Emperor. 4

It is on record that East India company offered an extra reward of 4000 rupees for the capture of the pirate Henry Every. The document containing this record can be accessed at Fact Files of British Library. 5

It is believed that after that it became difficult for Henry Every to pursue his pirate career. He was soon reduced to beggary and died without money even for a coffin. The attack on Gang-i-Sawai and Fateh Mohamed ended his career. 6


Footnote 1:

http://www.ancientworlds.net/aw/Post/407998 part of Famous Pirates Biographies at Ancient Worlds as accessed on June 26, 2006 and Henry Every at Wikipedia.

Footnote 2:

ibid. accessed on June 26, 2006.

Footnote 3:

Henry Every at Wikipedia as accessed on June 26, 2006

Footnote 4:

A. L. Srivastva, Mughal History. Agra.

Footnote 5:

Rivals of East Indian Company in Fact Files on East Indian Company on British Library as accessed on June 26, 2006.

Footnote 6:

Ancient Worlds Op. Cit as accessed on June 26, 2006.

History Carnival XXXIV

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