Henry Avery

The Pirate Captain

Henry Avery

"something more pleasing than jewels"

Henry Avery

The Elusive Pirate King

Often known as “Long Ben” or “The Arch Pirate,” Henry Avery is a figure of legendary status in the annals of piracy.

His brief but highly impactful career in the late 17th century made him one of the most notorious pirates of his time, culminating in one of the most lucrative heists in maritime history.

Despite the magnitude of his crimes, Avery’s ultimate fate remains shrouded in mystery.

Henry Avery was born around 1659 in England, though details of his early life are sparse.

By the 1690s, he had become an experienced sailor and eventually found his way into the service of privateers, who operated with government authorization to raid enemy ships. However, Avery’s ambitions soon led him to piracy.

In 1694, Avery was serving as first mate on the ship Charles II, part of an expeditionary force. Frustrated with the harsh conditions and poor prospects, he led a mutiny against the captain.

Renaming the ship the Fancy, Avery and his newly formed pirate crew set sail for the Indian Ocean, a region rich with potential targets.

Avery’s most infamous exploit occurred in 1695, when he led a pirate flotilla to intercept the Mughal fleet returning from Mecca to India.

The fleet included the Ganj-i-Sawai, a grand treasure ship belonging to the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, and its escort, the Fateh Muhammed.

The pirates, led by Avery, managed to capture the Fateh Muhammed with relative ease, looting it for valuable cargo.

The real prize, however, was the Ganj-i-Sawai. This massive ship was heavily armed and manned, making it a formidable opponent.

Nevertheless, Avery and his men launched a daring and brutal attack. After a fierce battle, the pirates boarded the Ganj-i-Sawai, overpowering the crew and passengers.

The haul was extraordinary: a treasure trove of gold, silver, and jewels estimated to be worth over £600,000—a fortune at the time.

The capture of the Ganj-i-Sawai had significant repercussions. It provoked the ire of the Mughal Empire, which in turn pressured the British East India Company to hunt down the pirates and bring them to justice.

The British government issued a massive bounty for Avery’s capture, making him one of the most wanted men in the world.

Despite the intense manhunt, Avery and his crew managed to evade capture. They divided the spoils and dispersed, with Avery’s share making him an extremely wealthy man.

Avery’s trail went cold after he arrived in the Caribbean. Some accounts suggest he lived out his days quietly in Britain, possibly under an assumed name.

Others speculate he may have been betrayed and died penniless. The lack of concrete evidence about his fate has only added to his legend.

Henry Avery’s career as a pirate was short but immensely impactful. His capture of the Ganj-i-Sawai remains one of the most lucrative and daring heists in piracy history.

His ability to evade capture despite the global manhunt speaks to his cunning and resourcefulness.

The mystery surrounding his final days adds an enigmatic layer to his story, ensuring that Henry Avery remains a captivating figure in the lore of the high seas.

Written by Nucleus

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