Every Pirate’s Dream
September 7, 1695: The Ganj-i-Sawai is captured by pirates. The ship belonged to the Mughal emperor, Aurangzeb and is sometimes Anglicized to Gunsway. The translation of Ganj-i-Sawai is “Exceeding Treasure” which was tempting for an established pirate. The ship was being escorted by the Fateh Muhammed and that ship was taken as well. Henry Every (sometimes given as Evory or Avery) was an English pirate born in Devon in 1659. He operated in both the Atlantic and Indian oceans and probably had many aliases, a few of which are known. He was called Long Ben by his crewmates and attained the nickname of The Arch Pirate and The King of Pirates by contemporaries. He was, in fact, the most notorious pirate of his time.
He managed to somehow acquire other ships without being arrested himself or being killed in battle. He is also known for his daring on this day which netted him what has been called (and disputed) as the most profitable pirate raid in history. He was a pirate captain for only two years, but it seems to have been enough for him to retire. He began his seafaring with the Royal Navy from 1689 to 1690 and was probably involved in several battles of the Nine Years’ War. After his discharge, he was involved in the slave trade. He was next hired as a mariner to work as first mate aboard the warship Charles II, a Spanish ship used to prey on French ships. But the ships stayed in dock, the letter of marque never arrived, and the crew was not paid. They rebelled. And took over the ship with Every as captain and renamed it Fancy.
Without legal papers authorizing raids, the ship was now a pirate ship and the men raided French ships without government approval, narrowly escaping capture. They then sailed to the other side of the world and in the Arabian Sea, the encountered a 25-ship convoy of the Grand Mughal making the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Included in this convoy was Ganj-i-Sawai and her escort. Every joined forces with several other pirate ships and was elected as leader of the small group. Not all of the ships in the group were as successful as Every’s, who on this day managed to take command of the Ganj-i-Sawai and all her riches after snapping her mainmast with a cannonball shot. It took hours of hand-to-hand combat aboard the ship before the pirates had control. There was a report that many pirates were killed in the battle, but Every survived with the huge payoff.
There is a dispute about how much treasure was actually aboard the ship. Numbers vary between £325,000 and £600,000. There were 500,000 gold and silver pieces and every surviving pirate was given £1,000 in gemstones when the men landed at Réunion. The take was listed as worth £52.4 million in 2010. Not only did the pirates have access to the money, but they were also in control of the passengers and crew, many of whom were tortured or raped. Women stabbed themselves or jumped overboard to escape that fate. Every captured at least 11 ships during his pirate days and then disappeared. His time and place of death are unknown, but it was some time after 1696 and is assumed to have been back in Great Britain.
It is, it is a glorious thing To be a Pirate King. – William S. Gilbert
Now and then we had a hope that if we lived and were good, God would permit us to be pirates. – Mark Twain
As to hanging, it is no great hardship. For were it not for that, every cowardly fellow would turn pirate and so unfit the sea, that men of courage must starve. – Mary Read
Our seamen have always been famous for a matchless alacrity and intrepidity in time of danger; this has saved many a British ship, when other seamen would have run below deck, and left the ship to the mercy of the waves, or, perhaps, of a more cruel enemy, a pirate. – William Pitt
Also on this day: Ann and Andy – In 1915, a patent was granted for the making of a rag doll.
She’s Gone – In 1911, Guillaume Apollinaire was arrested for an art theft.
Not Soccer – In 1963, the Pro Football Hall of Fame opened.
Get Out – In 1652, the Guo Huaiyi Rebellion began.
Plot Goes Awry – In 1571, Thomas Howard was arrested for a plot against the Queen.