Little Bits of History

Every Pirate’s Dream

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 7, 2015
Henry Every

Henry Every

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.

John Quelch

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 30, 2014
Pirate flag?

Pirate flag?

June 30, 1704: John Quelch dies. He was born in London in 1666 and little is known about his early life. What causes him to be of interest is his death. John became a pirate in 1703 and was quite successful in his endeavors. His worth when captured was £10,000 or about £1.4 million or about $2.36 million today. It is assumed that piracy on the open seas is as old as trade crossing the open seas. The term comes from the Latin term pirata and the Greek word peirates or brigand. The word is related to peril. It is typically used as an act of robbery or criminal violence at sea. The word has been hijacked to mean the stealing of music or other intellectual property.

In July of 1703, Captain Daniel Plowman was given a license to privateer against the French and Spanish ships off the coast of Newfoundland and Arcadia by Joseph Dudley of Boston. John Quelch was Plowman’s lieutenant aboard the Charles. Before leaving Marblehead, Massachusetts the crew mutinied and locked the Captain in his cabin. They elected Quelch as captain and the ship headed south rather than north. Plowman was thrown overboard, but it is unclear whether or not he was dead before being evicted. The crew attacked Portuguese ships off the coast of Brazil even though England and Portugal were not at war. There is a legend stating the crew buried some of the haul on Star Island off the coast of New Hampshire.

When the ship returned to Marblehead ten months later, the crewman scattered after dividing the loot. Within a week, Quelch was in jail for his attack against Portuguese ships. This nation was not in his letter for privateering (legal piracy) and more importantly, Queen Anne and the King of Portugal had just become allies. Quelch and crew were taken to Boston to be tried. This was the first admiralty trial outside England and what one historian has called “the first case of judicial murder in America.” Trial under Admiralty Law is without a jury and was instituted after civil and criminal courts proved unable to stem the tide of increasing piracy.

There were 45 men who were known to be on the ship. There was nothing mentioned about the disposal, either dead or alive of the original Captain, Plowman. The men were tried for piracy and not murder. Five others beside Quelch were hanged on this day. Three men had turned Queen’s evidence and escaped persecution by that means. John Templeton was not even 14 years old yet and found to be a servant and not charged. There is some rumor that Quelch flew a pirate flag referred to as Old Roger by his crew and this is where we get the term Jolly Roger for a pirate flag. However, Quelch flew nothing more than the a privateer’s flag of St. George.

They should take care how they brought Money into New England to be Hanged for it. – John Quelch – last words

There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island. – Walt Disney

I don’t really know much about pirates, or pirate culture. I’d be a contrarian pirate. – Todd Barry

There’s very little admirable about being a pirate. There’s very little functional about a pirate. There’s very little real about a pirate. – Will Oldham

Also on this day: What Was That? – In 1908, the Tunguska event occurs.
Tight Rope – In 1859, Charles Blondin crossed the Niagara Falls on a tightrope.
Brilliant – In 1905, Einstein published a paper.
Monkeying Around – In 1860, an Oxford debate on evolution is held.

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