Henry Avery

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Henry Avery (aka Every) - Pirate (1659 - Unknown)

Also known as Henry Every, he became a privateer before turning to piracy. He is renowned for taking an exceptionally rich prize, and being one of few pirates to retire with his plunder.

This page details facts about Henry Avery's life and the events that shaped his history.

Henry Avery (aka Every) the Pirate - Fun Facts for Kids !
Henry Avery Fact   1: Henry Avery (also known as Every) was born near Plymouth in Devon in 1659.
Henry Avery Fact   2: Little is known of his early life, however In March 1689 Henry Avery was recorded as being a midshipman, under the command of Sir Francis Wheeler, aboard HMS Rupert, a battleship of sixty four guns.
Henry Avery Fact   3: During 1689, following HMS Rupert taking part in the capture of a French convoy, Henry Avery gained promotion to Master’s Mate. He transferred to HMS Albemarle with Wheeler during 1690 and in August that same year, he was discharged from the Royal Navy.
Henry Avery Fact   4: Following his discharge, Henry Avery became a slave trader. Not much is known about his time as a slave trader, however it is known that Henry Avery would trick the slave traders by using the English flag to make them think he was friendly, then he would imprison both the slaves and their traders.
Henry Avery Fact   5: In 1693, Henry Avery became first mate on an English warship the ‘Charles II’, that had been commissioned, with three other ships, by Spain (England’s ally at the time) to attack French ships in the West Indies. The Ships left the Thames in Early August and headed for the Spanish city of Corunna. The ships arrived at Corunna five months later. The reason for the delay remains unknown.
Henry Avery Fact   6: Henry Avery and the small fleet was kept waiting at Corunna as the legal paperwork required for the expedition, including the letters of marque, was not available. The crews were becoming troubled by their captivity and the fact that they hadn’t been paid. During this period of unrest, Henry Avery was actively moving between the ships encouraging the men to join him with the promise of taking them where they great wealth was to be found.
Henry Avery Fact   7: Henry Avery instigated the mutiny when he rushed the ‘Charles II’ with around twenty five others, on the 7th May 1694. Captain Gibson was confined to his bunk at the time so the mutiny was over without bloodshed. A longboat from the ’James’ pulled alongside and the sixteen occupants joined Henry Avery and the mutineers.
Henry Avery Fact   8: Henry Avery gave Gibson the choice of joining them or being put ashore in a longboat. He chose to go ashore, so Henry Avery called the rest of the crew on deck and gave them the choice as well. Fourteen or fifteen men chose to go ashore with Gibson.
Henry Avery Fact   9: Henry Avery changed the name of the ship to ‘Fancy’.
Henry Avery Fact 10: Henry Avery set sail and arrived at Maio, one of the Cape Verde islands, where they plundered provisions from three English ships. Henry Avery persuaded nine members of the crew to join them.
Henry Avery Fact 11: Henry Avery continued on to Guinea where, under the guise of trade, he tricked a local chieftain and his men out of a quantity of gold dust. Continuing along the African coast, Henry Avery stopped at the Bight of Biafra where the ship was cleaned then modified by removing parts of the superstructure. This allowed the ship to become one of the Atlantics fastest sailing vessels.
Henry Avery Fact 12: Henry Avery moved on to the island of Principe, where he took two Danish vessels. Henry Avery removed items that included some small arms, gold dust, linen and brandy. Approximately eighteen of the Danes joined the pirates, who also took the better of the two ships. The remainder of the Danes were put ashore and their other ship was set alight.
Henry Avery Fact 13: While on course for Cape Lopez, Henry Avery came across a Portuguese slave ship with whom he traded some of his provisions for silks and clothes. While at the cape, Avery purchased some honey and scuttled the smaller ship, as the crew weren’t happy with the commander.
Henry Avery Fact 14: After stopping at the island of Annobon (one of the Comoros islands) for provisions, Henry Avery sailed round the Cape of Good Hope to Madagascar, where he cleaned and provisioned the ship before heading for Johanna, an island between Madagascar and Africa. They took on more provisions and recruited thirteen French former privateers who had lost their ship at the island of Mohelli, another of the Comoros islands.
Henry Avery Fact 15: Henry Avery and his crew decided to head for the Red Sea. On the way they met with two English Privateers, the ‘Dolphin’, fitted out in Philadelphia and commanded by Richard Want, and the ‘Portsmouth Adventure’, fitted out in Rhode Island and commanded by Joseph Faro. Both ships had crews of around sixty, and both decided to join with Henry Avery.
Henry Avery Fact 16: The small fleet came upon the Island of Liparan (now known as Perim in the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb) at the entrance to the Red Sea, where three more English ships met with them. The ‘Susanna’ fitted out in Boston and commanded by Thomas Wake, the ‘Pearl’, fitted out in Rhode Island and commanded by William Mayes, and the Amity, fitted out in New York and commanded by Thomas Tew. They all agreed to join in partnership and elected Henry Avery as their overall commander.
Henry Avery Fact 17: Each of the five ships that joined with Henry Avery had come from the north east coast of America and their captains were in possession of privateering commissions.
Henry Avery Fact 18: They laid in wait for a Mughal fleet of twenty five ships to come down the Red Sea from Mocha. Having waited five or six days, they discovered that the fleet had passed them unseen, and decided to pursue them. The Dolphin proved too slow so the crew were brought aboard Henry Avery’s ship and the Pearl. The Dolphin was burned. The Amity also fell behind and never caught up. The remaining ships headed for Surat, which was the destination of the Mughal fleet.
Henry Avery Fact 19: After four or five days they caught up with one of the ships, the ‘Fateh Muhammed’, which was fulfilling the role of an escort ship. The ship was easily taken as its crew offered very little resistance. Henry Avery’s men plundered the ship taking silver and gold to the approximate value of £60,000.
Henry Avery Fact 20: Henry Avery then turned his attention to chasing another Mughal ship and caught up with the ‘Ganj-i-sawai’ a few days later. This ship was a large heavily armed vessel with eighty guns and four hundred guards armed with muskets. Although the Ganj-i-sawai made a daunting opponent, it was quickly disabled when its main mast was damaged by a broadside from Henry Avery.
Henry Avery Fact 21: Avery brought his ship alongside the Ganj-i-sawai, but his pirates were unable to climb aboard as they were being pinned down by musket fire. Then one of the Ganj-i-sawais cannons exploded leading to much death and confusion. Henry Avery and his men took the opportunity to climb aboard along with the crew of the Pearl, who had initially been reluctant to attack, and entered into a hand to hand battle which lasted for two or three hours with both side losing many men.
Henry Avery Fact 22: Henry Avery’s pirates overcame the Indians, and set to emptying the ship of its treasure. The pirates were brutal, torturing some of the Indians in an effort to find out where their money was. It was also said that many of the women were raped, and some killed themselves rather than be violated. Eventually Avery left the survivors to sail back to India in their empty ship.
Henry Avery Fact 23: The spoils were divided between the Fancy and the Pearl. The Portsmouth Adventure didn’t take part in the battle so didn’t get a share. During a later exchange of gold and silver between the crews of the Fancy and the Pearl, it became clear that the Pearls crew had clipped the gold which led to the treasure being confiscated and the Pearl being left with just enough to provision. At this point, the fleet went their separate ways.
Henry Avery Fact 24: Henry Avery headed for the island of Bourbon off the coast of West Africa, (now know as Reunion) arriving in November 1695. They divided the plunder, with each pirate getting around a £1,000 worth each plus a share of gemstones. Henry Avery then wanted to set sail for Providence (Nassau) in the Bahamas, but some of the crew objected and tried to start a mutiny. The mutiny failed, but those that didn’t want to go to Providence, stayed in Bourbon.
Henry Avery Fact 25:

The attack on the Ganj-i-sawai caused outrage and resulted in a Proclamation from King William III for the apprehension of Henry Avery the pirate, with a reward of £500. When the Fancy arrived at the island of St. Thomas, Avery sent some men to Providence with a letter addressed to the Governor, Sir Nicholas Trott.

The letter asked for permission for the Fancy and the crew to enter Providence and move around freely, in exchange for goods to the value of around £1,000 and the ship itself. The letter was signed by ‘Henry Bridgeman’ the name that Henry Avery had now adopted.

King William III of England

Picture of King William III of England

Henry Avery Fact 26: Trott agreed to the request so Henry Avery and the pirates settled there. After a while, the pirates became bored, and when the proclamation for the capture of Avery and his crew arrived, Trott tipped them off before alerting the authorities of their whereabouts. Henry Avery and his crew, with the exception of 24 men, managed to escape. At this point, all records of Henry Avery came to an end.
Henry Avery Fact 27: There has been much speculation over Henry Avery’s fate, but no credible evidence has ever come to light.
Henry Avery the Pirate (1659 - Unknown) Fun Facts Info for Kids !

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