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Henry Avery

A contemporary depiction of Every, with the Fancy engaging his prey in the background. Henry, Avery, Every
A contemporary depiction of Every, with the Fancy engaging his prey in the background.

Henry Every is a pirate famous for being one of the few major pirate captains to retire with his loot without being arrested or killed in battle.

A sailor from youth first serving on various ships, later he had entered the Atlantic slave trade, in which he was known to buy slaves on the West African coast, then seize the slave traders themselves and chain them in his ship’s hold alongside their former captives. Every only made one voyage in his capacity as a pirate captain. But in that single journey he succeeded in committing the single richest crime in history.

Mutiny and ascension to captaincy

Every was anchored in Spain serving as first mate to an popular Captain when he succeeded in a  mutiny and set the Captain ashore. Then, renaming the ship the Fancy and sailed for the Cape of Good Hope.

On the way he committed his first piracy, robbing three English merchantmen. Next he had the Fancy careened and razeed her, cutting away some of her superstructure to improve her speed. With this modification, the Fancy became one of the fastest ships sailing in the Indian Ocean. Every promptly exploited his new speed advantage to capture a passing French pirate ship, looting the vessel and recruiting some forty of the crew to join his own company. His total strength was now a hundred and fifty men.

Every wrote a letter addressed to the English ship commanders in the Indian Ocean, falsely stating that he had not attacked any English ships, describing a signal English skippers could use to identify themselves so he could avoid them, and warning them that he might not be able to restrain his crew from plundering their ships if they failed to use the signal.

Avary sells his Jewels: this was originally published in Pyle, Howard (June-November 1887). "Buccaneers and Marooners of the Spanish Main  Second Paper". Harper's Magazine 75 (448): p. 502. New York, United States: Harper and Brothers.
Avary sells his Jewels: this was originally published in Pyle, Howard (June-November 1887). “Buccaneers and Marooners of the Spanish Main  Second Paper”. Harper’s Magazine 75 (448): p. 502. New York, United States: Harper and Brothers.

Taking the Fateh and Ganj-I-Sawai

Every and the Fancy reached the Mandab Strait, where he teamed up with four other pirate ships, including Thomas Tew’s sloop Amity. Although a 25-ship Mughal convoy bound for India eluded the pirate fleet during the night, the following day they encountered the greatest ship in Aurangzeb’s fleet, the Ganj-I-Sawai, and its escort the Fateh, both passing the straits en route to Surat.

Every and his men attacked the Fateh, which had earlier repulsed an attack by the Amity, killing Captain Tew. Intimidated by the Fancy’s 46 guns and weakened by their earlier battle with Tew, the Fateh’s crew put up little resistance, and Every’s pirates sacked the ship for 50,000 gold pieces worth of treasure.

Every now sailed in pursuit of the Ganj-I-Sawai, overtaking her eight days latter. The Ganj-I-Sawai was a fearsome opponent, mounting 62 guns and a musket-armed guard of five hundred, as well as six hundred other passengers. But the opening volley evened the odds, as one of the Indian ship’s cannons exploded, causing great confusion and demoralization among the crew, while Every’s broadside shot his enemy’s mainmast by the board. The Fancy drew alongside the Ganj-I-Sawai and the pirates clambered aboard.

A ferocious hand-to-hand battle ensued, in which Every’s outnumbered crew lost many men. However, the superior Indian force was let down by its leader, Ibrahim Khan, who rushed below and hid among his concubines. After two hours of fierce but leaderless resistance, the Indians surrendered.

The victorious pirates then subjected their captives to several days of horror, raping and murdering prisoners at will, and using torture to force them to reveal the location of the ships’ treasure. Some of the women committed suicide to avoid violation or humiliation. Those women who did not kill themselves or die from the pirates’ brutality were taken aboard the Fancy. The other survivors were left aboard their ships, which the pirates set free.

The loot from the Ganj-I-Sawai totalled 600,000 gold pieces. Every and the surviving pirate captains set sail for Réunion, where they shared out 1,000 gold pieces and some gemstones to every man in the crew.

Return and disappearance

The Tryals of Joseph Dawson, Edward Forseith, William May, William Bishop, James Lewis, and John Sparkes (London: Everingham, 1696)
The Tryals of Joseph Dawson, Edward Forseith, William May, William Bishop, James Lewis, and John Sparkes (London: Everingham, 1696)

Every and the Fancy parted from their allies and set course for Nassau. Every took on 90 slaves on the way. He also stopped to take on supplies, defrauding the sellers. The Fancy’s next stop was St. Thomas, where the pirates sold some of their booty. Finally they reached Nassau, where they bribed the Governor to give them refuge.

Unable to buy a pardon, Every’s crew split up, some heading to North America, while the majority, including Every, returned to Britain, landing in Ireland. The female prisoners were not aboard, and it is unknown whether they escaped, were released, or were murdered.

Every has never been seen again. His last words to his men were a litany of conflicting stories of where he planned to go, doubtless intended to throw pursuers off his trail.


Pirate flag of Henry Every
Pirate flag of Henry Every

The plunder of Aurangzeb’s treasure ship had serious consequences for the East India Company. The furious Mughal emperor closed four of the company’s factories in India and imprisoned their officers, blaming them for their countryman’s robberies and murders. To appease Aurangzeb, Every was exempted from all of the several pardons and amnesties it would subsequently issue to pirates. It was partly the hope of catching Every that motivated several of England’s most powerful Whigs to commission Captain William Kidd to hunt down pirates in the Indian Ocean.

Every’s flag was a white skull in profile wearing a kerchief and an earring, above a saltire of two white crossed bones, on a black field.

Henry Every
Human CR 14
XP 38400
Any Medium humanoid
Expert level 16 (skill points 128) Sea Captain, Rogue level 7 (skill points 70) Bluffer (Pirate)
Init +1; Senses ; Perception +21
AC 15, Touch 12, flat footed 13 (+1 Leather) (+1 Dexterity, +3 armour, +1 feats)
hp 96 (0d8+16d8+7d8+-23+16);
Fort +6, Ref +11, Will +12
Speed 30
Single Attack(+2/+2) Rapier +21 (1d6+2/18-20) Unholy or (+2/+2) Pistol, double-barreled +21 (1d8+2 X4) Seeking
Full Attack (+2/+2) Rapier +21/16/11/6 (1d6+2/18-20) Unholy or (+2/+2) Pistol, double-barreled +21 (1d8+2 X4) range 20 Seeking
Space 5ft.; Reach 5
Special Attacks
Sneak Attack Sneak attack at an extra (D6) 4
Strength 11, Dexterity 12, Constitution 9, Intelligence 12, Wisdom 10, Charisma 16 + 2 = 18
Base Attack 17 CMB 17 ; CMD 29
Feats: Assault Leader (Ex), Fast Stealth, Alertness, Armour Prof Light, Catch off Guard, Combat Reflexes, Dodge, Evasion, Exotic Weapon Prof, Honeyed Words (Ex), Martial Weap Prof, Master of Disguise (Ex), Sea Legs, Simple Weapon Proficiency, Skill Focus (Bluff), Skill Focus (Intimidate), Weapon Finesse, Weapon Focus, Weapon Focus(Ranged);
Skills Acrobatics 21, Appraise 13, Bluff 32, Climb 17, Craft Wood Working 9, Diplomacy 9, Disable Device 1, Disguise 17, Escape Artist 13, Intimidate 31, Know Dungeon 1, Know Geography 12, Know Local 11, Know Nobility 2, Linguistics 18, Perception 21, Profession Merchant 2, Profession Sailor 23, Sense Motive 14, Sleight of Hand 1, Stealth 18, Swim 13, Use Magic Device 14
Languages Common
Evasion Reflex save no damage instead of 1/2
Reduce Class Feats reduce by 1

Sea Legs (Ex) Gains feat

Swinging Reposition (Ex) In light armor on ship can reposition. After making a charge or bull rush, can move 5 ft

Uncanny Dodge Retains Dexterity bonus if flat footed

Unflinching (Ex) saving throws against fear and mind-affecting effects bonus = 2

Environment Any
Organization Company 10-20, Band 30-100, Squad 4-8
Treasure Standard
MAGIC ITEMS (max value 34800), Total Value = 59500
+1 Leather (1150gp), Cloak of charisma (+2) +2 CHR (4000gp), Elixir of vision +10 search (250gp), Dust of disappearance – (3500gp), +2 (+2 special ability) Rapier (32300gp), Unholy : +2d6 damage against good alignment (+2 bonus), +2 (+1 special ability) Pistol, double-barreled (18300gp), Seeking : Negates any miss chances that would apply, such as from concealment. (+1 bonus)
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