Before entering into Spanish
pay as a privateer
in 1693, Avery (b. Plymouth
1665) was a captain in the Royal Navy
. Capturing the British vessel Charles II
, he changed the name to the Fancy
and embarked on a career in Madagascar
as a pirate
, using the alias
es Long Ben and Captain Bridgeman. Soon he had as many as six ships under his command, and was able to capture the Indian Moghul
's ship Gang-ir-Sawai
, carrying pilgrim
s and treasure from Surrat
, earning him £325,000.
In September 1695, Avery's fleet lay in wait outside Mocha for the pilgrim fleet to arrive. Avery was not alone. Also waiting for the fleet were American pirates Captain Joseph Farrow, Captain William Maze, Captain Henry Farrow, Captain Wake and Captain Want. Off Cape Saint John, the first ship was plundered, with the capture of about 60,000 pounds of gold and silver. A number of days later, the Gan-ir-Sawai was attacked and, surprisingly, as it had somewhere in the vicinity of 40 guns and 400 rifles, captured. Following the capture of the fleet, the pirates raped their way through the captured women, rumored to include the Moghul's daughter.
In October 1696 six members of Avery's crew were captured and executed, however he himself was never found.
His brutal treatment of the passengers of the Gang-ir-Sawai made the Moghul furious, demanding retribution from the British authorities, threatening to exclude all Englishmen and the East India Company from India unless Avery was caught, something the British failed to do, insuring ill-treatment of the English in India for many years, causing problems for other pirates such as the infamous pirate William Kid.
Avery returned to England via the Caribbean, and was never seen again. Legend maintains that he lived out the rest of his days on a tropical island as the king of pirates, although a more likely story is that he returned to England and took up residence in Bideford in Deavon, passing on his riches to merchants to sell for him in Bristol. However, Avery never received his money, as he was double-crossed and he himself was robbed.
In his short career, lasting only three years, Avery worked his way into legend as the most infamous pirate of his time. Although today not as well-known as pirates such as Blackbeard, Avery was one of the few pirates who were not only successful but also lived to tell the tale.