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John Avery
Henry Avery, Long Ben,
Benjamen Bridgeman

  Title: English Writer
Known Ships: The Fancy

Captain Avery is one of the few pirates of the Golden Age who was able to retire from piracy and live out his life without being arrested or killed in battle. It is also claimed that he lead the single most profitable pirate raid in history.



The Story of Captain John Avery:
Adapted from the writings of Captain Charles Johnson

Avery was born in England near Plymouth. Even from a young age Avery was well adept for life at sea. Notably, Avery served as the first Mate aboard the merchant-man, The Duke, serving under Captain Gibson. Being a man of great cunning, Avery quickly settled himself into the good will of several of the boldest members of the crew. After gaining the favor of the crew, he proposed that a mutiny be staged. By tempting the crew with stories of the great wealth that was to be had upon the Coasts of India, Avery convinced them to run away with the ship. By ten o'clock the following night their plan was in motion. At this time the Captain (who was quite fond of drink) was already passed out and locked away in his cabin; So the crew made leisurely work out of weighing the anchor, and put to sea without any disorder or confusion. It was not 'till moments later that the Captain was awoken by the motion of the ship. And upon his waking, rung the bell. In response, Avery and two others went to his cabin. Half asleep and in a kind of fright the Captain asked, What was is Matter? Avery answered coolly, Nothing; to this the Captain replied, Something's the matter with the ship, has she been driven from her anchor? What weather is it? No, no, answered Avery, we're at Sea, with a fair wind and good weather. At Sea! says the Captain, How can that be?
Come, says Avery, don't be in fright, put on your clothes and I'll let you into a Secret:––

"You must know, that I am Captain of this Ship now, and this is now my Cabin, therefore you must walk out; I am bound for Madagascar with the design of making my own fortune."

The Captain having recovered a bit of his senses began to apprehend the meaning of Avery's statement, and grew quite uneasy. Sensing this, Avery gave the deposed Captain an ultimatum:

"If you have the mind to make like one of us, we will receive you... if not, there is a long-boat awaiting you."

The Captain was glad to hear this proposal, as lesser men would have killed their deposed captains on the spot. The captain quickly left the ship, boarded the longboat and made for shore.

The Deposed Captain flees
The Captain Flees

The Crew and their new Captain proceeded on their voyage to Madagascar. When they arrived at the North Eastern part of the island they found two sloops at anchor, who upon seeing them, slipped their anchors and run themselves ashore. Once ashore, the men abandoned their ships and fled into the woods. It was later found that the men had run away with the two sloops, and seeing Avery, they supposed him to be some frigate sent to take them; Not being of force to engage him, they did what they could to save themselves. Avery sent some of his men ashore to let them know they were friends, and to offer that they might join together. The Sloops' Men were well armed and it took a considerable amount of explaining to convince them that Avery's offer was not a strategy to lure them aboard. But in the end the three ships allied themselves. After getting the two sloops off the shore, the three ships sailed out together upon a cruise and steered toward the Arabian Coast. Partway through their cruise, the lookout spied a sail, upon which they gave chase. As they came nearer to her, they perceived her to be  tall ship, and fancied she might be a Dutch East-India Man; but they grew nearer she proved to be a better prize. When Captain Avery's fleet fired upon her she hoisted Mogul's Colors, and seemed to stand upon her defense. In response Avery only cannonaded at a distance, and some of his men began to suspect that he was not the hero they took him for. However, the sloops, being much more swift, quickly overtook the Mogul ship and boarded her, upon which she immediately struck her colors and yielded. It was discovered that she was one of the Great Mogul's own ships and there were several of the greatest persons of his court aboard. Among whom it was said was one of his daughters.

Avery battles the Mogul Ship
Avery Battles the Great Mogul Ship

As was customary with the royalty of Eastern People of the time, they traveled with the utmost magnificence, so they had with them all their slaves and attendants, their rich habits and jewels, and great sums of money. Because of this the plunder received from this prize is not easily computed. In fact many argue that this was the single most profitable raid in pirate history. Having taken all the treasure on board their own ships, and plundered their prize of everything else the either wanted or liked, they let the Mogul ship go. Not being able to continue her voyage, the Mogul ship returned back. Meanwhile, Avery and his three ships made for Madagascar, where they intended to build a small fortification.

In this way a magazine and repository could be setup for their newly found wealth.While on their way to Madagascar Avery signaled the sloop Captains to come aboard his ship in order to hold a council. Upon doing so, Avery told them that he had something to propose, for the common good of the crew, which was to provide against accidents. Avery bade them to consider that once the treasure they now possessed was safely ashore it would surely be sufficient for them all to live quite soundly. Therefore all they had to fear was some misfortune in the voyage while at sea. He explained to them the consequences of being separated by bad weather. In which case, the sloops, if either of them were to fall in with any ships of force, would be either taken or sunk, and the treasure on board would be lost to the rest. Unlike the sloops, Avery's ship was strong gunned and well manned, so much so that he was able to holdfast against any ship they were likely to meet in those seas. Therefore Avery proposed them to put the treasure aboard his ship and appoint a rendezvous location, in case of separation. The sloop's Captains quickly accepted Avery's offer, as at the time it, appeared a seasonable proposition. Accidents were likely to happen while at sea, and if the sloops were to be separated they would be virtually defenseless alone, against any ship of force. So the treasure was put aboard Avery's ship and the voyage continued. The following night Avery and his ship's crew took advantage of the darkness and dowsing all their lights, steered a new course, leaving the two Sloops behind. By morning Avery and his crew were out of sight and miles away. I can only imagine the swearing and confusion there was among the Sloop's men when the morning's first light revealed Avery's treachery. Having successfully runaway with all the treasure Avery and his crew headed for America. Because no one knew of them in those parts they intended to divide the treasure, change their names, and go ashore to live in ease. Upon landing in America, the treasure was dispersed by the Captain amongst the crew. (actually Avery concealed the greatest part of the diamonds from them) Receiving their dividends, most of the crew dispersed themselves throughout New-England and are said to have lived quite well there. Some of the crew, including Avery, did not find America a proper place to settle, so the remaining crew made for Ireland. Avery made this choice because the majority of his wealth now lay in diamonds, and should he have produced them there in America he would have certainly been seized on suspicion of piracy.

Upon arriving in Ireland the crew disposed of their ship and coming ashore, spread themselves out across the country. Even here Avery was afraid to offer his diamonds for sale, fearing an enquiry into his manner of acquiring them. Avery decided that he would travel to England to put his diamonds into the hands of some merchants there. Because these men were Men of Wealth and Credit in the World they would not be enquired as to how they came by such diamonds. So Avery believed that if he offered a good commission, these men would do business quite faithfully. Avery only liked the idea because he found no other way of managing his affairs, since he could not appear in them himself. So he delivered his effects (consisting of diamonds and some vessels of gold) to the merchants. In return the merchants offered him a little money with the agreement that more was to be delivered after the goods were sold.
Captain Avery
Captain Avery

Avery changed his name and lived in England without making any figure, and therefore there was no great notice taken of him. In some time his little money was spent, yet he heard nothing from his merchants . He wrote to them often, and after much importunity they sent they sent him a small supply, but scarcely sufficient to pay his debts. The supplies they sent him from time to time were so small that they were not sufficient to give him bread, nor could he get the little he did without a great deal of trouble and importunity. Being weary of his life, Avery traveled to speak with the merchants himself. Instead of money he met a most shocking repulse. When Avery pressed the merchants for the money they owed him he was silenced by threats to discover him, so that our merchants were as good as pirates at land as he was at sea. Whether he was frightened by these menaces, or had seen somebody else he thought knew him, is not known; but Avery left England immediately and returned to Ireland. Yet he continued to solicit his merchants very hard for supply, but to no purpose, for he was even reduced to beggary. In this extremity he was resolved to return to England and cast himself upon them, let the consequences be what they would.  Avery boarded a trading vessel and worked his passage to England. From whence he traveled by foot to where the merchants resided, but upon arriving he fell sick and died, not being worth as much as would buy him a coffin.

Thus is the Story of Captain John Avery


Captain Avery's Flag



There is very little information regarding the flag flown by Captain Avery. The flag to the right is his supposed flag. However, the lack of evidence, and artistic style used, have lead most to the conclusion that it is simply an artistic creation, rather than a historically accurate depiction.





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