Ancient Arabian coins could solve mystery of the King of the Pirates

Henry Every is the most successful pirate in history, terrorizing the Red Sea. But after pulling off arguably the greatest heist in piracy, he vanished.

A women walks her dog under a dark sky past the Black Pearl driftwood pirate ship on New Brighton beach near Wallasey in Britain January 26, 2016. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A women walks her dog under a dark sky past the Black Pearl driftwood pirate ship on New Brighton beach near Wallasey in Britain January 26, 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Could the seemingly innocuous discovery of a handful of old coins in New England be the clue to finding the whereabouts of the most successful pirate in history?
That may be the case, according to amateur historian Jim Bailey, who believes he may just have found the biggest lead in centuries to solving history's first worldwide manhunt.
The subject of the manhunt in question is the 17th-century pirate named Henry Every, though he was also known as Henry Avery and often used several aliases. While much of his early life is unknown and the subject of scholarly dispute, it is well-established that he made his name for himself as a notorious pirate, preying on ships in the Red Sea.
 At the time, the Red Sea was a major hotspot for piracy, as the sea was rife with rich ships - often from India - bound for Mecca for the Hajj pilgrimage.
But among the pirates who plundered the Middle Eastern waterway, none were as successful as Every. On board his 46-gun Man-of-war ship named Fancy, Every's red flag waved in many of his many raids and plunder-filled missions.
Every had a number of notable exploits in his career, and had worked alongside a number of other notable pirates of the era. Indeed, his reputation was such that many would later call him "the Arch Pirate" and "the King of the Pirates."
But his most famous accomplishment came on September 7, 1695, when Every's crew seized what is likely the greatest prize in the history of piracy: The Gaj-i-Sawai, a royal vessel personally owned by one of the most powerful men in the world at time: Indian Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb.
The exact value of the prize is unknown, and historians, as well as contemporary accounts, disputed the exact value of the ship and its contents. The Mughal Empire had estimated its value to be of around £300,000 while insurance claims were put at  £600,000 (the equivalent of around $400 million). In any case, even at its lowest estimates, the prize was astronomical, with historian Jan Rogoziński stating that even in its low estimates, "only two or three times in history did criminals take more valuable loot."
The repercussions for this raid resulted in the Mughal Empire being infuriated, essentially cutting off all trade ties with England while a massive manhunt was called to capture the pirate.
But no one ever did. Amazingly, Every managed to abscond with all of his loot. After dividing up the prize with his crew in the Bahamas, Every set sail for the British Isles in 1696. And from there, he disappears from the pages of history without a trace.
But these coins may finally have tracked the King of the Pirates down after over 300 years, suggesting he may have headed to the American colonies to hide out with his ill-gotten gains.
According to Bailey, the coins spotted throughout New England are dated back to the 17th century in Arabia. And since American colonists rarely traveled to the Middle East at the time to make a living for trade, it didn't seem likely it came from a local.
Since 2014, 15 more Arabian counts have been found in New England - an additional one was found in North Carolina, where evidence shows that at least some of Every's crew had come after they split in the Caribbean, according to the Associated Press.
Bailey suggests that Every had essentially hidden in plain sight, sailing to the bustling trade hub of Newport, Rhode Island to pose as a slave trader.
He claims records support this, with a ship named Seaflower used by some of Every's crew having arrived with slaves in Newport. Back in 2019, Bailey had spoken to the Providence Journal about his efforts tracking down Every based on the coins he had uncovered. Using only primary sources, he had found a link to a deed of land for a pirate given by a sheriff in Rhode Island, and eventually found the arrival of the Seaflower, just three weeks after Every left the Bahamas, and before he arrived in Ireland on a ship of the same name.
While Bailey is admittedly just an amateur historian and archaeologist, academics familiar with the work seem to think these finds are promising, according to AP, with many historians intrigued at the possibility of finding the metaphorical smoking gun.
Of course, more information is needed to tie the coins to the final whereabouts of history's most successful pirate. But what is certain is that Every's resting place, and likely the rest of his treasure, is still out there and waiting.