18 August 1696
By August of 1696, Henry Every had already pulled off the greatest pirate heist of all time. He had taken the Charles II, renamed it Fancy, and sailed to the Indian Ocean to hunt Moghul shipping. He and his crew had captured the Fateh Muhammand and then the Gang-i-Sawai, solidifying themselves in the annals of pirate history with treasures of almost immeasurable proportions. And then they all disappeared.
There were rumors that they had sailed to the Caribbean, with evidence of them selling some of their treasures at St Thomas. They had also attempted to make port at Eleuthera, in the Bahamas. Four of Every's men had rowed ashore with a letter addressed to Governor Nicholas Trott. They were posing as slavers recently returned from the African coast, and asking for safe harbor in return for a bribe from each member of the crew. Additionally, their captain, a "Henry Bridgeman," was offering the Fancy to the governor as a prize. Governor Trott was agreeable to the terms and met with "Capt Bridgeman" shortly thereafter. Trott promised the crew safe harbor, and the 113 men came ashore. It is unknown whether Trott knew at the time that he was dealing with Henry Every, but it wouldn't have been long before he made the connection.
By the time the proclamation against Every and his crew finally reached the Bahamas, Trott was mired deep in complicity. In order to save face and likely his reputation, he disclosed the location of the pirates to the East India Company and the Royal Navy, but not before alerting Every and the crew, giving them ample time to make their escape. As the crew scattered into the wind, some staying in the West Indies, some sailing back to England, Every sowed as many seeds of doubt as he could. He told his crew several stories about where he planned on going, likely in the hope of confounding any efforts that might be mounted to find him. With the exception of a few later stories about Every sightings, he was never seen again.
The proclamation from the Privy Council at Edinburgh can be read in full below:
PROCLAMATION For Apprehending Henry Every, alias Bridgeman, and sundry other Pirates.
WILLIAM By the Grace of GOD, King of Great-Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, To _____ Macers of Our Privy Council, Messengers at Arms, Our Sheriffs in that part Conjunctly and severally, specially Constitute Greet∣ing, For as much as, We are Informed that Henry Every, alias Bridgeman, together with several other Persons, En∣glish Men, Scots Men, and Foraigners, to the Number of about One Hundred and Thirty, did Steal, and Run away with the Ship called the Phausie, alias Charles, of Fourty six Guns from the Port of Corunns in Spain, and Commit se∣veral Acts of Pyrracy under English Colours upon the Seas of India or Persia Contrary to the Law of Nations, and of this Kingdom in particular; And that the said Henry Every, and severals of his Accomplices, since, Committing of the saids Acts of Pyrracy, having left the said Ship in the Island of Providence, are Returned to, and have Dispersed themselves within this Our antient Kingdom, thinking, and intending thereby to Save & Shelter themselves from the Punishment & Execution of Law Due to such Hainous and Notorious Offenders: And We being Resolved, that outmost Diligence shall be Used for Seizing, and Apprehending the Persons of such Open and Villanous Transgressors; Do therefore, with Advice of the Lords of Our Privy Council, Require, and Command, the Sheriffs of the several Shires, Stewarts of Stewartries, Baillies of Regalities, and their Respective Deputs, Magistrats of Burghs, Officers of Our Army, Commanders of Our Forces and Garisons, and all others Imployed, or Trusted by Us in any Station what∣soever, Civil or Military within this Kingdom, and Our Good Subjects whatsoever within the same, to do their outmost lndeavour and Dili∣gence to Seize upon, and Apprehend the Persons of the said Henry Every, alias Bridgeman, together with James Cray, Thomas Summerton, Edward Kirwood, William Down, John Reddy, John Stroger, Nathaniel Pike, Peter Soans, Henry Adams, Francis Frennier Tho∣mas Johnson, Joseph Dauson, Samuel Dauson, James Lewis, Jehn Sparks, Joseph Goss, Charles Falconer, James Murray, Robert Rich, John Mi∣ler, John King, Edward Savil, William Philips, Thomas Jope, and Thomas Belish, his Accomplices, or any of them, and such others as were with them in the said Ship (who may be Probably known and Discovered by the Great Quantities of Person and Indian Gold and Silver which they have with them) and Deliver him or them Prisoners to the next Magistrat of any of Our Burghs, to be by them keeped in safe Custody until farther Order be taken for bringing him or them to such Coodign Punishment as their Crime does Deserve, and out of De∣testation to such a Horrid villany, and to the Effect the same may not go Un-punished; and for Incouraging the Magistrats above-named, and any other of Our Good Subjects to Search for, and Apprehend such Nottrorious Rogues: We with Advice foresaid do make Offer, and Assure the Payment of the Sum of Five Hundred Pounds Sterling for the said Henry Every, alias Bridgeman, and Fiftieth Pounds Sterling Money foresaid for every one of the other Persons above-named to any Person or Persons who shail Seize and Apprehend them or any of them, and Deliver him or them Prisoners to any of the Magistrats of Our Burghs, which shall be Truely and Faithfully payed, as a Reward to the said Person or Persons who shall Apprehend and Deliver Prisoner to any of Our Magistrats the saids Henry Every, or any other of his Ac∣complices above-named, Indemnifying hereby all and every one of Our Subjects from any Hazard of Slaughter, Mutilation, or other Acts of Violence which they may Commit against the said Henry Every, or any of his Accomplices, or any Persons that shall Assist them, to Hinder and Oppose their being Seized and Taken: And We with Advice foresaid Peremptorly Inhibit and Discharge all, and every one of Our Subjects whatsomever to Shelter, Harbour, Conceal, or any ways Assist, or Supply the said Henry Every, or any of his Accomplices above-named upon their Highest Peril. OUR WILL IS HEREFORE, and We Charge you Strictly, and Command, that Incontinent these Our Letters seen, ye pass to the Mercat-Corss of Edinburgh, and Remanent Mercat Crosses of the Head-Burghs of the several Shires and Stewartries within this Kingdom, and there in Our Name and Authority make Intimation here of that none may pretend Ignorance, And Ordains these Pre∣sents to be Printed.
Given under Our Signet at Edinburghthe Eighteenth Day of August, and of Our Reign the Eighth Year, 1696. Per Actum Dominorum Secreti Concilii.DA. MONCRIEFF. Cls. Sti. Concilii.
GOD Save the King.