Saturday, 7 September 2013

"The first worldwide manhunt in recorded history."

The Ganj-i-Sawai or Gang-i-Sawai (meaning "Exceeding Treasure", and often Anglicized as Gunsway) was a heavily armed trading ship belonging to the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb which, along with its escort the Fateh Muhammed, was captured on 7 September 1695 by the English pirate Henry Every en route from present day Mocha, Yemen to Surat, India.

In August 1695, 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 had eluded the pirate fleet during the night, the following day they encountered the Ganj-i-Sawai, and its escort Fateh Muhammed, both stragglers passing the straits en route to Surat.

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

Every now sailed in pursuit of the Ganj-i-Sawai, overtaking her about eight days out of Surat. The Ganj-i-Sawai was a fearsome opponent, mounting 62 guns and a musket-armed guard of four to 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, killing some of its gunners and 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.

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. The pirates raped women on the ship, and some of the women committed suicide by jumping into the sea.The other survivors were left aboard their ships, which the pirates set free.

The loot from the Ganj-i-Sawai totalled between £325,000 and £600,000, including 500,000 gold and silver pieces. Every and the surviving pirate captains set sail for Réunion, where they shared out £1,000 and some gemstones to every man in the crew.

The plunder of Ganj-i-sawai caused considerable damage to England's fragile relations with the Mughals. In response to Every's attack, a combined bounty of £1,000—an immense sum by the standards of the time—was offered for his capture by the Privy Council and the East India Company, leading to the first worldwide manhunt in recorded history. Every and  his crew fled to the Bahamas, briefly sheltering in New Providence, a known pirate haven. After adopting aliases, the crew broke company, most choosing to sail home to the British Isles and the rest remaining in the British West Indies or taking to the North American colonies. Twenty-four of the pirates were eventually captured, and six were tried, convicted, and hanged in London in November 1696. Yet Every eluded capture, vanishing from all records in 1696; his whereabouts and activities after this period are unknown. Unconfirmed accounts state he may have changed his name and retired, quietly living out the rest of his life in either Britain or an unidentified tropical island, dying sometime after 1696.

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