The Tryals of Joseph Dawson, Edward Forseith, William May, William Bishop, James Lewis, and John Sparkes. For Several Piracies and Robberies by them committed, in the company of EVERY the Grand Pirate, near the Coasts of the East-Indies; and several other places on the seas...

EVERY Henry. (1696.)

£11000.00  [First Edition]


Giving an account of their Villainous Robberies and Barbarities. At the Admiralty Sessions, begun at the Old Baily on the 29th of October, 1696. and ended on the 6th. of November.

First edition. Folio. Modern quarter calf, the text somewhat browned with a little dampstaining. Old bibliographical clipping formerly tipped to title-page at upper gutter, now loose. 28pp. London, Printed for John Everingham, Bookseller at the Star in Ludgate-Street,

Henry Every (sometime Avery) aka Long Ben, the Arch Pirate, and King of the Pirates, was the most successful pirate of the so-called Golden Age of sea-going miscreants. Leading a bloodless mutiny against privateer Captain Gibson of the Charles II, Every, who had experience in the slave trade, made full use of this fast ship, now renamed the Fancy, sailing for the Indian ocean. Once there, he raced it to overhaul and maraud, boasting, untruthfully, that he never boarded an English merchantman.  


The spoils of his ventures were extraordinary in today's money: some 63 million pounds. After the capture of the Grand Moghul's treasure ship returning from Mecca to India with royal pilgrims and laden with jewels and gold, and various other prizes taken in both the Atlantic and Indian oceans the principals received over £1000 each with shares reducing, depending on piratical contribution, with a minimum payable of £110 for interns. One of these apprentices had his wages stolen by the co-accused John Sparkes, and by here testifying for the Crown got his revenge. The cruise ended at New Providence in the Bahamas, where the Governor was paid an enormous bribe to allow them to land. Tipped off about a proclamation newly arrived from England making them outlaws and placing a £500 price on Every's head, a sum later doubled by the East India Company, the party dispersed, mainly to America, some to Ireland and some within the West Indies. A few chanced their arms and attempted a return to England and of these some were captured. The main witness for the Crown was pardoned and was able to set himself up as a banker. Every was never caught having spread many a different tale of his intended whereabouts. According to Johnson, but entirely uncorroborated, he returned to his native Devon but died a pauper having frittered away his enormous wealth. The success of his ventures is thought to have engendered an era of piratical activity catalogued by Johnson in 1724/6.


The seizure of the Moghul's bounty strained diplomatic relations to the extreme and the government required scapegoats. These six unfortunates were the only members of his crew (thought to have numbered over one hundred men) brought to justice. The eight herein named were captured, but two were pardoned for testifying against their crewmates, and another had his sentence commuted. The initial trial resulted in acquittal, but the Crown hastily convened a second on different charges. Sparkes was the only member of the condemned to admit guilt.


This printed trial though held in some number institutionally has seldom been offered for sale. This example has tipped to the inner margin a note from the Anderson Gallery sale of either 1919 or 1920. From the description of the binding our copy appears to be the first of these. Apart from these two entries which comment on the extreme rarity of the trial, Rare Book hub records no other copy at auction in the last hundred years.


Wing, T2252; Gosse, p.68-69.

Stock Code: 232710

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