Ancient Coins Suggest Notorious Pirate Hid in America

Arabic coins linked to Capt. Henry Every found across New England
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 2, 2021 10:30 AM CDT
Subject of World's First Manhunt Traced to America
A 17th century Arabian silver coin that research shows was struck in 1693 in Yemen, rests against a piece of 17th century broken pottery featuring a likeness of Queen Mary, on a table in Warwick, RI, on March 11, 2021.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

A handful of Arabic coins unearthed from a pick-your-own-fruit orchard in rural Rhode Island and other random corners of New England may help solve one of the planet's oldest cold cases. The villain in this tale: a murderous English pirate who became the world's most-wanted criminal after plundering a ship carrying Muslim pilgrims home to India from Mecca in 1695, then eluded capture by posing as a slave trader. "It's a new history of a nearly perfect crime," Jim Bailey, an amateur historian and metal detectorist who found the first intact 17th-century Arabian coin at an orchard in Middletown in 2014, tells the AP. That ancient pocket change—minted in Yemen in 1693, making it among the oldest ever found in North America—could explain how pirate Capt. Henry Every vanished into the wind after one of the most lucrative and heinous robberies of all time.

His band had captured a royal vessel carrying tens of millions of dollars' worth of gold and silver, torturing, raping, and killing its occupants, before escaping to the Bahamas. English King William III then put a large bounty on their heads, launching what's known as the world's first manhunt. But until now, historians only knew that Every sailed to Ireland in 1696, where the trail went cold. Bailey says the 15 coins he and others have found in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, and North Carolina, are evidence the notorious pirate first made his way to the American colonies. The pirates are thought to have sailed along the Eastern seaboard with Every posing as a slave trader. He even acquired Black captives at the French island of Reunion on his way to the Bahamas, says Bailey, whose findings are published in a research journal of the American Numismatic Society.

(More pirates stories.)

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