[Also: cite to Bejean, Roberts, Barry — case of Richard Chasmore …]

William J. Cole, “Ancient coins may solve mystery of murderous 1600s pirate,” Associated Press, https://apnews.com/article/ancient-coins-may-solve-mystery-1600s-pirate-f5a6151b74e0dcf96de585eab451f90c


“It’s a new history of a nearly perfect crime,” said Jim Bailey, an amateur historian and metal detectorist who found the first intact 17th-century Arabian coin in a meadow in Middletown.

That ancient pocket change — among the oldest ever found in North America — could explain how pirate Capt. Henry Every vanished into the wind.

On Sept. 7, 1695, the pirate ship Fancy, commanded by Every, ambushed and captured the Ganj-i-Sawai, a royal vessel owned by Indian emperor Aurangzeb, then one of the world’s most powerful men. Aboard were not only the worshipers returning from their pilgrimage, but tens of millions of dollars’ worth of gold and silver.


Research confirmed the exotic coin was minted in 1693 in Yemen. That immediately raised questions, Bailey said, since there’s no evidence that American colonists struggling to eke out a living in the New World traveled to anywhere in the Middle East to trade until decades later.

Since then, other detectorists have unearthed 15 additional Arabian coins from the same era — 10 in Massachusetts, three in Rhode Island and two in Connecticut. Another was found in North Carolina, where records show some of Every’s men first came ashore.

“It seems like some of his crew were able to settle in New England and integrate,” said Sarah Sportman, state archaeologist for Connecticut, where one of the coins was found in 2018 at the ongoing excavation of a 17th-century farm site.

“It was almost like a money laundering scheme,” she said.

Although it sounds unthinkable now, Every was able to hide in plain sight by posing as a slave trader — an emerging profession in 1690s New England. On his way to the Bahamas, he even stopped at the French island of Reunion to get some Black captives so he’d look the part, Bailey said.

Obscure records show a ship called the Sea Flower, used by the pirates after they ditched the Fancy, sailed along the Eastern seaboard. It arrived with nearly four dozen slaves in 1696 in Newport, Rhode Island, which became a major hub of the North American slave trade in the 18th century.

“There’s extensive primary source documentation to show the American colonies were bases of operation for pirates,” said Bailey, 53, who holds a degree in anthropology from the University of Rhode Island and worked as an archaeological assistant on explorations of the Wydah Gally pirate ship wreck off Cape Cod in the late 1980s.

Bailey, whose day job is analyzing security at the state’s prison complex, has published his findings in a research journal of the American Numismatic Society, an organization devoted to the study of coins and medals.

Jim’s research is impeccable,” said Kevin McBride, a professor of archaeology at the University of Connecticut. “It’s cool stuff. It’s really a pretty interesting story.”

Mark Hanna, an associate professor of history at the University of California-San Diego and an expert in piracy in early America, said that when he first saw photos of Bailey’s coin, “I lost my mind.”

“Finding those coins, for me, was a huge thing,” said Hanna, author of the 2015 book, “Pirate Nests and the Rise of the British Empire.” “The story of Capt. Every is one of global significance. This material object — this little thing — can help me explain that.”


Teresa M. Bejan, Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2019), 63, 157

Richard Chasmore accused by two Indian witnesses of “engaging in multiple acts of bestiality with his cows” — “Chasmore had gone on the lam (so to speak) and was apprehended when he came back for his herd. But he was ultimately acquitted by his Pawtuxet neighbors, who dismissed the eyewitnesses as ‘Barbarians,’ just as Williams had feared.”

p. 157 mention of “Richard Chasmore, caught in flagrante with his cows.”

note 44 — 1656–57

Mostyn Roberts, The Subversive Puritan: Roger Williams and Freedom of Conscience (Darlington, UK: EP Books/Evangelical Press, 2019), 173-74.

“No witnesses turned up for the Chasmore case.” — act occurred on Pawtuxet land, disputed between Rhode Island and Massachusetts Bay

John M. Barry, Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty (New York: Penguin, 2012), 371 ff. [detailed account]

Richard Chasmore was a ruffian of ill repute, a rounder who traded liquor and guns to Indians, a randy man known as “Long Dick” — a nickname which meant the same thing four hundred years ago as today. And he was observed by several Indians buggering a heifer in Pawtuxet, a crime with a potential death sentence in every jurisdiction in England or New England. (371)

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