One night in May of 1694, the captain of the English expeditionary ship Charles II was awakened by the sound of cannon fire. He was surprised to feel rolling waves beneath him—his ship was supposed to be safely docked in a Spanish port. Rushing to the quarterdeck, he found his first mate, a man from Devonshire named Henry Every, who explained that the ship had cut anchor and gone to sea. “At sea!” said the bewildered captain. “How can that be?” Every’s answer was to the point: “I am captain of the ship now, and this is my cabin.”
He was three centuries ahead of Tom Hanks’s Somali captor in the film Captain Phillips—“Look at me, I’m the captain now!”—but his essential message was the same: Every was now a pirate, and the vessel, fast on the water and outfitted with 46 guns, was now his pirate ship.