17th-century coins may solve the mystery of murderous ‘King of Pirates’


A 17th century Arabian silver coin, top, that research shows was struck in 1693 in Yemen, rests near an Oak Tree Shilling minted in 1652 by the Massachusetts Bay Colony, below, and a Spanish half real coin from 1727, right, on a table, in Warwick, R.I., Thursday, March 11, 2021. The Arabian coin was found at a farm, in Middletown, R.I., in 2014 by metal detectorist Jim Bailey, who contends it was plundered in 1695 by English pirate Henry Every from Muslim pilgrims sailing home to India after a pilgrimage to Mecca. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

WARWICK, R.I. (NEXSTAR) — A handful of 17th-century Arabian silver coins unearthed across New England may help solve one of the planet’s oldest cold cases.

Amateur historian and metal detectorist Jim Bailey found the first intact coin in a Rhode Island orchard and discovered it was minted in 1693 in Yemen.

Other coins have turned up in Massachusetts and Connecticut, and Bailey has found documents tying them to legendary English pirate Henry Every, dubbed the “King of Pirates” by his contemporaries.

The murderous pirate became the subject of the first worldwide manhunt after plundering an Indian ship carrying Muslim pilgrims home from Mecca.

According to historical accounts, his band tortured and killed the men and raped the women aboard the ship, a royal vessel owned by Indian emperor Aurangzeb.

During the raid, he stole $108 million in precious metals and jewels, making him the richest pirate in the world.

It is believed that he escaped to the Bahamas, but where he ultimately ended up is unknown.

Bailey and other historians say the discovery of the coins is evidence that Every, who was never captured, hid in the American colonies for a time.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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