Pirate Round > Capture of the Ganj-i-Sawai

Capture of the Ganj-i-Sawai

Golden Age of Piracy - Chapter Decoration

Background

The Ganj-i-Sawai or Gang-i-Sawai which means "Exceeding Treasure" was a heavily armed merchant vessel that belonged to the Mughal Emperor named Aurangzeb and was captured on 7 September 1695 along with its escort named the Fateh Muhammed. The ships were captured in the Mandab Strait as they were headed on the pilgrimage to Mecca by the infamous pirate Henry Every and the Pirate Rounders who were based out of the island of Madagascar.

During this time at the closing of the 17th century the Buccaneering Era had ended and many pirates began the first Pirate Round which saw a rise in Indian Ocean piracy. In August of 1695 Every and his ship the Fancy met up with other pirate rounders including Thomas Tew and his ship the Amity. Here the pirates were looking to prey on merchant shipping in the East Indies. The night before the pirates had lost the twenty-five fleet convoy of the Mughals that was bound for India when they encountered the Ganj-i-Sawai and the Fateh Muhammed who had fell behind the rest of the convoy.

Earlier the Fateh Muhammed had defeated the Amity, killing Captain Tew in the process when Every and his pirates attack. However, weather they were battle worn from their earlier engagement with Tew or they were impressed by the 46-guns of the Fancy the crew put up little resistance to the pirates and the ship yielded £50,000 worth of goods and treasure. After capturing the Fateh Muhammed the pirates set out for the Ganj-i-Sawai which was about eight days out from Surat.

The Ganj-i-Sawai was a fearsome opponent and armed with about 400-500 soldiers and 62-guns along with over 600 other passengers. However, upon the opening volley of broadsides the Indian cannons exploded and killed some of the gunners and caused mass chaos and confusion among the crew. Every's broadside was able to hit the mainmast by the board which crippled the ship and allowed Every to pull his ship alongside it. Following this the pirates boarded the ship and quickly subjugated the crew.

Aftermath

After the capture of the ship the passengers and crew were subjugated to days of rape and murder to reveal the location of their treasure on the ship. The pirates raped many of the women and some of them chose to commit suicide by jumping overboard. After looting and plundering the ship for a few days the survivors were left aboard their ship and set free.

The total haul from the capture of the Ganj-i-Sawai was between £325,000 and £600,000 including 500,000 gold and silver coins. Following their massive capture of the Mughal treasure ship they set sail for the island of Ile-Bourbon where they split the loot to about £1,000 and some gemstones for each pirate.

Sources

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources