The Notorious Flag of Henry Every: A Symbol of Fear and Rebellion

Piracy has always remained an intriguing topic in popular culture that never fails to capture the imagination of people. And in the 17th century, Henry Every, also known as the “king of pirates,” added another chapter to the history of piracy. With his successful career and notorious reputation, Every’s life is a fascinating subject to explore. One of the most distinguishable aspects of the pirate’s legacy is his flag. In this article, we’ll delve into the history of Henry Every and piracy in the 17th century, the design and symbolism of his infamous flag, other famous pirate flags, the legacy of piracy and its symbols, and how pirate imagery continues to be popular today. So, let’s hoist the black flag and set sail on this thrilling adventure.

The History of Henry Every and Piracy in the 17th Century

The History Of Henry Every And Piracy In The 17Th Century
Henry Every was a notorious pirate who lived in the 17th century and was notoriously feared by seamen of his time. Every’s piracy career began when he was a sailor who became dissatisfied with the harsh conditions that sailors endured. He and a group of disgruntled sailors mutinied against their captain and commandeered the ship. Every and his crew then began to attack and loot ships across the seas, amassing significant wealth and becoming renowned pirates. At one point, they even attacked a fleet of Mughal ships, which was a significant achievement, as the Mughal Empire was a powerful force at that time. Every’s success as a pirate contributed to the golden age of piracy in the 17th century, inspiring countless others to follow in his footsteps. To learn more about notorious pirate captains and their flags, check out this list of 10 Notorious Pirate Captains and Their Flags.

The Rise of Henry Every

Henry Every was born in Plymouth, England, in 1659. He began his career at sea as a sailor in the Royal Navy, but soon became restless and joined the growing ranks of pirates in the late 17th century. Every rose to power quickly, gaining the respect of his crew for his bravery and tactical skills in battle.

In 1694, Every joined the crew of the Charles II, a pirate ship led by Captain Joseph Faro. After a successful raid on a French vessel in the Caribbean, Faro and Every became embroiled in a dispute over the division of the spoils. Every and a group of his supporters mutinied and took control of the ship, renaming it the Fancy. They then set their sights on the most lucrative target of the time: the Mughal Empire’s treasure-laden ships sailing from India to Mecca.

Every and his crew intercepted the Ganj-i-Sawai, one of the Mughal ships, off the coast of present-day Oman. They quickly overwhelmed the crew and plundered an enormous amount of gold, silver, and jewels – an estimated value of £600,000 at the time, which is equivalent to £90 million in modern currency. This was one of the richest heists in history and made Every and his crew instant legends among pirates and sailors alike.

Every’s success was short-lived, however. The British government was incensed by the raid, viewing it as an attack on the East India Company, which had a monopoly on English trade in the region. The British offered handsome bounties for Every’s capture, dead or alive, and the pirate soon became the most wanted man in the world. Every and his crew disbanded and went their separate ways, with Every disappearing never to be seen again.

Despite his short career as a pirate, Henry Every’s daring exploits and legendary treasure heist made him one of the most famous and feared pirates of his time. His flag, featuring a skull and crossbones, remains an iconic symbol of piracy to this day.

The Golden Age of Piracy

The Golden Age of Piracy, a period that lasted from the 1650s to the 1730s, was a time of rampant maritime lawlessness and piracy. During this era, piracy became a significant problem that directly threatened international trade and global relations. The rise of piracy during this time has been attributed to a combination of factors, including the increasing number of European colonies in the Americas, the lack of effective naval law enforcement, and the lure of riches from piracy.

Many popular pirate flags, including Henry Every’s flag, were flown during this period. The Jolly Roger, recognized as the universal pirate flag, was also invented during this era. Pirate flags typically featured symbols such as skulls, swords, and hourglasses, and they were intended to terrify victims into surrendering their valuable cargo without putting up a fight.

During the Golden Age of Piracy, piracy became more widespread and organized. Pirates formed alliances, creating communities that practiced their own rules and codes. The famous pirate Blackbeard was one of the few pirates who had the honor of being elected as a pirate captain by his crew. Pirates also became more strategic, targeting certain ships and regions to find the most profitable treasure.

The Golden Age of Piracy has become a popular theme in modern media, with movies and TV shows depicting the lives of famous pirates such as Blackbeard, Calico Jack, and Bartholomew Roberts. The pirate flag, particularly the Jolly Roger, has become an iconic symbol of piracy, recognized worldwide as a symbol of danger and adventure on the high seas.

In present times, pirate-inspired clothing and accessories are common, and pirate flags are often seen at events such as Halloween parties and theme parks. The fascination with piracy and its symbols continues to be a prominent part of popular culture.

To learn more about famous pirate flags, continue reading about the fascinating stories behind Blackbeard’s flag, Calico Jack’s flag, and Bartholomew Roberts’ flag on Pirate Flags: World Designs and Meanings.

Design and Symbolism of Henry Every’s Flag

Henry Every’s flag design was distinct in comparison to other pirate flags of his time. The flag featured a skull with a red hat above two crossed bones and below was a heart, representing love or lust depending on the interpretation, pierced with a dagger. It was a typical Jolly Roger flag with a unique twist that symbolized the strength and bravery of the pirate crew. The flag’s design also embodied a sense of terror and fear among the ships they attacked. Some historians believe that Every’s flag design may have inspired other pirates down the line, including the infamous Blackbeard. Henry Every’s flag design was both unique and memorable, leaving a lasting impact on pirate history.

The Basic Design

The basic design of Henry Every’s flag featured a typical Jolly Roger design, with a black background and white skull and crossbones. The flag was simple yet powerful, and it quickly became a recognizable symbol of piracy and terror on the high seas. The Jolly Roger design was not unique to Every, as many pirates of his time also used this design for their flags. However, Every’s flag quickly gained notoriety due to his successful piracy activities.

The Jolly Roger design was particularly effective at striking fear into the hearts of sailors and civilians alike. The black color of the flag represented death, while the skull and crossbones symbolized the pirates’ willingness to fight to the death. The flag’s design was intended to intimidate and warn those who saw it that they were dealing with ruthless and dangerous criminals.

Henry Every’s basic design was also practical in that it was easy to create and reproduce. Pirates often had limited time and resources when designing their flags, so a simple yet effective design was crucial. However, some pirates did add customization to their flag to make it unique and recognizable.

The basic design of Henry Every’s flag was a powerful symbol of piracy and a warning to any ships that crossed paths with Every and his crew. It was a design that has become synonymous with piracy, and it has been replicated by pirates and in popular culture throughout history.

The Skull and Crossbones

The Skull and Crossbones was the most recognizable symbol of piracy, and has become synonymous with the Jolly Roger. This iconic symbol came to represent the lawless and menacing nature of pirate activity. The Jolly Roger was an unmistakable sight on the high seas and instilled fear in the hearts of many sailors. Henry Every’s flag featured a prominently displayed Skull and Crossbones at its center. This symbol was often used to strike terror in the hearts of his victims and served as a warning that any resistance would be met with violence.

Design Element
The Skull and Crossbones was often depicted in a simple, stark design. The skull usually faced forward, with crossed bones beneath it. This design was meant to be easily recognizable even at a distance and to strike fear into those who saw it. Every’s flag added a unique twist to the design by including an hourglass beneath the skull and bones. This hourglass was a symbol of the fleeting nature of time and served as a reminder of mortality.

The origins of the Skull and Crossbones as a symbol of piracy are unclear. Some historians believe that it may have been borrowed from the Knights Templar, an order of warrior monks who fought in the Crusades. The Knights Templar were known to use a similar symbol to signify their willingness to fight to the death. Others believe that the symbol may have originated with the pirates themselves, who used it as a way to intimidate their victims.

Other Pirate Flags
While the Skull and Crossbones was the most recognizable symbol of piracy, it was not the only one. Other pirate flags featured different designs that were meant to convey a similar sense of lawlessness and danger. Blackbeard’s flag featured a horned skeleton holding an hourglass and a spear, while Calico Jack’s flag showed a skull with two crossed swords. Bartholomew Roberts’ flag featured a man holding an hourglass and a sword, with the words “A Barbadian Dictator” written beneath it.

Today, the Skull and Crossbones remains an enduring symbol of piracy and lawlessness. It is often used in popular culture to represent danger and rebellion. Pirate imagery has also become popular in fashion and design. The Skull and Crossbones can be seen on everything from t-shirts to jewelry. While piracy may have been a scourge on the high seas, its symbols continue to capture our imaginations and remind us of a time when lawlessness and adventure ruled the seas.

Internal link: Blackbeard’s flag

The Heart and Dagger

The heart and dagger was one of the most common symbols used in pirate flags during the 17th and 18th centuries. This symbol is believed to represent the pirate’s willingness to fight to the death. The heart was commonly used to represent love, while the dagger represented the fight.

On Henry Every’s flag, the heart and dagger were placed below the skull and crossbones. This symbol was used to not only show the pirate’s resolve, but also to strike fear into their enemies. The combination of the skull, heart, and dagger gave a message of no mercy. Anyone who refused to surrender would face death.

Interestingly, the heart and dagger symbol was also used by famous female pirates like Anne Bonny and Mary Read, who sailed under Calico Jack’s flag. They had the heart and dagger symbol tattooed on their arms which showed their loyalty to their crew and their willingness to fight alongside them.

The popularity of this symbol in pirate flags is evident in many other designs. For example, Captain Kidd’s flag featured a version of the heart and dagger symbol with a skull on top of it. This reiterates the powerful message behind this pirate symbol, even centuries after its creation.

If you want to learn more about other famous pirate flags and their meanings, you can check out our article on Jolly Roger flag meaning, Captain Kidd’s flag or read more about the flags of famous pirate ships on our website.

Other Famous Pirate Flags

Other Famous Pirate Flags
Many notorious pirates throughout history have created their own unique flags to strike fear into their enemies. One of the most well-known flags of all time is the Jolly Roger, or the skull and crossbones flag, which was used by multiple pirates, including the infamous Blackbeard. However, there were other famous pirate flags with their own distinct designs, such as Calico Jack’s flag, which featured a skull with crossed swords, known as the “Jolly Roger with a Calico Heart”. Bartholomew Roberts’ flag showcased a figure of a man holding a sword and an hourglass, with the letters ABH and AMH, meaning “A Barbadian’s Head” and “A Martinican’s Head”. These flags and others like them were used to intimidate vulnerable ships and show the pirates’ dominance at sea. You can find more on Calico Jack’s flag or discover other famous pirate symbols on famous female pirate flags or famous pirate ships’ flags.

Blackbeard’s Flag

Blackbeard, or Edward Teach, is one of the most notorious pirates in history. His Jolly Roger flag is unmistakable and has become an iconic symbol of piracy. The flag featured a skeleton holding an hourglass in one hand, and a spear piercing a heart in the other. Below the imagery was the message “ABH” which reportedly stood for “A Barbadian’s Head”, a threat to attack ships from Barbados.

The symbolism of Blackbeard’s flag was clear. The hourglass represented the fleeting nature of life and the inevitability of death. The pierced heart symbolized the suffering of those who opposed him. The ABH message was a clear warning to his enemies that they could be next.

Interestingly, Blackbeard’s flag violated the pirate code, which stated that all pirate ships should fly a red flag when approaching an enemy. This was intended to give the enemy a chance to surrender without a fight.

Despite this violation, Blackbeard’s flag became one of the most recognizable symbols of piracy. It is often depicted in popular culture and is a common Halloween costume.

Other pirate flags also featured skeletons and hourglasses, but none were as recognizable as Blackbeard’s. His flag spoke to the fears and anxieties of those who encountered it, and cemented his reputation as one of the most feared pirates of all time.

Anchor Text: For more information on pirate flag meanings, see our article on The Pirate Code and the Meanings of Pirate Flags.

Calico Jack’s Flag

Calico Jack Rackham was a notorious pirate who operated in the Caribbean during the early 18th century. Jack’s flag depicted a skull with two crossed swords on a black background with a heart in the center. The heart symbolized his love for his mistress, Anne Bonny, who was also a member of his crew.

Calico Jack’s flag was distinct and easily recognizable, much like that of his contemporaries Blackbeard and Bartholomew Roberts. The skull and crossed swords motif represented death and danger, and was meant to intimidate potential victims, making them more likely to surrender without a fight.

Interestingly, Calico Jack’s flag was only flown for a brief period of time, as his career as a pirate was cut short after he was captured by the Royal Navy in 1720. However, despite his brief tenure as a pirate, Calico Jack’s flag remains a popular symbol of piracy and is often featured in modern media.

In fact, Calico Jack’s flag has made its mark in popular culture through various forms of media such as television shows, movies, and video games. This flag is a symbol of a golden era of piracy and has come to represent the romanticized image of swashbuckling pirates that has persisted throughout history.

Despite its popularity in modern media, the true meaning behind Calico Jack’s flag was far from romantic. This symbol represented the brutal and ruthless nature of pirate life, where violence and intimidation were commonplace. While the flag itself may be aesthetically pleasing, it is important to remember the reality of piracy and the devastation it brought upon innocent victims.

Calico Jack’s flag is a memorable image that represents the golden age of piracy and has become a recognizable symbol of danger and adventure. However, it is important to remember the true nature of piracy and the harm it inflicted upon innocent individuals during its reign.

Bartholomew Roberts’ Flag

Bartholomew Roberts, also known as Black Bart, was one of the most successful pirates in history. His flag, also known as the “Jolly Roger,” was designed based on common pirate symbolism. It featured a black background with a white skull and crossbones, often accompanied by an hourglass and swords.

Some believe that the hourglass symbolized the sands of time running out, reminding his crew that they only had a limited amount of time to make their fortune. The swords were likely meant to represent the constant life-or-death battles that pirates faced.

What made Bartholomew Roberts’ flag unique was the addition of the letters “ABH” and “AMH” above and below the skull and crossbones. These letters stood for “A Barbadian’s Head” and “A Martinican’s Head,” respectively. Bartholomew Roberts was very proud of his ability to capture ships from many different nations, and he wanted to make sure that this was known to anyone who saw his flag.

Interestingly, Bartholomew Roberts’ use of the skull and crossbones on his flag led to it becoming the most commonly used pirate flag in popular culture. It’s now instantly recognizable as a symbol of piracy, often portrayed in movies, TV shows, and books.

Bartholomew Roberts’ flag was a striking symbol of his success as a pirate, featuring common pirate symbolism paired with unique additions that showcased his accomplishments.

The Legacy of Piracy and Its Symbols

It’s fascinating to consider the lasting impact of piracy on our culture. Pirates and their symbols have been romanticized and commercialized, becoming almost a brand in themselves. Today, we see images of skulls and crossbones on t-shirts, flags, and bumper stickers. But what is it about piracy that continues to captivate us? Is it the perceived freedom and rebellion? Or is it the idea of living outside the law and social norms? Whatever the reasons, piracy has left a lasting legacy on our society and popular culture. Its symbols and motifs continue to inspire and intrigue us. The legacy of piracy lives on through the countless books, film, and television shows that have been created around its colorful history.

The Popularity of Pirate Imagery Today

The popularity of pirate imagery today is evident everywhere, from Halloween costumes to popular movies and TV shows. Pirate flags such as Henry Every’s Jolly Roger have become iconic symbols, representing adventure, rebellion, and a love of freedom.

One of the main reasons for the continued popularity of pirate imagery is its association with the idea of the antihero. Characters such as Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise have become beloved for their charm, wit, and disregard for rules and authority. People are drawn to the idea of a charismatic rogue who lives on their own terms, and pirate imagery embodies this concept.

Another reason for the enduring popularity of pirate imagery is its ability to evoke a sense of nostalgia for a simpler time. The golden age of piracy was a time of adventure and danger, when men sailed the seas in search of treasure, and the world was a wild and mysterious place. Pirate imagery reminds us of a time when life was less complicated, and it taps into our primal sense of longing for adventure and exploration.

Pirate imagery has become popular in fashion and design. Clothing, accessories, and home decor featuring pirate motifs have become trendy, with brands such as Urban Outfitters and Forever 21 incorporating pirate-inspired designs into their products. This has helped to keep pirate imagery relevant and fresh, appealing to younger generations who may not be as familiar with pirate history.

The popularity of pirate imagery today is a testament to the enduring allure of piracy and its symbols. From flags like Henry Every’s Jolly Roger to popular culture icons like Captain Jack Sparrow, pirate imagery continues to capture our imagination and inspire us to embrace a spirit of adventure and freedom.

The Symbolism of Piracy

Piracy has long been associated with a certain rebellious spirit and freedom. The symbolism of piracy is complex and combines many different elements. One of the main symbols of piracy is the skull and crossbones, which has come to represent danger and death. Other common pirate symbols include the Jolly Roger flag, which was used by Black Bart Roberts, and the skull and swords flag, which was flown by Calico Jack Rackham.

The pirate flag has been adopted by many different groups over time, and its meaning has evolved with each new generation. For example, during the 1960s, the Jolly Roger flag was adopted by hippies as a symbol of their rebellion against society. In more recent times, the pirate flag has become a popular symbol in popular culture, representing a rebellious spirit and a desire to live life on one’s own terms.

The symbolism of piracy also extends to the way pirates dressed and carried themselves. Pirates often wore flamboyant clothing, including bright-colored sashes, kerchiefs, and jewelry. They also had tattoos, which were often used as a way to identify themselves as members of a particular crew.

Piracy and its symbols represent a rejection of authority and traditional social norms. The pirates of the 17th and 18th centuries were often seen as outcasts of society, but they were also viewed as romantic figures who lived life on their own terms. Today, pirate imagery remains popular, and the spirit of piracy continues to inspire people to live life with a sense of adventure and rebelliousness.


In conclusion, the flag of Henry Every was a powerful symbol of his reign of terror on the high seas during the 17th century. While his own criminal career ended rather ignominiously, his influence on the popular image of piracy has endured for centuries, through literature, art, and film. His skull and crossbones design, complemented by the heart and dagger, conveyed a clear message of aggression and danger that struck fear into the hearts of his intended victims.

Furthermore, Every was just one among many notorious pirates of the era, such as Blackbeard, Calico Jack, and Bartholomew Roberts, each with their own unique flags and legacies. The symbolism of piracy, with its emphasis on freedom, rebellion, and adventure, continues to captivate the popular imagination, despite the brutal and violent reality of the act itself.

It is clear that the flag of Henry Every and his peers, while representing a dark period in maritime history, still holds a fascination for many people today. The enduring power of the symbol speaks to the human desire for adventure and danger, and the combination of mythology and reality that has made piracy such an enduring fixture in popular culture.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the significance of pirate flags?

Pirate flags were symbols that pirates used to instill fear in their enemies and show off their reputation and prowess.

Why was Henry Every’s flag feared?

Henry Every’s flag was feared for its symbolism, which included a skull and crossbones and a heart with a dagger, both conveying the message that death and violence were inevitable for those who crossed him.

What made Henry Every a successful pirate?

Henry Every was a successful pirate for a combination of reasons, including his sailing experience, the capabilities of his crew, and his ability to strategically target wealthy ships.

Were there any consequences for piracy during the 17th century?

Yes, piracy was a crime punishable by death during the 17th century, with many pirates being executed for their crimes.

What is the origin of the skull and crossbones symbol?

The origin of the skull and crossbones symbol is unclear, but it is widely believed to have been used by pirates to indicate that surrender was not an option and that they would fight to the death.

Did all famous pirates have their own unique flag?

Not all pirates had their own unique flag, but many did use flags as a means of identifying themselves and striking fear into their enemies.

What are some modern-day uses of pirate imagery?

Pirate imagery is still popular today, with its use in entertainment, fashion, and even as a symbol for rebellion or counterculture.

Why does piracy continue to captivate people’s imaginations?

Piracy continues to captivate people’s imaginations because of the allure of adventure, rebellion, and the idea of living outside the law.

Are there any famous pirates who were known for their benevolence?

Yes, there were some pirates who were known for their acts of charity, such as William Kidd and Stede Bonnet, who donated money and goods to churches and other organizations.

What is the significance of the heart and dagger symbol on Henry Every’s flag?

The heart and dagger symbol on Henry Every’s flag was a popular motif among pirates and symbolized the idea of a love for adventure and the willingness to fight and die for it.


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