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Henry Avery

Captain Henry Avery was a pirate and former naval officer. (TV: The Curse of the Black Spot) Also known as the Arch Pirate or King of Pirates, he sometimes used the alias Benjamin Bridgeman and was known to his crew as Long Ben. Avery enjoyed a short but prosperous career as a pirate from 1694 until he disappeared from records in 1696. (PROSE: A History of Humankind)

He continued his exploits as a pirate until 1699, when - after his wife died and his son, Toby, contracted typhoid fever - Avery gave up his life as a pirate to sail through the stars aboard a Skerth spaceship. There, a medical interface could extend the life of his son. (TV: The Curse of the Black Spot) He was one of the few pirate captains to evade capture. (PROSE: A History of Humankind)


Henry Avery briefly served in the Royal Navy, until he became a pirate in 1694. (PROSE: A History of Humankind) He left his wife and son, Toby, behind in England. His wife died in his absence. (TV: The Curse of the Black Spot)

Avery's crew captured the Ganj-i-Sawai - a Mughal ship. The East India Company would estimate the goods stolen to be worth approximately $200 million by the 21st century, with other historians estimating the value as closer to $400 million. (PROSE: A History of Humankind) He later wrote of the capture in The Ballad of Captain Avery. (PROSE: Susan's Diary, Stop, Thief!)

Avery hid much of his treasure in the crypt of a church outside a small Cornish village, under the care of Joseph Longfoot. (TV: The Smugglers)

Avery disappeared from the historical record in 1696, (PROSE: A History of Humankind) with many of his former crew members believing him dead. (TV: The Smugglers)

Avery returned to sea and in 1699, while still carrying a portion of his treasure from the Mughal of India, as well as a stowaway in the form of his son - Toby, the Fancy encountered a Siren. She began taking the crew away after marking them with a black spot. His son had fallen ill with typhoid fever (incurable in the 1690s) and had been marked by the siren but not yet taken due to his hiding place onboard.

The Eleventh Doctor came aboard the Fancy during this crisis and investigated the Siren. He identified Avery's treasure as allowing the Siren to attack and told Avery it must be thrown overboard. Avery did so, but kept one crown. It allowed the Siren to take his son. He realised how possessed he was by greed and was forced to reassess what he valued.

When the Doctor realised that the Siren was in fact the automated doctor of an alien spacecraft, Avery let himself be taken to her hospital in order to care for his son and crew.

The Doctor saw it was important to send the ship back into space, and Toby would soon die of his fever if he left the ship. Avery decided to stay with Toby. He, with his crew from Fancy and his son, flew the spaceship away from Earth towards the Dog Star. (TV: The Curse of the Black Spot)

Some time later, the Doctor recruited Avery to help him with an attack on Demon's Run to rescue Amy Pond. Avery, Toby, and his crew boarded the ship of Madame Kovarian during the attack and subdued its crew, preventing her escape. (TV: A Good Man Goes to War)


Captain Samuel Pike, who used to work for Avery, led a band of ex-Fancy crew in a search for Avery's treasure. They ran across the First Doctor. (TV: The Smugglers)

Following his disappearance in 1696, he was believed by historians to be one of the few pirate captains to evade capture and retire with his loot intact. Some historians, however, suggested Avery may have been cheated out of his wealth when trying to sell diamonds to merchants in Bristol and that he died in poverty. Others suggested that Avery may have changed his name and might have lived quietly in either Britain or the tropics. However, as the Twelfth Doctor noted: "He went a bit further than that". (PROSE: A History of Humankind)


Initially an honourable man, Henry Avery was corrupted by his greed for wealth and power. He became a pirate, abandoning his wife and son. His wife died while Henry was at sea and his son stowed away on his ship. Henry was furious with Toby for stowing away, saying that his mother would be worried. When Toby revealed that she was dead, Henry felt remorse and told his son that he was sorry. Despite his anger with Toby, Henry clearly cared for his son and decided to stay with him on board the Siren's host ship when he discovered that without the Siren, Toby would die.

Henry was a superstitious man, initially believing that the Siren was a demon. He was suspicious of the Doctor and his companions when they first met and didn't like the Doctor acting as though he was in charge. He aimed his pistol at the Doctor and reminded him who was Captain several times, but in the end, he grew to trust and respect him. (TV: The Curse of the Black Spot) Henry was a loyal ally to the Time Lord and helped him rescue Amy Pond from Demon's Run. (TV: A Good Man Goes to War)

He was also quite intelligent and a fast learner. When confronted with the technological devices on the the Doctor's TARDIS console, he easily figured out their functions by comparing them to objects he used himself on the Fancy; he surmised it as "a ship is a ship [no matter how it looks]." (TV: The Curse of the Black Spot)

Behind the scenes[]

  • Henry Avery was a real-life pirate and did indeed vanish after 1696, shortly after plundering the Mughal's fleet: one of the largest pirate raids in history. The Brilliant Book 2012 summarised Avery's real-life career.
  • There is some dispute about the spelling of the historical Avery's last name. Some records have it as Every or Avary. The use of Avery on this wiki is based on the spelling employed by the end credits to The Curse of the Black Spot and the script for The Smugglers.
  • Writer Steve Thompson was unaware of The Smugglers when he wrote The Curse of the Black Spot. He'd simply looked through his sons' book about pirates and picked Avery because of his mysterious disappearance.[1]

Doctor Who: Legacy[]

In the story of Doctor Who: Legacy, the Eleventh Doctor, stressing the importance of preventing the Sontarans' interference in the timeline, cites Henry Avery as an example of an important person in human history whose existence is endangered. Later, he attempts to retrieve Avery, facing a Zygon duplicate of him while doing so.

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