Avery, John (b. c. 1653, Cat Down, Plymouth, Eng.--d. after 1696, Bideford, Devonshire), one of Britain's most renowned pirates of the late 17th century, the model for Daniel Defoe's hero in Life, Adventures, and Pyracies, of the Famous Captain Singleton (1720).
Avery served in the Royal Navy and on Merchantmen, as well as on buccaneer and slave ships, before beginning a life of piracy about 1691. In 1694, joining a ship in the service of Spain, he helped plot a mutiny and was elected captain of his new pirate ship, renamed the Fancy. During the following year, after preying on various ships en route around Africa, he reached the mouth of the Red Sea, where he established himself and levied tolls on all ships, especially those of Mughal India and the East India Company, that passed in or out. The following year he sailed to the West Indies, where his ship was either sold or driven ashore in a storm and destroyed (various stories were told). Thereafter the crew broke up, several being captured and hanged; and Avery returned to England, where he was cheated by some Bristol merchants and subsequently died in poverty.