Select Avery Miscellany

Here are some Avery stories and accounts over the years:

The Auvrays in Normandy

The Auvray name was fairly common in Normandy.  William Auvray was recorded at Caen in 1463; John Auvray was living at Montivilliers in 1570; and Cyprien Avray was an alderman at Caen in 1589.

Marin Auvray was lord of Villy Bayeux and was ennobled in 1543; while John Auvray of Coutances was lord of Vivier who was ennobled in 1576

Reader Feedback - John Every as Sergeant-at-Arms

In the Calendar of Patent Rolls for April 3, 1571 it was stated:  

“Grant for life to John Everie of the office of sergeant of arms, held by John Dawtry, deceased: wages of 12d a day from Dawtry’s death.  For his services to Henry VIII, Edward VI, Queen Mary and the present Queen. By P.S.”  

The Sergeants-at-Arms were first instituted by Richard I in the 12th century and is the oldest form of guard for the Sovereign.  Originally composed of 24 Knights and Gentlemen of the highest degree and loyalty, they were an armed guard in a state of immediate readiness. They watched over the King’s tent in complete armour and arrested traitors and offenders about the Royal Court, their official authority being a mace.  

These posts were only given to those whose attendance upon the Sovereign added to the dignity and splendour of the Monarchy.  Whilst originally an ‘active’ post it later became purely a ceremonial one, but there is no record of at what time this change occurred.  

Today there are 3 Sergeant-at-Arms whose duties include walking before the Sovereign on State occasions bearing maces of silver gilt, attending the bearers of the Crown Jewels at Coronations and escorting the Officer of Arm’s during the reading of Royal Proclamations.  

Michael Neale (

The Pirate Henry Every

Modern scholarship suggests that Henry Every was born in 1659 in the village of Newton Ferrers in Devon.  Parish records indicate that he may have been the son of John Evarie and his wife Anne and it is likely that he was a kinsman of the Everys of Wycroft Castle.  He was a sailor as a young man on various Royal Navy vessels.  He then got involved in the Atlantic slave trade.  His pirating activity began in 1693.

He was a pirate with many aliases - John Avery, Benjamin Bridgeman, and Long Ben as his crew used to call him.  Although his career as a pirate lasted just two years, his exploits captured the public's imagination, inspired others to take up piracy, and spawned numerous works of literature.

The most famous play about him was The Successful Pirate
, a story about a pirate who supposedly retired after just one year of piracy and lived the rest of his life under a false identity as a rich man.  Contrary to a lot of stories, many people actually think that he died soon after his retirement in 1696 as a poor sailor on the streets of London.

William Avery's 1732 Will

William Avery outlined the following objectives in his charity bequest to the village of Fillongley in north Warwickshire in 1732 as follows:

“The maintenance and improvement of the Fillongley Church of England school and the Arley Church of England school respectively. 

The residue:

  • for assisting pupils to attend schools, institutions or classes for purposes of education other than elementary benefits for boys and girls resident in the parishes of Fillongley and Arley who are in need of financial assistance.
  • for making arrangements approved by local education authority for attending to health or physical condition of children attending any public elementary school in the parishes.
  • and for promoting education including social and physical training of boys and girls of the poorer classes in the said parishes."

James Avery, Founder of the Groton Averys

James Avery was the founder of the family that came to be known as the Groton Averys.  He was born in Devon and came to Massachusetts on the Arbella with his father Christopher, a weaver by trade, in 1630.  They lived at Gloucester for several years before moving to New London, Connecticut.  His dwelling in New London, once "the unadorned church and watch tower of the wilderness", was still owned and occupied by an Avery in 1893.

In the English-Dutch quarrels and in various Indian troubles James saw much military service and rose to the rank of captain. He was equally prominent in civil affairs.  He was chosen selectman and held office for twenty years.  Here he gained his title of judge.  From 1658 to 1680 he was elected to the general court twelve times.

He and his wife Joanna raised nine children in New London.  In later life James acquired land in the nearby township of Groton where he died in 1700. 

In 1871 Judge Wheeler published a list of representatives from Groton which had been set off from New London in 1705.

"It is worthy of note that out of the 545 representatives of the town of Groton, 104 have borne the name of Avery and all were descendants of Captain James Avery."

Swansong of Parson Avery

The Rev. John Avery, a preacher from Wiltshire, had come to Newbury, Massachusetts in 1634.  A year later he and his family were on the pinnace Watch and Wait making a trip along the New England coast for Marblehead.  However, three nights into the voyage, a violent storm erupted and the Rev. Avery and his eldest son were both swept overboard by a gigantic wave.

John Greenleaf Whittier described the disaster in his poem Swansong of Parson Avery.

“There was wailing in the shallop, woman’s wail and man’s despair,
A crash of breaking timbers on the rocks so sharp and bare,
And, through it all, the murmur of Father Avery’s prayer.
There a comrade heard him praying, in the pause of wave and wind,‘
All my own have gone before me, and I linger just behind,
Not for life I ask, but only for the rest thy ransomed find!’
The ear of God was open to his servant’s last request;
As the strong wave swept him downward,
The sweet hymn upward pressed,
And the soul of Father Avery went singing to his rest.”

There was a museum dedicated to Avery and his family known as Avery's Woe off the coast of Gloucester and Rockport on the northern coast of Massachusetts.

Avery Island

Avery Island in Iberia parish, Louisiana is a salt dome known today as the source of Tabasco sauce.  The island was named after the Avery family who settled there in the 1830’s.  But long before that, Native Americans had found that Avery Island’s verdant flora covered those precious salt resources.  There the Indians boiled the island’s briny spring water to extract salt, which they traded to other tribes as far away as Texas, Arkansas, and Ohio.

Daniel Avery left the island with his family for Texas at the onset of the Civil War.  His oldest son enlisted in the Confederate army.  His second son developed the salt works on the island which proved to be of great value for the South.

After the war Daniel Avery returned to Avery Island, found his home in ruins, and set himself to the task of saving the remnant of his fortune.  He was not that successful in that objective and his declining years were years of disappointment.   He died there in 1879, one year after his wife.  Their bodies lie in the same tomb beneath the spreading oaks of Avery Island

Thomas Avery, Sponsored Emigrant to New Zealand

In 1840 Thomas Avery and his family, including eight children, emigrated to New Zealand arriving on board The Bolton after a voyage of five months. The passage to New Zealand was sponsored by the Staplehurst parish with the Rev, Thomas Hornbuckle bending the rules to assist his parishioners. 

The following note was written a year or so later by a fellow passenger on The Bolton.

“There is a poor man close to me that came out with us.  I am very partial to him.  He comes out of Kent, has a wife and eight children and told me when he landed he had only six pence in the world.  He has now £60 in gold and has bought a piece of land to put a house on, which cost £90.  He is a laborer, and his lads the same.  His wife washes for hire.”

By 1882 the Avery family was reported to own almost £2,000 worth of property

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