Kanhoji Angria was an Indian admiral in the navy of the Maratha Empire during the first half of the 18th century. He fought successfully all his life against the British, Dutch and Portuguese naval interests in the Indian Ocean, and hence was alleged by them to be a pirate. Despite the attempts of the British and Portuguese to subdue Angria, he remained undefeated until his death. He was also the father of Sumbhajee Angria, the Pirate Lord of the Indian Ocean.
Born in the village Harne in Ratnagiri district of Konkan in the year of 1669, he was born into a Sankapal family, whose original name was Kadu. They were guardians of small state named 'Vir Rana Sank' and therefore became known as Sankapal. Little is known about his early life except that he was involved in daring exploits at sea. He spent much of his childhood in the fort at Suvarnadurg, of which he would later become governor.
He was originally appointed as Darya-Saranga by the chief of Satara in 1698 . Under that authority, he was master of the Western coast of India from Bombay to Vingoria, except for the property of the Muslim Siddis of Janjira who were affiliated with the powerful Mughal Empire.
Kanhoji initially started by attacking merchant ships of the East India Trading Company and slowly gained respect from the sovereign and notoriety with the colonial powers. When Maratha Chattrapati Shahu ascended the leadership of the Maratha kingdom, he appointed Balaji Viswanath Bhatt as his Senakarta (Commander) and negotiated an agreement with Angria around 1707. This was partly to appease Angria who supported the other ruler who claimed the Maratha throne, Tarabai. Under the agreement, Angria became head of the Maratha navy.
He also played a role in the Maratha conflicts against the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb, who was campaigning in the Deccan.
Kanhoji intensified the attacks on colonial naval powers like Great Britain and Portugal on the western coast of India. On 4 November 1712, his navy even succeeded in capturing the armed yacht Algerine of the British President of Mumbai, William Aislabie, killing the chief of their Karwar factory, Thomas Chown, and making his wife a prisoner. The yacht and the lady were released on 13 February 1713 for a ransom of 30,000 Rupees. He also signed a treaty with the President Aislabie to stop harassing the Company's fleet. Mr. Aislabie departed for England during October 1715.
After the arrival of Charles Boone as the new Governor of Bombay on 26 December 1715, Boone made several attempts to capture Angria. But instead in 1718 Angre captured three ships belonging to the British leaving them to claim that Kanhoji Angreia was a pirate. Angre blockaded the port of Bombay, and extracted a ransom of 8,750 pounds from the East India Company.
The British launched a fresh campaign in 1720, when shells from floating batteries burst in vain against the rocks of Vijaydurg fort. The attempt to land inside the fort ended in disaster, and the British squadron soon retired to Bombay.
On 29 November 1721 a joint attempt by the Portuguese (Viceroy Francisco José de Sampaio e Castro) and the British (General Robert Cowan) to humble Kanhoji also failed miserably. This fleet consisted of 6,000 soldiers in no less than four Man of war ships led by Commander Thomas Mathews. Aided by Maratha warriors Mendhaji Bhatkar and Mainak Bhandari in his navy, he continued to harass and plunder the European ships. Commander Matthews returned to Great Britain, but was accused and convicted of trading with the pirates in December 1723. Also, during 1723, Governor Boone returned to Great Britain. After Boone's departure for a few years for some unknown reasons relative calm prevailed among the British and Angria, until his death.
- Legends of the Brethren Court: The Turning Tide (First mentioned)