Mary Read

Female Pirate
   

Born: Unknown

Died: December 18th, 1720

Disclaimer!

I have found roughly fifty gazillion accountings of the lives of Mary Read & Anne Bonny. Apparently the two women are very popular right now, however very few of these accountings agree on basic facts. This information below seemed to be the most consistent with what I have read about Anne Bonny in documents that I could verify accuracy and 'down to earth' research. Any differences, discrepancies, lies, etc. that you find below are really your own problems to work out. And since Mary and Anne never invited me to watch I don't know if they were actually lesbians or not so please stop E-mailing me and asking.

Mary Read led a man's life most of her life. Her parents are unknown. What little that is known is that her widowed mother raised her as a boy. She was born in London, by the age of 13 she was employed as a foot boy to rich French woman, but soon ran away a signed on board a man-o-war. A few years later she jumped ship, only to enlist in the foot regiment. She fought in Flanders, showing great bravery. She later joined a Horse regiment where she fell in love with a soldier. She confessed her woman hood to this man and they were married. The two opened an Inn called the Three Horseshoes near Castle Breda.

Unfortunately her husband died, and Mary once again assumed men's clothing, attempted once again a life in the Army, but failing at this, shipped off to the West Indies. On the way there, her ship was taken By Captain Calico Rackham.

As fate would have it, another female Pirate, Anne Bonny, was part of Calico's crew. Anne, saw a young strapping sailor among the newly captured prize and decided, she would have her way with the young man. Much to Anne's' surprise, when she got the man alone, he opened his blouse and exposed to Anne that he too was a woman.

Mary confessed that she would much rather join with Rackham and Anne rather than lead the dull life a woman and she too became one of Calico's pirates.

As it was Calico was a fairly successful pirate and his crew manage to capture several ships. As fate would have it Mary fell in love with a newly captive sailor who had recently signed the articles of the ship. The young fellow, however got in a quarrel with an older more experienced pirate while at anchor one night, and as the laws decreed, a duel was set for the next day.

Mary, realizing that her lover would not stand a chance against the other pirate, began a quarrel with the bigger pirate, and demanded settlement on the spot. The quartermaster, as pirate law demanded, rowed the two ashore, and with pistol and cutlass, the duel began.

Both discharged their pistol for naught and then began the duel with cutlass in hand, The man had strength on his side but Mary was more agile and cunning. The duel had been going for some time, when the larger man made a thrust and stumbled. He would have probably managed to recover from this slip if it were not for what Mary did next. Before the unbelieving eyes of the pirate, Mary ripped her shirt open to expose her breast.

The pirate, not believing his eyes, hesitated for a split second. In that instance, Mary quickly grabbed his cutlass arm and with one swing of her own blade, nearly cut the mans head off. He lay on the ground grasping at the frothing bloody gash in his neck while still not believing he had been dueling with a woman. For surprisingly enough few of the men on board Calico's ship were aware that Anne and Mary were women.

Mary's lover was no coward; he showed up to fight the duel that would most certainly have meant his death at the appointed time, only to find that his duel was with a dead man. They were married shortly afterwards. Their honeymoon was short lived however for shortly after this duel, Mary, Anne and Calico Jack were taken prisoner. They were tried at St. Jago de la Vega in Jamaica on November 28, 1720 where they were all sentenced to be hanged.

Suffice to say Mary had as much spirit as Anne, which may have been more than many of her male companions. Upon be asked at her trial why a woman might turn to piracy, rather than reply with an answer that might get her a pardon, she instead replied:

"That as to hanging, it is no great hardship,
for were it not for that, every cowardly fellow
would turn pirate and so unfit the Seas,
that men of courage must starve."


Click on the Piece of Eight to return to the Main Page