The Female Pirates

There is a fascination with Lady Swashbucklers. Yes they did exist but they were few and far between compared to the men who plied the trade. Some were quite powerful while others would have gone unnoticed in the history of piracy had they been men. With that said, it is a bad historian who fails to recognize the role these women played.

An excellent treatment on women and piracy is the book She Captains : Heroines and Hellions of the Sea by Joan Druett (Simon & Schuster): ©2000, ISBN: 0684856905. The book is well written and well researched. While it has an excellent annotated bibliography it lacks notes.

With that said, below is a list of some of the more notorious (and possibly fictitious) women who plied the trade.

  • Queen Teuta – – 232 BC to 228 BC, Adriatic Sea.
  • Sela – – 420 AD
  • Wigbiorg – – around 704 AD, Nordic.
  • Hetha – – around 704 AD, Nordic.
  • Wisna – – around 704 AD, Nordic.
  • Alfhild (aka AElfhild, Alwilda, Alvilda) – – post-850 AD, Sweden.
  • Ladgerda – – c. 870 AD.
  • Æthelflaed, "Lady of the Mercias."
  • Grace O'Malley, a.k.a. Granuaile – –1500s, Atlantic, commanded three galleys and 200 men.
  • Anne Bonny – – 1720, Caribbean.
  • Mary Read – – 1720, Caribbean.
  • Mary Harvey (or Harley) alias Mary Farlee – – 1726.
  • Mary Crickett (or Crichett) – – 1728
  • Rachel Wall – – 1780s, sailed from Massachusetts.
  • Anonymous female commander of French privateer LA BAUGOURT – – 1805.
  • Catherine Hagerty – –1806, Australia and New Zealand.
  • Charlotte Badger
  • Margaret Jordan – – 1809, Canada.
  • Cheng I Sao (Ching Yih Saou) – – 1810s, South China Sea, commanded either 5 or 6 squadrons consisting of 800 large junks, about 1,000 smaller vessels, and between 70,000 and 80,000 men and women.
  • Ki Ming
  • T'ang Ch'en Ch'iao (nicknamed "Golden Grace")
  • Honcho Lo – – supporter of the Chinese revolution, took over command on husband's death in 1921
  • Wong – – who united her 50 ship fleet with Honcho Lo's 64 junks
  • Lai Sho Sz'en (Lai Choi San) – – 1922-1939, South China Sea, commanded 12 junks.
  • P'en Ch'ih Ch'iko – – commanded 100 pirates in 1936
  • Huang P'ei-mei – – leader of 50,000, pirate from 1937 on into the 1950's