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Mary Read

(Female pirate)

Mary Read

Mary was a mate of Anne Bonny on the Revenge.

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 and signed on board a man-o-war. A few years later she jumped ship, only to enlist in a 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 womanhood to this man and they were married. The two opened an Inn called theThree Horseshoes near Castle Breda.

Unfortunately her husband died, and Mary once again assumed men's clothing, and once again attempted 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.

Mary Read and Anne Bonny

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 than lead the dull life a woman and joined Calico's pirates. Calico Jack was a fairly successful pirate and his captured several ships. As ships were captured, Jack would often offer sailors the privilege of joining his crew. Once the sailor signed the articles of piracy they the former foe became a companion. After one such encounter, Mary took a fancy to one the pirates.

This 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. Mary and this pirate 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 and were sentenced to be hanged.

Suffice to say Mary had as much spirit as Anne, which was more than many of her male companions. Upon be asked at her trial why a woman might turn to piracy, rather than come with an answer that might give her 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."

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The only author and editor of all pages on the site. Most of what I write about is based on years of book reading on the topic. My first web page was published back in 1994.

Updated: 04 September 2022