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Mary Read and Anne Bonny the most famous female pirates:


Mary Read, Anne Bonny and Calico Jack

Anne Bonney and Mary Read are the most famous — and ferocious — women pirates in history, and they are the only ones known to have plied their trade in the Western Hemisphere.

Anne Bonney, born in County Cork, Ireland, was the illegitimate daughter of lawyer William Cormac and his housemaid. They immigrated to America after Anne’s birth in the late 1600s and settled on a plantation near Charleston, South Carolina. A headstrong young woman “with a fierce and courageous temper,” she eloped with a young ne’er-do-well, James Bonney, against her father’s wishes. James took her to a pirates’ lair in New Providence in the Bahamas, but in 1718, when Bahamian Governor Woodes Rogers offered the King’s pardon to any pirate, James turned informant. Anne was disgusted with his cowardice and soon after, she met and fell in love with the swaggering pirate Captain Jack Rackham. Disguising herself as a male, she began sailing with him on his sloop Vanity, with its famous skull-and-crossed-daggers flag, preying on Spanish treasure ships off Cuba and Hispaniola. It is reported that she became pregnant by Jack and retired from piracy only long enough to have her baby and leave it with friends in Cuba before rejoining him and her adventurous life on the high seas.

Mary Read was born at Plymouth, England, about 1690. Her mother’s husband was a sea-faring man who left on a long voyage and was never heard from again. He’d left his wife pregnant and she gave birth to a sickly male child who died soon after the illegitimate birth of his half-sister, Mary. The mother waited years for her husband to return and when her money ran out, she took Mary to London to appeal to her mother-in-law for financial help. She knew this old woman disliked girls, so she dressed Mary in boy’s clothes and made her pretend to be her son. The mother-in-law was fooled and promised a crown a week to help support them. Mary continued to masquerade as a boy for many years, even after the old woman died and the financial aid ended.

Then a teenager, Mary was hired out as a footboy to a French woman. But according to history, “here she did not live long, for growing bold and strong, and having also a roving mind, she entered herself on board a man-of-war, where she served some time; then quitted it.” Still disguised as a male, she enlisted in a foot regiment in Flanders and later a horse regiment, serving in both with distinction. She fell in love with a fellow soldier, disclosed her true sex, and began dressing as a female. After their marriage, she and her husband became innkeepers, owning the Three Horseshoes near the castle of Breda in Holland. Unfortunately, he died young and her fortunes soon dwindled.

She knew that life in the 1700s was much easier as a man than as a woman, so she reverted back to men’s clothing and started her life over, this time going to sea on a Dutch merchant ship heading to the Caribbean. On one voyage, the ship was commandeered by English pirates with whom she sailed and fought until they accepted the King’s pardon in 1718 and began operating as privateers. Soon afterwards, their ship was overtaken by Captain Jack Rackham’s Vanity and, bored of the legitimate life, she again turned pirate. Anne Bonney was already part of Rackham’s crew, and she and Mary quickly discovered each other’s cross-dressing secret and became close friends. Despite her tough exterior, Mary found a lover on board and is said to have saved his life by protecting him from a threatened duel. She picked a fight with his opponent first and, with deadly use of her sword and pistol, ended his life before he could harm her husband-to-be.

Both Anne and Mary were known for their violent tempers and ferocious fighting, and they shared a reputation as “fierce hell cats.” Their fellow crewmembers knew that — in times of action — no one else was as ruthless and bloodthirsty as these two women were. Captain Jack, nicknamed “Calico Jack” for his love of colorful cotton clothing, was a well-known pirate in those days, but his reputation has survived through the ages primarily because of these two infamous women pirates on his crew.

In late October 1720, Rackkam’s ship was anchored off Point Negril, Jamaica, the pirates celebrating recent victories in their typical hard-drinking tradition. Suddenly a British Navy sloop — the man-o-war Albion, headed by Captain Jonathan Barnet — surprised them. The drunken male pirates quickly hid below deck, leaving only Anne and Mary to defend their ship. The women yelled at their pirate mates to “come up, you cowards, and fight like men,” and then angrily raged against them, killing one and wounding several others. But the women were eventually overwhelmed by the British Navy, and the entire crew was captured and taken to Jamaica to stand trial.

Captain Jack and the male members of his crew were tried on November 16, 1720, and were sentenced to hang. Anne was allowed to visit her lover in his cell before his execution, and instead of the consoling, loving words he was undoubtedly expecting, her scathing comments live on throughout history: “Had you fought like a man, you need not have been hang’d like a dog.”

Anne and Mary were tried one week after Rackham’s death and were also found guilty. But at their sentencing, when asked by the judge if they had anything to say, they replied, “Mi’lord, we plead our bellies.” Both were pregnant, and since British law forbade killing an unborn child, their sentences were stayed temporarily.

Mary is said to have died of a violent fever in the Spanish Town prison in 1721, before the birth of her child. Other reports say she feigned death and was sneaked out of the prison under a shroud.

No record of Anne’s execution has ever been found. Some say that her wealthy father bought her release after the birth of her child and she settled down to a quiet family life on a small Caribbean island. Others believe that she lived out her life in the south of England, owning a tavern where she regaled the locals with tales of her exploits.

And yet others say Anne and Mary moved to Louisiana where they raised their children together and were friends to the ends of their lives.

Taken From: http://www.bonney-readkrewe.com/legend.html

Ching Shih, 19th Century Queen of Pirates


Ching Shih, Queen of Pirates

Ching Shih(郑氏) was a famous female pirate in late Qing China. Ching Shih’s real name is unknown as is where she was born. She was born in 1785.

In 1801, before becoming a pirate she was working as a prostitute on one of the city Canton’s floating brothels. It did not take her long to leave this unfortunate profession and marry a notorious pirate, Zheng Yi. They married in 1801.

Zheng Yi was part of a family that had been very successful in pirating.

After their marriage Zheng Yi gathered together a coalition of the competing Cantonese pirate fleets into an alliance. Within a few years the coalition was a force to be reckoned with and one of the most powerful pirate fleets in all of China. The pirate fleet was known as the Red Flag Fleet’.

Ching Shih was widowed in 1807. She maneuvered herself into her late husband’s leadership position. At this time in history it was quite something for a woman to be in the top position. She led over 1500 ships and over 60,000 pirates.

Women today lead things all the time, are heads of companies and love power. But instead of being boss over tame men and women, with the occasional office weirdo, all in business suits and high heels, imagine bossing around grimy, toothless, smelly, violent men who are underfed and on the water for months on end?.

In 1810 she had had enough of life on the seas, violence and filth and took an amnesty offer from the Chinese government. Stepping back from her position, she kept her loot and got married to her adoptive son Cheung Po Tsai. Not one Under her leadership cultural dominance was taken by the fleet over many coastal villages. On occasion they would even tax the people and enforce levies. Ching Shih and her fleet were known to rob markets, towns and villages from Macao to Canton.

After she retired from piracy, not liking to be idle, she opened a successful gambling house.

Death claimed this Chinese history-making pirate at the age of 69 in 1844.

She was the real-life Dragon Lady.

Captain Charlotte De Berry, female pirate of the 17th Century


Charlotte de Berry (born 1636, England – died unknown date and place) was a (possibly fictional) female pirate captain.

In her mid to late teens she fell in love with a sailor and, against her parents’ will, married him. Disguised as a man, she followed him on board his ship and fought alongside him. Her true identity was discovered by an officer who kept this knowledge to himself, wanting de Berry.

He assigned her husband to the most dangerous jobs, which he survived thanks to his wife’s help. The officer finally accused Charlotte’s husband of mutiny, of which he was found guilty based on an officer’s word against that of a common sailor. He was punished by being flogged through the fleet, which, as the officer had hoped, killed him.

The officer then made advances towards Charlotte, which she refused. The next time they were in port she killed the officer and snuck away, dressing again as a woman and working on the docks.

While de Berry worked on the docks, a captain of a merchant ship saw her and kidnapped her. He forced de Berry to marry him and took her away on his trip to Africa. To escape her new husband, who was a brutal rapist and tyrant, de Berry gained the respect of the crew and persuaded them to mutiny.

In revenge, she decapitated her husband and became captain of the ship. After years of pirating, she fell in love with a Spaniard, Armelio Gonzalez. However, they were shipwrecked after days of hunger, they waited to see who would be dead first to eat. slowly one by one the crew went also, unfortunately, it was de Berry’s husband.

The survivors of her crew were rescued by a Dutch ship, and when that ship was attacked by pirates, they bravely defended their rescuers. While the others celebrated victory, Charlotte jumped overboard in order to join her dead husband. No one knows if she survived or not.

Though most of her items were sold by her crew members after her disappearance, there are many still being shipped. Some say her sister, Maria, gave birth to what is to be, de Berry’s niece. Some say she had a child with Armelio but left the child with a trusted crew mate.

Listen up, ya swabs! Tomorrow is “Talk Like a Pirate Day!”


Scarlett Harlot

This is Fallon Ellingson, better known as the Scarlett Harlott, was the PyrateCon 2008 Grand Marshal in the Pirate Invasion on Bourbon Street parade.

More about Scarlett can be found here:

http://www.scarlettharlott.com/

Wednesday, September 19th is international TALK LIKE A PIRATE DAY!

Don’t be a useless lubber, or you’ll be thrown out with the bilge water and drowned with the rats… aarrgh!

 

The Scarlett Harlott


Fallon Ellingson, better known as the Scarlett Harlott, was the PyrateCon 2008 Grand Marshal in the Pirate Invasion on Bourbon Street parade!

Karin Mckechnie is the dressmaker for this beautiful outfit, as she was for the one in our last post of the beautiful pirate lass Erika Melody.

By the way, Erika Melody is a make-up artist and model and Fallon Ellingson is her mother. Two lovely, lovely pirates.

Quarter! Give us Quarter!


Robert Newton, Pirate Talker:


Happy “Talk Like a Pirate Day!”

That was no Lady, that was a Pirate!


Mary Read with Anne Bonny and Calico Jack

by Chris Collingwood

“None among Rackams crew were more resolute or ready to board or undertake anything that was hazardous.” So stated Captain C. Johnson in his classic history “A General History of the Robberies and murders of the Most Notorious Pirates (1724). This is his description of both Mary Read and Anne Bonny, without a doubt two of the most famous woman pirates who ever sailed.

From Wikipedia:

“Johnson’s account suggests Anne Bonny was born some time between 1697 and 1705 in Kinsale, Ireland, the daughter of attorney William Cormac and his maidservant, Mary. Cormac separated from his wife and, for a time, raised Anne disguised as a boy (passing her off as a relative’s son). Once the scandal was revealed his legal business was irreparably damaged and so Cormac moved the family to Charleston, South Carolina where, after earning new wealth as a merchant, he bought a large plantation.

“At first, Anne’s family had a rough start in their new home. Her mother died shortly after they arrived in North America. Her father attempted to become an attorney there, but did not do well. Eventually, Anne’s father joined the more profitable merchant business and accumulated for the two of them a substantial fortune.

“When Bonny was 13, she supposedly stabbed a servant girl in the stomach with a table knife. Bonny was a red-haired beauty and considered a good catch. She married a poor sailor and small-time pirate named James Bonny. James Bonny hoped to win possession of his father-in-law’s estate, but Anne was disowned by her father.

“There is no evidence supporting the story that Anne Bonny started a fire on the plantation in retaliation, but it is known that sometime between 1714 and 1718, she and James Bonny moved to Nassau, on New Providence Island in the Bahamas. New Providence was then a sanctuary for English pirates. Many received a “King’s Pardon” or otherwise evaded the law. It is also true that after the arrival of Governor Woodes Rogers in the summer of 1718, James Bonny became an informant for the governor.

“While in the Bahamas, Anne Bonny began mingling with pirates in the local taverns. She met the John “Calico Jack” Rackham, captain of the pirate sloop Revenge, and became his mistress. They had a child in Cuba, although this child’s ultimate fate is unknown. Many different theories state that it was left with friends, died during birth or was simply abandoned. Anne rejoined Rackham and continued the pirate life.

“While she and Rackham were back in New Providence, James Bonny dragged Anne before Governor Rogers, demanding that she be flogged for adultery and returned to him. There was even an offer for Rackham to buy her in a divorce-by-purchase, but Anne refused to be “bought and sold like cattle.” She was sentenced to the flogging, but later Anne and Rackham escaped to live together as pirates. Anne, Rackham, and Mary Read stole the Revenge, then at anchor in Nassau harbour, and put out to sea.

“Rackham and the two women recruited a new crew. Over the next several months, they were successful as pirates, capturing many ships and bringing in an abundance of treasure. Anne did not disguise herself as a man aboard the Revenge as is often claimed. She took part in combat alongside the men, and the accounts of her exploits present her as competent, effective in combat, and respected by her shipmates. She and Mary Read’s name and gender were known to all from the start, including Governor Rogers, who named them in a “pirates wanted” circular published in the continent’s only newspaper, The Boston News-Letter. Although Bonny has historical renown as a female Caribbean pirate, she never commanded a ship of her own.

“In October 1720, Rackham and his crew were attacked by a “King’s ship”, a sloop captained by Jonathan Barnet under a commission from the Governor of Jamaica. Most of Rackham’s pirates did not put up much resistance as many of them were too drunk to fight; other sources indicate it was at night and most of them were asleep. However, Read, Bonny, and an unknown man fought fiercely and managed to hold off Barnet’s troops for a short time. Rackham and his crew were taken to Jamaica, where they were convicted and sentenced by the Governor of Jamaica to be hanged. According to Johnson, Bonny’s last words to the imprisoned Rackham were that she was “sorry to see him there, but if he had fought like a Man, he need not have been hang’d like a Dog.”

“After being sentenced, Read and Bonny both “pleaded their bellies“: asking for mercy because they were pregnant.

“In accordance with English common law, both women received a temporary stay of execution until they gave birth. Read died in prison, most likely from a fever, though it has been alleged that she died during childbirth.

“There is no historical record of Bonny’s release or of her execution. This has fed speculation that her father ransomed her; that she might have returned to her husband, or even that she resumed a life of piracy under a new identity.

“The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography states that “Evidence provided by the descendants of Anne Bonny suggests that her father managed to secure her release from jail and bring her back to Charles Town, South Carolina, where she gave birth to Rackham’s second child. On December 21, 1721 she married a local man, Joseph Burleigh, and they had 10 children. She died in South Carolina, a respectable woman, at the age of eighty and died between April 22–24, 1782. She was buried on April 25, 1782.”

“Some claim that she was smuggled away by her father, and that this was made possible by his far reaching and favorable merchant connections. This is a probable solution to the mystery. After all, her father’s business connections had saved Anne a number of times before. Rackham’s crew spent a lot of time in Jamaica and the surrounding area. Although the crew, including Anne, was discovered or caught on a number of occasions, Bonny always escaped punishment and harm. This was probably because of her father’s business contacts in Jamaica.

“Though it is generally believed that there were only one or two important female pirates, in fact there were several. The Irish chieftaness Grace O’Malley has been described as a “Pirate Queen”.

“Anne Bonny remains the most famous, and has appeared in many works. Art from the time often depicts Anne Bonny in men’s clothes, shirt hanging open, pistols smoking, the perfect image of a female warrior. In addition, there were many books published about female pirates. Many hold a striking resemblance to Anne’s story, even down to minute details of her formative years and personal life.”

It’s “Talk Like a Pirate Day!”

Blackbeard the Pirate:


Black Beard

Growing up in eastern North Carolina, it was the dread pirate Blackbeard that haunted my fantasies and dreams. I had spent time in Bath, where he supposedly had an underground tunnel into Governor Tryon’s residence through which he would clandestinely meet with his protector and split the take. The Outer Banks and the Pamlico Sound were my summer haunts as they were his. Everywhere about was evidence of wrecked and abandoned ships, Moonspinners, pirates, and the ghosts of another time. Treasure Island was one of my favorite films. The Queen Anne’s Revenge has been located and is being excavated.

From wikipedia.com:

“Edward Teach (c. 1680 – 22 November 1718), better known as Blackbeard, was a notorious English pirate who operated around the West Indies and the eastern coast of the American colonies.

“Teach was most likely born in Bristol, although little is known about his early life. In 1716 he joined the crew of Benjamin Hornigold, a pirate who operated from the Caribbean island of New Providence. He quickly acquired his own ship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, and from 1717 to 1718 became a renowned pirate. His cognomen, Blackbeard, was derived from his thick black beard and fearsome appearance; he was reported to have tied lit fuses under his hat to frighten his enemies.

“After parting company with Hornigold, Teach formed an alliance of pirates and with his cohort blockaded the port of Charleston, South Carolina. He successfully ransomed its inhabitants and then soon after, ran his ship aground on a sandbar near Beaufort, North Carolina. Teach accepted a royal pardon but was soon back at sea, where he attracted the attention of the Governor of Virginia, Alexander Spotswood. Spotswood arranged for a party of soldiers and sailors to find and capture the pirate, which they did on 22 November 1718. During a ferocious battle, Teach was killed by a small force of sailors led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard.

“A shrewd and calculating leader, Teach avoided the use of force, relying instead on his fearsome image to elicit the response he desired from those he robbed. Contrary to the modern-day picture of the traditional tyrannical pirate, he commanded his vessels with the permission of their crews and there are no known accounts of his ever having harmed or murdered those he held captive. He was romanticised after his death, and became the inspiration for a number of pirate-themed works of fiction across a range of genres.”

Ladies talk like Pirates, too…


Tomorrow is Talk Like a Pirate Day for ladies, too.

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