Mary Read 1690- 1721
Mary Read was a pirate who was active in the early 18th Century. Mary was born to the widow of a sea captain. Her mother dressed her as a boy in order to get more money from Mary’s grandmother. Mary took the role of “boy” into her adult life, she liked the freedom and adventure.
Mary became a soldier and a sailor. When working for the British in Holland, she fell in love with a flemish soldier. She revealed to him that she was a woman and they married. Her husband met an early death, so Mary decided to hitch a ride to the West Indies. The ship Mary was on was attacked by pirates and she made the decision to align herself with the criminals. She went from pirate ship to pirate ship, and then worked for the British government for a while. Mary mutinied the government ship to become a pirate again and eventually found herself on board with Anne Bonny.
Mary had yet to reveal her womanhood to Anne when Anne first tried to seduce her. After Mary revealed herself, the seduction continued and the two became an inseparable duo. They were the toughest on the ship and had a reputation throughout the high seas. Bounty hunters were sent out to find the ship and in October of 1720 they were attacked. Mary Read and her lover were the only two in the crew who were sober enough to fight. They held their ground for a while but were no match for the bounty hunters, especially when their only back up was a bunch of drunken criminals.
At their trial, Bonny and Read pled the belly. Since a pregnant woman could not be hung, both women were spared that fate. The men of the crew were all swiftly sentenced to execution. Mary was never free again, she died in prison from a fever.