~~April 5, 2014~~
The History and Legends of Anne Bonney and Mary Read
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.
~~Ten Facts About Anne Bonny and Mary Read~~
During the Golden Age of Piracy (1700-1725), legendary pirates like Blackbeard, Bartholomew Roberts and Charles Vane commanded mighty ships, terrorizing any merchant unfortunate enough to cross their path. Yet two of the most famous pirates from this age served on a third-rate pirate ship under a second-rate captain, and they never held an important position on board such as quartermaster or boatswain. They were Anne Bonny and Mary Read: bold women who left behind the stereotypical domestic chores of women at the time in favor of a life of adventure on the high seas! Here, we separate fact from myth in regards to two of history’s greatest swashbucklerettes.
They were both Raised as Boys
They were Tough and knew how to Defend Themselves
They Weren’t the only Women Pirates
They were good at being Pirates
They both chose Piracy as a Career
They had a Complicated Relationship with one another
They didn’t Fool Anyone
They didn’t go out Without a Fight
They escaped Hanging because of their “Condition”
Rackham and his pirates were swiftly tried and found guilty: most of them were hanged on November 18, 1720. Bonny and Read were sentenced to hang, but both of them declared they were pregnant. A judge ordered their claim checked out and it was found to be true, a fact which automatically commuted their death sentence. Read died in prison shortly thereafter, but Bonny survived. No one knows for sure what became of her and her child: some say she reconciled with her rich father, some say she remarried and lived in Port Royal or Nassau.
~Their Tale has Proved Very Inspirational~
The story of Anne Bonny and Mary Read has captivated people ever since their arrest. Captain Charles Johnson made a big deal of them in his book, which certainly helped his sales. Later on, the notion of female pirates as romantic figures gained traction. In 1728 (less than ten years after Bonny and Read’s arrest), noted playwright John Gay wrote the Opera Polly, a sequel to his acclaimed Beggar’s Opera. In the opera, young Polly Peachum comes to the New World and takes up piracy as she searches for her husband. Ever since, female pirates have been part of romantic pirate lore. Even modern fictional she-pirates like Angelica, played by Penelope Cruz in Pirates of the Caribbean: on Stranger Tides (2011) owe their existence to Read and Bonny. In fact, it’s safe to say that Bonny and Read have had a far greater impact on popular culture than they ever had on eighteenth century shipping and commerce.
We ALL are connected through HISTORY!!
~Pirates on the seven seas, Ann Bonny, Mary Read, filibusters of the Indies~
~~Published on Oct 29, 2012~~
The Irish Mary Read dressed as a boy sails as a seaman to the new colonies in the Caribbean and then joins the crew of the pirate Calico Jack. She makes the acquaintance of English Ann Bonny, also disguised. Intrepid adventurers, they scour the Caribbean until the last fight where, despite the courage of these two women, the drunken crew surrender.
We ALL are ONE!!