Pirate. She was illegitimately born and raised as a boy, replacing a brother who died in childhood. Still dressed as a boy in her teens, Mary worked as a footboy for a rich French woman, and later found employment on a ship. Upon realizing how harsh life was at sea, she jumped ship and enlisted in a foot regiment and proved herself in battle. She fell in love and married a Flemish soldier, dressing as a woman for the first time in her life. They acquired an inn named "The Three Horseshoes" near Breda Castle in the Netherlands. When her husband died, she donned his clothes and joined the army, but soon quit and boarded a ship bound for the West Indies. On the way, the ship was taken by pirates who forced her to join them. She received the King's pardon about 1718, but in 1720 she signed on with pirate "Calico Jack" Rackham. One of his crew was the female pirate Anne Bonny, who liked the looks of the new "lad." Anne brought him to a cabin to have her way with him and soon learned that Mary was a woman. The two ended up being good friends and were generally regarded as very capable fighters. Calico Jack was getting jealous of their close friendship, so he was let in on the secret of her sex, also. Eventually Mary fell in love with an artist who was captured from a trading vessel. One time he had a quarrel with a fellow crewmember and they were to settle it in a duel. Mary knew her lover was no match for the pirate, so she picked a fight with the pirate herself and challenged him to an immediate duel, killing him before her lover was scheduled to fight. In October 1720, pirate hunter Jonathan Barnet took Calico Jack's ship by surprise, disabling it with a volley of cannon fire. The drunken pirate crew fled to the hold, leaving the women and one other pirate topside to fight off Barnet's boarding party. Mary was so enraged at their drunken cowardice that she discharged a pistol into the hold, killing one pirate and wounding another. Barnet's crew soon overcame the women and captured the pirate crew. They were brought to trial in Saint Lago de la Vega, Jamaica, on November 28 and were sentenced to hang. Both women escaped hanging by "pleading the belly," meaning they were pregnant, so they received a temporary stay of execution. Mary Read died in prison.
Bio by: GravRidr