Mary Read

Mary Read was born in England to and English sea captain, and his wife, who sailed with him. They had an older son, who when died Mary was young. When Mary's father died, her mother pretended that Mary was a boy, with the hope that her mother-in-law would help pay for her/'his' upbringing, for the old lady did not like little girls. Unfortunately the old woman died before she had a chance to show the woman her 'grandson'. Mary's mother continued with the charade, for she thought that Mary would have a better life if she grew up as a boy, and so she became known as 'Mark' Read.

When 'Mark' grew older, she joined the army, and became a good soldier. She eventually fell in love with another soldier, and they married after she told him she was really a woman. They left the army and ran an inn for a while, but their luck turned bad when her husband caught a bad fever and died.

Mary did not wish to go back into the army and so she decided to become a sailor this time instead. She became 'Mark' Read once again. 'Mark' was a good sailor, and could fight with a sword really well. When 'his' ship got taken by pirates, the pirates (Jack Rackham's crew) wanted 'him' to join them. Jack Rackham had another lady on his ship, his ladylove, Anne. Now, of course, he had another, though he didn't know it. 'Mark' and Anne became good friends, and Jack became quite jealous. Anne was starting to fancy Mark as more than just friends, and so 'Mark' told her that she was really a woman! She had to tell Jack too, because he was quite upset with 'Mark', and wanted to throw 'him' off the ship!

Mary and Anne were both great pirates, even better fighters than some men. It is said that Mary fell in love with another pirate aboard Jack's ship, and she arranged to fight a duel an hour ahead of the one that her love was supposed to fight, because she feared for his life. (And she was a great swordsman).

Jack's ship was eventually captured, and though Mary and Anne put up a great fight, they lost. Mary and Anne went to trial for piracy, but were not hanged because they 'pleaded their bellies', which means that they were both expecting babies! Mary went to prison, where she died of a fever before her baby was born.

Buccaneers and Pirates of Our Coasts by Frank R Stockton
In profile-Pirates and Privateers by Jeremy Pascall


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