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Mary Read

Born 1694 Manchester, England. Died 1720 London, England

Mary Read The Pirate

Mary Read's origins are obscure. Sources indicate that her father may have been an enlisted soldier yet Mary was raised by her widowed mother until the age of 13. Trained as a servant to rich French women, Mary acted and behaved like a boy in all regards. In fact she continued this successful masquerade and even enlisted in the English Army under the guise of being a male.
While in service to the army, Mary fell in love with a Cavalry Officer and confessed her true gender to him. Eventually they married but the relationship rapidly deteriorated. Leaving her husband, Mary again resumed her male identity and joined the crew of a British Man-O-War. The vessel was eventually attacked and captured by the pirate Calico Jack Rackham.
Calico Jack began butchering the sailors of Read's Man-O-War until Mary revealed her true gender to the pirate and begged for her life. Ironically, a female member of Calico Jack's crew, one Anne Bonny took a personal interest in Mary Read and convinced Calico Jack to spare her from his sword.
It is believed that Mary Read and Anne Bonny shared an intimate and romantic relationship with each other. Calico Jack, angry at losing the affections of Anne Bonny became irate on the High Seas and began attacking vessels with fury. Wanted by the Spanish, French and British Navies in 1718, Calico Jack turned his vessel eastward and landed on the shores of Cape May, New Jersey.
Mary Read took to the land for about one year, purchased real estate in South New Jersey and became a modestly successful business woman. Bonny and Calico Jack continued to plunder the Atlantic Coastline and used Read's shop as a place of exchange for their stolen loot. When colonial authorities became wise to the operation they burned Mary Read's shop and issued warrants for their arrest. While fleeing the port of Cape May, Calico Jack, Mary Read and Anne Bonny faced a naval blockade of 12 British vessels in the Delaware Bay. During a bitter fight Calico Jack struck the colors of surrender upon his mast and resigned himself and the crew to their fate.
They were returned to London, England to face charges of Piracy and though Bonny and Read were given stays of execution, Calico Jack Rackham was hanged on November 28, 1720 at Execution Dock. Mary Read died several weeks later in jail from a fever.