Pirate Women

The colorful story of pirates Anne Bonny and Mary Read prove that not every woman in the 18th century knew her place. For them, crossdressing meant adventure, freedom, and power. They met as part of the crew sailing under John “Calico Jack” Rackam.
During battles Anne and Mary fought side by side, wearing billowing jackets and long trousers and handkerchiefs wrapped around their heads, wielding a machete and pistol in either hand. “They were very active on board,” another victim later testified, “and wiling to do any Thing.” The summer and early fall of 1720 proved especially lucrative for Rackam’s crew. In September they took seven fishing boats and two sloops near Harbor Island. A few weeks later, Anne and Mary led a raid against a schooner, shooting at the crew as they climbed aboard, cursing as they gathered their plunder: tackle, fifty rolls of tobacco and nine bags of pimento. They held their captives for two days before releasing them.

Even when Rackam surrendered, Anne and Mary held out against the governor's forces. Read how they came to be pirates and friends, and what happened to these famous seafaring women at Smithsonian's Past Imperfect blog. Link

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