Pirate

Mary Read

Mary Read - Pirate (Unknown - 1721)

Mary Read is famous as being one of a few successful women pirates. Being brought up disguised as a boy, she kept her gender a secret from the other pirates, many of whom believed women on ships to be bad luck. More recently she has appeared as a character in Assassins Creed the video game.

This page details facts about Mary Read's life and the events that shaped her history.

Mary Read the Pirate - Fun Facts for Kids !

1: Mary Read's mother married a sailor when she was young. Soon after the marriage her husband went to sea, leaving her mother pregnant with a boy.

2: The husband never returned, and while the baby was less than a year old, Mary Read's mother became pregnant with Mary. Not knowing who the father was, her mother hid her shame by leaving her father's family, under the pretence of going to live with friends.

3: Soon after her mother left, her son died. A while later, Mary Read was born.

4: After three or four years her mother was struggling for money so, dressing Mary Read as a boy, she went to her Mother in Law pretending Mary was her Grandson. The Mother in Law was fooled and provided a crown a week for Mary Read's upbringing.

5: When she was older, her mother explained the secret to her and encouraged her to continue masquerading as a boy.

6: Eventually the Mother in Law died and the money stopped, resulting in Mary Read and her mother becoming poorer. To help them along Mary Read, at the age of thirteen, was sent to work as a footman by her mother.

7: Becoming bold and adventurous, she didn't stay in service long. Mary Read enlisted on a Man of War, where she served for some time before quitting and becoming a foot soldier in Flanders. Despite her bravery, she couldn't get a commission as they tended to be bought and sold at the time. Mary Read went on to join the cavalry where she became highly respected. All this time she continued to masquerade as a man.

8: While Mary Read served with this regiment, she fell in love with a comrade and revealed her true gender to him. After a while, he fell in love with her and, after buying some women's clothes for her, they were married.

9: When news of the wedding spread, the officers who had served with her decided to give her a present towards housekeeping. Mary Read and her husband gained a discharge and set up an eating house called the Three Horseshoes, where they had good trade from officers eating with them. After a short while, her husband died and peace came, so the officers stopped coming to Mary's eating house.

10: Mary Read was forced to give up the eating house and, once again masquerading as a man, she became a foot soldier in Holland. Being little prospect there for her, she quit and boarded a ship bound for the West Indies. The ship she sailed on was taken by English pirates. Being the only English person on board, Mary was kept on by the pirates to become one of their own.

11: Mary Read and the rest of the crew accepted the King's pardon for pirates and stayed ashore. When their money began to run out, Mary Read, and other members of the crew, headed for Providence to go privateering against the Spanish for Governor Woodes Rogers. Once they'd set off, Mary Read, and many others, overcame their commanders and returned to piracy.

12: She often stated that she abhorred piracy and that this time, and before, she had only turned to piracy through necessity and would quit if her circumstances changed.

13: While sailing under John 'Calico Jack' Rackham, Mary Read was approached by Anne Bonny, who had taken a fancy to her. Knowing what would be expected, she was forced to reveal her gender to Anne and the pair became good friends.

14: Calico Jack, who was Anne Bonny's lover, became jealous of her friendship with Mary and threatened to cut her new lover's throat. This forced Anne to reveal Mary's secret to him. However, her secret was kept from the rest of the crew.

15: Mary Read fell in love with a man forced to serve on their ship after being captured on one of the ships they'd taken. She befriended him by speaking against the pirates life, which he was averse to. Over time, she revealed her gender to him and he began to fall in love with the woman that Mary Read had portrayed herself to be.

16: In an act of great love, Mary Read risked her life for that of her lover. Her lover had quarrelled with another pirate, which resulted in a fight being set to take place on a nearby island. She was concerned that the pirate was too strong for her lover, so she forced a quarrel with the same pirate and challenged him to fight her two hours earlier. Fighting him with a sword and pistol, Mary killed him, thus saving her lover's life.

17: Mary Read and her lover exchanged marriage vows, and treated them as if they'd been given in front of a minister. Mary became pregnant.

18: When their ship was taken by Captain John Barnett of the Royal Navy, Mary Read, along with Anne Bonny and another crew member, were the only pirates to remain on deck and fight. Mary shouted down to the others to come up and fight like men. When they didn't, she fired down into the hold killing one and wounding several others.

19: During Mary Read's trial, she commended the court for distinguishing the nature of their crimes, as her 'husband' had been acquitted. Despite being asked, she would not reveal his identity.

20: Mary Read was found guilty of piracy, in November 1720, and sentenced to hang. She pleaded her pregnancy and was sent to prison instead. Soon after, Mary contracted a fever and died in prison.

21: Mary Read, alongside Blackbeard, Anne Bonny, Benjamin Hornigold, Calico Jack and Charles Vane, has appeared as a character in the popular video game Assassins Creed IV, Black Flag.

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