Mary Read was a notorious pirate who sailed the Caribbean during the early 18th century. Born in England around 1690, Mary spent much of her childhood disguised as a boy to help her mother obtain financial support from her mother's wealthy relatives. Later in life, Mary joined the British military and served as a soldier in Flanders during the War of the Spanish Succession.
After the war, Mary sailed to the West Indies and joined the crew of a pirate ship captained by John Rackham, also known as Calico Jack. Disguised as a man, Mary quickly proved herself to be a skilled fighter and a valuable member of the crew. She also became close friends with another female pirate, Anne Bonny.
Together, Mary and Anne formed a formidable partnership, feared and respected by their male counterparts. They fought alongside the men in battles and raids, earning a reputation for their courage and skill with a sword. Mary was particularly known for her ferocity in battle, once reportedly fighting off several attackers while wounded and bleeding.
Despite her success as a pirate, Mary's career was short-lived. In 1720, Rackham's ship was captured by a British naval vessel, and Mary and Anne were both arrested and charged with piracy. Unlike Anne, Mary was not able to avoid conviction by claiming to be pregnant, and she was sentenced to hang.
Before her execution, Mary revealed to the court that she was a woman, explaining that she had disguised herself as a man to escape poverty and to serve in the military. Her story captivated the public imagination, and she was later immortalized in plays, novels, and films.
Today, Mary Read is remembered as a daring and unconventional figure who challenged the norms of her time. Her bravery and determination continue to inspire people around the world, cementing her place in history as one of the most famous female pirates to ever sail the seas.