The lifestyles of the freebooters of the medieval era and the subsequent centuries are not only the subject of fascination among the males, but a number of females also seem very much interested towards them. The trend of pirate costumes is equally popular among women in the present scenario. It is quite obvious; they were not the men only who had raided the treasure ships in the medieval times, but there were some fierce female pirates also who ravaged the Caribbean Sea.
Mary Read was one of the famous pirate queens, who actively participated in the profession of piracy. Her life history is very interesting and shows that she was not behind the men in anything. She was even raised as a boy by her mother since her childhood. She was an illegitimate daughter of a widow to a sea captain and was born in the 17th century. After the death of her older brother, her mother was afraid that Mary’s paternal grandmother would discontinue the financial help. In order to continue that financial aid, she disguised Mary as a boy.
Read continued her male wardrobes till her adulthood. In the teenage years, Read worked as a footboy in her male appearance. Later on, she joined British military, which was allied with Dutch forces against French during that period. She proved herself equal to men in the combats. She wore the male dress, but she could not hide her female heart. She fell in love with a Flemish soldier during her services. She got married and wore the female dress for the first time. Unfortunately, her husband died soon, and Mary resumed the military services after his death with continuing the male disguise. After peace, Mary found no scope for advancement in the military. So, she left the services and boarded a ship for West Indies.
The ship was attacked by the crew of the famous pirate captain John “Calico Jack” Rackham. The pirates forced her to join their crew, and she had been proved to be a perfect pirate. She kept herself in the male disguise for some time and befriended with Anne Bonny, another famous female pirate of Calico Jack’s crew. Once, Calico Jack, who was dubious about the Bunny’s and Read’s relations, tried to cut her throat, since he was the lover of Bonny. Read had to reveal her identity in front of Calico in order to eliminate his doubts. Calico broke the seafaring tradition and opened the doors of the crew for the women also. Mary Read started living in female dress while living on the ship, and male pirate clothing at the time of combats.
In the year 1720, the crew got some prisoners and forced them to join them for some useful services. May fell in love with one such prisoner and claimed him her husband. Once a pirate in the crew challenged her lover for duel, but Mary killed the challenger in a secret duel a few hours earlier. Mary was caught in October 1720 by the pirate hunter Jonathan Barnet along with Rackham’s crew. She died in prison in April 1721. One of the most notorious female pirates died, but she is alive in the hearts of many pirate lifestyle lovers in the modern times.