The student news site of Pierce College in Lakewood, Washington.


Mary Read- Going against the grain

March 8, 2017


Mary Read spent most of her life disguised as a man. Read’s widowed mother needed money, so Read was dressed up as a boy to fool her grandmother into thinking her deceased older brother was still alive. Even after her grandmother died and there was no reason for her to dress as a boy, she dressed in boy’s clothing. She found work as a soldier and as a sailor.

While she fought for the British, she fell in love with a Flemish soldier. She confessed her secret to him and they were married. The couple operated an Inn called Three Horseshoes.

After his death, she knew she could not manage the Inn, so she resumed her life as a fighter. While sailing to the West Indies, her ship was overtaken by pirates. Read decided to join them and live life as a pirate.

In 1720, she was aboard the pirate ship of “Calico Jack” Rackham. Here she met another pirate, who she would later find out to be a disguised woman, named Anne Bonney.

As a pirate, she fell in love and married a sailor, whose ship was overtaken. In late 1720, a British Captain named Jonathan Barnet captured Rackham’s ship.

The crew was quickly tried and hanged in Port Royal, but Read announced that she was pregnant, which was true. She was placed in prison and her hanging was set to occur after she gave birth, but she died in early 1721 from a fever.

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