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|Also known as||
|Ship(s) captained or crewed||
|Behind the scenes|
Mary was born in London, England, and when she was 13 she was working as a foot boy for a rich French woman. But soon she ran away to sign on board a man-o-war. A few years after Mary jumped a ship, but only to enlist in a foot regiment of the British Army. She fought showing great bravery. Mary later joined a horse regiment where she then fell in love with a soldier. She confessed her womanhood to this man and they were married. The two of them opened up an inn called the Three Horseshoes near the Castle Breda. Mary's husband eventually died, and once more she wore men's clothing, and attempted once more a life in the British Army. She failed at this, so she shipped off to the West Indies.
On her way, her ship was taken by pirate Captain "Calico Jack" Rackham. As fate would have it, another woman pirate, named Anne Bonny, was part of Calico's crew. Anne saw a young strapping sailor among the newly-captured prize and decided that she would have her way with him. To Anne's surprise, when she got the man alone, he opened his blouse and he exposed to Anne that he too was a woman. Then Mary confessed that she would rather join with Rackham and Anne than lead the dull life as a woman and she too became one of Calico's pirates.
Read fell in love with one of the sea artists (carpenter or navigator) who had been forced to join Rackham's crew. He was due to fight a duel with an experienced pirate he had rubbed the wrong way. Read, knowing that her beloved stood no chance against him, started a quarrel with the older man and challenged him to a duel that would take place before the pending duel with the artist.
During the subsequent duel the older man stumbled during a thrust. Legend has it that Read ripped her shirt open, revealing her gender. Supposedly, in the moment of the pirate's surprise and hesitation, she quickly grabbed his cutlass and killed him.
Capture, imprisonment and death
In October 1720, the troops of pirate hunter Captain Jonathan Barnet took them by surprise, and captured Rackham, his sloop William and his crew on behalf of the governor of Jamaica. Rackham and the majority of his crew were reportedly drunk, and did not put up much resistance, many being passed out in the ship's hold. Read and Bonny did resist, but were outgunned.
Rackham and his crew were sentenced to hang for acts of piracy, as were Read and Bonny. However, the females escaped the noose when they revealed they were both "quick with child" (known as "Pleading the belly"), so they received a temporary stay of execution. Read was believed to have been pregnant by the artist, whom she considered her legal husband before God. Bonny was believed to have been pregnant by Rackham (who was most definitely not her husband).
Read died in prison in April 1721, but there is no record of burial of her baby. Official documents state that Read died of fever associated with childbirth.
Behind the scenes
- One of the featurettes on the Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl DVD/Blue Ray edition is about Mary Read and Anne Bonny.
- Anne Bonny and Mary Read appear on the mural on the walls of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. One of Marc Davis's concept artworks for the ride shows Anne Bonny and Mary Read admiring the treasure of the dead pirate captain.
- Walt Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Story of the Robust Adventure in Disneyland and Walt Disney World
- Pirates of the Caribbean: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies
- The Buccaneer's Heart!
- The Captain Jack Sparrow Handbook