This week, Smithsonian Magazine highlights the only two women convicted of piracy in the 18th century: Mary Read and Anne Bonny. Both women were known for their cunning and ruthlessness. Originally, the two women were forced to hide their gender while serving on privateering and pirating ships.
As most Captains (of legally and illegally operating vessels) banned women from serving and even stepping foot on their ships (Blackbeard reportedly ordered all female captives to be strangled and cast overboard), they protected their precarious ‘position’ by disguising themselves as men. Both women participated in raids (often bloody and dangerous), were fingered in committing violent crimes (Bonny reportedly stabbed a fellow sailor in the heart to protect her identity as a woman on a sailing vessel), and ultimately served lengthy stays in prison for their participation in piracy (a capital offense in the 18th century).
Archaeologists have formally confirmed that the ship being excavated off of the coast of North Carolina is Blackbeard’s flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge. The Queen Anne’s Revenge was grounded and ultimately sunk in 1718 when Blackbeard (aka Edward Teach) left Charleston harbor, refusing a pardon offered by the Governor.
The wreck was rediscovered in 1996 and subsequently excavated starting in 2001 by the Queen Anne’s Revenge Shipwreck Project. To read more about the wreck and the confirmation that this was indeed Blackbeard’s flagship, read this article in the Sacramento Bee.
Blackbeard, probably originally named Edward Teach or Thatch, christened the Queen Anne’s Revenge in 1717 – having confiscated it from the French government. The ship was sunk off of the coast of North Carolina in 1718, five months before Blackbeard would be killed in battle.
Excavations of the Queen Anne’s Revenge have already yielded more than 250,000 artifacts and providing invaluable information about piracy and sea-faring in the 18th century Americas. You can read more about the raising of the anchor, an impressive feat of engineering, in this MSNBC article or via FoxNews.