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).
To read more about these fascinating figures in history, check out the Smithsonian’s’ article “If There’s a Man Among Ye: The Tale of Pirate Queens Anne Bonny and Mary Read.”