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).
Underwater archaeologists have uncovered the remains of what they believe are three ships that belonged to the infamous Welsh privateer Captain Henry Morgan.
Morgan was an English privateer (a common euphemism for political pirates) that targeted the Spanish fleet during the 17th century. Henry Morgan was, arguably, the most successful and bloodthirsty of the English pirates operating in the region under the official sanction of the British monarchy.
In 1671, Morgan and his men lay siege to the Spanish Fort Castillo de San Lorenzo in Panama. While ultimately successful, he lost his flag ship and several other vessels in the process.
Archaeologists of the wrecks have uncovered a series of wooden planks, 17th century canons, and the odds and ends one would expect on a sea-faring vessel of the day (but no gold). To read more about the find, check out the video and article at MSNBC.
Blackbeard the Pirate, aka Edward Teach, sailed the waters of the Caribbean and the Atlantic in the 18th century in his flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge until it was sunk off the coast of North Carolina in 1718. Blackbeard was killed in combat a few months later.