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Anne Bonny Other women warriors in drag:
Sarah Edmonds
   Union Army spy
Deborah Sampson
   American revolutionary war hero
Hua Mulan:
   6th C. Chinese warrior.
Nadezhda Durova: 19th C. Russian soldier
Joan of Arc:
   Leader of French army in 100 years war, 15th C.
 Woman Warrior in Drag of the week

Mary Read

Born in the late 1600's in the county of Devon, England, Mary Read was from birth disguised as a boy by her mother so that she would not be cut off from her husband's inheritance. The plan succeeded, but the disguise continued well after the family's inheritance ran out during Read's early teens, and she was forced to begin work at the Plymouth Naval docks.

Read eventually found better paying work in Flanders as a soldier in a cavalry regiment. There she fell in love with a fellow soldier, to whom she revealed her true gender. The two married, and were booted unceremoniously from their regiment in 1697. The couple took new work as owners of an Inn called the Three Horseshoes until Read's husband died. With little money, Read took up her old disguise and joined a ship headed for the West Indies in 1717.

Read was clearly tougher than most, and when the ship was taken by the English pirate Charles Vane, he took her under his wing, still disguised as a man, while marooning the rest of her crew. By 1719, Read had developed a fierce and fearless reputation as a pirate. When pirate Calico Jack Rackham took over from Vane as captain, he made her his lieutenant. He brought with him another woman disguised as a man--Anne Bonny--who also had an impressive pirate reputation. Bonny developed an attraction to Read, who rebuffed Bonny's advances and revealed her true gender. All of this was revealed to Rackham's crew, but the women were such good pirates, nobody cared.

Their pirate adventures ended in 1720 as the crew was caught drunk and their ship was taken by the king's pirate hunters. Read and her crew were sent to Jamaica for trial. The court did not believe her unusual story of explanation and sentenced her to death by hanging. Since Read at this point was pregnant, her execution was delayed until after the birth of her child. Tragically, both she and her infant died of fever while in prison.

Additional information about Mary Read and Anne Bonny is available at the Grand Turk site.

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