This is a continuation of yesterday’s post about Anne Bonney. Today I introduce Mary Read.
Mary Read born in Plymouth, England, in the late 1600s. Like Anne Bonney she was also illegitimate. Let’s not blame her mother though, her bloody sea faring father had buggered off to sea (as was his wont) and was never heard of again. Leaving his wife pregnant, she gave birth to a son who died as a young child, in fact soon after she gave birth to Mary. Left with only one child, her mother figured she may as well pretend this was the legitimate one. Why make things harder than they have to be? With no money, no husband and a bastard girl child to fend for things looked bleak.
Mary’s mother decided to go to London to hit up her mother in law for some child support, dressing her daughter up as her son. I mean, who can really tell children’s ages anyway? Apparently her mother and law is a fucking idiot and believes this act of deception and sends them money each week to help look after “her” grandchild.
Mary soon realises that dressing up as boy occasionally can make life in the 18th century a damned site easier. Mainly because big poofy skirts can be a giant pain in the arse, hair takes too long to do and you know, sexism. She puts on her creative hat and decides to call herself “Mark Read” from here on in.
As a teenager Mary uses her boy disguise and hires herself out to a French woman. Sounds like a fucking excellent opportunity for some top notch cake from where I’m standing. It didn’t last long though (French woman was probably more into snails or some shit) so she left and soon got herself onto a warship. Did that for a while. Nailed it.
Looking for a change, she joined the army for a bit and casually served with distinction, like a boss. She also fell in love with one of the other soldiers and was forced to do the “surprise, I’ve got girl bits” confession. He was pleased. This led her on a short lived path of dressing as a female, getting married and opening an inn near a tourist trap castle. Unfortunately this prick proved to be just as useless as all the other men in the story and died on her. Shit ain’t easy when you’re on your own in the 1700s dressed as a woman, so it was back on with the pants again.
A Dutch merchant ship sounds like fun, doesn’t it? How about a Caribbean holiday ? Well, it seems some English pirates commandeered that ship, so she went ahead and sailed with those crazy fools for a while.
She and her pirate mates were having a merry old time until they all accepted our old nemesis, the King’s pardon, in 1718 and became privateers (legitimate, freelance pirates) instead. I’m sure she was pleased when her ship was taken over by Calico Jack’s Vanity and she realised that legitimate life was boring as fuck so she went full pirate again.
As Anne Bonney was also on this ship and they did the whole “you’re a girl too! Vagina Party!” thing. Good times were had by all. She took a lover from the male crew and showed herself to be a good sort by saving this numpty’s life by protecting him from a threatened duel. She wore all of the fucking trousers. She sought out her lover’s opponent, picked a fight and killed the prick probably all before her man had finished napping. Ain’t nobody messing with her man.
Tune in for the final installment, in which our heroines are together at last, tomorrow.
I learnt about the Lesbian Pirates during a Pirates of Wapping walking tour, by Best LDN Walks. I walked free as part of a blogger tour. They do tons of other cool walks as well, such as the haunted pub tour and naughty London tours. BYO Mean Girls jokes.