Anne Bonny and Mary Read were a famous duo of female pirates who had a violent career in the early 18th century.
Both had unusual teenage years. Anne ran away from Ireland to the Bahamas married to a pirate named John Bonny, although she quickly moved through a string of lovers before setting sail on the Revenge, captained by John “Calico Jack” Rackam. While ostensibly onboard as Rackam’s lover, Anne fought in battles dressed as a man and acquired a bloodthirsty reputation, once stabbing a sailor who complained about her gender.
From the age of 13 Mary Read had been disguised as a boy to serve as a ‘powder monkey’ on a British man-of-war, and later served on a Dutch ship headed to the West Indies. Captured by pirates, she became part of Rackam’s crew, where she met Anne who learned her true identity.
The two became close friends (and possibly lovers), who fought side-by-side in battle wielding pistols and machetes. They served in Rackam’s crew during the height of his campaign in 1720, during which they captured 7 boats and 2 sloops.
This came to an end that October, when their ship was attacked by a ship commissioned by the Governor of Jamaica. The attack came at night when most of the crew were too drunk to fight and the Revenge was quickly disabled. Anne and Mary however refused to surrender and faced off against the enemy crew, but were only able to hold them off for a short time.
The two were sentenced to death in Jamaica but were given a stay of execution as both claimed to be pregnant. Mary died in prison, and Anne’s ultimate fate is unknown.