Born into a poor family in England, Mary Read was raised as a boy so that she could earn money for her family. She escaped to the sea by serving on a warship before entering the Army.
She was a seaman on a ship that was captured by pirates and Read turned then to a life of piracy. It was thus that she took up with Calico Jack and Anne Bonny. Legend has it that her cover as a man was blown when Anne Bonny took a liking to her!
At some point Read and Bonny cast aside their disguises, perhaps dressing as men for battle but as women at other times. In any event, they never avoided a fight and fought as ferociously as any man.
After their capture in 1720, both Anne Bonny and Mary Read were sentenced to be hanged along with Calico Jack. They jointly entered an unusual plea: "Milord, we plead our bellies." Thus, due to the fact that they were pregnant, both were saved from Calico Jack's fate. But Mary was not to escape death for long, she died in a Jamaican prison shortly thereafter.
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