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  Female Pirates (Doll Article)

(December 10, 2006 by support Send DollMail )
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Pirate dollsPirates have always been men, right? Who else would be mean enough and rough enough to kill, burn, and steal the way pirates have for centuries. Actually, this is a gross stereotype, of course. Anyone who has ever been bullied knows girls are much more vicious than men will ever be. Some of the most famous pirates throughout history have actually been women.

What are Pirates?

Pirates are simply individuals who take it upon themselves to rob others – usually at sea, but not always. Throughout history, governors and kings have actually given permission to some sailors to rob from the ships or cities of enemies. These thieves are not actually pirates, but rather privateers. The huge number of privateers who suddenly lost their commissions throughout history added to the significant numbers of pirates over time.

Pirate dollsThe most famous pirates, and the ones starring in most movies, lived during the early 1700s. This was the time of colonization in the Americas, particularly in the Caribbean and costal cities in both North and South America. The new cities often had loose laws regarding, and even encouraging the privateering, thus the industry flourished. However, when privateering fell out of fashion, many formerly legal pirates kept right on doing what they did best – even if it was not against the law.

Female Pirates

Of course, pirates did not simply appear one day in the eighteenth century. For centuries, pirates have existed, and a great many have been female. As early as 600 BC, there have been legends of female Chinese and Greek pirates. The first known European pirates were the Vikings, and many of these were female – including some princesses. There were literally hundreds of female Chinese pirates as entire families would sail including wives and daughters. Caribbean pirates did not appear on the scene until the 1500s, and with them came two of the most famous female pirates of all time.

Anne Bonny

Anne Bonny is likely the most famous female pirate.Pirate dolls She was the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner, but chose to run wild throughout Charleston, South Carolina as a dirty, short-haired tomboy. In 1710 this was unheard of. It is said she had a terrible temper and actually killed her serving girl with a knife.

When she reached the tender age of eighteen, Anne spent much of her time at the taverns by the ports of Charleston. She hospitalized one man interested in her affections for a month, and undressed her fencing instructor with her sword. Finally, she eloped with one James Bonny. Her father had apparently had enough and disowned her. Anne’s temper got the better of her and she simply burned down his plantation and ran away to New Providence on the Bahamas, a well-known haven for pirates.

Upon arrival in New Providence, Mary left her new husband and began seeing John, Calico Jack, Rackham – a well-known pirate. Mary sailed away with Calico Jack and became a true female pirate. She shot a sailor on her own ship for being too obnoxious in his attention to her, and even kicked Calico Jack out of the captain’s quarters so she could live there alone.

Mary Read

At one point in New Providence, Anne met a fellow pirate by the name of Mark Read.Pirate dolls Mark and Anne were constantly together onboard ship, and this made Calico Jack very jealous. At one point, determined to slit Mark’s throat for spending so much time with his woman, he burst into the cabin and found Anne and Mark together. As it turns out, Mark was lying on the bed undressed enough for Calico Jack to see that he was not really a Mark, but rather a Mary.

Mary and Anne remained inseparable, and alternated between dressing as men or as women. Finally, they were captured when the male pirates on their ship refused to fight another vessel at sea and left them alone on deck. All the pirates, men and women alike, were convicted of piracy and sentenced to be hanged. Mary and Anne were the only two that escaped this death, however. They both “pleaded their bellies,” meaning they claimed to be pregnant.

The courts refused to kill an unborn child, so both women were pardoned, although there is no record of either ever having a child following the trial. Anne visited Calico Jack, the man she had been with for years, right before he died and told him, "I am sorry to see you in this predicament, but had you fought like a man you would not now have to die like a dog."

Mary died while in prison, and Anne disappeared. Despite countless rumors, there is no record of what happened to her following her time in prison. While Mary and Anne might be the most famous of the female pirates, they are certainly not the only two. There were many others throughout history, some as late as the 1950s. Of course, there are probably still pirates roaming about, but there are certainly some here at the Doll Palace. Check out our Pirate Dolls to create your own crew of female pirates. Argh!

If you would like to read more about Pirates, you can always check our Pirate Dolls article.

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