Mary Read came to life as the illegitimate child & was dressed as a boy to impersonate her deceased (legitimate) brother in order to hide her mothers indiscretions from her sea-faring father. She was thus brought up as a boy, a disguise that she maintained most of her life.
Military & naval adventures fascinated Mary. In order to pursue this interest she became a 'Foot-boy' aboard a man-of-war until becoming a cadet in a regiment of foot, where 'she showed herself to have a great deal of bravery'. She fell in love and married one of her messmates, whom she had informed of her secret female identity earlier. Together with her husband, she opened up a tavern, 'The Three Horseshoes' near Breda Holland.
Her husband died & the waning prosperity of the tavern saw the young widow once again acquiring a male persona. She joined another regiment of foot, on garrison duty in Holland. There was however an interlude of peace which caused Mary to grow restless. She made a resolution of seeking her fortune another way & shipped out as a sailor aboard a Dutch vessel bound for the West Indies. The ship was stopped by pirates, and she being the only English seaman on board, was allowed to travel with them. Soon after she heard of a commission for privateers against the Spanish. Once aboard a privateer, Mary joined others of the crew in a rising against the ships captain in Munity. Eventually she found herself under the command of Captain Calico Jack Rackham (thus called because of the striped material he used for his trousers). She held herself somewhat aloof from the rest of the Company, and was pretty much accepted as a man.

Mary Read


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