Lady Mary Killigrew
English Pirate, active 1530-1570
Mary was the daughter of a former Suffolk pirate. Mary’s husband Sir Henry Killigrew, a former pirate himself, was made a Vice-Admiral by Queen Elizabeth I and tasked with suppressing piracy. Whenever her husband went to sea Mary engaged in piracy using the staff of her castle (Arwenack Castle in Cornwall) as crew and possibly with the Queen’s knowledge. In 1570 she captured a German merchant ship off Falmouth and her crew sailed it to Ireland to sell. However, the owner of this ship was a friend of Queen Elizabeth who then had Lady Mary arrested and brought to trial at the Launceston assizes. Some sources say she was sentenced to death and then pardoned by the Queen but this is due to confusion with another family member. According to sources, her family either bribed the jurors and she was acquitted or Queen Elizabeth arranged a short jail sentence. Whatever transpired, she gave up pirating and took up fencing stolen goods until she died several years later.
The Lady in Red (Veronica)
The Lady in Red was an English pirate, active in the years 1528-1534.
Often going by the name Veronica, The Lady in Red, never revealed her real identity. The legend goes: The Lady in Red would often disguise herself as a singer or entertainer to trick her way onto a ship, but then reveal herself with a shirt, pants, and weapons underneath her dress. She would then kill everyone, and take the ship for herself.
Not much else is known about her, other than she died in 1534, around the age of 34.
Anne Dieu-Le-Veut also called Marie-Anne or Marianne (born ca 1650) was a French Pirate, a so called Buccaneer, and together with Jaquotte Delahaye one of very few female ones.
She is believed to have been a criminal deported from France in this manner, as were many of those women. Her deportation to Tortuga was said to have taken place during the reign of governor Betrand d’Ogeron de la Bouere, which means it must have been in 1665-1668 or 1669-1675. In Tortuga she was married to the buccaneer Pierre Length.
In 1683, Anne’s husband was killed in a bar fight by the famous buccaneer Laurens de Graff. She challenged Laurens to a duel to avenge her husbands death (other sources claims she heard him insult her), and while Laurens drew his sword, Anne drew her gun. Laurens then succumbed saying he would not fight a woman; he then proposed to her on the spot in admiration of her courage, and she accepted. In reality, the two were actually not married, as Laurens already had a wife he had abandoned many years ago, but they were from this point seen as man and wife. Others claim this event happened in 1693.
Anne is called a pirate because she accompanied Laurens on his ship and fought on his side during acts of piracy, sharing his work and the command on his ship in the same fashion as Anne Bonny did with Calico Jack. Unlike Anne Bonny, she did not disguise her sex, and her acts therefore aroused much attention and fascination. She was talked about as brave, stern and ruthless, and it was in these years that her name “Anne God-Wants” became known. Usually, it was considered bad luck to have a woman on board a ship, but Anne was instead regarded as the bringer of good luck.
In 1693, her husband raided Jamaica, and was as a thanks rewarded with the noble title of Chevalier, the position of Major Lieutenant and the commission of Ile-a-Vache, but the year after, the English took their revenge on Tortuga, and Anne and her two daughters were taken prisoner by the English and kept as hostages for three years. She was said to have been treated with great respect. In 1698 they were reunited with Laurens.
Anne’s daughter (she was said to have had two, born in the early 1690s) was said to have lived in Haiti, where she became known for having performed a duel with a man.
The Ballad of the
by Jane Yolen
"I couldn’t love a man who commands me - any more than I could love one who lets himself be commanded by me. "
"Had you fought like a man, you need not be hanged like a dog. "
“These Privateers were no sooner sail’d out, but the Crews of some of them, who had been pardoned, rose against their Commanders, and turned themselves to their old Trade: In this Number was Mary Read. It is true, she often declared, that the Life of a Pyrate was what she always abhor’d, and went into it only upon Compulsion, both this Time, and before, intending to quit it, whenever a fair Opportunity should offer itself; yet some of the Evidence against her, upon her Tryal, who were forced Men, and had sail’d with her, deposed upon Oath, that in Times of Action, no Person amongst them was more resolute, or ready to board or undertake any Thing that was hazardous, than she and Anne Bonny; and particularly at the time they were attack’d and taken, when they came to close Quarters, none kept the Deck except Mary Read and Anne Bonny, and one more; upon which, she, Mary Read, called to those under Deck, to come up and fight like Men, and finding they did not stir, fired her Arms down the Hold amongst them, killing one, and wounding others.”
Quote & illustration from Daniel Defoe’s A General History of the Pyrates: From Their First Rise and Settlement in the Island of Providence to the Present Time, ca. 1724
The Sea Sirens are an all female performance troupe of pirates that perform at pirate and renaissance festivals.