The astonishing story of Mary Read, soldier and pirate

If you don’t know it, clock the story of Mary Read, who spent much of her life passing as a boy or a man – and had careers in soldiering and two spells of piracy, one of which was as crew with pirate captain John ‘Calico Jack’ Rackham.

She became friendly with Calico Jack’s lover, pirate Anne Bonny. The pirate captain became suspicious that they were lovers, and had to be let into the secret of Mary’s true gender.

Then Mary fell in love with a captured sailor, saved him from probable death in a feud, then got captured and tried, and finally died of fever in jail…

It’s scarcely credible, particularly when you think of the sleeping and toileting arrangements on ships in the old days, but it must be true…

My thanks to Museum Ship Fountain for pointing this out.

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The Raid on the Medway on the BBC website

‘The whiff of gunsmoke, burning timber, pitch and tar. Warships ablaze, flames shooting through gunports, the smoke visible for miles along the north Kent coastline. This is the scene that would have greeted eyewitnesses following the Dutch raid along the River Medway in June 1667.

‘Carried out over several days, it targeted the English fleet at Chatham, leaving a large section of the Royal Navy either captured or destroyed. There were few casualties, but the loss of the realm’s largest warships brought humiliation to the country and damaged the personal reputation of King Charles II.’

Read all about it! Once again, my thanks to Chris Brady for the tip.